A scene from BOSKO THE DOUGHBOY, directed by Hugh Harman for Warner Bros.

Bosko the Doughboy (1931, Hugh Harman)

Watching Bosko the Doughboy, I kept thinking, “too soon.” It’s a comedy cartoon about World War I, specifically trench warfare. In the cartoon, Bosko is the only human. The rest of combatants are animals–dogs, cows, a pig or two, a lot of birds. The battle scenes are graphic and, one has to assume at the time of its release, traumatic to veterans of the war.

The cartoon has three significant parts. First, the introduction with all the trench warfare “humor.” Second, a strange musical number so Bosko can show off synchronized sound. Finally, Bosko and his friend get into trouble and Bosko saves the day.

While Bosko’s appearance is a bad racial stereotype, the character in Doughboy is incredibly heroic. During the final sequence, it’s as though the cartoon is working against itself.

It’s technically pretty strong (except the lame musical number), but Doughboy feels wrong on multiple levels.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Hugh Harman; animated by Rollin Hamilton and Carman Maxwell; music by Frank Marsales; produced by Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger; released by Warner Bros.


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