A scene from CONGO JAZZ, directed by Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising for Warner Bros.

Congo Jazz (1930, Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising)

Congo Jazz is a great example of how old Hollywood racism works. Having Bosko, the lead in the cartoon, be a little black kid isn’t really overtly racist… until Harman and Ising have him meet a couple monkeys.

Guess who looks like who?

And then, sort of confirming racists are morons, it turns out the monkeys’ father is a gorilla. So apparently species were unknown to Harman and Ising too.

Strangely, once the cartoon becomes a musical number–and Bosko acts the minstrel role–it becomes a lot less offensive. The last half is Bosko and the jungle animals playing a song and there are a couple almost successful moments.

The problem is the lack of ambition. Harman and Ising put more attention into Jazz‘s backgrounds than the animation.

Without a story, the lazy animation can’t make Congo Jazz succeed. Instead, it putters out, just stopping without a real ending.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising; animated by Carman Maxwell and Paul J. Smith; music by Frank Marsales; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Johnny Murray (Bosko).


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