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.
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).