Tag Archives: Paul J. Smith

Susie the Little Blue Coupe (1952, Clyde Geronimi)

Bill Peet, who came up with the story for Susie the Little Blue Coupe and co-wrote the final script, must have thought American kids didn’t have enough depressing classic Russian literature in their lives. It’s a seriously disturbed, if fantastic, cartoon.

Susie tells the story of a happy little car named, you guessed it, Susie. Some guy buys her and she lives a happy life, or so she thinks… because it turns out the guy doesn’t do maintenance until its too late and then abandons her.

She suffers in a used car lot, then ends up in the possession of a small-time drunk. She suffers even worse in his care before the climax–a junkyard.

Director Geronimi showcases the suffering, one upping it every time.

The animation’s great, the pacing’s great, it’s just a disquieting cartoon. Geronimi and Peet introduce a lovable character only to make her suffer.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Clyde Geronimi; screenplay by Bill Peet and Don DaGradi, based on a story by Peet; animated by Bob Carlson, Ollie Johnston, Hal King and Cliff Nordberg; music by Paul J. Smith; produced by Walt Disney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Stan Freberg (Junkyard owner); narrated by Sterling Holloway.


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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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Food for Feudin’ (1950, Charles A. Nichols)

Food for Feudin’ has some really strong animation, but also some weak. There’s a great sequence where Chip and Dale crawl into these gardening gloves and confuse the heck out of Pluto. During that sequence, the animation is spectacular. Earlier, when the chipmunks are gathering nuts… not so spectacular.

The cartoon isn’t particularly charming during that first sequence. Once the gloves come on, however, things get a lot better. It’s too bad Nichols forgets the landscape and moves Pluto’s doghouse from offscreen right to offscreen left. It sends the cartoon out on a technical weak note.

Some of the problem is the reliance on the chipmunks at the beginning. Dale’s dumb but Chip’s a bit of a jerk and a bully. They’re not fun to spend time with in Feudin’. Pluto’s growing presence helps.

So Food for Feudin’ is basically half a good cartoon; that glove sequence is really memorable.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Charles A. Nichols; written by Milt Schaffer and Dick Kinney; animated by George Kreisl, George Nicholas and Judge Whitaker; music by Paul J. Smith; produced by Walt Disney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Pinto Colvig (Pluto), Dessie Flynn (Dale) and James MacDonald (Chip).


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The Booze Hangs High (1930, Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising)

It takes The Booze Hangs High nearly half its running time to have its first gag… but it’s worth the wait. An adorable little duckling tells its mother it needs to go number two. Without dialogue or visual followthrough, but the message is clear. And, all of a sudden, Booze starts getting better.

It starts off really rocky. Bosko, the lead, isn’t funny. Until the ducklings, the only interesting thing of note is the filmmakers seemingly not understanding bulls do not have udders.

But after the ducklings? Then Bosko feeds some pigs their slop (from a trash can) and the piglets find a liquor bottle. They proceed to get wasted. At that point, Booze gets a lot better.

Some of the problem is clearly the sound–directors Harman and Ising are still wowed with synchronized sound.

Whilethe animation detail is weak, the backgrounds are great.

Booze‘s tiring, but amusing.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

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

Starring Johnny Murray (Bosko).


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