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.
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.
The animation is a strange mix of great and mediocre in Alice Cans the Cannibals. The principals, whether it’s Julius (the titular Alice’s sidekick), the variety of animals they encounter or the cannibals presumably out to eat Alice (though why they’re chasing Julius, a cat, is never explained), all move with grace and attention. They move against a generic, barren backdrop however. Presumably it was difficult to mix Alice–a live action actor (Virginia Davis)–with the cartoon environment.
Cannibals is rather charming, especially since Alice’s friendship with Julius the cat is portrayed so well. Disney really gets a great performance out of Davis, but only when she’s opposite her “co-stars.” In her one close-up, the reality of the medium breaks.
Also of note is the importance of reading. Many gags require the audience can read, making silent cartoons a little headier than their talky descendants.
Produced and directed by Walt Disney; animated by Rollin Hamilton, Thurston Harper and Ub Iwerks; director of photography, Mike Marcus; released by Margaret J. Winkler.
Starring Virginia Davis (Alice).