Tag Archives: Scott Bradley

Puss Gets the Boot (1940, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera)

Until the exceptionally racist caricature of “Mammy Two-Shoes” arrives, the most distinguishing thing about Puss Gets the Boot is the exceptional cruelty of the cat. Puss is the first Tom and Jerry cartoon, before Tom is named Tom (he’s Jasper here) and Jerry doesn’t get an onscreen name.

For the first two minutes, it’s just Jasper–sorry, no, it’s just easier to call him Tom–it’s just Tom tormenting Jerry. Jerry can’t run away faster enough or smart enough; the awkwardly cruelest moment is when Tom revives Jerry with some water after knocking him unconscious. I’m sure cats can be this evil playing with their prey but… not sure I have any interest in seeing it.

And it doesn’t really play for slapstick laughs because, until this point, it’s just the cat beating up on the mouse.

Then Mammy shows up and Puss gets gross and then grosser. It’s not just how the cartoon portrays the character, voiced by Lillian Randolph, it’s how Joseph Barbara writes the dialogue. He goes out of his way to be more racist about it all.

At that point, there’s no real way for Puss to save itself–later versions of the cartoon lightened Mammy’s skin and redubbed her–but, even so, the cartoon doesn’t do anything special or even interesting. Randolph tells Tom he’s out on his furry behind if he breaks anything else in the house. Jerry tries to get Tom break stuff. On and on it goes. There’s some amusement when Tom turns the tables on Jerry for a moment, but it’s far from significant.

The animation is fine, though it dips in quality as the cartoon progresses. Tom gets too loose. The direction’s all right too. Nothing special. Just racist.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Written and directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera; animated by Carl Urbano, Tony Pabian, Jack Zander, Pete Burness, and Robert Allen; edited by Fred McAlpin; music by Scott Bradley; produced by Rudolf Ising, Jack Petrik, and Bill Schultz; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Lillian Randolph (Mammy Two-Shoes).


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The House of Tomorrow (1949, Tex Avery)

The House of Tomorrow is such a well-made cartoon, the technical aspects more than make up for some of the weak writing. However, that weak writing does make the cartoon an interesting historical artifact.

First the technical stuff. Tomorrow is a tour through a house of 2050. The year’s made clear when the kitchenwares get their emphasis and the opening actually makes it seem more immediate. So there’s a bit of a disconnect, but whatever. Avery’s direction, from the first frame, is fantastic. His animators do an outstanding job.

Where Tomorrow goes wrong is in the jokes. There’s a lot of vague misogyny but then it gets a lot more pointed–there are endless jokes about killing one’s mother-in-law. It wasn’t until halfway through I realized the mother-in-law in question was the wife’s not the husband’s.

Comedy’s changed.

But besides that aspect, Tomorrow is great.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Tex Avery; written by Jack Cosgriff and Rich Hogan; animated by Walt Clinton, Michael Lah and Grant Simmons; music by Scott Bradley; produced by Fred Quimby; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Narrated by Frank Graham and Don Messick.


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Old Smokey (1938, William Hanna)

Technically speaking, Old Smokey is a fantastic cartoon. The animation and the backgrounds are both excellent. Hanna composes some great shots, as well as the camera “movements.”

But it’s not a fun cartoon. There are no gags, because there’s real danger. A house is on fire and only The Captain (the cartoon series’s lead) can stop it. Or can he….

The Captain is actually a dumb, mean-spirited, technophile immigrant who stupidly fired the fire department’s fire horse and got a fancy engine. And the fire engine, it turns out, is just too new-fangled to be any use.

Oh, I forgot… The Captain (and the woman in danger) are both fat immigrants. Couple of real mean fat jokes.

The cute fire horse saves the day and The Captain rehires him. The Captain then kills the fire engine, which has just been anthropomorphized.

While masterfully made, Smokey‘s a little creepy.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by William Hanna; based on a comic strip by Rudolph Dirks; animated by George Gordon; music by Scott Bradley; produced by Fred Quimby; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Billy Bletcher (The Captain).


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Magical Maestro (1952, Tex Avery)

I had read Magical Maestro was controversial and it took me quite a while, watching it, to release why it had that reputation.

There’s a montage of an irate magician turning an opera singing bulldog into various singing stereotypes. There’s a cowboy, there’s a redneck, there’s a baby… then an angry audience member squirts ink on the bulldog’s face and it’s blackface.

And at that point, I realized the earlier Chinese transformation would offend too (but that transformation is the only one where the bulldog is singing the opera as opposed to a stereotype appropriate one).

It’s a lovely little cartoon. There aren’t a lot of shots, not a lot of action, but it’s a hilarious cartoon set to good music.

The redneck caricature is probably the most shocking one. Maybe because it’s the only accurate one of them.

Regardless of any “controversy,” Tex Avery does absolutely brilliant work here.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Tex Avery; written by Rich Hogan; animated by Walt Clinton, Michael Lah and Grant Simmons; music by Scott Bradley; produced by Fred Quimby; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Daws Butler (Mysto the Magician) and Carlos Ramírez (The Great Poochini).


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