Voodoo in Harlem (1938)

Article 3194 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-6-2010
Posting Date: 5-6-2010
Directed by Rudy Zamora
Featuring Walter Lantz
Country: USA
What it is: Musical cartoon

During a stormy night, an inkwell is tipped over, leaving a big black blot on a piece of paper. Out of the blot emerge several black natives, who sing “Voodoo in Harlem”.

I found this cartoon on a set of banned cartoons – those cartoons which can’t be shown on television anymore because of the racial stereotypes they perpetrated. In this cartoon, it is the black caricatures that consign this cartoon to its current state. There are some great cartoons out there that can’t be shown for similar reasons; however, this one is fairly forgettable. Outside of a beginning and end that feature some live action footage (a cartoonist drawing a character and then a cleaning lady cleaning up afterwards), there’s little novelty to this one. It primarily consists of animated characters singing and dancing to the title song, and though the song isn’t bad, it doesn’t really make for an interesting cartoon. It doesn’t even try for comedy, but maybe that’s just as well, given that the comedy would probably have resorted to jokes involving watermelons and dice. And, unless the characters arising out of the inkwell count, no voodoo is in use during the cartoon.


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