My Boy Johnny (1944)

Article 4217 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-2-2013
Directed by Eddie Donnelly
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Terrytoons wartime cartoon

This short takes a hopeful look at the time when the boys come back from the war, and the type of world that will follow in its wake.

Despite the racial stereotypes and propaganda so common to the era, there is something quite fascinating about the wartime cartoons that were produced in the early forties; they capture the spirit of the era in a way that is rather engaging. This one taps into what was no doubt one of the most resonant themes of the era; it deals with that giddy sense of anticipation of the day the war is over and the boys return home. Because of the subject matter, I found myself wondering if there was really going to be much in the way of fantastic content, but there’s actually plenty; some of the returning soldiers are anthropomorphic animals, and about half of the cartoon envisions the technological advances that will follow in its wake (including a “house of the future” segment). It does idealize things quite a bit, but that was probably very much in the spirit of the time. The short was an Academy Award nominee for best animated short subject, and I actually felt a little sad to see that it didn’t have enough votes on IMDB to generate a rating, meaning that the cartoon seems to be largely forgotten. Actually, I think it’s one of the better Terrytoon cartoons I’ve seen.

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