The Mechanical Handy Man (1937)

Article 4237 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-28-2013
Director unknown
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Animated robot saga

Oswald the rabbit and his pals (a stupid rooster and a dachshund on wheels) offer to demonstrate their new invention, a mechanical handy man, to a dubious farmer by having the handy man milk his cow. However, the mechanical man only succeeds in terrifying the cow and chaos ensues.

This rather interesting animated cartoon about a robot falls squarely into the “technology runs amok” category. Once you see the mechanical handy man in action, you’ll be squarely on the side of the cow, as the handy man’s grip is so strong it causes the corn on the corncobs to pop, and his method of accosting the cow (yanking on its tail) is hardly inviting. The handy man’s roughness is actually a bit disturbing, and it gives this short an unexpected (and possibly unintentional) darkness. One other odd aspect is that the mechanical handy man is not shaped like a man; it looks like a mechanical ostrich. I suspect that this latter touch may be a result of the fact that the short was written by animator Charles R. Bowers, whose own stop-motion shorts often featured metallic birds. All in all, I found this to be an amusing short, though the dark undercurrent may leave one feeling a bit queasy.

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