THE DOVER BOYS AT PIMENTO UNIVERSITY, OR THE RIVALS OF ROQUEFORT HALL (1942)
Article 5198 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Chuck Jones
Featuring the voices of Mel Blanc, Bea Benaderet, John McLeish
What it is: Old-time juvenile boys books parody
The Dover Boys romance the lovely Dora Standpipe, but must come to her rescue when she is kidnapped by that cad, Dan Backslide.
This is perhaps Chuck Jones’s first classic cartoon, and he almost lost his job over it. In parodying juvenile adventure books from a half a century earlier, he radically changed the style of animation by having characters strike exaggerated poses while keeping the transitions to a minimum, creating a style of incredible speed. The result is a hilarious cartoon, with one of the highlights being Mel Blanc’s vocal performance as Dan Backslide. The cartoon was so innovative that it almost didn’t get a release and Jones was almost fired; however, Warner Brothers did release it (they had to fill a quota) and Jones was retained, although it would be several years before he would return to experimenting with this type of movement.
However, the fantastic content in this one is a little more difficult to pin down. Unlike most cartoons, there are no talking or anthropomorphic animals (although an argument could be made that the sailor character who provides a running gag isn’t quite human), nor or there any of the usual horror, science fiction or fantasy elements to be found. Still, there is one moment; super-strength is on display when a tree is uprooted, though the cartoon plays it more as an oversight. Barring that, it is probably the animated exaggeration that makes the cartoon qualify as a virtual fantasy.