One Froggy Evening (1955)
Article 5953 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Chuck Jones
Featuring the voice of William Roberts
What it is: Heart-breaking fable
A construction worker accidentally comes upon a frog who can sing and dance hidden in the cornerstone of building undergoing demolition. He has dreams of making a fortune with this talented amphibian, but fate proves to be a fickle thing…
The primary fantastic content of this cartoon is a singing and dancing frog. However, not long ago I said that anthropomorphized animals were no longer by themselves sufficient content in a cartoon for me to classify it as fantastic, as that was more of a convention of the form. So why do I make an exception in this case? Two reasons. First, context is everything. This cartoon takes place in a world where singing and dancing frogs were not normal occurrences; otherwise, the construction worker wouldn’t be dreaming of making his fortune upon his discovery of one. Second, anthropomorphized animals aside, the ending of the cartoon takes place in the year 2056, so it also qualifies as science fiction.
This is one of Chuck Jones’ masterpieces, a cartoon both hilarious and painful. Our construction worker is as cursed in his quest as Wile E. Coyote is in his, a man who keeps having his dreams built up only to have them shot down by the quirks of fate; the frog will only sing for him and him alone, a circumstance which only heaps humiliation on the construction worker. You feel every moment of his pain, but you still laugh because of the absurdity of the situation. The ending only brings home the fact that the curse will reoccur every one hundred years, with some future construction worker suffering the same fate. In my eyes, the cartoon is a miniature slice of perfection, funny, sad and a little bit profound.