Once Upon a Time (1937)

Once Upon a Time (1937)
Article 6032 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-16-2022
Directed by F. Lyle Goldman
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Public service driving safety cartoon

In the world of fairy tales, two demons (Carelessness and Discourtesy) escape from Pandora’s box and encourage residents to engage in reckless driving.

I was a bit surprised this cartoon was made during the thirties, as it has moments that feel like belongs to the psychedelic era of the sixties. Still, the style didn’t feel like the sixties either; in fact, it has rather a style of its own. This sense of style is what makes this cartoon rather fun; I quite enjoyed this despite its didactic quality. Worth checking out for those of us who like exploring the nooks and crannies of animation.

Jingles (1931)

Jingles (1931)
aka Mendelssohn’s Spring Song
Article 6031 by Dave Sindelar
11-15-2021
Directed by Herman Roessle
No cast
Country: USA
What it is: Odd but entrancing

Various insects cavort to the title tune.

The best moment comes early on when you find out that the object that appears to be a train turns out to be something else entirely. It’s a magical little moment, but it’s memorable enough that I decided at that moment that I really liked this cartoon. It’s a good thing it won me over early, though; it does have its problems, mostly in that they don’t know when to end certain sequences; the scene of the butterfly jumping from pole to pole gets old before it’s over. My copy is in black and white, but there are color versions, and the credits make a lot of noise about it, but it retains its charms even without the color. This one seems to hover somewhere in a world between your average theatrical cartoon and and some forms of abstract animations.

The Museum (1930)

The Museum (1930)
Article 6030 by Dave Sindelar
11-14-2021
Directed by Arthur Davis, Dick Huemer, Sid Marcus
No voice cast
Country: USA
What it is: Toby the Pup cartoon

Toby the Pup works as a janitor at a museum, but he can’t help but play music.

I suspect one of the biggest effects of the advent of sound on cartoons was to downplay stories and character and emphasize the incorporation of music into the medium. For some animators, I think it gave them opportunity to be lazy, but others tried to see how weird and bizarre they could get. This is one of the latter; we have dancing fountain pens, statues coming to life, gargling dinosaur skeletons, mummies dancing and unwinding into skeletons dancing around maypoles…quite frankly, it feels a bit like a fever dream. It’s rather pointless, but weirdly entertaining in its way.

Hector’s Hectic Life (1948)

Hector’s Hectic Life (1948)
Article 6029 by Dave Sindelar
11-14-2021
Directed by Bill Tytla and George Germanetti
Featuring the voice of Mae Questel
Country: USA
What it is: Famous Studio cartoon

It’s Christmas Eve, but Princie (aka Hector) is in danger of being thrown out in the cold if he doesn’t behave himself, but his life is complicated when someone leaves three pups (who closely resemble him) at the doorstep.

The only element that really qualifies this one for a review is the appearance of tiny good-and-evil versions of Hector that tug on his conscience. Other than that, it’s pretty much the type of cartoon you’d expect; the puppies make a mess which Hector has to clean up before the owner discovers it and throws Hector out. Since the good/evil struggle only takes about twenty seconds of the cartoon and proves to be moot as the rest of the cartoon unfolds without Hector really having to make a decision, I passed this up for review before, but felt generous enough to give it one tonight. Still, it’s a rather mediocre cartoon.

Cupid Gets His Man (1936)

Cupid Gets His Man (1936)
Article 6028 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-14-2021
Directed by Tom Palmer 
Featuring the voice of Walter Tetley
Country: USA
What it is: Van Beuren cartoon.

Cupid mounties take their jobs very seriously, but they may have to call out all their forces to make a match between a cranky old man and a spinster.

The two old people are caricatures of W.C. Fields and Edna May Oliver, and though they disagree and argue on everything, on one front they are united, and that is to frustrate the army of Cupids sent out to unite them.  And that is probably the most interesting thing about this Van Beuren cartoon, though there are a few nice moments in the factory of the Cupids.  Actually, I have to admit being on the sides of the cranky humans here, but you know how this cartoon is going to end up.  All in all, this one is pretty ordinary.

Comin’ Round the Mountain (1949)

Comin’ Round the Mountain (1949)
Article 6027 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-14-2021
Directed by Izzy Sparber and Thomas Johnson
Featuring the voice of Jack Mercer
Country: USA
What it is: Watch some gags and follow the bouncing ball

Catfields and McHounds gags followed by a song.

You’ve got it – it’s another screen song cartoon with the song being the one of the title.  Three minutes of cat and dog feud gags (including a fire hydrant gag, and a “cat has nine lives” gag which provides the fantastic content (nine ghosts)).  If anything, this one feels a bit lazier than the others I’ve seen from the series.  Onward.

Boy Meets Dog (1938)

Boy Meets Dog (1938)
Article 6026 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-14-2021
Directed by Walter Lantz
Featuring the voices of Mel Blanc, Billy Bletcher, June Foray
Country: USA
What it is: Cartoon Comeuppance and Dental Commercial

A tyrannical father is knocked unconscious and dreams that pixies put him on trial for cruelty and failure to encourage proper dental care.

This is a rather weird cartoon from the Walter Lantz studio.  The title refers to a minor plot element in the story; the main thrust of the story is how a tyrannical father is taught a lesson when he has a dream that the pixies in a painting kidnap him and take him to trial.  On top of that, the cartoon is packed with references to dental hygiene, and in fact the cartoon was made for Bristol-Myers to plug their toothpaste.  On top of that, it’s pretty bizarre; a lot of the pixies seem to be doing celebrity impressions and the trial sequence is full of bizarre non-sequiturs.  Though it makes for an interesting viewing experience, it feels like an undisciplined mess at times.  

A Mutt in a Rut (1949)

A Mutt in a Rut (1949)
Article 6025 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-14-2021
Directed by Izzy Sparber and Dave Tendlar
Featuring the voices of Jack Mercer, Arnold Stang, Jackson Beck
Country: USA
What it is: Bad tempered dog gets a cartoon comeuppance

Dogface becomes insanely jealous of a stray kitten allowed into the house during a wintry night, but will there be a punishment for his bad behavior?

What we have here is another manifestation of the “A Christmas Carol” plot – a miscreant is taught a lesson in his dreams.  A dog mistreats a kitten until he has an accident, dreams he has died, and goes to heaven only to find that he may not have gained admittance and must sit in judgment by Saint Bernard.  It’s probably one of the better Famous Studio cartoons of that time, and even at that it’s quite predictable and only mildly funny.  Dogface is another forgotten cartoon character, and his presence made me start wondering how many new characters Famous Studios created over their last twenty years that didn’t last; it seems like that Popeye remained far and away their most famous character.

All’s Fair at the Fair (1938)

All’s Fair at the Fair (1938)
Article 6024 by Dave Sindelar
11-13-2021
Directed by Dave Fleischer and Myron Waldman
Featuring the voices of Margie Hines and Jack Mercer
Country: USA
What it is: Fleischer Cartoon

A pair of country bumpkins visit the world’s fair and are impressed by the technological innovations on show.

The Fleischers hit their peak during the first half of the thirties; during the second half of the decade, I felt their wildness was being tamed to a kind of mild quaintness. If this particular cartoon had been made five years earlier, it would have been a lot zanier, and the visitors wouldn’t have been near as quaint as Elmer and Mirandy in this one. However, what with the plethora of technical innovations and robots, there is plenty of fantastic content; my favorite is the machine that builds houses by pouring the materials into a mold. It’s more whimsical than funny, but it’s an entertaining little cartoon.