Saturday, 24 December 2011

Listen Doc, Can’t You Read?

A surprise appearance in Tex Avery’s ‘Who Killed Who?’

Don’t worry, detective. Only one day to go.

The 1943 cartoon has a bunch of familiar bits Avery used at Warner Bros., including the silhouette of a patron in the theatre being projected onto the screen. But the pace is faster and Tex and his writer have crammed in more gag material.

Something different in this cartoon is the live-action open and close, and the solo organ like you’d hear on radio mystery shows back then. The score is by Scott Bradley and Bernard Katz, according to the U.S. Government Copyright Catalogue. Katz was related to Mel Blanc on his mother’s side.

There are no credits on the version of the cartoon I’ve seen, but John Canemaker’s book credits the animation to Ed Love, Preston Blair and Ray Abrams. It sounds like Billy Bletcher is the detective, with Sara Berner as the skeleton cuckoo bird and Kent Rogers as both the victim and Red Skeleton (animated by Love), with a voice that you’ll hear in the Woody Woodpecker cartoon ‘The Loan Stranger’ (1942). Is that Avery as St. Nick?

Incidentally, if you wonder where the phrase “Let’s not get nosey, bub!” heard in this cartoon, and over at Warners and Lantz, comes from, read this unbylined story from the Madison Capital Times of August 23, 1942.

Catch Phrases of Air Comics Catch Public
New Phrases Added Daily to Our American ‘Slanguage’
AMERICA’S modern language has been colored by radio particularly by those comedians whose joke factories are located in NBC studios.
When Little Johnny wants to contradict his mother nowadays he says, “That ain’t the way I heerd it,” patterned after Bill Thompson’s phrase as the Old Timer with Fibber McGee and Molly.
Thus does radio affect the language of the people of the United States. Catch-phrases from radio are the modern versions of “twenty-three skidoo” and “you tell ‘em, I stutter.” Radio’s comedians add new phrases to the American slanguage every day, and every hep-cat is judged by his knowledge of the latest radio line.
Skelton’s Classic
Red Skelton’s Classic “I Dood It,” besides making newspaper headlines, has become an everyday phrase in young America’s vocabulary, along with his “I would answer that, but it would only wead to bwoodshed,” “If I do, I det a whippin’” and “Now, don’t get nosey, bub.”
Jerry Colonna, on Bob Hope’s program, made “Greetings, gate” a synonym for “hello.”
Molly McGee says “’Tain’t funny, McGee,” and millions stop other millions cold by telling them, “Tain’t funny, McGee.”
Charlie McCarthy’s pet phrase has been a national byword for years—“I’ll clip ‘em. So help me, I’ll mow ‘em down.”
From Al Pearce comes Elmer Burt’s [sic] “I Hope I Hope I Hope,” and Baby Snooks’ contribution is “Why, Daddy?” Meredith Willson has millions of listeners copying his “Well, bend me over and call me stoopid.” Dennis Day says “Yes, please” to Jack Benny, and in every town there are kids from 8 to 80 who say “Yes, please” to every question that calls for an affirmative.

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