Am I missing something, or is “The Popcorn Story” one of the most inane cartoons ever made?
Maybe there’s some kind of symbolic allusion to the 1950s arms build-up, and building a bigger, more powerful bomb to accomplish the ends of corporate America. But all I see is a six minute cartoon that reaches the surprising conclusion that corn which you can eat is made into popcorn, which you can also eat.
The cartoon features only two characters, neither of whom are likeable. One is a speechless, almost-expressionless dolt and the other is an arrogant tycoon (Jim Backus using his Magoo voice) whose bombast and flowery vocabulary becomes tiresome pretty quickly. And we’re supposed to believe this pillar of industry would be willing to invest in a completely impractical, Rube Goldberg-esque shoe-shine contraption (in a town where no one wears shoes) from someone he publicly spanked for stupidity.
The story is by Bill Scott (I suspect he came up with the puns, like having the corn-growing dolt named “Shuck”), Phil Eastman and Bob Russell. I suppose the laugh highlight is supposed to be the businessman being abused by the machine but I found the whole concept to be implausible to begin with. The best gag is when the dolt tries to power his bicycle by lighting a load of corncobs in a barrel, and it simply powers him over the handlebars and into the ground. The set-up and timing reminded me of a gag in a Roadrunner cartoon (and Chuck Jones wouldn’t have a blank look on the coyote’s face like the dolt).
Bill Hurtz designed the backgrounds, with colour by Jules Engel and Herb Klynn. Let’s look at some of those.
The popcorn industry probably loved this short. Theatre patrons likely rushed to the snack counter to buy their product to avoid sitting through this cartoon.