Monday, 18 November 2013

A Man Inside an Elephant

Cartoons of early 1930s are a land of bizarre sight gags. Plot? Who cares! Look at the warped stuff going on.

Here’s an example from “The Bandmaster,” a cartoon put together by the Charles Mintz studio not too many months after it moved across the country from New York to Los Angeles. The characters have that great New York design with shaved round stomachs and belly-buttons. The cartoon hums along, then stops for a weird gag with worms in a bedroom inside an acorn. And then things get really strange.

An elephant cop is whistling “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Suddenly, his uniform parts to reveal a criminal inside a jail cell—in his body. What?!!

The criminal breaks out by pulling the bars apart and runs away.

But the cop casually and rhythmically finishes whistling the tune then shoots the crook dead in the distance.

How did they think up this stuff back then?

Ben Harrison gets a story credit while Manny Gould is the only animator listed. Joe De Nat contributes a clever arrangement.

To your right (click to enlarge), you see an ad from the Albany Evening News, October 3, 1930, revealing this cartoon played with “Madame Satan.” Burning zeppelin? Woman in horned mask? Cartoon with a guy in an elephant? Sounds like a great night at the movies to me.

My thanks to Milton Knight for posting this cartoon on the internet, and others which I’d never seen before. Until recently, my exposure to cartoons from 1930 or so was limited to Warner Bros. and Fleischer releases. But there’s so much more from that time—Van Beuren, Terry, Columbia, Lantz—which deserve to be seen and appreciated.

1 comment:

  1. "Built like a brick house", indeed.

    Just subscribed to Milton's YouTube channel. Thanks, Yowp.