Thursday, 11 February 2016

The Chickens Love Sinatra

The ridiculous extent of how over-anxious and hyper-romantic teenaged girls are gripped by boy band fanhood was satirised by Frank Tashlin in the Warner Bros. cartoon Swooner Crooner. Of course, there were no boy bands in 1944. But there were crooners. And the two biggest ones were Frank Sinatra and the old groaner Bing Crosby.

One of the hens hears the Frankie rooster oozing out the hit It Can’t Be Wrong.

Whether Tashlin was doing his own layouts, I don’t know, but loved angles and cinematic effects. Note how he also reuses animation of the hen shadows, first as they run to hear Frankie, then after they turn around and run to hear Bing.

A fun gag is how Frankie’s singing turns one hen into a pool of, uh, well, I’m not sure what.

And from the famous between-Frankie’s-legs scene.

Carl Stalling packed this cartoon with Warners-owned songs. Vocalised are:

It Can’t Be Wrong (K. Gannon, M. Steiner), Frankie
Shortenin’ Bread (traditional), Nelson Eddy?
September in the Rain (A. Dubin, H. Warren), Jolson
Lullaby of Broadway (A. Dubin, H.Warren), Durante
Blues in the Night (H. Arlen, J.Mercer), Calloway
When My Dreamboat Comes Home (D. Franklin, C. Friend), Bing
I'll Pray For You (A. Altman, K. Gannon), Frankie
Trade Winds (D. Franklin, C. Friend), Bing
Always in My Heart (K. Gannon, E. Lecuona), Frankie
You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby (J. Mercer, H. Warren), Bing

And Stalling tosses in a good helping of Raymond Scott’s Powerhouse in the henhouse sequence and a little bit of As Time Goes By.

The cartoon was nominated for an Oscar but lost to MGM’s Mouse Trouble.

The cartoon was released May 6, 1944. On August 31st, Variety announced Tashlin was leaving Warners to work for Morey and Sutherland as the supervising director for their cartoon series released by United Artists. By October next year, he was writing for live-action at Paramount.

I don’t believe Sinatra ever recorded It Can’t Be Wrong, but he sang it on a radio show. You can hear it below.


  1. I always thought the hen was turning into a record - a 78 in those days, of course.

    1. No, more like she's melting in a pool of her own arousal. But the 78 record thing sounds like that could have been a brilliant sight gag.

  2. Of those, Frank Sinatra would predate the (1980s on) more recent bo bands with scandal (in the Hedda Hopper/Louellea Parsons gossip sheest-see the Cohen Brothers "Hail Caser" which has two gossip sisters) while Bing was safer...the boy band thing started in 1964 with the Beatles and their rivals (including Herman's Hermits and Screen Gems's 1966 intro of the M onkees), then the 1970s Osmonds and Jackson Five, then in 1980s the first "bad boy" band New Kids on the Block (though they too started out as just another nice guy band), then in 1990s the Backatreet boys and others that the modern Hopper-Parsons-etc. tabloids srutinize..and of course the soloists (post-Crosby.Sinatra there was Elvis starting in 1956, then currently Justin Bieber and his less than innocent imag..I guess you can tell that I've been more a Crosby guy..)

  3. 2/11/16 Wrote:
    Yep, that was Nelson Eddy crooning "Shortenin' Bread" in this cartoon among the number of rejected singers at Porky's singing audition. Eddy had a hit with it in 1942, and the song and Eddy's crooning style was poked fun of first by Edgar Bergan & Charlie McCarthy and later in the late 1950's by Bill Scott doing the voice of Dudley Doright.Doright was an out-and out parody of Eddy's Mountie character even though he was born in 1901 in the state of Illinois.