Monday, 5 September 2016

Punny Products

Warner Bros. managed to get some mild humour from making fun of familiar names of celebrities, reading material and stuff you could buy at the store. Friz Freleng’s September in the Rain (1937) is one of those cartoons, you know, where stuff comes alive when humans aren’t around.

Let’s head to the grocery store and see what we can recognise.



Do people still put blueing in clothes? Writer Tedd Pierce doesn’t seem to have had a particular blueing product in mind here. Akst and Clarke’s Am I Blue? is heard in the scene.



Old Dutch Cleanser. The most creative thing in this gag is Carl Stalling working the Dubin-Warren tune ’Cause My Baby Says It’s So into a Dutch clog dance tempo.



Cigarettes galore. Camel, Domino, Tareyton, Lucky Strike. Tareytons were made by the American Tobacco Co. but Tareytowns are from the fine people at the Hoboken Tobacco Co. Tareyton’s motto “There’s something about them you’ll like” has been parodied on the pack. There’s also a Park Avenue cigarettes with an ersatz coat of arms in this cartoon. I don’t get the reference. Pall Mall maybe?



Bon Ami cleanser has a little chick on the label, too. The proud little worm is inching along to In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree.



Note the phoney Shreaded Wheat and Uneeda Biscuits boxes have a faked version of the Nabisco symbol (the oval with the double cross on top). The girl with the umbrella singing By a Waterfall could be found on cans of Morton Salt. The gag was used earlier in the Freleng cartoon How Do I Know It’s Sunday.



Ah, what’s a Warners cartoon without Al Jolson in blackface? His Cream of Wheat box kind of has the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on the side. Blackface doesn’t have the seal of approval these days, so Jolie, Aunt Jemima and the energetic Gold Dust twins and Fats Waller caricatures (doing a pretty swinging version of Warren and Dixon’s Nagasaki) in the cartoon aren’t culturally appropriate these days.



Log Cabin Syrup, a General Foods product. It advertised for a bit on the Jack Benny radio show in the hitchhike spot.

Other songs in this Freleng musical are You’re the Cure For What Ails Me by Dubin and Warren (during the snake charmer/toothpaste scenes), The Campbells Are Coming and My Old Kentucky Home.

Here’s a mellow, croony version of the cartoon’s title song, one of quite a number of ‘30s songs I heard for the first time in cartoons.

4 comments:

  1. "Blackface doesn’t have the seal of approval these days, so Jolie, Aunt Jemima and the energetic Gold Dust twins and Fats Waller caricatures (doing a pretty swinging version of Warren and Dixon’s Nagasaki) in the cartoon aren’t culturally appropriate these days."


    Yep, all their scenes are cut for re-airings (If they ever air at all) making it a pretty short cartoon, clocking in at almost under 5 minutes (same with Freleng's "Confederate Honey". It would be much less of a hassle to completely ban the cartoons than to do this).

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  2. And yes Log Cabin Syrup used to come in a container shaped like a log cabin. I think they even recreated it for the 100th anniversary back in the 1980s.

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  3. The Fats Waller sequence would be reused almost intact in "Tin Pan Alley Cats."

    Nabisco Shredded Wheat was advertised as "The original Niagara Falls cereal" because it was originally manufactured there.

    There was a "Herbert Tareyton" brand of cigarettes.

    The Turner folks did seem to chop this cartoon up, didn't they? Sort of like the hatcheting that King World gave the Little Rascals shorts.

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  4. Aside from Friz borrowing gags here from his previous cartoons, he'd borrow from this one after he returned from MGM, when the Astaire-Rogers dance sequence ended up as part of "Malibu Beach Party". It also seems to have been at least partially rotoscoped from "The Gay Divorces", and was one of a handful of Schlesinger cartoons that borrowed live action or live-action references from non-Warner Bros features, in this case coming from RKO (which at roughly the same time had contracted with Leon's studio to do the titles for "What's Your Birthday?", which might explain why the Schlesinger staff had access to the Fred and Ginger routine).

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