Friday, 22 June 2012

Buddy and Azusa

Jack Benny wasn’t the first person to have some fun with the city of Azusa. Benny’s train-call of “Anaheim, Azusa and Cucamonga” made it into a number of cartoons (sometimes voiced by train-caller Mel Blanc) but before that, Azusa appears in the background of one of the low points of Warner Bros. animation, “Buddy’s Day Out.”

The background drawing (the artist is unknown) feature oil wells and storage tanks, so I presume the oil industry was alive in the extremely rural Azusa when this cartoon was released in 1933.

This inept cartoon was directed by Tom Palmer, who was soon fired and joined fellow ex-Disney buddy Burt Gillett in New York City at the Van Beuren Studio. Palmer’s stint at the Leon Schlesinger studio was a fiasco. If you can actually sit through “Buddy’s Day Out,” you can be thankful it isn’t longer. The obvious edits in the soundtrack leave you with the impression parts of it were cut out before it hit theatres, thus inflicting less of it on thankful theatre patrons.

Palmer is immortalised in an inside gag in the background. As Buddy and Cookie continue to drive along the road in Azusa, a side-road heads to Palmer’s place, with a sign thoughtfully helping anyone who wants to go there and tell him what they think of his cartoon.


  1. How old was Buddy supposed to be, anyway? In this film, he looks to be about 10-12 years old, yet he's driving an automobile...did they let pre-teens drive back in 1933?

    1. Who knows (though my dad would tell me stories of his ol' man letting him drive at a young age too so whatever). I can see how today's generation certainly looks down on this like it's completely unthinkable.

  2. It's an interesting "What if?" but if Palmer's two cartoons hadn't been so bad to the point Schelsinger had to fire him and search out Friz Freleng, the Warners studio might have simply hummed along at Mintz-like levels for the rest of the 1930s, churning out now-forgotten product.

    When you put this and "I've Got to Sing a Torch Song" next to the other Schlesinger shorts before and after, they really don't even look like they came from the same studio, other than a few tweaks Freleng may have put in. The characters tend to 'float' and the designs are mushy; the Earl Duvall and early Freleng cartoons are no great shakes, but the designs are a little sharper and the plots aren't as oddball.

  3. Buddy's day out doesn't deserve woojie woojie!