Friday 7 September 2012

Magical Maestro Miranda

“Magical Maestro” is a funny cartoon but TV doesn’t do it justice. You use different peripheral vision watching a movie screen than a television set or computer monitor at home. Tex Avery uses that visual effect when he has the magician’s rabbits quickly jump into the action from the sides of the frame. You don’t seem them coming and suddenly they’re there. It’s really funny.

The cartoon is another one where Avery and writer Rich Hogan pitch one silly routine after another, with no time in between. If you don’t know the cartoon, the premise is simple. A magician gains revenge on Poochini the opera singer (Spike) by replacing a conductor and using his magic wand (disguised as a baton) to change Poochini’s costume. The magician’s stylised rabbits (designed by Ed Benedict, I imagine) get in on things wearing their own silly but appropriate outfits.

An opera fan unhappy with Poochini’s act gets into his. He pulls the old vaudeville custom of throwing rotten fruit at the stage.

The fruit lands on Poochini’s head. The magician waves his wand. Poochini is instantly transformed into Carmen Miranda. Below are two consecutive frames. Notice the rabbits already jumping in from the side.

Poochini waves his butt (and actually does a full body turn) and sings while accompanied by the rabbits. Are they wearing turnips on their heads? Here are some of the dance drawings.

Avery keeps building. Poochini lifts his skirt only to reveal a pair of boxer shorts.

Now Poochini’s body becomes immobile, except for his head, which he pokes out from behind different sides of the raised skirt. The rabbit merely pushes the body off stage like it’s a theatre flat, revealing the tux-clad Poochini standing behind it.

How does he grow a second body? Oh, don’t ask. Enjoy the outrageousness instead.

Avery’s down to three credited animators by the time this was released in 1952—Walt Clinton, Grant Simmons and Mike Lah.


  1. Saw this back in the late 70s at the now-gone Carnegie Hall Cinema as part of a screening of Avery's MGM shorts, just after the MGM T&Js and Tex's post-47 work went into syndication. It killed like nothing else on the program, and the irony as I later found out was that Tex and Rich had borrowed (and improved on) the idea from UPA, the studio which at times seemed determined to make the smallest attempt to make to make laugh-out-loud cartoons as possible.

  2. My all time favorite Text Avery cartoon! I know there's tons of his cartoons that are literally a joke a second, but this one just makes me laugh the most next to "Rock-a-bye Bear". Yeah, TV doesn't do it justice. A few scenes were cut from television for obvious reasons, but it's pretty lousy editing. Thanks for sharing

  3. WFLD-32 (now Fox Chicago since 1987) showed this classic and nearly all the Tex Avery one-shots on their hour-long "Tom & Jerry" show during the 1970s and early '80s with NO CUTTING, leaving in the blackface gags and all!!

    I was 12 when I first saw this one and now pushing 47, I STILL LOVE IT!!

  4. Those are scallions on the rabbits heads. Some folks call 'em green onions but they're really scallions...;)

  5. My dad was Rich Hogan, he died in 1982. He was always telling us how fun it was working with Tex, how crazy they all were and got paid to be funny. This cartoon is my favorite of them all, close to Blitz Wolf though. Enjoy. Tim Hogan

  6. Hi, Tim. Thanks for stopping by. Your dad wrote some great cartoons at Warners and MGM.