Friday 7 December 2012

Hey, Cartoon, You Can’t Say That

History has recorded how there was a big flap over Rhett Butler’s final line in “Gone With the Wind” (1939). Yet Flip the Frog used the very same offending word in “Ragtime Romeo” released eight years earlier. Flip says it when he can’t get his sheet music to stay put as he prepares to serenades a girl (we’ve seen her in silhouette wearing a slip and taking off her stockings).

He finally uses a pin to keep the sheet music in place.

But it turns out he hasn’t pinned it to the bush. He’s pinned a dog hiding in the bush.

And there’s a girl dog in there with him. They were, uh, playing “Hide and Seek.” Yeah, that’s it.

It wasn’t the only time Flip damned things. He used the word in 1932’s “Room Runners.” It should be noted middleman Powers wasn’t originally part of the organisation which adhered to the Production Code. Motion Picture Daily reported on August 16, 1934:

First Outside Code Approval to Powers
First certificate of compliance with Production Code Administration standards issued to a producer not a member of the Hays association goes to P. A. Powers, as producer, and "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp," an animated cartoon, as the picture.

The Hays office, at the same time, stressed the point that the approval, Certificate No. 154, was in conformity with the "association's purpose to afford all producers, whether or not members, the opportunity to use the facilities which the association has developed to help assure the highest standards of picture production."

The Production Code took care of cartoons like this. So the world ended up with frolicking kitties and doggies, cheerful birdies and squirrels and happy fairy tale elves until Tex Avery came along and said “I can’t do it, I tell you! I just can’t do it.”

As for Flip, Ub Iwerks went looking for a new star by 1933 after movie audiences collectively quoted Rhett Butler.


  1. You also had the situation in the Fleischer's 1933 Betty Boop cartoon "The Old Man in the Mountain", where Betty meets a crying female hippo coming down from the mountain pushing a baby carriage, which we then find out is carrying triples (complete with beards) of the title character. Sex, illegitimate births and bestiality. Fast forward a decade, and Avery can't have the Wolf get hitched to grandma and have a bunch of howling wolf kids for the final gag of "Red-Hot Riding Hood", because the Hays Office got the vapors about the bestiality thing, even if in this case the kids were legit (because Pastor Avery married them himself...)

  2. I remember someone saying the bestiality thing is daft because 'they're not humans, they're not animals - they're cartoons.'

  3. Don't try to understand the logic of self appointed do-gooders

  4. And isn't it in "The Milkman" where the horse pulling Flip's milk wagon says "Hell" at least once? Sings it, more or less.

  5. The Dog Characters REALLY look like something from a Van Beuren/Terrytoons product, pretty strange for a West Coast/ Kansas studio INDEED.

    Maybe some of the artists from those studios came to Iwerks for better work, i dunno.