Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Hammered Elf

Shoemaking elves accidentally bash each other with hammers throughout Tex Avery’s “The Peachy Cobbler” (released 1950). Here are three consecutive drawings of one gag, each lasting a frame. The elf disappears in a swirl in the second drawing.

The elves are unintelligible but a French video release of this cartoon has subtitles to tell us what the angry, bashed elf is saying. “You need glasses,” he says. So he runs off camera to get some, along with an eye chart. “Can you read this?” he asks.

The goofy-looking elf passes the test. “Perfect, Doc. Try again,” says the elf. Yes, he says “Doc.”

You know what’s going to happen next.

Friz Freleng also directed a secret shoemaking-elf cartoon several years earlier called “Holiday For Shoestrings” (1946). The two shorts are good examples of the difference between the two directors. Freleng timed his gags around “The Nutcracker Suite;” the classical music dominates. Tex goes a barrage of gags of varying short lengths, one quickly after another. And Tex tended to reuse bits he liked, no matter how old they were. He and writer Rich Hogan end the “The Peachy Cobbler” with a catchphrase that was popular on radio when they were at Warners in the late ‘30s but was already obsolete by the time this cartoon was made.


  1. It's interesting that right before his overwork-induced hiatus, Tex was borrowing from Friz's old cartoon, not just here, but in the plot for "One Cabs' Family" (trotted out and modified again for his first post-hiatus short, "Little Johnny Jet", though after that Avery seems to have regain his desire to be a trendsetter instead of a borrower).

  2. Who did the "dance" scenes in which the elves, inside shoes, perform various dances--ballet, square dance, striptease, and so on? Did they rotoscope the foot movements of dancers, or were those scenes just passed on to animators who were particularly good at dance scenes, like Gerry Chiniquy at Warner's?

    I was able to make out some of the angry elf's dialogue, and I think the first line is actually, "You need glasses, Doc..."