Monday 2 June 2014

Cubby's Drunken Orchestra

Animated cartoons were au courant in the early ‘30s, what with references to Ghandi, George Bernard Shaw, Bing Crosby—and beer.

Near beer (3.2% alcohol and below) was legalised in March 1933, and the Constitutional Amendment forcing Prohibition on America was repealed the following December.

Animators, if rumour is to be believed, enjoyed a drink or two on rare occasion, so it’s no wonder alcohol found its way into cartoons. There are a couple of beer gags to open “Cubby’s Picnic” (1933). Cubby opens the cartoon conducting an orchestra. A tuba player hooks up a nearby keg to his instrument and uses it to drink beer.

A cellist deftly picks up a stein with his bow and finishes it off.

Pretty soon, the whole band is drunk. Apologies for the fuzzy resolution on the frame, but it’s kind of appropriate for a scene with drunks (unfortunately, higher-quality versions of this cartoon on the internet have been killed).

Cubby really isn’t on a picnic in this cartoon even though it’s called “Cubby’s Picnic.” Why? Because it’s a Van Beuren cartoon! You don’t expect it to make sense, do you?

Steve Muffatti directed the short, with Eddie Donnelly receiving the animation credit. The sad irony is Muffatti died an alcoholic on September 8, 1962 at the age of 51 (thanks to Thad Komorowski and Jerry Beck for the information).

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