Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Screwy War Gags

The bulk of people reading this, I suspect, are not Americans who were alive during World War Two (I am not). So, like me, you had to have certain wartime references in cartoons explained to you.

Tex Avery’s Big Heel-Watha has a few of them, throwaway and otherwise.

4F is a designation that one is unfit for military service.

Lockheed was a huge military manufacturer in California during the war.

Someone correct me on this. From what I was told, the sheet with the stars was put up outside a home where a soldier (with the draft number on the sheet) was in the service.

All kinds of food was rationed and assigned points. Some foods were exempt. So were skunks, it appears.

Ran out of points? Well, there was always the Black Market, where crooks would charge a fortune for meat and other things in short supply.

Gas was rationed, too. The C card was for doctors, ministers and others who were deemed essential workers and therefore needed gas.

“Pearl Harbor? We’re next!!” cried many along the West Coast (of Canada and the U.S.), to whom the possibility of an invasion wasn’t screwy (to try to get back to our cartoon). So blackouts were invented so the Japanese bombardiers couldn’t see war plants, homes and malt shops. Air Raid Wardens patrolled to ensure no light could be seen during the blackouts.

The Showman’s Trade Review gave top marks to this cartoon in its September 2, 1944 edition.
Big Heel-Watha (Excellent)
MGM — Cartoon - 8 mins.
The rationing problem hits an Indian community without reservations, and Big Chief Rain-in-the-Face offers his daughter in marriage to the first brave who brings in some meat. Big Heel-Watha after much tribulation makes a deal with a red squirrel and wins the hand of the veiled Minnie Hot-Cha. Lifting the veil, he is confounded by a horrifying face whereupon he, the chief and the braves, dive into the cauldron joining the cooking squirrel. Minnie attempts to join them, and all but the squirrel and the heel scram. The squirrel pulls a false face from Minnie, revealing a beautiful face, all of which makes the brave Heel-Watha happy. This cartoon in Technicolor is almost up to Red Hot Riding Hood, so all that needs be said is: get it dated.


  1. The individual most famous for having been classified 4-F for a punctured eardrum? Frank Sinatra, whose injury was sustained at birth when he was yanked out of the womb with forceps.

    Was there a Sinatra gag accompanying that teepee?

  2. There was a Woody Woodpecker cartoon (one with Buzz, I think it was "Socko In Morocco") that stole the unveiling/unmasking gag.

  3. I'm going to presume this particular cartoon was never re-released.

    1. None of Screwy's cartoons were..

    2. JW, I didn't know that, but I checked some trades in the late 50s and early 60s and can't see any of them. How about that.

  4. The plane on the Lockheed badge is a P-38.

    My favorite gag is Screwy hitting Heel-Watha over the head which causes him to break into a dozen little Indians, running in circles and woo-wooing, which come back together, except there's one left over!

  5. The number of stars on the flag correspond to the number of men in the service from that household, or in this case, the tribe. A gold star on a flag means that the serviceman gave his life for his country.

  6. The 743 gives the number of men in service; the blue or gold star shows their status amongst the living. ;-)

  7. There was more than a few wartime references in "The Screwy Truant" as well.