Thursday 2 May 2019

Swat the Teacher

One of the trade ads for Ub Iwerks’ ComiColor cartoons was better than the cartoons themselves. Film Daily may have decided Mary’s Little Lamb had “lots of laughs resulting from the confusion” but you’d be hard-pressed to find them.

The cartoon opens with Mary kind of tap-dancing to an insipid song, except she and her lamb are animated on twos while the background keeps moving. That means it looks like they slide in every other frame.

Iwerks’ standard-issue old crone design is the teacher who declares it is entertainment day in Mary’s school, part of which consists of a long swish dance by a student named Percy.

Mary’s lamb keeps horning in on the act and the crone chases it with a broom. In one scene, the gag is the teacher gets her head stuck in a drawer, the lamb swats her butt with a broom and the teacher emerges with a mousetrap on her nose. She pulls it off and is left with a long, bent nose. Yeah, the gag is the funny shape. Being an Iwerks cartoon, we get to see female underwear a lot of the time. The broom maintains a butt shape.

There’s a coal gag to end the cartoon. It’s handled pretty straight (the teacher is embarrassed yet again); any temptation to do a blackface gag was resisted.

None of the animators are credited in this 1935 cartoon and they were, perhaps, thankful for that.


  1. When my oldest daughter was very young, she developed an inexplicable fondness for MARY'S LITTLE LAMB, which was on one of those cheap collections of public domain cartoons that used to be common on VHS tape. We finally had to put a limit on how many often she could watch the damned thing. I got to where I just hated Ub Iwerks. The man wouldn't have known a gag if it bit him in the ass. (Once, in recent years, I showed MARY'S LITTLE LAMP to my daughter, who is now college-aged. She was puzzled and asked, "I liked that? WHY?"

  2. Love Darrell's story!!!!