Wednesday 30 September 2020

The Coot Carries On

Time to hear from television’s favourite grump, Bill Frawley.

Frawley spent years on the road in vaudeville (some of it with his wife) and years on the set in Hollywood playing a variety of supporting characters before getting hired to spend more years on the stage at the General Service Studios in one of television’s greatest shows—I Love Lucy.

By all accounts, Frawley loved the role of Fred Mertz—provided he didn’t get stuck doing physical stunts, like taking a fish in the face. He loved Lucille Ball. He didn’t love his TV wife Vivian Vance. The stories below vaguely refer to that.

He was a working actor all his life, so he wasn’t just going to sit around and collect residuals when I Love Lucy went into endless re-runs. He played Fred McMurray’s father-in-law who ran the house on My Three Sons and left only when his poor health prevented him from getting the necessary insurance to work.

The first article from the Hearst papers of March 4, 1953—Lucy was into its second season, and the second from June 30, 1961 from one of the syndication services. My Three Sons had finished its first season.

William Frawley, Now 60, Finds Years Bring Him Greatest Success

NEW YORK (INS)—"I don't mind admitting my movie career was having a bit of a lull when Lucy came along," said William Frawley, the balding, merry, wry neighbor living just downstairs from Lucy and Ricky Ricardo each Monday on CBS-TV.
"Now the movie moguls are after me again and somehow I can't help but gloat inwardly that I can't make movies while I'm playing Fred Mertz."
Lull, or not, Bill Frawley, one of Broadway's and Hollywood's best character-comics, now is enjoying the greatest fame of his life. This does not tar the ever-normal Bill, though quietly delighting him in one way—at last he's a big man to his neighbors and relatives in Burlington, Ia.
"The show even has revived an interest in me in my old Iowa home town," he smiled.
"People I'd thought had forgotten Bill Frawley ever existed have been writing me. The local papers even are doing stories on me."
The changes "I Love Lucy" membership has performed in Bill Frawley's habits aren't visible except in the way folks now greet him everywhere as “Fred.” The Irish surname has been forgotten, too.
Such recognition couldn't be expected to work much change basically on a fellow who's been starred and featured for some 35 years in Hollywood and on Broadway, and who, last Thursday, celebrated his 60th birthday.
Now that he's such a big beam in the structure of “I Love Lucy,” Bill can't make his usual October pilgrimage East for the World Series, but here the law of equalization lurks helpfully: the same medium which keeps him so busy, well-paid and celebrated—television—now also brings the World Series right to him in Hollywood.
Granted, it comes through at an hour, California time, at which the old Frawley never would have arisen even during the lull before the pleasant storm called "I Love Lucy."
But he had to sacrifice something for what surely seems the nearest to perfect job insurance TV yet has forged.

William Frawley Star Of "My Three Sons"

Commenting on his role as "Bub", alias Michael Francis O'Casey, chief cook, bottle washer and den mother to three youngsters and their widower father, (Fred MacMurray) in ABC-TV's "My Three Sons", William Frawley says, "Bub's a lovable old coot and just my type of guy. He's rough, has a voice like an old buzz saw, and he's always recalling his old vaudeville days. He howls like a lovesick wolf hound at the slightest incident, but he has no bite at all. I think I'd like Bub if ever I met him face to face."
-o- -o- -o- -o-
AS FRAWLEY made these comment, we could not help but feel he was describing himself.
Having began his career in show business as a vaudevillian back in the early 1900's, Frawley toured up and down the Pacific Coast circuits for four years. In 1927, he graduated to his first Broadway musical and soon after, he appeared in his first dramatic role in "Twentieth Century".
Now sixty-eight years young, Frawley is at the pinnacle of success.
Although he was well known for many of his motion picture roles, it was his role as "Fred Mertz" in the "I Love Lucy" series which catapulted him into national fame in the entertainment world.
-o- -o- -o- -o-
IN THAT ROLE you will remember, his characterization of the grumpy, penny-pinching landlord and sharp-tongued wife pulverizer endeared him to countless television viewers.
Call it what you may — a grumpy old coot or an actor with principles, Frawley has exhibited one or the other many times in his career.
Peter Tewksbury, producer-director of “My Three Sons” has his hands full attempting to domesticate Frawley in his role as cook and housemother. Frawley continually rebuffs Tewksbury's attempts to fill out his role with props.
"Pete has me pulling things out of the oven, picking up toys, stirring a pot of goulash. I just can't be telling a gag while kneading dough or waxing the floor,” — not Fred, not Bub but Bill Frawley says.
-o- -o- -o- -o-
ALTHOUGH HE was told Vivian Vance, his former "mate" on the “Lucy” show, had appeared on the "Jack Paar" show for scale wages, he refused a similar offer, briskly commenting, "That's her business."
"In the nine years of making the "I Love Lucy" series, Bill and Desi Arnaz got along very well except for one thing. They were continually fighting about one thing—money. Frawley wanted more, of course.
As it turned out, Frawley freely admits he did very well especially considering the royalty checks which keep rolling in for the re-runs of “Lucy”.
That bachelor Frawley is a lovable old coot is attested to by many friends he made as a result of his role in "I Love Lucy".
Some time ago, he was approached by a male admirer who insisted that he had to buy Bill a drink because of the way he told off his wife, Ethel.
-o- -o- -o- -o-
BILL FRAWLEY has made many friends among show business personalities. He and Fred MacMurray are old friends stemming back to the old movie days when they made quite a few Paramount films together.
Although Fred MacMurray was hard to convince, Frawley was anxious to do “My Three Sons” because he thought it had all the ingredients of a hit. He was so right for the show has been renewed for another season. In fact, it is one of the few hits of this season that will be brought back in the Fall.
Fred Mertz, Bub O'Casey or Bill Frawley, the "grumpy lovable old coot," keeps picking the winners.

Tuesday 29 September 2020

Tom Thumb vs the Worm

Tom Thumb (from the Ub Iwerks cartoon of the same name) decides to go fishing with his dad but needs a worm for bait. The worm has other ideas.

Whoever animated this scene uses little motion lines as the battle carries on.

The Iwerks director tried to get the most he could out of the Cinecolor red/blue pallet. I like the swirls here as the worm laughs.

The worm twirls Tom Thumb in perspective and tosses him into the water.

No animators are credited here; just musical director Carl Stalling, though reader Devon Baxter says Irv Spence is the artist here.

Monday 28 September 2020

Shell in the Pants, Volume Two

A gag done a lot better in The Three Little Pups (released by MGM in 1953) finds its way into Tex Avery’s final theatrical cartoon Sh-h-h-h-h-h (released by Walter Lantz in 1955).

Reminiscent of Pups, Mr. Twiddle tries to shoot a cannon through an impossibly small hole to get the people in the next room to be quiet. Someone in the other room flips the cannon around.

Twiddle is embarrassed his butt has been blown up and slinks off camera. It’s a variation of a gag Avery used at MGM; in Ventriloquist Cat, the cat uses a mirror to show the audience the damage.

Back to the Pups gag, where Twiddle goes behind a screen to change his pants and he hangs his old ones, with the shell embedded, over the top. Then it’s on to the next scene. In Pups, it’s so much better because it’s the set-up to a topper—there’s a second set of pants with a dog chomped down on them, and the wolf says to the dog “Okay, break it up, son. Joke’s over, y’hear?”

Tex wrote this one himself, and it suffers from a plot that makes no sense. But it gave him a chance to try out some of his old gags and his noise/sleep routine one more time.

Sunday 27 September 2020

Eavesdropping on Jack Benny and Ann Sheridan

Before Ed Sullivan was the stiffest emcee on TV, he was a newspaper columnist in New York. Like a number of columnists, he also had a 15-minute show on the radio. It was on one of these shows in 1932 that he allowed vaudevillian Jack Benny to do some prepared shtick, which resulted in Benny getting his own radio show and making him a fixture on the speaker, and then small screen, until he died in 1974.

Sullivan wrote about Benny periodically; it was a little difficult as they were on different coasts. But Jack found time to visit New York and Sullivan then found time to write about him.

Here’s Sullivan’s New York Daily News column of June 14, 1945. The names should be reasonably familiar. Ann Sheridan and Benny starred together in George Washington Slept Here (1943). Steve Hannegan was her agent and had a relationship on the side with her. Jinx Falkenburg was an actress who toured Europe with Benny in 1943. She had just married Tex McCrory and they had a morning radio show together. I have no idea who Joan Gaines was. Bing Crosby was a former resident of Spokane.

Conversation Piece
(In which a Broadway columnist sets down the approximate conversation, during a night on the town, of some out-of-towners).

Ann Sheridan—Suppose Ingrid Bergman’s passport IS held up, Jack. Then what?
Jack Benny—Well I’ve got eight weeks so we can go ahead, and Ingrid could meet us overseas. She’s only got six weeks anyway, so that would be O. K.
Mrs. Danny Kaye—Danny’s happy. He goes overseas in September.
Jack Benny—Did I show you this wire, Sylvia, that your Danny sent me. Kate Cameron only gave Danny’s picture two and one half stars, so I wired him a reminder that Kate gave my picture three stars. Tonight, I got a return wire, in dialect: "Are you going to latt a leetle think like half a star coming between us, Jackson."
Steve Hannegan—Look, there’s Crosby coming in.
Ann Sheridan—More stars here than we’ve got on the Warner lot.
Director Henry Hathaway—Enough to make a picture—second thought, a picture that would chase people, screaming, from theatres. Remember, Ann, the first picture you made for me at Paramount. Steve, I had Ann, Ida Lupino, Toby Wing and six other starlets in the one flicker. All the way through, one youngster kept giggling and spoiling "takes". Who was it?
Steve Hannegan—Sheridan!! She still giggles.
Bing Crosby—Hello, boys and girls. H’ya. Edward ? Hope tells me you’re hitting that golf ball right on the nose. You going overseas this week, Jack? I’m off to meet Hope for some golf matches
Jack Benny—Was that young Jack Kennedy, the Ambassador's son, talking to you, Bing?
Bing Crosby—Yeah. I didn t tumble to him for a minute. He looks different out of uniform. He's a nice kid. How was the Patton-Doolittle show you did out in Los Angeles, Jack?
Jack Benny—It was really a thrill. The last time I’d seen General Patton was in Sicily.
Joan Gaines—I can't get over the shock of Patton having a high voice. You just don t expect it. He ought to boom.
Jack Benny—When we were parting in Sicily I asked him if there were something I could do for him back home. So he said: "Yes. I’d appreciate it if you’d telephone my sister when you get to the Coast, She’s a great radio fan. Maybe you could invite her to one of your broadcasts. They are nice people, those Pattons.
Mrs. Hathaway—Why’s Ernie Hoist playing the Wedding March? Oh, look, there’s Jinx Falkenberg and her new hubby.
Jack Benny—Understand Hank Greenberg's out of the Air Corps.
Steve Hannegan—Sit here with us, Bing.
Bing Crosby—Thank you, my dear fellows, but I'm a-sittin’ with Jinx and the groom, who is a-pickin’ up the check-a.
Girl's voice—Miss Sheridan, could I get your autograph on this menu, please? It's for my brother. He saw you in Burma. Now he's in a hospital, wounded.
Ann Sheridan—Oh, I’m sorry. Give him my very best, won’t you. Here, I’ll say it myself. (She scrawls: "Love, Ann Sheridan ).
Girl's voice—Would you sign it, too, Mr. Benny?
Second girl's voice—There, you see. When Ann Sheridan signed that autograph, did you notice her ring hand. That’s a solid gold wedding band soldered to that other ring. I’ll just bet they’re married. Jack Benny—I love New York. I wish I could spend a year here.
Mrs. Danny Kaye—All you've got to do is to make up your mind and do it. Danny’s going to come back to N. Y. next year maybe play an engagement at the Waldorf, or do a show.
Henry Hathaway—Why a night club even though it's the Waldorf?
Mrs. Danny Kaye—It’s the greatest place to break in new routines.
Jack Benny—I’ve brought along two fiddles. Maybe I could play the Waldorf, Steve?
Steve Hannegan—By the way, Jack, did you notice that the revised Hooper made you No. 1 man on the Pacific Coast?
Ann Sheridan—Wonder what my Hooper is at Warner’s?
Steve Hannegan—Quiet-t-t.
Henry Hathaway—I don’t know about the rest of you, but the Hathaways are country folks. We’re going home.
Jack Benny—Me, too. Waiter, may I have the—what. Oh-h-h. Mr. Hannegan paid the check. That’s good, that’s fine!

Saturday 26 September 2020

Bugs in Print

Back in the 1910s, animated cartoons were based much of the time on characters found in the comic section of the newspaper—Krazy Kat, Mutt and Jeff, The Police Dog and Jerry on the Job come to mind. But there was some turnabout. Felix the Cat appeared in newspapers long after his screen career came to an end.

Bugs Bunny’s huge popularity in 1940 made him in demand for syndication in the comic pages. In 1942, Leon Schlesinger signed a deal with the National Enterprise Association to put him and sidekick characters like Elmer Fudd, Sniffles and Porky and Petunia Pig in a daily comic strip (Oh, and “Chester Turtle” according to the ad to the right). The first Sunday page appeared on January 10, 1943.

As papers were added, they were encouraged to promote Bugs arriving in their comic section. It would appear a Bugs “biography” was part of the press kit.

This appeared in the Battle Creek Enquirer of November 7, 1952. Evidently, the copy was pretty old because Bugs had been in comics for ten years, not five.

Antics of a Funny Bunny To Appear in Paper Daily
Bugs Bunny was not born deep down inside some obscure Hollywood inkwell as you might think. The amazing animated rabbit is the creation of some of the film capital's cleverest writers, directors and cartoonists.
This is the story of his rise from movie extra to streamlined star of the screen cartoons and newspaper comics.
Started As Bit Player
Like many famous stars, Bugs Bunny got his start as a bit player. He was the intended victim of the intrepid hunter, Elmer Fudd, but somehow managed to elude the double-barreled shotgun in every sequence.
Pretty soon Bugs Bunny was popping up out of rabbit holes, chewing his carrot and shout "What's cookin', Doc?" as the star of Warner Bros, cartoon shorts, while Elmer was playing supporting roles. Now baby-talking Elmer turns up frequently in the Bugs Bunny comic strip, along with stuttering Porky Pig, plump Petunia and Bugs Bunny's other screen pals.
The bold, brash character of Bugs Bunny so unlike the everyday rabbits you meet is the result of many years of development.
First he got a shot of courage. Then his creators added a Brooklyn accent, which Bugs now uses most effectively in the balloons of his daily strip which starts in the Enquirer and News on Monday.
Kept in Wild State
The nation's best-known Bunny has been kept in the wild state—never given houses to live in and rarely wearing clothes. He has no steady girl friend, although he is permitted an occasional romance.
Much of Bugs popularity is due to the fact that all red-blooded Americans enjoy watching the underdog get the better of his oppressor. The Bunny always gets into trouble through no fault of his own then turns the tables on the trouble makers. This formula for fun is as successful in the NEA daily comic strip as on the screen.
Bugs Bunny has an impressive war record. He was adopted by every branch of the armed forces and became the most widely traveled Hollywood star going 'round the world on bombers, warships, tanks, jeeps and other military vehicles.
He served as the mascot insignia of countless units and kept 10 million GIs’ minds off their troubles with his 16 mm. appearance overseas.
Birthday Celebrated
While authentic Bugs Bunny autographs are exceedingly rare the rabbit is as popular as Santa Claus with his juvenile fans. They have formed Bugs Bunny fan clubs throughout the country and have made his comic book the second largest seller in the world.
Last Easter, Bugs Bunny's birthday was the occasion of big celebrations in movie houses throughout the country. Entire chains of theaters featured simultaneous releases of his biographical cartoon "A Hare Grows in Manhattan" and promotion stunts included everything from kiddie drawing contests to "personal" appearances.
Bugs Bunny has been an NEA comic star for nearly five years. While his busy schedule permits him to make only six to eight cartoons annually, his thousands of fans see Bugs daily in the comic pages of America's leading newspapers.

Friday 25 September 2020

Smoke Gets In Your House

Wally Walrus figures he can stop smoke (created by Woody Woodpecker burning trash) from coming through the wall of his house by covering it up with a painting.

No, that doesn’t solve the problem. Things get surreal instead. The smoke starts coming from the stack of the train on the painting.

Here’s Wally’s take, as directed by Dick Lundy. All on ones.

The capper is the train in the painting starts moving and Woody’s on the train.

Paul J. Smith animated the take, but Grim Natwick and Stanley Onaitis get the rotating animation credits on this cartoon, 1946’s Smoked Hams from the Walter Lantz studio. Jack Mather plays Wally.

Thursday 24 September 2020

Long House, Isn't It?

Grandma has a long house. A very, very, very long house. Here’s Johnny Johnsen’s background painting (with wolf included) from The Bear’s Tale, a 1940 Tex Avery cartoon at Warners. You can click on it to see it better. I hope.

The only Johnsen background that may be longer is the park road in Red Hot Rangers at MGM.

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Morgan Makes the Big Time

Some people knew the Golden Age of Radio was full of inanity. And a few made fun of it on the air—Fred Allen, Bob and Ray, and Henry Morgan being good examples.

Allen became embittered about a giveaway show which took away his listeners and helped push him off the air. Bob and Ray were shunted from network to network, time-slot to time-slot, trying to find the right fit in a dying industry. And Morgan couldn’t keep a show on the air, despite some great concepts, and finally contenting himself, like Allen, with marking time on a televised panel quiz show.

Morgan had made a bit of a name for himself for being a 15-minute grump, and for ridiculing his sponsor’s sales pitches. One of his complaints was he was capable of fronting a big-time comedy/variety show. So ABC gave him one.

The elements were good. There were put-downs of radio shows and advertising, quirky musical numbers and some social satire. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t. The stuff that didn’t was painful because Morgan got no audience reaction but was forced to finish his routine. ABC finally gave up on Morgan, who was picked up by NBC after a lot of pressure from Fred Allen. But variety shows cost money and with more potential sponsors giving up radio for television, Morgan didn’t have a chance (despite Arnold Stang and two of Jackie Gleason’s future cast-mates, Art Carney and Pert Kelton).

Radio Life profiled Morgan’s career to date in its edition of November 24, 1946. Some of the dialogue described comes from the first two ABC shows. The photos accompanied the article.

Madman Morgan
Madcap Henry Morgan Has Hit the Big Time
Now by Biting the Hand That Feeds Him!

By Joan Buchanan

Wednesday, 9:30 p.m. ABC—KECA, KFMB, KPRO
HE'S A big star now—perhaps destined to be the biggest comedy name in 1947—but the faithful Henry Morgan fans are keeping their fingers crossed. They've followed the incorrigible Morgan's career long enough to know that sometimes the sponsor and the station can't take it. And Morgan just doesn't care!
Here's a glimpse of Morgan's past hilarious history in radio—read it and then join us in crossing fingers. Henry became the youngest announcer in radio at the age of seventeen, became a newscaster and was hired and fired all in the space of five weeks. He just couldn't get to broadcasts on time. He went to a station in Philadelphia and worked for one year, signing off the station at night by announcing the names of everyone who happened to be in the studio including the janitor, elevator operators, window cleaners. He was finally fired for listing station executives whom he seldom met in the missing persons bureau broadcast. Happily Morgan comments, "It was days before they discovered it."
Worked at a station in Boston for two years and was doing fine until he got interested in a law course. He started attending law school at night and was fired for cutting a broadcast to take his examinations. Oh, well, as Morgan says, "Time Marches Sideways!" Our hero finally wound up on station WOR in New York, where he did the remotes from the out-of-town dine and dance spots. Cracks like "Hop in your car and drive to 'Blank's Silver Slipper'. It's only fifteen minutes from New York as the crow flies—that is if the crow happens to be driving a supercharged motorcycle . . ." made officials decide that this wasn't exactly the sort of thing to induce confidence in the remote broadcasts. Instead of firing Morgan, they gave him a weekly spot where he could do his kidding on his own time.
Is "Discovered"
Listeners discovered him and soon he was doing his famous "Here's Morgan" broadcasts three times a week. This was soon expanded to six a week. If the listeners could take it Morgan could! But alas, the poor sponsor! The Adler Elevator Shoe people were perhaps Morgan's most famous and most heckled sponsor. Three times they withdrew sponsorship, but Morgan was in their blood—they always came back. Morgan persisted in referring to his sponsor as "Old Man Adler" and one time after delivering a rhapsody on Adler's Shoes, in an aside, he confided to his listeners, "Frankly, I wouldn't wear them to a dog fight." The sponsor was upset and asked Morgan to retract his statement. Next day on the air, Morgan repeated his set-to with "Old Man Adler". "I said I'd take it back and I will," stated Morgan. "I would wear Adler's Shoes to a dog fight." It was tactics like this that had men of above-average height buying this brand of shoe. Morgan lost the sponsorship of Life Savers when he confided that they were milking the public by putting holes in their candy. He also referred to their six delicious flavors as "cement, asphalt, asbestos . . . "
Radio took a step backward when Morgan went into the army in 1943. Happily, "Here's Morgan" came back to the airways in 1945. And now look! Coast-to-coast on a sponsored show! In deference to the actors and musicians on his present show, Henry is using a script. Formerly he used to work from notes he had made shortly before air time. An expert ad-libber, he could take off from anywhere following his famous opening, "Hello, anybody, here's Morgan." Newspaper items, remarks overheard in an elevator, people talking to themselves on the street, billboard and bus advertisements, signs in store windows, magazine articles and movies are all stored up in Morgan's wonderful memory ready to be used as material for his show. But it's always been the commercial that's the spice of the program. "People don't care about where and how a product is made," says Morgan, "they just want to know if it is good . . . The trouble with the average sponsor is that he's just average. I know more about radio advertising than the guys in the business."
Phone Marathon
Morgan always kept his address and phone number a secret to avoid angry sponsors. If the sponsor was enraged he'd have to call the agency, who called the network, who called the only person who knew Morgan's phone number. She called Morgan, and if the complaint hadn't died down by that time she would recite it to Morgan, who didn't care anyway.
He has never liked studio audiences, and if he tells a joke he thinks isn't funny, he will glare fiercely at anyone in the audience who dares to laugh. He is a versatile dialectician because he worked alone for so long that he had to learn to do his own characters. His Russian, British, French and German dialects are hilarious.
Here are some Morganisms: He invented Broonsday, the eighth day of the week. It's the day that people take old gold and convert it back into sea water—the day we take nylons and make coal out of them. Started a medical school for doctors who don't practice medicine—just pose for ads. "One of my doctors," says Henry, "has invented Gonfalon's Enormous Liver Pills because he discovered that there are various sizes of livers—they're not all little." Morgan is also the discoverer of the town of More. "There are only two housewives in that town," he explains, "so when you see an advertisement that says 'More housewives recommend ... ,' you know it's these two women who live in More, Nebraska." "Do you suffer from acid stomach ?" asks Morgan. "Well, stop drinking acid."
One of Morgan's recent shows started out with the announcer screaming, "And, now, the star of our show, America's number one funny man, Bob Hope!" Morgan came on quietly with, This is Henry Morgan. The reason the announcer said Bob Hope was we figured we'd get twelve million more listeners. If you tune out now, you're a sore loser." And who else would urge you to "try CBS to see if there's anything better on?".
Morgan used to refer to his girl friend as the "ninth most beautiful girl in New York." But said he didn't like women because, "if they're smart, they argue—if they're dumb, you can't stand them!" Unpredictable as always, he recently got married!
A Conformist
On his first half-hour night–time broadcast Morgan told his audience: "The other joke shows aren't on the air yet so I have no one to steal from. Now that I have my own half-hour I'm going to conform. I've shaved my head for a toupee, and I'm going to get a brother-in-law and a mother-in-law and an announcer who giggles and a closet with a lot of stuff in it and start a feud with Toscanini." He also claimed that he'd tried to think of another name for his show—"I was going to call it the 'Jack Benny Show,' but I found out someone else was using it."
"Here's where the commercials would go," he said later, "if I were foolish enough to sell this valuable program." Foolish or not, the program has been sold to the Eversharp Company. Asked how he liked his new sponsor, Morgan replied, "Eversharp has nice, blue eyes." Fans who were fearful that Morgan would be too impressed with his new position to take the same pot shots at the hand that feeds him knew they had nothing to worry about after they heard the first program. Henry was talking about the Schick Injector razor. "I told them the name was too long," he complained. "I told them they ought to call it the 'Morgan' or the 'Snazzy,' but ..."
He ended up his first show in the new series by pleading to the air audience, "Don't hate me. I did the best I could."
Of himself Morgan says, "I'm intelligent but misguided. If I had any real talent I'd go straight."

Tuesday 22 September 2020

Van Beuren, um, Sextet?

The Van Beuren cartoon studio took the song “The Woman in the Shoe” from the 1930 MGM film Lord Byron of Broadway and built the cartoon The Family Shoe around it in 1931.

Van Beuren loved quartets, so that’s what we see at the start of this short. What’s great is the singers are deadpan but the studio’s writers fit in some bits of business for them. First, the sun interrupts their song, then a tree grows eyes and a mouth and sings the second verse.

The quartet carries on their expressionless singing as the cat gives the tree a dirty look while dog kicks the pig and the pig kicks the duck, who does a mid-air somersault.

The dog loses his pants. But the quartet doesn’t stop singing. After a brief look, the pig silently signals with its bulk to the dog that his pants are down, and the dog pulls them back up.

And for a short period, we get the Van Beuren conjoined mouth gag.

John Foster and Manny Davis get the “by” credit, with Gene Rodemich providing a nice little score with a couple of solos; I especially like the jazz tune as Jack climbs the beanstalk. (It turns out the Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe is Jack’s mother. Who knew?).