Monday 2 November 2020

Here I Am in the Fifth Row!

Tex Avery erases the line of what’s on the screen and what’s in the movie theatre in the end gag of Cinderella Meets Fella (1938).

There are Averyisms throughout the cartoon, but the ending has the Prince following the original fairy tale and showing up at Cinderella’s house. The plot veers off into Averyland again, when instead of having Cindy try on the slipper (which disappears after an earlier scene), the Prince looks at a note. The artist goes for fleshy, fingernailed hands.

The Prince is inconsolable until a shadow appears on the screen. It’s Cindy in the theatre watching him in the cartoon (that she’s actually in). She leaves the theatre and rushes onto the screen.

Reunited, the Prince and Cinderella both leave the screen for the theatre through the closing iris to watch the coming newsreel. End of cartoon.

There’s plenty of familiar Avery to go around. The fairy godmother enjoys her gin (we see the bottle, but she doesn’t drink from it). The radio talks back to Cinderella. She gives out an advertising slogan before turning it on. We get Jimmy Fidler’s catchphrase “And I do mean you!” spouted as a post-script by the evil step-sisters with the NBC chimes lightly in the background. The Prince, of course, is based on comedian Joe Penner (the impression is by Danny Webb). Avery resisted the temptation to have him screech “You naaasty man!”

The Motion Picture Herald of July 23, 1938, was impressed, though I don’t think the dancing qualifies as “jitterbugging.”
Outstanding Cartoon
Hardly classically reverential in its treatment of the hallowed and ageless fable of the little slavey girl who meets a Prince Charming boy is this jazzed up version from the iconoclastic pen of Leon Schlesinger but even the youngster most ardently devoted to the fairy fable lore will lose his bewilderment in witnessing the desecration of one of his favorite tales in gales of childish glee. The free hand of the artist has drawn Cindy's magic fairy godmother in screwball shades and the soundman has given the curly haired heroine a set of "Betty Boopish" vocal cords. As for the glamorous and dashing Prince, the female contingency in the audience will be startled after admiring the "Snow White" edition of the royal gentleman to witness the "goofy" picturization of the princely chap in this cartoon. The famous ball scene is reduced to a jitterbug session. The finale finds the romantic couple at a neighborhood showplace. However, the drawings, taken in the insane spirit in which they are sketched, will produce an hilarious audience response and should flavor any programme with a welcome touch of amusing nonsense. The technical makeup of color and musical background provide excellent help in creating the atmosphere for the subject. — Running time, seven minutes.
By the way, the same year as this cartoon, Bunny Berigan came out with a B-side called “When a Prince of a Fella Meets a Cinderella.” Coincidence? Mmmmm....could be. Oh, wait, Avery skipped that radio catchphrase in this one.

Virgil Ross was the credited animator. Sid Sutherland, Paul Smith and Irv Spence were Avery’s other animators at the time. Cinderella is Berneice Hansell. Mel Blanc is heard, and the godmother could be Elvia Allman.

1 comment:

  1. I always wondered what Prince Egghead saw when he looked under the saloon door.

    The musical interlude here, and in Avery's later "Land of the Midnight Fun" are really jarring, because it's so obvious in both that the director is now absolutely certain he knows what's funny and knows he can get laughs by lampooning conventional norms and stories, but still has to make J.L.'s music silencing department happy by stopping dead for a semi-serious chorus (it was good they started figuring out by '39 that the studio's music could be used just as well in Carl Stalling's underscores than as stand-alone highlighted numbers).