Thursday 30 June 2022

Con-Skunk or Not

Doctor Primrose Skunk enters the Hugh Harman cartoon The Little Mole (1941) with a little introductory song, which seems based on “The Girl I Left Behind Me”:
I’m Doctor Primrose Skunk
With a line of junk
At a trade, you’ll always find me.
His suitcase pops open to create a carnival-like prize-wheel contraption. The wheel lands on a pair of glasses he gives to the title character, surreptitiously extricating a coin, and wanders away behind an overlay of flowers singing:
I get my pay
And I’m on my way
And a sucker is left behind me.

The glasses allow the little mole to actually see things clearly. So how is it “junk”? And how is the mole a “sucker”? Maybe it’s because, at the end, he can no longer see things properly and he’s happy in his self-created world caused by poor vision. Or maybe it’s because Dr. Skunk is wearing a long coat and a top hat, and carries a cane, and that’s how cartoon con-men are dressed.

Harman and his Disneyphile artists fill the screen with little animals and insects, and fairybook flowers and toadstools. Only Harman is credited.

Dr. Skunk is played by Mel Blanc. The other voice actors are anyone’s guess.


  1. Keith Scott told me he'd heard Paula Winslowe, who, also at least is Bambi's mom and Wilma Flintstone's pal outside MGM, as the mother mole..but no one seems to know who our little hero's played by.

    Harman and Ising sure loved those 10 minute long "little" Disney-like cartoons,didn't they?:) This seems to be MGM's own alternate take on their own "Wizard of Oz", in a "little" way:
    The mole as Dorothy
    The skunk as Professor Marvel
    that "Fairy palace" as the emerald city

    Just my thought.

    1. It is this kind of 10 minute cartoon story that made me wonder why MGM didn’t push their cartoon department to work in feature films! I love this cartoon as a kid, just for visual brilliance. In fact, speaking of “the Wizard of Oz“, I wondered why that specific DVD or Blu-ray did not feature more special features like the animated cartoons created by the studio during that time. 1939 was a banner year for such cartoons! The MGM studio had just gone back to color after the “Captain and the kids“ series, and they were creating these glorious looking cartoons. That should’ve been acknowledged briefly in the special features as well. In a few years, they would be doing cartoons like this one and “the field mouse“ and their last hurrah, “the hungry Wolf“! After that, Avery came into the fold and the cartoon department just kept doing short films. These were good, of course, but wow, the kind of short films they were creating from 1939 to about 1941 were lovely pieces of art!

    2. Probably because Louis B Mayer didn't think much of animation. He is said to have remarked regarding "Snow White": "Who's going to pay to look at a drawing of a fairy tale princess when for the same money you can see Joan Crawford's boobs?"

      Neither did Jack Warner, whose studio released what is probably the most satisfying body of cartoons any of the studios put out: "All I know is we created Mickey Mouse." Imagine not knowing about Bugs Bunny, whose creation many would argue is a much more impressive achievement.

    3. As far as I know, the Warner "quote" was by Chuck Jones. Judging by comments from Bob McKimson and others, I don't buy Jones' claim.

  2. Hans Christian Brando1 July 2022 at 17:46

    At least the glasses worked. It's not Primrose's fault the mole tripped.