Tuesday 13 June 2023

Fly, Spider, Jekyll, Hyde

Two things are notable about Van Beuren’s Fly Frolic—there’s a great anonymous vocal of “Kickin’ the Gong Around” in mid-cartoon, and the John Foster/Harry Bailey team tossed in a spoof of Paramount’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931).

A hideous spider (after singing the aforementioned song) kidnaps a girl fly, takes her to his secret lab and then mixes a concoction. You know the scene. Van Beuren didn’t exactly have top-flight animators, but I get the impression they were trying for something beyond what they were normally doing, as we get double-exposures and an animated swirling effect.

Now that the transition has happened, nothing is done with it. Maybe Foster and Bailey realised they were almost out of time, so they quickly wrapped up the cartoon. The heroine points at the transformed spider, shouts “That’s. Him,” and he quickly changes back before being beaten up to end the cartoon.

This was the 500th Aesop Fable made by the Van Beuren studio, going back to the silent days when the Fables studio put out 52 of them a year. Sound cut that number and, by 1932, the company was producing Tom and Jerry cartoons as well.

1 comment:

  1. Well, the bit seems odd until you realize this is an exact parody of how the March feature ends. Hyde takes the formula transforms into Jekyll, the mob arrives and Jekyll feigns innocence for a few moments before inconveniently reverting to Hyde and receiving his comeuppance. The 'joke', I guess, is the spider is so evil and hideous he must have a dapper alter ego!