Sunday, June 30, 2019

Cowboy Church #16

Hello again my friends and welcome back for another edition of Cowboy Church. 

We start our music off with The Sons of the Pioneers performing Cowboy Camp Meeting in the 1946 Roy Rogers film, Rainbow Over Texas (1946). This catchy upbeat gospel tune was written by the group's own Tim Spencer. Next up comes Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette performing a short comedic song called Uncle Noah's Ark. This version comes from the feature film, Roundup Time in Texas (1937). Smiley Burnette wrote this song and as many of you probably know, he often played Gene's sidekick in these early films. After this the King of Western Swing, Bob Wills No Disappointment in Heaven in a classic 1936 recording. Next comes Charley Pride performing In Jesus Name I Pray from his 1976 album, Sunday Morning With Charley Pride. After this comes a thought provoking song from Willie Nelson's 1971 Yesterday's Wine album, called It's Not For Me to Understand. After this comes a rare, but very fun gospel song sung and written by Johnny Cash called Sanctified. We close our music with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans performing Jesus Loves the Little Children in a lovely 1955 recording. 

Now for a classic episode from TV's The Roy Rogers Show (1951-1957). This episode is called Fishing For Fingerprints and is the second episode of Season 6 (the last season of the show). 

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God." Ephesians 2:8"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." Romans 10:17If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9Thanks for joining me see you again next week. Until then Happy Trails to you until we meet again.

-Michael J. Ruhland


Saturday, June 29, 2019

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #25

Hello my friends. It is once again Saturday morning and time to look at some more classic cartoons. 

We start with an early Looney Tunes cartoon. This film was made before such characters as Porky, Daffy and Bugs were created. Instead it stars the often forgotten Bosko. Bosko was the main character of Looney Tunes from 1930 to 1933. In fact while its sister series Merrie Melodies featured various non-reoccurring characters, every Looney Tune during this period starred Bosko. Bosko was like many of the cartoon stars of the early 1930's. This is to say he was very much in the mold of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse. He even had a girlfriend (Honey) and a dog (Bruno), meant to remind audiences of Minnie and Pluto. The creators of Bosko were Hugh Harmon and Rudolf Ising, both of whom had previously been employed by Walt. When they left the studio in 1933, they took the rights to the character of Bosko with them. They would make a few cartoons with Bosko at MGM, but it wasn't long until the character faced retirement from cartoons. This cartoon is one that uses much of Bosko's dog, Bruno, as Bosko enters him in a dog race. Animation of the actual race would be reused in Bosko's Picture Show (1933). The ending reminds me rather vaguely of the Porky Pig cartoon, Milk and Money (1936). Though that cartoon being Tex Avery would be timed much faster. So enjoy the delightful, Bosko's Dog Race (1932).    

Next comes a much later Warner Brothers cartoon, from Looney Tunes' sister series Merrie Melodies. This is one of the many cartoons of the 1960's which placed Daffy Duck as Speedy Gonzales' anatogist. This was an odd pairing to say the least. The cartoon is directed by animation legend Robert McKimson who had worked on Warners cartoons as early as some of the Bosko's. McKimson's cartoons were certainly the strongest Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies of this late era. So enjoy, Mexican Mousepiece (1966).

Next comes a real oddity. This is a Popeye cartoon, where the sailor is not voiced by either Jack Mercer or Billy Costello. Instead the voice is provided by Floyd Buckley, who a few months after this recording session would voice Popeye on a popular Popeye radio show. This would be the only time he would voice Popeye in a cartoon short. The voice of Popeye certainly does sound more than a bit off here, but the cartoon is delightful despite that. This is one of those excellent Fleischer shorts, where a character learns a lesson by being subjected to the creulty he placed on others. So enjoy, Be Kind to Animals (1935).

Next comes another classic Fleischer Brothers short of the 1930's. This one stars their most famous original character (Popeye was a comic strip before they started the cartoon series), Betty Boop. This is one of the three Betty Boop cartoons to feature the voice of jazz legend Cab Calloway (the other two being Minnie the Moocher (1932) and Snow White (1933)). All three of these cartoons to capture the magic of Cab's on stage movements, rotoscoped (tracing over live action film) Cab's dancing. Fans of The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), will recognize that that movie made a direct reference to this cartoon even borrowing a bit of dialogue. So enjoy, The Old Man of the Mountain (1933).

Thanks for joining me, come back next week for more animated treasures.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Friday, June 28, 2019

Movie Review: Yesterday

Michael's Movie Grade: B

Review: Sweet and charming romantic comedy.

The idea of a world where one of the most popular and influential bands of all time never existed is a fascinating one. The idea of one person remembering these songs and all the sudden become the world's most famous singer/"songwriter" is just as fascinating. However if you are looking for a deep and thought-provoking look at these ideas, this movie does not provide one. Instead this film is a simple romantic comedy. However as a romantic comedy, this one is quite good. As is often the most important factor to a romantic comedy, the romance is very well done. Our two leads are completely charming and have wonderful chemistry with each other. They really come off as a sweet and adorable couple and it is a joy seeing them together on the screen. Of course a romantic comedy has to have some comedy as well as romance. The comedy here is equally as good. There are quite a few truly laugh out loud moments. For instance I love Jack trying to remember the words to Eleanor Rigby. I also really like the running gag of Jack making references to different things and discovering that those don't exist either now. Making all this much more effective is Danny Boyle's excellent direction. His unique touch is felt all throughout this movie and I couldn't help but think of his excellent film, Millions at times, since this has the same lighthearted simple charm as well as some unexplained fantasy elements.

Of course as well as a romantic comedy this movie is also a tribute to The Beatles. This movie has what all tributes should have, a clear and undeniable passion for what they are paying tribute to. It is obvious that the people who made this film love The Beatles. The covers are excellent, as Himesh Patel proves himself to be quite a performing, putting his heart and soul into these famous songs. Also this movie visually complements these songs beautifully. I love the pure energy and shown on screen as Jack, Ellie and Gavin record I Want to Hold Your Hand.

Not everything in this movie works however. The side characters can often be rather bland stereotypes of characters. Also a meeting with a surprise character, feels forced and not as touching as the filmmakers want it to be. You can also see where the romance is going from the start.

This film is delightful and put a smile on my face while watching it. Hopefully it will do the same for you.

-Michael J. Ruhland  

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Silent Films on TCM This July

Metropolis (1927)
Hello my friends. Again for my final silent film and TCM fans, here is a list of the silent films that will air on Turner Classic Movies this July. This month TCM all the silent films TCM are showing are foreign. Of course this means little as a great movie is a great movie regardless of what country it comes from.

Tuesday, July 2nd

A Trip to the Moon
(1902) Director: Georges Melies. Starring Georges Melies and Bluette Bernon. 5pm Pacific. 8pm Eastern.

Metropolis (1927) Director: Fritz Lang. Starring Brigitte Helm and Alfred Abel. 5:30 pm Pacific. 8:30pm Eastern.

Woman in the Moon (1929) Director: Fritz Lang. Starring Klaus Pohl and Gerda Maurus. 8pm Pacific. 11pm Eastern.

Sunday July 7th

A Page of Madness
(1926) Director: Teinosuke Kinugasa. Starring Masao Inoue and Ayao Iijima. 9:15pm Pacific and 12:15am Eastern.

Monday, July 8th

(1922) Director: FW Murnau. Starring Max Schreck and Alexander Granach. 4:15am Pacific. 7:15am Eastern.

Sunday, July 14th

Diary of a Lost Girl
(1929) Director: G.W. Pabst. Starring Louise Brooks and Fritz Rasp. 9pm Pacific and 12am Eastern.

Wednesday, July 17th

A Trip to the Moon
(1902) Director: Georges Melies. Starring Georges Melies and Bluette Bernon. 2:30am Pacific. 5:30am Eastern.

Sunday, July 21st

I Was Born But...
(1932) Director: Yasujiro Ozu. Starring Tomio Aoki and Tatsuo Saito. 9:15pm Pacific. 12:15am Eastern.

Sunday, July 28th

Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages
(1922). Director: Benjamin Christensen. Starring Oscar Stribolt and Clara Pontoppidan. 9pm Pacific. 12am Eastern.
-Michael J. Ruhland  

Monday, June 24, 2019

Movie Review: Anna

Michael's Movie Grade: F

Review: This film manages to be both unpleasant and dull at the same time.

It is hard to believe that the director of Le Femme Nikki could possible take a movie like this and make it so bad. While Luc Besson's directorial output has not always been flawless, Anna stands as a rarity for the filmmaker as it feels completely lazy. Every story element and character here is something we have seen a million times, with nothing new or interesting added. The movie just seems to go through the motions from each cliché with little interest in the story it is telling. In fact each character seemingly only exists for reasons of spouting cliché dialogue. They have little to no personalities themselves and never for second feel like real people. The title character follows a mistake too many filmmakers make. Her backstory is mistaken for her personality. She has had a rough life and wants to get out of it anyway possible. This is not a bad motivation, if we could care about the character. Instead however this amounts to one of her two character traits. The other character trait is even duller. She wants to have sex with anyone who moves. This trait adds nothing to the character, but rather just leads to pointless sex scenes that of left on the cutting room floor would hardly make a difference.

This film takes an odd storytelling choice. This film will show a twist and then flash back and show why this happened. There is no reason for this and it adds nothing to the movie. It is hard to look at this structure and view it as anything other than a gimmick.

There are some very unpleasant scenes in this movie, but since there is no depth to the film, these scenes are simply unpleasant to watch and nothing more. When we see Anna's unpleasant past, we see her at the hands of a cruel and abusive boyfriend. Even if we don't care for the character, watching an abusive relationship on screen is tough and uncomfortable. Less bad but still mean-spirited is when Anna tortures a photographer doing a photoshoot of her because he goes past the time he was supposed to. I don't know how we were supposed to react to this scene or what it was supposed to add to the movie. All I know is I wanted it to be over quickly. How that scene did not end up on the cutting room floor is beyond my understanding.

Simply avoid this movie at all costs.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Sunday, June 23, 2019

1909 Talking Picture Camera

In 1909 as many of us know, talkies were a long way from taking over the cinema. However even this early, filmmakers were trying to figure out how to perfect talking pictures. Naturally the phonograph would play a major role in the efforts to accomplish an early talking picture camera. An early effort at a talking picture camera can be seen in this 1909 article from The Nickelodeon. If these pictures are too fuzzy for you can click here to see a clearer picture.


-Michael J. Ruhland

Cowboy Church #15

Hello my friends and welcome back for another installment of Cowboy Church. 

We start our musical selection off with Gene Autry performing When it's Roundup Time in Heaven. This version is from a 1946 episode of Gene Autry's radio show, Melody Ranch and features the Cass County Kids, the Kettle Sisters, and Johnny Bond. The song was written by Jimmie Davis. Jimmie Davis is best remembered for writing the country classic You Are My Sunshine. Jimmie would also become the governor of Louisiana from 1944 to 1948 and 1960 to 1964. Next comes the Cass County Boys performing a medley of Old Chisholm Trail and I've Been Invited to a Jubilee in a clip from the Gene Autry feature film, Wagon Team (1952). Next comes the Sons of the Pioneers 1934 recording of Open Up Them Pearly Gates. At this time Leonard Slye (later Roy Rogers) was still a member of the group. After this comes possibly Roy Acuff's biggest hit, The Great Speckled Bird. This is his original version that he recorded in 1936. Next comes Roy Rogers performing a lovely song called Lamp of Faith. Next comes a gospel song written and performed by Willie Nelson called In God's Eyes. This song comes from his 1971 album Yesterday's Wine. Next comes Johnny Cash performing Where the Soul of Man Never Dies from his 2003 album My Mother's Hymn Book. When making this album Johnny didn't tell Rick Rubin, his producer, he was making a gospel album. Rick just told Johnny to record whatever he felt like. Johnny kept recording gospel songs and Rick kept liking them. 

Here is a clip of Roy Rogers talking about how his and Dale's Christian faith affected their lives.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Thanks for joining me for another installment of Cowboy Church. See you again next week for some more classic country gospel music and more treats. So as always Happy trails until we meet again.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Movie Review: Toy Story 4

Michael's Movie Grade: A-

Review: After Toy Story 3 provided such a great ending for the series, many of us (including me) were skeptical when Toy Story 4 was announced. I am happy to say our skepticism was misplaced. This film provides a truly great finish to a series that has been dear to many of our hearts.

This is some ways is the most low key of the Toy Story movies. Most of the conflict is internal (though this can be argued to be true for Toy Story 2 as well) and there is no big physical suspense scene like the incinerator scene from Toy Story 3 or the escape from Sid's room in the first Toy Story. The closest scenes we get are either played more for laughs or more for emotion than the previous examples. This movie shows perfectly that the internal conflict can be just as effective as the external. What Woody goes through here is something that all of us have felt and can relate to. We know we shouldn't react to it as obsessively as Woody does, but if we are all honest with ourselves, it is the way many of us do react. The possibility that we are no longer useful is truly terrifying and a thought that I have struggled with many times. This made this movie possibly the most emotionally relatable Toy Story movie. I understand that this is because of who I am as a person, and scenes from previous movies might be more relatable to you. One thing that made me write off this movie in my head when I saw the trailers was the character of Forky. The idea of a living spork in a Toy Story movie, seemed like a terrible one to me. What shocked me watching this movie is that I actually ended up really liking the character. He made me laugh out loud many times, especially with his obsession with trash, and the way he described it to Woody. A mid-credits sequence featuring him was an especially huge laugh for me. Forky like Woody has more internal conflict than external here. It works perfectly. We have all had those moments when we wondered why we exist and felt like we don't belong. Forky personifies those moments for us, but in a way that has enough warmth and humor that it never becomes depressing. Gabby Gabby is an equally fascinating character, but I refuse to go into more detail to avoid spoilers.

As stated when talking about Forky despite all the internal conflict this movie's emotional moments are balanced out with a lot of great humor. Buttercup's plans, Buzz's inner voice, most scenes involving Ducky and Bunny, and much of Bonnie's interactions with her parents are really funny.

Naturally with this being a new Toy Story movie we get a new Randy Newman song. This song is fantastic and connects to what we are seeing on screen in both a humorous and emotional way.

This movie really is as good of an ending as a series like this can get and I can't recommend it enough.

P.S. I am extremely disappointed by the lack of an animated short before the feature.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #24

Hello again my friends and welcome back to some more classic cartoons this Saturday morning. 

We start with one of the most atmospheric Mickey Mouse cartoons, The Mad Doctor (1933). Differing from earlier Mickey cartoons, this film is not a pure comedy. Rather this cartoon mixes in elements of horror and suspense. The horror elements were too present for some. Because it was deemed too scary, it was actually banned from some theatres and completely banned in the UK. Shockingly this cartoon's copyright was never renewed and actually fell into the public domain. This film along with The Sprit of '43 (1943) and Minnie's Yoo Hoo (1930) is one of the very few Disney shorts (not including the Alice Comedies) to fall into public domain. Video game fans will be familiar with elements of this cartoon. The second level of the game Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse was based off this cartoon, and the Mad Doctor himself became a major character in both Epic Mickey games. 

Next comes a very early Silly Symphony. In fact it is the second one. Unlike the first Symphony which was almost entirely animated by Ub Iwerks, this film has a bigger variety of animators. Ub did still animate on this film and not shockingly his portion (the bullfight) of the cartoon is a highlight. The other animators on this film would go on to become very important to Disney history. Burt Gillett (Don Jose and Carmen meeting) would later direct the most popular Silly Symphony, The Three Little Pigs (1933). Wilfred Jackson (Carmen dancing) would later direct some of the best Silly Symphonies and would be a co-director on such Disney features as Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), Peter Pan (1953) and Lady and the Tramp (1955). Les Clark (close-ups of Don Jose) would become one of Walt's Nine Old Men as well as one of the most important Mickey Mouse animators. Jack King (Escamillo challenges Don Jose) would become one of the best Donald Duck directors. Ben Sharpsteen (introduction to the bullfight) would later be the supervising director for such Disney features as Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940) and Dumbo (1941). Though Walt Disney directed this film himself, Ub did supervise much of the animation. This cartoon is an early example of human characters in Disney animation. As such the human animation looks crude compared to later examples. On the other hand the animation of the funny animal bull (something that greater resembled what Walt and his animators had done in the earlier Mickey Mouse and Oswald cartoons) is much more sophisticated. At this point in Disney history very gruesome gross out gags were still part of the cartoons, and this cartoon ends with a very gruesome gag.


From one bullfighting cartoon to another, here is one featuring the Pink Panther. This cartoon is called Bully For Pink (1965). However despite this title the film is not a remake of the Bugs Bunny cartoon, Bully For Bugs (1953). Instead the jokes come from the Pink Panther using a magician's cape in the bullfight. This film was directed by Hawley Pratt, who worked as Friz Freleng's (who produced this cartoon) layout artist when Friz was a director for Warner Brothers.

Now we end with one of the Fleischer Brothers silent Out of the Inkwell cartoons, Koko Needles the Boss (1927). The boss referred to in that title is producer Max Fleischer, who is the animated Koko's live action nemesis in this and many other Out of the Inkwell films.

-Michael J. Ruhland 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Judge Rummy Becomes a Movie Star.

As I am sure many of you know, during the silent era many American cartoon shorts starred popular comic strip stars of the day. The Katzenjammer Kids, Happy Hooligan, Krazy Kat and Mutt and Jeff all had their own cartoon series in the silent era. Another comic strip that got the animated cartoon treatment was Judge Rummy. This strip ran from 1910 until 1922, and the cartoons based off it ran from 1918 to 1922. The stories of both centered around a anthropomorphic dog, who works as a judge. However he always seems to have more interest in alcohol, much to the annoyance of his battle-axe wife. To advertise this cartoon series, a comic strip about the character becoming a movie star appeared in a 1919 issue of the magazine Film Fun. This is below.

Note: I'm sorry that this strip runs over the margins, but that is the only way I could find to post it without it being blurry.    

As an added bonus here is one of the Judge Rummy cartoons, A Fitting Gift (1920).

-Michael J. Ruhland  

Monday, June 17, 2019

How Mary MacLaren Got Into the Movies.

Mary MacLaren is not a household name, even among silent film buffs. Still she certainly had a good career. She appeared in multiple films directed by Lois Weber and even had a good sized role in The Three Musketeers (1921). Though her career would last into the late 1940's, during the sound era, she would play mostly uncredited minor roles. Even the actresses who aren't household names have a story of how they got into the movies. This story is told in an issue of The Moving Picture Weekly dated June 24, 1916. The following pages contain that article.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Doggie Daddy Tells Augie Doggie the Story of Pinocchio

So with it being Father's Day why not look at Hanna-Barbera's father and son duo Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy. These characters started as a segment on my favorite Hanna-Barbera TV show, The Quickdraw McGraw Show (1959-1962). They would have a long career for Hanna-Barbera also appearing in the TV shows, Laff-A-Lympics (1977-1978) and Yogi's Gang (1973). They would also appear in some of the studio's made for TV movies, like Yogi's First Christmas (1980) and Yogi Bear and the Magical Flight of the Spruce Goose (1987). They also appeared in record albums. 

In the 1960's plenty of record albums were made with the Hanna-Barbera characters. An often used plot for these was to have one character tell another a famous fairy tale story. The album we are looking at today involves Doggie Daddy telling Augie Doggie the story of Pinocchio. Though this record replaces the fox and the cat with Fibber Fox (From the Yakky Doodle segment on the Yogi Bear Show (1961-1962)) and Jinks (from the Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks segment from The Huckleberry Hound Show (1958-1962)) and we have Drop Out Land instead of The Land of Toys (Pleasure Island in the Disney film), this record is remarkable close at times to the book. Naturally some of the darker elements were left out and other things were omitted for time. Still what is here stays as close to the book as can come from a record like this. 

This record is from 1965. It features Daws Butler (the original voice of Augie Doggie, Mr. Jinks and Fibber Fox) doing all the voices except for Pinocchio (who is voiced by Dick Beals, who voiced Ralph Phillips in the classic Chuck Jones cartoons) and the fairy (who is voiced by Janet Waldo, the voice of Judy Jetson and Penelope Pitstop). By the way is it just me or does Daws Butler's Geppetto voice sound like Mario? The songs were written by Peggy Shows and Lyn Bryson, who often wrote songs for these Hanna-Barbera records. 

-Michael J. Ruhland

Cowboy Church #14

Happy Sunday my friends and welcome to another edition of Cowboy Church.

We begin with our music selection off with Gene Autry performing There's a Goldmine in the Sky. This song served as the title song for Gene's feature film, Gold Mine in the Sky (1938). This song was written by brothers Nick and Charles Kenny, who also wrote such songs as Love Letters in the Sand and Gone Fishin'. Next comes The Sons of the Pioneers' 1947 recording of Will There Be Sagebrush in Heaven. Next comes Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers performing Cole Porter's classic The Last Roundup. After this comes Johnny Cash performing the classic gospel song Do Lord off his 2003 album My Mother's Hymnbook. This is one of his most personal and intimate albums. When he was growing up, Johnny's mother had a book of old hymns called Heavenly Highway Hymns. This book would later become Johnny's. It meant a lot to Johnny and he decided to pick some of his favorite songs out of the book and make an album out of these. He performed these songs with no backing band. He just had his voice and his guitar. Do Lord is pure toe tapping country gospel at it's best. We follow this with another toe tapping country gospel song, with I'll Fly Away. This version is performed by George Jones and is from 1966 album Old Brush Arbors. Then comes Ernest Tubb's 1949 recording of Jimmie Rogers' The Wonderful City. Next is Hank Williams performing Drifting Too Far From the Shore on the Mothers Best radio show in 1951. This song was originally written in 1922 by Charles E. Moody from the early country music group Georgia Yellow Hammers. The song was very popular when Hank was growing up and stayed with him. We end with the Georgia Yellow Hammers 1927 recording of I'm Saved. This song was written by the group's fiddle player Bud Landress.          

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. John 3:16

Thank you for joining me and Happy Trails to you until we meet again.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #21

Hello my friends and welcome back for another Saturday Morning to be filled with classic cartoon-type goodies. 

Let us start with one of the great Bugs Bunny cartoons of the 1940's Bob Clampett's Falling Hare (1943). This cartoon is the famous one where Bugs meets up with a gremlin (who ain't Wendell Willikie). The working title for this film was going to be Bugs Bunny and the Gremlin. This name was dropped because Walt Disney was making an animated feature based on Roald Dahl's book, Gremlin Lore. Because of this the Walt asked other animation studios not to make films about gremlins. Warner Brothers had this cartoon and one more about gremlins too far down the line of production. So they agreed instead to take the word gremlin out of the title for both. The other was originally titled Gremlins From the Kremlin but would be renamed Russian Rhapsody (1944). This is a fast paced highly energic cartoon which features Clampett's group of animators (especially Robert McKimson and Rod Scribner) at their absolute best. 

Next comes a later Warner Brothers cartoon and one that features the strange, but often used in the 1960's pairing of Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzales. This is also one of the later Daffy Duck films where the duck has become a full on villain. So enjoy Well Worn Daffy (1965). 

 Now for one of the rare instances of very dark satire in one of Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies, Who Killed Cock Robbin? This film shows cartoon birds at the mercy of an unjust legal system. Satire, dark humor, celebrity caricatures and slapstick abound. The most significant of the celebrity caricatures is Jenny Wren, a caricature of Mae West. Most of her animation here is handled fantastically by Ham Luske and her voice comes from Martha Wentworth who does a really good impression. This character would later appear in the Silly Symphony Toby Tortoise Returns (1936). Two of Walt's future Nine Old Men animate on this film, Eric Larson and Clyde Geronimi. Eric animates the scene where Cock Robbin falls and the cops rushing in. Clyde animates the scenes involving the blackbirds and the cops, Legs Sparrow with the cops and then going into the witness box, and the cops' raiding the area. For the year of 1935 the National Board of Review named this as one of the Ten Best American Films (not just cartoons but films as a whole). According to JB Kaufman and Russell Merrit's excellent book, Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series, the idea for making this film had been around the Disney studio as early as October 1933, but work truly began in March, 1934. Wilfred Jackson was originally going to be the cartoon's director, but he was replaced with Ben Sharpsteen, who was replaced with Dave Hand, who actually directed the cartoon. Dave Hand would later be the supervising director for the Disney feature films, Snow White and the Seven Drwafs (1937) and Bambi (1942). My fellow Alfred Hitchcock fans will recognize that a clip from this cartoon was later used in Hitch's classic movie, Sabotage (1936).


Ub Iwerks was one of the legends of early Disney cartoons. His animation defined the style of early Disney animation and he co-created Mickey with Walt. However he eventually left Walt, when he was offered to head his own cartoon studios. The cartoons that would be made there are not fondly remembered but they are often so bizarre that they have to be seen to be believed. The first starring character would be Flip the Frog and Funny Face (1932) is perhaps the best of his cartoons.

Now let us close by singing one we all know.


Thank you for joining me, come back next week for more cartoon treasures.

-Michael J. Ruhland