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Director: Walter Lantz
Release Date: March 28, 1941
Rating:  ★★
Review:

Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat © Walter Lantz‘Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat’ opens with scenes from ‘Lazy Town’, a place in the South full of lazy negroes, whose depiction is the epitome of racist stereotyping: everyone is asleep, doing things ridiculously slowly or with a minimum of effort. Oh! Those lazy Southern blacks!

Then a steamer stops, and a sexy, light-skinned woman steps out, immediately reviving the male population. She starts the title song, and all the villagers join in.

‘Scrub Me Mama With a Boogie Beat’ is rather tiresome to watch. The boogie-woogie song itself never really comes off, and is less swinging as it could be. But more importantly, the images accompanying the song are hardly funny, as most of the ‘humor’ comes from those ha-ha silly blacks doing things on the musical beat. As none of these gags work today, the short becomes surprisingly empty.

In fact, together with the Van Beuren cartoon ‘Plane Dumb‘ (1932) ‘Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat’ is a likely candidate of being the most offensive racist cartoon around. Only the singing girl is given some dignity, but her race remains unclear, and she could as well be white.

Some of the animation on this girl was reused on the Andrews Sisters in the equally racist, yet less offensive, and much more entertaining ‘The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B‘ from six months later.

‘Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat’ was one of the first cartoons to evoke serious issues because of its racism, as upon its re-release in 1948, it was heavily criticized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). With help from the more powerful Jewish Labor Committee (JLC), the NAACP managed to make Universal withdraw the cartoon in February 1949. After this incident black stereotypes virtually vanished from the animated screen, except for the occasional cannibal here and there.

Watch ‘Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat’ is available on the DVD ‘Lantz Studio Treasures Starring Oswald’

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Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: April 26, 1947
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

The Cat Concerto © MGMIn ‘The Cat Concerto’ Tom unexpectedly appears to be a star pianist, playing Franz Liszt’s second rhapsody in concert, and doing it with enjoyable flair.

Unfortunately his playing awakes Jerry, who sleeps inside the grand piano. This leads to a hilarious chase in and around the piano, while the playing of the music continues.

‘The Cat Concerto’ almost looks like a remake of Friz Freleng’s ‘Rhapsody Rabbit‘ from 1946. However, it shares only two gags with the earlier film: that of the mouse suddenly interjecting a boogie-woogie theme and the final gag in which the mouse steals the show. The main difference between the two films is The Cat Concerto’s higher sense of realism and its integrated story, in which every gag follows from the one preceding it in almost continuous action.

‘Rhapsody Rabbit’, in contrast, is more absurd and contains more totally unrelated black-out gags. In the end, ‘The Cat Concerto’ is the better cartoon, because of its great characterization, its outstanding animation, its perfect timing. Indeed, it won an Academy Award, and together with ‘The Band Concert‘ (1935) it can be considered the best concert cartoon of all time.

Nevertheless, there seems to be something fishy about ‘The Cat Concerto’, when compared with ‘Rhapsody Rabbit’. For more on the controversy about these two all too similar cartoons, see Thad Komorowski’s excellent blogpost on the issue.

Watch ‘The Cat Concerto’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 29
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Part Time Pal
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: November 11, 1946
Stars: Bugs Bunny
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Rhapsody_Rabbit © Warner BrosA very deft Bugs Bunny plays Franz Liszt’s second Hungarian rhapsody on a piano. This classical piece was director Friz Freleng’s all-time favorite, and it appears in several of his films.

In ‘Rhapsody Rabbit’ it is played out full. The cartoon consists of spot gags and it has a small story about Bugs having problems with a mouse. This story element is not well-developed and dropped halfway the cartoon, only to return at the end.

The idea of a battle between the pianist and a mouse was perfected by Hanna & Barbera only five months later in their Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘The Cat Concerto‘, which has exactly the same subject, and which uses exactly the same music by Liszt. Unlike Freleng however, the duo swept the Oscar… There seems to be something fishy about this fact, which is analyzed in detail by Thad Komorowski in his excellent blogpost on the issue.

Compared to the latter cartoon, ‘Rhapsody Rabbit’ is less consistent, but more absurd. The gag in which the mouse makes Bugs play an infectious boogie-woogie may be the highlight of the film.

Watch ‘Rhapsody Rabbit’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.220.ro/desene-animate/Rhapsody-Rabbit/RnRu8v7HIK/

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 41
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: The Big Snooze
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Rabbit Transit

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