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Directors: John Foster & George Rufle
Release Date: September 16, 1932
Stars: Tom and Jerry
Enter Tom and Jerry playing saxophones. Their music makes a hen laying eggs, a cow producing tons of milk, and two woodpeckers producing a pile of wood. At one point all the lifeless objects of the farm start dancing. In the end the farmer pays the duo for the saxophones, but the moneybag turns out to be filled with mice.
It’s quite shocking to see that in ‘Barnyard Bunk’, a film made well into 1932, still features animation language of the silent era. The short features no dialogue, and the gestures of Tom, Jerry and the farmer are still of the 1920s. The designs of the farmer and the mice do not fare better, and the whole cartoon exudes from archaism. Its only modern feature is the dressed cow, which shows that already by 1932 the Hays code was getting hold of the cartoon industry.
Watch ‘Barnyard Bunk’ yourself and tell me what you think:
‘Barnyard Bunk’ is available on the DVD ‘The Complete Animated Adventures of Van Beuren Studio’s Tom and Jerry’
Directors: Harry Bailey & John Foster
Release Date: June 28, 1932
The farmer (a goat) asks her if she can get the farm on its feet. And indeed she can, because as soon as she starts singing ‘Some of These Days’, the farm animals start working, and the hens are laying eggs by the dozen, anticipating similar gags in the Warner Bros. cartoon ‘The Swooner Crooner’ (1944).
These scenes are accompanied by Gene Rodemich’s peppy jazz music, showing that he was one of the best cartoon composers of the era. Unfortunately, the embryonic story is soon abandoned, and we witness a donkey, a sheep, a dog and a cow perform a barbershop quartet song.
With ‘The Farmerette’ the Van Beuren studio apparently tried to copy Max Fleischer’s success with Betty Boop. The kitten sings with a voice very similar to that of Betty, and her main feature is her sexiness. Sadly, the cartoon is troubled by erratic animation and poor staging, so typical for the Van Beuren studio, and the kitten never approaches Betty Boop’s charm.
Watch ‘The farmerette’ yourself and tell me what you think:
‘The Farmerette’ is available on the DVD ‘Aesop’s Fables – Cartoon Classics from the Van Beuren Studio’
Director: Mark Baker
Release Date: 1988
First we watch the inhabitants of the hill farm themselves: simple farmers, who know the dangers and hardships of nature, and who treat their livestock without romanticism (as exemplified by the farmer’s wife killing chicken without ado).
At one point the hill farm is visited by tourists, who are completely alienated from nature. One of them faints at the sight of the farmer’s wife killing a chicken. When confronted by nature’s dangers (as embodied by a gigantic bear-like beast) they don’t recognize the danger at all. To them nature is something to visit, something to make snapshots from. The third party is a group of huntsmen, who (try to) kill everything in sight, including even the farmer’s bees.
The whole film takes place at a leisurely speed, without dialogue. Mark Baker’s visual style is simple, but very effective. His angular designs and graphic backgrounds are beautiful, and his animation has a unique timing, which is as comical as it is to the point. The narration is very open, leaving the interpretation to the viewer. The end result is one of the most beautiful animation films of the 1980’s.
Watch ‘The Hill Farm’ yourself and tell me what you think:
‘The Hill Farm’ is available on the DVD Box Set ‘Annecy – Le coffret du 50e Anniversaire’
Director: Frank Tashlin
Release Date: August 22, 1936
Stars: Porky Pig
‘Porky’s Poultry Plant’ looks primitive when compared to Disney films of the same time, looking more like a Disney film from 1932-1933. Its story is sweet, and not very funny, but Carl Stalling’s music is fresh, and Tashlin’s staging is already very impressive. Especially the air battle sequence (in which Porky, in a small army plane, fights an air fleet of hawks ) is remarkably stunning, showing unparalleled fast montage and original ‘camera’ shots. Both these techniques would become Tashlin trademarks, and would contribute to a faster, more gag-orientated style at Warner Bros. Tashlin had replaced Jack King, who had returned to Disney, and with his first Warner Bros. cartoon he immediately proves to be a more inventive director than his predecessor.
Watch ‘Porky’s Poultry Plant’ yourself and tell me what you think:
This is Porky Pig cartoon no. 12
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: Porky the Rainmaker
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: Milk and Money