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Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: December 6, 1941
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

rhapsody in rivets © warner bros.‘Rhapsody in Rivets’ without doubt is one of Friz Freleng’s finest films. The very idea of turning a building site into a symphony orchestra with the foreman as a conductor is marvelous.

The execution, too, is superb. Using Franz Liszt’s Second Hungarian Rhapsody, Freleng presents a string of clever sight gags, perfectly timed to the music. When the foreman enters the stage, an audience applauds. The foreman uses his blueprint as sheet music. We watch a cement mixer mixing as if it were a cocktail shaker, and a brick layer frantically building a wall to the fast music. While performing, the workers really do build a skyscraper (with some twists and turns), until a Droopy-like dog destroys it all.

Liszt’s composition had been a staple since the advent of sound in cartoons. For example it had been used in the Mickey Mouse cartoons ‘The Opry House‘ (1929) and ‘The Mechanical Man‘ (1933) and the Betty Boop cartoon ‘Betty in Blunderland‘ (1934). But Freleng was the first to devote an entire cartoon to the composition. With this move Freleng made his own mini-Fantasia. The short uses no dialogue, whatsoever, and is a prime example of Freleng’s famous musical timing. In 1942 the film was rightfully nominated for an Academy Award. Freleng would return to Liszt’s rhapsody several times, most notably in ‘Rhapsody Rabbit‘ (1946) and ‘Back Alley Uproar‘ (1948).

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

‘Rhapsody in Rivets’ is available on the DVD ‘Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Academy Award-Nominated Animation: Cinema Favorites’

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

Director: Walt Disney
Release Date: March 28, 1929
Stars: Mickey Mouse
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

The Opry House © Walt DisneyUnlike its predecessor, ‘The Barn Dance‘, ‘The Opry House’ relies heavily on sound and music.

Mickey is the sole performer in a local theater where he dances and plays music. He even dresses up as a female belly dancer, dancing the hoochie coochie dance.

With its many musical gags, this cartoon is the first step in the development of the ‘concert cartoon’. An orchestra plays George Bizet’s Carmen way out of tune, and Mickey performs the Hungarian Rhapsody by Franz Liszt on the piano. This sequence is particularly important for two reasons: first, Mickey here gains his famous gloves, and second, this is the first time that Liszt’s famous work is featured in an animated cartoon. It would remain a cartoon classic and many years later, Bugs Bunny would perform the same piece on the piano in ‘Rhapsody Rabbit‘ (1946), and Tom and Jerry in ‘The Cat Concerto‘ (1947). Already in this cartoon, Liszt’s piece is the source of several musical gags, as Mickey plays the piano in the most original ways, even clobbering it with his fists, until his stool kicks him.

Watch ‘The Opry House’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 5
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Barn Dance
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: When The Cat’s Away

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