You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘robot’ tag.

Director: Walter Lantz or Bill Nolan
Release Date: February 15, 1932
Stars: Oswald the Rabbit
Rating: ★★
Review:

Mechanical Man © Walter LantzIn 1932 Oswald was redesigned to give him a more boy-like appearance. ‘Mechanical Man’ features this new design and opens with Oswald an his girlfriend playing the piano together.

Meanwhile Peg Leg Pete has built a robot, which needs a human heart. Pete kidnaps Oswald’s girlfriend and takes it to his hideout, followed by Oswald. After a long pursuit Oswald manages to get rid of Pete, and rescuing his sweetheart. But it’s a goat who rescues the two from the robot.

When you read this, the cartoon seems to make some sense, but the real thing is rather different: there’s a lot happening on the screen, and nonsensical gags fill every scene. For example, during the chase scene, various skeletons appear at random, giving the cartoon its typical horror atmosphere, but adding nothing otherwise. This gives the cartoon a rather stream-of-consciousness-like character, and at every point one expects Oswald to wake up from this random nightmare.

Watch ‘Mechanical Man’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Mechanical Man’ is available on the DVD ‘Lantz Studio Treasures Starring Oswald’

Advertisements

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: February 5, 1932
Stars: Bimbo, Betty Boop
Rating: ★
Review:

The Robot © Max FleischerEven though ‘The Robot’ was released half a year after ‘The Herring Murder Case’ (1931) it features Bimbo in his design before his make-over in that film.

In this film Bimbo is courting a female character, who only wants to marry him, when he can lick ‘One Round Mike’ in a boxing match. Bimbo accepts, but when it’s his turn he builds a robot out of his car to win the game.

Betty Boop has a small cameo in this cartoon when she rushes outside to revive Bimbo’s car-robot (or is she Bimbo’s girlfriend but in a different design? The Fleischers were inconsistent enough to be unclear on this). Apart from this short scene, there’s little to enjoy in ‘The Robot’. The most interesting part maybe Bimbo’s way of courting his sweetheart, which he does by ‘television’, a sort of Skype avant la lettre.

Strangely enough, the idea of a boxing robot was reused in ‘Mickey’s Mechanical Man‘ from 1933, with equally weak results. There was something going on in 1932 with boxing robots anyway, for also Popeye socks a robot in the ring in the Popeye Sunday comic strip of April, 24 and May 1, 1932. In any case, to most people in the Great Depression robots were the ultimate terror, as unemployment already was a major problem. Luckily, no robot would be used in any factory until the 1960s. And boxing robots still haven’t seen the light of day, yet.

Spread from the April 1934 issue of Modern Mechanix and Inventions

Spread from the April 1934 issue of Modern Mechanix and Inventions

More on the robot craze of the early 1930s can be found here and here.

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

This is Talkartoon No. 32
To the previous Talkartoon: Boop-Oop-a-Doop
To the next Talkartoon: Minnie the Moocher

‘The Robot’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: John Foster
Release Date:
 January 4, 1930
Stars: Farmer Al Falfa
Rating: ★★½
Review:

The Iron Man © Van Beuren‘The Iron Man’ was one of the last of Van Beuren’s Aesop’s Fables to feature Farmer Al Falfa, before Paul Terry claimed this character to be his own.

It takes some time for we watch the title’s iron man itself. First we watch a cat with a hurdy-gurdy, then two fighting roosters with ridiculously large feet, and then some remarkable animation of a large tree falling down. This part is essentially silent, with music seemingly added.

Then Farmer Al Falfa receives a package with the iron man in it. Together they perform a bizarre slow dance, to psychedelic effects. It’s clear the Van Beuren studio was still struggling with rhythmical movement, for in this sequence both Al Falfa and the robot seem to float in air. There’s no weight or gravity involved, at all.

Then, when Farmer Al Falfa kicks the robot, it grows millions of miles tall, towering over the earth, before it explodes. This is a mindblowing piece of animated weirdness. However, the pieces fall together to form the robot again, which chases our hero into the distance. Iris out.

‘The Iron Man’ is in no sense a classic film, but it shows the difficulties of the sound age for the silent era studios. The second part also shows some embryonic weirdness that would become staple for the Van Beuren studio films of the early 1930s. Finally, ‘The Iron Man’ is one of the very first cartoons to feature a human-like robot. Other studios would follow years later, like Walter Lantz’s ‘Mechanical Man’ (1932), Max Fleischer’s ‘The Robot‘ (1932) and Walt Disney’s ‘Mickey’s Mechanical Man‘ (1933).

Watch ‘The Iron Man’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘The Iron Man’ is available on the DVD ‘Aesop’s Fables – Cartoon Classics from the Van Beuren Studio’

Director: Abe Levitow
Release date: March 10, 1967
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating:  ★
Review:

Guided Mouse-ille © MGMAfter ‘O-Solar-Meow‘ Tom and Jerry immediately return to the science fiction setting in ‘Guided Mouse-ille’.

The time is 2565 AD and again, Tom and Jerry fight each other with modern technology, including the robot cat from ‘O Solar Meow’. In the end, our heroes are inexplicably blown to the prehistory, where they continue their chase.

Written by story man John Dunn (as was O-Solar-Meow), ‘Guided Mouse-ille’ is a very bad and terribly unfunny cartoon. Luckily, Tom & Jerry’s next short would be much more fun…

Watch ‘Guided Mouse-ille’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 155

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: O-Solar-Meow
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Rock ‘n’ Rodent

Director: Abe Levitow
Release date: February 24, 1967
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating:  ★★
Review:

O-Solar-Meow © MGMIn a cartoon that looks forward to ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ (which would be released the following year), Tom and Jerry inhabit a roulette-like space station.

Here they fight each other using modern technology, including a robot cat. In the end, Tom manages to shoot Jerry to the moon, but luckily for Jerry, it turns out to be made out of cheese.

This cartoon contains nice settings and some original ideas, but none of them are executed well, resulting in yet another mediocre Tom and Jerry cartoon produced by Chuck Jones. Tom & Jerry’s next cartoon, ‘Guided Mouse-ille‘, also has a science fiction setting. Interestingly, both these shorts were penned by story man John Dunn.

Watch ‘O-Solar-Meow’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 154

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Cat and Dupli-cat
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Guided Mouse-ille

Director: Jack King
Release Date: May 29, 1937
Stars: Donald Duck
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Modern_Inventions © Walt DisneyAfter a short stint at Warner Brothers, veteran animator Jack King makes his debut as a director at the Disney studio.

King would remain a director of Donald Duck films until his retirement in 1948, directing only three cartoons without the duck (‘Farmyard Symphony‘ from 1938, and the propaganda shorts ‘Out of the Frying Pan into the Firing Line‘ and ‘Defense against Invasion‘, from 1942 and 1943, respectively).

‘Modern Inventions’ is Donald’s first real solo outing, sharing screen time only with mechanical objects. He visits a ‘museum of modern marvels’ , where he has to deal with a mechanical robot butler (the running gag of the film), a package wrapper, a ‘robot nurse maid’ and an automatic barber chair. Like in ‘The Band Concert‘ Donald shows an ability to produce numerous objects out of nothing, this time hats. He even manages to change his army cap into a baby cap.

‘Modern Inventions’ was the last of three Donald Duck shorts under the Mickey Mouse flag. With his next cartoon, ‘Donald’s Ostrich‘ he would have a series of his own…

Watch ‘Modern Inventions’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 95
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Amateurs
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Hawaiian Holiday

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date:
 April 19, 1952
Stars:
 Bugs Bunny
Rating:
 ★★★★
Review:

Water, Water Everyhare © Warner BrothersSix years after ‘Hair-raising Hare’ (1946) Bugs Bunny faces the orange monster in sneakers again.

‘Water, Water Every Hare’ is a horror cartoon featuring almost everything a horror movie should have: an evil scientist, a monster, a mummy and a robot. This story is rather awkwardly framed, however, by a story about the river flooding Bugs’s home and transporting him to and from the castle. Facing the monster Bugs repeats his manicure-tric from the earlier film, although this time he pretends to be a hair dresser. He also makes himself invisible and he makes the monster shrink.

If not as funny as ‘Hair-raising Hare’, ‘Water, Water Every Hare’ is full of clever gags. It moves at a relatively relaxed pace, which only a very confident film maker could use with such effect. In that respect, ‘Water, Water Evey Hare’ shows the mastery director Chuck Jones had achieved. He needn’t be fast and furious to be funny and he knew it.

Watch ‘Water, Water Every Hare’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/7621186/water_water_every_hare_1952/

‘Water, Water Every Hare’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 90
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Foxy Proxy
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Hasty Hare

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date: June 17, 1933
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse
Rating:
Review:

Still from 'Mickey's Mechanical Man' featuring a gorilla boxing a robotMickey has build a robot to fight a gorilla in a boxing match, which is called “the battle of the century: machine vs. beast”.

Mickey’s robot has one disadvantage: he runs wild when he hears Minnie’s car horn. Luckily, this fact helps him in the end: when he’s clobbered by the gorilla (on the tune of Franz Liszt’s second Hungarian rhapsody), he seems almost lost. But then Minnie fetches her car horn, revitalizing the robot. From that point he actually cheats, using multiple boxing gloves, a hammer and hits below the belt.

Despite its clear story and high quality animation, ‘Mickey’s Mechanical Man’ is a very weak short, and a low point in the otherwise outstanding Mickey Mouse year of 1933. The cartoon is surprisingly low on gags and it’s difficult to sympathize with the robot character, as it’s mechanical after all, while the gorilla is a living being. Moreover, Mickey’s motives remain unclear and we’re not invited to care about the match.

The cartoon most interesting feat. are the robot’s jerky movements, which are clearly mechanical and based on wind-up toys, but which become rather frantic and ridiculously elaborate when the robot goes wild. Nevertheless, there are some traces of Stan Laurel’s boxing moves from ‘Any Old Port’ (1932).

‘Mickey’s Mechanical Man’ is reminiscent of the Fleischer Studio’s equally weak ‘The Robot‘ (1932). Both films were inspired by rather hysterical stories about robots taking over jobs, which circulated in the early 1930s, and which struck a chord in an era of vast unemployment.

Watch ‘Mickey’s Mechanical Man’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 57
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Mail Pilot
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Gala Premier

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 938 other followers

Bookmark and Share

Follow TheGrob on Twitter

Categories

Advertisements