Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cartoons Go to War

I awoke to a cloudy, rainy, rather cozy day. I drowned out the cursing and blasting 80's pop downstairs with more wartime shorts. The Walter Lanz Studio at Universal only did a few out-and-out war-related shorts. Woody Woodpecker's only war short was "Ace In the Hole." He wants to be a pilot, but his sergeant has him shaving horses. Woody does finally get in the air...much to his sergeant's surprise.

Two of the war-related Lanz "Cartunes" actually debuted shortly before the US entered World War II. "$21 a Day (Once a Month)" uses toys to parody the peacetime draft (and features cameos by Woody and Andy Panda). "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" shows how a former Chicago trumpeter gets his camp up and moving with his swinging revile. The African-American stereotypes run thick and heavy in this one, but it is one of the few animated shorts I know of to depict minorities in the military.

"Pigeon Patrol" gets a little closer to the wartime output from some of the other studios. Country bumpkin Homer Pigeon is determined to become a carrier pigeon when his girl admires the carrier pigeons on their way overseas. Homer encounters one after he's downed by an enemy bird. The country bird gets a chance to show what he's really made out of when he has to avoid the (stereotyped) Japanese agent and deliver the message behind the lines.

I spent the rest of the morning writing. Scott Sherwood meets one of Palermo Racine's dapper henchmen at a tavern in Port Harbor's Old Town waterfront. Scott still has the papers he swiped off Grace Cavendish in the woods several weeks before. The henchmen wants the papers - they're discuss "protection money" to keep the Shadow Realm out of Racine's headquarters in glittering Atlantica City. Scott wants to give them the papers to eradicate his debt. The henchman would rather sell Scott and Mackie (who has also had involvements with Racine in the past) to his boss. Scott turns the henchman temporarily into crystal and sends him to Racine before he can shoot him.

Around 1, I got up for lunch and to make Pumpkin Muffins. Switched to Popeye shorts while I baked and ate. The Fleischer studio at Paramount also tossed Popeye into the military before the US actually joined the war, in "The Mighty Ensign." The majority of Popeye's wartime service saw him either continuing to fight Bluto for Olive's hand (as in "Kicking the Conga Around" and "Olive Oyl and Water Don't Mix"), or fighting some extremely stereotyped Japanese ("Fleets of Strength") and Nazi ("Spinach Fer Britain") villains.

"Many Tanks" is an unusual variation on the Bluto/Olive/Popeye triangle. Army soldier Bluto is unable to get leave. When he sees sailor Popeye on his way to meet Olive, he steals Popeye's clothes and dumps him in the Army barracks. Now the Army thinks Popeye is one of them and wants him to work with the tank corps! Popeye just wants to get to his date on time.

The rain was thankfully down to mist by the time I headed to work. It was pretty much the same as yesterday - quiet when I came in and when I left, crazy-busy during rush hour. Once again, we didn't have enough help to deal with the rush hour crowds, either. It did slow down enough by 8 that I was able to leave quickly with no relief.

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