Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Animation Goes to War

Headed out a little early today after a quick breakfast. In addition to enjoying cool breezes and a sunny day, I wanted to buy pumpkin muffins for lunch. Got in with just enough time to buy them, put them away, and get in right on the clock.

I still wish I hadn't. Some people were downright rude today. I wish people wouldn't question every darn sale. They act like we're out to cheat them. We're not trying to swindle anyone. Other than that, we were mostly pretty quiet, to the point where I got out a few times to return loose items. They kept pulling me back to go in for people's breaks. 

Couldn't have been happier to get out of there, and earlier than I thought I would. Turns out I read my schedule wrong. I finished at 4,  not 4:30. Tried to celebrate by taking the long way home, but the traffic got so bad by 4, I almost got ran over crossing Nicholson. I ended up cutting through the much-quieter Audubon Park instead.

Went straight home and into writing after that. Announcer Johnny Olsen arrives next with his gift, followed by producer Ira Skutch, who is trying to help get an exterminator for the mice seen in the next studio. The last panelist, Bart Braverman, is supposed to be joining them, but he's too busy flirting in the hallway.

Broke for dinner with friends at 6:30. Went straight into dessert and Match Game '77 after I ate. Gene's delighted to rub noses with an audience member from Alaska who wanted to kiss him in the first episode. Suzanne Sommers joins the group for some wild answers about what the Girl Scout sold besides cookies and the Audience Match "Wicked __." 

Finished the night online with World War II Looney Tunes from various sources for Veteran's Day. Termite Terrace threw themselves into the war, producing three types of propaganda films. There were the character-based shorts, like "The Draft Horse" on a plow horse who wants to join the Army and "Herr Meets Hare," with Bugs taking on real-life Nazi Hermann Goring. Other shorts revolved around sketches on life in the barracks, as in "Rookie Revue," or on the home front, as in the black-and-white "Wacky Blackout" and color "The Weakly Reporter." "Fifth Column Mouse" and "The Duckinators" were allegories on how the US got into the war and how they planned on finishing it.

Bugs and Daffy were featured in my favorite solo shorts from this era, all done by Bob Clampett. "Draftee Daffy" doesn't mind cheering for his country, but would do anything to dodge that persistent Little Man from the Draft Board! Bugs is a "Falling Hare" when he tries to stop a gremlin from sabotaging a plane and ends up in a free fall. He parodies the comic books of the era as "Super Rabbit," a carrot-charged hare who uses his powers to stop a crazy cowboy from hurting other rabbits. When push comes to shove, Bugs ends up donning the uniform of a real hero...a Marines officer.

Bugs appeared in war shorts later on, too. "The Dumb Patrol" from 1964 pits heroic World War I aviator Bugs against German ace (Yosemite) Sam Von Schwamm. Bugs is accidentally drafted into the Army in "Forward March Hare" from 1953. It takes his general the entire short to realize they've accepted a rabbit in the Armed Services. 

Of course, Warner Bros wasn't the only studio making propaganda shorts in the early 40's. Terrytoons of 20th Century Fox got their first Oscar nomination for "All Out for V," a slightly cutesy short from 1942 depicting animals mobilizing to wartime production after a bomb is dropped near their woodland home. Set to "We're Working for Defense," we have everything from termites cutting boards to sheep giving up their wool for uniform jackets. 

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