Looney Tunes Platinum 1936

Page Miss Glory

The plot of this short film is a loose series of quick gags that don’t have enough setup or punch to be funny. The first thing I noticed is how similar in style this is to the Disney films of the same period. The bellboy looks and emotes a lot like Goofy and there’s a little musical interlude that reminds me a lot of the pacing and rhythm of Disney’s Silly Symphonies.

The Disney influence isn’t surprising as director Tex Avery worked on many Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons, the predecessor of Mickey Mouse. As the medium is young, it makes sense that there would be some similarities but obviously Looney Tunes would evolve into something far more abstract.

We get a hint of that abstractness with the art deco style that makes for a lot of those more simplistic, bold backgrounds. There’s also a sequence that evokes the style of dance choreographer Busby Berkeley with a bird’s eye view of a dance that could only be captured on film.

I Love to Singa

The short opens with a shot containing the kind of rich, lush backgrounds you’d expect from something like Disney’s Babes in the Woods. It moves into a sign that says “no jazz.” As the owls of the house have children, they’re all classical musicians at birth until the final egg hatches and the last newborn breaks into a jazz ditty.

Here’s the kind of pacing that Looney Tunes would go on to master. The gags mostly hit, in part because the core concept is funny and the juxtaposition is enough to continue making gags. I also wonder if this film is a jab at Germans as jazz represents American culture while classical music in this short is positioned with the Europeans and his parents have heavy German accents.

Other gags like the radio talking directly to the worried mother or the secretary saying aloud all the stops of a telegram as she shoves away the pushy telegram delivery boy are timed superbly and got a good laugh out of me. This short quickly differentiates itself from Disney with the heavy jazz influence. It still looks a lot like Disney, but the sound and pacing are signature Looney Tunes.

© James Blake Ewing 2017