There will be news next week on the new Blu-ray/DVD Technicolor Dreams and Black and White Nightmares. Stay tooned right here. As for this week, there was sad news here at the Thunderbean ranch.
Our faithful Austrailan Cattledog, Moqui, went into kidney failure. The hardest thing about taking care of these creatures is that we make a deal with them to take care of them through their life and when to make the hardest choices, and sadly, there was no saving her. She was only 8.
Moqui put up with many a bad dog cartoon over the years. There are more bad ones than I could possible name, and a handful of good ones. I nominate Columbia’s Scrappy’s Dog Show as one of those good ones. While it isn’t the funniest of cartoons, it has some surprising gags and really interestingly timed sequences, quite different than most comic timing in 1934. Sid Marcus directs, taking over duties on the Scrappy series from Dick Huemer.
I think Huemer’s comical timing ideas and personality animation in the Toby the Pups (and especially in the early Scrappys) are ahead of their time; There’s an especially fun sequence in the Down South (1931) where Toby tires desperately to keep a smile on his face as he shakes the hands of a thousand or so passengers on his ship. I see this cartoon as a stepchild of these earlier ones made at Mintz.
Marcus seems to have learned to experiment with timing under Huemer. You can see many sequences timed as you would expect them to be here, then other sequences that are more unusual and exploratory, from the timing of the goosed bulldog near the beginning to the oddly long sequence with Scrappy trying to show his comatose dog’s tricks to a judge. Scrappy getting his clothes licked off has always been one of my favorite gags, as well as the dog slowly staring down the judge. In terms of authenticity: it looks as if the Columbia staff was making a guess as to what a dog show is rather than having ever gone to one, but then again, it looks like most studio’s version of a dog show. At least no one is ground into sausage here….
While not a masterpiece, there are funny moments throughout, and my other half Mary noted tonight that on occasion we’ve actually repeated phrases from this cartoon, not quite remembering they were from Scrappy’s Dog Show.
Moqui had been to her share of dog shows, but even she could have told you that no dog show ever was like this one. While Moqui really didn’t like to show, she loved being around all the other dogs. I can’t think of a dog cartoon with more types of dogs than this one, though perhaps you folks can.
In reading one book years back that dismissed the Scrappys as being ‘largely unwatchable by today’s standards’ I have to think the writer just hadn’t seen too many of the series. That’s understandable in some ways, in that, here in 2014, they are still some of the hardest old cartoons to see.
Have a good Fourth of July holiday for folks in these United States, and a wonderful midsummer weekend to everyone!