January 12, 2023 posted by Steve Stanchfield

The Millionaire Hobo (1939)

It’s really hard for me to hate *any* cartoon with lots of cats in it…..

It’s the first week of school here and it’s already proving challenging, but I’m happy to report that things are well there and in Thunderbeanville.

In brief Thunderbean news:
I’m still in Van Beuren land, where the Sunshine Makers are busy destroying unique cultures, little birds know everything and on occasion someone loses their head at the Roxy theatre. The Little King set is moving right along, Tom and Jerrys are getting some good spiffying from the team, and a few new special discs are off to dubbing. Back in Celerity Productions land, Flip is still waiting for one thing to be done. I can’t wait for the current batch of stuff to head to the finish line, but really enjoying watching the Little King set looking as good as it does as it heads closer to replication. We’re still doing a special set here and there (including the recent Toons, Toons and More Toons at the Thunderbean shop) but we’ll be limiting them as we catch up on finishing older ones.

And, today’s cartoon!

Millionaire Hobo (1939) is far from the top of the Scrappy series — in fact, poor Scrappy only has a minor role (as Oopy did in the recently posted Happy Holidays). It was officially released as part of the “Phantasies” series.

Scrappy delivers a telegram to a bum (“Slug Jones”—voiced by Mel Blanc) informing him that he’s inherited a million. Scrappy attempts to point out to the bum that his thumb was over the word ‘cats’ after the word million but it’s too late – the bum is already on his way to transforming his life with his newfound fortune.

While not one of my favorites, Slug Jones (a name I never caught until watching it again tonight) is sort of fun to watch galavanting around town getting everything. None of these moments are terribly thrilling, but it looks like they borrowed one of the Lilliputian Barbers from Fleischer’s Gulliver’s Travels. While it has one of the least satisfying endings of any Scrappy cartoons it’s still an enjoyable if forgettable seven minutes. This short has pretty nice production values, including some great backgrounds (and a few moving ones included).

I bought this 16mm print in 1984 from Jerry Nelson, an old-time collector who was likely in his 80s at that point. He was always lovely to everyone and set aside a whole stack of Scrappy cartoons for me at the Columbus Cinvent one year – this was part of that stack.

Have a good week everyone and enjoy every cartoon!


  • There is at least one thing in “The Millionaire Hobo” that was also in an earlier Fleischer cartoon. The tune that accompanies the opening scene is “Lazy Bones”, which had been showcased in a Screen Song of 1934.

    The quintuplet tailors are caricatures of Art Davis, and not for the only time in a Columbia cartoon: q.v. “The Way of All Pests”. I’m sure nobody here needs to be reminded of Davis’s importance in animation history. I really admire the man and wish he could have directed more cartoons.

    I’m trying to figure out how big of a room you’d need to hold one million cats. Even the large conference room at I. MacRook’s law offices probably couldn’t accommodate them all. You’d need something more along the lines of a football stadium.

  • A nice shout out to Jerry Nelson, a fair and generous collector in my experience. As to the cartoon, love those rolling all-animated backgrounds!

  • Gee, usually this plot saves the surprise reveal – guy inherits a million somethings, but not bucks – for the end.

    • That also happened in Art’s later Warner short, “Bone Sweet Bone” (1948).

  • Scrappy is an interesting character some people love him some hate him , what can you do about that. I remember when they were still running on TV with Oopie. We had good times back in the 50s with real animation before all the junk came in and replaced the classics. Just you wait and see, this Scrappy will be turned into all kinds of mass produced “collectible” pins and figurines made in China, more junk for the landfills. The Pin Man and the Funko Pops have these kids in a spendthrift trance now. When I was young we had a saying, don’t be a sellout, now it is hip to sell out. It’s all about making a quick buck now, whatever happened to enjoying things just as they are and moving on. Love him or not Scrappy is forever

  • Remember this from Captain Satellite’s show in the early 60s. Recall wondering how Slug’s nose changed shape after he got his suit (the change in body shape I figured was a corset or something). A bit like “All’s Fair at the Fair”, where the frumpy farm couple are rendered young and pretty by the mechanized beauticians/barbers.

    The script is lame, even by cartoon standards. Aside from the barber and tailors it’s almost gag-free: a lethargic hobo grouses, turns into an aristocrat who goes around saying “I’ll take it!”, then reverts without a decent tag line. So many things they could have done: Slug mumbling how smart he’d be with money before the spree; Slug creating a hobo’s idea of luxury, with such things as a private box car or a valet to scoop up cigar butts; Scrappy repeatedly cropping up, trying to make him re-read the letter. And as Mr. Mork points out, saving the cats as a surprise for the end. As it stands it feels like an unfinished outline.

    • This is a common problem with the Columbia cartoons. So many of them seem like they had a good outline but didn’t have the time or money to develop it further, and the results are half-baked at best.

  • You could see the ending coming before the titles were over. I admire Davis’ acknowledging the corniness from the word ‘go’. Some can’t stand his strange tangents like the barber’s eyes rotating in his skull. Davis’ entries like THE CUTE RECRUIT and THE STREAMLINED DONKEY were so baffling they were anti-cartoons.

    • Art didn’t even do this cartoon. It was Allen Rose whose writing leaves a lot to be desired.

      • No, this cartoon actually was made by Art Davis. This is just another instance of Samba Pictures carelessly using inaccurate credits on their TV titles.

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