What is your favorite cartoon title, and what makes a good one?
While hunting through things from my childhood at my Mothers, I discovered a few pieces of paper that had cartoon titles written on them. I noted that It struck me that as a child I really liked titles that rhymed or had a pun in them. Some of the titles included were ‘The Cat’s Me-Ouch’, ‘Of Thee I Sting‘, and ‘Daffy’s Diner‘.
A catchy name for a cartoon seems like a good idea, and in looking through titles of cartoons from the 30s and 40s, there seem to be three types, with some intersection.
Sometimes titles are descriptive, especially in narratives and fairy-tale type cartoons. Some titles have either rhymes or alliteration as the main point of the title, only sometimes related to the subject at hand.
Then there are titles that seem to exist only as the joke. Funny enough, often I find that the later are almost always the titles that I forget the contents of, or confuse as another cartoon. How many times have you sat around and tried to remember a title of one of the odder titled films? Red Hot Riding Hood (43) remains super-easy to remember for sure, but how many others are?
Warner’s Dough Ray Meow (49) is one of my favorite cartoons of all time; the pun- title is clever, but it’s hard to relate it to the characters in memory later. Warner’s Fiesta Fiasco (67) is a rhyming title, and I know it’s a Daffy and Speedy cartoon, but heck if I can remember what that cartoon is about, even though there’s an IB tech print of it sitting on my shelf! MGM’s Kitty Foiled (48), a Tom and Jerry cartoon, spoofs the novel ‘Kitty Foyle’ from the late 30s- something that would have been still fairly known then, but is almost totally lost to modern audiences. I remembered that cartoon for years without even coming close to guessing the title.
There’s a mention in Maltin’s Of Mice and Magic that Famous studios had many puny titles. I find this is true of ALL studios in the golden age, and especially true in the 40s and 50s. You can look through the lists of each studio, and it’s really surprising how often they resort to a pun or rhyme for the title.
Disney titles seem heaviest in alliteration. From Elmer Elephant (36) to Pueblo Pluto(49) to Toy Tinkers (49) to Boat Builders (38), this studio managed to find more appealing titles I think than most of the others. I like the pun and spoof titles at Disney’s especially, like Lion Down (51) or Tennis Racquet (49) or Duck Pimples (45). Perhaps the oddest title from Disney is Tomorrow We Diet (51) spoofing the Bible (from Corinthians “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die”).
We shouldn’t leave Terry out of the list – there’s lots of great alliterative titles, from Tall Tale Teller (54) to Clint Clobber’s Cat (57) to Big Bad Bobcat (68) to Dribble Drabble (also 68) to Tin can Tourist (37). Oddly enough, it seems that this studio did its best to steer away from titles with alliteration or puns most of the time, though Pick-Necking (33), Bully Beef (30) and Monkey Meat (30) seem to be the few early examples.
Early cartoon titles are often more descriptive than jokes. Look at the Alice Comedies from Disney or any of the early Fleischers to see what I mean. There are exceptions though, like Koko Gets Egg-Cited (26). My favorite Fleischer cartoon title is one I’ve never seen – The Dandy Lion (40), part of the Animated Antics series. Mommy Loves Puppy (40) is a close runner up.
For now, I’m staying away from Famous Studios… that said, that’s my short list of sort-of favorites. Now, what are yours?