Reviews written by Unknown Tag: 'Username' (4 reviews)

Reviews written by Unknown Tag: 'Username' (4 reviews)

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The Old House Unknown Tag: 'pic_title'
1936 3605
Harman-Ising Productions
 featuring Bosko, Honey, Bruno, Bats, Ghosts, Skeletons

The Old House On Video!  The Old House BCDB Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4/5 stars from 2 users.)

The Old House 10 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by: leash_wish, December 12, 2006

"THE OLD HOUSE", a HAPPY HARMONIES cartoon by Hugh Harmon
In the early 1930's, Hugh Harmon and Rudolph Ising were contracted by Leon Schlessinger at Warner Brothers to do a series dubbed LOONEY TUNES, a takeoff no doubt on a similar series by their old boss, Walt Disney, called SILLY SYMPHONIES. As Uncle Walt's main character was a wide-eyed little mouse named Mickey, Hugh Harmon created a lead character for their LOONEY TUNES, a character that was of an undetermined animal origin and given the name Bosko. For some reason, this character spoke in a kind of Southern drawl, more accurately a Southern country black dialect, but this dialect soon left the character entirely, save for an occasional exclamation ("oooh, dat sho' is fine!"). He had all sorts of adventures--everything from becoming a hobo as in "BOX CAR BLUES" to running a hot dog stand to being an expert woodsman or knight or soldier or boxing champ.

However, a dispute over budgets soon had Hugh and Rudy looking for greener pastures. Well, in a way, they found it; yes, genuinely green pastures this time because the HAPPY HARMONIES series, created in 1934 for MGM, were done in, first, two color Technicolor and then full and beautiful color. When this cartoon was created, the colors were full and indeed beautiful, which makes me wish all the harder that this cartoon would receive a full and complete restoration so we could see the true contrasts of shading and actual mixtures of earth tones in the wood panels amid the far too many scenes evidencing the fact that the backdrop was dark with ominous shadows and lights fusing together to make the cartoon all the more frightening. What might unfortunately make this cartoon unsettling to some and dated to us all is that Bosko and Honey, as cute as they are here, are redesigned as stereotypical little country black human children, as noted by the clothes--Bosko is wearing his traditional overalls and over-sized straw hat. What this cartoon does do well is render that childlike curiosity and fun of making a scary situation even scarier. The cartoon opens with a kind of visual introduction to each character, getting his or her own name in lights under their introductory image, after a perfect bit of opening credits amid thunder and lightning and heavy rain falling on a rickety sign with the cartoon's title. We see Bosko's round little face reciting a line from the book from which he is reading; then we see Honey who scoffs "who believes in spooks, anyhow?"...until something offscreen scares her and she screams. The shadows-and-light play on their faces is amazing to watch, more detail certainly than we'd ever seen on a Disney character in short cartoons of this type. Honey is in pigtails and ribbons and a yellow dress.

The scene changes again to identify Bosko's dog, Bruno, now also given more realistic detail as a brown and white hunting dog, naturally sniffing along the ground until he hears ominous laughter coming from somewhere that scares him. It is possible that we see something moving behind him, but this could be a flaw in the prints that have emerged thus far in the public domain. Needless to say, again I must state that this cartoons play of shadows and light make it, to me, the ultimate Halloween romp.

So now we have been introduced to the characters and the scene more fully opens to reveal that the story Bosko is concocting is actually coming from a little book of scarey tales, and, so, just about all doalogue here is in childlike rhyme in keeping with the usual HAPPY HARMONIES style of creating something musical in each cartoon even if this rhyming dialogue is spoken. As Bosko continues reading and Bruno continues to look on, Honey skips up behind a tree and scares the two, laughing and exclaiming that no ghosts or spooks could scare *HER*...that is, until after her little song ("there ain't no spooks nowhere"), when a violent thunder and lightning storm brews up with whipping winds and pouring rains that sends Honey running toward a rather ominous old abandoned house giving the cartoon its title. The scene is somewhat like the woodsy moments of Disney's "SNOW WHITE" or similar to a Disney cartoon made a bit later called "THE OLD MILL" as Honey approaches the gate with veiny trees and leaves blowing along the ground. The wind is blowing so fiercely that poor Honey is blown doubled over and her dress blows over her head. She manages, though, to make it into the house with the door slamming behind her. All she can hear and see in her mind is Bosko's continued warning that opened the cartoon, "De golblin's gonna get *YOU*, if ya don' watch out!! She again sings a refrane of her little song for courage but some unforseen something falls off the wall and the traditionally scarey window shade flies up in the air on its own, sending poor Honey stumbling back into a large pipe organ, unleashing scores of flying and squeaking bats as she goes running through the corridors, frantically looking for that quick way out. She grabs the knob of one of the doors, but it comes off in her hand and she is left crying out and vainly banging against the door.

The scene cuts back to Bosko and Bruno who both hear Honey's screams. Bruno is still tugging at the leash tied to his doghouse while Bosko temporarily abandons him and goes straight for the old house in such a blur that a sound of a car motor excelorating is used until Bosko slows down at the front of the house. he runs up the steps but a loose board sends him bounding down again...and here is another aspect of this cartoon that is uncharacteristic of the entire HAPPY HARMONIES series, it moves at times at an almost Tex Avery-like pacing but with the camera following every harrowing move as Bosko sails through the hallways of the house and, occasionally, through loose floorboards or down railings at exhausting speeds amid sawdust and cobwebs and sometimes so much detail that you almost have to slow the film down so you can see just what that possible thing was, for example, that fell off the wall earlier in the cartoon, narrowly missing Honey as she hesitantly moved along rickety floorboards.

Honey, meanwhile is tangled in a dressmaker's dummy and in stambles Bosko, who now is covered in a ghostly white sheet making him look like an evil spectre of some sort, scaring Honey off, still tangled in the dummy's shape and falling back, knocking a moosehead off the wall and onto her own head. So now both kids are scaring the life out of each other unbeknowns to the other as we return to Bruno still struggling to break his chains, nearly demolishing his doghouse in the process. He succeeds and goes darting off, barking in the rain and approaching the same rickety floorboards as he ducks inside. Meanwhile, Honey is now moving slowly along the continuously creaking floorboards, now with her dress entangled in the bones of a skeletin on a wheeled dolly. This is what Bruno sees and it sends him yowling off in the other direction before he can realize that it is really Honey.

Somehow, Bosko and Honey do collide on another floor and laugh hysterically at how silly they were in their little game of mistaken identity. At the same time as they resume singing their signature song, "There ain't no spooks nowhere...", the wheeling skeletin edges toward them, first scaring Honey and then scaring Bosko so bad that his skin turns white and his feet seem affixed to the floorboards which he finally rips up in his attempt to dart off, clumsily with the floorboards glued to his shoes.

The cartoon, from hereon in, becomes so fast and wild in its attempts to seemingly follow the characters as they dart this way and that. Bruno, at one point, falls to praying at the foot of a Murphey bed, "...and make me a good dog", unaware that the skeletin frame is lying on that bed. This frightens Bruno into running off and lunging into a table on which sets a radio tuned to a horror show. This gives the kids the feeling that there are intruders as Bosko grabs a rifle off the wall and just shoots into the darkness. The force of the shot sends him and Honey sprawling through the rooms of the house at rapid speed--a fantastic visual--and tumbling out the front door into the bright sunlight. Bruno, still entangled in the rickety fixtures, including a skull fixture with a blueish-black curtain draped over it that made him look to Bosko and Honey as if he were a cackling old dying witch, came sailing out of an upper floor window, causing Bosko to take one more potshot, disconnecting Bruno from the skull, curtain and the radio that continued playing the witchy old voice entoning murder. Everything hits the ground and Honey, Bosko and Bruno are lying in a heap in front of the house as the radio more sweetly intones "...and that, my dear kiddies, is the end of today's spook story, and don't forget to eat Goody-Goodies for breakfast" as the iris closes on their stormy misadventure, a true Halloween classic!! In that sense, it of course deserves to be seen, even if it does at times come off as very pollitically incorrect.

Yeah, the key reframe throughout this cartoon, "there ain't no spooks nowhere" might be misconstrued as pandering to ancient bigotries but, again, I say that cartoons merely mirrored the images that we got in live action films of the time. Most of the comedy herein comes from the situations that the kids and their dog find themselves in, accidentally scaring each other and falling into crevasses and corners of the house that truly mark it for a future Halloween playground...although they'd certainly have to fix up those floorboards or kids would possibly be losing their lives falling from one floor to that below!! In fact, it adds to the scariness of the cartoon to see one character or the other suddenly fall through or bounce on a bed that folds up into the wall next to a typical horror story image, like a skull or a full skeletin. Those at Warner Brothers had also created a similar PORKY PIG cartoon with Gabby Goat and an unnamed dog, but it just didn't have the amazing visuals and camera angles that this one did. It is a shame to shelve this cartoon and I sure hope that we get to see this one within a compilation real soon.

Kevin Wollenweber
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Circus Daze Unknown Tag: 'pic_title'
1937 3701
Harman-Ising Productions
 featuring Bosko, Honey

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"CIRCUS DAZE" (with Bosko, Honey and Bruno) 10 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by: leash_wish, December 07, 2006

At one time, Hugh Harmon created this character of Bosko as an animal character of undetermined origin, almost as competitor to Disney's MICKEY MOUSE. With his little girlfriend, Honey, Bosko had his own dog, Bruno and the two would get into misadventures that would get one or both in real trouble.

When Harmon took the characters with him to MGM, they somehow morphed into two human brown-skinned children, interesting only in the sense that one could believe and more enjoy the logic of two kids and their dog getting into mischief rather than an over-sized mouse and his dog--never quite understood that one. What, of course, killed the BOSKO cartoons from MGM as continuously enjoyable fare among audiences in the current age is the politically incorrect and dated portrayal of the characters of Bosko and Honey. Had they been portrayed by little black children as far as their voices are concerned, perhaps we could have enjoyed this on the same level that we'd enjoy OUR GANG comedies of the same period and earlier years. But, when compared with the other titles in the HAPPY HARMONIES series, the BOSKO cartoons are as fast-paced as non-Disney cartoons of other studios.

As the cartoon opens, we get a stunning sequence of shots of all the circus acts, from the prominading elephants to the wacky clowns in the brassy band to the trapese performers to even the shapely dancing girl, Fatima, in the side show. Other montages in the same sequence contains a great gag in which we watch a hot dog vender cheat a customer out of his eats by sticking his finger on the buttered bun and then removing it as the customer grabs the food and pays the vender. The cartoon continues as we are introduced to Bosko, frazzled at having to pull along an overly curious Bruno, his dog, more detailed in this cartoon than he ever has been in the LOONEY TUNES offerings in black and white, and little Honey, giddy with laughter and enthusiasm for all the circus life around her, talking excitedly about the "great big lion" and the "cute little monkeys" (who just happen to be the good little monkeys of an earlier Hugh Harmon musical entry in the HAPPY HARMONIES series). Honey notices that the monkeys are fidgety over something--and this turns out to be invading fleas in the cage that suddenly jump off and have Bruno chasing them around the grounds. An agitated Bosko calls for Bruno to stop chasing the bugs and follow them, to which Bruno whines "I never have any fun; other dogs have fun!" Bosko has the final word, "y-y-you watch your step!" Having said this, however, he falls into the water bucket used to wash down the elephants. Honey laughs and asks Bosko, with a hint of minstrel show humor, "Bosko, what's the difference between you and a fish?" Bosko replies, standing there soaking wet, "Why, I don't know." Honey answers "A fish is all wet, silly." Bosko counters with "Well, I's all wet," to which Honey has the last word with "well, then there ain't no difference," and breaks into gales of laughter, until one of the monkeys tugs at her balloon, causing her to call for the flustered Bosko to come and assist her in getting her prized possession back from the little critters.

While this happens, the scene changes as we find that Bruno did go off and continue his curious chase of the playfully teasing insects, one flea in particular who leaps about with Bruno close behind. The scene bounces back and forth as we find that Bosko and Honey continued to pull at the balloon, freeing it from the monkey cage and sending it skyward. Bruno continues to chase the bug around until the insect sends him clumsily sprawling back into the small tent that sends the clouded swarm of fleas churning up and chasing after Bruno who is sent into manic itching fits as he yelps and races through the circus grounds, depositing some of the invaders all around the circus grounds with interesting results. Bruno thinks that he'd get away from the biting insects if he ducks into the cannon, but the barker announces "the human cannon" and Bruno is sent booming up over the circus grounds with the fleas following too close behind. They all land somewhere amid the clown orchestra and a frenetic version of "The Poet and the Peasant" begins, a familiar piece used perhaps at every cartoon studio for similar antics, as this time the clowns start scratching in perfect rhythm. The trombone player blows wildly on his instrument, revealing that Bruno is there, blocking the clown's ability to play until he and the remaining fleas are ejected out over the circus once again.

Eventually, the fleas sail over the grounds like a wafting smoke screen and we are treated to a wild series of montage reaction shots, similar to the opening montage, only now, the fleas are seen, almost as black dots of snowy interference like what one used to see on old TV sets as all circus acts, including the many animals in the zoo areas, are sent rolling and tearing up their cages, including one elephant who breaks his chains and manages to fling himself out into the orchestra pit, sending the scratching clowns up into the air. We continue with more montages now at top speed--you certainly almost have to slow the film down to catch all that is happening in almost every corner of the screen, until we see the elephant that broke its chains a few moments earlier, come racing at us, mouth wide open and roaring his disapproval. More montaged shots of the Arabian horses running in all directions and, finally, Bosko and Honey come rolling out, with an exhausted Honey still giggling "Oh Bosko, I had the mostest fun, I'm just exhausted!", and Bosko exasperatedly asking "Where's Bruno?"

He gets his answer when, offscreen we hear Bruno howling "Hey, what's the idea? I didn't do anything..." and the camera cuts across to see that the hapless dog is being physically booted off the circus grounds for creating his disturbance.

Yes, this cartoon moves so fast, ending with the iris out on the test-your-strength bell as poor Bruno lands in a heap, launching the hammer and ringing that bell. It is perhaps the most exhausting Bosko cartoon in the whole HAPPY HARMONIES series, with so much fine detail that you wonder if all of this was rotoscoped. It is possible that Hugh Harmon did practice rotoscoping, but so much of a surreal edge came out of this cartoon that you don't really know exactly where any rotoscoping ends and the full cartoon begins, or vice versa.

It is a cartoon worth showing to those who have condemned the HAPPY HARMONIES series as one that spends way too much time trying to out-Disney Disney or just be cheek-pinchingly cute. While Disney elements are at work here as far as detailed drawings and camera work, etc., there is too much else here that separates this cartoon from Hugh Harmon's former boss. Harmon has this obsession with a single gag here; the swarm of fleas seems to become ominously large with each new intrusion on the circus performances and zoo life. It all sends the eyeballs spinning in one's head, almost as if we, ourselves, as viewers were sitting in chairs that suddenly were sent spinning amid all this action. In that sense, this is an exhilerating ride and worth the viewing. I would give this film three stars out of five for that alone! After all, animation of the 1930's meant to keep us in awe of spectacle, which is why we dubbed the decade "the wide-eyed '30's".

Perhaps the entire original HAPPY HARMONIES series will find its way to DVD's and we'll get to see this film fully restored. With all its action sequences spinning around the viewer, it deserves to be seen only as the best possible closest thing to an original theatrical master, looking as good as when it first premiered in theaters in 1937 so the viewers can better examine the fine details of the chaos!!

Beautiful stuff!!

Kevin Wollenweber
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Steal Wool Unknown Tag: 'pic_title'
1957 1445.
MPAA: 17901
362

Warner Bros. Cartoons, Inc.
 featuring Ralph Wolf, Sam Sheepdog

Steal Wool On Video!  Steal Wool BCDB Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3/5 stars from 6 users.)

synopsis 8 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by: leash_wish, December 31, 2005

Ralph & Sam start off the day as usual and get to work on their rolls in nature. The day goes a little rough for Ralph though, leaving Sam to offer to fill in for both jobs the following day.
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