Bosko
BOSKO & BRUNO. 1932
BOSKO IN PERSON. 1933
BOSKO'S SODA FOUNTAIN. 1931
BATTLING BOSKO. 1932
Director: Hugh Harman

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Bosko Bosko & Bruno (1932) begins with Bosko whistling as he tramps along the railroad tracks, his dog Bruno following close behind, sniffing the ground, scratching fleas, growing at fleas, barking.

We get lots of sounds out of this, animators still finding too much of their "novelty" in the mere fact that audiences could hear the scratching & barking & whistling.

Bosko has a bandana tied into a travel bag on the end of a stick over his shoulder. While crossing a bridge on the track, he & Bruno hear a train whistle.

Bosko throws down his bandana pack & he & hsi dog run like mad with looks of terror. They jump on a hand-pump car, strugglign to outpace the rushing train.

Bruno gets his leg stuck in the track & Bosko has to reroute the train to save his dog, but can't do it. His dog is run over & Bosko begins weeping, but he's actually under an unlikely trapdoor between the rails, peeking out to say "Yoohoo!"

BoskoThey're next passing through a tunnel when they hear a train bell & whistle, & again run like hell, but it's actually a cow with bell & not a train whistle but mooing.

The next gag is Bruno helping Bosko steal eggs from a farmer's henhouse. Black guys sneaking into henhouses is one ofd the oldest stereotypes usually with the punchline "There ain't no one here but us chickens, boss" when caught by the farmer.

But this bit is much more about Bruno trying to catch the chicken. "Tarnation!" shouts the whiskered old farmer who begins shooting buckshot at the thief & his dog.

They again run for safety, jumping over a cliff & landing on the roof a runaway train. "I can't stop!" shouts Bosko as Bruno howls. It ends with a crash into a tree at the end of the tracks, simultaneously crushing a cow into an accordion-cow, but no one's hurt. The crash is redrawn from the conclusion of Bosko's Box Car Blues (1930).



Bosko The asbestos curtain is burnt right up at the opening of Bosko in Person (1933), as he's playing hot jazz on a piano on stage. The number is the Looney Tunes theme song "Whistle & Blow Your Blues Away." Then he says, "Howdy folks!" & keeps on playing.

The underlying idea for Bosko in Person is a vaudeville act in a movie theater, as this was cartoon was released to theaters at a time when live & filmed entertainment overlapped & a great many cinemas opened with a singer or commedian, though such would soon be replaced not only by cartoons but by Vitaphone or British Pathe musical short subjects.

Most of the Bosko episodes sort of forget he's a young black man, which is to the good, making them the least racist cartoons of the era to focus on a black character who isn't just an appalling stereotype. But now & then we're reminded that his Bojangles bowler hat & his affinity for jazz or his tapdance routines indicate his cultural origin.

And so too, then, his girlfriend Honey steps out to tapdance. They greet each other, then Bosko hops up to tapdance at Honey's side. Bosko sings a pretty awful song, "She's my Honey/ And gosh it's funny/ We have a wonderful time...."

BoskoHis & Honey's routine continues with more dancing, more singing, more piano playing. Bosko's glove comes off & plays piano without Bosko's hand in it.

Soon the glove is sitting on Bosko's knee while he instructs it to recite "Mary Had a Little Lamb," which it does, in the oddest scene of the film.

When Bosko trips & falls while tapdancing, the audience laughs. So he does it again, & they laugh again. He impersonates Maurice Chevalier, singing "Whistle & Blow Your Blues Away," then attaches a balloon to his nose & imitates Jimmy Durante.

Out strides Honey who sings a tough-gal blues bit "Was That the Human Thing to Do" in the style of Ethel Waters, followed by a moment of Greta Garbo.

Lastly Bosko goes crazy playling hot jazz on number, mostly "Georgia Brown," & Honey sings & shouts. It ends with a patriotic drum march.

Throughout, as in all "Bosko the talk-ink kid" cartoons, Bosko is voiced by animator Carman Griffon "Max" Maxwell (1902-1987), & Honey is voiced by Rochelle Hudson (1916-1972) who would later become a leading character actress.

Storywise Bosko in Person offers, & the carton is rather primitively done. But it's sweet stuff & lots of fun.



Bosko Bosko's Soda Fountain (1931) finds our hero either owning or operating a soda fountain, mixing ice cream & drinks to a jazzy soundtrack.

The first gigantic drink is prepared for a tiny wee mouse customer. A giant hippo-girl turns on the shop's fan to cool off, & when her heaped-high sundae arrives, it's blown all over her face, so she leaves disgruntled, which seems to please Bosko.

So far the soda fountain gags have been piss-poor. The sound syncronization seems rather haphazard as well, with dialogue occurring without lips moving, or lips moving without dialogue. More mediocre sight-gags occur, the biggest one being a weaner dog transformed into a concertina. Gags are more cruel than funny.

The scene changes to Honey's house where she's trying to teach her cat to play the piano. He throws a fit & won't settle down to his lessons unless Honey gets him an ice cream cone.

"Will you be a good little boy if I get you one?" Probably not, but she makes a phone call to Bosko's ice cream & soda shop to have an ice cream cone delivered.

He delivers the ice cream & the unappreciative cat eats it right down, afterward misbehaving even worse than before. This is one of the poorer Bosko episodes.



Bosko To a jazzy rendition of "Turkey in the Straw" Bosko is boxing a punching-bag. The radio announces a forthcoming championship meet for Battling Bosko (1932), & we see his opponent is a gigantic bruiser, Gashouse Harry -- whose punching bag is an anvil.

His girlfriend Honey calls to see how things are going, & Bosko sounds pretty sure of himself, singing her victory jazz song while tapdancing. On her end ofd the phone line, she's playign her piano.

Everyone who is anyone is on the way to the match, as we see in a series of rather generic & easily recycled scenes of groups of characters in motion. Honey, however, stays home, & listens to the ringside announcer on the radio.

The match is going badly for Bosko. When he's down for the count, Honey & her dog rush down the street & arrive ringside. The ending we're expecting is she inspires Bosko to victory. But Bosko has pretty much had enough, & has no intention of standing up again.

See also the later, revamped, quite different
Technicolor Bosko & the Jazz Frogs

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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