Director: Rudolf Ising

Director: Walt Disney

Director: Dave Fleischer

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Smile Darn Ya Smile Although not a Disney cartoon, this is obviously Mickey Mouse as a trolly operator singing the title song Smile Darn Ya Smile (1931).

Foxy the Mickey clone has the slightest hint of a point to his ears, & a fuzzier tail, so that it could be claimed that the fellow is Foxy, not Mickey Mouse. Must've pissed off Disney, though, as the character even has Mickey's voice, & there's a Minnie Mouse "fox" met along the trolly route.

A whole slug of trolly catastrophe gags fill out the cartoon. A giant hippo woman wants on Foxy's trolly. A stubburn cow named Bossy stands on the tracks, & an encampment of animal hobos sing about Bossy on the track.

And so on unti Foxy's girlfriend becomes a damsel in distress on the runaway trolly with no breaks. So it's as cliche as it is unoriginal.

Lady, Play Your Mandolin! Another Merrie Melodies cartoon with Foxy is built around title song Lady, Play Your Mandolin! (1931), sung by an ape, a duck, & a whole chorus of animals including a Joe E. Brown hippo.

Foxy, the Mickey clone, rides in like a swing-tune cowboy. The gathering is at an adobe tavern in a Southwestern or Mexican desert.

Everyone's happy to see Foxy arrive. He sings "I am a Gay Caballero" with lyrics like "I'm expert at shooting -- the bull." Foxy gets a bit tipsy & happy & kicks back to watch a stage show.

A duck plays his sombrero like a horn to introduce Foxy's girlfriend, the mandolin player. She gives the song a flapper rendition (including boop-oop-a-do bits) as Foxy & several members of the audience join in. It runs in part: "Lady play your mandollin/ Baby sing your song of sin." Foxy does a momentary Al Jolsen routine.

For climax, Foxy's horse decides to come into the tavern & get drunk too. He gets so drunk he has horrorific hallucinations.

The Skeleton Dance Designed & animated by Ub Iwerks for Walt Disney, the Silly Symphony The Skeleton Dance (1929) scored by Carl Stalling is a wonderful series of surreal events, often quite beautiful in a macabre manner.

Disney's distributor refused to distribute this one, demanding instead "More mice!" so Disney had to find alternative route into the cinema houses, where it was of course an instant success.

An owl screeches in a storm. Bats leave the church belfry. A dog howls against the moon. A battle of territorial cats in the graveyard is interupted by a skeleton rising from the grave, frightening the spitting cats away.

The Skeleton DanceThe skeleton sneaks around the graveyard until encountering some of his fellow skeletons.

The four skeletons dance back & forth, round & round, with many amusing variations of activity amidst the gravestones.

At one point, a skeleton turns one of his fellows into a xylophone & plays him with his own legbones. Another skeleton uses a cat for a violin.

At cockrow, the four skeletons look worried, combine their bones into one four-headed skeletal being, & leap back into a grave. Stunning!

See also Hittin' the Trail for Hallelujah Land (1931) which has an important sequence in imitation of The Skeleton Dance. Not that Disney or Iwerks was the total originator of the very idea, which had been done by the Lumier brothers before the end of the 19th Century in The Skeleton of Joy (Le Squelette joyeux, 1897).

She Reminds Me of You A "Screen Songs" follow the bouncing ball short, She Reminds me of You (1936) features The Eaton Boys in the live-action portion.

The animated opening introduces us to the newly opened Theater of Tomorrow which has automated entrance of moving sidewalk.

Automated seats role to the front of each aisle to pick up the theater-goer, & will also give the seated occupant a facial make-over or a shave & a haircut. The chairs also provide an x-ray feature in case you have to look through the head of someone too tall.

The theater screen soon presents The Eaton Boys with the Bouncing ball singing "She Reminds Me Of You." The Eaton Boys are a very bland harmony group singing the peppy song by Harry Revel & Mack Gordon.

The number had been introduced a couple years earlier in We're Not Dressing (1934), wherein it was sung by Bing Crosby.

Dancing on the Moon Dancing on the Moon (1935) is a delightful science fiction cartoon. It opens with a gorgeous art nouveau space liner, the "Honeymoon Express to the Moon" shown in moonlight.

The ship's door opens & a lion-man tapdances down the steps. He sing the title song "Dancing on the Moon/ Your girl in your arms/ Far away from all the crowd/ Up above the silvery cloud..."

Honeymooning couples begin to arrive, sundry animal people tapping & singing additional verses to the tune. Except for walking upright & wearing tuxes & wedding gowns, this could be a sci-fi version of Noah's Ark, with two each of sundry beasts.

They rocket to the moon, but the alley cat groom's bride was accidentally left behind. He meows tragically to realize he's on the honeymoon by himself. Everyone else is paired up, even the fly couple, smooching & singing on the ride to the moon while the alley cat plays solitaire.

On the way to the moon they pass several planets & pass through the milky-way which is a sparkly meadow where giant space cows graze. On the moon everyone's dancing & happy except the increasingly depressed alley cat.

There are a few gags with individual animal couples, like the girraffs who declare the moon "a great place for necking." The image of all the beasts dancing on the moon is super, with the tiny cat in giant tophat doing a lonesome soft-shoe.

It's a brief stay, & soon they're back on the Honeymoon Express going home. As they get off the ship, storks bring them their babies. But the alley cat's stork has nothing. And his scrappy bride beats the living daylights out of him.

Stoopnocracy The black & white "sing along" cartoon Stoopnocracy (1933) begins with animal characters driving an insane asylum ambulance, capturing a crazy hippo with a butterfly net, returning him to the nuthouse.

A few more crazies are gathered up, including a fellow who successfully paints the sun in black-face, & a lion character who is gathered up in the butterfly net for the insane act of making animated cartoons.

A few gags are shown in the nuthouse itself, though nobody seems quite as nutty as the guard. At last we see into one of the cells, where the forgotten comedy team of Stoopnagle & Budd are locked up. These guys are actually Frederick Chase Taylor who played Colonel Lemuel Stoopnagle to straight man Budd Hulick.

The cartoon now turns to live-action, & the inside of their cell apears to be an ordinary office of the inventor Colonel Stoopnagle. This is because there's really no actual connection between the nuthouse animation & the filmed live act & sing-alone.

Budd is playing a newspaper reporter sent to interview Stoopnagle about his inventions, which includes a quiet violin without any strings, & round dice for people who'd rather play marbles. They do an entire routine of such nonsense, which is pretty good really.

One of the inventions is a cigar that makes the smoker sing like Bing Crosby. Stoopnagle invites the audience to do a sing-along with the bouncing ball, the prize for loudest singer being a dozen wet envelopes. They're wet so you don't have to lick the stamps.

The lyrics appear under Budd as he sings slightly in the style of Bing Crosby a pleasant & completely serious diddy (serious apart from its built-in pun) that had been very popular from Bing himself: "Please lend your little ears to my pleas/ Lend a ray of cheer to my pleas/ Tell me that you love me too."

At the end of the sing-along, it returns to the comedy routine. Budd wants to know if there are any other inventions that make people sound like radio singers, & Stoopnagle gets out his "Cab Calloway milk."

To test it, Stoopnagle materializes a black kid, looks about twelve years old, dressed humiliatingly in baby clothes. He drinks the milk & the bouncing ball appears over the lyrics of "Minnie the Moocher," not sung like Cab, but sung pretty well by this talented but unidentified kid. And the ball bouncing over the scat is funny.

A bit of animation is tacked onto the end with more patients in their cells providing gags, the asylum collapsing & everyone escaping to provide an ending.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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