Jazz, Sex and War Cartoons
Film archivist Dennis Nyback presents this special 16mm program.
the 1930s and 1940s, well before television, the cartoon was a popular
supplement of feature films in almost all American movie theatres, and
many of the legendary animators such as Bob Clampett and Tex Avery were
in their prime. With musical scorings composed by masters like Carl
Stallings, the cartoon was experiencing a golden age. These cartoons
would continue to deliver joy and delight to young and old alike for
decades to come. Many of these cartoons would also deliver something
much darker, something much disturbing and insidious. Like the cultural
time capsules they were, they would also deliver the hate, the ridicule
and the callousness bound up in the racial, sexual and cultural
stereotypes of the period – ugly stereotypes of women and minorities
which belied the patriotic myth of a “melting pot” society where a person’s
race or color did not matter.
This cartoon culture of the 30s
and 40s in its extreme incarnations has been shelved, buried, suppressed
and willfully ignored by the anthropologists of cinema who have little
desire to re-release the toxic fumes of social hatred and inequity from
another time. We must decide if it is better to ignore the past or not –
and at what cost.
(1928, artist unknown) Legendary porno cartoon with a boogie woogie piano soundtrack.
(1931, Max and David Fleischer) Bimbo in existential Hell.
He ends up playing S&M patty cake with Betty Boop.
You’re a Sap, Mister Jap
(1943, Max and David Fleischer) Popeye battles Japan. Based on a popular WW II song.
(1934, Earl Duval) Newlyweds set a hotel afire with their torrid love making.
Minnie the Moocher
(1932, Max and David Fleischer) Cab Calloway and Betty Boop.
In The Woods
(1965, artist unknown) A pornographic telling of Hansel
and Gretel. What makes it especially interesting is the soundtrack,
Sleeping Beauty by Tchaikovsky, is recorded backwards to give it a way
out free-jazz effect.
Don’t Look Now
(1936, Tex Avery) A very funny look at young Satan battling cupid on Valentine’s Day all to a snappy melody.
Hot Riding Hood
(1943, Tex Avery) The cartoon characters revolt against
a sugary telling of Little Red Riding Hood. It is then changed to a
jazzy, sexy version.