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Cartoon Hell #21 – “Jingles”

April 5, 2009

Cartoon Hell is TheKarpuk’s attempt to review every single installment in an awful $5 collection called “150 Classic Cartoons” purchased at his local Wal-Mart. Your prayers are welcome.

Maybe it should end with, "...in Color?"

Maybe it should end with, "...in Color?"

There are a few things immediately wrong with “Jingles”, A Musical Sketch in Color. Let’s work from least obvious backwards. Firstly, there’s Christmas music playing, which never bodes well. Second, there is utterly nothing recognizable about the format. As much as I bitch about the Fleischer characters like Popeye and Betty Boop, it’s still nice to have a personality of some sort anchoring the whole thing. Lastly, I don’t think it’s a good start when the title card lies to me, because this bitch is monochrome.

It’s a film by Sy Young, and it all has the amateur feel of something cobbled together in some lightless place in the world where orphans of the Great War euthanize elderly circus animals. The warbly music combines with that effect to make me concerned that I’m watching some old Edison snuff film thrown into the collection because it cost nothing in royalties.

Eskimo law actually requires this.

Eskimo law actually requires this.

Two eskimos turn a crank at the top of the world and a old style traffic sign smacks the sun. Whatever my expectations were, they’ve been defied. The sun starts a locomotive, and every single part twists into a character when it moves. There’s a shot from the trains perspective as it moves through the hillside towards a tunnel that’s eerily well animated, to the point where I felt a little unnerved.

Mechanical caterpillars, unsettling.

Mechanical caterpillars, unsettling.

The train comes out of a piece of fruit as a caterpillar. I included the picture not because it’s funny, but to assure you that I didn’t fall asleep at the keyboard and have some sort of waking nightmare.

Suddenly, it’s just an ordinary caterpillar, who turns into a normal butterfly, who then plays a perfectly normal solo on a normal violin. This cartoon is taking me off guard, because even the lamest cartoon normally has a corny sensibility where it’s set up for laughs. Sy Young does not give a shit what you think, his sun-launched butterfly-train can play whatever-the-hell instrument it wants!

Some hardcore butterflies.

Some hardcore butterflies.

The butterfly jumps from post to post, it’s solo waking the flowers. When it escapes into the background, the trees sway to the same beat. This at least is comforting, as Disney launched a standard for years requiring everything, and I mean EVERYTHING in an animated short to keep the rhythm.

Erotic displays of cloud watching.

Erotic displays of cloud watching.

Women in the clouds do a suggestive dance, throwing another curveball to my expectations.

Avert your eyes, this is where the magic happens.

Avert your eyes, this is where the magic happens.

After that, the moisture entices a plant to spread open its lips so a bee can enter. I don’t know if I’ve ever blushed due to a old cartoon, but it’s bewildering. The bees doll it up nice and pretty like, which involves it puckering its lips, and I again feel a strange, prudish discomfort.

We all fling aortas sooner or later.

We all fling aortas sooner or later.

A spider serenades its mate by playing a web like a harp, inspiring a heart to fly from him, which the female spider puts around her neck. She then sprinkles…. something on the ground, I’m not really certain what. They join on the web in what I can honestly, without irony say is a touching moment. Seriously, these spiders adorable.

Birds have a real puritan ethic.

Birds have a real puritan ethic.

Birds in top hats fly in patterns holding luggage. Truly these are signs of the end times. The fact that they’re building a damn fine bird house is also perhaps a signal to the apocalypse. Birds mastering carpentry would spell an end to man-kinds dominance. Birds are rocking their young, and there’s even a humble gathering of birds at a dinner table saying grace before a meal. The mother reveals the worm on the plate, and they polite slice apart once it squirms across all their plates. It’s all done with such wide-pleasantness that it’s hard not to find it charming. These birds could peck and my face and I’d put up with it.

After that the films ends with a  “Finis” and a sputtering series of random noises. I don’t know how to feel about what’s just happened, but I’m glad I watched it.

UNPC Moment:

This cartoon was the definition of harmless pleasantness. According to Wikipedia Cy Young was hired by Walt Disney based on this film.

Rating: Genuinely Good

As dorky as the subject matter is, this doesn’t come off like any studio animation I’ve ever seen. It’s weird, idiosyncratic, and utterly hypnotic, even while using a fairly conventional cartoon plot. The mannerisms given to everything in the film are charming beyond reason. Something about finding old peculiarities like this tucked in among the dreck makes doing this series worth it.

This film was surprisingly obscure, I had to load my own copy of the film into Youtube just to have a version to put on the blog. Give it a look.

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2 comments

  1. The person’s actual name is Cy Young, and he later went on to work at the Disney Studios on such classics as Fantasia, though left the studio during a strike in ’41 (apparently committing suicide in the 60’s, sad really, he had a talent).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cy_Young_(animator)

    An actual color copy of his cartoon can be found on this DVD release…
    http://www.amazon.com/Golden-Age-Cartoons-Cultoons-Oddities/dp/B000BQ7JVG/


  2. It’s online, too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjeL9eu1_co



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