Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Sinkin' In The Bathtub (Sept. 1930)
This is the very first official Looney Tune. It features Bosko and his girlfriend, Honey. The cartoon begins with Bosko whistling the song Singin' In The Bathtub. Now would be an appropriate time, then, to discuss the purpose of these cartoons. I know that many people who would be interested in a blog like this might already know this, but for those of you who have never looked any deeper into cartoons than deciding wheter or not they are funny (a valid pursuit), here is the deal. The primary purpose for the Looney Tunes, and even more the Merrie Melodies was to:
A. Fill a 6-7 min. time slot before the feature
B. Promote music in the Warner music catalog
It amazes me how this simple money-making motive guided the art that would be cartoon shorts. There is no denying that even long after the pretext of promoting particular songs was forgotten, the Warner shorts ( and really all shorts) centered around music. In the hands of Carl Staling and the others, the music is an essential aspect of not only the story, but the comedy.
So, the cartoon: Bosko is whistling his song, and playing his surroundings as instruments. The music gets so exciting that the bathtub itself begins to dance, spreading toilet-paper confetti all over the place. After deciding that he is clean enough, Bosko points the shower out the window and "surfs" down to the yard - just like everyone else.
His car isn't in the garage, oh no, it's in the outhouse, the need of which is a little lost on me since it is apparent that Bosko has indoor plumbing. Maybe it's an outhouse just for the car, that must be it, I personally would never trust my car with a key to my house. He would constantly be coming in at three in the morning with the worst gas (yes, I went there, I made that horrible pun. I hope you understand - I had no choice)
After driving to Honey's, Bosko tries to suprise here with the flowers he picked (and played) on the way. He is frustrated in his wooing by a goat who eats the flowers. He the begins to cry (to music mind you, he cries in time to the music - could you do that? - in such distress? could you? I don't think so). When Honey says that she still loves him, proving that she is not nearly as shallow as one might think, Bosko immediately becomes his happy self.
I don't know if this cartoon has the first instance of an impromptu xylophone, I doubt it, but this is certainly genesis for the Warner studio. The first example is the wooden plank sidewalk. This, certainly is form following function, it just looks too much like the instrument. They HAD to use it as xylophone, it looked like a much better xylophone than sidewalk anyway.
After dumping her bathwater into Bosko's saxophone, Honey proceeds to dance on the bubbles he produces. The bubbles also make music as she pops them. It is impressive enough that she is able to remain airborne on nothing but floating soap, but also use the occasion for music making is impressive.
Another first for Warner in the cartoon cliches department is Bosko splitting into a bunch of little Boskos after falling out of the car. By today's standards it seems so obvious that this is the correct effect, that it makes me wonder if there was anyone in the room that had some other, maybe greater idea, that was shot down and is now lost to history.
After a long and truly unfunny runaway car scene, Bosko and Honey end up in a pond, in a bathtub, with cat-tails for mallets (or whatever you play xylophones with) and lily-pads for an instrument, with which they reprise our theme. When the end card comes up, Bosko shouts "That's All Folks" thus beginning a long and glorious tradition - to quote Vizzini.
Well, that's all I have for this one, and it looks like it may be too much. I will probably post more of these before I get any comments, but go ahead and let me know if I ramble too much.