Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Tex Avery Terrytoon? Almost--Ain't We Got Fun

5/1/1937 (according to the Big Cartoon Database; IMDb claims a 7/2/1937 release date)

The Life of Emile Zola DVD (Warners Home Video)

Thanks to the always-awesome Devon Baxter, you can view a mid-1990s Turner print of this cartoon HERE. You're a brick, Devon!

After the epochal effort and game-changing effect of Porky's Duck Hunt, Avery's next cartoon is an inevitable letdown.

This is a Tex Avery pattern: a masterpiece followed by a "meh." Avery's lesser cartoons still have redeeming moments, and this Merrie Melodie, which chooses the road less traveled of prudence and restraint, is a minor moment in a major filmography. By the standards of any of the other units in Leon Schlesinger's studio, this would be a good-to-average cartoon. It might have been Jack King's masterpiece.

It's also Avery's first cartoon to deviate from his way of drawing. I'll get into this topic more later, but the majority of the characters in Ain't We Got Fun don't appear to be of his design.

Perhaps this film was a trade-off for the Avery unit being allowed to make Porky's Duck Hunt, which was previously covered in depth here. "You made a cartoon your way; now you gotta make one for the front office." (This is only an educated guess.) Where Duck Hunt is infused with comedic passion, Ain't We Got Fun is phoned in with gritted teeth. One recalls Oliver Owl, from Avery's I Love To Singa, forcing out his pinched rendition of "Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes."