Monday, May 26, 2014

Uncle Tom's Bungalow: Brief Bursts of Brilliance in a Controversial Cartoon

6/5/1937 (according to the Big Cartoon Database; IMDb claims a 7/12/1937 release date)


We once had access to a very nice print of this cartoon, but it was taken down. An adequate version may be seen HERE, and you can always take initiative to find other versions out there. It's easy, mac!

The first of two Avery cartoons banned from television airing by the late 1960s, Uncle Tom's Bungalow is part of a group of cartoons animation scholars (and fans) refer to as "The Censored 11."

These cartoons were suppressed mostly for racial stereotypes that were too much for post-civil rights America. Aside from prints hoarded by collectors, these cartoons were often difficult to see, pre-Internet—and are still often encountered in faded, lo-rez versions that do the originals no favors.

Arguably, only three of the "Censored 11" are great cartoons. Bob Clampett's exuberant mini-masterpiece Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarfs (1943), Friz Freleng's solid, funny musical Goldilocks and The Jivin' Bears (1944) and this Avery cartoon are the real keepers of this clandestine subset.

Appreciation of these cartoons requires the viewer's understanding of the era and circumstances in which they were made. In Avery's case, they raise larger concerns and ask bigger questions.