Departing with the Breeze

A fairly worthless Columbia toon from 1940. No credits, which is probably just as well for those responsible.

It’s supposed to be a satire on women’s hats — biting, topical stuff — but they obviously couldn’t even squeeze seven minutes out of that so it begins with a wholly irrelevant day-in-the-life mockumentary portraying working girl Maise, an off-model Bette Davis caricature.

Since Bette had I believe hoped for and failed to get the lead in GONE WITH THE WIND, her reading material at the workplace is a bitter joke indeed:

Then there’s some classically insensitive depictions of mental illness. Hard to be seriously offended by the padded cells and stereotyped loony behaviour, but none of it’s FUNNY, either. I recall reading a complaint about Tex Avery’s SLAP-HAPPY LION when it aired on the BBC in the nineties — someone took the trouble to write to the Radio Times, protesting the outmoded and insensitive depiction of a lion having a nervous breakdown. Some people really badly want to be offended.

SLAP-HAPPY LION is quite a dark, nasty cartoon, but it’s hilarious. This one isn’t nearly as dark but because it isn’t funny at all it’s more disturbing. Also because the drawing doesn’t have any appeal, so the various loony hatters are sort of gross.

Other than that, the most charming thing on display is the cartoon version of the Columbia logo which finishes it. Never seen this before:

It should be cartoonier, but I still like it, and wish the other studios had the equivalent. I guess Warners kind of did, with the familiar WB shield catapulted at us down a vibrant ribbed tube, but a cartoon Leo the lion would have been magnificent.

4 Responses to “Departing with the Breeze”

  1. bensondonald Says:

    There is nothing quite so creepy as “off” animation, especially when it aspires to be Disney levels of detail: A badly rendered “pretty” girl, Newton’s laws shakily applied (as opposed to defied for comic effect), unstable solidity, and movement and gags clumsily paced. The same cartoon made at Warner would work at least somewhat better, with a stylized office girl zipping from pose to pose and a madman with non-random intent.

    Columbia did parody its own logo a few times. “The Man Called Flintstone” begins by subbing in Wilma on the logo card. “Cat Ballou” has an animated Columbia tossing aside her dress to reveal her western outlaw togs, and “The Mouse That Roared” has a live Columbia squeal and flee a real mouse at her feet.

    When Chuck Jones did a round of Tom and Jerrys, he had the MGM lion dissolve into Tom, sputtering and hissing in an attempt to roar. Early on MGM had a cartoon Leo mascot who appeared in trade ads: A lion with a human body, tuxedo clad. He appeared onscreen in the first of Ub Iwerks’s Willie Whopper cartoons, introducing Willie to the theater audience. There was also an odd teaser trailer for the fifties “Scaramouche”, that begins with “Leo presents” and deploys an animated lion (who doesn’t resemble the trade ad Leo) instead of actual film clips:
    [video src="https://archive.org/details/ScaramoucheTrailers/ScaramoucheAnimatedTrailer.mp4" /]

  2. And now that I think of it, there’s The Fearless Vampire Killers beginning with the Lion morphing into a cartoon vampire with bloody fangs.

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