VERY early Looney Tune from Warners. The portrayal of Rasputin — or “Rice Puddin” — seems modeled loosely on Lionel Barrymore in RASPUTIN AND THE EMPRESS, although it’s not as close as the caricature in Disney’s MICKEY’S GALA PREMIER.
But the singularly remarkable moment in WAKE UP THE GYPSY IN ME is the ending, when a bomb in Rasputin’s pants blows off his hair and clothing, darkening his skin and turning him into Gandhi. Which makes me wonder what the American perception of Gandhi was at the time. I imagine British cartoons, had there been any, would’ve demonized him. This seems to suggest he was a figure of fun in America, or at least at Warners, but with a sinister edge. Here’s another Warner toon with added Mahatmanimation —
A horse gets drunk and is frightened by a manifestation of Gandhi in the mirror, at 6:46.
(How does GOOPY GEER relate to Satyajit Ray’s GOOPY GYNE BAGHA BYNE?)
Did this inspire the appearance of Gandhi in Hell in SOUTH PARK: BIGGER LONGER AND UNCUT? Not necessarily, but it does suggest that this great world leader has been rather ill-served by cartoons. Maybe the time is right for an animated remake of Richard Attenborough’s bloated biopic? The idea is not a wholly original one —
When GANDHI was in the pipeline, there was controversy in India, and some doubted that any mere human actor could do justice to the role. Was it perhaps akin to blasphemy to have some ham play the great-souled one? A concerned citizen wrote to Sir Dickie and suggested that perhaps the solution would be to have India’s leader portrayed by a moving light. Attenborough wrote back “I’m not making bloody TINKERBELL.”
But maybe he should’ve?