Hello all, after a week of some heavy work, it's great to be back writing this little startup blog. Admittedly, I may only have more weeks to come due to school, and eventually work where these breaks happen and I may not set it from "Every Tuesday" to "Once sometime in the Week". Happily, this isn't the case yet, and I have even begun work on some bonus pieces documenting other stuff, including the animation work of someone better known as a director! But let's get back to the main point of this piece!
Henpecked was the last of the first season of Oswalds that never made the original TV Package of B&W Lantz, which has caused some to unfortunately become lost, but luckily this one is a survivor. Compared to the earliest reasons, it shows substantial improvement in Lantz's efforts of creating sound cartoons; gags take advantage of sound, and the overall art has become more polished, thanks to an increase of employees.
We open up (after hearing what sounds like James Dietrich shouting "Alright" to the orchestra in the opening titles) with some fun Bill Nolan animation of Oswald playing piano, singing a song called "My Baby and Me". It's got some fun scat and is carried well by Nolan's energetic animation. Pete, the manager of the apartment complex Oswald is living at, comes down to complain about the noise. It begins to get weird in the way only a Lantz Cartune does, with the unexplainable and unexpected happening of course! Pete speaks with a French-Canadian accent ("FROM YOU ANUTHER PEEP GONT") done by Pinto Colvig, who seems to be doing every voice in this sort. Afterward, a French Frog with the same accent tells Pete not too, and he relents and lets him go, but not without a harsh warning, even throwing out his piano!
I think you can see where the story goes
Immediately afterwards, the phone rings for Oswald and he quietly picks up. It's his nephews, wanting to come over and play, as the kid says slowly to a metronome beat (hey, everybody was doing it that way then!). Oswald gives a hard no, but unfortunately, the hoard of kids decide to come right away! They sing a really funny chant about seeing their Unk'Ozzie, helping to change the speed and sound of the cartoon into something snappier and funnier, as Dietrich gives his all with the score, incorporating "The Gang's All Here" into the score during a funny scene of Oswald disturbing Pete's bath!
It's here where my favorite part of the early Lantz Oswalds shines, using Bill Nolan's eccentric, loose, but intelligent animation to pull off outlandish gags! After Oswald falls back to the room level, one of the nephews shoves an umbrella into him, causing him to float around the room, allowing for Nolan to animate Oswald weightless, perfect for the gag!
The film then goes to a quick gag of the nephews jumping on a bed and bedbugs coming out. Funny little way to grab your attention after the sluggish scene (in a good way!). We get too what appear to be Oswald's only niece causing trouble for Pete's Wife. I must question: why are his nephews and niece cats, are they on Kitty's side?
Anyways, we get some some funny noises from Colvig again giving a few strings of Goofy, whose voice shows up in small doses in this era of the Lantz Oswalds. It's honestly really fun seeing Pinto do a variety of fun voices in these ones, as it shows he would more than just the Goof and Pluto.
Since the footage quota is almost fullfilled, the film begins to connect the gagstrings to each other, having Pete come down from the bath, the kids step on him (animated by the small animator who stands out in a few films from the later part of the first season) and, well, you watch it and enjoy it. Bill Nolan gets more footage towards this part in some of the most fun of his animation that survives, my god is it beautiful! The only thing I will note is I like the way it ends, and James' piece of brass band fanfare at the end. Here's some photos (and a Film Daily review) if you can't watch it yet!
Originally, I was going to make an instrumental for this post, as it seems to share apart of the soundtrack with "Hell's Heels", but alas I'm out of time. Eventually, when I cover that cartoon I will make it. Also hoping to do more Lantz pieces with that same title, as it kinda fits for any Cartune he produced. Hopefully this post is good enough for all here!