Grant Simmons

The House of Tomorrow (1949, Tex Avery)

The House of Tomorrow is such a well-made cartoon, the technical aspects more than make up for some of the weak writing. However, that weak writing does make the cartoon an interesting historical artifact.

First the technical stuff. Tomorrow is a tour through a house of 2050. The year’s made clear when the kitchenwares get their emphasis and the opening actually makes it seem more immediate. So there’s a bit of a disconnect, but whatever. Avery’s direction, from the first frame, is fantastic. His animators do an outstanding job.

Where Tomorrow goes wrong is in the jokes. There’s a lot of vague misogyny but then it gets a lot more pointed–there are endless jokes about killing one’s mother-in-law. It wasn’t until halfway through I realized the mother-in-law in question was the wife’s not the husband’s.

Comedy’s changed.

But besides that aspect, Tomorrow is great.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Tex Avery; written by Jack Cosgriff and Rich Hogan; animated by Walt Clinton, Michael Lah and Grant Simmons; music by Scott Bradley; produced by Fred Quimby; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Narrated by Frank Graham and Don Messick.


Magical Maestro (1952, Tex Avery)

I had read Magical Maestro was controversial and it took me quite a while, watching it, to release why it had that reputation.

There’s a montage of an irate magician turning an opera singing bulldog into various singing stereotypes. There’s a cowboy, there’s a redneck, there’s a baby… then an angry audience member squirts ink on the bulldog’s face and it’s blackface.

And at that point, I realized the earlier Chinese transformation would offend too (but that transformation is the only one where the bulldog is singing the opera as opposed to a stereotype appropriate one).

It’s a lovely little cartoon. There aren’t a lot of shots, not a lot of action, but it’s a hilarious cartoon set to good music.

The redneck caricature is probably the most shocking one. Maybe because it’s the only accurate one of them.

Regardless of any “controversy,” Tex Avery does absolutely brilliant work here.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Tex Avery; written by Rich Hogan; animated by Walt Clinton, Michael Lah and Grant Simmons; music by Scott Bradley; produced by Fred Quimby; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Daws Butler (Mysto the Magician) and Carlos Ramírez (The Great Poochini).


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