Rod Scribner

Russian Rhapsody (1944, Robert Clampett)

Russian Rhapsody is a strange–and very funny–cartoon. First, as a historical document, it's a Hollywood cartoon mocking Hitler (before the end of the war and the extent of his atrocities became clear). In Rhapsody, he's an obnoxious windbag and there are a bunch of good jokes at his expense.

But once the first act is done–Hitler is going to fly a bomber himself to Moscow–Rhapsody takes a different turn. It's about the gremlins attacking the bomber. They're funny little creatures, destroying the plane in creative ways (though director Clampett never actually shows the specific effects of their sabotage) and they have a great song.

There are a lot of contemporary pop culture references; some still work, some don't. The Stalin one probably didn't work even back then if you knew anything about foreign affairs.

Until the final gag flops (it's another pop culture reference), Rhapsody is a very funny cartoon.



Directed by Robert Clampett; written by Lou Lilly; animated by Rod Scribner, Arthur Davis, Manny Gould and Robert McKimson; edited by Treg Brown; music by Carl W. Stalling; produced by Leon Schlesinger; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Adolf Hitler / Gremlin from the Kremlin).

Wild Wife (1954, Robert McKimson)

Wild Wife is easily McKimson’s best cartoon (of those I’ve seen, anyway). I was going to start by talking about McKimson as an unlikely feminist, since Wife mostly concerns a housewife whose male chauvinist pig husband berates her for not getting enough done.

The cartoon then flashes back to show exactly how full her day has been, mostly with his little tasks. Then it sadly diverts to her being a shopaholic and a gossip, which is more what I expected.

But the ending recovers somewhat and McKimson and writer Tedd Pierce never make judgements. It’s a shocking cartoon coming from McKimson.

He’s even ambitious in his direction; though the character design lifts a lot from Blondie and the animation’s fairly bad. It also lifts a Blondie gag.

But it’s a good cartoon. Bea Benaderet (who’s uncredited as the lead, showing sexism wasn’t dead in the title card department) is great.



Directed by Robert McKimson; written by Tedd Pierce; animated by Herman Cohen, Phil DeLara, Charles McKimson and Rod Scribner; edited by Treg Brown; music by Carl W. Stalling; produced by Edward Selzer; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Bea Benaderet (Marsha / Daughter / Old Women with pennies / Beautician) and Mel Blanc (John / Son / Mailman / Bank Teller / Red Cross Nurse / Casper J. Fragile / Soda Jerk / Pedestrian / Officer).

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