Scrappy, by Paul Etcheverry and Will Friedwald

Scrappy

Reprinted from Animania #20, February 1981
and Animania #21, June 1981

Scrappy was Hit

[Click here for 1935-1936]

1937

60. PUTTIN’ OUT THE KITTEN / March 26 / Story by Art Davis / Animated by Sid Marcus.
Scrappy very reluctantly puts his little cat out for the night. He has a strange dream, in which the kitten returns through a window, and discovers that the Mother Goose characters on Scrappy’s nursery wallpaper have come to life. Watching these strange figures cavort to the music of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” has a devastatingly disorientating effect. The poor cat crashes into the wall, tangles with a boot and bucket, rolls around on Scrappy’s skates, and takes turns getting his head and behind trapped in a fishbowl. Scrappy awakens from his nightmare, but lets the kitten in, anyway. The cycles of numerous fairy tale characters prancing about provide the highlights of PUTTIN’ OUT THE KITTEN; too bad it wasn’t a Color Rhapsody. Incidentally, the kitten sings the same song used in 1933’s SASSY CATS.

61. SCRAPPY’S BAND CONCERT / April 4 / Story by Allen Rose / Animated by Harry Love.

62. SCRAPPY’S MUSIC LESSON / June 4 / Story by Art Davis / Animated by Sid Marcus.
Petey Parrot, arguably the most obnoxious cartoon character of all time, torments Scrappy and his obese Viennese music teacher no end. The belligerent bird covers the piano keys with gum, so Scrappy’s teacher spends most of the fiim tearing his clothes in attempts to free himself from the sickening mess. For no reason, Petey performs “The Stars and Stripes Forever” on sax, fife, xylophone, drums, and Ted Lewis style clarinet. However, everybody is not happy. The brow-beaten instructor storms away in disgust (also inside a drum). Scrappy’s musical aspirations are destroyed. In the end, Petey winds up trapped in the gum. If Petey appears something less than endearing here, consider that it’s only a dry run for his sadistic antics in SCRAPPY’S PLAYMATES. Without an appealing absurdity (Daffy Duck) or a pervasive awareness that this is a movie (Screwy Squirrel), such one-sided slapstick comes across as unfunny, mindless violence.

63. I WANT TO BE AN ACTRESS / July 18 / Story by Allen Rose / Animated by Harry Love.
Scrappy’s girlfriend, Heidi, sneaks into his makeshift movie studio, where she tries to convince him to make her a star by making love to him, then doing imitations of Greta Garbo and Katharine Hepburn. Then, Scrappy, Heidi and Oopy go into a tap dance number based on two tunes associated with Alice Faye, “The Balboa Song” and “Sing, Baby, Sing.”

64. THE SCARY CROWS / August 20 / A COLOR RHAPSODY / Story by Sid Marcus / Animated by Art Davis / 3 strip Technicolor.
Farmer boy Scrappy and his dog Yippy begin the day’s chores. As soon as he plants a seed, a flock of hungry crows swoop down on the field and devour it. Scrappy and Yippy chase them but outnumbered and much slower, are routed by the birds. Spurred into action by a little girl, Scrappy starts this vicious cycle again. He’s only successful when, the setting sun dropping beyond the horizon, he climbs into bed after a hectic day.

65. CANINE CAPERS / September 16 / Directed by Howard C. Brown / Story by Art Davis / Animated by Sid Marcus.
On bicycle, Scrappy and Yippy run through their paper route. One of their customers, a mean dog catcher, sees the headline, “Dog Catchers To Round Up Stray Dogs,” and immediately jumps in his threatening-looking truck. To catch the unwitting hounds, he converts his vehicle into a vacuum cleaner, then a hamburger stand. He nabs Yippy, “paw prints” him, shaves his head and sentences the poor beast to the rock pile. Scrappy manages to steal the jail key and free all the- incarcerated animals. CANINE CAPERS is a pretty funny film, but don’t show it directly after THE DOG SNATCHER.

66. THE FIRE PLUG / October 16 I Story by Allen Rose / Animated by Harry Love.
When the Hickville Fire Department’s old geezer of a chief retires the aging station horse, Scrappy protests, since he and the mare are pals. Later, a two-alarm fire takes place. The chief’s unfamiliarity with trucks becomes obvious when he drives in reverse and gets the hose caught on a pole. Scrappy, on the mare, races him to the fire and arrives their first. After a problem with an unruly hose, Scrappy puts out the fire, but too late; the former, hem of “Red Hot Follies” burlesque has been reduced to rubble. Meanwhile, the chief has lost control of the truck, crashed into a tree and been sent hurling through the air. Amazingly, he lands on the back of the horse. Scrappy sings, “The Old Grey Mare, she’s great as she used to be”, as the faithful beast takes her master home. Rendered in a. gorgeous range Of grey tones,. THE’ FIRE PLUG, in emphasizing narrative, represents something of a’ departure for the series, telling `its story simply and effectively.

67. THE CLOCK GOES ROUND AND ROUND / November 6 / Story by Art Davis / Animated by Sid Marcus.
In this mixture of live action, and animation Scrappy gets the bright idea of stopping all clocks so he’d never have to go to school, and causes all movement in the world to come to a standstill. Wandering through a haunting world of petrified persons, he quickly decideS he liked it better before. In trying to rectify the situation, he makes the clocks, and everything else, move in reverse. After struggling to re-adjust the timepieces, Scrappy finally restores normal time /space relationships. A unique Scrappy episode which promises much, but only partially delivers, mostly due to an over reliance on stock footage. The same live action stock shots appear throughout the film, and what should be an exciting finish turns out to be the build up, shown in reverse. There are films–numerous Fleischer cartoons (KO KO’S EARTH CONTROL, HA HA HA), YOU OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES (Warners), Disney’s THE THREE CABALLEROS and SONG OF THE SOUTH–which treat the merger of live action and animation in a more creative manner.

68. SCRAPPY’S NEWS FLASHES / December 8 / Story by Allen Rose/ Animated by Harry Love.
Lots and lots of spot gags comprise Scrappy’s Movietone newsreel parody, which includes Lew Lehr’s “monkeys is the kwaziest people” schtick, Vyvyan Donner and the fashions, Ed Thompson with the sports, and Scrappy’s imitation of Lowell Thomas. The spoof is even carried to the beginning and end titles and the music.

1938

As the COLOR RHAPSODIES cartoons become more and more lavish, the quality of production values in the KRAZY KAT and SCRAPPY series continues to decline. In 1938, Columbia’s black and white cartoons, even more than previously, become the “second line” product.

69. THE NEW HOMESTEAD / January 7 / Story by Art Davis / Animated by Sid Marcus.
Theatre owners were encouraged to advertise this one with the slogan “Meet Petey Parrot, Scrappy’s New Pal (makes you wonder if Petey Parrot was related to Charley Chase)!” Concerns the ill-fated, attempts of Scrappy and Petey to construct a house.

70. SCRAPPY’S TRIP TO MARS / February 4 / Story by Allen Rose / Animated by Harry Love.
The spirits of Scrappy and Yippy, while they sleep, sneak away to a rocket ship and zoom tv the red planet. They receive a warm welcome from the creatures of another world, who gleefully sing, “How Do You Do, Little Scrappy, How Do You Doodle Doodle Doodle Doodle Do (a variation of the theme song of the Happiness Boys, Jones and Hare’s radio program)”. The Martian Queen escorts them to the “Mars and Pars” nightclub. Shortly after enjoying the music of the house band and an extraterrestrial Helen Morgan, Scrappy, realizing it’s time to go home, bids his gracious hosts a hasty adieu. Scrappy and Yippy fly home and quietly re-enter their sleeping earthly forms. Music, character designs. and background art complement each other splendidly, so this outweighs not only the sum of its parts, but many more highly-touted cartoons. The film does offer some lovely futuristic backgrounds (the Martians’ landing strip, the night club), but what stands out is the joyful mood, its visualization of a child’s imagination in flight. A truly delightful Scrappy cartoon.

71. SCRAPPY’S PLAYMATES / March 27 / Story by Art Davis / Animated by Sid Marcus.
The cartoon begins with Scrappy taking home a new pet, and singing (to the tune of “Polly Wolly Doodle), “Oh, My Dog Butch is a great big dog and my dog’s name is Butch.” But Petey Parrot doesn’t care for this newcomer one bit. Scrappy tells them to be pals, but as soon as he leaves, Petey directs a series of violent attacks at Butch, slamming him against. the wall so hard the whole house shakes, throwing glass bottles at him, shooting him, prompting his fleas to retaliate. Yet when Scrappy returns with a big ice cream cone for each of them, the two are the best of chums. A weaker Marcus-Davis effort, due in no small part to the odious Petey Parrot. Scrappy appears only briefly.

72. THE CITY SLICKER / July 8 / Story by Allen Rose / Animated by Harry Love and Lou Lilly.
City boy Scrappy visits his country cousin, Elmer, in rural Squeedonk. The worldly wise lad plays several snappy practical jokes on Elmer and his girlfriend, so the hick retaliates by having Scrappy butted into a pigpen by a goat, and fall into a well. Elmer and his sweetheart sing a song(based on a folk tune–Daughter, Daughter) admonishing Scrappy’s pranks. Then, Elmer dares Scrappy to plow a field. Scrappy accepts, and is dragged around by a calf, and bumped into a hay bailing machine by an irate bull. This arouses sympathy from the girl. Just as Scrappy appears to have enticed her away, Elmer wins her back by pretending to have the measles, which convinces his cousin to beat a hasty retreat. Not one of the highlights in animation history.

73. THE EARLY BIRD / September 16 / Story by Sid Marcus / Animated by Art Davis.
Motivated by a book with the lesson, “The Early Bird Catches the Worm”, a determined little bird goes after a Brooklynese worm, who can grow arms and hands whenever he needs them. It’s a chase cartoon though far from a typical or an unfunny one. Some gags are really bizarre and violent, in the Columbia tradition, `such as the worm forcing the bird through a meat grinder, but others are quite inventive; in one inspired sequence, the `bird accidentally inhales the air from a balloon, expands, and, as he exhales, propels himself across the top of telephone wires, playing them like a gigantic zither. A little boy, who hardly looks like anything even vaguely resembling Scrappy, appears at the extreme very beginning and the extreme very end of the picture

74 HAPPY BIRTHDAY / October 7 / Story by Allen Rose / Animated by Harry Love and Lou Lilly.
Scrappy’s friends give him a surprise party. They sing “Congratulations to you, Scrappy / Congratulations everyone / We’ll have a lot of fun.” Unfortunately, an insufferably bratty little girl crashes the gate. The rotten kid gives Scrappy a spitting jack in the box, infuriates the guests by interrupting their rendition of “Sing And Be Happy,” bawls constantly, rips a piece cut of the birthday cake, and ultimately succeeds in driving all of Scrappy’s friends away. Scrappy tries to catch the naughty girl by pulling a rug out from under her, and lands up with the cake on his head. Sprightly tunes and goofy characters don’t compensate for a lack of imaginative gags, and a star who’s almost as hard to stomach as Petey Parrot.

[Click here for 1939-1941]

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