animation

Merrie Melodies

Saturday, September 24, 2011

 Born from a desire to promote Warner Bros. musical enterprises, Merrie Melodies was a cartoon series in which cartoons were animated to fit a tune.  First created in 1931,  Merrie Melodies aimed to cash in on the success of Disney's similar animated series, Silly Symphonies. Merrie Melodies also followed in the footsteps of the popular Looney Tunes series, also from Warner Bros. The two series would later become indistinguishable, sharing characters and even theme music. Despite the identical nature of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, Warner Bros. continued to release cartoons under both names in order to keep the trademark and prevent other companies from profiting off their titles.




The first cartoon in the Merrie Melodies series, "Lady, Play Your Mandolin", was released in 1931.



The music in this is fantastic and I just love the way everything- even the buildings, sway to the tune.

Notice the character "Foxy," does he look familiar? His animator worked for Disney in the 1920's so it's no surprise Foxy and Mickey bear a striking resemblance.




"It's Got Me Again" from 1932 was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Animated Short Film category, this was the first time an award would be presented to an animated piece.


The title of this cartoon, "It's Got Me Again," is also the title of the music that the animation is set to.


 These little mice are fierce! I ended up feeling sorry for the cat by the end of this one!



In 1934 Merry Melodies moved to Cinecolor (Disney had the rights to Technicolor).
Here's "Honeymoon Hotel," one of the first to be released in color.

The moon in this one just cracks me up! As usual, the music is fantastic.




And, from 1935, "I Haven't Got a Hat" in which the stuttering Porky Pig makes his premier.
Keep an eye on twin puppies Ham and Ex, they are about the cutest things ever!





I loved Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies as a kid- in fact I think I owe much of my interest in old music to these great old cartoons. Growing up, five o'clock on Saturday afternoons found me tuned in to a Canadian television station that still played classic cartoons. We didn't have cable television then so being able to watch something like this on one of our ten channels meant so much to me and in retrospect, it still does.

After showing my mom the Ham and Ex part of "I Haven't Got a Hat" she remarked that she remembers those singing puppies from her childhood, and it's entirely possible my grandmother remembers them too from their original airing. How incredible, classic cartoons spanning three generations and more than sixty years.

I can't seem to find Merrie Melodies anywhere on television these days and I feel sorry for those kids that have had to grow up without it.  

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