Historical because it's the first Merrie Melodies
cartoon, but according to Thunderbean DVD program notes, Mandolin did not make
the cut when pre-48 WB cartoons went to TV through AAP. Guess I never saw it on
Saturday morning then, and indeed, this Attack Of The 30's Charactersview
(great disc, by the way) may have been my first. Well-known is fact that the
Melodies group, at least early ones, played stalking horse for sheet music and
recording sales, WB having bought up song publishers among talkie-enabled
splurge. Initial shorts followed Fleischer example by using name bands, thus "Abe
Lyman's Brunswick Recording Orchestra" credited on main titles (Brunswick another Warners
acquisition). Lady Play Your Mandolin and ones to come would be seven minutes,
or thereabout, of endless variations on a tune, sweetened with visual gags.
Watching these on Saturday morning loop basis made musicologists of a
generation, so that songs our parents knew became as familiar to us. It was a happy,
in fact Merrie, way of bridging folks born decades apart.
Lady Play Your Mandolin was a first vehicle for
"Foxy," a woebegone character Warners retired after two more
subjects. He's just Mickey Mouse with pointy ears and bushy tail, but acquits
well as a hero interchangeable with Bosko from the Looney Tunes unit. It's not
every cartoon where you see a character submerged in content of a filled
spittoon. Ever notice how disgusting razzberries sound when issued forth by
an early 30's cartoon character? (later Code enforcement would stop them
altogether) Lady Play Your Mandolin is to this extent more Fleischer-ish than Disney-like,
being rude and celebratory of excess alcohol and its effect. Occurs to me that
movies reveled in hooch for viewership that couldn't,thanks to prohibition.
Was Foxy a proxy for thirsty patrons drinking vicariously through him? There's
a Mandolin moment where he upends a mug of beer, empties same, then addresses
the camera close-up with a lip-smacking ahhh ..., as if to say, There's all the
booze we want in cartoon land, but you can't have any. Make no mistake, these
early animateds were made for adults --- they were ones after all paying for
tickets. It would take TV to kid-purify cartoons.