November 10, 2006

Jerky Turkey (1945)

Jerky Turkey (1945)

Directed by Tex Avery

A short appropriate for Thanksgiving. That was released in April. Maybe they rereleased it in November, or maybe they just had to ration common sense during the war... (My screencaps are from a $1 public domain DVD ("Toon Factory: Scrap Happy Daffy"), where in their packaging they misspell it "Jerkey Turkey"; sorry, it looks like their print was suffering some color problems; better contrast than the Daily Motion video tho.)

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Double titles! More than one image in titles is a good thing. At least when the art is good. And it is here.

Transposing WWII battleship guns onto the Mayflower. Cartoons sure went to war...

Plymouth rock stone chicken gag. Painting gags are usually cool, and this is no exception. It's followed by a pan over to a WWII gag sign: "was this trip _really_ necessary?"

Partisan politics gag. It is part of the overuse of "ye", but it's good to know partisan rancor isn't new. Imagine, in a time of war, it was an accepted popular notion that not everyone was on exactly the same team...

Turkey Call with bill and a hand to whistle and call the words "Hey Turkey!". Double gag; it's a duck, and it's a duck that calls like a human.

Black market building. The turkey exposes it from behind camoflauge. It's a great big black building. Out of place, nicely designed, playing off the name black market. Cut out the "ye"s and we'd really be in business.

Turkey giftwrapping himself. Ludicrous and therefore funny in and of itself (even tho he uses his positioning to get around to blowing up the pilgrim), using the scissors to make the ribbon curl up is a pleasing attention to detail.

The bear's musical theme. Slow flute music punctuating the thrilling chase music dominated by strings. Everything has to stop for him, too; bringing the cartoon to a total halt works as a piece of comedy. It's an aspect of what made Droopy work, I think.

Halfbreed. Visually interesting, in line with a lot of the pastiche visual jokes Avery did. Too bad it's inserted inappropriately; it just feels like an interruption. As an 1/8th breed myself, let me assure you this should not be condemned as racism; the palefaces are just as shnozzy as the redskins, and halting English is probably better than one would expect in the local people of 17th century Massachusetts. This scene is listed as censored at

The multiple pilgrim; as there are multiple possible hiding spots, the pilgrim splits into 4. The music really makes this particular gag.

Tree angle. The turkey in the tree is a pull out shot that basically couldn't be done (at least not without a ton of work) in real life. It's cool. unfortunately the next shot is very normal and feels impoverished from the great angle shown just previously.

The denoumount has the bear eating the pilgrim and turkey; this is marred by "I'm Joe" written on the bear's back, but his face is great; he looks contented while he is picking his teeth. The cutaway to the stomach isn't the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it's an acceptable way of underlining the protagonist(s) discontent with becoming food.


Overuse of "ye". Let it go. Combined with crows nest gag overuse, it really sucks. The lookout's giant mouth is kinda interesting tho. See also: ye hollywood, we vine, ye cigarettes today, ye cut rate drug store, with the interesting character line up:
Panning over the crowds (look to be painted on cels, not part of the background) is good for a change, not everything needs to be animated up the ass. But even the pilgrim says "ye", and it sickens me.

Ugly pilgrim, ugly turkey. The turkey is based on Jimmy Durante, who did lend himself to the beak. But the design is still ugly. Not nearly as ugly as the pilgrim tho. Incredibly ugly. Unpleasantly ugly. "Why did they design this schmuck to be so damn ugly" ugly. And this isn't his only cartoon! Fuckers. I wonder how much the kids know about Jimmy Durante now. My primary exposure to him was through cartoons stealing his act and look, but since there were only 6 channels when I was a little kid, I saw the actual guy on the show that showed movies during the day. Since classic cartoons are mostly consigned to the cold dark obscurity of Boomerang on TV now (and three cartoons on Cartoon Alley once a week on TCM), I wonder if kids are even getting exposed to the cartoon version...

Old gags: (were they old by then?): painting a background on a wall so the adversary will smack into it, the adversary runs into it as if it is real, the painter hits the painted wall. I wonder if there was actually a precursor gag where the adversary hit the wall, or where both ran into it. Then the mechanical gag; the turkey shakes his hand, the pilgrim's head goes up on a jack. They feel realllllly old now; I remember seeing the painting gag in roadrunner cartoons as a kid, and even though those were after this cartoon, I can't help but find it no longer funny. The mechanical gag was supposedly created by Iwerks at Disney, so that was in some form old by this cartoon.

On the whole a fine cartoon.


Anonymous said...

Are you an artist too?

Ted said...

For me to say I was would surely offend the sensibilities of artists far and near.

Anonymous said...