Cartoons are good. Cartoons are bad. Here's how.
Text (c) 2006-now by Ted
November 14, 2006
Voice of the Turkey + (1950)
Classic Media and Sony Wonder have put out a four double sided disc box set (about 19 hours) of Harvey cartoons. The set came to me for correctly and quickly answering a question from Jerry Beck of Cartoon Brew and Cartoon Research, who was involved with the compilation of these cartoons as a show some time ago (altho he was not directly involved with assembling the DVDs). "Voice of the Turkey" can be found on side 2A, chapter 19 if playing all.
Great calendar painting.
Inexplicable mints. That's kinda cool.
Tricking the turkey into putting his neck on the block by looking for something is cool.
Turkey with goosepimples. That's funny. But it comes across looking kinda badly, and it's hamfisted since the visual gag is introduced with a verbal gag (either by itself would have been less lame).
Axe murdering farmer. He's pissed. And even tho he isn't as well animated or designed as Fudd in Bugs Bunny cartoons where Fudd plays a similar role, his dilated pupils give the impression that this guy is throat slitting nuts.
Skin and bones. The visual on the Turkey is great. Tho his dialogue is lame. And the joke goes nowhere afterwards. It creates an awkward pause in the action that then just cuts to a slightly wider shot and then gets going again.
Farmer helping the turkey to stop sneezing then using his open mouth to pump him full of stuffing. It's done very smoothly and nonchalantly, and works quite well.
The music is big and obvious, like most Harvey music. That's kinda bad, kinda good. The music really pushes itself out there. I don't remember that as a kid, but as an adult, it's irritating. The repetition of the music's sound in many Harveytoons isn't exactly a pleasing thing either.
There's a very static plate of food in this shot; it looks creepy. It must have saved about 30 individual cels of the plate. And looks like crap due to it.
The moronic voice on the moron. Extremely grating. The makers seem to be from the "irritating is inherently funny" school of comedy. I wish their school would burn to the ground. The accent on the turkey, which seems to be some flavor of NYC accent, sucks as well, although it is not as bad.
Lame food gags. Shuffling a sandwich like cards is a crappy gag here, done in a way that just looks unnatural; the food moves of its own volition, violating physics in an uncomfortable way. Eating the corn like a typewriter (basically all by sound effect) is an old gag, presented here in a boring manner. There's a winning combination. Then the turkey jacks open its beak. Sigh. Stuffing its beak to fullness is actually the most interesting thing involved in the gag, and shows a bit of visual interest.
Sucker gag; by 1950, we can officially say the sucker gag was played out. It even says "sucker" on the sucker. It's like the company was saying "hey morons, you're morons!".
Remember how I complained about the painted escape route gag in Jerky Turkey? It's worse here. Maybe it's the angle of the shot, maybe it's the music, but it just feels worse here. And that's in spite of the fact that I like some aspects more (the paint coming off is a little funnier, the impact marks look a little better, and the camera moves with the impact resonance).
Off frame gag. You know how it's good in Looney Tunes or MGM cartoons? Not here. The sprocket holes don't move, it looks, well, fake. The animation going off frame isn't smeared and is very stiff, and the camera moves smoothly out and back.
The farmer inexplicably has a plunger gun all of a sudden (it doesn't work here, altho it might in some other film) and knocks the turkey's feathers off with it. This shot actually looks cool, like the turkey is releasing his evil seed, but it doesn't look all that good animated. I also kinda like his turkey gloves and human boxer shorts.
Poorly done eye take. Very slow, doesn't work. The veins and the puckery sockets look good in a still tho.
Ghost turkey (including transparent effect shot) asking for wings is funny. But then they ruin it by dumping the effects shot for a solid white turkey who takes off a sheet. Ending on cannibalistic ghost turkey would have been much better. Then they keep going and end on a lame punchline ("I fool him this way every Thanksgiving") and then go back to the lame typewriter corn gag. Gah!
Immediately following this cartoon is a "Toon Take", which has gutted some other cartoon for some laughs. It has a segment on the pilgrims, and that's much funnier than the "Voice of the Turkey". So you get a bonus backup review in this post.
Priscilla, in the courtship of Miles Standish, has giant hips and legs. I guess two fisted butter churning only keeps the top svelte.
Then we get another lass big in the, er, hips, with the Pocahontas/John Smith story. John prefers death over big boned women, for some reason.
Not especially attractive island photo of "Dorothy"; I think it's an ugly picture of Dorothy Lamour. It's still funnier than "Voice of the Turkey".
And so the discontinuous blackout gags make a better go of it than a continuous cartoon. Not tied down I suppose. The visuals are more streamlined as well.