Saturday, February 4, 2012

"Hoppity Goes to Town" by Max and Dave Fleischer (1941)

If you have never seen this wonderfully idealistic cartoon before, then here's your chance. Max and Dave Fleischer, my favorite cartoonists of all time, collaborated on this 1 hour and 12 minute feature in 1941. The story takes place in New York City, in a weed patch known as Bugville. The inhabitants of this tiny weeded lot are making an attempt to live peacefully amongst themselves, as well as their human hosts, with all sorts of problems.

The myriad of characters are a sheer joy; there is Hoppity the grasshopper, the dreamer; Mr. Bumble Bee, who owns the honey shop, and his daughter Honey Bee; C. Bagley Beetle, a businessman, who schemes for greed, and enjoyment; Smack, the aptly named Mosquito; and Swat the common fly. Last, but not least is Little Buzz, a "young bee" who is a member of the Bee Scouts.

Long before contemporary animated films such as "Avatar", with all of its technology; or "Wally", with its politically correct message, would attempt to tackle the problems of mankind, Max and Dave Fleischer were already taking note of the human condition. Then, with the comparatively primitive technology available to them at the time, they played it back to us in the form of simple animation, hoping that we would see ourselves more clearly.

Look closely, and somewhere in this cartoon you will see yourself, as well as all of the problems with which we still live today. Throw in a couple of cool songs by Hoagy Carmichael and Frank Loesser, and this is a really entertaining piece of work. The film was also released under the title "Mr. Bugs Goes to Town."

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