Saturday, August 11, 2012

"Swing Wedding" - MGM (1937)

This is the cartoon which was released by Hugh Harman/Rudolf Ising Productions following their earlier Oscar nominated cartoon “The Old Mill Pond” in 1936. The big difference between that effort and this one is that this cartoon has a story to it.  Among the African-American celebrities pictured here as frogs are Cab Calloway, Ethel Waters, Stepin Fetchit, Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Bill Robinson and the Boswell Sisters. If there are any I have missed, let me know.
Some people nowadays will find this cartoon to be politically incorrect. My only response to that is that at the time this cartoon was released most African-Americans were simply glad to be portrayed in cartoons at all, let alone as very talented characters. Imagine going to the movies, week after week; and not only do you have to sit in the balcony; but all the film’s stars were white actors and actresses, with African-Americans playing servants. Followed up by white cartoon characters could leave a black person feeling really left out.
There were some really great African-American films at the time, I have reviewed several here. My favorites are “Cabin In the Sky” and “Stormy Weather”, which showcase both the musical and dramatic talents of the black actors and actresses of the era. I hope that you will enjoy this cartoon for what it is and not for what you may perceive it to be. For me, it is 8 minutes of musical, and visual, delight.

If you are African-American; and over 55 years old; I would love to hear your take on this cartoon. The reason I have chosen this age group is that these would be the people who were at least  about 8 years old at the time of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As such, this group would have lived under some form of segregation. In my mind, this gives them a unique perspective on the subject.  

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