Saturday, January 26, 2013

"Dancing on the Moon" (1935)

Dave Fleischer really put a lot of effort and imagination into this 1935 cartoon. I can almost hear the laughter of the audience watching this just before the weekly “Flash Gordon” serial. The rocket ship is about the same, but the cast of characters is straight out of Noah’s Ark!

The cartoon begins as all of the animals within hearing distance strive to board the “Honeymoon Express”, as it prepares to take off for a journey to the moon, and promises of connubial bliss. The only thing which goes wrong is when the tom cat’s bride gets left behind. She is furious, and he is “mooning” over her for the entire trip, even as the other guests enjoy their “special” time with one another, far away from earthly woes. The giraffes “necking” is one good example of the humor employed in this flight of fancy.

The usual fluidity is readily apparent, and even without the credits at the start, you’d have to be blind to not recognize this as a Max and Dave Fleischer cartoon. The song “Dancing on the Moon” was written by Charles Tobias and Murray Mencher; the song writing team who, along with Eddie Cantor the comedian; wrote the Merrie Melodies theme song “Merrily We Roll Along”.  Mr. Tobias also penned the popular hits “Lazy, Crazy, Hazy Days of Summer”, the World War Two staple “Don’t Sit under the Apple Tree”, and even the slightly annoying “A Hunting We Will Go.” His collaborations with his brother, as well as other songwriters, are too numerous to list here.

There’s a lot that went into these old cartoons, usually with only about 6 people working on them. The Fleischer team was typical of the era, employing less than 10 people even for a feature cartoon. Compared to today’s technically proficient releases; which usually cap out at about 1,000 people taking part in the creative process; the most amazing thing about these older gems are that they got made at all!

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