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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Here we go. Th demo reel that lead to Looney Tunes. Harman and Ising created this "non-discriptive inkblot" for Leon Schlesinger who was looking for a cartoon star for Warner Bros. Since I wasn't around in the 30s, I don't know if Bosko was really "a star", but I do know he was WB's principal cartoon (their only one at the time). This demo reel involves Rudolph Ising at the drawing board trying to think up a new cartoon (and smoking away to top it off! Yeah that'll get your brain thinking). He then out-of-the-blue draws a human-like character who abruptly comes to life and names himself Bosko, nobody else except Bosko. Ising asks what he can do. Bosko does a tap dance and an Irish jig. He notices the audience and Ising asks if he can make them laugh. Bosko asks for a piano. He plays "Danny Boy". A few piano gags occur here until Ising gets tired of Bosko's "rotten" singing. He sucks Bosko back into the pen and squirts his "ink" anatomy into the ink case, and then Ising leaves the scene. Bosko sticks his head out to tell the audience "So long folks, see you all later!" A foreshadowing of the "That's all Folks" tagline that would be added to the Looney Tunes cartoons. I kinda like this short. For a demo short, it ain't bad. It was rightly added to the Looney Tunes Golden collection volume 1, and I'm hoping that more Bosko shorts appear in future volumes. Bosko may not have been the greatest cartoon character (no real personality), but if it weren't for him, we would never have gotten the Looney Tunes. And holy freak, what a world this would NOT have been without Looney Tunes.
Everything the previous commenter said was correct with the exception that Harman-Ising did not produce this specifically for Leon Schlesinger. They created it to showcase their ability to synchronize speech on their own dime and shopped it around--- Leon was the guy that took the bait. You have to understand that Leon Schlesinger saw his title card business going down the drain in 1929 thanks to talkies. And it must be remembered that while the cartoon contains bad acting, racial stereotypes (not exactly a rare occurrence in pre-1949 cartoons from any studio, not just WB), you have to look at this from the context of both the time and purpose: the damn thing was never meant to be released at all! It's simply a plot-less 3 minute demo reel made to show off synchronized speech. Disney didn't accomplish this with Steamboat Willie! Leon Schlesinger was a hard-nosed businessman without an ounce of artistic creativity... which he made up for by arrogance. The cheap SOB fought continually with the guys over production costs, color, etc.--- all Leon cared about was the net profit, and not one whit about art. To his credit, he seldom interfered with the creative process--- unless it cost him money. It should also be pointed out that Leon was overjoyed when Harman & Ising finally left him--- artists were cheap and he had learned the business end of the cartoon business. Like it or not, this is a monumentally important cartoon from a purely technical perspective--- but you were never meant to see it! As a result, I would argue this is one of those rare instances where ratings shouldn't apply.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid is Hugh Harmon and Rudy Ising's pilot film for an animated series they were shopping to various studios after working on the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit shorts for Disney and Mintz. Independent producer Leon Schlesinger accepted the pilot and commissioned a series of Bosko Looney Tunes shorts for distribution by Warner Bros. In this initial entry, Ising is at the drawing board drawing a little black figure. This figure's first line is, "Well, I'm glad to be free now that I'm out of the pen." He then whistles and tap dances. He then asks for a piano which Ising obliges. Bosko plays and sings "Sonny Boy" but awfully! Having covered his ears, Rudy can't stand it anymore and sends Bosko back into his pen with the piano and stool. After putting the ink back in the inkwell, Bosko comes back out and says, "So long, folks!" The end title also says what Bosko just said starting the Warner Bros. tradition of ending the shorts with something other than The End. Amusing pilot for the Bosko series and an interesting start for the Warner Bros. cartoon studio. While the title character has something of a Negro dialect, there's nothing really offensive about him unless you consider a young black boy tap dancing as such. Certainly a nice tribute to Max Fleischer's Koko the Clown series. Worth seeing for animation buffs especially those of Warner Bros. cartoons.
As long as we remember that this cartoon is racist (because Bosko is a
black man) and that when the makers made it they would not have
realized that it would be as insulting as it is, we can enjoy this
cartoon as much as we can. I personally found this a bit boring, but
then of course I remembered that the jokes and the portrayal of cartoon
and human man were amazing in 1929. I preferred Bosko in his next
appearance, "Sinkin' in the Bathtub", because it is more funny and has
a storyline to it. As he is, I find Bosko a sweet character and I
cannot help disliking him slightly when I remember he is actually a
black man. I thought the way they combined animation and the human hand
back then amazing - this was when my grandparents were babies or not
yet born! I watched this cartoon because it was the first thing that
lead up to Looney Tunes - so we must be grateful for it.
In this cartoon, we first see a man (who is Rudolph Ising) drawing something. We watch his pen movements and find he has created a character called Bosko. Bosko comes to life on the pad and goes up to all sorts of antics...
I recommend this cartoon to people who are interested in Looney Tunes history and to people who do not mind rasiscm in cartoons too much. Enjoy "Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid"! :-)
7 and a half out of ten.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
. . . but I'm not so sure. There's no Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, or Porky Pig here. There's not so much as a Yosemite Sam. Speaking of Red, there's also a complete lack of color. And the sound quality is not much better than that achieved by Edison studios in the 1890s. In broaching the possibility of being the world's first generation to sound poorer than that of their grandparents, Bosko's cartoonists try to make him sing. The resulting fingernails-on-a-balloon screeching is so insufferable that they have to quickly suck Bosko back into the ink pen from which he came. When Bosko talks in his normal voice, it's in a racist AMOS AND ANDY idiom (and fairly inconsistent, to boot, as Bosco lays this on the thickest at first, before getting slightly less Uncle Tomish). If the future of cartoons had been put up to some sort of plebiscite vote on BOSCO, THE TALK-INK KID, it's hard to imagine that this creature would have carried any day. But, as they say, when you start at the bottom, you shouldn't look a silver filling in the mouth!
"Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid" is a rarely seen demo reel that pitched a new
character, Bosko and ended up being the basis for Looney Tunes.
Considering how wonderful the Looney Tunes films were in the 1940s and
50s with the likes of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Pepe le Pew, it's
amazing how rotten their original star, Bosko, was.
The film begins with an unidentified man (Rudolf Ising) sitting at an easel. He draws Bosko and then interacts with him--a style used often before, such as with the Fleischer Brothers Ko-Ko the Clown cartoons. However, when Bosko talked, I was shocked. Instead of the cute voice you'd later hear in the rather saccharine cartoons, he has a VERY stereotypical black voice--and it's NOT a particularly nice one. Today such a voice would probably offend most people and it's obvious that THE joke was that he was a black person. Not a whole lot to base your character on for a series of cartoons! Pretty lame and unfunny to boot.
Aside from the fact that "Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid" has little plot - other than cartoonist Rudolf Ising creating the title character - it should make us cringe in the 21st century, as Bosko looks and sounds like a black-face character. This cartoon is worth watching as a reference point (and I guess that it gets justified by the fact that it indirectly led to the creation of Bugs, Daffy, Porky, etc.), but it's not worth much otherwise. There's a reason that Bosko didn't become as prominent as the most famous Looney Tunes; producer Leon Schlesinger knew the better ideas when he saw them later. Available on Disc 4 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 1.
This rarely seen (and for good reasons)short was originally a test reel for the Warner Brothers upper brass to see Warner's new animation department. Pity 'ol Leon S. didn't have anything better for them. This pathetic exercise in on screen racism lacks any thing resembling humour (at least for these times). It's obvious that Bosko made an impact with the big wheels at Warners (although Bosko would be re-vamped from a shuffling big eyed stereotype to a monkey/boy (take that,creationists). This unfunny short clocks in at a mere 3 minutes,but still seems like 3 hours (or more). Thankfully,Warner Bros. would get a lot better than this as the years went by.
The first Looney Tunes short ever features a blank ink spot that talks
in an uneducated way and this is very fortunately NOT a barometer of
how that rest of the animated shorts would be. This is painful to watch
at times and lacks the humor or wit of later cartoon shorts by the
studio, but this is where it all started and I guess one has to give it
props for that if nothing else. I don't really recommend this on
anything but prosperity's sake. This animated short can be found as an
extra in the "From the Vaults" section on disc 4 of the Looney Tunes
Golden Collection Volume 1.
My Grade: D
How the mighty are fallen, Harman / Ising did not last long at Mintz Studio
after he talked them into leaving Disney when he took Oswald away.
This was their demo reel and it owes more to the Out of the Inkwell Koko shorts then it does to Disney. Racial stereo types, awful sound, and very bad acting by Rudy Ising, the human cartoonist trying to play the Max Fleischer part.
It is very hard to believe that they got a job on the weight of this reel. But Schlesinger must have seen something in it or more likely knew their work at Disney.
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