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One Step Ahead of My Shadow (1933)

5.4
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 64 users  
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Several Chinese residents play music. A dragon frees himself from a cage and goes after them, but fireworks are shoved down the dragon's throat. This causes him to explode and turn into a walking dragon skeleton.

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(uncredited)
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Title: One Step Ahead of My Shadow (1933)

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Storyline

To music - and sometimes the song "One Step Ahead of My Shadow" - we see various scenes of a China imagined by 1930's U.S. stereotyping. We're in what may be Shanghai, with rickshaws and other cultural touchstones. A young man steers his small boat down a river to visit his sweetheart, to whom he sings. A large man, who's well-to-do, seems to cheat his rickshaw driver who takes him to the same house where the kids are courting. A dragon interrupts the fun, the damsel is in distress, and fireworks may follow. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Plot Keywords:

surrealism | merrie melodies | See All (2) »


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Release Date:

4 February 1933 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

Architecture in the background include Torii gates, which are features of Shinto temples and found only in Japan, not China. See more »

Soundtracks

Chinatown, My Chinatown
(uncredited)
Music by Jean Schwartz
Played throughout the opening sequence
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An Interesting Early '30s, Irregular Characters, Merrie Melodies Short.
5 May 2009 | by (Hialeah, Florida) – See all my reviews

This is my most favorite out of the ethnic/international-based MM shorts featuring irregular characters. I'll try not to give away too much for those who haven't seen it but: First of all, this one is set in China and of course there are some Chinese stereotypes, but if anyone can overlook them it's still quite enjoyable, funny and great. One shouldn't believe everything is necessarily true about them.

Secondly, it basically involves a young boy on his way to seeing his girlfriend, they perform a song that's the same title as this cartoon ( as many of the other, earliest Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies share titles with the songs performed in them) and they spend time together. The sub-plot involves the trademark gags found in cut-away scenes from the couple and a Chinese aristocrat who, after returning to his home, introduces " 'melican " music to the traditional band and servants inside. They instantly join in and have a jam session. The boy and girl hear the music, and head into the home. But everyone's great time is interrupted by a dragon who escapes his cage and enters the home. I'll let y'all find out for yourselves how this climaxes.

The reason why I find this short so interesting is because of getting the opportunity to look into other cultures through these cartoons and the humor throughout it, especially the ending of this in particular, with the usual wackiness. I highly recommend it and the similar cartoon short, Disney's The China Plate (similar in that it too features a young couple, the Chinese setting and a dragon). Luckily, I checked out this Merrie Melody before it was removed from Youtube less than a couple months ago. Can't wait till this is brought to DVD as part of a later edition LT/MM compilation in the future. This one should not be passed. It's definitely not one of those anybody would have the misfortune to regret seeing.

Note: Other similar cartoons I recommend are any of the earliest Merrie Melodies featuring couples of other ethnicities and cultures (such as the Pacific Islanders from Pagan Moon and the American Indians from Crosby, Columbo and Vallee), as this was another running theme.

Never mind, this short can be seen on the third disc of the Forbidden Hollywood Collection Vol. 3 DVD set, for those who are interested.


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