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One of the Warner Bros. cartoons from the days before Bugs, Daffy and
Porky - at this time, it was still Leon Schlesinger Productions leasing
cartoons to WB - portrays a baby-making factory. One of the requests is
written in Hebrew, and so the factory makes a baby that looks like an
infant Elliott Gould. The reason that "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" has a
title song is that Merrie Melodies throughout most of the 1930s were
named after songs owned by WB, and they would have the characters sing
the song. By the end of the decade, they had dropped this policy.
In 1946, Bob Clampett released a more famous cartoon about a baby-producing factory: "Baby Bottleneck" casts Daffy Duck and Porky Pig as owners of the factory who have an unfortunate experience one day. I certainly prefer that one more, as it has more of a plot. But this one should be of interest to people who want to know the entire history of Warner Bros. cartoons. At this point in time, they probably had no idea that their eventual star would be a witty rabbit.
An early Merrie Melodie, this cartoon uses the song 'Shuffle off to
Buffalo' (originally heard in '42nd Street') as a backdrop and
soundtrack to what goes on at Baby Central before the storks take
babies to their new home.
Singing and dancing babies (including Jewish and tribal, as this is in the days before PC) and an entertaining ledger writer, and an Eddie Cantor cameo, make this a punchy and fun cartoon, much better than some of the other fare coming from Termite Terrace at the time.
These were the cartoons where later top directors cut their teeth as on-the-ground animators, so they are always worth viewing, especially if you have a yen to see what was going on pre-Porky, Daffy and Bugs.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
. . . the animated feature now playing in theaters--STORKS--is essentially a remake of SHUFFLE OFF TO BUFFALO. Baby-carrying birds, complicated assembly lines, random singing--it's all here in SHUFFLE. Coming out in 1933, SHUFFLE was under no obligation to be Politically Correct. Therefore, Warner Bros.' Looney Tuners were able to draw featured babies such as the Nanook of the North, Juniors, and the Gold Dust Twins with anatomical correctness, rather than Party Line Platitude Geometry. Those of us that have witnessed a Real Live Birth will recognize Warner Bros.' alternative process as being more True-to-Life that BRIDGET JONES' BABY, and most Hollywood pap of that ilk. The conveyor belt operation of the baby-care elves in SHUFFLE more closely reflects the workings of a 21st Century American NICU ward than almost anything else that Hollywood has ever trotted out as BIRTH IN OUR NATION. (Hosing the milk down wailing newborns' throats with gasoline pump tubing rings especially True.) Hopefully, the Warner Bros.' cartoon archives include an animated short built around "Shanghai Lil," too.
Another Warner Bros. Harmon-Ising Merrie Melodies cartoon short produced in association with Leon Schlesinger that I found on YouTube. Using the title song for inspiration, Shuffle Off to Buffalo is a series of gags surrounding a baby making factory with storks delivering various nationalities (and their representative stereotypes) to the proper homes. There's also caricatures of Maurice Chavalier, Eddie Cantor, and Ed Wynn animated here. If you're of a certain race who's easily offended by the way certain characteristics of them are emphasized, you may want to stay away from this but be aware they're only used here for humor purposes with no malice intended. This was a mostly moderately humorous short that mixed fairly tales with modern conveniences and popular music to usually entertaining results.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Before about 1938, the Warner Brothers series of cartoons was generally
split into two camps. There was the Looney Tunes series, generally
starring Warner's biggest star at the time. And then there was the
Merrie Melodies series, which consisted of largely music-oriented
cartoons centered around one at-the-time popular folk song (which was
also used as the respective cartoon's title).
This particular cartoon, as the title suggests, is based of the song Shuffle Off To Buffalo. Baby Central is the location, and the storks are busily delivering babies to families from all over the world while a crew of dwarfs busily prepares them for delivery. The song is sung throughout about two-thirds of the cartoon, with the children and dwarfs singing it (how a child could learn these song lyrics before even learning baby talk remains a mystery to me). There's also a brief cameo by Eddie Cantor, who keeps the song running throughout the remainder of the cartoon.
Since most Merrie Melodies shorts, at the time, had little in the way of plot, the cartoons generally had to rely on both visuals and music to be entertaining. Fortunately, this short succeeds on both accounts. The animation is peppy and surprisingly fast paced, while the music is both fun and lighthearted. There's really little else to say about it (jokes, with the most memorable being the subtle Jewish reference in the beginning, are generally sparse) except that it's certainly a delightful cartoon and worth watching for those curious to see how WB cartoons were before Porky Pig was even conceived.
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