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I find Tex Avery's cartoons extremely variable in their humour content.
Avery's cartoons featuring Screwy Squirrel or the amorous Wolfie are
hilarious, while his Droopy cartoons are complete garbage. 'I Wanna Be a
Sailor' isn't as funny as Screwy Squirrel (very few cartoons are), but this
cartoon has some solid laughs, a good story, and three interesting and
The hero (if that's the proper word) is a little-boy parrot in a sailor hat, who wants to run off to sea and become a ship's parrot. His mother tries to dissuade him, and we see a very funny flashback of the boy parrot's father, a rum-soaked swabbie. (Great voice work by Elvia Allman as the mother parrot.) This being a Warners cartoon, of course the boy pays no heed to his elders and proceeds to head for the waterfront.
Many of the early Warners cartoons had the delightful characteristic of being built round a song - the song's title also being the title of the cartoon - and these songs were invariably catchy and amusing. As the boy parrot heads for the water, he chants a catchy chantey called 'I Wanna Be a Sailor'. At the quayside, preparing to launch a raft, he meets a little-boy duck who wants to join him aboard. There's some great voice work here: the boy parrot has a very funny wise-guy vocal delivery, and the boy duck is even funnier ... spraying the parrot with rapid-fire questions.
The two bird-boys push off to sea, and straight away run into a storm. Suddenly the bounding main isn't quite so appealing, and the boy parrot calls for his mother ... who comes running, taking time out only to segue into a few bars of 'Old Black Joe'. The payoff gag is quite funny, although anyone familiar with Warner Brothers cartoons won't find it very surprising. I'll rate this delightful cartoon 10 out of 10, for kids and grown-ups to enjoy together. I wish Tex Avery had made more toons like this, instead of those unfunny Droopy epics.
Tex Avery's "I Wanna Be a Sailor" was one of the Warner Bros. cartoons
from the 1930s that was based on a song. In this case, a young parrot
desires to become a mariner, against the wishes of his mother, who
recounts the tales of the boy's ne'er-do-well father. But the little
guy ignores her and sets sail with an overly eager duck. Sure enough,
they run into a storm. I found most of the cartoon kind of hokey, but I
really liked the end. Man, the things that kids put their parents
through! This was far from the greatest cartoon that WB ever produced.
It was probably just a placeholder between the really good cartoons
that year (1937 saw "Porky's Duck Hunt", which debuted Daffy). But it's
OK in a pinch.
I, uh, hope that my parents didn't regard me as the sort of boy that the parrot was.
I Wanna Be a Sailor (1937)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Merrie Melodies short has a mother parrot trying to teach her three kids to say "Polly want a cracker" but her youngest refuses to say it because he wants to be a sailor. The little bird runs away from home, builds a ship and heads out on a lake with a baby duck but soon a storm rolls in. Here's another short that comes off a lot more cute than funny. I think the biggest problem I had with this one here is the simple fact that it didn't offer up too many laughs. The stuff on the sea with the parrot trying to be a sailor was mildly amusing but that's about as far as it went. The baby duck character was actually pretty good but sadly he didn't have too much to do.
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