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"Now that Summer Is Gone" is a delightful Warner Bros cartoon, which
and adults will both enjoy. It has a good story, a catchy title song, and
proficient animation ... climaxing in a truly impressive montage sequence
and a very funny fade-out gag. On top of everything else, it has a cameo
appearance by Frank McHugh, providing the laugh for a squirrel.
Beloved character actor McHugh spent most of his career as a Warners contract player, with just occasional loan-outs to other studios ... such as "I Love You Again" at MGM. He usually played befuddled simpletons or uncouth wise guys, and in the latter mode his trademark was a unique sarcastic laugh, descending in three stages: "HAAA-haa-haa!"
Like many of those great character actors from Hollywood's studio era, McHugh's presence onscreen was taken for granted, and his brilliant work was not truly recognised until after his death. Consequently, McHugh was interviewed only very occasionally.
In one of his rare interviews, McHugh recalled that the Warners production schedule kept him so busy that he was often working on two or three movies concurrently, and if there was a break in his production schedule he was supposed to report to Leon Schlesinger's animation unit on the Warners lot to provide voice-overs for cartoons! This comment intrigued me, as I've watched many Warners cartoons, yet I'd never noticed McHugh's distinctive voice on any of their soundtracks.
I've finally found one. "Now that Summer Is Gone" is a very funny Warners toon about a wiseguy little-boy squirrel who prefers to collect nuts by gambling with other squirrels, rather than working to earn them. The squirrel's voice is provided by one of Schlesinger's child actors (slightly less annoying than usual). But, at one point in the cartoon, the boy squirrel fades another squirrel in a crap game, with nuts for the stake. As the boy squirrel collects his winnings, he taunts the loser with Frank McHugh's distinctive laugh: "HAAA-haa-haa!"
The splendid montage sequence occurs at the climax of the cartoon, when the boy squirrel encounters a mysterious stranger who invites him to participate in a "little game of chance". One game leads to another, until the boy squirrel gambles away his entire year's supply of nuts. Credit animator Robert McKimson (the most underrated figure in American animation) for a rapid montage of gambling images, with a frenzied roulette wheel at the centre of the frame. Brilliant! After the little-boy squirrel loses all his acorns, the stranger departs with the swag just as the first winds of winter begin to blow ... and there won't be any nuts for the squirrel and his father this year. Has the kid learnt his lesson? This is a Warner Brothers cartoon! I shan't tell you the ending, but it's quite funny. There are some clever gags all through the toon, including one Jewish joke that isn't the least bit vicious (involving Kosher acorns).
"Now that Summer Is Gone" rates 9 out of 10. You'll enjoy it ... I'll bet you double or nothing.
At first glance, this is a funny cartoon about the evils of gambling. It
succeeds there entirely.
But in Frank Tashlin's hands, it becomes a lesson in cinematic techniques. He excelled at using animation the way a live action director would. Pick any cartoon he directed and you will find at least one shot that you would not expect in a cartoon. This cartoon is full of them.
Everything is there, from zooms, pans and trucks to double exposure, montage and POV shots. Even the use of light and shadow is very sophisticated for a six-minute `gag cartoon'
Some would say that animation is an unlimited medium that doesn't need to be tied down by the methods of another medium. And later animators would leave reality behind entirely. But, at a time when most animation was laid out as if their characters were on a theater stage, Tashlin broke through the imaginary proscenium arch and his colleges were both quick to learn his lessons and acknowledge the source.
Now That Summer is Gone does have a basic and quite unusual story, but it is very well and cleverly done, and if you are a fan of Frank Tashlin you will find much to enjoy. The gambling angle was a daring subject for a cartoon somewhat but it is dealt with in a fun and never too didactic way while making its point. The animation is great, how it's coloured, the detail and of course Tashlin's use of camera angles/work is to be admired. On top of that there is Carl Stalling's music score, which is not just full of energy and character but is also very attractively orchestrated. Now That Summer is Gone is written with intelligence and sensitivity and just as importantly it doesn't forget to entertain, which it does wonderfully. The final montage and fade-out gag are standouts. The squirrels are very cute characters, maybe there is some bias as I've always found squirrels cute, not to mention funny, strong ones too. And the voice acting from Mel Blanc and Billy Bletcher is terrific, Frank McHugh's one laugh contribution is quite memorable too. The pacing is neither too rushed or too slow, instead it's efficient but you are given time to take things in. All in all, odd but very well done in almost all areas. 8/10 Bethany Cox
Frank Tashlin's 'Now That Summer is Gone' begins as a Disney-esquire (but with better gags) depiction of a large group of squirrels gathering nuts for the winter. These early sequences are the best of the cartoon and are often truly gorgeous to look at. However, a black out signifies the cartoon segueing into a truly weird anti-gambling short as we meet a young squirrel who chooses to gamble with nuts as the stakes rather than working to gather them himself. This storyline has vague echoes of Disney's terrific 'The Grasshopper and the Ants' but is nowhere near as successful. Despite an effective twist in the tale, 'Now That Summer is Gone' fails to reconcile its sweeter side with the incongruous gambling plot. Unusually, this is a case of a Warner cartoon that is at its best when imitating Disney and which would have been well advised to stick to its early direction. Nevertheless, 'Now That Summer is Gone' is a fairly nice cartoon which just about overcomes its odd shapelessness and emerges as sufficiently entertaining.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This short is one of Frank Tashlin's better efforts as a director,
though not his absolute best. This (and many other shorts) show that
Tashlin approached animated shorts with the eye and sensibility of a
director of live-action features, which he generally did, because
that's what he ultimately aimed to be and later became-a director of
live-action features. Because I want to discuss some details of this
short, there will be minor spoilers:
This short succeeds as an animated short, but has the "look" of having been shot like a live-action feature. The director used a lot of the conventions of both animation and of feature film. It's a beautifully laid out piece of work, with two separate setups which later have montages of the scenes to speed up the action-first, early on, we see squirrels gathering and storing nuts in a number of short and very effective vignettes, which are then superimposed in a small section, one after another, in a montage to indicate lots of activity without using up a great deal of the short's running time and then, later in the cartoon, we see the main character, a young squirrel given more towards gambling, rather than working hard, as a means to gather nuts for the winter, who is being systematically fleeced in a series of games like roulette and craps, which play through once at normal speed and then are depicted rapidly in a montage.
The basic story is fairly straightforward-it's summer and the squirrels are busy gathering and storing nuts in preparation for the coming of winter. One young enterprising fellow sees no percentage in working, when he can just win the nuts of other squirrels with a pair of dice. His father does not share his viewpoint and is less than pleased with his son's attitude. No amount of persuasion or punishment can get through to the young squirrel.
At the onset of winter, the father sends his son to get the family's stash of nuts from the bank, with orders to go there and return home immediately. Junior decides to engage in some games of chance with a stranger he meets on the way home. He, of course, loses everything but the sense of taste in his mouth and trudges sadly home to answer to his father, whom he tries to fool with absolutely the worst cover story ever committed to celluloid. The end of the short is wonderful, so I won't spoil it here.
This short is available on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume 4 and is well worth watching. Recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
" . . . double or nothing, Huh?" Junior Squirrel pleads with his Pa as the cautionary Warner Bros. animated short NOW THAT SUMMER IS GONE draws to its close. Like many Americans, this bushy-tailed child rodent is shown to be an incorrigible gambler. Left to his own devices, his inveterate gaming addiction will find his family wafer-thinned by starvation as Winter proceeds to its grim conclusion. Warner essentially is providing a Black Box Warning here that the American Middle Class will DISAPPEAR if the government (symbolized by Pops Squirrel) ever starts running The Numbers Game itself. Unfortunately, Baby Boomers were distracted by the flashy colors of GONE's Autumn Leaves, and this cartoon's Primary Lesson was wasted on them. They subsequently started up Powerball and MegaMillions, as the Middle Class HAS disappeared, and a few Trumps have stolen away everybody else's acorns. Only a Benevolent Dictator such as Bernie Sanders (a dead ringer for Pops Squirrel) can save Americans from themselves, Warner warns us. Otherwise, come Winter, most of us will have nothing to eat except snow.
OK, so "Now That Summer Is Gone" might look hokey to people at first
glance, given that it looks like a cute story functioning as an
anti-gambling warning (especially since gambling has become an integral
part of our economy). But it contains some very unusual scenes for a
cartoon, namely the overlap during the climax.
Previous reviews said that director Frank Tashlin frequently used pans and montages in his cartoons, and that a character actor named Frank McHugh lent his voice to this cartoon. I have to admit that I don't know much about either of those. So, I mostly focus on the events portrayed. Probably the two funniest scenes were the Hebrew writing stamped on nuts, and the First Nutional Bank. One might interpret that it would have been particularly miserable to lose one's food during the Depression.
Either way, I recommend this cartoon as a look at Warner Bros. animation from the '30s. It'll most likely elicit at least a few laughs.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Now That Summer Is Gone" is a very good Warner Bros. cartoon directed
by Frank Tashlin. All the squirrels are quite busy gathering nuts and
storing them away for the winter. But one particular young squirrel
(voiced by Mel Blanc), to the outrage of his father (voiced by Billy
Bletcher), manages to gather his nuts in a less than virtuous manner:
gambling! After he withdraws his father's supply of nuts from the First
Nutional Bank, he meets a strange-looking fellow (sporting a derby, a
handlebar moustache, a cigar, an overcoat, and a flower corsage) who
entices the young lad into an irresistible series of games of chance.
The identity of this mysterious character is one that you can easily
Here are my favorite moments from "Now That Summer Is Gone." At the very outset of this cartoon, we hear the opening lyric of "September in the Rain" while the beautifully colored autumn leaves start to fall, eventually moving in a jerky jazz rhythm. As all the little squirrels are dutifully storing away their nuts, one particular green-shirted squirrel repeatedly has trouble shaking a tree that in turn shakes HIM; he finally figures out a way to outwit the tree, all the while a trio of off-screen ladies sing an introductory song that occasionally comments on this poor little guy's predicament! When the young gambling squirrel gyps a group of squirrels out of their nuts through a crap game, he sings a sarcastic little ditty to his victims ("You boys must be tetched in the head, / to keep working till you're almost dead").
"Now That Summer Is Gone" can be found on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 4 Disc 2, in which all of the cartoons on this particular disc are directed by Frank Tashlin.
I think of this as a beautifully animated and also informative short
about the evils of gambling; I don't gambling myself. Also I can't
believe that kid is gambling and at his age too! This also one of my
favorite Merrie Melodies cartoons from Frank Tashlin along with "The
Woods are Full of Cuckoos" with woodland critters doing celebrity
caricatures which were common in cartoons back then. "Have You got any
Castles?" where book characters come to life; I am a literary woman.
And last "Puss n' Booty" which was the last black & white Looney
Tunes/Warner Bros cartoon.
And thus I would like to point out, that since this short has squirrels in it and I'm a squirrel lover - they are SO cute! So my overall opinion is that I love this cartoon.
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