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Milt Gross is one of the unjustly forgotten comic strip artists. He created Count Screwloose of Tooloose in 1929, and in the late thirties brought the character to MGM studios to build an animated series around him. Due to disagreements with producer Fred Quimby, the series only lasted for two films, but the two that were made are a stitch! In "Jitterbug Follies", the Count and his "Wonder Dog" rig a crooked dance contest under the threatening gaze of the Citizens Fair Play Committee, which comes across more like a gang of mobsters. Even process of elimination doesn't make it much easier to find a sympathetic figure in the bunch, but the film manages to hold your interest by being so doggoned funny. Add to that two of the strangest looking penguins even to be captured on celluloid.
When Count Screwloose and J.R. the Wonder Dog are suspected of setting
up a talent show only to take off with the money, a sadistically
looking vigilante forces them to carry it out, but the real act of
sadism here is to force the viewers to sit through the atonal
eight-minute talent(less) show in what can best be described as the
Trout Mask Replica of cartoons.
It's not entirely without merits for one thing the characters are drawn decently amusingly but overall it's pretty low on laughs and not remotely as funny as the Marx brothers movies it comes with as a bonus.
Jitterbug Follies is one of only two MGM cartoons to star comic strip characters Count Screwloose and J.R. the Wonder Dog as directed by their creator, Milt Gross. The other one was Wanted: No Master. In this one Screwloose and J.R. try to bilk some money out of a bogus talent contest but are forced by a couple of thugs for "Citizens for Fair Play" to put one on. So we see a hippo singing opera, Mother Goose singing big band as she strips to reveal a young woman with a short-skirted dress, an ostrich "fan dancing", and a couple of penguins who keep going on stage attempting to sing despite constantly getting thrown out. Those gags make this one of the most creative cartoons for MGM before Tex Avery and Tom and Jerry put the studio on the animation map. Too bad Gross didn't make any more films after this one. You can see both this and Wanted: No Master on YouTube.
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