When it comes to cartoons dealing with a frustrated conductor tackling Von Suppe's "Morning, Noon & Night In Vienna," I'll take this one over Bugs' "Baton Bunny" any old day. Made twenty years before that cartoon, Friz Freleng (who is uncredited co-director on this film) obviously had to have passed some ideas for the later and more well-known cartoon to director Chuck Jones. But "Baton Bunny" is one of Jones' lesser classical music cartoons, as he and his writers are obviously at pains in terms of comic invention. "Mad Maestro" is consistently inspired from start to finish, and is aided along greatly by MGM's top-notch animators and artists--who at this time were every inch on a par with the Disney artists.
The title character is a fine one, even if he wasn't reused after this cartoon. The viewer can feel his frustration, especially at that little mustachioed pup who's still tuning his violin when the conductor starts up the rest of the band. Through the course of the cartoon the pup gravitates over to the bass drum, which is supposed to play only one beat; but his music keeps getting blown away by a tuba. The pup finally does get his opportunity at the tail end, after the applause, and the delirious maestro collapses into a casket-like cello case. The cutaways to orchestra players reveal a fine bunch of clowns, like a bloodhound fiddler twiddling his thumbs even after his solo cue; he takes his own sweet time, even breaking for closeup looks at the next phrase in his sheet music. The milking of this comic moment is flawless; one can feel the conductor's consternation. There is also a mongrel who plays his bow with his fiddle. Not to mention a harpist with a Harpo Marx hairdo.
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