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(uncredited)
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Genres:

Animation | Short

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Release Date:

22 February 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Abdul Bulbul Ameer  »

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Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Abdul and Ivan the Terrible
22 December 2014 | by (Arlington, Virginia, USA) – See all my reviews

Watching this 1941 MGM cartoon is pretty pointless unless you're familiar with the Percy French-Frank Crumit song, "Abdul Abulbul Amir." And if you know the song, then what's the point of seeing this cartoon? I suppose the intent was to provide a comical illustration of what's described in the lyrics, but we only get fragments of the original text. Perhaps the animators would have done better to have done a more faithful visual accompaniment, one that stuck more closely to the song.

Said to have been a favorite of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's, the French-Crumit song "Abdul Abulbul Amir" is a very humorous if (by today's standards) politically incorrect ballad that tells the tale of two mighty warriors: Ivan from Russia, and Abdul, who is either an Arab, a Persian or a Turk. They get into the fight of their lives, and don't know when to quit (or how). My introduction to it was a tuneful rendition by country singer Hank Thompson. It made me chuckle a few times, and I actually laughed aloud the first time I heard the closing line, which provided a perfect ending.

Nothing about this cartoon (titled "Abdul the Bulbul-Ameer") made me chuckle; not the way the main characters are portrayed, not the standard animated slapstick, and certainly not the three-man American newsreel crew thrown in for added comic relief (one of them, a Groucho Marx lookalike, keeps pointlessly shouting, "What a fight!"). The whole thing makes for a Technicolorful, pointless mess. You'd do better to listen to the Thompson recording, which actually tells you a story.

(I saw an excellent quality copy of this cartoon uploaded onto YouTube

  • who knows how long it will remain there.)



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