This starts off as an adaptation of Robert Service's poem 'The Shooting of Dan McGrew', complete with a literal depiction of a man with one foot in the grave, but when Dan McGoo turns out ... See full summary »
The Wolf rides into town, terrorises it, kidnaps the girl, and is chased by the outraged townspeople, accompanied by Droopy, who despite introducing himself as "the hero" at the end, in ... See full summary »
When the Wolf telephoned headquarters and stops to ask "Is that you Myrt?" that was a direct reference to the popular "Fibber McGee & Molly" radio show. McGee would always begin his telephone conversations by asking the Wistful Vista telephone operator the very same question. Further reference to the radio show is also made here in that Bill Thompson, who does the voice of the Wolf in this cartoon, got most popular as the off screen voice of "Droopy Poodle", also performed as the Old-Timer in this war cartoon. See more »
[coming up to the First Pig's house of straw; speaking in faux German]
Open the door! Or I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!
But Adolf, that would break our treaty. You're a good guy. Why, you hate war. You wouldn't go back on your word.
Are you kidding?
[the wolf laughs and brings in "Der Mechanized Huffer und Puffer" to blow down the house, but the First Pig manages to escape]
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After Adolf Wolf's mechanism blew down the straw house of the first pig, a sign "GONE WITH THE WIND" appears in the debris of straw. See more »
This is my 1144th review for IMDb but the first I'll ever dedicate to a short film, not any short film, a cartoon, a Tex Avery cartoon, the first made for MGM in 1942 and whose title gives an obvious indication about the context of its making.
But first, a few words about the Master. Frederick Bean Avery (1908-1980), better known as Tex Avery, is certainly after Walt Disney the most influential animation director of history. And he's my personal hero. At a time where kids of my age were worshiping Nirvana, Michael Jackson and girls were drooling over Brad Pitt and then-two-hair-on-the-chin Leo, my personal idol was Uncle Tex (and his comic-book counterpart Marcel Gotlib but that's another story). Tex who? I used to hear, without any Internet to take me off the solitude zone.
But adults knew Tex Avery, his name became as famous as the cartoons he made, like a label, a guarantee of uninterrupted minutes of sheer hilarity, where the only interruptions consist on a little fourth-wall break or a sign generally ending with "'isn't it?". Basically, Tex Avery mastered comical timing and codified a form of humor that is still used today by animators, comedians and comedic directors. And while often perceived as the anti-Disney, I think he was more of a complement. Disney made movies for children, awaking in the process the inner child in every adult while Avery never believed animation was for kiddies. His genius lied on a simple but brilliant strategy: material aimed for adults can be enjoyed by children, not the opposite.
So, his cartoons definitely aimed an adult audience, as evidenced by his iconic creations. But "Blitz Wolf" doesn't feature the erotomaniac wolf, frenetically howling whenever he sees the gorgeous Red, the laconic Droopy and the sadistic Screwy Squirrel, but it has the wolf, thinly disguised as Adolf Hitler, but the wolf nonetheless. Of course it's propaganda but come on, we're talking about Hitler, and Avery opens with a disclaimer that should nip any comment in the bud, he clearly says: "The wolf in this photo-play is NOT fictitious, any similarity between that wolf and that (curse symbols) Hitler is purely intentional" then he adds a comment about a fake braking sound (meant to save rubber for the war effort) followed by "We ain't kiddin' brother".
No characters had yet appeared but the tone of Tex Avery was set. The man makes you laugh with writing, he acknowledges that the cartoon carries some political undertones but that doesn't prevent it from being one hilarious, exceptionally long (nine minute) masterpiece of modern animation, modern as it would distort the heritage of Disney and turn it into raunchy and adult material. The film is a variation on the Three Little Pigs story (one of Disney's darlings) and Avery had a unique talent to grab from fairy tales the true substance, the one that only the sophisticated and delightfully perverted mind of an adult can grab.
So we have our little pigs, the first two built their houses with the usual straw and wood, the practical one set himself in post-Pearl Harbor mode and built a real bunker, surrounded by trenches. His friend sing the "You're in the army now" and after "you're digging a ditch" the image freezes just long enough so our mind can fill the blank. And then the Wolf makes his spectacular entrance, befitting the Blitzkrieg war, he's followed by a long chain of tanks, one of them carries the "Good Rumor" sign and another "doesn't want to set the world on fire", quite thought-provoking for a cartoon.
Adolf Wolf, Der Fuerher (Der Better), raises his head and after a pause, turns at the audience then brandishes a sign "Go on and hiss, who cares?" he gets a tomato on his head. Avery made the cartoon with the audience in mind, he knew the effect the appearance of the wolf by recalling Hitler would create, but he blesses his characters with a sort of self-awareness that becomes a sort of bridge with the audience, it's like everyone is part of the same joke. What it also says is "I know we're supposed to hate that villain, but I won't make him more hateful than needed". One of the ironies of the film is that despite being a clear take on Hitler, this Wolf is more "sympathetic" than Disney's 'Big Bad Wolf".
So, propaganda isn't exactly Avery's strongest suit and that says a lot about his rebellious approach to the art, he can't make unconventional cartoons by sticking to narrative conventions, it just had the misfortune to lose its Oscar for another masterpiece of propaganda, Disney's classic "Der Fuerher's Face". Still, "Blitz Wolf" is a masterpiece and even as the first Tex Avery cartoon, it is one of his most accomplished one, which is saying a lot since the first twenty-thirty movies he'll make for MGM will either be masterpiece or great cartoons.
(Of course, I know Avery was no newcomer, he started at Warner Bros. where he made one contribution or two, such as creating Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, but we was 'Fred Avery' then and Tex Avery is mostly associated to the MGM period (1942-1955), the roaring lion, the wolf, Red, Droopy and all the whole team)
And this year, we're celebrating the 75th anniversary of the start one of the greatest legacies in animation history, which should remind these Warner Bros scissor-handling employees that if we acknowledge the propaganda nature of these films, then the two cut bits should have been kept for the sake of historical value. The cannon joke is totally ruined if you don't see where the missile goes, not that it ruins the funniest gag but if Tex Avery respected the intelligence of his audience in 1942, why shouldn't we now?
That's another proof that Tex Avery was ahead of his time. And I ain't kiddin' brother!
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