Spoof of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)' with an all-black cartoon cast. Many WWII references, including rationing (the evil Queen is a hoarder of sugar and rubber tires) and Jeep vehicles (the Sebben Dwarfs come to the rescue in three of them). Also spoofs the extreme close-up of Kane's lips uttering "Rosebud" in 'Citizen Kane (1941)' . Written by
Paul Penna <email@example.com>
That mean IL' queen, she sure is a fright, but that girl So White is dynamite!
For years, I had heard of this cartoon yet never seen it. One of the infamous "Censored 11" (almost a dozen Warner Bros. theatrical cartoons that were forever suspended from television broadcast in the 1960s), it looked as if my chances would always be slim to none. But I have recently obtained a video copy of it and several other restricted "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies" and can now judge for myself how good it is.
As it turns out, all those critics were dead right! "Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs" is undoubtedly the flat-out funniest and most frenetically paced Bob Clampett cartoon I've ever laid eyes on - and this is up there with "The Great Piggy Bank Robbery", "Kitty Kornered", "Baby Bottleneck", "The Big Snooze", "Tortoise Wins By a Hare", Draftee Daffy", "A Tale of Two Kitties", and scads of others. Sure, its caricatures are seen today as appalling, but I know the context that this cartoon was supposed to be seen in. When thought of as a morale-raising wartime cartoon with one foot steadied in the world of jazz and black entertainment, this film is hilarious. In fact, several people have noted that this film's positive portrayal of blacks in the US Army was actually one of the few instances of such in film at the time. And the animation is certainly some of the best to come out of the Clampett unit - the dance scenes between Prince Chawmin' and So White, the flailing and unrestrained movements of the characters, and the Dwarfs' final attack on "Queenie" are all virtuoso pieces of work. The music and singing are astoundingly well-done, adding a jazzy spin to this particular Merrie Melodie. And as always, Treg Brown's sound effects make the film that much better (the numerous "p-zings" and "beyowhups" and "trombone gobbles" throughout the soundtrack never get old). Altogether this is a true winning effort. Despite its reputation, this cartoon can't be overlooked when observing Clampett's efforts at the Warner studio. As Steve Schneider put it in his 1988 book "That's All Folks! The Art of Warner Bros. Animation", this is a film masterpiece in miniature. And that is not a military secret.
Now, if I can only get my hands on "Tin Pan Alley Cats" and "Russian Rhapsody"...
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