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Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (1943)

So White flees from the wicked Queenie, wins over the thugs from Murder Inc. and meets her overrated Prince Chawmin'.

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Cast

Uncredited cast:
Ivie Anderson ...
Narrator (voice) (uncredited)
...
Dwarfs / Worm in Apple / Honey Chile (voice) (uncredited)
Ruby Dandridge ...
Queen's Sweet Voice / Queen's Laugh (voice) (uncredited)
Vivian Dandridge ...
So White (voice) (uncredited)
Lillian Randolph ...
Mammy (voice) (uncredited)
Zoot Watson ...
Prince Chawmin' (voice) (uncredited)
Danny Webb ...
Queen (voice) (uncredited)
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Storyline

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 <tterrace@wco.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

dwarf | u.s. army | tire | sugar | queen | See All (77) »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Release Date:

16 January 1943 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

So White and de sebben dwarfs  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mel Blanc's contract with Warner Brothers gave him sole voice credit for all Warner's cartoons, however most of the voices are provided by members of the all-black revue "Jump For Joy" which was playing in Los Angeles at the time this cartoon was made. See more »

Quotes

Prince Chawmin': Man, what you got dat made So White think you so hot?
'Dopey' Dwarf: Well, dat is a military secret!
See more »

Crazy Credits

A unique "That's All, Folks!" card features an animated shot of Mammy and a little girl rocking in an armchair. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Angry Video Game Nerd: R.O.B. the Robot (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Long, Long Ago
(uncredited)
Music by Thomas Haynes Bayley
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Tricky
3 October 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Coal Black's obscurity helps cartoon buffs to describe it in gushing terms. Animation historians call it one of the greatest cartoons that Warner Brothers put out. It's a product of its time, they write—it came from an America that still enjoyed a minstrel show. Hollywood was giving the public black mammies, Steppin Fetchit, shucking and jiving, Amos and Andy. We can view those live-action films with a sense of historical distance— the film stock looks ancient, the acting looks hammy, and the actors themselves are generally dead. However, cartoons don't age like that. Though the film needs restoration, Prince Chawmin' looks to be as ludicrously vibrant today as he was in 1942— just more shocking.

To those who say, "The film exists and it's wrong to deny that…" Well, yeah. That doesn't mean we should put this into rotation on Cartoon Network. Your average viewer doesn't know or care about context. Coal Black provokes a visceral reaction. It churns up the ugliest parts of American history, reminding us that we're still a long way from having racial inequities worked out. Maybe Clampett was just having fun, but in today's climate and without commentary (i.e., without couching it in a documentary), Coal Black can look degrading.

Bob Clampett's style was to exaggerate, stretch, distort, and rubberize. Applying this style to the racial stereotypes of the day—even if he did so in fun, or even in admiration—Clampett produced some truly grotesque character designs. It makes Coal Black hard to reconcile. Freeze-frame it at some points and it looks like racist propaganda. Watch it as a cartoon, however, and it rollicks along good-naturedly.

Coal Black is Clampett's celebration of black culture and jazz, and to make it he fought with the studio to bring in as many black musicians and voices as he could. It's a jubilant film, and to watch it ignorant of race is to enjoy a bunch of rubbery cartoon characters in a twisted, high-speed parody of Snow White (there's even a jab at Disney's overuse of rotoscoping—check the beginning of the dance number). Jazz and action bounce along in wonderful syncopation, and seven minutes fly by so fast that they feel like two. Rod Scribner's animation is often astounding.

It's worth hunting for, it's worth talking about, and in ten years maybe it'll be time for Cartoon Network to dust it off, restore it, and put it on an official DVD. In the meantime, enthusiasts can have the satisfaction of tracking down a rare, paradoxical cartoon made by a brilliant collaboration.


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