The story of a little boy who would only talk in sound effects. With story by Dr. Seuss (and Bill Scott of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame) this cartoon won the Oscar for best short subject (animated) for 1950.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the 11 shorts banned from TV syndication by United Artists in 1968 (then the owners of the pre-1947 color Looney Tunes shorts) for alleged racism. Ted Turner continued the ban when he acquired these cartoons and stated that these films will not be re-issued and will not be put on home video. Warner Bros., however, reacquired these shorts in 1996 when Time Warner purchased Turner Entertainment, which returned them to their original aegis for the first time since 1957. These cartoons will probably never air on television again, and only non-Warner Bros.-licensed public-domain video tapes will probably ever have these shorts on them. See more »
De gal! And de prince! Wotta sickenin' sight!
Hello, Murder Incorporated? BLACK OUT SO WHITE!
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A unique "That's All, Folks!" card features an animated shot of Mammy and a little girl rocking in an armchair. See more »
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 writeit 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 dayeven if he did so in fun, or even in admirationClampett 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 rotoscopingcheck 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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