|Index||7 reviews in total|
It's swoon time over Frank Sinatra in the little old book shop and all
the female characters who come to life on the covers of books are
shrieking and carrying on, even "Whistler's Mother."
Musicians and all are not only to life but having fun with the music. All, that is, but Daffy Duck who jumps out of his comic book holding his ears, but then takes over the singing from there.
That are a lot of period references here, not just to Frank, but Danny Kaye, W.C. Fields, Jimmy Durante, cigarette commercials and many, many classic books. It's really too wild and crazy to explain. Suffice to say this is wacky Daffy Duck in one of his craziest cartoons. He and director Robert Clampett made a tremendous pair with outrageous animated short films like this. Who else would have Daffy doing scat music to Little Red Riding Hood (a highlight)?
As with some other Daffy Duck cartoons, this is total insanity....and a lot of us love it!
OK, it's not necessarily the all-time *best* Daffy Duck cartoon (that
be "Duck Amuck" or "Robin Hood Daffy", or maybe "Great Piggy Bank
but it's my personal favorite - I just love it to bits. Clampett at his
high-octane best, taking on the old workhorse "book covers come to life"
formula and *demolishing* it (no one at WB ever made another!) with a
show-stopping and hysterically funny performance by Daffy. From a
spot-on-perfect impression of Danny Kaye playing a homesick Russian gypsy
("*sigh* How different was my little willage...the happy peoples, sitting
their balalaikas, strumming their samovars...") to a mad scat song
Red Riding Hood to beware the wolf and an all-out battle, the duck just
rocks. The concentrated energy of this cartoon blasts off the screen! A
slow start, but once Daffy appears onscreen, brother, clear the decks. A
Part of the reason that the Looney Tunes cartoons were so great is that
they exposed children to high culture. "Book Revue" is one of the many
cartoons that does this. Featuring a book store where the literature
does impersonations of Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, and
others, they go all out here.
One thing that I have to admit is that when I was six years old, I didn't get the references; I mean, how many six-year-old children can identify William Shakespeare or Dante's "Inferno"? I also didn't know that Daffy Duck was doing a skit based on Danny Kaye.
But even if you don't get all the jokes, it's still a hoot just for what they show. You're sure to love it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Book Revue" is a truly excellent Warner Bros. cartoon directed by Bob
Clampett. The plot of this wild and wacky cartoon is quite simple:
Inside a supposedly quiet little bookshop, which has been shut down for
the night, all of the various characters on the covers of the many
classic novels come to life and interact with each other. That's what
makes this cartoon such a joy to watch! There were other earlier Warner
Bros. cartoons of this particular genre, such as "Have You Got Any
Castles" (1938), "Goofy Groceries" (1941), "Speaking of the Weather"
(1937), and "You're an Education" (1938), but "Book Revue" is arguably
the quintessential cartoon featuring still characters/caricatures
coming to life.
Here are my favorite moments from "Book Revue" (DO NOT read any further if you have not yet seen this cartoon). Among others, there are caricatures of crooner Frank Sinatra, trumpeter Harry James, clarinetist Benny Goodman, drummer Gene Krupa, and a trombonist who could be either Glenn Miller or Tommy Dorsey. (I am a jazz musician myself, so it is quite dear to my heart to see caricatures of these fine musicians in a Warner Bros. cartoon.) A little later, Daffy Duck puts on a blond wig & lavender zoot suit with a large green bow tie, adopts a thick accent, and expresses his disgust for jazz and swing music. Then, defying his principles, he sings a very nutty version of "La Cucaracha" and a fairly bouncy version of "Carolina in the Morning" while his body STRETCHES. Best of all is Daffy's wild scat singing as he tries to warn Little Red Riding Hood about the Big Bad Wolf. Also take note of how Daffy's eyeball greatly ENLARGES upon spotting the wolf; only director Bob Clampett could have thought of such a wild "sight" gag!
"Book Revue" is a classic cartoon that contains a great deal of ENERGY, which is a primary characteristic of Bob Clampett's cartoons. Catch this film on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 2 Disc 4, with an additional commentary by Michael Barrier, who is quite a knowledgeable animation historian.
Daffy Duck stars in the surreal short that has all the books of a book
store coming alive in humorous ways. Fawning over Frank Sinatra, whom
Daffy seeks to steal the spotlight from with his Danny Kaye
impersonation (and he succeeds I might add). He also goes up against
the Big Bad Wolf in this great Robert Clampett short (and pretty much
all of Clampetts work on Looney Tunes was indeed great, so for this to
be one of the standouts is really saying something). This animated
short can be seen on Disc 4 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection
Volume 2 and also features an optional commentary by Micheal Barrier.
My Grade: A+
Of all the cartoons where books, magazines etc. come to life, Bob Clampett's 'Book Revue' is by far the finest. The problem with many of these kind of cartoons is that they rely on cultural references that have been long forgotten, inescapably dating the picture. Although there are many references to popular books of the day in 'Book Revue', it manages to sidestep the detrimental dating effect thanks to Clampett's typically engaging speedy pacing and the inclusion of Daffy Duck as a character. Daffy emerges from the cover of a Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies comic and proceeds to completely steal the cartoon away from all the witty book parodies. Ever the showman, Daffy opens with a Danny Kaye impersonation followed by the highlight of the cartoon, a phenomenal scat version of the Little Red Riding Hood Story. Mel Blanc must be given enormous credit for pulling this off so brilliantly but Clampett makes it all the better by matching this brilliant vocal performance with stunning visual, including the infamous moment in which Daffy turns into a giant eyeball. This is the sort of joke no other director would even attempt and Clampett pulls it off with grotesque glee, 'Book Revue' is so much better than all other cartoons of its kind because it doesn't get hung up on visual pun after visual pun. Instead, Clampett uses these books as the backdrop against which to stage a high speed chase. Unlike some of these reference heavy shorts, 'Book Revue' can be enjoyed whether you get the reference points or not. It's a classic cartoon bursting with energy and ideas.
I love both Have You Got Any Castles? and Book Revue, both are very colourful and clever literary takes, but if I had a preference I have to go with Book Revue. The animation here is wonderful, very colourful and vibrant, and the music is superb, especially liked the use of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata at the beginning. The singing is top notch, and the references are recognisable and a delight to watch. And the main reason why I prefer Book Revue is because of Daffy Duck, he is absolutely hilarious, whether this is his best cartoon overall is up for debate as there are so many exceptional ones, but this is for me one of his funnier performances. Out of the supporting characters, the rapacious Big Bad Wolf is my favourite. The cartoon moves really quickly, the humour is spot on and Sara Berner and Mel Blanc's voice work is outstanding. Overall, superb cartoon and although I loved Have You Got Any Castles, I prefer this one but only marginally, probably the fact that Daffy's in it is to do with it. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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