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Robert McKimson's 'Wild Wife' is a curious entry in the series of domestic cartoons which were popular in the 50s and 60s. More akin to a sitcom than a classic Warner cartoon, 'Wild Wife' stars an entirely human cast as a chauvinistic husband questions how his wife could possibly have failed to mow the lawn when she has so much time on her hands. This triggers a flashback which forms the basis of the cartoon as the wife (sardonically played to perfection by Bea Benederet) recounts the events of her day. Ostensibly a pro-woman cartoon that implores men not to take their wives for granted, 'Wild Wife' still makes room for plenty of sexist stereotypes with gags about obsessive shopping, chocolate addiction and parallel parking. Still, it's an enjoyably down-to-earth short with several neat little observations about everyday life in the 50s. There's nothing uproarious here but the face remains largely fixed in a smile, even if its sometime provoked by some of the outdated attitudes. Caught between a feminist tract and a validation of conservative family values, 'Wild Wife' is an interesting glimpse at the past and an entertaining one to boot.
Just watched this Warner Bros. cartoon on YouTube. In it, husband John (Mel Blanc, of course) asks his wife Marsha (Bea Benaderet) if she's done various chores. When she replies "no" on the lawnmower question, he tells her she doesn't do enough work during her free time. Marsha rebuts with a tale of what her work day entailed...Director Robert McKimson fills this day-in-the-life-of-a-housewife premise with lots of hilarious verbal and visual gags that keeps building until the much deserved finale. And the stylized '50s design that was probably UPA-inspired is perfect here. And music director Carl Stalling, as always, provides many familiar music cues-like the "Powerhouse" score by Raymond Scott which is my favorite-their suitable moments in the short. So for all that, I'm highly recommending Wild Wife.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Wild Wife", directed by Robert McKimson, is a very good Warner
Brothers cartoon featuring a witty music score by Carl W. Stalling.
This film focuses on how the lady of the house spends her time while
the kids are at school and the husband earns the family's daily bread.
Through flashback, we find out that the woman works her ass off!
My favorite scenes from this cartoon: The wife HURRIEDLY makes breakfast, only to be rewarded with the humorous arguing among her two kids. When opening her car door, the wife becomes over-showered with groceries. She also crashes back and forth between two parked cars as she tries to parallel park in front of a beauty salon, then her mud facial scares a pedestrian out of his wits.
Bea Benaderet and Mel Blanc supply the voices of the "Wild Wife" and husband, and they play off of each other wonderfully. Amusing as it is, this cartoon short may also serve as a reminder to husbands everywhere that while they are bringing home the bread, their wives most likely are engaging in much more activity than generally believed.
McKimson may not be quite among my favourite animation directors, but there is still much enjoyment to be had in his cartoons. Wild Wife is no exception, a couple of the attitudes I agree are outdated but that aside it is excellent. The animation is bright, colourful and crisp, with some of it also entertainingly wacky. The music has so much wit and energy and the way it is orchestrated is just beautiful, and stylistically from Carl Stalling it is very distinctive. The dialogue and gags are not what I call hilarious but they are funny and never dull things down, while there are some very sharp and interesting observations on 50s everyday life. The characters carry Wild Wife brilliantly, especially the title character, while Mel Blanc and especially Bea Beanderet characterise to perfection. In conclusion, excellent if not my favourite McKimson cartoon. 9/10 Bethany Cox
Watching Robert McKimson's "Wild Wife", I couldn't tell whether or not
it qualifies as proto-feminist. Seriously, would Betty Friedan and
Gloria Steinem have recommended this cartoon as required viewing for
gender studies, or wanted all copies of it burned? That I can't quite
figure out. But whatever it is, one can see what a degenerate existence
the suburban 1950s life constituted. Part of what "The Graduate" showed
is that the "good life" that the parents' generation had created for
the children was a lie.
OK, I've probably over-analyzed the cartoon. McKimson probably intended it as entertainment. Some of what happens certainly entertains. But I still say that it offers some insight into what status as a 1950s housewife really constituted.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
. . . at a couple of different Eighth National Bank teller windows. Both are depositing thousands of pennies. The first seasoned citizen declares that she's adding $200 to her account, and begins enumerating the necessary 2,000 nominal coins one by one. (Surveys show that it takes the average female in her age group 18 minutes to tally 2,000 items one-by-one IF THEY DO NOT MAKE ANY RESTARTS; unfortunately, the same studies document that 15 or 20 restarts are par for the course here, yielding a realistic expectation of THREE HOURS for Lady Number One's count.) Though the second crone does not specify the amount of her intended deposit, it's clear that her pennies sack is about 50% heavier than that of her age peer. Consequently, this second matron's business is bound to last four or five hours. Since "Marsha" has arrived at Eighth National kind of Noonish, it's quite possible that this downtown branch will be CLOSED before EITHER teller is available to attend to her business at hand. Warner Bros. uses WILD WIFE to inform The American Banking Community that most U.S. Citizens will be OVERJOYED to pay their bank four or five bucks at an "Automated Teller Machine" every time that they need $20 OF THEIR OWN MONEY, and that the last thing they'd ever expect of this privilege is any interest in return.
There is no reason this had to be a cartoon. It could have easily been a live-action short, of the sort that commonly done throughout the history of films. True, there was a shortage of well-known female comics to do this sort of work, but it looks a lot like some of the gags used on I LOVE LUCY in the era.
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