The Merry Old Soul (1933)

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Oswald the Rabbit gathers some of the greatest entertainers of the age to cure Old King Cole of the blues.


, (as Bill Nolan)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Oswald is at the dentist. A tooth being pulled hangs on tight. Just then, the radio reports "Old King Cole has the blues" and Oswald races off in his car. He gathers up a collection of comics: Charles Chaplin, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, etc. At the castle, they start singing off-kilter versions of Mother Goose rhymes, with Al Jolson in a blackface routine, and the king is quickly cheered up. Laurel & Hardy haul in a large pile of pies, and an all-out fight breaks out. The jester, who has been getting jealous of Oswald, kidnaps him during the fight and hauls him into a dungeon, submitting him to various tortures, where we discover that the real torture has been the dentist pulling the tooth all along. Written by Jon Reeves <>

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Release Date:

27 November 1933 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording Sound System)
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Did You Know?


Many celebrities appear in caricature. Charles Chaplin is asleep in a bed without a mattress. He reappears later shooting pies like a machine gun. Greta Garbo has a cigarette holder and a pair of enormous feet. Ed Wynn, driving a fire truck, carries (from left to right) Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Joe E. Brown, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Will Rogers twirls a rope and rides a pig. Paul Whiteman is the bandleader with an orchestra full of self-duplicates. Roscoe Ates is the stuttering singer. Brown (now dressed in a baseball uniform), Edna May Oliver and W.C. Fields sing about Peter Piper. Al Jolson appears in blackface. Mae West sings about Humpty Dumpty. Laurel and Hardy reappear to start a pie fight. Jimmy Durante hides in a suit of armor. Harold Lloyd has windshield wipers on his glasses. Zasu Pitts frets and says, "Oh, dear." Zeppo Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx and Groucho Marx pop out of a trunk. See more »


The jester ties a rope around Oswald's neck and then (thanks to an animation mistake, not a continuity error) it immediately vanishes. See more »


[first lines]
Tooth: So long, old pal.
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References The Jazz Singer (1927) See more »


The Cuckoo Song (Ku-Ku) (The Dance of the Cuckoos)
Written by Marvin Hatley
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User Reviews

Classic film comedians unite to cheer up Old King Cole
12 February 2009 | by (Bronx, NY) – See all my reviews

"The Merry Old Soul" (1933) is a black-and-white Oswald the Rabbit cartoon from Walter Lantz that's distinguished by an abundance of animated caricatures of then-contemporary film comedians and comic actors. The simple tale involves Oswald getting knocked out in the dentist's chair only to hear a radio announcement that Old King Cole's got the blues. So Oswald leaps out of the chair and into the street where he gets into his little car and drives around looking for help. He wakes up Charlie Chaplin and gets him to join in, although Greta Garbo declares, in a thick Swedish accent, "I tink I stay home." A fire truck driven by Ed Wynn carries Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Joe E. Brown and Laurel & Hardy. Will Rogers speeds along on the back of a pig.

At the castle, King Cole is getting increasingly annoyed by his ineffectual court jester until Oswald shows up with his lineup of guest stars and they start singing Mother Goose nursery rhymes to him. Paul Whiteman and his band provide the musical accompaniment. Joining in the songfest are Joe E. Brown, Edna May Oliver, W.C. Fields, Mae West, a stuttering Roscoe Ates, and Al Jolson—in full blackface mode. As the King starts to loosen up and smile, Oswald brings out his best act—Laurel & Hardy doing a pie fight. As the fight escalates, other famous faces pop up, including Jimmy Durante, Harold Lloyd, Zasu Pitts, and the Four Marx Bros. A bit of conflict is introduced late in the eight-minute cartoon when the court jester gets jealous and tries to sabotage the proceedings.

As with so many of the Lantz cartoons, there aren't many outright laughs, but it's always fun to watch contemporary cartoon caricatures of celebrities, especially when there are unexpected ones like Will Rogers (who died in 1935) and Zasu Pitts. Those of us who grew up watching the Warner Bros. cartoons and the celebrities they frequently depicted (usually Warner contract stars like Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis, etc.) are finding a rich new trove of material in the Lantz cartoons that indulged in this practice. (See also "Hollywood Bowl" from 1938, also reviewed on this site.) This cartoon is found in the Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection DVD box set.

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