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It's a Greek Life (1936)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Animation, Family  |  2 August 1936 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.1/10 from 56 users  
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Mercury, the winged messenger, drops his sandals off with a centaur to be repaired. The centaur, who has coveted wings to the extent that he's used a couple ducks to help him fly, takes the... See full summary »


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Mercury, the winged messenger, drops his sandals off with a centaur to be repaired. The centaur, who has coveted wings to the extent that he's used a couple ducks to help him fly, takes the sandals for a spin, and fails to finish the repair job on time. Mercury returns; in a panic, the centaur strips the wings from a couple birds and nails them to some plain sandals, but Mercury is not fooled. He turns the centaur into a pretzel. Written by Jon Reeves <>

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Release Date:

2 August 1936 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor High Fidelity Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Beware of Greeks with Italian accents.
28 February 2007 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

Some animation fans have a very high regard for the output of the short-lived Van Beuren studio. Van Beuren toons tend to be brightly coloured and upbeat, yet I dislike them: they're poorly animated and their stories have very little real conflict. I much prefer the cynicism and violence of the Warner Brothers cartoons, or even the leering vulgarity of the Fleischer studio's output.

I agree with IMDb reviewer "CC the Movie Man" that there's very little Greek content in this toon, although "CC" is incorrect when he refers to one of the characters as 'Hercules'. That character is in fact Mercury (identified as such in the dialogue), who has a hot date tonight with Venus. But Mercury and Venus were the ROMAN versions of those deities; why didn't this toon identify them by their Greek names, as Hermes and Aphrodite?

The main character in "It's a Greek Life" is a centaur: a figure from Greek mythology, right enough, but this centaur speaks in a Chico Marx accent and he works as a cobbler, a job which (in ethnic stereotypes) is associated with Italians. Along comes Mercury, who looks like a character out of Italian comic opera, and speaks accordingly. ('Mama mia!') This version of "Mercury" looks and sounds amazingly like Piccolo, the Italian chauffeur in Klaus Nordling's comic strip 'Lady Luck' ... but that strip wasn't published until World War Two.

Mercury wants the centaur to repair his winged sandals so they'll be in good nick for his date tonight with Venus. The centaur, who has always wondered what it's like to fly, slips the sandals onto his own forehooves. Chaos ensues.

Like all the Van Beuren output, this toon is too slight to merit deep analysis. Young children can enjoy it with no foreknowledge of classical mythology. The animation is better than usual for Van Beuren's standard, but that's not saying much. The Italian stereotypes, annoying in themselves, are even more annoying because these characters are allegedly meant to be Greek. I'll rate this toon barely 3 out of 10.

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