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The Peace Conference (1935)

As the representatives of all the world powers sit around the tables at the World Peace Conference, arguing and scrapping with each other, Krazy Kat introduces a happy note with his trick ... See full summary »

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As the representatives of all the world powers sit around the tables at the World Peace Conference, arguing and scrapping with each other, Krazy Kat introduces a happy note with his trick Comedy Gun, and everything winds up harmoniously...until the Nazis invade most of Europe a few years later. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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Animation | Short

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26 April 1935 (USA)  »

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"We're a happy family"? If only!
4 June 2017 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

Here's an oddity, a genuinely weird animated short from the Columbia Studio that plays like an editorial cartoon come to life. The Peace Conference is an entry in the studio's so-called Krazy Kat series, although it has nothing in common with the legendary George Herriman comic strip of the same name; the title character looks like a feline version of Mickey Mouse, and the humor and tone are not at all like the strip. But forget about THAT Krazy Kat; what makes this film interesting is its unusual content, and what it says about the attitudes of the era when it was made.

Headlines announce: WORLD LEADERS MEET, DISCUSS PLANS FOR WORLD PEACE. Our setting is a classical style building, place unspecified, where delegates gather. Doves perch above the doorway, and chirp hopefully. Everyone who enters has to stop off at the security desk and hand over any artillery. (Like Fats Waller says: "Check your weapons at the door.") Inside, delegates mingle in one room while world leaders sit at a table in another. This part is interesting: some countries are represented by national symbols, such as Uncle Sam for the U.S. and John Bull for England, while other countries are represented by figures who resemble commonly accepted stereotypes of their nationality: a Frenchman, an Italian, a Russian, etc. But India is represented by Mahatma Gandhi, while Germany, curiously, is represented by a guy who looks like President Paul Von Hindenburg, which is especially odd because he died in August of 1934, several months before this cartoon was released. (He was succeeded by Hitler, so perhaps the animators chose to avoid representing the latter.) Everyone seems to get along just fine, in fact they harmonize on a song with the chorus "We're a happy family!"

Trouble erupts, however, when the delegates begin arguing and punching each other. That's when our hero Krazy Kat shows up, driving a tank no less, and crashes through the doorway. But he doesn't employ violence; like the Beatles in the much later animated film Yellow Submarine, he subdues the meanies with music. He fires cannon balls at them with labels such as CROONER TUNES, HOT MUSIC, etc. When the first of these bombs explodes, Bing Crosby pops out and croons "Boo-boo-boo, boo-boo- boo" at the fighters, which subdues them. (I swear I'm not making this up.) And when things start to get rowdy in the room where the world leaders meet, Krazy Kat fires another missile and jazz man Ted Lewis pops out. He plays his clarinet, and quickly restores order.

So all is well in the world, temporarily anyway. But out in the cosmos, Mars, God of War, looks on displeased at all this peacemaking. He comes down to earth, sharpens his sword, and insists that everyone must resume fighting. Krazy redoubles his efforts, yet initially things look bleak: Mars swats away Bing and Rudy Vallee as it they were mosquitoes. Eventually however, Krazy utilizes his super-weapon: the entire Paul Whiteman Orchestra, led by the hefty Mr. Whiteman himself. They pin Mars to the ground, play him some sweet music, and peace is triumphant.

That's all, folks! The Peace Conference is a fascinating document of a time when fear of another world war was in the air, and for good reason. Sadly, we all know how that turned out. I only wish Krazy Kat— or somebody, anybody—could have come to our rescue in reality.


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