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This was my second look at "Mr. Hook" and since it had a similar theme
as the first one I saw ("The Good Egg"), I obviously learned that this
cartoon character was here mainly, if not solely, to promote the sale
of war bonds during World War II. The U.S. Navy produced these
This one has the added talents of director Robert McKimson and the voice of Mel Blanc, adding to Arthur Lake's "Mr. Hook." You can tell because it looks pretty good and the voices are better than the other animated short I watched. Hank Ketcham, who gained fame with his "Dennis The Menace" comic strip, wrote the material here. Oddly, it isn't as funny you would think with this great talent behind it.
Mainly, Mr. Hook shows the audience, who saw this in the last year of The War, what practical things he can do when the war is over and he's a civilian again....such as finally getting out of his sailor's duds and dressing up with a new suit and hat so he can impress his girl "Choo Choo" and ask her to marry her. Then, money is needed for other incidental items, like a house, furniture, marriage, kids, etc..
Note: The cartoon ran three minutes and 50 seconds, not two minutes as stated here on the title page (not that it's important)..
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What really happened after the war is that he is in a dark, rancid
alleyway in Tokyo, buried in old war bonds telling him about non
existent rewards, guzzling whiskey while snatching rats for food from
time to time. That is his real future and that explains my opinion on
that money and housing lie that was brought up in "The Rotten Egg", oh
wait, I'm sorry, I mean to say "The Good Egg".
What is there for me to spoil about with this episode anyway? It's just the same garbage repeated in every single Mr. Hook episode, the total of a pathetic four episodes; A large sum of money, a rich mansion, a hot wife and a bunch of Mr. Hook clones. Nauciaus yet? That and I don't understand about the other sailors laughing at him.
I placed this lower than "The Good Egg" because it shows Hook being treated like a spoiled brat in his psyche, above the other two thanks to the lack of racially negative insults on Japan.
You can show this to your goldfish, they'll forget too quickly to get bored of this.
Robert McKimson had worked as a dependable animator and model design
specialist at the Warner Bros. cartoon unit for a full fifteen years
before receiving his first directorial assignment, "The Return of Mr.
Hook." Mr. Hook appeared in three very short black and white cartoons
and one color item made for the U.S. Navy; he was created by Hank
Ketcham, later of "Dennis the Menace" fame. Hook was a thinly disguised
version of the Army's Private Snafu, with a piggish, turned up nose
being the major difference in his appearance. In this outing, he
explains to his fellow sailors -- who are in the midst of gambling --
his post-war plans and illustrates how buying war bonds play into an
integral part of his dreams for the future.
McKimson probably got the go ahead for this project as the war was seen as ending relatively soon, and the Navy needed this one in a hurry. His boss, Frank Tashlin, was up to his own nose in projects already and, indeed, McKimson would not direct again until he overtook the unit in the wake of Tashlin's departure the following year. McKimson's first job at direction once he assumed control was to finish "Daffy Doodles," a cartoon that Tashlin had started, and likewise "The Return of Mr. Hook" follows very closely in Tashlin's footsteps, particularly in the breathless middle section where Hook reunites with his sweetheart, buys furnishings for their home, marries her and settles down to start a family in just over two minutes' screen time.
The most effective sequence in the cartoon is the montage when the end of war is declared; the battleships race back from the Pacific theater to the US and Hook propels himself past the crowd -- and the burlesque house -- to the tailor's to transition back into civilian life. Hook's character -- voiced by "Dagwood" actor Arthur Lake -- is presented as an everyman, but actually comes off as kind of a jerk. There is a nod to the spicy humor employed in Private Snafu and designed to strike the funny-bones of hardened military men, but "The Return of Mr. Hook" stops short of the coarser, "freeze the nuts off a jeep" similes employed in U.S. Army subjects. Nevertheless, it is the message, rather than the humor, that is driving this picture, and it succeeds effectively in that, though for a seaman stationed on an aircraft carrier or battleship out in the Pacific all those many months, the card game may have seemed more attractive.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Return of Mr. Hook" is a delightful Warner Bros. wartime cartoon
starring the lovable, bumbling sailor Mr. Hook. A quartet of big burly
sailors makes a mockery of Hook, demanding to know his postwar plans.
Confidently, Hook offers his answer.
My favorite scenes? I love the facial expression on Hook's girlfriend Choo Choo (!) after he throws a stone to the train station. I also enjoy the singing of "Any Bonds Today?", in the beginning by Hook, and in the end by the four mocking sailors, who do a damn fine job of harmonizing!
Speaking of music, "The Return of Mr. Hook" is alive with the sound of it! "My Blue Heaven" can be heard as kids run around the Hooks' home (just Molly and me / and her mother makes three.....). "Happy Days are Here Again" is played as the war ends and the submarines cross the Pacific Ocean back to the U.S.A. And "When My Dreamboat Comes Home" is heard as Hook pays his first postwar visit to Choo Choo.
This is a cute little WWII propaganda film that was made with American servicemen in mind. It is a cute little cartoon that extols the virtue of investing your monthly stipend in war bonds. Since it was not intended to be seen by the general public but only by servicemen, there are two things you'll notice. First, to save money, unlike other Warner Brothers cartoons, this one is in black & white--a money-saving maneuver. Second, as impressionable children wouldn't see it, the jokes are a tad risqué--at least by WWII standards. There are lots of hints at sex--which makes a lot of sense considering the soldiers were no doubt preoccupied with it! The film consists of cute Mr. Hook teaching his fellow sailors not to waste their money gambling but investing in bonds. It does so with a great sense of humor and is quite charming. Well done.
This is the first cartoon Mckimson directed. It was made for the U.S. Navy and stars a character named Hook. Similar to the Pvt. SNAFU cartoons, it was meant to teach the sailors various lessons of Navy life. In the cartoon we see illustrated Hook's plans about using his war bond savings to fulfill his postwar dreams. These are presented in a rather mainstream and pedestrian manner. Compared to the innovative use of graphics of Chuck Jones' SNAFU cartoons or UPA's industrial films of the same period and you realize how staid Mckimson's approach really is. There is also very little comedy present, the story being told in a straightforward fashion, unlike Clampett who would sugar coat his lessons to the soldiers with outrageous ribald humor. Hook's design is very cartoony, but the animation doesn't reflect this and instead is done in a very literal style. Hook's fellow crewmen are drawn in a realistic manner, which contrasts uncomfortably with Hook. One can see in this cartoon all of the qualities that would later plague Mckimson's cartoons of the fifties. For a first time director this is a polished and professional product, presented without any flair.
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