Several Chinese residents play music. A dragon frees himself from a cage and goes after them, but fireworks are shoved down the dragon's throat. This causes him to explode and turn into a walking dragon skeleton.
To music - and sometimes the song "One Step Ahead of My Shadow" - we see various scenes of a China imagined by 1930's U.S. stereotyping. We're in what may be Shanghai, with rickshaws and other cultural touchstones. A young man steers his small boat down a river to visit his sweetheart, to whom he sings. A large man, who's well-to-do, seems to cheat his rickshaw driver who takes him to the same house where the kids are courting. A dragon interrupts the fun, the damsel is in distress, and fireworks may follow.Written by
Chinese dragons do not breathe fire, and are seen as benevolent creatures not as antagonists (as in European traditions). See more »
This cartoon was colorized in 1992 by Turner Entertainment Company, with each frame traced over onto a cel. Each cel was then painted in color and photographed over a colored reproduction of each background. See more »
One Step Ahead of My Shadow
Music by Sammy Fain
Lyrics by Irving Kahal
Sung by the boy and girl
Also played during the rickshaw ride
Also played and sung in the palace See more »
An Interesting Early '30s, Irregular Characters, Merrie Melodies Short.
This is my most favorite out of the ethnic/international-based MM shorts featuring irregular characters. I'll try not to give away too much for those who haven't seen it but: First of all, this one is set in China and of course there are some Chinese stereotypes, but if anyone can overlook them it's still quite enjoyable, funny and great. One shouldn't believe everything is necessarily true about them.
Secondly, it basically involves a young boy on his way to seeing his girlfriend, they perform a song that's the same title as this cartoon ( as many of the other, earliest Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies share titles with the songs performed in them) and they spend time together. The sub-plot involves the trademark gags found in cut-away scenes from the couple and a Chinese aristocrat who, after returning to his home, introduces " 'melican " music to the traditional band and servants inside. They instantly join in and have a jam session. The boy and girl hear the music, and head into the home. But everyone's great time is interrupted by a dragon who escapes his cage and enters the home. I'll let y'all find out for yourselves how this climaxes.
The reason why I find this short so interesting is because of getting the opportunity to look into other cultures through these cartoons and the humor throughout it, especially the ending of this in particular, with the usual wackiness. I highly recommend it and the similar cartoon short, Disney's The China Plate (similar in that it too features a young couple, the Chinese setting and a dragon). Luckily, I checked out this Merrie Melody before it was removed from Youtube less than a couple months ago. Can't wait till this is brought to DVD as part of a later edition LT/MM compilation in the future. This one should not be passed. It's definitely not one of those anybody would have the misfortune to regret seeing.
Note: Other similar cartoons I recommend are any of the earliest Merrie Melodies featuring couples of other ethnicities and cultures (such as the Pacific Islanders from Pagan Moon and the American Indians from Crosby, Columbo and Vallee), as this was another running theme.
Never mind, this short can be seen on the third disc of the Forbidden Hollywood Collection Vol. 3 DVD set, for those who are interested.
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