This one makes a corn-cob softer than a powder-puff. Cubby the Bear, the Crooning Crooner, has his own program on Radio Station R-K-O and his scheduled guest stars---Kitty Schmidt (Kate Smith), Sol Rightman (Paul Whiteman) and Sal Jolson (Al Jolson) have opted out, and his light-slippered announcer advises Cubby he is on his own. No sweat. In about eight minutes Cubby manages to show visually and story-wise why the MPPDA told Hollywood they "wanted to see it before you released it." Using caricature masks and a make-up screen---no audience and it wasn't televised---Cubby takes on the roles of his missing guest stars. He sings "Mammy" in black-face, cross-dresses as Kate Smith to take a turn on "When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain" but not before stuffing his/ her bosom with half the props on the stage. He then does Mae West and sings "I've Got a Lot of What I've Got" and tells the radio listeners to come up and see her...and the boys down at the pool hall---including the "human" Tom-and-Jerry---jump through their radio by way of coming up. Tom and Jerry (the human ones) doing a cameo in a Cubby cartoon was what came to be known in the Golden Age of Comic Books (and the Silver-Age, also) as a cross-over and makes this one a keeper for collectors. The cross-dressing Cubby has already done gets topped right quick like when Tubby hooks up with radio stations around the world and begins in India where Roger Rajah is taking tokes on his water-pipe while his pantie-and-bra clad harem girls dance for his amusement and his black servant can't fan enough to keep his Royal Hotness cool,and has to dump ice on him. Then, a caricature of Mahatma Gandhi comes dancing along and opens his white robe to reveal he is also a fan of cross dressing and shows the latest in women's scanty undies. (Back off, I didn't draw this one, I'm just reporting on it.)
From there Cubby's round-the-world radio program visits the Baltics, Spain, the North Pole, Hawaii, Holland, the American west and every continent but Anartica, and leaves no race, religion, culture, preference or past-times un-stereotyped. For some reason or another the Twinkie-toed announcer is down to his skivvies before this one ends.
This one, as old-timers are inclined to say...is something else.
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Van Bueren Studios' Cubby the Bear series comprised of just 19 cartoons made between 1933-1934. As much as it pains me to say it, speaking as a big animation fan, it is not hard to see why the character and the series weren't so popular and didn't last long.
Every now and again however, there are cartoons in the Cubby the Bear series that are above mediocre and even watchable. 'Croon Crazy' is one of them, actually one of the few to be above average when most of the series strains to be mediocre. It does have a few of the persistent problems that the series in general has but has a few improvements that makes it one of the two best cartoons of the series, the other being 'Fresh Ham'. Like 'Fresh Ham', it's not exceptional but it has enough to stop it from being a misfire.
There are things that work against 'Croon Crazy'. Some of the animation is not great, it takes simplicity to extremes and is often static and sloppy. Credit is due though, the characters' expressions are more expressive than usual, some of the locations are exotically handsome and there are some clever transitions. The story is slight to the point of being barely existent, basically it's just gags strung along.
Cubby himself is also a problem. He is far from compelling as a lead character and doesn't have much personality as a character in general. The cartoon is stereotypical in characterisation and not always subtle or for the easily offended, the Gandhi one in particular. The gags vary and not as witty or as well-timed as those in 'Fresh Ham', most are very amusing and timed very well, a few others are lukewarm.
However, there is a lot more energy than in most Cubby cartoons, there are also more gags to usual (usually there's a severe shortage) and they are actually amusing. Even though they're stereotypes, the supporting characters do show more personality and spirit than Cubby.
Best thing about it, and this is true of a lot of Van Bueren's output, is the music score. It is so beautifully and cleverly orchestrated and full of lively energy that is sorely lacking elsewhere, doing so well with enhancing the action.
Overall, above average and not bad at all, in a different league to most cartoons in the Cubby the Bear series. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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