By Word of Mouse

Is good, yes!

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Art Davis, Ben Washam, and Ted Bonnicksen; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on October 2, 1954.

During the 50’s there was a time where Mr. Freleng directed some shorts teaching about America’s economic systems. Sponsored by the Sloanne Foundation, all three of them had Sylvester in them to keep them relatively humorous. This is the first of them.

In a German town called Knokwurst-on-der-Rye, (I hear they have good taste) a mouse named Hans has returned from America. His family eager to hear about his trip. It started off simply enough, he greeted his cousin, Willie and they set off to see the sights. Hans is amazed by all the technological advancements this new land has compared to what he’s familiar with. Surely, these are all very rich people to be able to afford all these wonderful things. Actually, no. But Willie isn’t exactly the best one to explain how the system works and so they visit a mouse at a university to explain things. Basically, the people who make these products, sell them for cheaper than it costs to make them. In such a competitive market, you have to cut prices to give the customer reason to take your product over theirs. Seeing as a cat is stalking them, the professor (who doesn’t really have a name, so I’m just going to call him that) slams Sylvester’s head in a book before continuing the discussion in a drawer. When the cat peeks in, he burns his whisker on the lighter they were using as a light source and as he goes to put it out, they relocate to a filing cabinet. To continue the discussion, selling things without making a profit, can work to the producers favor. If enough people want to buy his product, then in the end he will still make a good amount of money. Sylvester is able to find them easily, because they foolishly hid in the folder about mice. Luckily for them, it was also clearly about mallets. They hide in a water cooler. Can’t have a meal without a drink right? I like how Sylvester actually bothers to drink all the water he’s emptying to get them out. (No sense in wasting it.) But now he’s too waterlogged to catch up to his prey, and the professor is able to lure him into an open manhole. Hans finishes up his story. (Because I guess he came home after that.) His family now knows the ways of mass production. Correction: they always were quite aware of it. Mice have many offspring, after all.

Hope you aren’t trying to actually learn economics from me. I’m an animation historian/zoologist. I’m just summarizing what I got from this short. If you really want to know more, visit your local library. So you can use their computers to study. In today’s day and age, is there really any point in doing it the old way?


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