Goin’ to Heaven on a Mule

“You’ll pay for this!”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Rollin Hamilton and Bob McKimson; Music by Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released on May 19, 1934.

Oh, boy. Today’s short takes place on a cotton plantation. Of course, that means everyone working is black. Well, at least they all look happy enough. Maybe we can just pretend that the harvesters are actually the ones who own the land for a change? No? Okay, if that’s what you really want. Our starting gags are relatively tame, basically just based on the fact that they are using fairly advanced techniques to harvest the cotton.

One person would rather sleep than work. (My kind of guy!) What would be a good name for this fellow? Nick? If you say so. When he’s not sleeping, Nick has quite the thirst for whatever is in his jug. (Hey for all you know, it could be sarsaparilla.) Nope. Guess it’s of the “booze” family, as an angel and a devil arrive to try and convince Nick to either stay sober, or drink up, respectively.

Now of course, OF COURSE, the angel is white and the devil is black. Chalk it up to our two-tone universe, but it still feels wrong to me. The angel actually goes ahead and wrestles with the evil side, which seeing as how that falls under the “violence” family, pretty much means the devil wins by default. Bottoms up! And man, that must have been some strong stuff, as the entire world around Nick starts to wobble, and fade, and next thing you know, Nick’s dead. (What was in that stuff?)

But you know, he’s actually in good spirits about it. He didn’t even have to die alone, seeing as how his trip to the heaven is delivered by his faithful mule, Rick. (Is it noble to die to give your friend a lift? Or is it too clingy?) They get to heaven which is called “pair ‘o dice”, (Of course it is.) and wouldn’t you know it! The only souls here are black! Now either this means that every race gets their own individual heaven, or I dunno, maybe cartoons don’t reflect reality?

Heaven looks a lot like what many parts of Earth looked like back in the 30’s, but people have wings, and that gives their streets one more dimension to travel along. They’ve even got entertainment clubs with singing, dancing, and all the watermelon you can eat. (Because of course they would!) But Nick sees something outside the place that he really likes: a gin orchard! But I’m not sure that’s a great idea; the signs also say  that this stuff is forbidden fruit. But it’s heaven! Surely you should be allowed anything your heart desires, right?

Well, while I ponder that, Nick helps himself and is caught in the act. God, or one of his valued employees, catches the rouge saint in the act and has him escorted away. (Nick is far too tipsy to care.) He is flung into an elevator shaft that is one way only, and Nick’s destination is Hades. (What no racist name for the other place? I’d offer one, but then you’d probably hate me, and I hate that.) Nick falls, and then wakes up from what was now revealed to have been nothing more than an alcohol induced hallucination. (If only there was technicolor, then he could have had the vision with pink elephants.)

Nick decides then and there, that he is done with the hard stuff and throws his jug away. Half a second later, he dives after it, and keeps it and his habit from breaking.

Favorite Part: A peddler tries to get into heaven, but is denied. Not terribly funny, but I do think we can agree that annoying salesmen are definitely NOT a part of paradise. Oh, sorry. “Pair ‘o dice.”

Personal Rating: 1. Not too funny, not creative enough to look past its depictions. Not like another cartoon I know.

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