Tin Pan Alley Cats

“GET ME OUTTA HERE!”

Supervision by Bob Clampett; Story by Warren Foster; Animation: Rod Scribner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on July 17, 1943.

Yessir. This here’s another induction into the “Censored 11” hall of infame. Yet, it got to join “Coal White” on the top 100 Looney Tunes list. And I think it deserves its place. Unfortunately hurtful caricatures and all.

Cats Waller (who isn’t named in the short, but anyone who has even the most remote idea of Fats Waller is going to refer to him as such) is all set to have a good time tonight. His choice of venue is the Kit Kat Klub. Oh geeze. Oh wow. That’s just plain mean. This cartoon is already robbing people of dignity, (or cats as the case may be) but why remind them of that? Despite the fact that it should raise some sort of flag, (and while I’d want it to be red, I’ve got a bad feeling it’d be white.) Cats is still making a beeline thataway.

Next door is the Uncle Tomcat Mission. It’s where you’re likely to find preachers who waste their time trying to keep other cats out. I mean really. Why would you set your base of operations RIGHT NEXT to the place that is just going to tempt people? At least do it from across the street. They try to warn Cats of the danger within. Namely, wine, women, and song. That’s too vague. Wine is everywhere in the bible. (I think. I never really could get past all that begatting.) Not all women are sluts; one could be the positive influence Cats needs. And music is inherently one of the most pure things mankind has ever taken part in. No sell, Cats chooses hell.

That preachy preacher. This place looks great! (Despite how racist it is portrayed. And the humans within. So who is the dominant species in this short?) Cats heads straight for the piano and joins in a sweet jam session. Music. What ever could cause anyone to think this could lead to eternal damnation? The trumpet player at the klub makes Cats a promise: he is going to use his music to send the little guy out of this world. Clearly, we are talking figuratively, so Cats is all for it. Do your thing!

And Cats floats, and floats, and floats, until… he really is out of this world. It may look a little bit disturbing what with the statures shaped like musical instruments with severed hands still attached, but I never forget my ideal home. He’s in Wackyland! That lucky so-and-so! It may not be referred to as such, but it’s definitely the same place. With new features even. Example 1: Cats is welcomed to his new home by a disembodied pair of lips.

Looking ahead, we can see all the residents we’ve come to know and love. That guy who plays music from his flower, the one who smokes a cigar, cigarette, and pipe all at once, that rabbit who swings by his ears. (My mom fears him. I’m fearing that saxophone with a mouth and eye in the background.) But you know what else? This is our first time getting to see Wackyland in glorious technicolor! Sure, all the residents have black accented voices that I can’t be sure are real at all, but what’s more amazing is how much here would get reused in “Dough for the Do-do“. (That giant watermelon slice doesn’t seem so P.C. anymore.)

Cats tries exploring, but the residents are just a bit too out of this world for him. And those… trees, I think? That he’s hiding behind? Those are also scarring me for life. And I’m loving every moment of it! (Who would have thought a cello with feet could give me a heart attack?) Oh, and it might interest you to know that this is also the debut of Wackyland’s pride and joy: The Rubber Band. (Love those guys. They’re cute and their talented musicians. You don’t see that often these days.)

And Wackyland is even getting into the wartime spirit. Making us all feel better about ourselves by having Axis leaders rub their buttocks together. Yet, Cats is unhappy and wants to escape back to where he came from. There’s an elevator, but Cats was suddenly lying down to match Porky’s pose from years earlier, and he misses his chance. (It’s not the dodo this time, sadly. Just some black guy who looks like a duck with those inaccurate lips, and bird-like neck.)

The breaking point comes when Cats is forced to see Stalin kicking Hitler in the derriere. He begs, pleads, demands that he be brought back. (Something you’d never hear me saying.) Wish granted. I don’t know how, but the trumpeter is able to get him back to Earth. (Maybe it was a Moonside situation and it was all in Cat’s head?) Scared straight, Cats heads next door to help spread the spiritual word. Judging by their shocked expressions, this is the first time their preaching has ever reached someone.

Favorite Part: You kidding? We got to return to Wackyland! And they were kind enough to change it enough so that it wasn’t a total rerun. Sure, it’s become a bit more mean spirited this time around. But that creepy imagery was impressively creative! Isn’t amazing how putting limbs on random objects automatically makes them lovecraftian?

Personal Rating: 3. I’d like to give it a four, but it just can’t compete with its older brother, and the offensive imagery is sure to offend a good number of people no matter how long it ages. The soundtrack is awesome though.

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