Book Revue (film)

Book Revue is a 1946 Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon directed by Bob Clampett.[1] The cartoon was released on January 5, 1946, and features Daffy Duck.[2]

Book Revue
Bookrevue.jpg
Directed byRobert Clampett
Produced byEdward Selzer (uncredited)
Story byWarren Foster
StarringMel Blanc
Sara Berner
Bea Benaderet
The Sportsmen Quartet
Richard Bickenbach
(all uncredited)
Music byMusical Direction:
Carl W. Stalling
Orchestra:
Milt Franklyn (uncredited)
Animation byRobert McKimson
Rod Scribner
Manny Gould
C. Melendez
I. Ellis (uncredited)
Layouts byThomas McKimson
Backgrounds byCornett Wood
Color processTechnicolor
Production
company
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
January 5, 1946 (U.S.) (Original)
May 19, 1951 (Blue Ribbon Reissue)
Running time
7:01
LanguageEnglish

The plotline is a mixture of the plots of Frank Tashlin's Speaking of the Weather (1937), Have You Got Any Castles? (1938) and Clampett's own A Coy Decoy (1941).

PlotEdit

The cartoon starts out in the same, pastoral "after midnight at a closed bookstore" fashion of Frank Tashlin's trio of "books coming to life" cartoons, to the strains of Moonlight Sonata; a colorized version of the storefront from A Coy Decoy can be seen. Inside, an inebriated "cuckoo bird" pops out of a cuckoo clock to announce the arrival of midnight (and signaling the "cuckoo" activities to follow) and the books come alive. The first of these is a book collection called "Complete Works of Shakespeare". Shakespeare is shown in silhouette while his literally-rendered "works" are clockwork mechanisms, along with old-fashioned "stop" and "go" traffic signals, set to the "ninety years without slumbering, tick-tock, tick-tock" portion of "My Grandfather's Clock".

Cut to a book titled Young Man with a Horn; a caricature of Harry James breaks loose with a jazz trumpet obbligato similar to James' "You Made Me Love You", in which he segues into the standard, "It Had to Be You", as a striptease is about to begin on the cover of Cherokee Strip. Book covers for The Whistler and The Sea Wolf show their characters whistling and howling at the off-screen action, Shakespeare's inner workings also break apart at the sight of the action. Henry VIII (designed to resemble Charles Laughton's portrayal of him) also gets excited at the sight of the striptease until his mother on the cover of The Aldrich Family calls for him. As she starts to spank Henry, "The Voice in the Wilderness", an emaciated Frank Sinatra caricature, appears gently singing "It Had to Be You" while being pushed along by an orderly. Henry's mother, along with other female book cover characters (such as bobbysoxer versions of Little Women, Mother Goose and Whistler's Mother on the cover of "Famous Paintings"), begin swooning for "Frankie".

Immediately thereafter, a jam session begins featuring Harry James, Tommy Dorsey on the cover of "Brass" (who at one point rubs his trombone slide under W.C. Fields' nose), an Indian on the cover of Drums Along the Mohawk who morphs into Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman as the "Pie-Eyed Piper" (some mice yell "Yay, Benny!"), and a green Bob Burns on the cover of the Arkansas Traveller, all performing a jazz version of "It Had to Be You". Annoyed by the revelry, Daffy Duck steps out of the cover of a Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies comic book (in the background is a book by "Ann Anonymous" titled The Invisible Man: A Biography of Robert Clampett) and starts rifling through a trunk (Saratoga Trunk) for clothes. Just after Gene plays some notes on the buttons lining the corpulent stomach of Hudson's Bay, Daffy dons a zoot suit coat, gloves and a curly, blonde wig, as well as what appears to be a set of fake teeth.

Daffy orders for the music to "STOP!" and the jam session screeches to a halt. Standing in front of a book called "Danny Boy" with the classic Ukrainian tune Ochi chyornye as background music and the background becoming one with illegible newsprint superimposed on silhouettes of urban buildings, Daffy (effecting Danny Kaye's fake Russian accent) says "pooey!" to swing music and jazz. He then starts reminiscing about his "natife willage" with its "soft music", "why-o-leens" and the "happy peoples sitting on their balalaikas, playing their samowars" (misusing both terms) and also talks about a girl called Cucaracha, who he describes as "so round, so firm, so fully packed, so easy on the draw". Saying that "they would sing to him a little gypsy love song", Daffy breaks into his normal character and briefly sings "La Cucaracha" (including his "hoo-hoo" sounds). Daffy continues in his fake Russian accent as he sings Carolina In The Morning, inadvertently teasing the Big Bad Wolf, who at this point is still in the window of "Gran'Ma's House"; Daffy beats a hasty retreat to stage left. Meanwhile, Little Red Riding Hood, based on Margaret O'Brien, skips past Daffy and toward Gran'Ma's House. Realising the danger, Daffy puts himself between Red and the door, breaking into Danny Kaye's scat singing style to warn Red about the Wolf, including mock chewing on her leg for emphasis, not noticing the Wolf adding salt to his leg. Red runs away screaming and Daffy halfway notices the Wolf before returning to continue the biting, until Daffy realises otherwise (becoming a giant eye in a wild double take).

Daffy runs away, pursued by the wolf through Hopalong Cassidy, Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Petrified Forest. The police sergeant on the cover of the Police Gazette notices what's going on and alerts all other police officers. The Wolf ends up apprehended by the Long Arm of the Law and is placed before The Judge who declares the Wolf guilty and sentences him to Life in spite of his objections ("You can't do dis to me! I'm a citizen, see!" to the tune of "Lucia di Lammermoor"), though the Wolf makes his Escape soon after. Jimmy Durante, incongruously illustrating the cover of So Big, turns toward the Wolf, and his huge nose trips the Wolf, who goes sliding down Skid Row, nearly falling into Dante's Inferno. The Wolf scrambles to the top, but the Sinatra caricature reappears, held in the orderly's hands as if he were a doll. The Wolf, being in the grandma archetype, swoons and faints just as the female characters did and skids head first into the inferno.

The rest of the characters, including Daffy and Red, proceed to celebrate the Wolf's death by dancing to a swing version of Carolina in the Morning. Suddenly, the Wolf pops out of Dante's Inferno, ending the cartoon demanding the characters "Stop that dancing up there! (as Daffy had done earlier) ... Ya sillies!" (a la Joe Besser)

InfluenceEdit

  • Later releases of the short had the title card replaced with Warner Brothers' "Blue Ribbon" title card on which the title was misspelled (see above). The original title card has since been located and the fully restored short can be seen on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Vol. 2 four-DVD box set, the Looney Tunes Spotlight Collection: Vol 2 two-DVD set and on the Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 2 Blu-ray set[3]
  • In 1994 it was voted #45 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field.[4]
  • In one episode of Animaniacs, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot held a Video Review after being released in a videostore. Just like the books, they run in and out of films and mingle with movie characters. Daffy Duck made a cameo in the episode.
  • In one segment of the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Inside Plucky Duck", Plucky performs Daffy's giant eye double-take (dubbed "a Clampett Corneal Catastrophe"), only to be stuck in eye form, unable to "de-take" until the segment's end.

Production notesEdit

The film was reissued in 1951, as Book Review.[3] In the reissue, the title is a pun, as a "revue" is a variety show, while a "review" is an evaluation of a work (this pun was not in the original release).

ReceptionEdit

Animation historian Steve Schneider writes that many of the cartoon's references are dated, "but who cares? ... Better simply to revel in Book Revue's headlong brio, overlapping settings, meticulous economy of gesture, intertwining narratives, resourceful color effects, super-efficient use of screen space — and a great, great turn by a duck called Daffy, as he dances, scat-sings, cavorts, and distorts in one of his true moments of glory... Book Revue is an encyclopedia of what can be done in the animated medium if you're brilliant enough."[5]

EditsEdit

The scene where the wolf chases Daffy through Uncle Tom's Cabin was cut from airings on Cartoon Network and The WB. Also cut on The WB was Daffy's line "So round, so firm, so fully packed, so easy on the draw," which was a reference to Lucky Strike cigarettes.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Beck, Jerry; Friedwald, Will (1989). Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons. Henry Holt and Co. p. 164. ISBN 0-8050-0894-2.
  2. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. pp. 70–72. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  3. ^ a b Book Revue (1946) - Trivia
  4. ^ Beck, Jerry (ed.) (1994). The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals. Atlanta: Turner Publishing.
  5. ^ Beck, Jerry, ed. (2020). The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes Cartoons. Insight Editions. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-1-64722-137-9.

External linksEdit