Doggone It! Dogs Go Wild, Too

Currently I am the devoted guardian to two clever and opinionated cats. The black one is the diva queen who rules the household and the gray one is the talkative princess who is expert at starring at humans with big yellow eyes and getting whatever she wants. But long before I became a cat person I was a doting dog person. I grew up with a sweet little toy poodle. She was my constant shadow although whenever Dad came home from work she would switch and follow him. She was an expert at begging at the table for food and my Sister and I would always sneak her pieces of our dinner. Mom would save big bones for her to gnaw on. She loved for me to stand by the big picture window and hold her so she could watch the kids playing in the neighborhood. Even Grandpa fell under her spell. He swore he did not like dogs but when she cried when we went on vacation he came over and took her home with him and let her stay in his living room. She lived a very long time for a little dog. The night before she died, I knew she was not feeling well and I sat up all night holding her. I will never forget those final hours or the way she looked at me. So patient, so loving.

I was thinking of my little poodle the other day and I decided to check out the Internet Archive for all things canine. I already knew IA and the Public Domain had a wealth of feline treasures so I was sure there would be an abundance of pups of all sizes and kinds. And of course the Public Domain has a ton of FREE books, films, cartoons, and pictures of dogs. I enjoy watching old cartoons so I picked out a few to start with. This first batch of animated dogs gone wild cover a 33 year period. The oldest short was first released in 1930, the most recent in 1963. Some were filmed in black and white, some in color, two even have some scenes done in 3D techniques. Some of the canine stars behave like faithful pets, some wear clothes and have human characteristics. But all of these canine cartoons are full of fun and entertainment and all are FREE in the Public Domain at the Internet Archive.

First up are four animated shorts from the Betty Boop series. Betty Boop was a cartoon character created by Max Fleischer, with the help of some of his studio’s animators, for his Talkartoons series. Fleischer Studios made 42 Talkartoons between 1929 and 1932. “Talkartoons started out as one-shot cartoons”. But in 1930, a silly anthropomorphic dog named Bimbo was introduced. Bimbo appeared in Fleischer cartoons from 1930 to 1933 and became the star of the Talkartoon series. But he was quickly eclipsed by his girlfriend, Betty Boop, when she was introduced later in 1930 and Bimbo was relegated to a supporting role. The Talkartoon series eventually became the Betty Boop series.

Dizzy Dishes (1930)

Dizzy Dishes premiered on August 9, 1930 and stars Bimbo as a waiter who gets into some trouble. This short is also famous as the first appearance of Bimbo’s girlfriend, the as-yet-unnamed Betty Boop. In Dizzy Dishes, Bimbo and Betty are both anthropomorphic dogs. Bimbo has big dog ears. His girlfriend Betty is a French Poodle with floppy Poodle ears and a Poodle nose. Bimbo is the star and Dizzy Dishes focuses on his bumbling and Betty, who is not even given a name in this cartoon, actually has a very limited appearance for a song and some flirting. Dizzy Dishes is in black and white. The short is showing its age and is somewhat dark and blurry in places and the audio is a bit tinny and sometimes hard to understand. Dizzy Dishes runs 6:10.

The Herring Murder Case (1931)

The Herring Murder Case is a black and white animated short that premiered on June 26, 1931. It stars Bimbo, no Betty in sight, but this is a vastly different Bimbo from the version that starred in Dizzy Dishes. The appearances of both Bimbo and Betty Boop changed over time. She became human and lost her Poodle ears for hoop earrings and changed her Poodle nose to a girl’s cute little button nose. Bimbo became shorter and more dog-like. His dog appearance would actually spell his doom. Bimbo was dropped from Fleischer cartoons because the Production Code censorship laws  objected to a dog having a human girlfriend; it smacked too much of bestiality. In The Herring Murder Case someone has killed Rudy the Herring and Bimbo is the detective trying to solve the mystery. This short, like Dizzy Dishes, is also a bit dark and blurry at times. It runs 7:15.

Not Now (1936)

Not Now premiered on February 28, 1936 and features a fully human Betty Boop. Gone are all traces of the original Poodle. In this black and white animated short, Betty and her little pet dog, Pudgy, have their sleep interrupted by a noisy cat. When Betty tries to shush the cat, it yowls “Not Ne-ow”. Betty’s brave little pup then springs into action and tries to chase the caterwauling cat away. Pudgy is the real star of this cartoon and the story follows him as he chases the cat and gets into all kinds of trouble. Betty looks beautiful in Not Now and little Pudgy looks adorable and the short is a fast and fun romp. The film is just a little dark but otherwise crisp and clear and the audio is excellent. Pudgy is normally a silent pup except for some cute little barks but in this film he has his only line of dialogue. Towards the end of the story, the cat takes a swipe at Pudgy and scratches his face. An astonished Pudgy slaps a paw over the injury and whispers “He pulled a knife on me!” Not Now runs 6:24.

Training Pigeons (1936)

Training Pigeons is a black and white short that premiered on September 18, 1936. This is another Betty Boop cartoon that features the adventures of her little dog Pudgy. In Training Pigeons, Betty is training a flock of pigeons. One of the birds refuses to follow orders and enter the bird hutch and Pudgy, who imagines himself to be a mighty hunting dog, chases the bird over rooftops and through parks. Poor Pudgy gets into so much trouble and is so exhausted that the pigeon has to carry him back home to Betty. Training Pigeons has a lovely and unusual opening sequence. Fleischer Studios had developed their own 3D technique. “They used this very sparingly” in only a few cartoons. Training Pigeons opens with this 3D technique in a pretty sequence showing the pigeon flock flying over some trees and houses. Training Pigeons is another enjoyable escapade of the cute little Pudgy and runs 6:28 with both the video and audio being sharp and clear.

Bosko’s Dog Race (1932)

We have five more rowdy dog cartoons to go. For the first of the five, we need to take a detour back in time to June 25 for the premiere of the 1932 black and white animated short Bosko’s Dog Race. Bosko was a cartoon character created by Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising who starred in over 30 short films as part of Warner Brother’s Looney Tunes series. Bosko was described (and registered) as an African-American boy. Harman and Ising based Bosko’s personality on “the blackface characters of the minstrel and vaudeville shows popular in the 1930s”. Although Ising often claimed that Bosko was not conceived as being human or animal but just as an “inkspot sort of thing”. Nevertheless, Bosko speaks in an exaggerated, stereotypical “black speech” in his first short in 1929. All his later films changed that to a falsetto voice. Harman and Ising worked for Walt Disney in 1927 which is when Harman claimed to have first dreamed up Bosko. The Disney influence shows and Bosko resembles Mickey Mouse. Bosko also rivaled the Disney Mouse in popularity in the early 1930s. In 1933, Harman and Ising argued with Warner Brothers over Bosko’s budget (about $6,000 per cartoon at the time) and they left Warner for MGM. Harman and Ising had kept all the rights to Bosko and they took him with them. Once at MGM, Harman and Ising redesigned Bosko (less Mickey Mouse-like and more human) and changed his character. The new Bosko was not as popular and Harman and Ising stop using him. MGM fired Harman and Ising in 1937 because their new Happy Harmonies series was way over budget. The last new Bosko cartoon premiered on January 1, 1938.

Bosko’s Dog Race opens with Bosko and his dog Bruno cooking over a campfire. A squirrel makes off with their fried egg and Bruno gives chase. Bosko is so impressed with Bruno’s speed that he decides to enter the dog in the Whippet Race for the prize of $5,000. Bruno is not too happy abaout it. On race day, Bosko and his girlfriend Honey cheer on Bruno. But the poor dog is not doing too well and is almost dead last in the race. At least until Bruno spots his nemesis the squirrel. Bosko’s Dog Race is a bit dark and blurry in places but the audio is fine. The short runs 7:21.

Play Safe (1936)

Play Safe premiered on October 16, 1936 and is a color cartoon in the Color Classics series . The Color Classics series was produced by Fleischer Studios for Paramount Pictures. There were 36 Color Classics animated shorts (Betty Boop’s Poor Cinderella was the first in the series) produced from 1934 to 1941 and they were intended to be direct competition for Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies series. The first Color Classic, Poor Cinderella (and the only color Betty Boop cartoon), was photographed in two-color Cinecolor. The rest of the 1934 and all of the 1935 Color Classics were photographed in two-strip Technicolor. There was a three-strip Technicolor process available that allowed a full range of colors but Technicolor’s founder had convinced Walt Disney to give it a try in 1932. Disney loved the full color process and negotiated a deal that gave his company exclusive use of three-strip Technicolor until September 1935. When Disney’s deal ended, Color Classics jumped on the three-strip bandwagon and the first Color Classics of 1936, Somewhere in Dreamland, was the first to use the new process.

In the cartoon Play Safe, a young boy plays with his model train while his Saint Bernard dog lays nearby. When a real trains chugs along just outside the fence, the boy sneaks out to see the train up close but the dog stops him and carries him back to his yard. Another train comes to a stop nearby and the boy sneaks out again and manages to climb up onto the train before it starts up. The boy falls off the train, hits his head, and dreams of adventuring in a fantastic train-land. But the train-land is more scary and dangerous than it first appears. Meanwhile, the Saint Bernard is frantic to get to his young owner because another train is on the way and the unconscious boy is in its path.

Fleischer Studios had a “patented three-dimensional background effect called “the Stereoptical Process” ”. This allowed the use of actual 3D background sets with the animation cels. Several Color Classics use this Stereoptical Process. Play Safe, filmed in three-strip Technicolor, uses the Stereoptical  Process in some of the scenes of the fantastic, dreamy train-land. Play Safe is a bright and colorful cartoon with excellent audio. The boy and the dog are adorable but the Stereoptical Process gives the cartoon a bit of something extra. Those train-land scenes are really unusual and interesting. Play Safe runs7:06.

Boy Meets Dog (1938)

Boy Meets Dog, a color animated short that premiered on March 10, 1938, is a rather unusual cartoon. First, it was based on the Reg’lar Fellers newspaper comic strip by Gene Byrnes. Secondly, it was originally made as a commercial for Ipana Toothpaste manufactured by Bristol-Myers Company. Although the scenes obviously featuring the toothpaste were later removed the cartoon still has many heavy-handed plugs for dental hygiene. The opening scenes in the schoolroom features students singing and practicing dental hygiene. Bobby brings a stray dog home, washes the dog and brushes its teeth, and even sings about it: “Soap and water will make you neat and then I’m gonna brush your teeth”. When Bobby’s angry father dreams he is on trial in “pixie court” some of the fairy creatures sing and argue about whether he is a “mental giant” or “childlike in his mental knowledge” and about his knowledge of dental hygiene.

Boy Meets Dog has some cute moments but the dental message is a bit jarring and just plain strange. Also the angry father is really rather nasty. He charges into Bobby’s bedroom with his slipper in hand, fully intending to beat the boy for bringing the puppy home. And the fairyland trial scenes have an underlying meanness. Certainly I have watched animated shorts that have grim scenes or stories, it is just that I was not expecting nastiness in a 1938 toothpaste cartoon. It makes for an unusual and awkward film. Boy Meets Dog runs 9:17. There is also an ASL version that loses some scenes to make way for the interpreter and runs 7:51.

The High and the Flighty (1956)

The High and the Flighty is a color cartoon that premiered on February 18, 1956. It is part of Warner Brothers’ Merrie Melodies animated series. Merrie Melodies were produced between 1931 and 1969. Originally, the Merrie Melodies cartoons were designed to showcase music from the soundtracks of Warner Brothers films. Starting with a soundtrack “made it easier to devise plot elements and even characters” but the animators felt the songs “often interrupted the cartoons’ momentum and pacing”. The animators were released from the music deal in the late 1930s.

Several animated characters were originally created to appear exclusively in Merrie Melodies shorts including Elmer Fudd and Warner Brothers’ most popular character (and one of my personal favorites), Bugs Bunny. The High and the Flighty features three other popular Merrie Melodies characters: Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, and the Barnyard Dawg. Daffy Duck first appeared in a cartoon in 1937. All told, Daffy appeared in 133 animated shorts. He is the third most frequent character in the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons. Only Bugs Bunny (166 appearances) and Porky Pig (159 appearances) featured in more cartoons. The rooster Foghorn J. Leghorn was featured in 28 cartoons between 1946 and 1964. Foghorn’s nemesis, the Barnyard Dawg, appeared in 21 cartoons between 1946 and 1963.
     
In The High and the Flighty, Daffy Duck is a traveling salesman selling practical jokes for the Ace Novelty Company. Daffy comes to a farm where Foghorn Leghorn and Barnyard Dawg are busily engaged in their never ending feud. Foghorn is upset when Dawg drops a watermelon on his head and promises retribution, “This, I say, this calls for massive retaliation!” Daffy decides to help Foghorn by selling him Joke Kit #607B for only $2.98. When Dawg wants to get even, Daffy sells him a practical joke, too. Daffy keeps the feud going and the money rolling into his pockets by selling practical jokes to first one and then. But eventually Foghorn realizes, “We have been flimflammed!” And Dawg agrees, “Yeah, hoodwinked!” The High and the Flighty is clear, crisp, bright, and colorful to watch and the audio is excellent. It is also great fun. The cartoon runs 6:37.

The Case of the Kangaroo Kid (1963)

The Case of the Kangaroo Kid is a color animated short produced in Yugoslavia by Zagreb Film and released in December 1963 (estimated). The Case of the Kangaroo Kid is part of the cartoon series Hound for Hire: Sam Bassett Private Eye. The series features Sam Bassett as a “Bogart-esque Bassett Hound” and Chapultepec as a mute Chihuahua who “talks” by playing his guitar and letting Sam stumble his way through an interpretation. The duo try to solve various mysteries. The Big Cartoon Database lists nine other Hound for Hire animated shorts.

The Case of the Kangaroo Kid is a rather strange cartoon that features the doggy duo trying to find a kidnapped Kangaroo boy. The kid was snatched right out of his mother’s pouch. Mother Kangaroo is an extremely annoying character who blathers on and on endlessly. Chapultepec even resorts to sticking a clothespin on her lips to shut her up. Sam Bassett and the Chihuahua Chapultepec are kind of cute together. The way Sam has to stumble and guess his way to an interpretation of everything his partner plays was funny. But once their investigation takes them to the Happy Harbor Cemetery the story is hijacked by a confusing sequence involving three weird rabbit-ghost-things that have nothing to do with the main story. Then the mystery is solved in a very rushed way. But the color is bright and clear and the audio is good. The Case of the Kangaroo Kid runs 7:43.

 
Of course, the best thing about all these animated shorts featuring rambunctious canines is that they are all FREE in the Public Domain at the Internet Archive. IA has many Betty Boop cartoons available. Dizzy Dishes starring Bimbo and an prototype Betty Boop can be watched as Version D#1, Version D#2, and Version D#3. There is one version of the Bimbo (but no Betty) short The Herring Murder Case. Both Betty Boop and Pudgy cartoons, Not Now and Training Pigeons, are available as one version each at the Internet Archive.

Bosko’s Dog Race and Play Safe each have one copy available at the Internet Archive. Boy Meets Dog has two versions. Version #1 is an American Sign Language version and Version #2 is the original version. Both The High and the Flighty and The Case of the Kangaroo Kid have one version each. If you enjoy watching cats get rowdy read “Cats Gone Wild at the Internet Archive” here at

GenXPosé 

and get links to FREE cat cartoons. Enjoy!

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