A Fleischer Animated Antic: “The Wizard of Arts” (1941)

Greetings, Gate! It’s a short TB Thursday today, with a short you’ve most likely not seen before.

In brief Thunderbean news:

This week, as it is hot as heck in a lot of the country, I’ve been concentrating on helping finish a stop motion animation segment for a documentary at the school, while the Thunderbean crew is holding down the fort as we’re able. I’m looking forward to going to the little office tomorrow and catching up with everyone. Work continues on the Rainbow Parade cartoons, with lots of progress. We’re hoping to wrap the set in July, and hopefully replicate soon after. Mid Century Modern 3 is finished, and we’ll be replicating it as soon as we’re able! I’m also looking forward to the next batch of special discs dubbing this next week.

And — this week’s cartoon oddity!

The Wizard of Arts (1941) is one of the odder Fleischer shorts. It’s really a cheater— maybe the king of the cheaters the Fleischers made. Of course, the title spoofs The Wizard of Oz. It’s sort of a hopeful title in that it seems like we’re going to see something magical since the word wizard is in the title. Not so much! We’re introduced to an unnamed artist character who does a sort of Jerry Colonna impression throughout (complete with ‘Greetings, Gate!” and Colonna’s signature bug-eyed stare right at the camera. He then just shows us one sculpture after another, each a groan worthy gag. There’s very little actual animation, with spot gag puns presented as sculptures dominating. It’s almost not an animated cartoon and more a punny comic. It’s a very un-Fleischer-like Fleischer cartoon.

Jack Mercer does his best to come up with a voice that isn’t exactly Jerry Colonna throughout. The gags here sort of remind me of the beginning gags in a lot of the Lantz cartoons from the early 40s, and the overall pace reminds me of Columbia cartoons from around this time too. While it’s topical humor, none of the gags seem to land particularly well, even there ethnic stereotype gags land with a thud somewhat. It’s more interesting that it was made than it is good.

I don’t think there’s a lot to say about this particular cartoon beyond that, honestly— at least than I can think of. I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments.

Thad Komorowski was kind enough to lend his print of this cartoon for scanning— one I had never seen before. It’s the second to the last of the ‘Animated Antic’ series by the Fleischers- even through two other shorts were released by Paramount under the same series that weren’t made by the studio.

Have a good week all!