Friday, February 26, 2016

Toons You Might've Missed: Private Snafu (1943-5)

Here's a rarity in the Warner Bros. canon.

Private Snafu appeared in more than 2 dozen shorts produced by WB for the Army from 1943-5, but these cartoons, now in the public domain, have never been shown on television, save maybe for an episode or three of Cartoon Network's Toon Heads in the 90's.

Snafu (Mel Blanc) keeps finding himself in situations of his own making. His name is an acronym (Situation Normal-All Fouled Up), but the little guy was meant to be a morale booster for the soldiers. Created by filmmaker Frank Capra, a large chunk of Snafu's adventures were written by author Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss), and directed by some of the usual WB suspects (Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Frank Tashlin).

A number of years ago, my brother bought a bootleg video compilation of the Fleischers' Superman shorts at a convention. A Snafu short was included in the set, but not the one we're going to show you. I didn't think much of it at the time, partially because I was tired and half-asleep that night when he played the tape. Anyway, scope out "Private Snafu vs. Malaria Mike". Mike, you see, is a mosquito.

Bugs Bunny appeared in a pair of shorts with Snafu, and maybe we'll run those someday.

Rating: B.


SaturdayMorningFan said...

Thunderbean animation restored all of the SNAFU shorts and released them on DVD a few years ago, and then re-restored them in HD and released them on Blu-Ray recently. Well worth the $15, especially since WB shows no interest in releasing any more Looney Tunes on either format (except for double, triple, and quadruple dips).

hobbyfan said...

If WB had actually given a rat's butt about Snafu, they'd have retained the rights to him.

SaturdayMorningFan said...

I don't think they had a choice there. I'd imagine if you produce something specifically for a government organization on the taxpayer's dime, you wouldn't get to own the copyright or trademark on it. At least, not back in the 40's when things still worked reasonably well. Now that Hollywood practically owns Congress, I imagine WB may have a shot at it. They could probably even lawyer their way into "reclaiming" the rights to the character retroactively today (but let's not give them any ideas - Thunderbean has handled the SNAFU cartoons far better than WB ever has, as evidenced by the wretched copies of SNAFU WB provided as bonus features on their Golden Collection DVD sets). The Thunderbean sets really are the definitive versions now.

hobbyfan said...

Hmmmm. Maybe I should look into locating those DVD's......