Blitz Wolf

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Blitz Wolf
Poster for Blitz Wolf
Poster for Blitz Wolf
Directed by Tex Avery
Produced by Fred Quimby (uncredited)
Story by Rich Hogan
Voices by Bill Thompson (Adolf Wolf, uncredited)
Pinto Colvig (pigs, uncredited)
Frank Graham (narrator, uncredited)
Music by Scott Bradley
Animation by Ray Abrams
Irven Spence
Preston Blair
Ed Love
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) 22 August 1942
Color process Technicolor
Running time 10 minutes
Language English

Blitz Wolf is an early anti-German World War II Hitler-parodying cartoon produced in 1942 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed by Tex Avery and produced by Fred Quimby. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons but lost to another anti-German World War II parody Der Fuhrer's Face, a Donald Duck cartoon.[1]

Plot[edit]

Sergeant Pork informing his brothers about Wolf's blitz.
Adolf Wolf himself, taunting the viewers.

The plot is a parody of the Three Little Pigs, told from a Second World War anti-German propaganda perspective. In this cartoon, the pigs go to war against Adolf Wolf (Adolf Hitler), who is set on invading their country, Pigmania. The two pigs who built their houses of straw and sticks claim they don't have to take precautions against the wolf, because they signed non-aggression pacts with him. The pig who built his house of stone, "Sergeant Pork" (an homage to Sergeant York), does take his precautions and outfits his house with defense machinery.

Adolf Wolf invades Pigmania, despite the two pigs protesting that he signed a treaty with them. He destroys their houses, whereupon the pigs flee to the third pig's house. Then the Wolf and pigs start fighting. Towards the end of the cartoon, Adolf Wolf is blown out of his bomber plane by the pigs' artillery shells filled with Defense bonds and falls down to Earth, together with a bomb which blows him to Hell. There he realizes he is dead and says: "Where am I? Have I been blown to... ?", whereupon a group of devils adds: "Ehhhh, it's a possibility!", in reference to a then well known catchphrase by Jerry Colonna.

Censorship[edit]

This cartoon has rarely been shown in the United States outside of the World War II years. However, it was shown on TNT and Cartoon Network with cuts made:

  • On TNT, the Wolf's German voice was redubbed, most of the scenes that feature English subtitles to his faux German speech had the subtitles cropped out, and the original "If you'll buy a stamp or bond - we'll skin that skunk across the pond!" end card was replaced with a regular MGM end card commonly seen at the end of Tom and Jerry cartoons.

On Cartoon Network's ToonHeads airing of this cartoon, there were two cuts:

  • The sign labeled "No Dogs Allowed" (with the word "dogs" crossed out and replaced by "Japs") on the third pig's house had the word "Japs" blurred out with yellow digital paint.
  • The punchline to the long gun gag where the artillery shell is fired and blasts the city of Tokyo to pieces was altered to make it look like the gun was being aimed at the Hitler Wolf.

Cultural references[edit]

  • This is Tex Avery's first cartoon at MGM, and also the first film at MGM for animators Preston Blair and Ed Love (Love had arrived at MGM with Kenneth Muse just after the 1941 Disney animators' strike).
  • The MGM lion, Tanner roars to the tune of "Hold That Tiger".
  • This short was widely available, uncut, on the MGM/UA video label's VHS release, Tex Avery's Screwball Classics, Vol. 4 and on the MGM/UA laserdisc collection The Complete Tex Avery.
  • There is a reference to the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo (when the bomb lands and destroys Tokyo, there is a sign "Doolittle Dood It!" coming out from the water).
  • Pinto Colvig provides the voice of "Practical Pig", as he did in Disney's Three Little Pigs.
  • Adolf Wolf's voice was provided by Bill Thompson, who would later voice Droopy, who starred in his own adaptation of the story called The Three Little Pups.
  • In the beginning, the two little pigs mockingly sing to Sergeant Pork: You're in the Army Now,/ You're Not Behind the Plow,/ You're Diggin' a Ditch,/ [pause and motion freeze],/ You're in the Army Now! The pause was inserted to replace the line "You Son of a Bitch", which would be inappropriate for a film at the time. This is much similar to a gag in the Warner Bros. cartoon The Draft Horse.
  • Most of the scenery doesn't resemble World War II at all. The trenches resemble World War I.
  • As the tanks arrive, one small tank has the line "Good Humor" written on its side and makes the sound of an ice cream truck. This is similar to a joke later used in Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips.
  • A lone flame tank not spewing fire holds up a sign with the line I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire.
  • When the straw house is blown away, a sign says Gone with the Wind, referring to the 1939 film (with another smaller sign agreeing that this is a corny gag).
  • At one point, Sgt. Pork distracts incoming shellfire by holding up a copy of Esquire magazine's (unseen-by-the-audience) Petty Girl pin-up artwork by George Petty.

Analysis[edit]

Out of 15 cartoon shorts released by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio in 1942, this was the only one to have World War II as its subject matter. Besides targeting Adolf Hitler, the short includes references to Anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States. [2]

The Wolf holds a sign inviting the audience to hiss at him, as nobody cares about their reaction. This breaks the fourth wall and reveals the character's contempt for the audience.[2]

There is a mixed message regarding the characters. The Wolf is a sociopath with enough panache to keep the audience interested in him. Conversely, Sergeant Pork is a humorless, stoic character who fails to stand out.[2]

The MGM pressbook termed the short as pro-democracy propaganda. The two lazy pig brothers reject preparation for defense because of their non-aggression pact, an allusion to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Their brother Sgt. Pork is named after Sgt. Alvin C. York, a World War I hero who inspired the film Sergeant York (1941). He represents the attitude of preparing for war.[1]

The Wolf violates a non-aggression pact to blow down the pigs' homes. The two lazy pigs become fugitives of war and seek asylum in their brother's fortified home. Said home demonstrates a sign: "No Japs allowed". The three pigs use a huge cannon to bomb Tokyo. The city is destroyed with the image of the Rising Sun Flag collapsing in the background.[1]

During the showdown, the Wolf fires an artillery shell against the fortified house. Sgt. Pork in his trench reaches down for his copy of the Esquire magazine. The pig opens the magazine and shows the centerfold to the shell. The shell stops in midflight and whistles in appreciation. It then retreats and returns with ten other shells. This group of friends are fascinated by the image presented to them. They make catcall sounds and then fall down de-activated.[3] The pinup here is used as more than a talisman for boosting morale. It exploits the male vulnerability of the enemy through eliciting erotic arousal. The shells stand-in for their human operators.[3]

In another scene where a weapon stands-in for military personnel, Pork's cannon collapses exhausted. Its owner revives it through feeding it B-1 vitamins.[4] (B1 helps the body generate energy.) The cannon stands erect again, a phallic image, and begins blasting away all on its own. The label may reference the number system of military hardware like the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.[3]

The Wolf utilizes a "Stinka Bomber PU". This is a parody of the German Stuka, a dive bomber used by the Luftwaffe.[1] The shells that down the aircraft are filled with defense bonds. The cartoon concludes with two printed titles: "The end of Adolf" and "If you'll Buy a Stamp or Bond- We'll Skin that Skunk Across the Pond!"[1]

According to Chuck Jones, Tex Avery was criticized by an MGM producer for being overly rough in his depiction of Hitler. The producer reminded Avery that the victor of the war was yet to be determined.[5]

Sources[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Shull, Wilt (2004), p. 113-114
  2. ^ a b c Shull, Wilt (2004), p. 52-54
  3. ^ a b c Kakoudaki (2004), p. 339-341
  4. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6f8STwtqdeg#t=7m5s
  5. ^ Thompson, Phelps (2005), p. 174

External links[edit]