Russian Rhapsody (film)

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Russian Rhapsody
Merrie Melodies series
Russian rhapsody title.jpg
Directed by Robert Clampett
Produced by Leon Schlesinger
Story by Lou Lilly
Voices by Mel Blanc (uncredited)
Music by Carl Stalling
Animation by Rod Scribner
Robert McKimson
Studio Leon Schlesinger Productions
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s) May 20, 1944 (USA)
Color process Technicolor
Running time 7 minutes 1 second
Language English

Russian Rhapsody is a 1944 Merrie Melodies animated short subject.

Made during World War II, the film mocks Adolf Hitler, showing him defeated by "gremlins from the Kremlin." The wordplay symbolizes the Soviet Union, a vital ally of the Allied forces.

After Falling Hare turned into a big hit in 1943, animation writer and director Bob Clampett made Russian Rhapsody which was released to theaters on May 20, 1944. The original title was Gremlins from the Kremlin, but producer Leon Schlesinger changed the title to "Russian Rhapsody" when The Walt Disney Company began making its own wartime short about gremlins. In Falling Hare, Bugs Bunny was the victim, while Hitler is the victim and main character in this film.

Synopsis[edit]

German bombers are failing to make it to Moscow in World War II, so Hitler announces his decision via a radio broadcast to personally fly a heavy bomber to attack the Russians. On the way to Moscow, Soviet gremlins sneak onto the plane in flight and without Hitler's knowledge, begin to dismantle it. They sing We Are Gremlins from the Kremlin to the tunes of the popular Russian songs Ochi Chyornye (Dark Eyes) and Eh, uchnem (Song of the Volga Boatmen).

Hitler eventually discovers the gremlins after he was being poked in the buttock, and tries to retaliate. He fails, being severely frightened by several gremlins holding a mask of Joseph Stalin, and the gremlins succeed in disabling him and ejecting him from the bomber by cutting a hole in the fuselage beneath him. As he falls, Hitler comes to and realizes the plane is right behind him in a power dive. He tries to outrun the plane and to hide behind a small sapling upon landing, but the plane alters course as seen by its shadow and both Hitler and the plane are driven into the ground. The tail of the airplane with its swastika insignia erupts from the ground as a headstone. The short ends with the gremlins celebrating in victory as Hitler pops out of the ground, with his face grimacing into the one of comedian Lew Lehr, and paraphrasing his famous catch phrase: "Monkeys is the cwaziest peoples!", only changing the word "monkeys" into "Nazis". A gremlin pounds Hitler back into the ground with a sledgehammer, ending the film under Clampett's signature "bee-woop" vocalization.

Production[edit]

  • Many of the gremlins are caricatures of the Warner Bros. animation department staff. The style is reminiscent of a 1936 Christmas card showcasing the staff as drawn by T. Hee. Among the recognizable gremlins are Chuck Jones, Robert Clampett, Friz Freleng, Melvin Millar, Michael Sasanoff, Leon Schlesinger, who is shown tapping the heads off of rivets with a hammer as he is being raised by a rope, Michael Maltese, Carl Stalling, Henry Binder and Ray Katz. Freleng and Binder are also referenced during Hitler's fake German rant at the beginning of the cartoon. Also referenced is the 1944 Clampett short, What's Cookin' Doc?
  • In the scene of Hitler going after the gremlins, there is a strange jump between Hitler screaming at the sight of a Joseph Stalin mask and the scene of the gremlins sawing a hole in the plane to get rid of a semi-conscious Hitler. It's unknown if a missing scene between those scenes exists.
  • The lyrics reference the 1942 Disney cartoon and the 1942 Oliver Wallace song recorded by Spike Jones both titled Der Fuhrer's Face.
  • The gag showing a gremlin swapping windshield stickers is a reference to wartime U.S. gasoline rationing.

Availability[edit]

This cartoon is included in disc two (Patriotic Pals) of the four-disc DVD compilation Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 6. The Patriotic Pals disc consists mainly of wartime cartoons mostly made during World War II.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]