Have You Got Any Castles?
|Have You Got Any Castles?|
|Merrie Melodies series|
The 1947 Blue Ribbon reissue title card.
|Directed by||Frank Tashlin|
|Produced by||Leon Schlesinger
(uncredited on 1947 release)
|Story by||Jack Miller|
|Music by||Carl W. Stalling|
|Animation by||Ken Harris
Paul T. Smith
|Distributed by||The Vitaphone Corporation
Warner Bros. Pictures
|Release date(s)||June 25, 1938 (Original)
February 1, 1947
(Blue Ribbon Reissue)
|Running time||7 minutes 23 seconds|
Have You Got Any Castles? is a seven-minute animated short film released to theaters by Warner Bros. on June 25, 1938. Directed by Frank Tashlin, the film was a part of the Merrie Melodies series produced by Leon Schlesinger and distributed by Vitaphone. It was re-issued into the "Blue Ribbon Classics" series on February 1, 1947, with the question mark removed from the title. The plot of the film centers around characters from well-known works of fiction coming to life in a library whose owner has just closed the facility for the night.
The cartoon entered the public domain in 1966 when its last rightsholder, United Artists Productions (successor-in-interest to Associated Artists Productions), failed to renew the original copyright within the required 28-year period.
The daily publication Film Daily called the short a "fine fantasy", and gave it the following review:
"The story takes place in a library, with all the characters coming to life from well known works of fiction, both classical and modern. Rip Van Winkle is the center of interest, as he cannot continue sleeping with the noise. Finally he gets The Hurricane to blow all the noise-makers back into the covers of their books again, and he goes peacefully to sleep. The final titles show the pop book Gone with the Wind. Produced by Leon Schlesinger. Story by Jack Miller. Animation by Ken Harris. In Technicolor."
The "Town Crier" in this short is a caricature of Alexander Woollcott, in reference to his radio program of the same name. He has similar mannerisms to the owl caricature of Woollcott in another Tashlin short, The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos, which was released the year before.
When the cartoon opens, the cuckoo clock in the library sounds, and the camera pans over the library, to the aforementioned Town Crier who gives a brief introduction. After this, we meet four monsters (Mr. Hyde, Fu Manchu, the Phantom of the Opera, and Frankenstein's monster) who introduce themselves roaring, but then dance briefly to Gossec's "Gavotte." As characters from other books cheer them on, the globe-shaped protagonist of The Good Earth prays by his bedside. The library is panned over to the right, revealing the books The Invisible Man with an invisible man dancing, Topper (a novel from a series by Thorne Smith, as well as a film series) with a similar theme, The Thirty-Nine Steps with a caricature of "Bojangles" Robinson dancing down the steps, So Big with a caricature of Greta Garbo, and The Green Pastures which turns out to feature a big band presentation of "Swing for Sale" led by a caricature of Cab Calloway. That clip was from the Friz Freleng short Clean Pastures.
Panning over the cheering crowd, the camera reveals a singing Heidi on the cover of her eponymous book, a literal Thin Man (a cariacature of William Powell as Nick Charles) walking over into the White House Cook Book and coming out fat, Whistler's Mother on the cover of a Great Works of Art book performing literally, and three Little Women (three Jane Withers clones) and three Little Men (three Freddie Bartholomew clones) singing together with Old King Cole (spoofing deep-voiced Warners character actor Eugene Pallette), the characters of The House of the Seven Gables (seven identical caricatures of Clark Gable), and a drumming bulldog intended to parody Bulldog Drummond. Next Louis Pasteur (a cariacature of Paul Muni in his Oscar-winning role) mixes chemicals from test tubes until they blow up, revealing Pasteur in Seventh Heaven. Also appearing is Captain William Bligh from Mutiny on the Bounty (caricaturing Charles Laughton's portrayal of him). None of this pleases a sleeping Rip Van Winkle; the hermit complains, "Old King Cole is a noisy old soul," while using the Valiant Little Tailor's scissors to snip hair from the title character of Uncle Tom's Cabin to plug his ears.
The music gets louder, as The Three Musketeers (The Ritz Brothers) sing the title song, with Drums Along the Mohawk providing a beat, Emily Post (here portrayed as "Emily Host") scolding Henry VIII of England for his rudeness, and a character from Katherine Mayo's controversial 1927 book Mother India playing along on his pungi. Then Rip takes scissors from the Tailor and tries to use them on Uncle Tom, only to be beaten back by him. Then Diamond Jim Brady (an Edward Arnold caricature, from the 1935 film of the same name) comes along pitching mortgage payments as the Drums beat louder, Henry becomes even more gluttonous (and Emily Post joins in the gluttony), and Oliver twists. W.C. Fields (here portrayed with a red nose in a parody of So Red the Rose) joins in, as does the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
The Musketeers become Three Men on a Horse, grabbing the Seven Keys to Baldpate along the way, and then free the Prisoner of Zenda over Aladdin's objections. As the Three Men pass The Informer (a caricature of Victor McLaglen, who won a 1935 Academy Award for playing the role), he whispers to Little Boy Blue (here named "Little Boy Blew") who then trumpets for a Charge of the Light Brigade. Robinson Crusoe also fires at the Three Men, along with guns from All Quiet on the Western Front and backup cavalry from Under Two Flags. With the incessant firing, Rip has had enough of having to sleep with the noise, so he loses his temper and has the fighting characters run into The Hurricane, so that all of them, peacefully, end up Gone with the Wind (in a play on the then-recent book).
After this, the Town Crier appears again, concluding the cartoon with a brief message ending with "All is well, all is well...", and the camera pans back to the cuckoo clock where Rip, who has apparently muzzled the cuckoo, is finally getting the sleep he was needing all that time.
- After this film's initial release, Alexander Woollcott requested that his caricature as the Town Crier in this cartoon be cut for reissue after his death. The cuts are as follows:
- After the cuckoo clock sounds and the camera pans over the library, the shadow of the Town Crier appears, and afterwards, instead of hearing him ringing his bell and shouting "Hear ye, hear ye!...", we see a fade-out to the books being presented.
- The cartoon fades to black after Rip van Winkle eliminates everyone into The Hurricane and Gone with the Wind pops up. As a result of this, the brief scene where the cuckoo bird's mouth is covered and van Winkle sleeping on the clock is also cut.
- The Blue Ribbon release of Have You Got Any Castles? is available, uncut and with the Alexander Woollcott caricatures restored, on Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 2, Disc 4.
- It is also available uncut on a Unicon Communications VHS tape simply titled "Bugs Bunny" but it is in very poor quality, without the opening Merrie Melodie titles and had so many constant jump cuts that the running time of the short is shortened by almost a minute.
- List of films in the public domain
- A Coy Decoy, which uses a similar premise
- Book Revue, which uses a similar plotline, but more comedic.
- Have You Got Any Castles? at the Internet Movie Database
- The short film Have You Got Any Castles? is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- Watch Have You Got Any Castles? uncut, closed-captioned, in high definition, and complete with the Woollcott caricature appearances, on YouTube.
- Have You Got Any Castles? on the Internet Archive