Mr. Bug Goes to Town

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Mr. Bug Goes to Town
Mr. Bug Goes to Town original one-sheet poster.
Directed by Dave Fleischer
Animation directors
Willard Bowsky
Shamus Culhane
H.C. Ellison
Thomas Johnson
Graham Place
Stanley Quackenbush
David Tendlar
Myron Waldman
Produced by Max Fleischer
Written by Dave Fleischer
Dan Gordon
Tedd Pierce
Isadore Sparber
Graham Place
Bob Wickersham
Bill Turner
Carl Meyer
Cal Howard
Starring Kenny Gardner
Gwen Williams
Jack Mercer
Tedd Pierce
Carl Meyer
Stan Freed
Pauline Loth
Pinto Colvig (uncredited)
Jean Rhys (uncredited)
Mae Questel (uncredited)
The Four Marshalls
The Royal Guards
Music by Leigh Harline (score)
Frank Loesser (words-songs)
Hoagy Carmichael (music-songs)
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Running time
78 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $713,511
Box office $241,000

Mr. Bug Goes to Town (also known as Hoppity Goes to Town, Bugville, and Boob gets Bugged)[1] is an animated feature produced by Fleischer Studios and released to theaters by Paramount Pictures on December 5, 1941.

The film was originally meant to be an adaptation of Maurice Maeterlinck's The Life of the Bee, but the rights could not be attained, or more rightly, Paramount was unwilling to purchase them from Samuel Goldwyn. Instead they fashioned a modern story loosely based on the book.[2]

The film was produced by Max Fleischer and directed by Dave Fleischer, with animation sequences directed by Willard Bowsky, Shamus Culhane, H.C. Ellison, Thomas Johnson, Graham Place, Stanley Quackenbush, David Tendlar and Myron Waldman. It featured the songs: We're the Couple in the Castle, Katy Did, Katy Didn't, and I'll Dance at Your Wedding (Honey Dear) by Hoagy Carmichael and Frank Loesser, as well as Boy Oh Boy by Sammy Timberg and Loesser.


Hoppity the Grasshopper, after a period spent away, returns to (Manhattan, New York). He finds that all is not as he left it, and his good insect friends (who live in the "lowlands" just outside of the garden belonging to songwriter Dick Dickson and his wife Mary) are now under threat from the "human ones", who are trampling through the broken down fence, using it as a shortcut.

Insect houses are being flattened by their feet, and are also often burned by cast away cigar butts and matches. Old Mr Bumble and his beautiful daughter Honey (Hoppity's sweetheart) are in grave danger of losing their Honey Shop to this threat. To compound their problems, devious insect "property magnate" C. Bagley Beetle has romantic designs on Honey Bee himself, and with the help of his henchmen, Swat the Fly and Smack the Mosquito, Honey is tricked into marrying the Beetle.

Hoppity discovers that the Songwriter and his wife are waiting for a check from the Famous Music publishing company for the songwriter's composition "Castle In The Air". But C. Bagley Beetle and his henchmen "steal" the check, seal Hoppity inside of the envelope and hide it in a crack in the steps once threatens to expose C. Bagley Beetle's nefarious scheme.

As the planned wedding was going on Smack and Swat discovered that the survey crew for a construction company erecting a skyscraper was on the property of the former home of the Songwriter (now foreclosed by the property owners) and C. Bagley Beetle's property where the Lowlanders moved in.

As both Swat and Smack tried unsuccessfully to stop the wedding a weight from a surveyor's builder level rips through the chapel causing the Lowlanders to flee in terror back to the Lowlands not realizing that the Lowlands was endangered by the construction crew.

During the chaos C. Bagley Beetle and his Henchmen try to kidnap Honey but were thwarted by Hoppity who escapes after the construction crew "liberated" him and still in the envelope fought (with a little help from Mr. Bumble) and defeated C.Bagley Beetle and his henchmen.

Afterwards Hoppity told the citizens of C. Bagley Beetle's nefarious plan on stealing the check and hiding it realized that they were still endangered and overhearing the songwriter and his wife about still hoping that the publishers bought his song and hoping to build a penthouse in the new skyscraper.

Hoppity dragging the letter containing the check took cover hiding under a mailbox and seeing someone picking up the letter and taking it realizing to his relief that it was the mailman who took the letter containing the check.

The check finally arrives and "Castle In The Air" becomes a hit. Meanwhile, Hoppity leads an exodus from the Lowlands to the top of the skyscraper, which at first appears to be barren. Hoppity is mocked by Mr Creeper until Buzz, Ambrose, and Mugatroyd continue to the top call the others over to see the new penthouse "Garden of Paradise" that Hoppity had been describing. Honey and the rest of the Lowlanders live there happily ever after in their new home. And as Ambrose looks over the edge, he remarks, "Look at all the human ones down there. They look just like a lot of little bugs!"


Fleischer Studios' first feature, "Gulliver's Travels" did such impressive business in its first week that Paramount President, Barney Balaban ordered another feature for a Christmas 1941 release. "Mr. Bug Goes to Town" is similar in concept to "Gulliver’s Travels" with its large cast of characters, complicated crowd scenes, and the contrasting scale of tiny characters against the gigantic human world. In Mr. Bug, the environment is central to the picture. While the lead characters, Hoppity, the grasshopper and Honey Bee do not lead the story as Disney characters do, it is the situation that propels the plot combined with colorful supporting comical characters. .[3]

Mr. Bug Goes to Town was beset by problems due to the riff between the brothers that began during the production of "Gulliver's Travels." From that point on, they communicated with each other via internal memos, while existing in the same building. Running a major animated cartoon studio solely by written communique turned out to be a sort of tragicomedy.[4]

Paramount was acutely aware of the problems between Max and Dave Fleischer and structured their final contract for the completion of "Mr. Bug," allowing for the resignation of either brother following its completion. When Paramount renewed the Fleischer contract on May 24, 1941, a clause stipulated that the brothers deliver signed letters of resignation to Paramount to be used at the studio's discretion.[5] Post-production concluded in Hollywood just before Thanksgiving, and Dave rendered his resignation, one month before the scheduled release.

["Mr. Bug Goes to Town"] was the first animated feature to give screen credit to the voice actors. The voices were provided by actor Stan Freed,(Hoppity), and Pauline Loth (Honey). The supporting characters were voiced by members of the studio staff including Jack Mercer, the voice of "Popeye" (Mr. Bumble, Swat the Fly), and Storymen Tedd Pierce (C. Bagley Beetle) Carl Meyer (Smack the Mosquito),Pinto Colvig (Mr. Creeper), Jean Rhys (Mrs. Ladybug), and Mae Questel (Buzz the Beescout). Singer, Kenny Gardner and Actress,Gwen Williams portrayed "The Human Ones," Dick Dickens and Mary Dickens.

Book and other merchandise[edit]

The film received a book adaptation which was released around the same time - it features new characters along the ones from the film and goes further on key plots: such as Honey been aware of Beetle's romantic interest, expressing dislike to him but willing to do the sacrifice if it meant everyone could live safely in his property. Hoppity gets aware of this fact from the Bee Scout, making Beetle's conflict with Hoppity more apparent from the start. Whether this was part of the script is unknown.[citation needed] The film also inspired a "Mr. Bug goes to Town" board game and a series of trading cards.


"Mr. Bug Goes to Town" was previewed on December 5 in advance of its scheduled Christmas release. While it was received well by critics, theater operators rejected it. Two days later, the "infamous" attack on Pearl Harbor signaled the entrance into World War II, and Paramount's Christmas Release was cancelled. Three weeks later, Paramount President, Barney Balaban requested Max Fleischer's resignation. Paramount finally released it 13 February 1942 (20 February in New York City.[6] In the UK, it opened during January 1942 under the name Hoppity Goes to Town.

Mr. Bug was a financial disaster. Paramount reorganized Fleischer Studios as Famous Studios.[5][7] Apart from this, before Mr. Bug 's release, Walter Lantz, Paul Terry and Leon Schlesinger were considering producing animated feature films, but after seeing the disappointing box-office of this film and the initial failures of Walt Disney's new films Pinocchio and Fantasia (both 1940), their potential projects were canceled.

Paramount later re-released Mr. Bug as Hoppity Goes to Town; the original title is a parody of the title of the 1936 film Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.[5] The film cost $713,511 to make, and had only made $241,000 back by 1946, the year it was withdrawn from circulation.[5] Under the reissue title, Hoppity has had multiple re-releases on home video (with inferior image quality) throughout the 1970s to its DVD release by Legend Films, in which the studio re-titled the film again to Bugville.

The film was acquired in the 1950s, by National Telefilm Associates (which became Republic). The film (as Hoppity Goes to Town) was officially released by Republic Pictures on VHS and laserdisc in May 1989.[8] While NTA failed to renew copyrights to many of the films they acquired, Mr. Bug Goes to Town was one of the few films that did get its copyright renewed. Despite the fact that the film is still copyrighted (by Republic successor Melange Pictures, managed by parent company Viacom, which also owns Paramount Pictures), public domain companies have released the film on VHS and DVD.[9]

In Japan, the movie was released on December 19, 2009 as part of Studio Ghibli's Ghibli Museum Library. A DVD was released in April 2010 by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment in Japan, and it has been reported to be a restoration using NTA re-release elements.[10] Recently, Mr. Bug, along with many other Fleischer-produced cartoons (including the Fleischers' previous film, Gulliver's Travels), was restored from the original three-strip negatives by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Though a few art-house theaters have recently screened the restoration which features the original titles.

On October 21, 2012, the Turner Classic Movies channel debuted the film, transferred from an original 35mm Technicolor release print owned by the Museum of Modern Art Department of Film, for the first time on television in a special hosted by Robert Osborne and Jerry Beck dedicated to rare animated films, including Gulliver's Travels, Lotte Reiniger's The Adventures of Prince Achmed, the UPA cartoons and the silent cartoons of 1907 to 1932 of the New York Studios.

On June 30, 2016, it was announced that Mr. Bug Goes to Town will be released on Blu-ray in June 2017 from Thunderbean Animation.[11]


  1. ^ Released as Bugville, Region 1 DVD, 2008: website. Retrieved on February 15, 2008.[dead link]
  2. ^ Pointer, Ray (2016). "The Art and Inventions of Max Fleischer: American Animation Pioneer" McFarland & Co. Publishers. Pg.303
  3. ^ Pointer, Ray (2016). "The Art and Inventions of Max Fleischer: American Animation Pioneer, McFarland & Co. Publishers. Pg. 304.
  4. ^ Fleischer, Richard (2005). "Out of the Inkwell: Max Fleischer and the Animation Revolution". University of Kentucky Press. Pg. 110
  5. ^ a b c d Barrier, Michael (1999). Hollywood Cartoons. New York: Oxford University Press. Pgs. 303-305. ISBN 0-19-516729-5.
  6. ^
  7. ^ [ Dispute From an article at the Washington Post website.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Mr. Bug Goes to Town Info at Turner Classic Movies
  10. ^ Cartoon Brew: Disney releases "Mr. Bug" in Japan
  11. ^

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