Monday, December 5, 2022

Buddy the Gee Man

I'm still busy, so I broke out one of my Warner Home Video released that I figured would have some extras on it to see if there was a short I hadn't done a post on. I picked the James Cagney film G-Men, and discovered both a one- and a two-reeler that I haven't posted about before. Since the two-reeler stars Bob Hope and I did one of his movies not too long ago, I decided to watch the one-reeler, a cartoon called Buddy the Gee Man.

The short was released in 1935, presumably as a tie-in to the Cagney movie which was released the same year although the print of G-Men we have today is from a re-release. Buddy, on having done a bit of research, was a recurring character who appeared in about two dozen Warner Bros. shorts up through 1935, so before the Looney Tunes characters we remember today. To be honest, I'd never heard of him, and with good reason, as I'll explain later.

In this short, Buddy is a federal agent, who is asked by the Department of Justice to go undercover at "Sing Song" Prison to investigate the conditions there and report back. Buddy takes his trusty dog, in a Sherlock Holmes costume, to the prison, which is populated by a lot of animal-like characters although Buddy seems fully human. Buddy finds that the current warden, Otto B. Kinder (get it?) is treating the prisoners terribly. And when Buddy reports back, Kinder gets fired and replaced by... Buddy!

Buddy then turns the prison into something more resembling a spa, with prisoners getting manicures and ice cream cones on demand, with the result that this is a prison people want to get into now. The end.

As I was watching it, I found it easy to see why Buddy and the other characters who predated Bugs Bunny and the rest aren't remembered. Well, part of it stems from which shorts wound up as part of TV packages. But it also has to do with the fact that, at least from this short, there's just nothing particularly memorable about Buddy. It's not just that these are 30s black and white cartoons; after all, Popeye from that era would become an enduring figure. There's just not much plot structure here, and the gags don't really work.

Having said that, it was interesting to see a forgotten piece of Hollywood's animation heritage. And at only 7 minutes, it's not like you're losing much time if you watch this.

No comments: