While wandering around in Youtube the other day I found a number of cartoon films made before and during the last World War, that were apparently intended for adults. I don’t mean by this that they were pornographic I hasten to add, but simply not intended for children.
Apart from the fact that they were very well made, unlike the dross that is churned out these days for TV consumption (as opposed to the amazing full length computer generated animated films that studios such as Pixar make), they were all remarkably surreal as well – distinctly odd they are.
To start the ball rolling, here is a somewhat “adult” cartoon that was made in 1932, the very early days of animated films. This one, which has the wonderful name of “in my merry Oldsmobile” is actually about sex, but in a very odd fashion, as you will see. A curious mix of animation and real action as well. Altogether a strange film, but fun nonetheless.
The tone of this film is made clear in the very first frames…
As you will have seen, the world it creates is truly weird, in so many ways. And the characters live in their insane world perfectly happily. Apparently living according to their world’s rules. For example, the way the “hero” doesn’t simply climb through the hole in the door, but has to smash the door down.. and loads of other similar examples of the oddities of their world. An enjoyably silly and totally surreal film.
Another form of adult animated film was made during the war to teach people how to behave in a war situation. No end of equally weird films were made that were intended to use humour to get points of security and military safety across, and obviously were not intended for kids to watch.
This US Army film about the dangers of Booby Traps (replete with jokes about “boobies” of course) gives a good idea of how these films looked. This one seems to star Elmer Fudd of Bugs Bunny fame.
See what I mean? Obviously aimed at an audience made up of teenage soldiers – Testosterone rampant obviously.
However, whilst once again, the world pictured is insane, our hero lives perfectly happily according to its internal logic. And also seems totally oblivious of the fact that those sexy girls are actually nothing more than inflated dolls.
We now move into the world of total insanity in the form of Krazy Kat, which was based on the adventures of a weird cartoon strip in a newspaper in the immediate post WW1 days. There is nothing logical one can say about this creature.. he lives in a world that is so utterly removed from ours, by light years.
So here is Krazy, sit back and enjoy him……..
And now…. and now we have perhaps one of the first mixed animation and live action films made. Given when this film was made (1927), the mix and juxtaposition of the animated and live action is remarkably well done. And of course, as was normally the way in those days, the whole thing was insane. So have a look at the adventures of a dog and a man ……
Odd, isn’t it? But endearing too, I found. Actually, I have to confess to a real weakness for cartoons of this period, well actually, almost all films from then.. Think of the Marx Brothers for example, hard to beat I feel.
Anyhow, I hope that this small selection will whet your appetite for this sort of film and you will now go forth and discover loads more for yourself.