Sunday, November 01, 2015

The Beatles Cartoon, Episode #15!


This month, I welcome back to the fold another feature that's been missing from this blog since May of 2014... my reviews of the Beatles cartoon! Now, after this issue, I won't necessarily be writing reviews of this plus an episode of The Monkees (seen later in this issue) plus one of the Fleischer Popeye cartoons, but there will be at least one of them, if not two!

Cutting salami with the airplane's propellors.
Getting back to the cartoon at hand, when I was checking to see where I'd left off last time, I discovered that I'd covered episodes 14 and 16, but skipped #15 entirely, so I'm making up for that this time around! The first cartoon in this episode is "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You," based on the George Harrison-written song that was introduced in the Beatles' movie A Hard Day's Night. The episode opens with the Beatles on a small plane flying high in the sky. John leans out the window with a large salami, using the prop on the plane to make slices for sandwiches that George is making in the back of the plane (the slices helpfully fly back into the plane through another open window).

The salami, however, seems too much for the prop, and the engine dies. The Beatles hit ejector buttons and their seats pop out of the plane, but Ringo's seat fails to activate the parachute (apparently one of the Beatles, perhaps John, was piloting the plane, as there's no other pilot shown)! They land in Italy, and Paul helps free Ringo from being embedded in his chair. There's a Roman street festival taking place, so the Beatles decide to check it out (Ringo quips, "I love festivals... they're so festive!"). John spots a shooting gallery, and decides to give it a go, but when the other Beatles cry out, "Yeah, yeah, yeah!" he jerks the gun, which sends a bullet bouncing off the bell at the top of a strength-testing tower, through a man's hat, bouncing off a dancing bear, and then off to infinity.

Poor Ringo!
The bear lands on Ringo, and Paul tries to apologize to the bear, but she's not having it, and Paul tries to escape, but the Bear (Bonnie by name) catches Paul in a bear hug, and John suggests that since she's a dancing bear, they should dance! John snaps his fingers, and the remaining three Beatles start performing the title song (the animators even got the lead singer right on this one) as Paul tries to escape Bonnie. 

George, Ringo and John perform while Paul dances with Bonnie.
Paul breaks free several times from Bonnie, but she keeps catching him and dances with him. We cut between them and the other Beatles (the animation of them performing here isn't quite up to par, as it's extremely repetitive and has very little character... and in some shots of George and John, neither of them is singing even though there are lyrics happening).

The face on the side of the horror show tent looks familiar, doesn't it?
Bonnie and Paul dance into a horror show (with a very familiar face on the side of the tent) and then through another tent as the song ends, and the tent falls. The other Beatles laugh at Paul's predicament as the bear continues to dance with him, and Paul and Bonnie dance into another tent where a dance contest is taking place, which the crowd finds applause-worthy, and the two of them win first prize! When Bonnie gets the ribbon, she decides she's in love with the MC of the contest, and starts dancing with him, leaving Paul dazed and confused on the ground. 

Paul stumbles back to his bandmates, and describes the experience as being a "pretty grizzly adventure", which Ringo finds hilarious... why they didn't have Paul describe is as "unbearable" is beyond me!

Ringo's parachute is on upside down!
Next up is the sing-along, which John introduces. Ringo is once again replacing the prop man, and John says this song is a real "wild thing, a real jump-tune." Ringo steps off-stage and comes out wearing a paratrooper outfit! John suggests Ringo take a flying leap, and Ringo jumps off the stage and crashes! John quips that he always knew Ringo would go off the deep end, and then Ringo emerges from the floor upside down... because his parachute was on upside down, and Ringo's floating "up"!

Anyone recognize the girl in this photo?
The song is "Don't Bother Me," another George Harrison song, and the background images feature Paul on a deserted island while the other Beatles boat around him (it's a small island). Other ships pass the island as well.  At one point, Paul holds up a photograph of a girl (the one he's missing) but I don't recognize her. There's a few odd edits in the song, presumably to make it slightly longer (an extra chorus is added in about halfway through the song). The lyrics all seem accurate!

"Can't Buy Me Love"
The next song is introduced by John again, and he calls Ringo and says he wants the stage decorated in a way to make the folks at home join in, Ringo comes back in a WWI Doughboy outfit and Uncle Sam "I Want You" poster! John boots Ringo off the stage (literally).

The song begins, "Can't Buy Me Love," featuring Ringo as a hobo who meets a stray dog. The lyrics are presented correctly, but one of the backgrounds misspells the word "jeweler"! The instrumental break is cut in half. 

Chased by girls on the ocean liner.
The final segment in this episode is "Mister Moonlight," which was a song the Beatles covered by "Dr. Feelgood and the Interns," and was included on the Beatles album Beatles for Sale (originally Beatles '65 in the USA). It opens with the Beatles on an ocean liner, and Ringo is practicing his hula for their impending arrival in Hawaii. The other Beatles mock him, but are interrupted by two men chasing each other! As they wonder who was chasing whom, some girls on the ship spot them and start chasing the Beatles!

Hiding in the lifeboat, unaware they're drifting away.
The two groups of chasees run into each other, and they duck into one of the lifeboats, where the bearded man being chased introduces himself as Professor Ludwig Von Brilliant, a stowaway. John instructs Ringo to tighten the cover over the boat, but instead Ringo pulls the release lever, and the boat drops into the ocean, but because the cover's still on, they don't realize realize they're floating further away from the ship! Finally, they look and realize they're adrift.

Unfriendly natives!
The professor complains he's going to miss the eclipse (which George explains to Ringo), and the professor says the secret island of "Mooney" is the perfect place to see it tonight. When Ringo asks what the island looks like, the professor points and says it looks like the island "over there," which causes him to realize that is the island! They row ashore and are met by natives which the professor insists are friendly, but they don't act like it! 

Performing "Mister Moonlight" during the eclipse (which is why it's
As Ringo is concerned for their safety, the eclipse begins, which darkens the area, and since the natives appear concerned about this, John grabs his guitar and promises that they'll bring back the moon. They start the song "Mister Moonlight," erroneously depicting Paul as the lead singer! The professor watches the eclipse as the Beatles perform. Again, the animation on the performance isn't any great shakes (there's been better in previous episodes). When the song gets to the organ solo, the professor is shown playing this.
The sub submerges without everyone getting inside and closing the
hatch first!

The song starts to wrap up as the eclipse finishes, and the natives start  dancing with joy, and the chief presents the Beatles and the professor with a submarine in gratitude. It would've been a nice touch if it was yellow, but no such luck!  The sub submerges with the Beatles still sticking out of the top of it, with no ill effects to them as the episode fades out.

As with most episodes, this was a fun one, but as I noted, neither of the stories featured very good animation during the performance sequences. Of course, this could be attributed to the low budget the show had, but one also has to consider that there were previous animated sequences that could've been reused (as Filmation was known to do) as needed. The singalongs both had all the correct lyrics, although I find the edits to the songs most jarring -- I can only assume they were trying to make the segments uniform.

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