Friday, September 2, 2011


Aka Hoppity Goes to Town, Mr. Bug Goes to Town
Dave Fleischer, 1941 (8.5*)
Early animated classic from the Fleischer Brothers studio, those animation pioneers who created Popeye and Betty Boop, and also many technical devices that advanced the art to cinematic proportions.

In this story, bugs have a nice community going in a deserted lot near Broadway, where people rarely go by – some that do pose a threat by tossing lit cigarettes or cans, which become housefires and earthquakes for bugville. It’s actually part of an estate that’s seen better days, but is now in the hands of a struggling songwriter, played by Kenny Gardner, but based on songwriter Hoagy Carmichael, who wrote the song “Castle in the Sky” used here. Dick Dickens (yep..) needs to sell this song to keep the house, and those metaphorical lyrics become important to this plot.

Meanwhile in Bugville, Swat the Fly and Smash the Mosquito are the eyes and ears of evil landowner C. Bagley Beetle, who wants everything for himself. They spy on the happy inhabitants which include Hoppity, who’s courting Honey Bee, whom Beetle also desires, and whose dad runs the local Honey Shop, which is the local hangout of all the other bugs. (Ya gotta love a film with Swat the Fly as a character)

Hoppity takes off one day and finds the main house, with a well-tended garden, which he sees as paradise, and returns to the lowlands bugville and convinces the others he’s found a nicer, safer home. Along with garden hoses causing floods, the bugs find many other impediments to finding a new happy home, including climbing a skyscraper, a story which is paralled by the human character Dick, the songwriter.

I saw this long ago as “Hoppity Goes to Town” [see below], and couldn’t understand why it’s not as well-known as the Disney classics. It’s certainly in the classic 30’s animation style, it’s full color, is pretty funny, and has some pretty good music, especially the Castle in the Sky song by Carmichael. Plus it has BUGS! Decades before Bugz, and A Bug’s Life, Antz, and all the others (I’m just making up titles now.. but you get the picture, lotsa varmints in the cartoons..)


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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