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Farm Frolics is a 1941 Warner Bros. cartoon in the Merrie Melodies series. It was directed by Bob Clampett, animation by Rob Scribner, and musical direction by Carl Stalling. The vocal group heard at the beginning is The Sportsmen Quartet, who often harmonized in Warner Bros. cartoons of the period, later becoming the resident singing group on Jack Benny's radio and TV shows.
This is one of the cartoons that Warner would occasionally produce that featured none of its stable of characters, just a series of gags, usually based on outrageous stereotypes and plays on words, and topical references, as a narrator (Robert C. Bruce) describes the action. Some excerpts:
This cartoon was also one of the first to carry the 1941-45 opening theme for the Merrie Melodies series. It would come to be associated with the a.a.p. package in general, as many color cartoons in that package would be reissued as Blue Ribbons, opening with that version of the theme. That theme would even be played on the a.a.p. logo itself.
- A realistic looking horse is seen, whinnying (courtesy of Mel Blanc), and a comic triple plays out: The narrator asks the horse to do a trot; the horse obliges. The narrator asks for a gallop; the horse again obliges. The narrator then asks the horse to do a "canter". The horse turns from realistic to a cartoon horse, with the bugged eyes of, and singing "I'm Happy About the Whole Thing" (by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer) in the style of, the vaudeville star Eddie Cantor, vocally impersonated by Kent Rogers. The narrator admonishes the horse, who grins sheepishly.
- The family dog is seen lazing on the porch, springing to alertness when the newspaper arrives. The dog makes a mad dash to the end of the driveway, gets the paper, comes back to the porch, and immediately starts to read the paper himself, starting with the Sunday comics. He turns to the audience, and speaking in Blanc's early version of Barney Rubble, says, "I just can't wait to see what happens to Dick Tracy today!"
- A hen leaves her eggs unguarded, and a mean-looking weasel stealthily creeps into the henhouse while the narrator frets. Just as he is about to grab the eggs, they all hatch at once, and the chicks shout "BOO!" in unison. The frightened weasel evokes a Joe Penner catch-phrase, "Don't ever DOOO that!" and gasps as his heart pounds.
- A group of birds put a little twig, a bit of string, and piece of straw until they make a house approved by F.H.A. (Federal Housing Administration), singing, "There's no place like home!"
- A group of ants is seen coming and going at an anthill. The camera and mike zoom in to allow the viewer to see and hear as a mother summons her son: "Hen-REEEE!" "Coming, Mother!" (referring to the catchphrase from the radio show, "The Aldrich Family").
- A mouse mentions that he is kind to the cat he's snuggling against, and nods with the narrator's observation they're friends. When asked by the narrator if he has anything he'd like to say to his friends in the audience, the mouse yells, "GET ME OUT OF HEEEEEEEEERE!!!!!!!!!"
- A recurring gag has 6 piglets eagerly watching an alarm clock. When it finally hits 6:00 p.m., one of the pigs yell "Dinnertime!" and they dash off to their mother, to the tune of the military bugle call "Mess Call". She braces for the onslaught as the sucklings pile into her side. Zoom in on the mother pig's rather dejected face, who speaks to the audience in the manner of ZaSu Pitts: "Oh, dear... every day, it's the same thing!" Iris-out.