A Year in Shorts Day 218: "Who Killed Cock Robin?"
The 8th Academy Awards were, all things considered, pretty good. Mutiny on the Bounty may not be a great film, but it was a solid Best Picture winner. AND it inspired them to create Supporting categories for acting, so that’s nice. Plus, Top Hat was nominated for Best Picture, A Midsummer Night’s Dream won a write-in award (the first and only time that’s happened), and even Bride of Frankenstein got some recognition. But one area in which the Academy absolutely shat the bad that year was the category for Best Animated Short. Why is that? Well, let me put it this way- Who Killed Cock Robin? was the BEST of the nominees.
Directed by David Hand, Who Killed Cock Robin? is a 1935 Silly Symphony based on the nursery rhyme of the same name. It is based on the nursery rhyme of the same name, naturally, and the plot is pretty simple to explain. One day while serenading Jenny Wren (a caricature of bad actor and amazing person Mae West), Cock Robin (a caricature terrible actor and terrible person of Bing Crosby) is shot by an arrow and seemingly killed. A trial is convened to discover who the killer is (which is not how trials work outside of an episode of Perry Mason), resulting in a bevvy of singing and more celebrity caricatures. As should be obvious to regular readers of this blog, I'm not a fan of celebrity caricatures; at best I am ambivalent towards them. Granted, Who Killed Cock Robin? gains some points from me for featuring a caricature of Harpo Marx; but it loses those points right away for caricaturing Stepin Fetchit, because what bad cartoon isn't complete without a healthy dose of racism?
Still, Who Killed Cock Robin? isn't the worst cartoon we've covered. The music's nice, the voice actors are good and the animation is of top quality. Of course, that's more or less what we've come to expect from the Silly Symphonies, so I don't give them too much in the way of kudos for that. There are even a couple of jokes that make me laugh, so that's nice. Who Killed Cock Robin? certainly isn't a good short, but it's not bad in a way that's particularly interesting to talk about. Everything I can say about it I've said about other, much more interesting shorts. This one's mostly just forgettable. Which is really the biggest crime of all.
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Unsurprisingly, "Who Killed Cock Robin?" is not on Disney +, and honestly, who could care?
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