Welcome back to another episode of Saturday Morning Hangover, your source for crushed Saturday morning memories à l’Internet.
Today, we take a page from Cracked.com (now living forever as a generic funny list website, now that their magazine went other. Meanwhile, Mad Magazine has been reduced to a quarterly and their sketch show [which had its moments, but was nowhere near as good as SNL…or even SCTV] has been canceled) and do a Top [Insert Number Here] List. The difference here is that my list is less SpikeTV, more Cartoon Network-meets-VH1. If you’re looking for bikini-clad bimbos, you’re out of luck.
I can spend all day telling you what cartoons you remember seeing as a kid were cut and what parts were missing and what channel cut it, but there’s already a website for that. It’s called The Censored Cartoons Page, which will be one of my sources in this list (the other is a Disney website that lists all the shorts ever made and their background history, including what The Disney Channel cut and, in some cases, what was cut when a particular short was released on video or DVD).
What I’m going after are the cuts that I (and maybe some of you) have frequently seen on TV or heard from the Censored Cartoons website, some of which have ruined what would have been a great experience in watching the cartoon short in question. And for what? To placate some soccer mom (who is too busy to actually be a mom) who fears that her children crotch spawn will be brainwashed into being bad (through imitating violent acts or being made to believe that thee ethnic and racial jokes in the short are fact) just because TV said so? And what if they did? You know, not every child out there will grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer (I know I didn’t). Some just seem to be destined to be the running herpes sore on the diseased cock of modern society, and no rehab center or stretch of jailtime will ever get through to them to make them see what they’re doing is wrong.
Besides, by cutting out the violence and racism in classic cartoons, TV censors are pissing off those who know this was made back when this kind of stuff was considered good, old-fashioned family entertainment (or at least know it’s all fantasy) and making them lament that modern cartoons get away with far worse than their classic counterparts (with none of the wit and subtlety). If these celluloid butchers want to stop this vicious cycle, then they should off themselves, disgraced samurai style (then again, classic cartoons haven’t been shown on network television or basic cable since 2004. And with new media [Internet and DVD] showing the classics uncut and people flocking to new media and abandoning TV, maybe it is all for the best).
The list will be split into two blog posts. I thought I could do it in all one post, but it’s taken me days to finish it and I just can’t take it.
Now, on with the first half of the main list:
The 18 Most Egregious Cuts and Edits to Classic Cartoons (part one)
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Chuck Jones (credited as Charles M. Jones)
Writer: Michael Maltese
Release Date: December 31, 1955
Summary (as if this cartoon needs it): A construction worker finds a frog that sings and tries to exploit it for fame, only to discover that the frog won’t sing for anyone else but him.
Scene(s) Cut/Altered: During the sequence where the construction worker buys a theater and tries to garner an audience to watch the singing frog, he creates two signs. One is a “Free Admission” sign (which doesn’t get anyone to come in). The other is a sign that reads, “Free Beer” (which gets in a crowd of rough-looking men). On ABC and the former WB channel, the part where the construction worker creates the “Free Beer” sign is cut.
How Does It Play Without the “Offensive” Part: Pretty well, believe it or not, though if you’ve seen this cartoon several times before without the edit, you probably won’t believe that the rough-looking men were coming in just because the show was free.
Egregious or Not: No, but the worse is yet to come. I just put this in here to soften the blow.
Where Can I See It Uncut: This cartoon is available on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD set (volume 2, disc 4)
Director: Tex Avery
Writer(s): (not credited)
Release Date: May 8, 1943
Summary: A cutesy, animated adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood gets an urban update where the Wolf is a skirt-chasing playboy, the Grandma is man-crazy and living in a penthouse, and Red Riding Hood is a sexy nightclub singer.
Scene(s) Cut/Altered: Before this short was released in theaters, the Hays Office (the movie industry’s censorship board before the MPAA ratings system came along) objected to two things: some of the Wolf’s lustful reactions to seeing Red sing (one of which showed steam erupting from the Wolf’s collar) and the original ending where the man-crazy Grandma captures the Wolf and drags him down to a courthouse where a Justice of the Peace (modeled after director Tex Avery) marries the two of them. Years later, the Wolf takes his half-human/half-lupine children to the nightclub where they see Red perform.
The popular version that aired in theaters to a general audience was edited on the Turner-owned cable channel TNT (back when TNT aired cartoon shorts, mostly pre-1948 Warner Bros. and MGM from the 1930s to the late 1950s). After the Wolf falls out the window of Grandma’s penthouse, he returns to the nightclub, grumbling about how women are nothing but trouble and if he sees another pretty girl, he’ll kill himself. Sure enough, Red the nightclub singer comes out to perform, the Wolf gets out two pistols, and shoots himself in the head. Rather than end on that macabre note, the Wolf’s ghost rises from the corpse and continues to whistle and howl at Red just like he did when he was living. TNT’s version cut the part where the Wolf actually shoots himself, but leaves in his vow to commit suicide and the part where he actually dies.
How Does It Play Without the “Offensive” Part(s): Since the “director’s cut” of Red Hot Riding Hood isn’t that widely known (or seen), I can’t really say whether or not the director’s cut plays better (or worse) than the general release version. I know the director’s cut exists, but it’s probably not property of MGM (or rather Warner Bros., since they now have the rights to MGM’s cartoon library) anymore.
As for the edited TNT version vs. the uncut version, since the Wolf’s vow to commit suicide and the part where he drops dead are left uncut while the actual suicide is cut, the edited version plays as if the Wolf just dropped dead from shock of seeing Red again. Maybe some of the gun sound effects wasn’t entirely deleted from the soundtrack, but I don’t really remember seeing it cut on television.
Egregious or Not: Predictable, yes. Egregious…only if you’re a purist who won’t subject him/herself to scratchy, edited theatrical cartoon prints on TV.
Where Can I See It Uncut: Sadly, it’s not available on DVD (though Warner Home Video did release Tom and Jerry and Droopy cartoons on DVD). However, Red Hot Riding Hood is available on the second video of the short-lived VHS collection, Tex Avery’s Screwball Classics and the public domain video, Cartoons for Big Kids, as well as many bootleg cartoon compilations that aren’t in stores (some of which are cuts taped off Cartoon Network or Boomerang). If you can’t find it on eBay or Amazon.com (or don’t want to), then it is available on such video websites as YouTube and Dailymotion.
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Tom Palmer
Writer(s): (not credited)
Release Date: September 23, 1933
Summary: Just your typical early ‘30s cartoon where the plot is thin, the music is plenty, and there are more celebrity caricatures than an average episode of Family Guy. What sets it apart from the rest is that it’s centered on a morning radio show and how everyone in the world tunes in to hear it (and it’s not a Harman/Ising Merrie Melodie, which were notorious for being animated music videos back before the days of MTV).
Scene(s) Cut/Altered: According to all incarnations of Jon Cooke’s “Censored Cartoons Page,” Nickelodeon (yes, the same Nickelodeon that aired made editorial mincemeat out of “Ren and Stimpy,” “Rocko’s Modern Life,” and “Invader Zim”) cut two scenes featuring ethnic stereotypes: one showed a rickshaw full of Chinese policemen sleeping while listening to the radio (and tying the horn-like speaker of the radio when the chief puts out an APB); the other showed a black jungle savage listening to a cooking program on a radio made of a human skull, a couple of light bulbs, and two batteries (how cool is that?) and stirring in salt and mustard into a pot holding two white explorers (caricatures of semi-obscure 1930s comedy duo Wheeler and Woolsey). Thanks to a tape trade I made six years ago and a Christmas gift I received two years ago, I’ve looked at both the original version and the Nickelodeon version and noticed that there was more missing than just the two requisite cuts for ethnic stereotypes.
For starters, on the part with Cros Bingsby singing “Why Can’t This Night Go On Forever?” (don’t know if this is the actual song title), there are two brief shots of female listeners tuning in to hear him sing: one is a shot of college coeds in pajamas and underwear; the other is an old crone hugging and kissing the radio. Guess which one Nickelodeon deleted?
(I still don’t know why this cut was necessary. There wasn’t that much skin showing.)
The other edit (which is more aural than visual) occurs during the scene where a hookah-smoking sheik grows tired of watching his harem girl dance (and isn’t bothered by the fact that she has badly-drawn hands) and turns his radio to a station playing “Amos and Andy.” On the Nickelodeon version, the “Amos and Andy” program is redubbed with the music that was playing before the sheik changed stations.
How Does It Play Without the “Offensive” Part(s): Since this is one of those plotless early ‘30s WB shorts, the parts gone/altered don’t really wreck the short in any way, though the part where the sheik smiling and slapping his knee plays better with the “Amos and Andy” sound clip rather than the music, and that skull radio on the cannibal part was actually cool (much more creative than turning it into a bong or a pencil holder).
Egregious or Not: To the casual viewer, no. To the eagle-eyed viewer, somewhat egregious, only because the Nickelodeon version made it look like the parts gone never existed in the first place. It’s like Nickelodeon’s censors are professional killers who know how to kill a man and make it look like he was never born.
Where Can I See It Uncut: This obscure short (with an even more obscure director and animation style) can be found on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD set (volume 5, disc 4).
Director: Walt Disney
Writer(s): (not credited)
Release Date: December 30, 1928
Summary: In one of Mickey Mouse’s early roles (where he’s more of a prick than his current wholesome image might have you believe), Mickey is a gaucho who flirts who a tango-ing Minnie Mouse and rescues her from Peg-Leg Pete.
Scene(s) Cut/Altered: Not only did The Disney Channel find Mickey smoking a cigarette offensive (but not him drinking a frosty beer straight from the mug) and had it cut on such installment shows as The Ink and Paint Club, Mickey’s Mouse Tracks, and Donald’s Quack Attack, but they also did away with Minnie’s suggestive dancing.
How Does It Play Without the “Offensive” Part(s): It plays all right, but the so-called “offensive” scenes are there for a reason…and that reason is to break the preconceived notion that Disney’s oeuvre is innocent and family-friendly.
Egregious or Not: Slightly. The cuts aren’t egregious; just the fact that this is the kind of “bury it in the backyard and let us never speak of it again” behavior you’d expect from a big, faceless corporation.
Where Can I See It Uncut: This cartoon is available on the “Mickey Mouse in Black and White” Disney Treasures DVD set.
Director: William Hanna and Joseph Barbera
Writer(s): (not credited)
Release Date: December 11, 1948
Summary: After tracking mud into the house in his latest attempt at capturing Jerry, Mammy Two-Shoes (the black housemaid who’s only shown from the neck down) threatens Tom to keep the house clean while she’s out…prompting Jerry to stage several messes so Tom will get the blame.
Scene(s) Cut/Altered: This cartoon isn’t seen much due to two (count ‘em two) stereotypically black aspects that would definitely get the censors’ collective panties in a knot. For starters, we have Mammy Two Shoes, voiced by Lillian Randolph (1898-1980), whose voice (purportedly) makes all black women look bad (when really, it reminds me of my maternal grandmother, in a good way, and isn’t any worse than any rap video or former all-female UPN sitcom you can name). Secondly, there’s the end gag where Jerry reroutes a delivery chute of coal into Mammy’s house, and the entire pile buries Tom and Mammy in a wave of sootiness. Tom (now in blackface and inexplicably speaking like Stepin Fetchit) tries to slink away, but Mammy quickly recognizes him and tries to wing a fleeing Tom in the head with some lumps of coal.
Believe it or not, Cartoon Network has aired this cartoon, with one ongoing alteration (redubbing Mammy Two Shoes’s voice with one that sounds less “ethnic”) and one scene cut (after the coal cavalcade plows down Mammy Two Shoes and Tom, the Cartoon Network version removes the part where Tom appears in blackface and speaks like Stepin Fetchit after Mammy initially doesn’t recognize Tom and asks him if he’s seen a no-good cat).
How Does It Play Without the “Offensive” Part(s): The less ethnic voice of M.T.S. would have been more tolerable if said less ethnic voice could act. As for the near-end cut…well, you’d have to be deaf and blind not to see and hear what was missing.
Egregious or Not: The redubbing of Mammy’s voice is a major pain in the ass, but it’s a little too weak to be considered “egregious” (even if the replacement voice is a hack, at least you’re watching a Mammy Two Shoes cartoon on TV. Otherwise, it’d be locked away in MGM’s vaults). The painfully obvious jump cut near the end of the cartoon, however, does add for some unintentional hilarity (at least that’s what my sister tells me).
Where Can I See It Uncut: Even though the MGM Tom and Jerry ‘toons are available on DVD, “Mouse Cleaning” and 1951’s “Casanova Cat” have been barred from being released. Your best bet in seeing it uncut (since Cartoon Network airs edited prints of “Mouse Cleaning” and “Casanova Cat”) is through video websites and sleepless nights of torrent searching and downloading.
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Chuck Jones
Writer(s): Michael Maltese
Release Date: March 20, 1954
Summary: In this, his eighth cartoon (ninth if you count that cameo in the Sylvester/Tweety cartoon “Dog Pounded” [which came out the same year as this one]), Pepe Le Pew (in a smoking jacket reminiscent of The Continental [the original 1950s one and the Saturday Night Live version]) recounts when he first met Penelope painted cat at the fabled Casbah.
Scene(s) Cut/Altered: To quote an archived version of The Censored Cartoons Page, “The entire pre-flashback introduction, in which the camera takes the point of view of a reporter interviewing Pepe in his digs in cut by ABC, no doubt because the skunk offers the unseen reporter champagne.” It then concludes with, and I’m quoting from the same source, “The taboo on drinking in the tradition of ONE FROGGY EVENING continues!” While I do believe that ABC would cut that part for that particular reason, I can’t help but think that the underlying sexual tone of it may have been another reason why ABC thought it was unsuitable for kids.
Don’t believe me. Check this shit out (start at 0:35 and don’t stop until you hit the two minute mark): http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3dbt3_pepe-le-pew-the-cats-bah
How Does It Play Without the “Offensive” Part(s): Much like “One Froggy Evening,” it plays well, but you’ll probably be haunted by the thought that there might be a scene missing.
Egregious or Not: Yes, but what I find more egregious is the fact that the end (with Penelope chained to Pepe’s ankle in what can only be described as the 1950s way Chuck Jones and co. could get away with showing bondage) wasn’t edited by ABC (or any other channel that aired this cartoon). Not that I’m advocating censorship, mind you, but it’s like my mama says: “If you can’t do something right [even if it’s wrong], don’t do it at all.”
Where Can I See It Uncut: Since it hasn’t been released on DVD as of this writing (it might some day, but not now), your best bet is to either look on eBay for the “Pepe Le Pew Skunk Tales” Golden Jubilee video (or the “Longitude And Looneytude: 14 Globetrotting Looney Tunes Favorites” laserdisc for those who cling to laserdiscs the same way lice cling to a human scalp) or watch it on the video website Dailymotion (it was on YouTube, but it was taken down for copyright reasons).
Director: Tex Avery
Writer(s): (not credited)
Release Date: May 5, 1951
Summary: Droopy is a Boy Scout who must do a string of good deeds in order to win a trip to meet the President of the United States. The only problem is that a train-riding hobo named Spike (also a dog and now posing as a Boy Scout) wants that trip more than Droopy and attempts to bump him off so he can win the prize.
Scene(s) Cut/Altered: Three parts gone:
1) Droopy tells him that lightning never strikes the same place, Spike stands on the charred remains of a tree and gets struck by lightning, leaving him charred, skinny, and in blackface. Cartoon Network cut the part after the lightning strikes by blacking out to the next scene.
2) Spike tricks Droopy into thinking there’s a woman trapped in a burning cabin (that Spike set ablaze himself). Droopy comes out with a blond pin-up girl in purple lingerie. Spike goes in, foolishly thinking there’s another woman in there for him and ends up burnt (along with the rest of the house). Droopy then opens the charred remains of the door and says to Spike, “Hey, Blackie. Any more babes in there?” Cartoon Network (surprisingly enough) left in Spike getting burnt, but Droopy’s “Blackie” line was cut just after he opens the door. On top of that, there is tell of an urban legend that the burning cabin sequence was originally supposed to end with Spike carrying out a fat, black woman who beats up the dog. Many toonheads have dismissed it as the urban legend it is, but there are those who believe it exists (and hey, if that “missing link” skeleton can be found, then surely there might be an alternate version of this cartoon somewhere in the world).
3) Spike places a round cartoon bomb in a rich white man’s top hat after it flies away in the wind. Droopy retrieves it to the rich white man and he offers a cash reward. Spike moves Droopy out of the way to take the money for himself. The bomb in the hat goes off, turning Spike and the rich white man into po’ black stereotypes. This is almost ALWAYS cut when aired on television, regardless of channel, and I was unaware of the scene’s existence until I got into studying the classics for something other than nostalgia.
How Does It Play Without the “Offensive” Part(s): It doesn’t play too bad, but with the way Cartoon Network cut it (and given that each of the blackface jokes involve fire or some kind of explosive), you could tell something was missing.
Egregious or Not: A little, but not to much to make you want to chuck the remote at the TV.
Where Can I See It Uncut: Your best bet is to see it uncut on YouTube or any video site for that matter. Though it has been released on video and DVD, there may be a 50-60% chance that the video release version may have the lightning and the burning cabin parts uncut, but not the rich white man part, and I don’t want to be held responsible for providing misinformation.
UPDATE: A blog commenter named David Germain recently told me that yes, “Droopy’s Good Deed” is available on the Complete Droopy DVD set, with all the parts that were cut on television intact.
Studio: Famous/Paramount Studios
Director: Seymour Kneitel
Writer(s): Isadore Klein and Jack Ward
Release Date: September 12, 1947
Summary: Popeye is taking Olive on a boat ride when she spots a pirate ship. They are soon captured, and Popeye has to rescue Olive from the (initially charming) pirate captain.
Scene(s) Cut/Altered: Popeye dresses up as a woman to the attraction of a pirate. When he thinks he’s rid of the pirate, Popeye starts to take off his dress; then, suddenly, the scene cuts to Popeye in his white sailor suit, running from the pirate. That’s not the part that was cut; that’s how the scene has been played ever since it aired on TV.
How Does It Play Without the “Offensive” Part(s): It plays like there’s something obviously missing, because how did Popeye go from being in drag to being in his sailor suit, and why does the pirate have his mouth full of cannonballs?
Egregious or Not: Oooh, this is a tough one. On the one hand, it’s plenty egregious, due in part that something is gone and it messes with the continuity of the film. On the other hand, you can’t really blame the TV censors for cutting it, since it was (more than likely) cut before it was theatrically released (much like the fabled deleted scenes from Bob Clampett’s “Baby Bottleneck” and Tex Avery’s “The Heckling Hare”).
Where Can I See It Uncut: If time travel were possible, you could go back to 1947 and see how the cartoon was supposed to look before the Hayes Office asked Seymour Kneitel to edit whatever was cut. Otherwise, no one has seen hide nor celluloid of the deleted scene.
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director(s): Ben Hardaway and Cal Dalton
Writer(s): Melvin “Tubby” Millar
Release Date: August 12, 1939
Summary: An unnamed male hunter goes hunting for rabbit to get back at the government for raising meat prices, but runs into a crazy rabbit known as “the prototypical Bugs” (not in the cartoon proper, but by cartoon fans in general).
Scene(s) Cut/Altered: On the popular TV print, the cartoon abruptly ends after the unnamed hunter declares that he can whip proto-Bugs and his entire family, followed by proto-Bugs and his entire family appearing to put the hurt on the hunter. Prior to April 2009, there has been wild speculation about what the ending could be, though it doesn’t take a Wile E. Coyote super-genius to figure out that the cartoon was supposed to end with the gang of proto-Bugs Bunnies beating the shit out of the hunter. The real question is, “Is that all there is?”
The answer: No, that’s not all (folks)! Here are the two theories (read: long-standing rumors) connected to this cartoon’s final moments:
On April 27, 2009, David Gerstein’s blog revealed the true ending to “Hare-Um Scare-Um.” So, which ending is the true ending? Neither. While there was a fight that got cut, the end results were thus, according to Wikipedia and the Gerstein blog:
The rabbits attack the hunter in a cartoon smoke and then run away. The smoke clears up to show the hunter disheveled (with his head intact). The rabbit returns to give the hunter his busted rifle, saying, “You oughtta get that fixed. Somebody’s liable to get hurt.” He then returns to his looney self, bouncing on his head like a pogo stick down the road. The hunter then goes insane, bouncing on his head like a pogo stick.
How Does It Play Without the “Offensive” Part(s): The cartoon plays okay, but the cut makes it look like it was done by TV censors for violence, when really it was cut by WB Studios for unknown reasons (possibly time).
Egregious or Not: “Egregious” is too strong a word to use in this case. “Disappointing” might be more appropriate, since we see the set-up, but no punchline and aftermath to said punchline.
Where Can I See It Uncut: Unlike the cut for “Popeye and the Pirates,” a full, uncut print does exist in the world and has been shown at a revival screening (which is where David Gerstein found his). However, since the popular print has been in circulation on both TV and the Internet, there’s really no way to see it uncut (unless you attend a revival screening or wait for the day that it comes out uncut and uncensored on DVD).
TO BE CONTINUED…