The Complete Uncensored Private Snafu
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Commissioned by the military during World War II, this collection of propaganda cartoons has not been seen in over fifty years. Created by the famed animators at Warner Bros. from 1943-1946 and voiced by the legendary Mel Blanc, this DVD presents all twenty-eight Private Snafu cartoons ever released.
The 28 cartoons in this collection were made by the Warner Bros. artists for the Army-Navy Screen Magazine during World War II, and were rarely--if ever--seen by the general public. The title character's name is an acronym for "Situation Normal: All Fouled Up" (substitute another "F-word" if you must), and most of his adventures are mildly didactic: Snafu ignores an Army regulation and/or common sense, and pays the price. In "Snafu vs. Malaria Mike" and "It's Murder She Says..." (1945), he goes without insect repellent in the tropics and ignores insect netting--and catches malaria. The stories were written by Ted "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, and the meters and rhymes echo his children's books. In "Gripes" (1943), Snafu begins, "If I ran this army...." The shots of Snafu's bare posterior and the occasional "damn" or "hell" were considered risqué during the '40s, but the depictions of buck-toothed Japanese soldiers are more likely to raise eyebrows today. Although obviously made quickly and cheaply--Snafu's appearance varies from film to film and Mel Blanc essentially reused Bugs Bunny's voice for the character--many of these cartoons are still funny. Unfortunately, Bosko Video disfigures these historically significant films by periodically inserting its logo into the frame. What were they thinking? --Charles Solomon
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The menu of this disc is a mess. I first watched via Play All. I later discovered that I had missed a few items that only show on the Pick One menu -- a "technical" animation that outlined a bombing mission (the strategy shown is interesting), and still images of cartoon character mascots painted on US aircraft. If you use Pick One to select any of the primary selections, there are -- in addition to Play -- selections to view panels describing Story, History and Resource. If you view any of those, the only way out is back to the main Pick One menu. So, to view everything for one particular cartoon, you would have to make 4 trips through the Pick One menu.
I was underwhelmed by the content of the disc. Several of the selections were only obliquely related to the war -- where you would see something in passing, like "Buy Bonds," or "1A" or "4F" draft board ratings on a sign. This applied to Jerky Turkey and Foney Fables, and, one other, I think. Ding Dong Daddy has a how-we-use-scrap-metal ending tacked onto a typical, misguided love story... an interesting way to re-direct a cartoon. Falling Hare, with the airplane gremlin, had always been in circulation in the Saturday morning Warner Brothers offerings of the 60s, 70s and 80s.
5th Column Mouse was a semi-subtle, cautionary tale about appeasement. The Superman 'toons were overtly related to war, as were Bugs Bunny Bond Rally, Daffy the Commando, and Scrap Happy Daffy. Three Private SNAFU troop training cartoons were pretty good. Hell Bent for Election was a union-funded campaign short for FDR.
I was really hoping for more of the overt, dedicated propaganda cartoons that had been done during the war. I know they exist, because I saw them 40 years ago, at an on-campus college theater. From reading other DVD reviews on Amazon, I think they must have included Tokio Jokio, and Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips, some material that would be seen today as much more offensive than the several non-PC characterizations that were included on the Cartoon Crazys Goes to War disc. I also discovered the The Golden Age of Cartoons: Cartoons for Victory! Cartoons for Victory collections, which include propaganda 'toons from other countries, as well as from the US... and, I think that may be my next selection.