Cartoon Dump #6: Sir Gee Whiz

sirgeewhiz420.jpg

Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies, Happy Harmonies… and it all came down to this: Sir Gee Whiz On The Other Side Of The Moon. Needless to say, the latter years of Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising were rough.

Breaking away from Disney (and Charles Mintz) in 1930, they struck gold by hooking up with Leon Schlesinger and establishing the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies for Warner Bros. In an effort to upgrade their product and compete with Disney, the duo left producer Leon Schlesinger in 1933 and, after sub-contracting a few Cubby Bear cartoons for Van Beuren, accepted an offer to provide Happy Harmonies color cartoons for MGM. It was their work at MGM that ultimately laid the foundation for the later success of Hanna and Barbera and Tom & Jerry.

Hugh and Rudy gave it up to support the effort during World War II, creating instructional animated films for the Armed Services. They spent the rest of their careers creating educational, industrial and commercial films, never achieving the public fame they once enjoyed during the 1930s. Not that they didn’t try. One of their efforts, long thought lost, was this 1960 pilot for Sir Gee Whiz.

Limited animation was not something Harman and Ising could grasp easily. This short shows just how badly Hugh and Rudy didn’t get it. The problems start with the premise: A little old gnome who who knocks out adults and takes little girls to his home — on the moon. Because it concerns the moon, the whole show has an unpleasant, dark, look. Rudy Ising’s vocal as Sir Gee Whiz sounds scary – like a perverted old uncle. And then there are characters like “Senor Ropo” (pictured, above right) and the “Terrible Kinker”…

Enough talk! Check out Sir Gee Whiz On The Other Side Of The Moon this week on Cartoon Dump, now up at CartoonBrewFilms.com. And if you think this is a hoot, come see Cartoon Dump Live next week, on Tuesday (Oct. 23rd) at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood!


  • http://portapuppets.does.it uncle wayne

    Hugh & Rudy!!?? In 19-SIXTY!?? As we French people say… “Incroiable!” Who knew!!? That is about as OB-scure as our grand “C.-D.” can give us! Whoa!! Makes me love my dear friend Huckleberry about 80 times MORE now!

  • Quiet_Desperation

    Wow. It’s the grandad of the garden gnome from the Travelocity commercials.

    Buff Badger made my pants tight. Is that wrong? I’m so sexually confused when it comes to anthropomorphic mammals.

  • Christopher Cook

    Saw this one last year at Comic-Con. Sure didn’t help the cause with the panty shots of the little girl.

  • purin

    If only they’d channeled those backgrounds and effects into the character animation and told the narrator and characters to shut up once in a while, this could have been a little watchable.

  • http://www.myspace.com/brandontoons Brandon Pierce

    ‘A little old gnome who knocks out adults and takes little girls to his home — on the moon.’

    I’m not sure why, but this sentence made me laugh uncontrollably.

  • En Ming Hee

    Sir Gee Whiz On the Other Side of the Moon…wasn’t that a Pink Floyd album?

  • Esteban Angeloso IV

    Hugh and Rudy were still around and pitching twenty years AFTER this gem was made. I ran into them at a convention, where they said they were working on a feature version of “Peace on Earth”, the short Hugh had made in 1940. Their lives are textbook examples of what happens when the industry turns its back on people. To be fair, Hugh and Rudy did not really keep up with things once Disney evolved feature animation and Warners nailed funny shorts. The kind of film Harman and Ising made no longer fit the world after 1940. Tex Avery’s Screwy Squirrel once made a comment on just how old hat it had become.

  • Paul N

    Hey, what’s up with having the camera on Compost when Buf is talking? The best Buf gets is a two-shot? Doesn’t Compost get enough screen time as it is? More Buf!

  • John A

    If only the little girl’s name was Alice— the elf could have said “One of these days Alice, Pow! Zing! to the Moon!”

  • http://who-really-cares-anyway.blogspot.com/2007/10/cartoon-dump-6.html Craig D.

    I’m glad to see that Buff is “creating an internet presence” for herself! What will you do when A+ isn’t good enough, Ms Badger?

    It is amazing that there was still a HARMAN-ISING PRODUCTIONS functioning in 1960. I wonder if Mark Kausler can shed any additional light on their doings in this time period.

    Mind-blowing – thanks, as always, for sharing!

  • http://www.goldenagecartoons.com Matthew Hunter

    That’s just plain weird. Happy Harmonies gone wrong!

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com/gerstein David Gerstein

    One thing not yet pointed out is that the facial designs of the good Sir Gee and Senor Ropo immediately bring to mind characters from c. 1935 Happy Harmonies. Were these facial designs, then, something like Harman’s or Ising’s “natural” drawing style, with the more sophisticated designs from the later MGM period representing the embellishments of others?

  • Keith Paynter

    A talking toaster I can believe. A talking rope, however…

    No wonder Harmon-Ising could build lasting cartoon studios and never create lasting characters…

  • Bugsmer

    That cartoon was really cool. Despite the limited and often reused animation, I can imagine myself wading through an endless supply of future episodes. In comparison to some of the cartoons on Cartoon Dump, some of which developed into weekly televised series, this one shines like one of the many similar stars in the hand-drawn sky. If they had this idea in the 30s, the result would have been extraordinary.

  • Laslo Martin

    If Harman and Ising had had this idea in the 1930′s, all the characters would have been in blackface and one of them would have mainlined smack about two thirds through a musical extravaganza, which would have featured dissolves between every single shot rather than cuts because straight cuts weren’t classy and could be rough on the eyes. And Bill Littlejohn would have been stuck animating eight thousand five hundred roof shingles in a ninety drawing cycle, with heavy rain effects and naked babies spewing milk. I think we’ve all seen that cartoon. I think it’s on You Tube.

  • Cyber Fox

    Sir Gee Whizz, The scotsman from outer space!