<em>Harry Happy</em> (1963) <em>Harry Happy</em> (1963)

Harry Happy (1963)

I got such a good reaction to the previous 1960s Paramount cartoon that I posted last week, I couldn’t resist torturing you with another.

First, a confession: Of all the classic Hollywood cartoon shorts, the Paramount/Famous Studios cartoons in general are my favorite “guilty pleasures”. Why? I’m not sure, but I truly admire the skill of the animation crew and art staff. The big problems at Paramount lie in direction, gag timing, and with matters of good taste. By the 1960s they were coasting on their celebrated past, as remnants of the Fleischer studio and their shorts from this era fascinate me. The budgets were cut to the bone and the characters the studio developed for a decade were no longer available for use. They had the freedom to go off and make animated shorts on any subject they wished, in any style of art or technique. Sometimes they took advantage of this freedom, most times they did not. A few gems have risen to the surface (My Daddy The Astronaut, The Itch, The Plumber, Marvin Digs come to mind), but the bad ones of the 60s are so wrong on so many levels, such train wrecks, I can’t keep my eyes off them.

Below is one of these. It’s one of several “domestic cartoons” that Paramount made under it’s Modern Madcap label. Various studios tried this type of fare in the 1950s. Robert McKimson’s Wild Wife (1954) at Warner Bros. is an example; the Pete Hothead cartoons at UPA and the Gene Deitch John Doormat series at Terrytoons are others. Paramount tried a few of these as well, however here the characters aren’t funny, and there’s no attempt at social commentary. They are simply bleak and pessimistic – each one more depressing than the last. Perhaps next time I’ll post In The Nicotine (1961) about a man who terrorizes his wife with his constant chain smoking; or The Plot Sickens (1961, written by Irv Spector) in which a nebbish plans various ways to kill his shrewish wife. Unpleasant subjects, poorly made, with painfully unfunny results.

Here’s one short that really disturbs me – and once again, I don’t believe this it was ever aired on television. It’s about a guy who is a complete asshole and wife abuser. It’s dark. It’s oppressive. So of course it’s called Harry Happy.

What were they thinking?