Mish-Mish Effendi

About a year ago, Milton Knight sent us a link to a excerpt from a rare series of Egyptian cartoons created in the 1930s by the pioneering Frenkel Brothers. Knight has just found a complete “Mish-Mish” cartoon on You Tube, from a broadcast on Serge Bromberg’s Cartoon Factory a few years ago. In the interests of animation history, I think it’s worth a look.

Of this film, Knight notes “the pirating of the Van Beuren Tom & Jerry’s Wot a Night and In the Bag, both soundtracks and animation.” I’ll note (or warn you of) the ethnic and racial stereotypes — and the crude animation, which I find entertaining; strangely hypnotic and bizarre, in a good way.

If you want more Frenkel Brothers goodness, here’s a 40-second clip compiled from several other of their films.


  • http://www.io.com/~o_m OM

    …Any relation to Gene?

  • http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/ Nina Paley

    entertaining; strangely hypnotic and bizarre, in a good way.

    Yes. I like the appropriation of Betty Boop, too.

  • Saturnome

    Any idea what was up with this boxer beating up large underwears?

  • Brian D. Scott

    This was so bad it was (almost) good! I have absolutely no idea what was going on!

  • Ted Johnson

    Any chance we can get this translated in English? Please?

  • Chris

    My second favorite ‘MishMash’ cartoon.
    Papu is better.

  • http://www.enigmation.de slowtiger

    I’ll give it a try, although it’s an 1960 german slang translation of 1930 flowerish arabic.

    1:17 Mish-Mish, are you still OK?
    1:20 Stride, proud dromedar! Gently swing the bride …
    1:37 Oh god, what kind of bums are those?
    1:39 Such sweetness! You’re cute as a bug!
    1:57 You’re the dream of my sleepless nights, sugardoll!
    2:00 Go to hell, you bastard!
    2:50 God bless the fruit of your body!
    2:55 Dear Abu Ali! I must see you! 1000 kisses!
    3:55 Salam aleikum!
    4:00 There were a thin and a fat guy outside.
    4:04 I snagged this from them and brought it to you immediately!
    4:12 I’ll break every bone of those sons of a bitch!
    4:22 Faster! Those sons of a bitch are with your mistress!
    4:45 As soon as he comes out we’ll beat him up and send him to sleep!
    4:55 Don’t think too long, just hit him!
    5:03 Bechita, bring the mug, the stick and the Tamboula! (wrong spelling, should be Tamboura (the instrument))
    5:08 A key without a locker is worthless!
    5:15 Here, sweetie, for you! And now shut up!
    6:15 What’s that? These guys bother your mistress and you’re sleeping?
    6:20 You deserve to go to jail! Get lost!
    7:02 What a day! Fayoumi, come and help me!
    7:07 The devil’s going to get us! We have to crush him down!
    7:25 Help me! You there, with the basket!
    7:55 This doesn’t pay. Let’s go.
    8:05 Finally I get you, rascals! – Now we go to jail!
    8:10 You just wait!
    8:15 Leg it! Let’s get out of here!
    8:25 Is he going to arrest us?
    8:28 I’ll get you!

    I can’t say the dialogue adds much to my understanding of the story. However, the whole film is funny in an odd way. The animation is crude, but also inventive. And I like the cut-up soundtrack.

  • http://classicparamountcartoons.blogspot.com ParamountCartoons

    The opening is reminscent of Eric Porter and also the Paramount cartoons.

  • zavkram

    The two main characters appear to have been loosely based on Laurel and Hardy; but I could also definitely see the “Tom and Jerry” influences (the way they walk together in some scenes, for example).

    Fortunately, I still remembered enough High School German to be able to understand some of the subtitles. I don’t understand a single word of Egyptian… it’s all Greek to me! :)

  • Mike Kazaleh

    Thanks , Slowtiger! Milton Knight was over here last night, and we both got a bang out of your translation.

    “Mish-Mish” means “apricot” in Arabic.

  • vzk

    Fleischer Brothers these ain’t :(

    Loved how all they had to do to get inside the house was whack the head of the black doorkeeper and lower his selfesteem.

  • edd hurt

    Great soundtrack! The Boop character looks like Mae West…and thx for the above translations. So, was this done contemporaneously with the Fleischer stuff, and therefore a conscious effort to reproduce same? Fascinating piece, thanks again.

  • http://www.miltonknight.net Milton Knight

    Among the scenes lifted from Van Beuren cartoons:
    From WOT A NIGHT: The fat fellow playing the piano/organ & going “ah!” is derived from animation of a cloud doing the same with a castle wall; Mish Mish dancing to a tango was originally footage of a lady skeleton.
    Fron IN THE BAG: The boxer riding his horse into the distance & kicking it off screen when he’s through are copied from similar scenes in the American film; his fight while wearing a steer’s head was contrived to utilize animation of Tom battling a real steer in the original.
    All of these scenes are synced to the tracks originally from the US films.
    I find these films oddly endearing, but more interesting is the story of the Frenkel brothers themselves; by Googling “mish mish effendi frenkel”, you can find a highly illustrated pdf file detailing their life stories.

  • Cole Johnson

    This was fascinating, the way a train wreck would be fascinating..The ever-changing appearance of the characters, the sloppy animation, and the hijacked bits and pieces of music that compromises the soundtrack. (The guy who did the track gets a giant credit at the beginning for this?) Perhaps the strangest aspect is the story—our two horny heroes are so turned on by the ersatz Betty Boop’s love letter to her boyfriend, that they stage a violent home invasion and force her to watch them dance and play her piano/organ. I liked when the punching bag bloomers landed sitting on the bedpan! Very intertaining—Any more of these to see? –Cole Johnson.

  • http://www.miltonknight.net Milton Knight

    Maurice Horn’s WORLD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CARTOONS cites a 1932 Italian cartoon by the Cossio Brothers, ZIBILLO AND THE BEAR, as being an “obvious imitation of John Foster and George Rufle’s TOM AND JERRY cartoons”, but I don’t know how to see that.
    In the meantime, here’s a link to a DailyMotion post of ‘Gibba’s’ 1946 cartoon THE LAST SHOESHINE, which will fascinate you for different reasons:
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xke5q_lultimo-sciuscia_shortfilms

  • http://ghazala.animationblogspot.com/ Mohamed Ghazala

    hi, as friends, I can help anyone need the English translation of it.
    please contact me.

  • ghada samer

    strang , i can say i neve saw something like this befor

  • Afonso Gageiro