Mish-Mish in National Defense

We’ve posted about Mish Mish cartoons before – but here’s a new one you gotta see. The character was the star of a popular Egyptian cartoon series of the 1930s by the Frenkel Bros. – who apparently were so taken with American cartoons they literally traced animation, character designs and ideas directly from them. This one, National Defense, is a World War II epic presented in two parts. In the musical first half, the animators borrow from Bosko and Buddy, mix belly dancers and dancing hooka’s, and possibly the worst caricatures of Laurel and Hardy, Eddie Cantor and Charlie Chaplin you’ll ever see. The second half takes place on the battlefield and it’s probably the funkiest animated propaganda ever made. The crude animation only adds to the charm. No matter what you think of Mish Mish, they don’t make ‘em like this anymore!

(Thanks, Milton Knight)


  • Chris Sobieniak

    More of that “what can I say?” expression on my face! :-)

    There’s also a part two if case someone thought that was all there is in that first clip (just check on the side bar).

  • Stephen

    One early shot of Mish Mish singing and playing reminded me of Felix the Cat at the start of Bold King Cole – something about the shape of Mish Mish’s face.

  • Isaac

    Are there any other Middle-Eastern cartoons?

  • http://www.vujade-ent.blogspot.com Steve Schnier

    I love the link to the biography of the Frenkel Bros. As for the film: There’s a good reason they don’t make ‘em like that anymore!

  • Steve Gattuso

    And if someone tried to make this cartoon today, they’d be accused of racism…

  • Donald Benson

    Their animation skills were primitive but they were able to Rotoscope — The belly dancer in the first half and a fleeting shot of horsemen in the second are both clearly film-based.

    Did the Fleischers (or anybody else) actually sell Rotoscope projector/table setups, or did other studios just build their own, licensed or not?

  • http://www.milowerx.com Mike Milo

    I’m always struck by old cartoons and how no one ever seemed to break out and do some new design. I mean, what has led us to the so called modern cartoons I guess is a succession of styles. I guess what I’m asking is why didn’t the Egyptians come up with their own style instead of aping Fliescher’s? They certainly had a histroy of esign with the heiroglyphics and all the pharoah art. Why didn’t they design their own styles? thsed ays many people have their own styles and there is quite a bit of diverse design out there, some good some bad but very different. Why was there only one design back then that everyone followed? Seems like a topic for further discussion.

  • http://www.vujade-ent.blogspot.com Steve Schnier

    The Frenkel Bros. weren’t native-born Egyptians. They were Jews who fled the pogroms in Eastern Europe and settled in the middle east – first in Palestine, then in Egypt. They aped the first cartoons they saw (in Egypt) around 1930. There was no Egyptian tradition of animation for them to copy – not that it matters – they liked American movies.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    The research that unearthed a deeply obscure find such as this deserves to be recognized! I recognize it.

  • Martin A. Goodman

    Bravo! Makes Flip the Frog look like Fantasia!

  • pat
  • http://www.itsthecat.com Mark Kausler

    It looks like they swiped from the Mickey Mouse cartoon, ‘Ye Olden Days’ for Mish-Mash’s donkey ride at the start of the cartoon, and his swing on the rafter. Also, the old man’s run from the bed to the window looks like an action from Iwerks’s “Ragtime Romeo” Flip the Frog cartoon.

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

    The girlfriend’s first appearance on the balcony is from RAGTIME ROMEO, too. And a scene of a crowd cheering the postwar parade is traced from Disney’s THE MAIL PILOT.
    But it’s original closeups like the concluding one which (though filmed on 8′s) strike me as having the most character.

  • RobEB

    I lost track of how many establishing shots there were before we actually see any animation…

  • Bart

    OMG – this is worse than the “Worker & Parasite” spoof from the “Krusty Gets Kancelled” ep of “The Simpsons” from 1993!

  • http://okgrillo.blogspot.com Oscar Grillo

    I saw it projected in a big screen in a animation festival this week and the audience cheered it and loved it. It is truly charming!

  • Ed

    Wow. That was…interesting. LOL

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

    hi friends, let bring your attention that “National Defense” was made by Belarusian Frenkel brothers but produced and funded by the Egyptian government as propaganda films for mobilization of the Egyptian army against Nazi during the World War II in late 1930s, these films of “Mish Mish”, could be counted as the first African and Arabian animated films.