In The Nicotine (1961)

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Paramount Cartoons can be Hazardous to Your (Mental) Health.

We’re ending our series of “dark, domestic” 1960s Paramount cartoons today with the most politically incorrect of them all: In The Nicotine (released theatrically in 1961). Again (like the previously posted The Plot Sickens and Harry Happy), this one was never shown on TV – and never will be. In this one, a shrewish wife commits her smoking obsessed husband to an institution. Hilarity ensues. Though most of the cartoon is taken up with lame gags of “Charlie Butts” (get it?) trying to sneak a cigarette while trying to quit, the resolution (a gag about cigarette gift coupons) is purely pro-smoking! The plot itself is a twist on Gene Deitch’s 1957 Terrytoon Topsy TV — which was ripped off and remade by Paramount in 1959 as TV Fuddlehead — switching to cigarettes from former’s TV addiction. This cartoon was written by the veteran team of Carl Meyer and Jack Mercer, though Mercer doesn’t perform any voices in it (Eddie Lawrence is doing all the male roles). For what it is… Enjoy!


  • Chris Sobieniak

    I guess the moral here is “You’ll never escape it.” Somehow I see my parents in this cartoon. Thanks Jerry!

  • J Lee

    You could pretty much transfer the addiction gags today to a parody of any of those celebrity drug rehab facilities that same to rarely, if ever, actually cure anyone (wonder if Eddie Lawrence is ready to come out of retirement to do some more voices?)

  • pspector

    I’ve put a few model sheets online from In The Nicotine, if anybody is interested.

  • http://ClaarToons.comwillappearsometimethisyear;Imtoobusyanimating! tony claar

    Frankly, this cartoon is all about ANTI-smoking, isn’t it? So where in the world is the so-called, “political incorrectness” ?!? And incorrect to whom? Sounds like somebody is on the moral high-ground here.

  • Dock Miles

    These characters, the obnoxious wife and the henpecked, drug-addicted husband, are perfectly legitimate observations. They’ve been with us since men and women began doing drugs and will continue ever more. Today you must pretend that a lot of natural human traits aren’t true. There were no politically correct shackles on cartoonists in 1961, and you were free to go as wild as you wished. (Although, since they’re never mentioned in the film, perhaps “lung cancer” and “like heroin” were considered too tasteless in a cartoon of the era.)

    Gee, where’s the anti-anti-smoking venom corresponding to the howls about sexism stirred up before? I mean, aren’t the restrictions on smoking another one of those oh-so-terrible constrictions of modern life on a par with banning lawn jockeys?

    Anyway, a bit funnier cartoon than the others in the series. I didn’t consider the resolution pro-smoking exactly, just a way of accepting the latest excuse for the filthy habit. Provides a welcome reminder that the savage, addictive nature of coffin nails bothered Americans well before the health hazards were nailed down. (This from somebody who was a pack-and-a-half guy for more than 10 years.)

    PS: The purely economic consequences of smoking sure have more resonance now than they did then!

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    tony claar – This cartoon was produced by a major Hollywood studio, as part of a series of cartoons which were primarily juvenile. The major animation studios would not produce an animated short today showing the leading character smoking – much less addicted to it, much less enjoying it. In its day it was simply a funny idea, but it has since been withheld from television distribution because of its subject matter — thus it is now politically incorrect.

  • Pedro Nakama

    I like the one where Goofy was trying to quit smoking.

  • Dock Miles

    >but it has since been withheld from television distribution because of its subject matter

    This isn’t quite right. Smoking and its evils are all over television and this is an anti-smoking short. The problem is that it presents a vanished world, where smoking cigs is more or less the norm. It’s incomprehensible if you don’t know that world. This corresponds with the sexism of the other shorts. It was the air you breathed. The failure is not applying today’s standards to yesterday. It’s a failure to understand how pervasive and comfortable yesterday’s standards were. For certain parties.

  • http://www.swordandsarcasm.com/ Chuck Fiala

    Thanks for posting the cartoon. I also liked the model sheets on the Spector site. The cartoon doesn’t do justice to the original drawings, but it all worked pretty well, considering the budgets of that period. I think this carton was produced well before the official surgeon general findings were published. Also, remember there was an awful lot of positive smoking in the Popeye cartoons. This wasn’t a new thing for Famous – to have a smoking main character. Let’s just be happy that there’s no nicotine in spinach.

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    I’d match this any day with the Buzzy and Katnip short “No Ifs, Ands or Butts” from 1954.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Thanks for clearing up things Jerry. We have to be reminded of that in context to watching these films from a different era.

  • http://yeldarb86.deviantart.com Mr. Semaj

    Do you think Seymour Kneitel’s own smoking habits might’ve influenced the outcome of this one?

  • http://gogopedro.com Gogopedro!

    Wow, that was an interesting short….
    Granted its nothing like watching Fred and Barney ditch all the housework onto Wilma and Betty so they can go out back and have a smoke. But, still its a cartoon from a long about era that wasn’t so long ago.

    thanks for sharing Jerry.

  • Cole Johnson

    A funny idea, unfortunately hobbled by the stiff, spare quality of Paramount cartoons of this era.—My favorite Seymour Kneitel “addiction” cartoon was the unlikely parody of “The Lost Weekend” with Little Audrey, BUTTERSCOTCH AND SODA, with candy taking the part of the booze!—The cigarettes that came with redeemable gift coupons, as shown in this film, were Raleigh and Belair. They ran commercials where two guys would be bowling, hunting, or fishing or something, and one suggests his pal change his brand of coffin nails to the delightful Ralieghs, which come with the coupons in every pack. “Really?” his buddy remarks, as he digs his new cigs. “How do you think I got this new bowling ball/rifle/atomic sub/whatever? ” was the punchline.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I was thinking of the Raleigh/Belair ads too. MST3K once referenced it in a few of their movie riffs a decade ago (“Yeah, how do you think I got this WAR?”).

  • http://www.cannedgeek.com/ Kyle

    How queer. It’s a standard two character comic cartoon with a series of gags revolving around thwarting one characters goal – but it’s about smoking. Kind of neat, but the only gags I really liked was the shifty fellow making money off Charlie and I found the design is a bit too “shape-y.”

  • David

    Ugly character designs, rudimentary animation, and a recycled storyline. Can’t say that I liked this at all.

  • Marin Pažanin

    This wasn’t a so good cartoon. I didn’t like it so much.

    Cast&Crew:
    Voices: Eddie Lawrence and WHO ELSE?
    Credited Director: Seymour Kneitel
    Animation Director: Irv Spector
    Animation: Irv Spector, Sam Stimson and WHO ELSE?
    Story: Carl Meyer, Jack Mercer
    Scenics: Robert Owen
    Music: Winston Sharples

    Originally released in June, 1961.

  • Marin Pažanin

    In EastmanColor.