Thursday, November 28, 2013

Jerky Turkey (MGM, 1945)

by Mark Gabrish Conlan • Copyright © 2013 by Mark Gabrish Conlan • All rights reserved

Charles and I ran a couple of downloads last night. One was a Tex Avery cartoon from MGM called Jerky Turkey which we watched because it was obviously appropriate for Thanksgiving eve — and which turned out to be quite good, basically Avery’s “take” on a Bugs Bunny short with a turkey replacing the rabbit and a pilgrim replacing Elmer Fudd. The gimmick is the Pilgrims land on Plymouth Rock (which is actually shaped like a giant turkey) — only they do it in 1945, when the film was made, and the Mayflower has to become part of a giant convoy to avoid being sunk by a U-boat. Once the Pilgrims make it, the leader has to feed his people, and after some quite funny sight gags making fun of wartime rationing (the Mayflower lands in sight of a billboard reading, “Is This Trip Necessary?” and the Pilgrims encounter long lines for cigarettes once they land) he heads to “Ye Black Market” for a turkey — only the turkey (using the voice of Jimmy Durante) decides to sell himself to the Pilgrim but leave the package untied so he can escape. Throughout the action there’s a large bear walking through the action with a sandwich sign reading, “Eat at Joe’s,” and after various abortive attempts by the Pilgrim to shoot the turkey (in which Avery rips off one of the Road Runner cartoonists’ favorite gags — the “target” reverses the piping of the hunter’s gun so the gun shoots the hunter instead of the prey) they give up, end up eating at Joe’s — only they turn out to be the meal and the bear, with the Pilgrim and the turkey in his stomach, turns his back to the audience and it reads, “I’m Joe.”