Feb 15, 2015

Review: One Froggy Evening (1955)

Trust me, I watched a lot of Looney Tunes when I was a kid. My mom had generously recorded a ton onto VHS for my sisters and I and she did a relatively good job at not recording the commercials. Not perfect, but I couldn't really complain now could I? I honestly can't think of much that better demonstrates love for one's children more than taping Looney Tunes for them in what is quite a labour intensive method. Can you? 

Anyhow, One Froggy Evening is probably the most important Looney Tunes cartoon ever put out. Famously called "the Citizen Kane of animated film" by Steven Spielberg, it's got everything you could probably ever ask for in an animated short. Even though it doesn't have Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, or any other famous Looney Tunes characters, it's the most memorable of all for me personally and probably a lot of other people.


Genre: animation, short, comedy
Directed by: Chuck Jones
Produced by: Edward Selzer
Written by: Michael Maltese
Music by: Milt Franklyn
Running time: 7 minutes
Production company: Warner Bros.
Distributed by: Warner Bros., Warner Home Video
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Bill Roberts



A man working on a demolition in a construction zone finds a box inside a cornerstone. Inside, he finds a document that was sealed inside in 1892 as well as a live frog (Michigan J. Frog). Amazed to have found a live frog having survived 60-odd years sealed inside a cornerstone, the man is even more amazed when the frog starts singing and dancing, complete with top hat and cane. Instantly, the man hatches a plan to showcase the frog to the public and become rich.


There's no talking in One Froggy Evening besides Michigan J. Frog's singing (voice: Bill Roberts) and I wouldn't have it any other way. The motivations of the man who finds Michigan are more than clear and present a pretty nice morality lesson. Although you can't fully blame a poor construction worker who sees Michigan as his ticket to wealth, he is after all trying to take advantage of an innocent frog.

Michigan J. Frog enjoys the simple pleasures of singing and dancing. Why should he be the moneymaking tool of a greedy individual? So what does Michigan do? Whether by coincidence or purpose is unclear, anytime the construction guy tries to demonstrate the performing talents of his miracle frog, Michigan just goes back to being a regular frog who can't do anything more than croak.

The effect is hilarious every time it happens. You still can't help but feel somewhat bad for the construction guy though. I mean, his situation goes from bad to worse surprisingly quickly. Still, even as a kid I knew that the guy was in the wrong. One Froggy Evening contains a message everyone can understand, no matter how old they may be and it's still completely relevant even today.

The songs that Michigan sings are really memorable and are definitely one of the biggest highlights of this short. I can't tell you the amount of times in my life I've just suddenly broke into song and dance when "Hello! Ma Baby" or "The Michigan Rag" popped into my head. Although some of the songs that Michigan sings were actually written after 1892 when he was safely locked away inside the cornerstone, who cares? This is a fantastical frog who can sing and dance so I'm sure he can get his music one way or another.

Looney Tunes in general is a trove of wonderful animated shorts. However, none compare to the sheer entertainment factor that One Froggy Evening provides. It's an ageless short, the kind that remains burned inside your subconscious long after you've seen it. In the end, there can only ever be one singing and dancing frog in cinema and his name is Michigan J. Frog.



Related Reviews:

Another Froggy Evening (1995) 

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