Mar 2, 2015

Review: Blitz Wolf (1942)

Digging up old movies that are considered to be in poor taste today is always pretty interesting and there's no question that Blitz Wolf fits into that category. Blitz Wolf was even considered to be in poor taste back when it was released due to its over the top "portrayal" of Adolf Hitler. Since no one really knew who would win the war, it was maybe not the best thing to do. Still, seeing Hitler as the Big Bad Wolf is something you just got to see to believe. This cartoon has been shown outside of the WWII time period, but censored of its more racist elements. Still, you can find an unaltered copy of it on Internet Archive thankfully.

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Genre: animation, comedy, short
Directed by: Tex Avery
Produced by: Fred Quimby
Written by: Rich Hogan
Music by: Scott Bradley
Running time: 10 minutes
Production company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Distributed by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Country: United States (obviously)
Language: English, German gibberish
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry

Starring: Pinto Colvig, Frank Graham, Bill Thompson

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Synopsis


Two pigs build their houses out of straw and sticks which would seem ill advised since Big Bad Wolf Hitler is set to invade their country of Pigmania. They've both signed non-aggression pacts with Hitler (voice: Bill Thompson) though so they're not worried about him. Third pig Sergeant Pork (voice: Pinto Colvig) doesn't trust Hitler though. He builds his house out of stone and also fortifies it with weaponry despite being teased by the first two pigs. Unfortunately for the first two pigs, Hitler goes back on his word and destroys their stick and straw houses without much difficulty.

Review


I totally expected a humourous portrayal of Hitler when I began Blitz Wolf, but in no way was I prepared for what must be one of the snarkiest parodies of Hitler ever. The film opens to a a foreword that you would expect to say that this cartoon is satirical and that any real life resemblances to characters in the cartoon are unintentional. Shockingly, the foreword says the exact opposite and goes as far as calling Hitler a $%%!*!! jerk. Trust me, this is tame compared to what comes next.

Hitler first arrives in an armoured truck and encourages the audience to boo and hiss at him, breaking the fourth wall as he does so. He even gets a tomato thrown into his face. He doesn't care though as he then begins to make his way to the houses of the first two pigs. He alternates his walk between the style of a sneaky, tip-toeing wolf with pig on his mind and then switches to the stereotypical march of a German Nazi. There's honestly nothing else to do but watch incredulously as this all happens.

Racist references to the Japanese and the Germans are blatant and casually inserted. There's surprisingly a lot of references to popular culture as well which are sure to go over the heads of people who weren't around at the time, like me. I only really got one gag really which happened to be a reference to Gone with the Wind and was as lame as it admitted to being. Definitely a dad joke if I ever saw one.

Still, there's no mistaking a lot of the other jokes it makes at the expense of Germany in general, as well as Japan. They're the kind of thing that should be taken with a grain of salt though. This is the 1940's, there's a war going on and propaganda such as this was far more acceptable. Yes, Blitz Wolf is definitely American propaganda that's been disguised as animated entertainment. There's no denying that.

Still, BW is an important piece of US history if you ask me. Propaganda or not, Tex Avery demonstrates some pretty out-there creativity and a knack for biting commentary and satire. The animation is also quite good. My only complaint would be that the film devolves perhaps a bit too much into slapstick near its conclusion.

There's no way something like BW could ever pass as being acceptable in 2015, we all know that. This wasn't released in 2015 though and I think feathers were a bit harder to ruffle back in 1942 anyway. Nationalism, a wartime environment and a plethora of other factors also changed how people perceived things. There's no social media to stoke the flames of being offended either. 

Blitz Wolf was clearly made at the right time though because it was nominated for Best Short Subject: Cartoons at the 15th Academy Awards along with Warner Brothers' Pigs in a Polka which was another take on the story of The Three Little Pigs. Blitz Wolf unfortunately lost out to another Hitler satire from Disney called Der Fuehrer's Face with Donald Duck. There will probably never be another year like 1942 which was clearly the year of Hitler satire and The Three Little Pigs.

Rating 

 

7/10