Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarfs
is a very controversial 1943
short directed by Bob Clampett
for the Merrie Melodies
series. It is the classic (if the antiquated black stereotypes and World War II references don't make you too uncomfortable
) story of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
"... provided you modernized the setting (for the 1940s), filled it with an all black cast, and had a hot jazz soundtrack to boot. And a lot of outdated stereotypes and Wartime references.
While this short is considered one of the finest cartoons ever made, it's also considered one of the most racist, and as a result, it has remained on the infamous "Censored Eleven
" list of Warner Bros. cartoons, and it seemed very unlikely that it would see the light of day outside of bootlegs. There was word that Warner Brothers would put this out on DVD, but that hasn't come true yet.
This cartoon also holds the place of #21 on The 50 Greatest Cartoons
list, as well as a position on The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes
Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarfs employs the following tropes:
- The Big Damn Kiss: Not only brings So White back to life, but turns her hair ribbons into little American flags.
Prince: "Man, what you got / that makes So White think you so hot?"
Dwarf #7: "Well, that is a military secret!"
- Chewing the Scenery: Literally done by the queen after she gives the order to "black out So White". Specifically, she rips off the phone bit with her mouth and chews on it like mad.
- Christmas Cake: "That mean ol' queen, she sure is a fright..."
- Cinderella Circumstances: Implied, as So White is seen "washing all day" for the Queen. However, it is unclear if So White is the Queen's stepdaughter or her actual maid.
- Deranged Animation: Typical of Clampett's work.
- Notably the scene where Prince Chawmin's steps out of his limousine and walks around very oddly.
- Evil Laugh: Delivered by the queen when she thinks shes "blacked out So White."
- Girlish Pigtails: So White.
- Magic Skirt: So White's micro-mini, with the slits up each side. Plus, she spends a lot of time bent over a washtub or a cooking stove.
- Ms. Fanservice: "...but her gal So White is dynamite!"
- Murder, Inc.: Literally used in the short to "black out So White".
- No Sparks: Prince Chawmin' tries to apply his dynamite kiss to So White, only to find this is the case. (The Dopey expy does the trick.)
- Recycled IN SPACE!: It's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" WITH AN ALL BLACK CAST AND A JAZZ SOUNDTRACK!
- Which becomes Hilarious in Hindsight thanks to Disney's The Princess and the Frog (which also features an all-black cast [though Princess and the Frog has some white people to keep the racial balance in check] and had hot jazz music for its soundtrack).
- Rhymes on a Dime: All of the dialogue.
- Shout Out:
- The short has many parallels to Walt Disney's take on the tale, notably the scene where So White stands over a well and says, "Some folks think I'm kinda dumb / but I know some day my prince will come."
- When Prince Chawmin' arrives for The Big Damn Kiss, he declares, "I'll give her a kiss and it won't be a dud / I'll bring her to life with my special..." It then cuts to a black screen with the Prince's disembodied lips exclaiming, "Rosebud!"
- So White sings, "I work all day, and I get de bluuuuuues in de night." This was because Bob Clampett was a fan of African American jazz music.
- Something Else Also Rises: The Dopey Expy kissing So White has a stronger reaction than the Prince's attempts.
- The Speechless: Averted with the Dopey Expy, who even has a line in their introductory song.
- Through a Face Full of Fur: Prince Chawmin' turning completely pale (save for most of his teeth), due to his attempts at reviving So White with his rosebud kisses literally taking the life out of him in the original, freaky version of that part. In the alternate version, his face turns gray as he tries in vain to awaken So White by kissing, then his hair turns gray, stands back and becomes wavy, then white and receded, and his face is now a high-yellow shade in lieu of his normal, darker complexion.
- Visual Pun: The part where the queen is eating "Chattanooga Chew-Chews", a Shout Out to the classic big band tune, ''Chattanooga Choo Choo".
- And she has a bottle of "Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin."
- Wartime Cartoon: notable in several places, for example ...
- When describing how rich Ol' Queenie is, they show her with piles of gold and jewels ... and tires, and sugar, and coffee (all of which were very strictly rationed during wartime).
- The "Murder, Inc." van advertises "We rub out anybody - $1.00 Midgets - 1/2 price. Japs - FREE."
- The dwarfs themselves are all U.S. Army soldiers; So White ends up as cook for their platoon.