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Western Animation: Flip The Frog

Damn!

Flip the Frog is a classic Ub Iwerks cartoon from The Golden Age of Animation, 38 shorts originally produced 1930-1933 for MGM. Though no new material was produced later on, the series received heavy TV play in the 1950s-1970s; today, modern DVD editions seem to have brought the series back to knowledge, if just for classic animation buffs.

Iwerks, departing from Disney to launch his own studio, created an almost anti-Disney series in these tales of a down-and-out Funny Animal. Flip is typically seen either opening a new business or trying to find work, but ends up in trouble due either to interference from Depression-era threats or from his own clumsy nature. He constantly has problems with his Speech-Impaired Animal sidekick, Orace the mule; he is ridden by his boss, a stern but man-hungry spinster. Flip's own attempts to become lucky in love occasionally bear fruit in old-time melodrama style, but just as often a girl will end up dumping him, or even beating up Flip and his friends ("The Soup Song", "Room Runners"). And there is a lot of piano playing too.

Flip the Frog cartoons are almost the defining example of animation from the pre-censorship era. An angry Flip often reacts to trouble with a shout of "Damn!" Nude or scantily-clad women often appear, usually to place Flip in compromising positions. Innuendo is everywhere; in "The Office Boy," a sexy office clerk unwittingly walks around with a "private" sign hanging from her backside. Finally, typical cartoon violence has consequences: in "Puddle Pranks," a character is eaten by a monstrous bird and appears to die permanently (being chewed up and swallowed).

Flip the Frog shorts featured many tropes that may or may not have originated with Flip, but that generally were first seen in cartoons of about this period (and thus are Older than Television). Many are Discredited Tropes or Forgotten Tropes. On a side note, Flip's first cartoon, "Fiddlesticks", was the first sound cartoon in color, predating even Disney's Silly Symphonies short "Flowers And Trees."

Despite this, the series was a failure, unable to compete with Mickey Mouse or even Bosko The Talk Ink Kid in terms of popularity, prompting Iwerks to abandon the character and begin work on the ill-fated Willie Whopper and Comi Color Cartoons series.

Not to be confused with Flip the Bird.
     Filmography 

1930

  • Fiddlesticks (Aug 16): The original pilot, produced in two strip color. The short is very similar to Iwerks' work on Disney's Silly Symphonies shorts.
  • Flying Fists (Sept 6): Last Flip short to be produced in color.
  • The Village Barber (Sept 27)
  • Little Orphan Willie (Oct 18)
  • The Cuckoo Murder Case (Oct 18)
  • Puddle Pranks (Dec. ?)

1931

  • The Village Smitty (Jan 31)
  • The Soup Song (Jan 31)
  • Laughing Gas (March 14)
  • Ragtime Romeo (May 2)
  • The New Car (July 25)
  • Movie Mad (Aug 29)
  • The Village Specialist (Sept 12)
  • Jail Birds (September 26)
  • Africa Squeaks (October 17)
  • Spooks (Dec 21)

1932

  • The Milkman (Feb 20)
  • Fire! Fire! (March 5)
  • What a Life! (March 26)
  • Puppy Love (April 30)
  • School Days (May 14)
  • The Bully (June 18)
  • The Office Boy (July 16)
  • Room Runners (Aug 13)
  • Stormy Seas (Aug 22)
  • Circus (August 27)
  • The Goal Rush (Oct 3)
  • The Pony Express (Oct 27)
  • The Music Lesson (Oct 29)
  • Nurse Maid (Nov 26)
  • Funny Face (Dec 24)

1933

  • Coo Coo the Magician (Jan 21)
  • Flip's Lunch Room (April 3)
  • Techno-Cracked (May 8)
  • Bulloney (May 30)
  • A Chinaman's Chance (June 24)
  • Pale-Face (Aug 12)
  • Soda Squirt (Oct 12)

This series contains examples of:


Felix the CatAnimal Title IndexFluppy Dogs
Ub IwerksThe Great DepressionWillie Whopper
HashimotosanThe Golden Age of AnimationWillie Whopper
Felix In HollywoodAnimated FilmsThe Frog Princess
Fred and Barney Meet the ThingWestern AnimationFluppy Dogs

alternative title(s): Flip The Frog
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