Western Animation: I Love to Singa

I Love to Singa is a Merrie Melodies short directed by Tex Avery (or, as he is still credited here, "Fred Avery," with his animators, "Charles Jones" and Virgil Ross) that premiered on July 18, 1936. The cartoon, very popular at the time, was designed to feature the eponymous tune by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg, has a plot mirroring that of Al Jolson's most famous film, The Jazz Singer; un-coincidentally, Jolson (with Cab Calloway) had introduced the song in a 1936 Warner Bros. feature, The Singing Kid.

Tropes:

  • Ambiguously Jewish: The owls speak with heavy Teutonic (Yiddish?) accents; the plot is based on that of The Jazz Singer, which deals with the conflict between an Orthodox Jewish cantor and his son.
  • Animated Music Video: Many of the Warner Bros. shorts made at this time were designed to push the sales of songs that appeared in their feature films; this was no exception.
  • Billy Elliot Plot: Owl Jolson wants to sing, but his father doesn't approve.
    • More specifically, he wants to sing popular music, while his parents want him to be a classical musician.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Almost literally, as the protagonist retrieves his trophy from outside the black irised-in screen at the end.
  • Catch Phrase: Professor Fritz Owl: "Enough is too much!"; Owl Jolson: "I love to singa!"
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Fritz Owl angrily kicks Owl Jolson out of his home because he loves to sing jazz. He immediately regrets his actions though, and ultimately reconciles with Owl and his love of jazz by the end.
  • Earworm: Don't attempt to watch this unless you are prepared to singa, about the moon-a and the June-a and the spring-a, for the next few days-a.
  • Feather Fingers: Able to play a variety of musical instruments
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Averted only in the "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" bird.
  • Funny Animal
  • Get Out: Fritz Owl, in an act of impulsive anger, literally throws Owl Jolson out of his house and hurls insults at him afterward, solely because he won't stop singing jazz. He quickly comes to regret it.
    "Stop, STOP! Enough is too much! Out of my house, you hotcha! You crooner! You falsetto! You jazz singer! You... you... you...(Closes door; then opens it again) Phooey!"
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal
  • Hopeless Auditionees: A line of Hopeless Auditionees are trying out for “Jack Bunny’s” radio talent show; however, averting the second part of this trope, he gives them no encouragement at all.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: The middle section of the song:
    I was born a singin' fool-a,
    Lah-de-dah!
    Ol' Major Bowes is gonna spot me,
    Got through Yale with boula-boula,
    Lah-de-dah!
    Old microphone's got me!
    • "Major Bowes" was the master of ceremonies of a popular radio amateur competition.
  • Iris Out: Subverted in a bit of fourth-wall tomfoolery.
  • Large Ham: The father.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jack Bunny and Owl Jolson are take-offs on Jack Benny and Al Jolson, popular radio personalities of the day.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Mama Owl
  • The Owl-Knowing One: Fritz. If not supremely wise, at least extremely cultured.
  • Pie-Eyed: All the characters, in a rare color example.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The owlets perform the beginnings of various classical works: the tenor part from the Sextette of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor; Schumann's Träumerei: Felix Mendelssohn's Frühlingslied; and Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes (words by Ben Jonson, melody anonymous).
  • The Television Talks Back: Perhaps one of the earliest examples, although with a radio:
    Mama Owl: I vonder if they found my leetle boy!
    Police Radio: No, we didn't, lady!
  • Simpleton Voice: The stuttering bird.
  • Slapstick: The sequence in which Jack Bunny is disposing of the talent show losers.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: All the owlets look exactly alike, except for "Owl Jolson's" red coat and blue tie.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: The female birds have eyelashes, to distinguish them from the males.
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: Or feathers, in this case. When Fritz Owl throws his son out, his feathery face turns bright crimson from rage.
  • Title Drop: Every few seconds — Avery has the owlet restart the song several times, while other sections of the song are obscured, as if to drive the title of the short into the audience's head. Even Fritz Owl himself picks up on that particular line.
  • Toon
  • Toothy Bird: The stuttering bird.
  • Trap Door: How Jack Bunny disposes of his rejected amateurs.
  • White Gloves: Jack Bunny.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The plot is based on that of Al Jolson's most famous film, The Jazz Singer, in which the father of the title character rejects his son for wishing to sing jazz music; in that film, however, the father and son are reconciled only at the father's death-bed, and the son sings the Mourner's Kaddish at his father's funeral.
    • Also this version has no one in blackface; the lack (or at least, reduction) of Values Dissonance allows the cartoon to have retained more cultural popularity than the film upon which it is based.

Alternative Title(s):

I Love To Singa