Western Animation: MGM Oneshot Cartoons

The MGM Oneshot Cartoons are a series of oneshot cartoons, produced by Fred Quimby for MGM's in-house cartoon studio. Many of these shorts were directed by Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising, as well as future star directors Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.

Aside from the first two and last two made, the bulk of these cartoons were made from 1939 to 1943. The shorts were made in an attempt to find a new star series for MGM, as well as to make up for the previous failures of The Captain And The Kids and Count Screwloose. One of these experiments, Puss Gets the Boot, would wind up launching MGM's acclaimed Tom and Jerry cartoons. Another notable oneshot was the anti-war short Peace on Earth, the only cartoon to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and to be voted as one of The 50 Greatest Cartoons in 1994.

These shorts were succeeded by the Tex Avery MGM Cartoons, many of which were also oneshot cartoons, although two final oneshots were produced in the 1960s by Chuck Jones for the studio while he was working on his Tom and Jerry shorts.
     Filmography 

1937

  • Little Buck Cheeser: A follow-up to the Happy Harmonies short "Little Cheeser".
  • An Optical Poem

1939

  • The Little Goldfish: One of two films Harman and Ising intended to outsource to Walt Disney, but finished for themselves.
  • Art Gallery: The last appearance of Harman and Ising's Good Little Monkeys characters.
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears: The second of two films intended to be outsorced to Disney, but ended up finishing for themselves.
  • The Bookworm
  • One Mother's Family
  • The Blue Danube: This short was considered one of the three cartoons that Hugh Harman did not regret making.
  • Peace on Earth: The second of the three cartoons that Hugh Harman did not regret making. One of The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
  • The Mad Maestro

1940

  • Puss Gets the Boot: The short that would later lead to the creation of the Tom and Jerry series.
  • Home on the Range: Has no relation to the Disney feature film.
  • A Rainy Day
  • Swing Social
  • Tom Turkey and His Harmonica Humdingers
  • The Milky Way: Won the 1941 Academy Award, ironically beating out both A Wild Hare and Puss Gets the Boot.
  • The Bookworm Turns: A follow-up to "The Bookworm".
  • Romeo in Rhythm
  • Papa Gets the Bird
  • The Homeless Flea
  • Gallopin' Gals
  • The Lonesome Stranger
  • Mrs. Ladybug

1941

  • Abdul the Bulbul-Ameer
  • The Little Mole
  • The Goose Goes South
  • Dance of the Weed
  • The Alley Cat
  • Little Cesario
  • Officer Pooch
  • The Field Mouse

1942

  • The Hungry Wolf: This short had some animation contributed by Disney animator Bill Tytla, who went to MGM's cartoon studio during the infamous 1941 Disney studio strike to briefly work there. Micheal Sporn's splog has a post about it.
  • The First Swallow
  • Little Gravel Voice
  • Bats in the Belfry
  • Chips off the Old Block

1943

  • The Boy and the Wolf
  • War Dogs
  • The Stork's Holiday
  • Leo Master Spanish: A short starring MGM's mascot Leo the Lion made exclusively for audiences south of the border.
  • Innertube Antics
  • The Tree Surgeon

1965

1967


Tropes:

  • All Just a Dream: The end of "The Little Goldfish".
  • Animation Bump: When Harman and Ising were brought back in 1939 to give the MGM Cartoon Studio the kick in the pants it needed, they had used the time in their absense to considerably refine their animation skills to the point of full-blown Disney quality, resulting in The Twelve Principles of Animation being in full effect in these shorts. It helped that Harman And Ising had in fact worked on one outsourced Silly Symphonies short, "Water Babies", during that time.
  • Anti-Villain: The eponymous wolf of "The Hungry Wolf"; he does want to eat the little kid rabbit who unwittingly comes to his house, but it's clear he was literally starving to death in the first place, and eventually the wolf gets guilty enough about his desires to where he forcibly throws the rabbit out to keep himself from eating him—which fails and he tries to go after him, only for the snowstorm to get the better of him. Ironically, the rabbit and his family take him in during the storm, and the wolf is very grateful for this.
  • Artistic License – Astronomy: "The Milky Way", which has literal milk. Also "Little Buck Cheeser" with it's cheese-moon.
  • Ascended Extra: The donkey from "Little Gravel Voice" would later make a couple appearances in the Barney Bear cartoon series, and even became a recurring character in the Barney Bear comics, even receiving the name of Benny Burro.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "The Little Mole"; the kid gets his new glasses broken and comes close to drowning, but he ends up reunited with his mother by the end, and he can once again see his "Dream Castle" (a pile of junk which he imagines is the former due to his very poor eyesight).
  • Big Friendly Dog: The family of Saint Bernard rescue dogs in "Little Cesario"; ironically inverted with Cesario himself in terms of size, but he's still just as friendly.
  • Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: "Little Buck Cheeser", in which a group of mice blast off to the moon because it's made of cheese.
  • The Cameo: Spike the Bulldog makes a brief cameo in "War Dogs".
  • Carnivore Confusion: "The Hungry Wolf", in which a starved wolf just can't bring himself to eat the cute little bunny who shows up at his doorstep (though he almost does).
  • Cigar Chomper: The Spider in "Mrs. Ladybug".
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: "Little Cesario", a Saint Bernard pup who initially seems rather unhelpful, but became instrumental in saving the older Saint Bernard, Alexander, from a heavy snowstorm and avalanche.
  • Crying Wolf: "The Boy and the Wolf".
  • Cute but Cacophonic: The donkey from "Little Gravel Voice"; his bray is not only extremely obnoxious, but literally harmful, as the wolf it encounters later finds out the hard way.
  • Cute Kitten: The trio of kittens in "The Milky Way".
  • The Dark Age of Animation: The two 1960s oneshots.
  • Denser and Wackier: "The Lonesome Stranger", a parody of western cartoons, is noticably more gag-oriented and wild in it's animation than most of these other shorts.
  • Digital Destruction: The restored version of "Tom Turk" has atrocious, blatant DVNR damage in many parts of the short.
  • Dog Face: Officer Pooch, from the eponymous short.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: The fate of the Spider in "Mrs. Ladybug"; after unwittingly swallowing his cigar to hide it from the nearby kid, it burns him from the inside and he drinks something nearby to put it out—only to find out it was a jug of gasoline! Seconds later, he violently explodes and is sent to Kingdom Come.
  • Furry Confusion: "Officer Pooch" has both a Dog Face and a non-anthropomorphic dog.
  • Get Out: The Wolf from "The Hungry Wolf" angrily says this several times to the kid rabbit before forcing him out of his house, but it's to keep himself from trying to give in to eating the kid.
  • The Golden Age of Animation: The bulk of the oneshots were made during this time.
  • Jerkass Façade: The Wolf from "The Hungry Wolf" angrily throws the kid rabbit out of his house, in an attempt to keep himself from trying to eat him.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: The premise of "Little Gravel Voice"; the protagonist is a cute, friendly little donkey who suffers from having a bray so dreadfully obnoxious that it scares away all the other animals. Ironically, his bray ends up harming and scaring away a hungry wolf, which earns him the friendship of the other animals—once they tie up his snout with his ears, of course.
  • Limited Animation: "The Dot and the Line".
  • Musical Episode: Several of them are, like their predecessor series Happy Harmonies.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: "Art Gallery" features several caricatures of famous movie stars of the day. "Gallopin' Gals" also features caricatures of female celebrities of the time period.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: "Blue Danube", although there are custom lyrics made for it in the short.
  • Rotoscoping: Used in Blue Danube, Goldilocks and Peace on Earth.
  • Sentient Vehicle: At one point in "Innertube Antics", when the eponymous tube rips the donkey's old Jalopy out of its frame, it crashes through his house's wall—and is found relaxing on the bed, smiling.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: "Art Gallery". Once it looks like Nero has succeeded in burning down the art museum, everything abruptly returns back to normal.
  • Spiritual Successor: Many of them are essentially Happy Harmonies with more lavish animation, hence why a few of these shorts featured previous stars of the Harmonies shorts.
  • Smelly Skunk: Dr. Primrose Skunk from "The Little Mole"; his first appearance has several flowers go limp as he walks by.
  • Transflormation: "The Tree Surgeon" revolves around an unintentional one.
  • The Twelve Principles of Animation: In full-blown effect. The shorts are very solidly drawn, and the films are loaded with more squash and stretch and secondary actions than you can imagine.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The wolf from "The Hungry Wolf" is driven to this when he kicks the kid rabbit out of his house to keep himself from eating him, and then succumbs to his hunger shortly after. Thankfully, the snowstorm outside gets the better of him, and the rabbit and his family save him and welcome him into their house (and the wolf is grateful for this).
  • The Voiceless: Pantomime was frequently used in the shorts, with some characters having no dialogue whatsoever. "Officer Pooch" is a notable example of this.
  • Wartime Cartoon: "War Dogs" and "The Stork's Holiday". "Innertube Antics" is not an explicitly war-themed cartoon, although the rubber scrap drive of the short is an obvious nod to the strict rationing of rubber during the war years.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: The Crow in "The Bookworm" tries to lure out the worm by attempting a "Little Bo Peep" sham. The worm isn't fooled.