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Western Animation / Magical Maestro

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For the record, the piece is "Largo al factotum."
Magical Maestro is a 1952 animated short, directed by Tex Avery. The plot of the cartoon is fairly simple. A magician tries to get a job in a theatre, but is kicked out by the opera singer of the house because the theatre is playing a concert, not a magic show. In an act of revenge the magician disguises himself as the conductor and changes the opera singer into all kinds of wacky characters by using his magic wand as a baton. Finally the magician's wig comes loose and the opera singer recognizes him. He runs off without his magic wand, but the singer brings him back and acts out a similar act of revenge on him.

Magical Maestro is one of Avery's most famous and popular cartoons. It is inducted in the National Film Registry since 1993, the only Avery short so far to be inducted there.

Magical Maestro provides examples of:

  • All Asians Wear Conical Straw Hats: After being thrown a cymbal on his head the singer changes into a Chinese man from Imperial China with a conical straw hat. This is typically cut from TV airings.
  • Amusing Injuries: Even the obligatory anvil is dropped on the head.
  • Anvil on Head: The irate audience member drops one on the head of the opera singer.
  • Blackface: In one gag that's almost always cut from TV airings, an irate audience member sprays Poochini with ink from a fountain pen, briefly turning him into a black singer.
  • Born in the Theatre: There appears an animated "hair" caught in the projector gate that was so realistic it drove projectionists crazy... until the action suddenly stops and the on-screen cartoon singer plucks it and throws it away (see the picture above). Supposedly the canister for the cartoon's film included a warning label to try and put the projectionists at ease.
  • Bowdlerize: Understandably, several of the more racially-insensitive jokes, such as the cymbal turning Poochini into a Chinaman (as well as the magician also being briefly turned into a Chinaman at the end) and ink from a pen turning him into a black singer, are often cut in syndication.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: One of the more famous bits not involving the magician's antics is when a stray hair appears in the corner of the screen, as if it got caught in the film reel. Poochini takes notice and plucks the errant hair and tosses it aside before continuing the show.
  • Cartoon Conductor: Expected when you're using a magic wand as a conductor's baton.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Presto sabotages the Great Poochini's opera performance solely because he wasn't hired as an opening act — not that opera is well known for opening with a magic show in the first place, mind you.
  • The Dog Bites Back: A literal example. After the magician is outed, Poochini angrily grabs his wand, levitates him onto the stage and forces him to reenact Poochini's entire performance in about five seconds. Including the hula and luaus.
  • Getting the Boot: Presto's audition for Poochini only gets him kicked out into the street.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The climax, in which the magician's wig falls off and Poochini nails him with his own wand.
  • Magicians Are Wizards: For a magician his magic skills sure go far! They defy the laws of gravity and physics in seconds.
  • Ninja Prop: A stray hair is seen shaking around at the bottom of the screen — a common problem with films at the time. That is, until Poochini actually plucks the annoying hair out. (This gag is rumored to have turned a few projectionists bonkers as they tried to remove the way-too-realistic hair.)
  • Not-So-Phony Psychic: After being kicked out of the theater, the magician waves his wand around nonchalantly, which causes rabbits to appear. Even he seems surprised that its magic is real, and that's what gave him his idea for revenge.
  • Produce Pelting: An irate audience member hurls a huge pile of fruit at the stage, just in time for the singer to get turned into Carmen Miranda.
  • Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat: Rabbits appear in the singer's hands. As he hides them away, and lifts his hands again, they reappear, only with their numerous offspring. They also provide background singing for the "Mamãe Eu Quero" and "Hawaiian War Chant" moments (and apparently are a guitar for "Darling Clementine").
  • Punny Name: Poochini is a pun on the word pooch for dog and composer Giacomo Puccini.
  • Shout-Out:
    • After being pelted with fruit, the opera singer changes into Spicy Latina singer Carmen Miranda, who was known for her Tutti Frutti Hat.
    • After getting sprayed with ink, the singer transforms into a black artist, mimicking the R&B group The Ink Spots.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Literally! In the climax, after the magician's wig falls off, Poochini grabs the wig off his head and his wand and makes the Magician go through all of the transformations that Poochini suffered.
  • The Show Must Go On: It looks like nothing can prevent Poochini from singing "Largo al factotum", not even Presto's magical pranks.
  • Standard Snippet: The only portion Poochini sings from The Barber of Seville is the famous Figaro chorus.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • After the singer is sprayed with ink, he transforms into a black singer. An underlying joke that modern audiences will probably not get is that he is imitating the R&B group The Ink Spots (specifically their frontman, Bill Kenny), again in line with the fact that his head is full of black ink.
    • After having an anvil dropped on his head by the very same audience member, the singer's body is compressed, referencing both The Ink Spots' bass, "Hoppy" Jones, and the band's "Top & Bottom" song format.
  • Tutti Frutti Hat: The fruit the heckler throws at Poochini becomes a hat when Mysto turns him into Carmen Miranda.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never know the fate of the conductor who had his hair, clothes, and nose stolen by the magician.