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Western Animation / Rooty Toot Toot

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"Rooty Toot Toot" is a 1951 UPA animated short (distributed through Columbia Pictures as part of the Jolly Frolics series), directed by John Hubley. The short depicts the trial resulting from the old Murder Ballad "Frankie and Johnny", with prosecution and defense depicting their rival reconstructions of the crime to a hot jazz version of the tune. Despite the fact that The Bartender and her rival, chanteuse Nelly Bly, testify against Frankie, she is, through her shyster lawyer's machinations, brought in "Not Guilty" — until she proves to the jury very thoroughly that their estimate of her deadliness is mistaken, by means of solvitur ambulando.

The animation is, as was customary at UPA, extremely stylized, making use of Limited Animation techniques to pare the story down to its essence.

You can watch it here.

Tropes Associated With "Rooty Toot Toot" include:

  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Someone had apparently forgot to make sure the gun, which was brought in as evidence, wasn’t still loaded.
  • Black Comedy
  • Dance Party Ending: The whole courtroom breaks into dance when the verdict is read. It comes to a crashing halt when Frankie shoots Honest John.
  • Death by Woman Scorned: Johhny, allegedly. And Honest John, definitely. Johnny also attempts to kill Frankie for spurning him in Honest John's version of the events.
  • Downer Ending: Frankie goes to the Big House, for shooting Honest John.
  • Dies Wide Open: Honest John after he's shot
  • Gratuitous Latin: Honest John is inclined to spouting Latin legalese.
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  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Frankie is described as having one in the opening song number. It's what leads to her defeat after she sees Honest John flirting with Nellie Bly and shoots him.
  • Lady in Red: Frankie, as she is portrayed as a Woman Scorned.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: As Honest John says, "You have asked for the truth, without compunction; I have performed that fiction — eh, uh — function."
  • Notably Quick Deliberation: The jury rushes into the deliberation room and spend all of half a second before rushing back out to deliver the verdict.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Barkeeping: The bartender even takes his rag to the courtroom, and compulsively wipes the witness stand with it.
  • Rashomon Plot: The murder is told in three different versions: the bartender's, Nelly's and Honest John's. The latter is particularly outlandish, with Johnny firing the shots himself and the bullets ricocheting all over and chasing him across town, but it nevertheless gets Frankie acquitted.
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  • Rhymes on a Dime: As when the bartender says Frankie shot Johnny, "with a Rooty Toot Toot, right in the snoot" — despite the fact that he is actually shot in the torso.
  • Rubber-Hose Limbs: Nelly Bly is able to twist her arms and legs like pretzels. She is animated by Grim Natwick, who started his career in the Rubber Hose era of animation.
  • Title Drop: Rooty Toot Toot, the onomatopoeia for the gunshots that laid Johnny low, is repeated as a chorus throughout the short.
  • Unmoving Plaid: Frankie's hair during Honest John's story.
  • Villain in a White Suit: Frankie's defense lawyer, Honest John McCrook, is clad in a white suit. His animation makes it nearly impossible not to see him as a stand-in for the Devil.
  • Virgin in a White Dress: How Frankie is depicted in Honest John's account of events, a care-free innocent skipping and picking flowers in a white flowing dress.