Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / Russian Rhapsody

Go To
Nazis is da cwaziest peoples!

"Russian Rhapsody" is a Looney Tunes Wartime Cartoon directed by Bob Clampett, released May 20th, 1944.

When the German Luftwaffe faces difficulties in reaching Russia, and reports of Gremlins being responsible start popping up, Adolf Hitler takes it upon himself to bomb Moscow. While enroute, his plane is steadily beset by and slowly disassembled by a group of Russian "Gremlins from the Kremlin" (mostly caricatures of the animators), singing a merry tune while at work. When the Fuhrer finally discovers them, the Gremlins outwit him and succeed in bringing down both him and the plane.

"Russian Rhapsody" provides examples of:

  • Adolf Hitlarious: Hitler's speech is intercut with a sign saying "Silly, isn't he?" The Fuhrer also decides to bomb Russia himself and flies there by plane while the gremlins beat and punch him up throughout the entire cartoon.
  • Alliterative Title: "Russian Rhapsody". One of the newspaper headlines reads "Fuhrer Furious".
  • Artistic License – Engineering: Even after many vital parts of the plane have been dismantled the thing still keeps flying.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Hitler manages to run away from the crashing plane while hanging in the air. When he reaches the ground he runs away from beneath the object that is about to fall on top of him, but the plane just moves a few inches to where he is standing and crashes down on him anyway.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Hitler's opening speech, which includes bizarre references to Friz Freleng, Heinrich (German version of Henry) Binder (Henry Binder was one of the associate producers of WB cartoons when Leon Schlesinger was there), "What's Cooking, Doc?", zoot suits, ordering saurkraut from a delicatessen, the chattanooga choo-choo (a shout out to the classic big band tune from the 40's), and promises to "bomben that Irish general Tim O'Shenko" (A pun on the name of the Soviet general Semyon Timoshenko, who was the "People's Commisar for The Defense of the Soviet Union" at the time of Hitler's invasion in 1941, before he was replaced early on by Josef Stalin himself taking over).
    Hitler: (cries) Oh, that O'shenko...
  • Asteroids Monster: One of the gremlins splits himself into a team of smaller gremlins by... walking into one of the plane's propellers.
  • Authority Equals Ass Kicking: Played for Laughs. Hitler has decided to personally fly the next mission to bomb the Soviet Union, where he proceeds to spend the rest of the film as The Chew Toy.
  • Back from the Dead: Hitler climbs out of his grave, impersonates comedian Lew Lehr's "Monkey's is the cwaziest people!" catch phrase, and is promptly beaten back into the ground by a Soviet gremlin.
  • Badass Adorable: The gremlins, particularly the kids.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: While overall Hitler is presented here as pitiful Harmless Villain, he's still the leader of Nazi Germany and a nasty vicious bastard. As soon as he gathered his wits from the Gremlins' electricution of him, the first thing he does is glower at the Gremlins right in front of his face and pull out a knife, crawling after the fleeing saboteurs with murderous intent.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Unusual resemblances to Warner Bros. cartoon artists aside, many of them possess weird anatomy and abilities, such as having saws or screws for noses (which helps them immensely in sabotaging the plane), being able to duplicate into smaller versions of themselves by walking into propeller blades, and even got onto the plane to begin with by walking in thin air from the clouds.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: The gremlins differ wildly in shape and color.
  • Chummy Commies: The Soviet gremlins are the sympathetic protagonists.
  • Disney Villain Death: For Hitler, of course.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: One of the gremlins who has a large nose suddenly pops up between the legs of a moustached gremlin, which makes it look as if the moustached one has a Raging Stiffie.
  • The Dreaded: For Hitler, Stalin. So much so that when the Gremlins pulled out a mask of him, the Fuhrer screamed like a little girl and fainted.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Hitler repeatedly fails to notice the Gremlins' sabotaging of his plane in-flight, whether they are loudly tearing apart the interior behind him in the bomber bay, swapping a logo in the front windscreen, to even hiding in his hair. It took one Gremlin poking his rear end with a nail to finally make him realise the gremlins were onboard.
  • The Fair Folk: They might as well be Fae from their bizarre appearances and seemingly magical abilities, although in Real Life they appear much more recently than other Fair Folk creatures in folklore during WWII to explain unexplainable mechanical faults in aircraft.
  • Gag Nose: Hitler's nose gets hit a lot.
  • Girly Scream: When Hitler comes face to face with the gremlins wearing a mask of Josef Stalin.
  • Griping About Gremlins: The gremlins were a popular Urban Legend during World War II and supposedly sabotaged army airplanes.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: Hitler's grotesquely detailed face gets much screen presence in the short.
  • Hammerspace: The gremlins are capable of pulling weapons and tools (most commonly actual hammers) from out of nowhere.
  • Harmless Electrocution: Hitler's nose gets put into an electric socket, causing him to take the shape of swastika, a skunk and a jackass, but it doesn't kill him.
  • Hitler Cam: Camera shot used during the scene where Hitler is speeching, making this a literal example.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The building behind Hitler is called "New Odor", in reference the "New Order".
  • In-Joke:
    • Hitler namedrops a number of prominent Warner Bros animation staffers, such as Freleng, Schlesinger, and Clampett.
    • As noted below, the gremlins are caricatures of Warners' creative and business staff.
  • Lemony Narrator: At the start of the cartoon a narrator talks in a comedic voice, "Once upon a time way back in 1941" after which an explosion follows and he's never heard again.
  • National Stereotypes:
    • Hitler mentions several German dishes during his rant: hamburger, Frankfurter, sauerkraut, liverwurst, and hassenpfeffer, while "Oh du Lieber Augustin" plays in the background.
    • Several of the Russian gremlins wear traditional Russian costumes. Additionally, the soundtrack is jazzy remixes of traditional Russian folk songs.
  • Nazi Protagonist: Adolf hitler is the protagonist of this short and was the leader of the Nazi party.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The gremlins are caricatures of the animators' staff at Warners: Chuck Jones (the dopey, fat blond onenote ), Bob Clampett (the skinny, pink naked one with the long nose and the pompadour), Friz Freleng (the balding, green one with orange freckles), Melvin Millar (the fat one with the tack on his head who keeps trying to jump to stick Hitler in the butt), Michael Sasanoff (the one with the box of "Termiteskis"), Tedd Pierce (the one with the Gag Nose who pops between a fat gremlin's legs, making him look like he has a Raging Stiffie), Leon Schlesinger (the chubby-faced one in the blue suit hammering the screw heads off and hitting Ray Katz with his hammer), Henry Binder (the buck-toothed yellow one with the V-shaped hair chewing on parts of the plane, and later seen sleeping and nearly getting his hair sawed off), and Ray Katz (the one with the big eyes getting hit with Schlesinger's hammer). Binder, Freleng, and Katz are also namedropped during Hitler's rant in the beginning.
  • Non Sequitur, *Thud*: After the gremlins sabotage Hitler's plane and drop it on top of him, he pops up out of the ground laughing and says in a goofy voice "Nazies is the cwaziest peoples".
  • Noodle Incident: The Gremlins' song mentioned that they helped sabotage and beat back Napoleon's armies in 1812.
  • Pint-Size Powerhouse: The gremlins are capable of wielding hammers and tools many times their size, with considerable force.
  • Propaganda Machine: This is a US wartime propaganda cartoon.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Features the Russian folk songs Ochi Chyornye (Dark Eyes) and Eh, uchnem (Song of the Volga Boatmen), with custom lyrics added to them. When Hitler is speeching the song "Oh du Lieber Augustin" is playing in the background.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The cartoon refers to Hitler's failed invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. At the time this cartoon was made Josef Stalin's troops had already reconquered most of Eastern Europe and were heading for Berlin, explaining why Hitler is so scared when seeing the Stalin mask.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Hitler when the Gremlins scared him with a Stalin mask.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of the gibberish things Hitler rants about during his speech is "Chattanooga Choo-Choo", which was a popular song at the time.
    • The gremlin who says: "I'm only three and a half years old!" is a reference to the character Martha (played by Billy Gray) on Abbott and Costello's radio show.
    • The line "How do you do?" references Bert Gordon's radio character "The Mad Russian".
    • When Hitler's plane has crashed, he pops up looking completely goofy and says: "Nazis is the craziest peoples!" This is a reference to then popular comedian Lew Lehr, whose had a film series where he talked over footage of animals in the zoo and when monkeys came in view he would say: "Monkey's is the cwaziest peoples!".
    • The ending of this cartoon was referenced in the South Park episode Osama Bin Laden Has Farty Pants, where Bin Laden is also defeated and puts on a goofy expression, while saying: "Terrorists are the craziest peoples!"
    • In Looney Tunes: Back in Action a gremlin from this cartoon is shown hanging in a picture on the restaurant wall.
  • Standard Snippet:
    • When Hitler is speeching "Oh du Lieber Augustin" plays in the background, a melody often used whenever Germans are depicted in old cartoons.
    • The song "We Are Gremlins From The Kremlin" is sung to the tunes of the Russian songs "Ochi Chyornye" ("Dark Eyes") and "Eh, Uchnem" ("Song of the Volga Boatmen"), the most typical tunes used to evoke a Russian atmosphere.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Actually only one of them is targeted: Hitler himself.
  • Time Marches On: A number of the jokes and references to 1940s pop culture are bound to go over modern viewers' heads.
  • Villain Protagonist: Adolf Hitler.
  • Wartime Cartoon: One of the most well-known Looney Tunes wartime cartoons.
  • Wild Take: Hitler pulls a number of these.