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Western Animation / The Old Mill Pond

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The Old Mill Pond is a 1936 animated short film (8 minutes) produced by Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising and directed by an uncredited Hugh Harman.

The short does not have a story. Instead, the camera glides past a mill down to the old mill pond, where all the frogs have gathered together, to attend a jazz concert. After the introductory sermon by a preacher, the concert begins, and frogs corresponding to most of the well-known artists in the mid-1930s jazz world perform.

It was part of MGM's Happy Harmonies series of cartoon shorts.


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Tropes:

  • Funny Animal: Frogs that act just like people (specifically, frogs that act just like jazz musicians and performers).
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Seen in the show are frogs corresponding to Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Ethel Waters (the singer with the gap in her teeth), Bill Robinson, Louis Armstrong, the Mills Brothers (the four-frog combo), and, ugh, Stepin Fetchit. The line of chorus girls is taken from the chorus girls at Harlem's famous Cotton Club.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: The frogs appearing as the Cotton Club chorus girls wear bikini tops.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: No story, just frogs giving a show.
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: Possibly the Ur-Example, and surprisingly one that involves neither rockers nor guitars. Near the end of the cartoon the frog playing standup bass in the four-frog combo smashes his bass to splinters.
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  • Uncle Tomfoolery: All the frogs are drawn to look and sound like the common 1930s stereotypes of black people. A viewer's mileage may vary on just how racist the cartoon is, but the frog corresponding to cowardly Stepin Fetchit is pretty darn racist, even it is just caricaturing a real person's act.
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