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Western Animation / Tubby the Tuba (1947)

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Tubby the Tuba (1947) is George Pal's final Puppetoon short, adapted from the children's record of the same name written by Paul Tripp and composed by George Kleinsinger.

Once upon a time, there was an orchestra which was all busy tuning up. Tubby, the orchestra's tuba, laments that he only ever gets to play the "oompah" rhythm and never a pretty melody, which the other instruments respond to by laughing him out of rehearsal.

On his way home, he stops by a pond and meets a bullfrog who also likes to sing pretty melodies but never has anyone listen to him. He teaches Tubby a melody, telling him to play it for his orchestra the next day. Tubby obliges, much to the surprise and pleasure of their guest conductor, Senior Pizzicato. Soon, the whole orchestra joins in and Tubby gets his wish to play a beautiful melody with them.

After the film's release, Paramount closed George Pal's Stop Motion Animation studio and Pal moved on to a successful career in live-action.

For the 1975 traditionally animated feature adaptation of the same story, go here.


  • All of the Other Reindeer: Not unlike the Trope Namer, Tubby is ostracized by his peers for wanting to play with them (in this case, playing a melody instead of just chugging along with a uniform "oompah" rhythm). The story even has a Santa Clause analogue in the form of Senior Pizzicato, who recognizes Tubby's worth when he hears him play a melody and lets him lead the orchestra, earning their admiration in the process.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Tubby the titular tuba, as well as the rest of the instruments in the orchestra.
  • The Faceless: The human characters' faces are never shown.
  • The Film of the Song: Adapted from the children's record of the same name, which had been released two years prior, famously narrated by Danny Kaye.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: All of the characters, human and instrument alike, only have four fingers.
  • French Jerk: The French horn, of course, is one of the first to laugh at Tubby's dream.
  • Motor Mouth: Pipo the piccolo, being an instrument known for playing fast melodies, tends to talk very quickly.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: Though not a string bass, Tubby is still seen as the least important member of the orchestra by his peers simply because the tuba isn't expected to do anything but play a steady rhythm of bass notes.
  • Only Friend: Pipo the piccolo is the only character who shows Tubby any sympathy.
  • Stop Motion: A labor-intensive method that used wooden puppets.
  • Sudden Anatomy: Inverted. Tubby's face will occasionally disappear for certain expressions, such as when he sighs or plays a sting.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The story was inspired by a chance encounter that composter George Kleinsinger had with a tuba player, who told Kleinsinger "You know, tubas can sing too!"