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Western Animation / Uncle Tom's Bungalow

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"My body might belong to you, but my soul belongs to Warner Brothers!"

Uncle Tom's Bungalow is an 8-minute long Merrie Melodies animated cartoon short directed by Tex Avery, and released on June 5, 1937 by Warner Bros. It is a parody of Uncle Tom's Cabin and of the "plantation melodrama" genre of the 1930s.

Simon Simon Legree, a greedy used slaves trader, sells the old Uncle Tom to Little Eva (a young white girl) and Topsy (a young black girl) on layaway — the girls bought him to save him from being whipped. Comes the winter, Legree finds out that the girls have missed their last three payments and sets out to get his money or take Uncle Tom back. The girls hide Uncle Tom upon learning of Legree's arrival and Eliza, a slave housemaid, whisks them away and a chase ensues.

The short was included in the Censored Eleven due to the many stereotypical portrayals of black characters it contains. Not to be confused with Uncle Tom's Cabana, made ten years later for MGM Studios, and also banned (but not part of the Eleven).


This cartoon contains examples of:

  • Anachronism Stew: Slavery was abolished in 1865 and the short features an electrical power plug - the first one was patented in 1904. And Uncle Tom's car is a 1930s model, no car existed at the time of slavery. Justified as this is a Tex Avery-style parody of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and most Tex Avery parodies don't stick to historical accuracy all that much.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • The Narrator introduces the characters and asks them to talk to the audience, and they answer to him. He even warns Little Eva and Topsy when Simon Simon Legree comes to claim Uncle Tom.
    • As he's about to be whipped by Legree, Uncle Tom tells him "My body might belong to you, but my soul belongs to Warner Brothers!".
  • Deadpan Snarker: The greyhound, on two occasions. The first instance is a mere "Hello." he says as a sole answer to the narrator before resuming his nap. The second one is when the narrator asks him if he's ready, he says "Yeah, I guess so, there is not much to do!"
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  • Dastardly Whiplash: Legree fits the trope to a T with his Lean and Mean looks and long handlebar mustache.
  • Evil Laugh: Legree lets a few of these out when the story starts at his office as he's about to whip Uncle Tom.
  • Exact Words: The narrator asks the hounds to say a word to the audience. The grey hound wakes up and says "Hello." then resumes sleeping.
  • Harmless Electrocution: Legree electrocutes himself by putting his fingers in an electrical power plug when searching for Uncle Tom inside Little Eva's house. This being a cartoon, he gets up just fine after the electrocution, without even an Ash Face.
  • Interactive Narrator: The narrator asks the story's protagonists to introduce themselves and they talk back at him. Furthermore, he's firmly on the girls/Uncle Tom's side and actively helps them against Legree, and also comments the chase like one would with a race event.
  • Lean and Mean: Legree is cruel, tall and thin.
  • Red Baron: Legree is nicknamed "the Viper". Most likely because he's Lean and Mean, and actually briefly moves his body like a snake in Little Eva's home.
  • Shrinking Violet: Topsy is quite shy when the narrator asks her to introduce herself.
  • Shout-Out: Simon Legree's Adaptation Name Change to "Simon Simon Legree" was probably a reference to French actress Simone Simon.
  • Slave Liberation: Uncle Tom becomes rich by cheating with loaded dice and buys his freedom with the money he won.
  • Southern Belle: Little Eva is a bit of a subversion in that she briefly swears with a male voice.
  • Talking Animal: The grey hound can talk.
  • Vocal Dissonance: When the narrator asks Little Eva to introduce herself, she starts enumerating useless details about herself in rapid succession and even lifts her dress. The now-embarrassed narrator tells her that all he and the audience want to know is her name, to which she angrily answers "LITTLE EVA, YA DOPE!" with a male voice.
  • Whip It Good: Legree uses his whip at every opportunity with glee.


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