51. Bosko’s Picture Show – Hugh Harman

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SUMMARY: Bosko hosts a condensced evening at the cinema, including a sing-a-long, a newsreel, a comedy short and a main feature melodrama.

WHY IT’S HERE: One of the great thrills of watching animated shorts from Hollywood’s Golden Era of animation is witnessing just how in love with the medium of film animators were. ‘Bosko’s Picture Show’ is one of the earliest examples of an animated short trying to capture the entire experience of cinema going in seven minutes. Bosko, in one of his later performances, recreates the whole experience of 30s cinema, including the sing-a-long, newsreel, comedy short and main feature. Warner Bros. would revisit this format again with cartoons such as ‘She Was An Acrobat’s Daughter’, ‘The Film Fan’ and ‘Bacall to Arms’ but as the earliest example (as well as the earliest cartoon appearance of Adolf Hitler), ‘Bosko’s Picture Show’ holds a special significance.

‘Bosko’s Picture Show’ is also infamous for one particular reason. During the melodrama parody, on hearing of his enemies villainous doings, Bosko makes a declaration that many viewers claim to be the first use of extreme profanity in an animated cartoon. Some claim this was a parting shot from director Hugh Harman, whose last film for Warner Bros. this was. In truth, it’s very hard to hear what Bosko is actually saying. The official line on it, according to Warner Bros. DVD subtitles, is that he says ‘The dirty fox’, but it really doesn’t sound that way. Then again, it doesn’t quite sound like ‘The dirty fuck’ either, and I have my doubts as to whether that word would have been used in that particular way in the 30s. What it actually sounds like is ‘The dirty fock’ or ‘The dirty faulk’! Whatever Bosko says, it was seen as potentially offensive enough for Nickolodeon to edit it out, replacing it with ‘The dirty cur’. Profanity or not, anything that stirs up a bit of interest in Golden Age animation is a faulking good thing in my book!

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