67. Who Killed Cock Robin? – David Hand

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SUMMARY: When Cock Robin is shot with an arrow while serenading Jenny Wren, a trial is held to pin the crime on a crazy cuckoo.

WHY IT’S HERE: ‘Who Killed Cock Robin?’, is a surprisingly subversive satire on the legal system with a far more anarchic approach than the average Silly Symphony. The film seamlessly combines a tale, in the best Disney tradition, based on a Nursery Rhyme and a Hollywood caricatures cartoon in which the birds are depicted as resembling Bing Crosby, Harpo Marx and Steppin Fetchit. Best of all is a brilliant Mae West caricature whose suggestive dialogue makes the whole thing even edgier. In caricaturing West’s famous pre-code quipping, Disney does not shy away from accurately portraying her risque jokes. Forsaking the trademark cuteness for more satirical bite is perhaps what cost the film the Oscar for Best Animated Short (it lost out to the attractive but terribly cloying ‘Three Orphan Kittens’, another Disney production) but ‘Who Killed Cock Robin?’ stands as one of the greatest Silly Symphonies exactly because of this more adult approach.

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