I Love to Singa (1936)
Director: Tex Avery
Cast: Billy Bletcher, Tommy Bond, Johnnie Davis
Synopsis: A spoof of Al Jolson’s “The Jazz Singer”, a strict piano teaching owl is cursed with a son who “loves to singa”, but only jazz.
Directed by the legendary Tex Avery, I Love to Singa is a Merrie Melodies cartoon that spoofs The Jazz Singer, Warner Studio’s big hit from 1927 which was the first feature-length movie to contain spoken dialogue. Exactly why they decided to release a spoof nine years after the movie’s release is something of a mystery, but the cartoon does at least manage to avoid the worst of the tendency of cartoons from this era to be overly cute and sentimental.
The cartoon opens with an Owl, who works as a music teacher, anxiously waiting for his wife to hatch four eggs. In fact, he paces so long that he wears a trench into the floor of their home. When the eggs do finally hatch, he’s initially thrilled to find that the first is a great singer, the second plays a mean violin (which somehow grew in the egg with him), and the third is a whizz on the flute. However, to his horror, the fourth of his progeny turns out to be a jazz singer, a form of music which its father abhors. ‘Don’t worry, Papa assures his distressed wife, ‘We’ll teach him to sing like we want him to.’
As spoofs go, I Love to Singa is pretty cute, and is packed with pop culture references, the meanings of which have probably been lost in time in some instances.
(Reviewed 21st November 2013)