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9

Mr. Bug Goes to Town (1941)

With the popularity and financial success of Gulliver's Travels, seen recently on Neatorama, the Fleischer Brothers soon turned out another feature-length and original animated film, this being Mr. Bug Goes to Town, released in Britain as Hoppity Goes to Town due to some unfortunate slang connotation of the word 'bug'. From the IMDb:

"Hoppity Goes to Town" was the second and last full length animated feature made by Max and Dave Fleischer, who created a parallel universe to Disney. While Disney's films are well remembered today, both of the Fleischer films "Gulliver's Travels" and this one are forgotten.

"Hoppity" is a spellbinding original, not an adaptation like the first picture. That is a major plus, one would think. No, the critics, rarely on the Fleischers' sides to begin with, tore into them for this. Yes, the story is not as tight as "Gulliver", but how can you hate a film that flaunts itself so joyfully?

It is filled with great musical numbers and a very involving story, which would be a crime to reveal. The characters are lovable and charming and there is heart in this film.

Whereas Gulliver's Travels was a success in every sense of the word, Mr. Bug Goes to Town proved to be a disaster of biblical proportions, including the all-important box-office. Much of this movie's financial failure is blamed on the fact that it was released on 5 December 1941, only two days before Pearl Harbor was bombed, and Disney's Dumbo had already captured what holiday market there was. The production of this film precipitated the infamous rift between Max Fleischer and his brother, Dave, a rift that was never resolved. As a result of the box-office failure of this film, Paramount, looking for a good excuse to do so, fired the Fleischers and took over their studio, renaming it Famous Studios. Finally, with the outbreak of WWII, many of their animators, such as Lead Animator Willard Bowsky, quit the studio to enlist in the armed services, and many never returned. Altogether, these events explain why the Flesichers failed and Disney kept on truckin'.

YouTube features the complete film and it is embedded above. It is an underrated film with superb animation and possibly the best songs ever found in any animated feature up to that point. Needless to say, it is a 'safe' film for small children and also contains some valuable life lessons.


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