Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (1943)

USA, 7 min


… swingin’!


Merrie Melodies cartoon by Bob Clampett of Looney Tunes fame.

An all-black parody of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Snow-White (known to its audience from the popular 1937 Walt Disney animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). Notorious for being one of the “Censored Eleven”: eleven Schlesinger/Warner Bros. cartoons produced at the height of the Golden Age of Hollywood animation based on racist humor.


Clampett is responsible for some important early animation work with Chuck Jones, et al., in the early…


… days of Warner Brothers. Regarding this period:

Clampett was promoted to director in late 1937, and he soon entered his personal golden age. His cartoons grew increasingly violent, irreverent, and surreal, not beholden to even the faintest hint of real-world physics, and his characters have been argued to be easily the most rubbery and wacky of all the Warner directors’. It was a plain fact that Clampett was heavily influenced by the Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí, as is most visible in Porky in Wackyland (1938), wherein the entire short takes place within a Dalí-esque landscape complete with melting objects and abstracted forms. Clampett and his work can even be considered part of the surreal movement, as it incorporated film as well as static media.

Over the next nine years, Clampett created a few of the studio’s funniest and most outrageous cartoons, including Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid, A Tale of Two Kitties (both 1942) (which introduced Tweety Bird), Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs and The Big Snooze (1946), his final cartoon with the studio, and one for which he did not get screen credit (only one of three he directed pitting Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd). It was largely Clampett’s influence that would impel the Warners directors to shed the final vestiges of all Disney influence and enter the territory they are famous for today.


Of the cartoons included in the Censored Eleven, animation historians and film scholars are quickest to defend the two directed by Bob Clampett, Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs and Tin Pan Alley Cats. The former, a jazz-based parody of Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, is frequently included on lists of the “greatest” cartoons ever made, while the latter is a hot jazz re-interpretation of Clampett’s now-classic 1938 short Porky in Wackyland.

(all quotes lazily snagged from wikipedia; relevant links below)

the “censored eleven”

leon schlesinger productions :: merrie melodies :: looney tunes

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