Wednesday, May 11, 2016

#2,095. One Froggy Evening (1955)

Directed By: Chuck Jones

Starring: Bill Roberts

Trivia: No voice is heard except the frog

Trivia: Steven Spielberg once described this as "the most perfect cartoon ever made"

Steven Spielberg called it “The Citizen Kane of Animated Films”, and in 2003 the U.S. Library of Congress deemed it so “culturally significant” that they selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry (side note: that same year also saw movies like Gold Diggers of 1933, Patton, White Heat and Young Frankenstein enter the registry). It’s even been named the 5th best cartoon of all-time by 1,000 professionals working in the animation field. That’s a lot of praise to heap on what’s generally considered a kid’s cartoon, but One Froggy Evening deserves every bit of it, and probably more besides.

While working on a demolition crew, a man finds a box cemented inside the cornerstone of an old building. To his amazement, the box is home to what is likely the world’s only performing frog! As the talented amphibian belts out tunes Like “Hello My Baby”, “I’m Just Wild about Harry” and “The Michigan Rag” (a song written especially for this short), the construction worker dreams of the money he’s going to make once people realize he owns a dancing frog. Unfortunately, the frog performs only for him; the moment anyone else is watching, it stops dead in its tracks and transforms into an ordinary amphibian. Try as he might, the man cannot convince the world that his frog (which, in the ‘70s, was given the name “Michigan J. Frog” by the short’s director Chuck Jones) is anything special.

There’s a lot to love about One Froggy Evening, from its upbeat musical numbers (all performed by Bill Roberts) to the hilarious situations that the construction worker finds himself in (my favorite is when he rents out a theater, then draws a big crowd by offering “Free Beer”, only to be disappointed once the curtain finally goes up). Yet what I find most impressive is that, aside from the music, One Froggy Evening gets the job done in complete silence; the human characters never utter a word throughout the entire short.

By combining awesome visual gags with catchy, toe-tapping music, director Jones and his crew have created a mini-masterpiece, and I'm sure that One Froggy Evening will continue to entertain kids and adults alike for many years to come.

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