Color Classics: All’s Fair At The Fair


For today’s cartoon I’m stepping back into the Fleischer Color Classics, with a short released the 26th of August, 1938: All’s Fair At The Fair. The title gives away the subject: it’s a World’s Fair cartoon, and since it was the late 30s it’s a severely Art Deco setting to show off the automated and mechanized world of tomorrow, the one that doesn’t really need people in it.

This is a setting, and a hook to hang jokes on, that’s well-designed for the Fleischer Cartoons: Max and Dave Fleischer had a particular thrill for ingenious mechanisms and gadgetry. Sometimes I suspect they’re a little bothered to have to have characters in their cartoons, and so the automated, people-less World of Tomorrow plays to their strengths. After the initial scenes this is a very empty World’s Fair, with just one country-hick pair of characters appearing at all. I’m not sure the characters even had any written dialogue. The way they mutter evokes the contemporary Popeye style, in which the voices were recorded after animation. But Elmer and Miranda haven’t got the personality of Popeye and Olive Oyl, and Jack Mercer (the voice of Popeye) and Margie Hines (who had taken over voicing Olive Oyl and Betty Boop) couldn’t do much to give them character.

But this isn’t one to watch for the characters. It’s one to watch for gadgets doing things, and for the lovely background and set designs. That works, all, doesn’t it?

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there.

4 thoughts on “Color Classics: All’s Fair At The Fair”

  1. I’m still miffed that the 1930s notion of future food as pills hasn’t happened (something to do with mistaking ‘trace minerals’ for ‘fibre bulk’, I think, which doctors at the time pointed out but everybody ignored amidst the joyous notion that future meals wouldn’t be an occasion for a civilised gathering and chat with friends and family, but instead be limited to a quick gulp-down of some anonymous capsules).

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    1. Food pills are one of those mysterious bits of futurism that never quite panned out, aren’t they? We do get something kind of circling around the idea with those densely-packed granola bars that have every nutrient plus 1200 calories or the like, which will keep you going in case of need (they were even brought up on Skylab as a way to extend the food ration, as NASA worried that some of the food — loaded for all three missions before the first one launched — might have got spoiled in the first ten days when the space station’s solar shield tore loose), but it hasn’t got that neat convenience of being the size of an M&M and all you need for the day.

      They must have been created out of some observation of the wonders of vitamin pills and the discovery that people didn’t just need to eat food, but food with particular nutrients, but I feel like there’s some fascinating blog post about the place of the food pill in culture that I haven’t yet seen.

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