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Stoopnocracy (1933) Online

Stoopnocracy (1933) Online
Original Title :
Genre :
Movie / Animation / Short / Comedy / Family / Music
Year :
Directror :
Dave Fleischer
Cast :
Budd Hulick,F. Chase Taylor,Harold Nicholas
Type :
Time :
Rating :
Stoopnocracy (1933) Online

An animated short chronicling the adventures of Colonel Stoopnagle and Budd.
Credited cast:
Budd Hulick Budd Hulick - Budd
F. Chase Taylor F. Chase Taylor - Colonel Stoopnagle (as Frederick C. Taylor)

User reviews



Since I actually know something about the history of animation-- as well as old-time radio-- I can definitely tell you this 1933 "Screen Songs" cartoon is worth discovering. "Stoopnocracy" reflects the wacky, surrealism of the best Fleischer animation, and it also spotlights one of the icons of the early Golden Age of old-time radio: Colonel Stoopnagle. Together with his straight man partner Budd, the two have some fun with the movie audience: showing off some of the Colonel's Rube Goldberg-like inventions as well as singing a couple popular songs of the time, with sidekick Budd imitating Bing Crosby at one point. Since they broke up as a team in the later 1930s-- and because most of their broadcasts have been lost to time-- they are not nearly as well-known today as other popular radio acts. Nevertheless, they were hugely popular at the time, and the discerning reviewer will see why. It's a shame they did not appear in more motion pictures, but at least here we have them doing their material in a "nut house." Highly recommended. Stoopnocracy is STILL peachy.


Just saw this as part of a program of Fleischer Screen Songs on the big screen at UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, and it was one of the hits of the evening.

Yes, Stoopnagle and Budd are not terribly funny, but they're also not on screen for very long. They're preceded by some silliness about gathering "nuts" for the "nuthouse" -- including one particularly funny in-joke about a cartoonist (seen drawing a Betty Boop cartoon) who is carted away just by virtue of his profession. The cartoon segment also includes a very brief blackface bit, which is not all that abnormal for a 1933 film. I know it's difficult to do, but I think it's important to try to see things in historical context. In this case, both the view of insanity and the blackface segment are similar to other films of the time, and considerably less objectionable than many.

Following the cartoon, we have Col. Stoopnagle and Budd, who were popular radio comedians. They do a silly little bit about inventions, which leads to Budd imitating Bing Crosby, followed by a performance of "Minnie the Moocher" by a young African-American performer dressed as a baby. Another reviewer seems to have missed the point several times over when he wrote that this was "dumb and racist" and that "...this is the only one {Fleischer cartoon} I've seen featuring a song with a scat lyric. Several times, the bouncing ball seemed to lose its place among the scat syllables, and I couldn't blame it. Matters are not helped when the scat lyrics (printed in white) get lost in the white folds of the black boy's baby costume."

I'm not quite sure why this reviewer thought the segment was racist. In fact, to have two white performers stand behind a black performer, allowing that performer to have the spotlight, was actually pretty daring at the time.

Contrary to what the reviewer seems to believe, many Fleischer sing-along cartoons used hot jazz and scat singing; among them those starring Louis Armstrong, the Mills Brothers, the real Cab Calloway, and a very young Rose-Marie. In addition, the increasingly fast pace of the scat singing in this case became part of the joke, with the wording of the scat disappearing into the white costume and the bouncing ball getting confused as the scatting got faster and faster. At UCLA, the audience certainly got the joke.

Then the reviewer adds this rather astonishing sentence: "'Stoopnocracy' would have been a lot funnier if they'd left out that black kid."

Perhaps it might have been funnier, but "that black kid" was none other than the great Harold Nicholas, then aged 12, singing (not lip-syncing, as a previous poster suggested) the aforementioned (and really great) version of Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher." In addition to being one of the greatest dancers of the 20th Century, Harold was a terrific (and underrated) singer. I saw him perform (both singing and dancing, but mostly singing) toward the end of his life. His singing alone brought the audience to its feet.

The baby costume seemed to have been used only to point up the absurdity of having a child singing a very adult song. If anything shocked tonight's audience, it wasn't the stereotyping -- it was the idea of having a child sing these lyrics:

Folks, now here's a story 'bout Minnie the Moocher She was a red hot hoochie-koocher She was the roughest, toughest frail but Minnie had a heart as big as a whale

Now she messed around with a bloke named Smoky She loved him though he was cokey He took her down to Chinatown He showed her how to kick the gong around

Now she had a dream about the King of Sweden He gave her things that she was needin' He gave her a home that was built of gold and steel A diamond car with platinum wheels

Now he gave her his townhouse and his racing horses Each meal she ate was a dozen courses She had a million dollars worth of nickels and dimes And she sat around and counted 'em all a million times.

For modern audiences to whom this may seem like gibberish, allow me to give a rough translation:

Minnie was a loose woman (possibly a prostitute) sleeping with a cocaine addict, who got her addicted, too. In a drug-induced dream, she imagines that she has sold herself to the King of Sweden for a couple of homes, an expensive car, race horses, rich food, and lots and lots of money.

Considering that this was a Fleischer pre-Code cartoon, none of it is really all that shocking. For more about pre-Code films or early Fleischer cartoons, I'm sure you can find plenty of information online. "Stoopnocracy" had everything a good early Fleischer Screen Song should have: surreal comedy, quirky animation, great music by an important performer of the time and a little something pre-Codish to keep everyone on their toes. In my opinion, this is one of the more delightful of the Fleischer Screen Songs cartoons.

Chacun à son goût, of course.


A poor but watchable version of this cartoon is currently available on YouTube. There is not much in this curiosity to recommend it- some bad gags, a couple of them rendered awkwardly racist by the passing of the decades, commingled with the comedy of the now-forgotten Col. Stoopnagle and Budd. This little loop offers few clues for any cultural anthropologist to understand why the Colonel and Budd were such stars in the 1930s. I am an Old Time Radio fan; sadly, almost none of their shows survived. But The Colonel (F. Chase Taylor) did leave a book or two, written in a typically breezy New Yorker style. I have been fascinated by seeing the Colonel and Budd in their best surviving bit in W.C. Fields' "International House," also released in 1933. I recommend that film for a clearer picture of the duo.


Stoopnagle and Budd were a comedy team in 1930s American radio. They weren't a cross-talk act, because Budd Hulick was strictly the 'straight man' and feed, while Colonel Lemuel Q. Stoopnagle got the laughs ... if there were any.

Despite his elaborate name, Colonel Lemuel Q. Stoopnagle was (in the team's very occasional film appearances) a conventional-looking man in a business suit. His real name was Frederick Chase Taylor, and he was a cousin of H.P. Lovecraft(!), no less. Budd looked conventional too, being slightly smaller than Stoopnagle but also wearing a suit and a trilby. They were, after all, radio comedians who didn't rely on their looks.

On his own, Stoopnagle would tell conventional fairy tales but would embellish them with spoonerisms about the 'dappy dappy hays'. In the story of the Three Little Pigs, Stoopnagle would relate how the wolf 'blew the smith to house-ereens'. Then he would explain how Cinderella 'slopped her dripper'. Stoopnagle's fairy-tale routines were later recycled wholesale by Grand Ole Opry (and 'Hee Haw') comedian Archie Campbell. Stoopnagle would occasionally conscript Budd into his tongue-twisting tales, such as the one about Phoebe B. Beebee and her new canoe canal in Saugatuck, near Naugatuck, Connecticut.

Most of the Stoopnagle and Budd routines consisted of Budd interviewing Stoopnagle about his latest inventions. This format was similar to the one later used on 'Your Show of Shows', in which Carl Reiner (playing a reporter) would interview Sid Caesar (playing a professor) who was allegedly an expert on some subject. Stoopnagle's inventions were, of course, completely useless. My favourite was his goldfish bowl lined with picture postcards ... so the goldfish swimming inside the bowl will think it's going someplace.

'Stoopnocracy' was one of the Screen Songs shorts produced by the Fleischer animation studio and released through Paramount. Each Screen Song began and ended with an animation sequence, sandwiching the live-action sequence (and a sing-along) by a popular showbiz act of the time. The Screen Songs printed the lyric on the screen (in white) so that the audience in the cinema could sing along, with a bouncing ball so that the audience wouldn't lose their place.

Here, we get some amusing gags featuring a 'Funny Farm' (madhouse) which sends out a lorry (driven by cartoon animals) to grab other cartoon animals who are acting crazy, and to haul them off to the loony-bin. There's one outrageous racial gag: we see a smiley-face sun in the sky (like the one in 'Roger Rabbit'). A cat with a spring-loaded tail splatters black paint on the sun, leaving the sun wearing blackface! The sun even says "Mammy!".

Cue the live-action sequence. Budd interviews Stoopnagle about his latest inventions, which include some spherical dice (for people who'd rather play marbles) and an ashtray that never wants cleaning because it's attached to an electric fan (which blows away the ashes).

The sing-along sequence of this Screen Song instalment surprised me, since Budd was always subordinate to Stoopnagle in the act ... but here he gets to lead the sing-along. Stoopnagle's latest invention is 'a Bing Crosby cigar': anyone who smokes it will sound like Bing Crosby. Budd promptly lights it, and then proceeds to lip-synch Der Bingle's voice singing 'Please'. This idea was funnier when Paramount recycled it 12 years later in 'Out of this World', an Eddie Bracken movie.

So far, 'Stoopnocracy' has been clever and funny, but now it just gets dumb and racist. In a jump cut, Stoopnagle magically produces a 'baby' in the form of a Negro boy (about nine years old) dressed in baby clothes, who proceeds to lip-synch Cab Calloway's rendition of 'Minnie the Moocher' while the bouncing ball bounces the lyric. I've seen quite a few of these bouncing-ball sing-alongs, but this is the only one I've seen featuring a song with a scat lyric. Several times, the bouncing ball seemed to lose its place among the scat syllables, and I couldn't blame it. Matters are not helped when the scat lyrics (printed in white) get lost in the white folds of the black boy's baby costume.

From here, we go back to the Fleischer animation, and a couple of amusing gags about "chest-nuts" (hitting each other in the chest) and "wall-nuts" (climbing the walls). 'Stoopnocracy' would have been a lot funnier if they'd left out that black kid. Normally, when a showbiz act from the stage or from radio makes a rare film appearance, I'm willing to add a couple of points to my rating of that film for its historical value. The film appearances of Stoopnagle and Budd are very rare indeed, but Stoopnagle and Budd weren't a very important act anyway. I'll rate this one only 5 out of 10.


Just watched this Max Fleischer Screen Songs cartoon on YouTube. In this one, an ambulance takes various people to the Nut House, people like one who marries female conjoined twins (or Siamese as they were then referred to) or another one who draws animated cartoons (he's drawing Betty Boop constantly when we see him). At the Nut House, among the patients are the comedy team of Stoopnagle and Budd, Budd being the reporter of the New York Blaze interviewing inventor Colonel Stoopnagle. Among them are wet envelops in a fish bowl. They're that way so you don't have to lick the stamps. Also among them is a Bing Crosby cigar which, when smoked, you sing just like Bing. Budd takes a puff and starts singing "Please" exactly like him (of course, he could just be lip-syncing to Der Bingle himself on a recording). Asked about another invention that makes you sound like a radio singer, the Colonel provides a milk bottle that when drinked, makes you sing like Cab Calloway. Suddenly, a black kid played by Harold Nicholas appears in a baby outfit and warbles in his own voice "Minnie the Moocher" which if you know the words isn't exactly a children's song! He's fine doing it with the comedy team accompanying him in background. Both songs get the Bouncing Ball treatment. Then we're back in animation with some more crazy gags like one of a duck eating whole eggs with a hunter using him to shoot some floating guns! Okay, I though the animated gags were pretty amusing but the routines of Stoopnagle and Budd were quite hilarious, at least the first time I watched this. Oh, and the transfer on YouTube was pretty blurry. But despite that, I do recommend Stoopnocracy.