Saturday, January 21, 2006

Honeymoon Hotel (1934)

Honeymoon Hotel (Warner Bros., 1934) 
Dir: Earl Duvall
Cel Bloc Rating: 6/9

Mr. Bug looks like he's finally going to get some from his ladybug love in Honeymoon Hotel, the first of the Merrie Melodies series from Warner Bros. to be released in some rudimentary form of color processing. 

The process in this case was called CineColor, and it didn't last that long, as Warners only used it until early 1936, by which time the three-strip Technicolor process was no longer contracted only to the Walt Disney studio. As such, with only the red and green bars of the color spectrum available for use for CineColor (known as two-strip), it is not nearly as dynamic as Warner's could have wished. But one did what they could with what they had, and within the next two years, the Merrie Melodies would go to all color cartoons. (Looney Tunes would remain in black-and-white through 1943.)

In Honeymoon Hotel, Mr. and Mrs. Bug don't notice that they are in a minor league version of a color film; they are far too much in love, and on their way to the hotel in the title so that Mr. Bug can give the Mrs. a good shellacking. They only just met and fell in love in the Bugville park, where a single kiss on a ride in a peapod canoe leads them straight to the altar, and then onward to their consummation destination.

All of the story up through the hotel's introduction is told through song, in an elaborate and immensely cute staging of the sights and life in Bugville. A trio of sign painters pull themselves up to the top of a sign that reads at the top, "Visit Bugtown," and they sing along with lyrics that one of the painters splashes onto the sign as they pulley themselves back down...

"We are here to say
what we have to say
in the proper way to you!
Our job is just to advertise
to put you wise.

So we're gonna say
all we have to say,
you are not so far away.
So why not come on up sometime
to Bugtown's buggy clime?"

The scene switches to an overview of the town itself, with cute little insects running to and fro making their busy way. The trio continues singing over the action...

"Come along and take a trip to Bugtown.
We will try to give you something new.
We will show you insects that are living
just the same as me and you."

The scene switches again, this time to a four way traffic stop, where a police bug is blowing his whistle frantically at bug cars from all directions. In the middle of the verse, the scene will jump to a human lunch box which is being used as a diner by several bugs...

"Here you find a very busy corner;
traffic here is handled very well.
Here you find a buggy little lunchroom
where they say the food is swell."

We see a tea kettle with a hole smashed in the side that business bugs are using as a doorway to their Chamber of Commerce, and then a trolley line that has been constructed from various human objects such as matches and combs...

"Goodbye to depression,
business here is fine!
Perfect transportation
on Bugville's trolley line! [Note: I guess they forgot it was called Bugtown.]

A discarded human mailbox is naturally used for a post office, and an old rat trap or cage (not sure which) is being used to incarcerate a single felon...

"And here's an anxious crowd of buggy people,
who have come to town to get their mail.
Here's a little alimony dodger
in the Bugtown County Jail!"

Then we get to the good stuff. We enter a park area where there are several pairs of bugs pitching woo and playing. And we are finally introduced to the bug couple that I mentioned above, as the boy bug plucks a pea pod from a plant, pulls out the peas, and then turns the pod into a makeshift canoe and rows his ladybug love down a stream...

"And Bugville even has a park
for bugs to have a lark!
Now you've seen this buggy town,
how'd you like to stick around,
long enough to catch a glance
of a budding bug romance?
A ladybug who likes to hug
has fallen for a tumblebug!"

After a quick smooch in the canoe, wedding bells are heard, and the now married pair leave a church and climb into their rambler. And thus we finally get to the Honeymoon Hotel, where the bugs are going to get it on but good. The problem for the bug couple is this: everyone is far too interested in what is bound to go on in their room, and the newlyweds can't get any peace. Even their rambler has a red face with the thought of these two on their honeymoon night, and when they run into the hotel, the car stands up and whistles them back. He says in a very embarrassed way, "Goodnighhhhht!" and then sighs, holding his hands together wistfully.

As they walk in, the caterpillar bellboy, who stands tall and is laden with numerous suitcases and boxes, sings...

"I'm the guy who carries all the luggage,
I work in the Honeymoon Hotel!
I see all the kissage and the huggage,
many other things as well!"

The desk clerk is there to greet them, and he sings too...

"I'm the guy to see for reservations!
You'll find our hotel very neat!"

The groom sings a line to the desk clerk, and then the bride tells where they would like to stay...

Groom: "That's [indecipherable] combination."
Bride: "Yes, we want the bridal suite!"

Mr. Bug rubber-stamps the type "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" below all of the other entries saying the same in the register. Once they make it to their room, and after paying the bellboy with several coins that catches, each one with a separate hand, the couple slam the door to get going. The hotel detective is suspicious (or simply a major Peeping Tom) and tries to look through their keyhole, but they move the doorknob up too high for him to look in. (Other doorknobs spit in his eye, give him a raspberry, and make a fist and sock him in the face.) 

Room service boy bugs and maid service girl bugs barge into their room, offering, in song, all manner of drinks and clean bedding...

"How about a little glass of something?
Just a special brand we know is swell?
This will [indecipherable] you get good service
at the Honeymoon Hotel!

Pardon us, but here's some extra bedding!
Might be chilly, one can never tell.
We are here to see that you are comfy
in the Honeymoon Hotel!"

Mr. Bug, who just wants to spend some uninterrupted time with his ladybug, tells off the lot of them (though always with a smile on his face)...

"This is quite disturbing!
Why don't you say 'Good night'?"

And Mrs. Bug adds, though much more sweetly and clasping her hands...

"If you'd only leave us,
I'm sure we'd be alright!"

The room and maid service bugs respond...

Maids: "Very good, we'll see you in the morning!"
Room service: "Pleasant dreams and hope that you sleep well!"
All: "Guests don't go to sleep 'til dawning
in the Honeymoon Hotel!"

When they leave, the hotel service gang crowd around the doorknob and some climb up to peer through the transom, and one even produces a telescope, to watch the lovemaking of the two bugs. The Man in the Moon outside their window says "Ahhhh!" and Mr. Bug closes the blind. But it springs open again, and the Man in the Moon sings to the bugs his intention of spying on them...

"Ah! The moon is here!
You're in love, I fear!
I can see everything that you do!"

Mr. Bug turns out the light to darken the room and the bugs kiss, but the Man in the Moon turns a brilliant shade of vermillion, and says ashamedly, "Is my face red!" The bugs kiss again, and the thermometer on the wall shoots mercury to a heart at its base that pulsates and then shoots up the top of the thermometer, past a marking that reads "danger," and then the thermometer bursts and punches a fire alarm above it on the wall!

The Bugville Fire Department is called to put out the blaze engulfing the entire Honeymoon Hotel due to Mr. and Mrs. Bug's passion! The water truck carries a seltzer bottle along with a couple of hoses, and the hook and ladder is a caterpillar laden with a couple of combs. Another firetruck built out of a cheese grater and an alarm clock rings loudly on its way to the inferno. Residents jump out of the windows of the Honeymoon Hotel onto water bottles as the firefighters work to put out the blaze.

The bug couple are trapped in their room, but climb into the Murphy bed together and close it into the wall. The entire hotel is taken except for about half of their room, including the walls into which the bed is built, and where the front door was set. Mr. Bug crawls out of the bed and hangs a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door, and then shuts it. He and Mrs. Bug wink at the camera and then close the Murphy bed back into the wall. There is a calendar saying "February" on the underside of the bed, with a picture of a baby bug, who also winks at the camera. Iris out.

It's historical significance as the first CineColor Merrie Melodie noted, this is a cutesy and fairly innocuous entry in the Warner Bros. pantheon, there being numerous films already in existence of its ilk, if not general quality. While there are a number of clever moments and the lyrics of the song are fun, its chief interest for me is in its already mentioned inclusion of several mild innuendo.

And remember what Groucho Marx said:

"Love flies out the door when money comes innuendo."



And in case you haven't seen it...

[This article was revised and updated with new photos on 1/9/16.]

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