A magician is spurned by an opera singer, and takes a spectacular revenge by replacing the conductor and turning the hapless tenor into one thing after another. And watch out for the hair ...
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This starts off as an adaptation of Robert Service's poem 'The Shooting of Dan McGrew', complete with a literal depiction of a man with one foot in the grave, but when Dan McGoo turns out ... See full summary »
A magician is spurned by an opera singer, and takes a spectacular revenge by replacing the conductor and turning the hapless tenor into one thing after another. And watch out for the hair that gets caught in the projector gate!Written by
Michael Brooke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Magical Maestro (1952) and Doggone Tired (1949) have same short musical connection. In Doggone Tired the music is heard as the dog, Speedy points out a rabbit hole, with a dance. In Magical Maestro, the musical rhythm is heard when the magical maestro does a quick dance, before asking the tenor, Now, do I get the job? See more »
TV prints often cut out the scenes where a man in the audience squirts a barrel of black ink at the opera singer, turning him into a black-face minstrel and where the magician turns the tenor into a Chinese man, a la Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Mikado". See more »
A Magical Maestro named Tex Avery, conducting one of his last masterpieces...
Who'd have thought that Spike, Droopy's mean-spirited nemesis, would become Poochini, the great opera singer?
Indeed, what a promotion from a one-dimensional villain-who-always-loses to the protagonist of one of the greatest Tex Avery cartoons. It's just as if the legendary animator finally understood the real personality of Spike, not a villain, just a misunderstood canine outweighed by misfortune and victim of creatures who make him look tenderly ridiculous. After having gone through Droopy's winning streaks, an annoying rooster and a sadistic gopher, he finally meets his match through a magician named Mysto (Daws Butler) and together, faux-conductor and real-victim, will contribute to one of the most iconic incarnations of Rossini's "Largo al Factotum" (who am I kidding? The "Figaro" song).
The story? Poochini's rehearsal is briefly interrupted by Misto who proposes an opening act to the show, his magic wand makes two rabbits pop up in front of an unimpressed Spike. I love how his face doesn't move an inch, only his eyes get slightly up when the second rabbit appears. After a drum-jingle dance, Mysto asks if he got the job? Cut to his epic kick out with the obligatory footprint on his bottom. A sad Mysto waves his wand and the rodents are back. Bingo, he and the conductor have one prop in common, all he's got to do is steal the poor guy's suit, hair and even his red nose, so when the music starts again, he can unleash the craziest and funniest tricks on poor Poochini.
It starts rather moderately: one rabbit on Spike's hand, then the second, and after... well, in the rabbit world, one and one doesn't make generally two. A slightly higher level: while Spike goes on with an impressive determination, he becomes a ballerina, a rock-breaking prisoner, a football and tennis player, an Indian chief etc. Then it's time for the music to match the singer, ethnicity-wise, you name them : Chinese, Cowboy, child, two 'colorful' parodies of Carmen Miranda and Ink Spots where the hilarity of the pun redeems the 'blackface' gag... to conclude with the catchy rhythmic Hawaiian Hula dance (the rabbits are the best part of this "Hoo-hah" "hoo-hah" part).
This is a wonderfully constructed cartoon that hasn't aged a bit and It is hard to believe that it was made in 1952. It wasn't just Tex Avery who was past his prime, the whole world of animation was. In 1950, the success of Oscar-winning "Gerald McBoeing-Boeing", adapted from Dr. Seuss' book, and the budget restrictions due to the concurrence of television, popularized the minimalist style known as the UPA from the name of its pioneering studio... even Disney followed the trend. But Tex Avery's case was different as in 1952, not only the UPA style heavily influenced the design of many characters (just check the evolution of Droopy) but his inspiration was severely wearing down. His "...of tomorrow" series featured repetitive, so-so or mildly amusing gags, Droopy was trapped in the same competition-driven concepts with an underexploited Spike and the Wolf, Red and Screwy Squirrel belonged to the long-gone days of glory.
It was clearly the beginning of the end of an era for the iconic Texan... but he sure had a few tricks left in his sleeve, with memorable cartoons such as "The Cuckoo Clock", "Symphony in Slang", "Rock-a-Bye Bear" and perhaps his last masterpiece "Magical Maestro", Spike's finest hour and the culmination of Avery's talent for a six-minute non-stop series of visual laughs and politically incorrect humor served by a wonderful soundtrack. The word PC shouldn't even be mentioned since this is one of the few cartoons that mock every stereotype: rednecks, blacks, Chinese, Latinos, Hawaiians, everyone is equally mocked, if mocked is the right word... what is wrong with using the traits that define a culture in our subconscious? What's wrong if the Chinese sounds gibberish if we get the point that it's supposed to be Chinese?
Such a cartoon couldn't be made today, but its 'equal treatment' is a fool-proof alibi against racism. And when I bought the DVD box, many cartoons were edited (blackfaces in most cases), some were even radically removed but this one remained untouched. Why? Because condemning one part would reveal the hypocritical nature of political correctness when it tends to be selective by determining scales of offensiveness, it just doesn't make sense. Or maybe Warner Bros editors were so amused they had a change of heart... seriously, even profanation has its limits.
Speaking for myself, I'm glad it was left intact, it's been a favorite of mine ever since I saw it in the first VHS that made me discover Tex Avery's cartoons when I was 4, "Magical Maestro" was the last one and for the anecdote, it ended with the first Hawaiian dance, the "Hoo-ah" (VHS used to do this) so I never got to see the ending until five years later... and boy did I miss a lot! A great Karmic ending for Mysto who gets a taste of his own medicine and gratifies us with another Hawaiian choreography before the curtain can finally close (collapse would be a proper term). I used to know that cartoon by heart, so much that even when I listen to the song from different sources, I have "Mama Yo Quero" or "Oh My Darling" pop up in the middle.
To conclude, this is such a masterpiece of animation that I wonder how the short didn't make it in the Top 50 Greatest Cartoons, but there had to be some consecration and "Magical Maestro" is the only Tex Avery cartoon in the National Registry, that says a lot about its legacy. And what says even more is that in all this raving about the music, I didn't even talk about the funniest and most memorable gag, a simple "plucking" that had nothing to do with the plot but spoke a thousand words about Avery's fourth-wall-breaking genius!
Bravo, Maestro! Bravissimo!
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