Release dateFebruary 19, 1938 (USA) Similar moviesMerrie Melodies movies
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Jungle Jitters is a 1938 one-reel animated cartoon short subject in the Merrie Melodies series, produced in Technicolor and released to theatres on February 19, 1938 by Warner Bros. Pictures and The Vitaphone Corporation. It was produced by Leon Schlesinger and directed by Friz Freleng, with musical supervision by Carl W. Stalling and voices by Mel Blanc.
The cartoon features a number of racial stereotypes throughout the short (such as people in blackface), which prompted United Artists to withhold this cartoon from syndication in 1968, making it one of the Censored Eleven.
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In an African jungle, the natives are going about their day, with the jungle elements being intertwined with modern-day elements; for example, the people dancing around a tent when it turns into a makeshift merry-go-round, to the tune of The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down which has since become the longtime Looney Tunes theme song.
A traveling salesman whose name was Manny (a parody of Al Pearce's character Elmer Blurt) comes by to offer them the latest in "assorted useful, useless, utensils". The natives capture him, throw him into a pot of boiling water, and ransack his goods. They proceed to familiarize themselves with vacuum cleaners, batteries, light bulbs, etc.
When the salesman is introduced to the village queen (depicted as a white woman, possibly to avoid any problems with the Hays code over the issue of miscegenation), she takes a liking to him, imagining Manny the salesman as none other than Clark Gable and Robert Taylor. The salesman finds himself with the choice between a forced marriage with the homely queen, or the boiling pot of water. He chooses the pot, and in a closing shot as he sinks into the broth, hopes "they all get indigestion, I hope, I hope, I hope."
Jungle Jitters has fallen into the public domain in 1965, and is available on many public domain home video collections. It has also been referenced in The Ducksters (1950).