Friday, April 11, 2008

Check out what I found over on YouTube. It's a collection of short films called "Private Snafu" made for the Army during World War II. The idea was Frank Capra's, and the cartoons themselves were done by the Warner Brothers people, including Mel Blanc as Private Snafu, using his Bugs Bunny Brooklyn accent. The best of them, including "Rumors" and "Spies," were written by Dr. Seuss himself. Fascinating stuff. I'd never heard of it before, much less actually seen the films.

The point of the movies was to teach soldiers what not to do by showing a bad example. The Americans were big into psychology during World War II, and these films were obviously much more effective than your standard instructional movie.

"Coming! Snafu" introduces the character. In "Spies" Snafu gets drunk and gives away military secrets. "The Home Front" addresses GIs' gripes about non-combatants living it up back in the States. "The Chow Hound" warns against wasting food. In "Private Snafu vs. Malaria Mike," Snafu fails to take proper precautions. "Snafuperman" is a superhero who doesn't read his field manuals. "Rumors" shows how spreading gossip may backfire. In "Fighting Tools," Snafu fails to maintain his weapons and his jeep. "Censored" shows what might happen if soldiers try to dodge the censorship of letters home. In "Outpost," Snafu gets bored on observation duty and nearly loses a battle. "Booby Traps" warns soldiers to pay attention when occupying new territory, and comes pretty close to showing some boobies. Bugs Bunny makes a cameo in "Gas," as Snafu loses his gas mask.

Note that all the movies include lots of cheesecake.

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