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"Hello, mah baby, hello mah honey,
Hello mah ragtime gal,
Send me a kiss by wire,
Baby, my heart's on fire!
If you refuse me, honey, you'll lose me
And you'll be left alone
Oh baby, telephone
and tell me I'm your owwwwwwwwwwn!"
Referred to by Steven Spielberg as "the Citizen Kane of animated film", this 1955 Chuck Jones Merrie Melodies short featured none of the regular Warner Bros stable, instead telling a standalone story about a construction worker who discovers a live frog inside the cornerstone of a building he's helping to demolish. To his amazement, the frog pulls out a little top hat and cane and starts to sing and dance. The construction worker naturally expects to strike it rich from his discovery. Unfortunately, the frog refuses to perform in front of anybody else. At the end, after becoming destitute and homeless, the man puts the frog into the cornerstone of a new building, and a flash forward reveals that a man of the future will soon suffer the same fate.
Told entirely without dialogue (not including the singing). The frog would later be named Michigan J. Frog, after the only original song from the short, "The Michigan Rag", and become the mascot for the WB network.
This cartoon has been named number 5 of The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
One Froggy Evening provides examples of:
- An Aesop: The short reminds people to enjoy the good things, and not try to profit on them.
- Aside Glance: The man does one when the frog first starts singing and dancing. Later, a theatrical agent does an identical one when the man claims to have a singing, dancing frog.
- Cassandra Truth
- Disco Dan: Michigan J. Frog
- Distant Finale
- Downer Ending: The man's life is ruined by trying to use the frog, and ends with him sealing the frog away...only for another greedy man to find him a century later, possibly to repeat the cycle anew.
- Ear Worm: "Hello mah baby hello mah honey, hello mah ragtime gaaaal..."
- The fascinating thing about that song was that, while it sounded quaint and old-fashioned even in the year the cartoon was released, it was about a new, high tech society that allowed for real-time long-distance relationships. Calling his honey a "Ragtime" gal meant she was ultra-modern; "Send me a kiss by wire" was not that far removed from the chatroom flirtation of today; and "Telephone and tell me I'm your own!" was about using a new high-tech gadget to get your message across.
- The Fifties: The dedication plaque on the new building indicates the short is set in 1955, the year of its release.
- The Gay Nineties: Michigan J. Frog is from this era.
- Here We Go Again: The ending.
- Just Here for Godzilla: In-universe, the man manages to lure people into the theater after several failed attempts by offering free beer.
- Karma Houdini: The Frog.
- Laser-Guided Karma: When you get down to it, that man is bringing his fate entirely on himself for trying to manipulate the frog for money. It goes pretty far, though.
- Lyrical Dissonance: Read the lyrics to "Won't You Come Over To My House." Cheerful little tune, isn't it?
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend
- Oireland: Michigan mocks the popularity of mawkish Irish songs at the turn of the century by singing "Come Back to Erin."
- Mime-and-Music-Only Cartoon
- Popular History: Several of the songs performed by Michigan J. Frog (including "Hello, My Baby") date later than 1892.
- This gets more bizarre in Another Froggy Evening, in which he knows these songs in the Stone Age.
- Produce Pelting: The crowd in the theater where the man tries to exhibit the frog.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: The frog sings a number of popular songs of the Gilded Age, as well as "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's Il barbiere di Sevilgia
- Really Seven Hundred Years Old: The frog is capable of living for centuries inside of a block of lead with no food or water.
- Truth in Television: Frogs really have done this. As in the living for centuries part, not the singing and dancing part.
- Retraux: "The Michigan Rag" is an original composition which imitates the 1890s style.
- Sealed Evil in a Can/Sealed Good in a Can: The Frog, although it's debatable how "good" or "evil" it is, or whether it's solely the man bringing his own woe on himself for trying to take advantage of the frog.
- Shout-Out: At the end, the frog is sealed inside the foundation of the "Tregoweth Brown Building", a reference to sound effects editor Treg Brown. Such crew shout outs were very common in all the Looney Tunes shorts.
- Space Whale Aesop: Don't be greedy and try to take advantage of someone else for your own gain or your life will go downhill as a result--or in this case, don't take advantage of a singing frog to get rich or your life will be ruined.
- Or at the least learn from your first few mistakes and quit while you're ahead.
- Technology Marches On: A younger viewer might wonder why the man doesn't just rent a camera and film the frog. 1950s movie cameras were expensive, needed a lot of supplemental lighting, and only gave good results in the hands of a skilled operator. And sound had to be recorded separately. Even if this was made later when cameras were more common and less expensive, it's possible the frog would not perform in front of filming devices anyway, knowing he's only out to profit.
- Time Capsule: The frog's box.
- Twenty Minutes Into the Future: The last scene
- You Have to Believe Me: In pantomime, to the theatrical producer and the cop.
- Zeerust: The year 2056 in the final scene.