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File:Private Snafu 2520.jpg

A Wartime Cartoon series made during the 1940s, starring the eponymous Private Snafu[1] set during the struggle of World War II. Produced by Warner Bros. for the Army-Navy Screen Magazine, these cartoons showed Snafu's adventures in the Army. They usually ended with various Aesops concerning proper military behavior, via the comfounding insipid acts of the brash but ignorant Snafu. It could be considered a Spin-Off of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons, supported by a few cameos of Bugs Bunny and usage of Mel Blanc as the voice of the bumbling Snafu.

Private Snafu was largely sealed away after the end of the war and was not widely seen again until Cartoon Network offered a peek at several cartoons in the late 1990s. A few shorts appeared as extras in the Looney Tunes: Golden Collection DVDs. Some of them are available for viewing on the Internet Archive.

A complete chronological DVD release of the whole set of Private SNAFU cartoons newly remastered from the best extant film elements, was released by Thunderbean in December 2010.

Oh and Dr. Seuss wrote many of the early shorts in his characteristic rhyme.


FILMOGRAPHY

  • Coming Snafu (Chuck Jones): 1943-06-XX
  • Gripes (Friz Freleng): 1943-07-XX
  • Spies (Chuck Jones): 1943-08-XX
  • The Goldbrick (Frank Tashlin): 1943-09-XX
  • The Infantry Blues (Chuck Jones): 1943-09-XX
  • Fighting Tools (Bob Clampett): 1943-10-XX
  • The Home Front (Frank Tashlin): 1943-11-XX
  • Rumors (Friz Freleng): 1943-12-XX
  • Booby Traps (Bob Clampett): 1944-01-XX
  • Snafuperman (Friz Freleng): 1944-03-XX
  • Private Snafu vs. Malaria Mike (Chuck Jones): 1944-03-XX
  • A Lecture on Camouflage (Chuck Jones): 1944-04-XX
  • Gas (Chuck Jones): 1944-05-XX
  • The Chow Hound (Frank Tashlin): 1944-06-XX
  • Censored (Frank Tashlin): 1944-07-XX
  • Outpost (Chuck Jones): 1944-08-XX
  • Pay Day (Friz Freleng): 1944-09-XX
  • Three Brothers (Friz Freleng): 1944-09-XX
  • Target Snafu (Friz Freleng): 1944-10-XX
  • In the Aleutians - Isles of Enchantment (Chuck Jones): 1945-02-XX
  • It's Murder She Says (Chuck Jones): 1945-02-XX
  • Hot Spot (Friz Freleng): 1945-07-XX
  • Operation Snafu (Friz Freleng): 1945-10-XX

Unreleased shorts

  • Going Home (Chuck Jones): Planned for 1945
  • No Buddy Atoll (Chuck Jones): Released in 1945
  • Seaman Tarfu in the Navy (Chuck Jones): Released in 1945
  • Secrets of the Caribbean (Chuck Jones): Completed in 1945
  • Mop Up (How To Get A Fat Jap Out Of A Cave) (Chuck Jones): Planned for 1946

UPA Snafu shorts:

  • Few Quick Facts about Fear (1945)
  • Few Quick Facts about Inflation (1945).
  • Few Quick Facts on Weapons of War (1945) (lost cartoon)

MGM Snafu shorts:

  • Few Quick Facts: Diarrhea and Dysentery (1945)
  • Few Quick Facts: Weapons/ USS Iowa (1945)

Contains examples of

  • An Aesop: Usually pertaining to the need for military discipline and protocols as well as the home war effort.
  • Armed Farces
  • Big Eater: Snafu in "Chow Hound".
  • Booby Trap: Has an entire cartoon on the subject, including one very literal example.
  • Deranged Animation: The climax of "Rumors", which features the bologna (meant to represent the gossip growing out of control) becoming sentient creatures and reaching the point where the rumor from earlier turns into "We've lost the war". These nightmarish creatures in question look like something ripped out of a Dr. Seuss book--no surprise, since he worked on these shorts.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: At least one short warned of the dangers of accidentally revealing sensitive information to beautiful women who might turn out to be spies. Also parodied in "Booby Traps", where it makes it seem like he's distracted by a harem of girls--only to reveal that it was a piano that caught his attention!
  • Downer Ending: Not so much depressing but often Snafu bought the farm. Sometimes subverted and he wises up and survives, such as the gas-mask episode.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Prior to these shorts, Snafu first appeared in the 1942 Chuck Jones short "The Draft Horse".
  • Fan Service: Being made specifically for the enlisted men, these were more risque than the regular Looney Tunes series. In particular, "Censored", which features Sally Lou in just panties and stockings. There's no actual nudity, but pretty close.
  • "Faux To" Guide
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: Snafu went there at the end of "Spies". Incidentally, the devil wore a lapel pin with a swastika on it. Also, we get a glimpse of Hell again in "Hot Spot".
  • Gossip Evolution: Military style! "Rumors" begins with Snafu being informed that it looks like a good day for a bombing, taking this to mean that they're about to get bombed, and spreading to others who in turn spread it until it becomes a rumor that they're about to lose the war. (In a nice touch of visual metaphor, the passage of the rumors is represented by baloney flying out of people's mouths.)
  • Last-Second Word Swap: The narration of the very first cartoon explains the derivation of the name Snafu. As the letters SNAFU are displayed on screen, the narrator says: "Snafu. Situation Normal, All ..." (the narrator pauses as the letter "F" on screen vibrates) "... All Fouled Up."
  • Let's Meet the Meat the chew hound
  • Loose Lips: The essential aesop to the short, Spies, in which Snafu inadvertently blabs bit by bit all the spies around him need to know about his ship's departure time.
  • Mime-and-Music-Only Cartoon: "Pay Day", by Friz Freleng, is pretty much dialog free, relying on music and timing to accentuate the visual gags. The only dialog is at the very end.
  • Missing Episode: Going Home, which was never officially released because the MacGuffin resembled an atomic bomb. This one is a bit more interesting; the planned final SNAFU short, "Secrets Of The Pacific", was actually fully aimated before it was shelved at the last minute for unknown reasons, making it the subject of many Epileptic Trees.
  • Naked People Are Funny: The ending of "Fighting Tools".
  • Negative Continuity: Hence how Snafu is able to come back after being killed 6 times.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Played for laughs in "Booby Traps".
  • Out of Focus: "Hot Spot" and "The Chow Hound" focus considerably less on Snafu himself.
  • Panty Shot: Snafu's blonde dancing partner near the end of "Going Home", her white undies are seen from behind while doing the jitterbug.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: "The Outpost" is intended to explain why being assigned to remote and/or unpleasant stations is important work in its own way.
  • Read the Freaking Manual: The Aesop to the short, "Snafuperman" about the consequences of not reading your field manuals.
  • Right Way, Wrong Way Pair: Snafu plays both roles in the pair -- he does it wrong, and then goes back and does it right.
  • Satan: Appears in "Spies" and "Hot Spot".
  • Scenery Censor: Sally Lou's breasts in "Censored".
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: "The Chow Hound", where a bull sacrifices his body to become meat which would be served as food to Snafu--only for Snafu to eat so much beforehand that he throws out said meat made from the bull, much to his ghost's chagrin.
  • Shout-Out: Carl Stalling makes one to his early Disney work by reusing a musical score he composed for the Silly Symphonies short "Hell's Bells" in the opening of "Hot Spot".
  • Stealth Pun: The short Hot Spot has the Devil watching the army travel through a desert. Throughout the short, we see him breaking down in the heat as he strips out of his business suit and uses any liquids to keep himself cool. The joke, of course, is that It's hotter than Hell out there!
  • The Cameo: Bugs Bunny cameos in the shorts "Gas" and "Three Brothers". Plus, Private Snafu himself makes an appearance in Animaniacs.
  • They Killed Kenny: Private Snafu is killed in 6 shorts.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Private Snafu. Of course, since it's a primarily an instructional series, the entire point is to show how not to act. That said, it's a wonder he wasn't rejected 4F due to mental incompetence.
  • Wartime Cartoon
  • Weapons Understudies: At least one cartoon was pulled from theaters before exhibition owing to serious similarities to the Manhattan Project, which at the time was a top-secret undertaking.
  • World War II
  • Xylophone Gag: Originated in the cartoon Booby Traps.
  • Yanks With Tanks
  • Yellow Peril: The japanese caricatures, natch.
  • Zettai Ryouki: Snafu's girlfriend Sally Lou in Censored when reading his letter.

Notes

  1. An acronym for "Situation Normal, All Fucked Up"
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