"Blitz Wolf", released on 22 August 1942 holds distinction as one of the first direct anti-Nazi propaganda cartoons made in Hollywood. It also represents Tex Avery's debut at the MGM studio. After seven years of great success and innovation, including the creation of studio's biggest star, Avery left Warner Bros for the reasons that still remain unclear (there are several well known theories, but no definitive answer). Avery soon found a new home at MGM, under the helm of Fred Quimby, the man in charge of studio's cartoon and short film production. Despite occasional clashes with Quimby, Avery enjoyed higher budgets and possibly even greater artistic freedom than he had at Warner. The result: 65 of the very best and funniest cartoons ever produced.
Avery inherited the animation unit of producer/director Hugh Harman, who left MGM earlier in 1941. The difference between two directors couldn't be greater. Harman, who used to be one of Disney's top animators during the '20s was trying to directly compete with his former boss, making beautifully animated, lavish and not particularly funny cartoons, with far greater emphasis on drama than humor. Avery on the other hand perfected the art of timing and gags more than any other director in the animation history.
"Blitz Wolf" is one of Avery's masterpieces, a wild satire of Adolf Hitler, disguised as the story of three little pigs. Fred Quimby allegedly told Avery to be careful when caricaturing Adolf Hitler, saying, "After all, we don't know who's going to win the war" (!)
This extraordinary cartoon, bursting with invention and crazy gags still shows some traces of Harman and Disney influence, in the slower timing of few scenes, and too detailed design and animation. Character layouts in this cartoon were done by ex-Disney and ex-Fleischer animator Bernie Wolf, and most of the crew in Avery's new unit had previous experience either with Disney or Hugh Harman. This approach would be very soon abandoned for a more stylized and less literal animation, better suitable for Avery's aggresive pacing and sense of humor.
"Blitz Wolf" was a great success, and received a nomination for Academy Award (one of Avery's six nominations). It lost to another excellent WWII propaganda cartoon, Walt Disney's "Der Fuehrer's Face". In the recent 20 years, "Blitz Wolf" was rarely shown on TV and has the status of semi-banned cartoon. On rare occasions, it has been seen on Cartoon Network, but only in censored version, with one scene altered and another totally removed. We're presenting the screenshots from completely uncut print that includes these two incriminating moments (one of them is an ugly and unfortunate anti-Japanese slogan written on the entrance of the Smartest Pig's house).
We plan to feature more WWII cartoons in the near future. One of them, "Russian Rhapsody" was already presented here, couple of months ago.