Wild Wife

In the early 50’s, several of the animation studios made shorts that sort of poked fun at our culture’s idea of domestic bliss.  Robert McKimson’s 1954 Looney Tune “Wild Wife” is a good example.  It’s an interesting short to watch…at some moments it seems like pro-feminist animation, and then a few seconds later, it pulls out some of the common female stereotype gags.

The film begins as the man of the house returns from a hard day at the office.  He runs through a list of chores, asking his wife if she completed them.  She replies “yes” to everything, but unfortunately she did not have time to mow the lawn.  Well, hubby blows his stack and complains about how women have all the time in the world but can’t get anything done.  The rest of the film is told in flashback, as the wife tells about how her day was spent.  She gets the family up, makes breakfast, cleans the house, goes to the bank, goes shopping and goes to the beauty parlor.  Each of these situations provide for various gags…some of them work and others don’t.  The funniest bit involves the wife hoping from line to line at the bank to try to get through faster, each time ending up behind an elderly woman trying to deposit several hundred dollars worth of pennies.  When she’s done telling her husband about her day, the wife informs him that she also bought him a special gift…a rolling pin which clunks him on the head with.

The film really does show the housewife of the early 50’s as working hard for her family…at least in the early scenes of the cartoon.  As things move on, we have the sort of gags involving female stereotypes that show up in many cartoons.  For example, the wife can’t parallel park to save her life, crashing repeatedly into the cars on either side of her.  Stereotypes yes…but still funny.  And hey, any staunch feminists out there who get offended, the woman definitely ends up winning this one in the end. Oh, and it’s a cartoon, don’t take it too seriously.

On the artistic side, this is another cool example of the 50’s style of animation.  I especially like the character design in this one.  Most of the characters are based on interesting shapes.  There’s even some great use of curved lines for some of their features that subtly reminds me of Al Hirschfeld’s work.  The most natural looking character in the whole thing is actually the wife.  She sort of looks like a Barbie Doll walking around in a world of strange characters.

It’s definitely not as “Looney” as some of the Looney Tunes are, but this is an interesting little short likely to please and anger feminists at the same time.  Oh, and a word of warning…I couldn’t find much information on this short online…feel free to try but take my word, you don’t want to type the words “Wild Wife” into Google.  Yikes!

3 thoughts on “Wild Wife

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  1. Yeah it’s too bad, I couldn’t find this anywhere online except in Italian! But interesting take on it. Since animation was male-dominated back then, I’d be surprised if you could find anything relatively pro-feminist. Also body image is an interesting subject in animation since all of their bodies have been distorted. Cool article!

  2. Bless you!! for posting about this cartoon. I used to see it when I was a little girl, but never really paid attention to “who” made it. I simply enjoyed it. I found the “modern” life of the cartoon fascinating, so much so, that to this day, I love that kind of feeling from the 50’s and 60’s. I never really new what the animated film was called until today, while searching for it on the web. Now, I have to see if I can find it in Spanish, which is the language I used to see it in…
    Question: almost on the same format, there was one animated film about a reported (with a huge globe behind him) who was talking about the prehistoric man. There were hair parlors, banks, supermarkets… all in prehistoric style. In the end, he finishes the report and goes to the elevator saying he was glad to be living in modern times. When the elevator goes down, the “modern” style of it is by being cut like in prehistoric times. Any idea what that one is called? Who made it? Thanks for any help!!

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