I pretty much love everything about the 1988 mix of animation and live action Who Framed Roger Rabbit. One of my favorite moments in whole film is the ending scene where the characters from most of the major Hollywood animation studios join together to sing a wacky little song. Well, it turns out that the song comes from the early days of animation where it was featured in a 1931 short featuring an often forgotten character, Foxy. The song and the short bear the same name…Smile, Darn Ya Smile!
In this short Foxy is conductor on a trolley. He zooms around the tracks singing the title song and picking up passengers. When he encounters a rather large female hippo he has a bit of trouble getting her to fit in the trolley. He ends up having to use her hat pin to deflate her and make her a more manageable size.
Eventually, Foxy runs into his nameless girlfriend and she joins him on his trip, and in singing the song. As a matter of fact, soon the chorus of singers gets even bigger as the images on the advertising posters inside the trolley car start joining in, as do a group of hobos hanging out near the tracks. Before long, Foxy has to deal with a cantankerous cow that is blocking the tracks. After he finally gets around the beast, the trolley begins careening down a dangerous mountain.
It is understandable why Foxy is a forgotten character. Take a good look at him! He was essentially former Disney animators Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising’s answer to Mickey Mouse. He pretty much looks JUST like Mickey except his ears are pointed and his tail is a bit fuzzy. Otherwise…he’s a Mickey clone. His girlfriend even shops at the same dress store that Minnie Mouse does. That aside, in this short he stinkin’ cracks me up!
As a matter of fact, this whole short cracks me up! I’m not sure how to explain it, but I just find it hilarious. There’s just so much bizarre stuff in this cartoon! I love that the hippo woman talks in a sort-of gibberish. I love the way Foxy’s legs scurry underneath his trolley car when the wheels zoom off without him! Fred Flintstone may have learned a thing or two from Foxy. I love the hideously toothless grins of the hobos. Animation fans with appreciate the sequence where the advertisements inside the trolley come to life, foreshadowing later Merrie Melodies shorts like Book Revue and Have You Got Any Castles.
Bottom line is, it’s almost impossible not to at least crack a grin watching a short centers on a song called “Smile, Darn Ya, Smile!” The song is just so ridiculously bouncy and joyous that it’s simply irresistible. Foxy may be a forgotten character, but he offered one of the greatest words of wisdom in movie history. So…smile, darn ya, smile!!