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    Happy Harmony***Chinese Nightingale (1935) MGM

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    andythebeagle

    by andythebeagle

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    A Chinese emperor is gladdened by the song of the nightingale and is moved to play his own song. One day, the Japanese send a music box with a mechanical bird; the nightingale feels rejected and leaves. But soon, the clockwork breaks down, and the emperor dispatches his crow to go look; meanwhile, the emperor grows sicker with the passing months.

    A charming piece in the "Happy Harmonies" cartoon series made by Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising for MGM. Loosely adapted from Hans Andersen's fairy-tale "The Emperor's Nightingale", it tells the story of a Chinese emperor and the little nightingale who sings to him each day. The two are inseparable until the emperor receives a music box containing a beautiful wind-up mechanical nightingale and becomes obsessed with it, to the neglect of his old friend. When the emperor nearly loses his old friend, he eventually comes to realise his love for her.

    This short cartoon has the lavish look MGM gave to all their products in the 1930s, with charming scenery designed in a Hollywood "chinoiserie" manner; all pagodas, terracotta vases and cherry blossoms. The racial caricaturing of the emperor and his subjects (along with the three little geishas who narrate the tale) is of its time.

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