Classic Cartoons on Summer Vacation Part 2

Summer vacation. Two glorious words. As we plan for our vacation, we may reflect on summers past and remember those classic cartoons that celebrate summer vacation.

Last year, I wrote, Classic Cartoons on Summer Vacation, which served as a round-up of these classic studio cartoons with summer vacation settings.

The article inspired readers to leave comments with some of their favorite cartoons with summer vacation backdrops. So, here are some additional “vacation spots” suggested by Cartoon Research readers:

A Day at the Beach, The Captain and the Kids, 1938, (MGM) – Suggested by Kevin Wollenweber

This installment was part of a series of cartoon shorts adapted from the popular comic strip The Captain and the Kids by Rudolph Dirks, which centered on two rebellious boys, Hans and Fritz, their Mama, the Captain, and an older gentleman known as the Inspector.

A Day at the Beach features these characters at an outing at the seashore and plays with all the accompanying rituals, from setting up on the sand to battling the elements.

Directed by Friz Freleng (credited as Isadore Freleng), this black and white short opens with the song “By the Sea” playing on the soundtrack. As the family hits the beach, the cartoon unfurls several recurring jokes.

The Captain sets up an umbrella, finding the perfect shadow to relax in until the sun continually shifts, and he must constantly change positions. Meanwhile, the Inspector attempts to build a perfect sandcastle, which keeps getting taken out by giant waves.

Mama keeps trying to take a swim, but these same waves continue to throw her back to shore.

A lobster gets into the family’s picnic basket, opening up a can of lobster by using its claw as a can opener, after which a lobster pops out of the can and thanks his friend for the favor.

When an over-inflated beach float takes Mama out too far into the water, the Captain, stripping off multiple layers of clothes to reveal a Life Guard bathing suit, swims out to rescue her, but through a series of mishaps, swallows too much water. The Kids, who have been getting into their usual mischief, this time trying to use a pelican to steal food from the picnic basket, attempt to revive the Captain with a barrel of liquor (with “XXX” on its side). The barrel winds up spilling into the ocean and intoxicating the sea life (to the tune of “How Dry I Am”).

As the cartoon concludes, the Inspector makes another attempt at a sandcastle, but as a wave approaches, he decides to preemptively topple the castle, only to have the wave stop just short of knocking it over.


The Beach Nut, Woody Woodpecker, 1944 (Universal) – Suggested by Brooks Yeager

Directed by Shamus Culhane, with animation by Dick Lundy and Les Kline, this short finds Woody Woodpecker wreaking his usual havoc at the beach and unleashing it on one of his usual foils, Wally Walrus.

The Beach Nut opens with an amusing gag, in which a narrator expounds upon the pleasures of relaxing at the seashore, during which a wave washes on the shore, taking with it the multiple umbrellas and people. With the next wave, all of the umbrellas and people are returned.

In the next scene, we see a crowd gathered on the boardwalk to watch Wally, who is about to pummel Woody. As the Walrus reveals why he is about to do this, we see, through flashback, what transpired during the day at the beach.

Wally was just attempting to relax on the sand when Woody, surfboard in tow and singing “My Body Lies Over the Ocean,” walked across Wally to get to the water. And so, began the back-and-forth between the two that continues through The Beach Nut.

Wally tries to enjoy food, and Woody and his surfboard smash his face into his meal. Woody lights a bar-b-que fire on the beach (next to the “No Fires Allowed” sign) and proceeds to burn Wally’s umbrella. Woody hides out in a fortune teller tent at a nearby amusement park, and, as Wally comes in to hear his fortune, Woody flies out on a magic carpet and dive bombs him.

We then return to Wally and Woody in front of the crowd, and Wally loses it, tying an anchor to Woody and throwing him into the water. The anchor’s rope, however, is tied to the dock, which collapses, pulling Wally and the crowd into the water.

In the final shot, Woody Woodpecker is swimming away, with the angry Wally and crowd swimming after him, as we hear the famous Woody Woodpecker laugh.


Toonerville Picnic, 1936, (Van Beuren) – Suggested by Russell H

This was another cartoon inspired by a famous comic strip, Toonerville Folks by Fontaine Fox. This short centers on one character’s quest to relieve his stress with a day at the beach.

As Toonerville Picnic, directed by Burt Gillett, opens, Mr. Bang is meeting with his doctor, who tells him, after his examination, that all Mr. Bang needs to do is relax by spending a day at the seashore.

This is exactly what he does: packing a picnic basket and boarding a trolley for the beach. However, his stress level immediately increases as the trolley ride is turbulent and the driver is hard of hearing.

Adding to the stress, the trolley stops to pick up more passengers heading to the beach, and they cram every inch of the trolley. Mr. Bang attempts to calm his nerves, but a consistently growling dog sits beside him. He tells the dog that he doesn’t like him, and the dog responds the same.

The trolley arrives at the beach (where the track ends), and everyone, including the driver, piles out and jumps into the water. When Mr. Bang attempts to dive into the water, he bangs heads with the driver, after which a wave washes them back on shore.

After this, Mr. Bang attempts to set up a beach chair, which seems to take on a life of its own, and the two get into a wrestling match of sorts. Mr. Bang then tries to have lunch but is again annoyed by the dog, and his food is washed out to sea.

Bang then finds himself in the water, being pursued by a striped octopus, and, instead of a life preserver, a large, burly woman throws the trolley into the water to save Mr. Bang. After the octopus still attempts to get Mr. Bang, the woman harpoons the floating trolley and pulls it with Mr. Bang to shore.

Once back on shore, Mr. Bang is placed in his beach chair and, again, winds up wrangling with it.

As Toonerville Picnic ends, Mr. Bang returns to his doctor’s office and begins yelling, as the advice did him no good. In the process, Mr. Bang knocks himself out. As birds swirl around his head, the doctor assists Mr. Bang one last time by placing a birdcage over him.


Two Weeks Vacation, Goofy, 1952 (Disney) – Suggested by “Frederick”

From director Jack Kinney, with animation by George Nicholas, Hugh Fraser, Ed Aardal and John Sibley, comes this Goofy short subject about trying to go on vacation. As it opens in a typical office setting, the narrator says: “Ahhh, two weeks vacation. There is nothing as pleasing to the grateful employee as two weeks vacation…with pay.”

Goofy is the employee, and we see him watching the clock and counting down to the start of his vacation. When quitting time comes, he soars out of the office with all his gear and luggage, is in his car, and is off on a roaring freeway to enjoy his time off.

Goofy is immediately delayed when he gets a flat and must stop off at a service station, where a mechanic agrees to work on his car, pulling almost everything out of the engine and charging Goofy for his work, but never fixes the tire.

When poor Goofy asks about his tire, the mechanic shutters the service station, hanging out a sign declaring that he’s on a two-week vacation.

Goofy is soon back on the road and attempts to be a Good Samaritan by picking up a down-on-his-luck hitchhiker who refuses to ride with Goofy because his car doesn’t have many amenities, like a radio.

Eventually, looking for a place to spend the night, Goofy only sees signs for two locations: the “Last Chance Motel” and the “Next Chance Motel.” However, there’s no vacancy anywhere, and Goofy’s car runs out of gas, eventually careening over a mountainside.

He finally locates a cozy cabin to stay in, but it’s only a façade for a shack where a train careens by. So he leaves, and continues to drive on. From here, Goofy decides to drive through the night, eyes heavy as he fights sleep. He encounters another fellow vacationer driving a car and pulling a trailer (a running gag in the short).

Goofy is alarmed to see that no one is driving the car, as they are all partying in the trailer. In a nice gag, his car is bumped, and Goofy finds himself in the other car, driving the trailer.

A police officer then pulls him over. In the final scene, we see Goofy in a jail cell, looking content, as the narrator states: “And, finally, the perfect haven for rest and relaxation, with good food and excellent service and complete privacy.”

That time of “rest and relaxation” is celebrated in these cartoons – just a few of the many that help us appreciate and laugh at those two glorious words: summer vacation.