The Censored Eleven, Part One: Hittin' the Trail for Hallelujah Land (1931)

“The Censored Eleven” are the unofficial eleven animated shorts that have been banned, censored, or edited from public consumption and haven’t been seen by most in America. While some of the shorts have been released with a commentary about its social and political context, most are strictly taboo. In this limited series, we’ll review the censored eleven and figure out why these titles are still very volatile.

Hittin’ the Trail for Hallelujah Land (1931)
Rudolf Ising
Merrie Melodies

In truth there’s really nothing about “Hittin the Trail…” that really feels intentionally offensive or racist. It’s just a lot of random cartoon characters crashing in to one another, and the inserting of Dark dog-like characters intended to be African Americans. The short for the most part has no plot, and revolves around a lot of musical numbers and dancing. The animation is pretty excellent considering. Plucky Pig is on a steam boat and is celebrating his ride, when he awaits the arrival of his girlfriend.

She drives to the boat by way of  stage coach operated by a dark skinned cabbie. He’s obviously a black man and is identified just as “Uncle Tom.” While Plucky and his girlfriend are entertained on the boat by their mostly African American band who keep them happy with music, Uncle Tom falls asleep in his carriage and is knocked off. He drops in to a cemetery where he awakens three white skeletons intent on scaring him and singing him morbid songs.

As Uncle Tom stands helplessly and begs for his life in stereotypical African American jibberish, Plucky Pigs comes to the rescue and saves Uncle Tom from imminent death. All is well for his black cabbie. One of the more interesting of the Merrie Melodies, this once public domain short really is subtle in its racism. Aside from the character being called Uncle Tom, there’s nothing about the cartoon that will arouse cringes and groans. It’s a typical Merrie Melody where music is top priority and story is a vague after thought.