The Dover Boys at Pimento University

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 13, 2015

Animation aficionados are all over this one, but the uninitiated don’t always get to interesting alternatives like this one. WB, and maybe Tedd Pierce/Chuck Jones especially, is trying something new. Good for them. Hard to pull off!

This young woman, Miss Dora Standpipe, is very strikingly introduced. Dan Backslide’s anti-Tom, Dick and Larry tirade is very funny. The game of hide and seek, and the way it lands the boys in the saloon, is also good. That girl-from-tree remover anticipates Acme. The road on the mountains design for that chase is pleasingly illogical. Was Cordell Barker inspired by it?

Dora’s captivity is very funny, and it’s a lot like Olive Oyl with those poor Indians in I Yam What I Yam (q.v.). “Help…” she says, quite unconvincingly.

There’s the 1st movement of the 8th piano sonata again! In Luchino Visconti’s milestone of Italian neo-realist cinama, La Terra Trema (1948), we find a real-life Sicilian peasant-fisherman playing Chopin’s 3rd. Etude. On a harmonica!

At the end of the picture there’s some doubt as to who’s good and who’s bad. The tone of the entire thing had left that often important consideration in doubt. The villain is coded as such, but the behaviour of these boys! A climactic triple knockout resolves this uncertainty for us (and is very well visualized). The repeatedly galumphing guy in the old-fashioned bathing suit prevails by making off with Miss Dora in the end. This conclusion makes The Dover Boys … more than just a quirky one-off.  Yes, it’s a closing gag, but they’ve it also culminates their satirizing the melodrama unto ridicule. They’ve given the erstwhile bad guy some consideration, the woman has rejected patriarchal binaries, and the utter and inexplicable misfit wins out in the end.