PRIVATE SNAFU in CENSORED
Directed by Frank Tashlin
The film opens at nighttime with Snafu attempting to send a message to his girlfriend Sally Lou. He is certain that his unit is going to be sent to the South Pacific Ocean. While attempting to crawl past the censor's office, Snafu triggers an electric eye. He is detected and his message in censored. He later attempts to send a second message in the form of a paper airplane, and a third through a carrier pigeon. In each case the message is intercepted by the ever-vigilant censors.
Finally, the Technical Fairy 1st Class turns up and agrees to pass a coded message to Sally Lou. It contains the exact location of the next big operation, the island of Bingo Bango. Unfortunately, Sally Lou decides to pass the information on to her mother. From there the information spreads through gossip until it reaches the Japanese lines. A buck-toothed and bespectacled soldier notifies Tokyo. The island receives massive reinforcements and camouflaged fortifications.
By the time Snafu and his unit do arrive, a trap is set for them. The entire invasion force is trapped—then Snafu wakes up from a nightmare. The Fairy hands him back his letter and Snafu personally censors the letter to Sally Lou, preventing the disaster.
Private Snafu is the title character of a series of black-and-white American instructional cartoon shorts, ironic and humorous in tone, that were produced between 1943 and 1945 during World War II. The films were designed to instruct service personnel about security, proper sanitation habits, booby traps and other military subjects, and to improve troop morale.
The series was directed by Chuck Jones and other prominent Hollywood animators, and the voice of Private Snafu was performed by Mel Blanc.
The character was created by director Frank Capra, chairman of the U.S. Army Air Force First Motion Picture Unit, and most were written by Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, Philip D. Eastman, and Munro Leaf. Although the United States Army gave Walt Disney the first crack at creating the cartoons, Leon Schlesinger of the Warner Bros. animation studio underbid Disney by two-thirds and won the contract. Disney had also demanded exclusive ownership of the character, and merchandising rights. The cartoons thus represented a multi-talent collaboration by some of America's best in their respective fields; a common occurrence in the war effort.
The goal was to help enlisted men with weak literacy skills learn through animated cartoons (and also supplementary comic books). They featured simple language, racy illustrations, mild profanity, and subtle moralizing. Private Snafu did (almost) everything wrong, so that his negative example taught basic lessons about secrecy, disease prevention, and proper military protocols.
Private Snafu cartoons were a military secret—for the armed forces only. Surveys to ascertain the soldiers' film favorites showed that the Snafu cartoons usually rated highest or second highest. Each cartoon was produced in six weeks. The shorts were classified government documents. Martha Sigall, employed at the ink and paint department, recalled the government security measures imposed on the staff working on them. They had to be fingerprinted and given FBI security clearances. They also had to wear identification badges at work. Workers at the ink and paint department were given only ten cels at a time in an effort to prevent them from figuring out the story content.
The name "Private Snafu" comes from the unofficial military acronym SNAFU ("Situation Normal: All Fucked Up"), with the opening narrator in the first cartoon merely hinting at its usual meaning as "Situation Normal, All ... All Fouled Up!"
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