Public Domain Theater (Thanksgiving Special): Jerky Turkey

Gobble gobble, everyone!

Welcome to a special, Thanksgiving edition of Public Domain Theater, your home for the wonderful world of films that have (in the United States, at least) fallen into the public domain and are free for everyone to see!

In honor of this most thankful season of all, we have for you an MGM animated short, set at the First Thanksgiving, and directed by the one and only Tex Avery: it’s “Jerky Turkey”!

This short is a gem of old-school cartoon gags that Avery either invented or perfected. The setup is a classic hunter-and-quarry scenario, with a Pilgrim trying to shoot a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. Since this is a Tex Avery cartoon, the turkey is naturally a manic asshole who runs roughshod over the hapless, slow-witted Pilgrim. You’ll see pants filled with gunpowder, jokes about WWII rationing, the laws of gravity playing blatant favorites, and even that old chestnut: painting a road onto a brick wall so someone else will try running through it (with the expected results).

And, given the setup, there’s shockingly only one or two quick jokes at the expense of American Indians. For 1945, that’s impressive.

So when you have a moment, between turkey dinners, football games, and department store parades, why not check out this piece of classic cartoon lunacy?

Have a happy Thanksgiving, everyone! And remember to eat at Joe’s.