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March 28

March 28, 1936 – The Silly Symphony, Elmer Elephant, is Released to Theaters

“Elmer’s got a funny nose, looks just like a rubber hose!”

On March 28, 1936, the Silly Symphony, Elmer Elephant, was released to theaters. Directed by Wilfred Jackson, the short film tells the story of an elephant named Elmer, who is cruelly teased about his appearance, particularly his nose, but is able to use his nose to save the day from a runaway fire. Elmer would go on to be a popular merchandising character, and even had his own short-running Silly Symphony comic.

As the story opens, Elmer is seen skipping through the jungle, holding a bouquet of flowers, which he adds to as he passes by a flower bush. He knocks on the door to Tillie Tiger’s house, where the song “Happy Birthday” is heard being sung to Tillie. Elmer peeks in and sees the kids skipping in a circle around Tillie, and then they implore her to blow out the candles on her birthday cake. She agrees, but is unable to extinguish the birthday candles. Sweetly, she asks Joey the Hippo to do it for her, and he agrees.

Elmer and Tillie, with Tillie fawning over the flowers he brought for her

Just as Joey is preparing to let out massive breath of air, Elmer appears on the other side of the table, and is rewarded with Tillie’s cake in his face, as Joey left the candles on the plate, still burning brightly. While the kids laugh, Tillie pulls out a napkin and cleans away the cake from Elmer’s face. Tillie spots the flowers in Elmer’s hand, and begins to coo over them, calling them “the nicest present of all.” She gives him a kiss on the nose, which causes him to react comically.

Some of the boys get together and begin to whisper as Tillie scuttles up to her tree house, telling everyone to have a good time and that she will be right back. As Elmer sits down to wait, the boys appear, holding various long objects as “noses” and pretending they have big, floppy ears. Poor Elmer is so embarrassed that he tries to tuck away his nose. The boys bully him, pulling on his nose and sending him flying down a hill and back into the jungle, when all the party guests appear and begin to sing their taunts to him.

The kindly Old Giraffe, giving Elmer some well-needed advice

Elmer walks away from the party, very upset, when he runs into an elderly giraffe, who asks him what’s the matter. When Elmer explains, the giraffe tells him that “They used to make fun of me too, son, but I don’t care.” He then points out the pelicans nearby in an attempt to make Elmer feel better about his nose.

Just then, sirens are heard in the distance, with the crazy fire truck heading straight for Tillie’s. Tillie is seen trying to beat away the flames with a broom, yelling at her guests to help her get down from the tree house. The boys pull out a blanket for her to jump into, but the flames pull her back and they jump into the outstretched blanket, turning it to ashes. The fire team finally arrives at Tillie’s place, but can’t stop the flames from chasing them down the ladder. The flames trap Tillie up a pole, where she screams for help.

The Old Giraffe, Elmer, and the pelicans use their perceived flaws to work together and save the day

Having observed all of this from the Old Giraffe’s head, Elmer slides down his neck and begins to run at breakneck speed to save Tillie. The Old Giraffe follows, along with the pelicans, and they all work together to put out the flames: the Old Giraffe holds Elmer up to the top of the tree house, the pelicans provide the water, and Elmer uses his nose as a hose. Although the flames are stubborn, Elmer uses some fancy moves to extinguish the flames.

Stuck on her precarious perch, where four little flames are taking apart the pole one splinter at a time, Tillie calls out for Elmer. Elmer comes to her rescue, extinguishing the flames and grabbing the pole Tillie’s holding onto before it completely breaks apart. Tillie calls Elmer her hero, and the two share a kiss, with Elmer using his nose to pull her closer, and one of his ears to keep the moment a bit more private.

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