Spies is part of the Private Snafu series of animated shorts produced by Warner Brothers during World War II. Released in 1943, the cartoon was directed by Chuck Jones and features the vocal talents of Mel Blanc.
Private Snafu has learned a secret, but the enemy is listening and he'd better zipper his lip. However, he lets his secret slip bit by bit, from telling the audience to calling his mom about it until finally, he gets drunk and spends the evening with a prostitute (who turns out to be an Axis spy) and tells her that he has to sail off to Africa at half-past four. The information is picked up by spies and quickly relayed to Adolf Hitler, who orders the Nazis to attack the American fleet - which they do. Snafu just notices the U-boats in time and yells for the ship to go full speed ahead, although it came at the cost of him falling overboard and literally blown to hell by U-Boat torpedoes. After arriving in Hell, Snafu angrily demands who let his secret out, only for Hitler and his staff as Satan and various demons to reveal that he is the leak. Hitler then shows Snafu a mirror that changes his reflection into a horse's behind.
A scene in which Private Snafu becomes drunk is musically accompanied by an excerpt from Raymond Scott's composition, Powerhouse.
- This film was used in the World War II exhibit of the International Spy Museum.
- Besides Adolf Hitler himself, several other real life Axis Powers figures were stereotyped in the cartoon:
- Benito Mussolini, Hermann Wilhelm Göring, and Hideki Tojo made a cameo in the scene where they were disguised as civilians reading Lyfe, Gollier's, and Fiberty with their faces on the cover in an obvious attempt to eavesdrop on Private Snafu (and thus learning he's going by ship), the magazines being parodies of "Life," Collier's, and "Liberty", real magazines that were in circulation around the time of World War II.
When this short aired during ToonHeads' special about lost, obscure, and rare Warner Brothers cartoons (on both Cartoon Network and first volume of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection), the following edits were done:
- The shot of a buck-toothed, bespectactled Japanese spy posing as a baby and saying, "Oh, I bet we find it out" during Private Snafu's opening rhyme was cut.
- When Snafu is in the phone booth talking to his mom about his upcoming mission, the original version shows another Japanese spy inside the phone listening in. On the ToonHeads edited version, the spy's appearance is digitally covered up with a black square (this edit is a bit hard to pinpoint, unless you have seen the original version or notice the digital editing job, as the black square does stand out a bit).
- It should be noted that, while those two shots of Japanese spies were edited, one scene showing a Japanese spy in a fake phone booth next to the real one (alongside a German and an Italian spy) and a caricature of Hideki Tojo reading a magazine next to a caricature of Herman Goerring and Benito Mussolini were not edited in any way.
- The part where the alcohol Snafu consumes roils in his stomach and the fumes go to his head and melt the padlock and chain in his brain had the stomach roiling shortened, the fumes melting the padlock and chain sped up, and, for reasons unknown, the snippet of Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" redubbed with a generic jazzy tune.
- Friedwald, Will and Jerry Beck. "The Warner Brothers Cartoons." Scarecrow Press Inc., Metuchen, N.J., 1981. ISBN 0-8108-1396-3.