Bosko the Drawback

“Are you listening?”

Animation by Isadore Freleng and Bob McKimson. A Looney Tune released in 1933.

Tomorrow is July 4th. That day is pretty important to my country. And to celebrate that, what could be more patriotic than football? American football. The one where hands are involved. (Everyone knows we are a dumb country. It’s okay to say it.)

Game day! The crowds are eager to get inside and see some action! That includes Mickey clones 213, 514, 726, 556, and 715. (Only 751 before I’ve named them all!) As the title suggests, our hero that we should be rooting for is Bosko himself. Never again will you see the very epitome of athletic superstardom. And he’s getting one heck of rubdown. Kinda makes me uncomfortable. Actually, him too. He starts out enjoying it, but his handler really goes all in with his work.

Time for the kickoff! (I think that’s what the beginning of the game is called. Why would you think I’d know anything about any sport?) Bosko gets the ball and makes some good distance. All thanks to their dachshund play. You know the one. That play where you have a German wiener dog running in front of you in a pointed shape, thus knocking your opponents away. (Well, as long as there isn’t a pile-up of them.) Such an exciting game, that even Mortimer Mouse clone number one can’t help but cheer. (Which is hard to do with a broken foot.)

Just to remind you this is American, (I guess) we get an eagle perched atop ole stars ‘n stripes. (These were the good days, when there was only sixteen states. Let’s be real, the rest are just filler.) On the field, a caterpillar who I thought was just a member of the band, runs, despite getting tackled apart, slowly, segment by segment. And what about that crowd? Making an image of a talking head? Complete with raspberry action? Why are we paying the athletes millions of dollars?

Bosko’s got some real competition now. The hunchback of Notre Dame! (He’s may be an ape, but he earned that title.) And a random title card introduces us to the four horsemen, Boris, Morris, Loris and Porous. (Why couldn’t you announce them, Bosko? Your millions not paying enough? Entitled little…!) Bosko runs away, then in the next shot he’s running in the opposite direction. Because he’s about to pull the other classic dachshund maneuver! Using the dog to launch yourself over the goal! I think that means the game is over and Bosko’s team won. If only all sports games could finish in under seven minutes.

Favorite Part: I like the look on Bosko’s face when his masseuse (for lack of whatever the real term would be) snaps his neck. (He’s a toon! He’s fine!)

Personal Rating: 2

Hoppy Daze

“No mouse is no match for no cat.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, Tom Ray, and George Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Bob Singer; Effects Animation by Harry Love; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on February 11, 1961.

Age happens to the best of us. (The worst of us too. It don’t discriminate.) Sadly, this leaves one with the inevitable fact that there will be one day where you just will simply not be able to do the things you enjoy. Even basic things like getting sustenance. Such is the fate of a cat I’ve decided to call Moe. He just can’t catch mice like he used to. (Also, he stole Spike’s clothes.)

Spying an equally hungry Sylvester gives Moe an idea, offer to train him as a “champeen” mouser. Sylvester likes the idea and agrees to that, and the fact that he’ll get 20% of the mice. This… seems kind of out of character for him. Sure, he’s gullible, but I’d think his ego would be big enough to think he already was a “champeen.” If anything, I’d think he’d be more likely to just try and prove that the little cat’s tutoring would be useless. (Also, I can’t help but think this would’ve been a perfect opportunity to bring Dodsworth back.)

Sylvester enters a warehouse, and begins chasing a non-anthro mouse. (Which looks scary and out of place here.) It runs into a crate, and Sylvester opens ‘er up, failing to notice the label saying there’s a baby kangaroo inside. Look at that, a giant mouse. Kicks him out, too. Moe doesn’t believe the giant mouse story, and reminds Sylvester that they’re small creatures. Filled with resolve, Sylvester enters again. He is thrown out. Again.

After entering the third time, Sylvester finds Hippety is copying the cat. Without hesitating, Sylvester realizes that he can use this fact to his advantage, and a game of follow the leader commences. Once Hippety is back in his crate, Sylvester slips some TNT in with the marsupial. Hippety sends it back, along with the other five that was in with him. (What the? If he needs to be put down, can’t you find a more humane way?)

Time for an actual tip. (Brought to you by Moe, the cat whose hands change color briefly.) He tells Sylvester to keep his left up. Sounds like a good idea, so Sylvester tries it. (And he tries talking without moving his lips. He gets about six words in before he cracks.) Since Hippety is out of the crate again, he can bounce away from the pugnacious putty-tat. Sylvester tries the bouncing trick himself with some old bed springs. Then, well this happens:

He tricks Syvlester into jumping off the top of a pile of crates. He lands on a barrel of gunpowder. The springs get stuck, and Sylvester in launched up to the ceiling. The springs pull the barrel up, and launch Sylvester out of the warehouse, and into a nearby incinerator smokestack. Seeing the launch, Moe follows and the resulting explosion sends Sylvester’s left right into Moe’s mug. He’s mighty impressed with his pupil. (Oh, by the way, could you tell that Moe talked like Jimmy Durante? No? Then allow Hippety to end with another impression.)

Favorite part: The little clap Hippety gives is adorable. He really thinks Sylvester is here to play with him.

Personal Rating: 2. For the out of character, and missed opportunity.

Tin Pan Alley Cats

“GET ME OUTTA HERE!”

Supervision by Bob Clampett; Story by Warren Foster; Animation: Rod Scribner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on July 17, 1943.

Yessir. This here’s another induction into the “Censored 11” hall of infame. Yet, it got to join “Coal White” on the top 100 Looney Tunes list. And I think it deserves its place. Unfortunately hurtful caricatures and all.

Cats Waller (who isn’t named in the short, but anyone who has even the most remote idea of Fats Waller is going to refer to him as such) is all set to have a good time tonight. His choice of venue is the Kit Kat Klub. Oh geeze. Oh wow. That’s just plain mean. This cartoon is already robbing people of dignity, (or cats as the case may be) but why remind them of that? Despite the fact that it should raise some sort of flag, (and while I’d want it to be red, I’ve got a bad feeling it’d be white.) Cats is still making a beeline thataway.

Next door is the Uncle Tomcat Mission. It’s where you’re likely to find preachers who waste their time trying to keep other cats out. I mean really. Why would you set your base of operations RIGHT NEXT to the place that is just going to tempt people? At least do it from across the street. They try to warn Cats of the danger within. Namely, wine, women, and song. That’s too vague. Wine is everywhere in the bible. (I think. I never really could get past all that begatting.) Not all women are sluts; one could be the positive influence Cats needs. And music is inherently one of the most pure things mankind has ever taken part in. No sell, Cats chooses hell.

That preachy preacher. This place looks great! (Despite how racist it is portrayed. And the humans within. So who is the dominant species in this short?) Cats heads straight for the piano and joins in a sweet jam session. Music. What ever could cause anyone to think this could lead to eternal damnation? The trumpet player at the klub makes Cats a promise: he is going to use his music to send the little guy out of this world. Clearly, we are talking figuratively, so Cats is all for it. Do your thing!

And Cats floats, and floats, and floats, until… he really is out of this world. It may look a little bit disturbing what with the statures shaped like musical instruments with severed hands still attached, but I never forget my ideal home. He’s in Wackyland! That lucky so-and-so! It may not be referred to as such, but it’s definitely the same place. With new features even. Example 1: Cats is welcomed to his new home by a disembodied pair of lips.

Looking ahead, we can see all the residents we’ve come to know and love. That guy who plays music from his flower, the one who smokes a cigar, cigarette, and pipe all at once, that rabbit who swings by his ears. (My mom fears him. I’m fearing that saxophone with a mouth and eye in the background.) But you know what else? This is our first time getting to see Wackyland in glorious technicolor! Sure, all the residents have black accented voices that I can’t be sure are real at all, but what’s more amazing is how much here would get reused in “Dough for the Do-do“. (That giant watermelon slice doesn’t seem so P.C. anymore.)

Cats tries exploring, but the residents are just a bit too out of this world for him. And those… trees, I think? That he’s hiding behind? Those are also scarring me for life. And I’m loving every moment of it! (Who would have thought a cello with feet could give me a heart attack?) Oh, and it might interest you to know that this is also the debut of Wackyland’s pride and joy: The Rubber Band. (Love those guys. They’re cute and their talented musicians. You don’t see that often these days.)

And Wackyland is even getting into the wartime spirit. Making us all feel better about ourselves by having Axis leaders rub their buttocks together. Yet, Cats is unhappy and wants to escape back to where he came from. There’s an elevator, but Cats was suddenly lying down to match Porky’s pose from years earlier, and he misses his chance. (It’s not the dodo this time, sadly. Just some black guy who looks like a duck with those inaccurate lips, and bird-like neck.)

The breaking point comes when Cats is forced to see Stalin kicking Hitler in the derriere. He begs, pleads, demands that he be brought back. (Something you’d never hear me saying.) Wish granted. I don’t know how, but the trumpeter is able to get him back to Earth. (Maybe it was a Moonside situation and it was all in Cat’s head?) Scared straight, Cats heads next door to help spread the spiritual word. Judging by their shocked expressions, this is the first time their preaching has ever reached someone.

Favorite Part: You kidding? We got to return to Wackyland! And they were kind enough to change it enough so that it wasn’t a total rerun. Sure, it’s become a bit more mean spirited this time around. But that creepy imagery was impressively creative! Isn’t amazing how putting limbs on random objects automatically makes them lovecraftian?

Personal Rating: 3. I’d like to give it a four, but it just can’t compete with its older brother, and the offensive imagery is sure to offend a good number of people no matter how long it ages. The soundtrack is awesome though.

Woolen Under Where

“Another day, another dollar.”

Directed by Phil Monroe and Richard Thompson; Animation by Richard Thompson, Bob Bransford, Tom Ray, and Ken Harris; Designed by Maurice Noble; Layouts by Alex Ignatiev; Backgrounds by Philip De Guard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on May 11, 1963.

The last short to star Ralph and Sam begins with the two enjoying some breakfast in the same house. Probably just on a business trip. I like Ralph’s odd today, as Sam’s fur is being more of a hindrance than usual. He can barely, get his coffee mug to his mouth, and blunders into just about every tree in his path. Since Ralph is such a good buddy, he clocks the dog in for the day.

Things are just about to get started, and Sam’s lack of vision has caused him to almost walk right over his cliff spot. Ralph is on his top game and rushes to the muttony treats as soon as the whistle blows. One successful grab and Ralph rushes back just as Sam finishes struggling back up the cliff. He knocks a rock loose, and it makes contact with Ralph’s head. He puts the sheep back.

All right, let’s review what we know about these sheep: they like to graze. That means the grass itself might be a good spot to set up an ambush. Ralph uses this knowledge by slipping under the grass (but still above the dirt) to get closer. Sam does the same and punches him back out. Armor won’t help much against those punches, as Sam can grab Ralph’s raspberrying tongue, and yank him through the helmet. And we’re not even going to dignify Ralph’s half of a uni-tank. (Seriously man, what were you thinking?)

A good healthy sheep mixes up the green part of its diet with a healthy helping of fresh water. Ralph plans to dive in so he can ambush the ungulate, crocodile style. But his dive is botched when he lands back on his diving board, dislodging it and the boulder keeping it in place, (I’m loving Ralph’s “Oh, what now?” look.) and when the two land below, Ralph launches into Sam’s grasp. He drops Ralph off the cliff, forcing the wolf to swim through the dirt below.

This calls for now tomfoolery. Ralph needs serious weaponry. A guillotine, axes, arrows, cannons, bombs, dangerous reptiles. The works, really. But just as Ralph is about to pull the switch that will activate everything, the time clock blows. Well, if he’s not going to get paid, there’s no point in offing his best friend. Sam apologizes for Ralph failing again, but the wolf takes it all in good spirits. Still friends, the two walk home. (Or wherever they’re staying these days.)

Favorite Part: The fact that it didn’t end with Ralph suffering at the end. He’s ending his film career in good health, his best friend at his side, and a gorgeous sunset. Life can pretty good, sometimes.

Personal Rating: 3

Tweet and Sour

“You did sthee a pussthycat!”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Virgil Ross, Art Davis, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc (June Foray); Music by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on March 24, 1956.

Granny is heading out for the time being, but she assures Tweety that he will be safe as she is locking the door. But she makes the foolish mistake of sticking the key under the welcome mat, the very place cats like Sylvester tend to hide. As she drives away she waves what could potentially be her final goodbye to her bird, but she snaps out of it and gets the canary out of the cat’s mouth.

Time for a threat. Either Tweety is unharmed by the time she gets back from… wherever it is she is going, or Sylvester is sold to a violin string factory. (That isn’t what catgut is, lady! Leave the feline alone!) Her threat flies straight through those ears, as he is all set to try again once she’s gone. Only after Tweety reminds him of the very real threat does he reluctantly decide to behave himself. But Sylvester isn’t the only cat in town…

Hey! I recognize that orange cat! It’s the one-eyed fellow from “Puddy Tat Twouble“! I’ve heard people say this guy is Sam, but since he doesn’t talk and can’t tell them they are mistaken, his name is Lee. And he helps himself to the bird, despite Sylvester telling him that his life is on the line. Why should Lee care about something that doesn’t affect him? That’s the American lifestyle! Sylvester does his best to get Tweety away from this interloper, and vice versa.

Tweety, in turn is trying to keep away from the both of them. He hides under a hen that lives in a hen house. (Naturally.) The hen is a little spooked when she feels something slip under her, but she seems to get over it quickly as when Sylvester makes a grab, she has a huge smile. (Ew.) Once she sees the claws that were groping her, she runs to tell the resident rooster, Not Foghorn the leghorn. He prepares to wallop the intruder, when Lee comes back and chases Sylvester off. His paw ends up flat as a pancake.

Sylvester gets Tweety back in the house, who comments on how kind the putty-tat is. Sylvester isn’t pleased to hear his reputation referred to in such a kindly manner and points out this is all to keep his body alive. (Don’t you have nine lives, son?) Not like Granny is going to forget this threat after this one time. Lee is planning to come down via chimney, so Sylvester sends up some dynamite via balloon. Lee lets it pass, and slips back down. It’s at that moment that the balloon realizes it has no helium and it drifts back down. Lee flees.

Sylvester notices Granny has returned from… wherever it is she was, and rushes Tweety back to the cage. She comes in just at that moment where the cage door is still open and his paw is still touching the bird. Knowing she wouldn’t believe him anyway, (I’m not even sure the two can communicate) he falls into a violin box on his own. Umm… Tweety? This is where you speak up and defend your hero… Tweety?

Favorite Part: When Granny waves to Tweety in Sylvester’s grasp, Sylvester waves back. It’s funnily cute. Like a pig with a pail on his head, or an elephant taking someone’s lunch.

Personal Rating: 3

Circus Today

“It’s different from anything you’ve seen before, folks!”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Story by Jack Miller; Animation by Sid Sutherland; Musical Direction by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on June 22, 1940.

I’ve had a pretty tiring week. I need a short to blog about that won’t require much effort on my part. (It usually takes SO much out of me.) Let’s see… “Joe Glow the Firefly?” Nah. “Freddy the Freshman?” Nope. “Corn on the Cop?” Mmmmm… What do you mean the title of this post means I’ve already made my selection? What if I’ve changed my mind?

Time for some more of those Avery spot gags his unit did so well. Just… not here. I’m sorry, but this might just be the weakest one of these cartoons he directed. (At W.B. at least.) Weak jokes, references common folk won’t get, and a setting that tends to make people uncomfortable these days.

Welcome to Jingling Bros. circus! Where you’re sure to have a good time, even if our performers don’t. Why not remember your trip with a genuine helium balloon? Not only are they powerful enough to lift a man into the air, but they change color constantly! What do we put in these things! (We won’t tell. It might talk you out of a purchase.)

We’ve got plenty of sideshow acts as well. Gamer the glutton will eat anything you put in front of him; so what if it makes him all jangly inside? Hot Foot Hogan can walk across burning coals. Sure it causes him great pain, but he can do it! (Pay no attention to his disappearing act.) And Captain Clampett can be launched from a cannon, go on a round-world trip, and have the postage to prove it! (Any relation to A.C. Gamer, Rich Hogan and Bob Clampett will be lost on the casual viewer.)

What kind of circus would be complete without exotic animals being housed in cramped, unsanitary cages? There’s a repeat of the person feeding the animal when they really shouldn’t joke that was seen previously in both “A Day at the Zoo”, and “Cross Country Detours”. At least the punchline differs slightly with the monkey being a narc. There’s also a large gorilla being referred to as an assassin of the jungle, terrifying brute, and all around vicious beast. It might have been a punchline to see it be so gentle back then, but nowadays it’s like “no, crap.”

Inside the tent is where the REAL action is. The Flying Cadenzas are quite the amazing acrobats. Flying really is the perfect word to describe them. “Successful” and “Full set” are not. Then there’s Dixie Dare. A rather hot honey who attempts to grab a handkerchief off the ground with her teeth whilst horse riding. Maybe on the return trip, she can attempt to grab her teeth. Another performer, Madame Trixie, prefers to dance with her horse. He leads. (Is she supposed to look like Freddie Bartholomew?)

Elephants. A majestic animal that has been forced into this humiliating line of work ever since circuses took off. The trick is have a trainer who acts like one of their own. Hence, Ignatz Ignatzavich as part of their parade, a tail in his mouth. Still, the creatures have large developed brains, and just can’t bring to complete a trick that requires them to put all their bulk on his fragile, soft head. Instead, watch our performer who will do one of those death dives from an ungodly height, to a bucket of water. And I do mean “death”, quite literally. You’ve haven’t truly experienced our circus until you’ve heard our band play “Taps”.

Favorite Part: Lion tamer Clyde Binder (who you’re probably not recognizing as a nod to studio executive Henry Binder) has just put his head in a lion’s mouth and lived to show it. Seeing how much applause this gets, has the lion putting his head into the human’s mouth. (His envy is cute.)

Personal Rating: 2. I could see people laughing and enjoying this. But if you’re no stranger to Avery’s works, I can’t imagine you’ll think this is anywhere near his best.

Rabbitson Crusoe

“♫ Once I had a secret love… ♫”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Virgil Ross, and Art Davis; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Music by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on April 28, 1956.

20 years is a long time to survive on your own, but that is exactly what Robinson CaruSam has had to do the past couple decades. He’s been shipwrecked on a tiny couple of islands. The largest portion of which, is where he sleeps, cooks, and keeps a lookout for rescue. The smaller one is where his food source comes from: a lone coconut tree. This is where things get difficult, for patrolling the waters is a hungry shark that lacks pectoral fins going by the name of Dopey Dick. (Which sounds like a villain you’d see in an ad for E.D.)

Maybe his disability has forced the fish to hunt easier prey, maybe a certain crocodile got him hooked on the taste of man flesh. Whatever the reason, the shark has been trying to get his jaws on Sam everyday for twenty years. He gets his chance whenever the man needs to get food off the tree, or grab some supplies from his wrecked ship, seeing as how the only way to get to them is via some small stones. For the past twenty years, Sam has been able to keep alive by making it to land, grabbing a mallet or bat, and beating Dick back into the sea.

Now, Sam has been on an all coconut diet for the past ten years. (Just kidding. It’s been twenty still.) He’s become quite the expert at preparing the fruit a myriad of different ways. But the problem with coconuts is no matter how you prepare them, they still end up tasting like coconut. (That and the milk changes color once it’s in the glass.) I’m impressed Sam was able to last twenty years before cracking. Enter Bugs, also playing a castaway. He’s a meaty prize well worth the trouble, so Sam calls for the rabbit to come over to his island.

Bugs finds himself in a pot, and does he like it? No, he does not. He pours water on the fire, which means Sam is going to have to get to the wrecked ship to get another match. This means another round of Dick dodging. Sam is able to distract him with a bone, get his match, and return to his pot. Where Dick was waiting for him. (Why Sam hasn’t just tried eating the shark by this point…) Bugs has hidden himself on the ship, and Sam attempts at getting there are thwarted by the Dick of the deep. (Why Sam isn’t using his weapons…)

Sam does get Bugs back in the pot once more, but the rabbit spies a tidal wave. Even if Sam did believe him, it wouldn’t make any difference: the entire island is now underwater. Luckily for Bugs, the pot floats. And luckily for Sam, Bugs is willing to save him from death by Dick. Seeing as how Sam isn’t really in a position for negotiating, he agrees to Bugs’s terms. Namely, rowing the two of them to San Francisco.

Favorite Part: Sam saying that dinner will be ready in a few minutes, barring accidents. That’s when Bugs puts out the fire. But watch Sam’s face. As soon as he hears Bugs take something out of the soup, he is horrified. The rabbit wouldn’t…

Personal Rating: 3. It could have been longer, and I’m kinda bummed we didn’t get a short of a shipwrecked sailor and a starving shark. Both wanting the other, but staying safe as long as they don’t leave the land/sea.

Birds of a Father

“I feel like an assassin.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Dave Detiege; Animation by Warren Batchelder, George Grandpre, and Ted Bonnicksen; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on April 1, 1961.

Sylvester can relax in a hammock with pride. His son is the kind of kit that most fathers can only dream about: the kind who is a natural at bird chasing. But wait! The bird is chasing Junior? That’s not how it should be. Could Junior really be afraid of his natural prey? No, worse. He’s friends with the bird! The shame of it all! Time to teach the kid about proper behavior.

Junior is kind of aghast to learn that he is to chase, catch and eat a bird in that order. Spike (for that is the bird’s name) suggests a plan though: a mock fight that will take place in a shed away from Sylvester’s judging eyes. (All said in tweet-ese. Where’d Junior learn to speak that?) It starts out perfect, but the two are really putting their all into their roles, and Sylvester is a bit concerned with how violent his kid is behaving. Especially if the cleaver in the door is any indication.

Sylvester comes in (The cleaver and Spike both disappear. At least we see the bird leave.) and tells his son that there is a much more humane, much more sporting way to hunt birds: searing hot lead that can reach speeds of 2000 feet per second. Guns. What a wonderful invention. Sylvester is quite the marks-cat as well; gets a birdie on his first shot! I’m impressed, but the badminton player isn’t as much. (Probably because he had to pay for it.)

Round 2. (Is it me, or is Sylvester’s tail unnaturally long in this picture? I can already tell its missing the white tip.) The next bird is most definitely a bird. It may have even been alive once. But as of now, it’s a hat ornament and the owner of said hat doesn’t take too kindly to a cat with a gun. (Me personally, I’d let a cat wielding a gun do whatever he pleases. It’s a good survival tactic.) So, maybe technology is the answer. Sylvester builds a cute little plane that will shoot at any target you instruct it to. What happens when you set it to bird? Do you know?

Did you say it goes after birds? You did? Good job! Spike is plenty maneuverable though, and is able to stay alive. But the plane is tenacious and doesn’t give up after one failure, and Spike flees, right towards Sylvester. He runs with the other two right behind him. Spike is able to dodge it once again, but Sylvester gets stuck with it in an explosives shed. After the blast, Junior scatters some feathers around to make his father feel good about himself. Then heads off to play with his new friend: Spike in cat disguise. (So sad that his father is species-ist.)

Favorite Part: After Junior learns of how nature intended for  cats and birds to get along, (With the hairs on his head disappearing very briefly, I swear!) He sadly asks his dad if they are cannibals. Sylvester says yes.

Personal Rating: 3

The Leghorn Blows at Midnight

“Ask a silly question; get a silly answer.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Charles McKimson, Phil DeLara, Rod Scribner, J.C. Melendez, and Emery Hawkins; Layouts by Cornett Wood; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on May 6, 1950.

Foghorn is enjoying a game of solitaire, I think. (I’m not an expert on card games. You can only expect so much of me.) He’s also cheating. Which the universe can’t handle as once he puts down the 3 of diamonds, the seven of spades disappears. And then that 3 vanishes when he puts down the ace of hearts. (Cheaters never win because they literally can’t!) Alas, the rooster should have found a better place to sit as he is well within B.D.’s leash length and is cymbal’d. (After the hound misses at first. Love the smile he wears when he succeeds the second time.)

This doesn’t set Foghorn back for long, as he swipes a pie from the windowsill and smushes it into the dog’s face. Then he plays barber, shaving the pie off and giving the dog a hot towel. (Love the expression of fear he wears when he sees it coming. This dog makes great faces.) The small stuff is not quite good enough, and Dawg sharpens up an axe. (Drama-queen.) Henery shows up and just decides the dog is a chicken. (Huh. Usually he has to be misinformed.) The dog points him toward Foggy. That’s his chicken.

In turn, Foghorn gives a sob story about how afraid he is of going into a dark oven. (Henery [with genuine concern]: “Would you rather be fried on top of the stove?”) Foghorn tells him that chickens ain’t worth a 99-cent value meal. (I’m paraphrasing of course. Those weren’t around at the time.) Now pheasant, that’s a tasty dish. Foghorn is even willing to give the kid a lift to pheasant territory. (They’re cute when they sing together.) Wouldn’t you know it, Henery had been talking to a pheasant earlier and didn’t even know it!

Foggy give the hawk some glass so he can enjoy the pheasant under it. (I want to say that the handle of which changes color, but since it was already transparent, maybe it’s the background behind it changing color?) Henery gets the “pheasant” under the glass, but has to run from the angry “bird.” The leash keeps it away, and Foghorn uses the opportunity to do like he did in “Walky Talky Hawky,” and use the dog’s stasis as an excuse to hurt him in comical ways.

Eventually, Henery calls B.D. a pheasant right to his face. Rather than correct him, he reminds the small bird that he is a CHICKENhawk. You think ANTeater’s ever vary their diet? Stick with what humans named you. Getting the hawk to untie him, B.D. fakes the sounds he usually makes when he is strangled and Foghorn is summoned. The two engage in good old fashioned fisticuffs, while Henery cheers them both on. The winner gets to see tomorrow. The loser joins Henery for dinner. (He still thinks that dog is a pheasant.)

Favorite Part: During Foghorn’s weeping, he tells Henery to feel how gristly his wing is. That’s not an empty request. As the camera zooms in for what is sure to be a heartfelt backstory, the chicken DEMANDS the child feel it. (I didn’t make that sound weird, did I?)

Personal Rating: 3 teetering on four. It’d make a fine introduction to Foghorn’s cartoons.

The Dixie Fryer

“I’m a rooster, not a roaster.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, Tom Ray, and George Granpre; Layouts by Robert Givens; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on September 24, 1960.

Cold is bad. Cold equals death. Foghorn is the wisest chicken this side of Aardman, so he knew enough to get south once the weather turned on him. Since he can’t fly as well as a duck, he uses one to pull his balloon basket. Taking note of the magnolia scent in the air, he figures this must be his stop and he leaps out via the Mary Poppins approach. He came well packed with all one needs for a vacation: a comfy chair, and a table to hold a drink. (The mint julep is a cute touch.)

But predators are a worldly thing, and there is a couple in that tree just yonder. If you’ve watched every Looney Tune and Merrie Melody in chronological order, then you’d recognize these guys. If not, I’ll introduce you. They are Pappy and his son, Elvis, two raptors of indeterminate species. I call them that because they were turkey vultures in their first picture, but have shrunk down to chicken hawks for this, their final appearance.

They’ve been subsisting on black-eyed peas for some time now, and Elvis is really craving a chicken. The lack of them is all that is keeping his wildest desires from coming true. They take note of Foghorn and are ready to have themselves a good old fashioned BBQ. Foghorn isn’t too pleased to wake up to someone plucking his feathers off, but he finds even more to complain about once he finds out what is on the menu for dinner. (I hate hearing people complain on their vacations.)

With their dinner on the run, Pappy chases him down telling Elvis to shoot him with the gun they have. Elvis has been trained to fire when ‘fire’ is said, and unfortunately for his father, Foghorn knows this. This calls for dueling pistols. Foggy almost immediately gets the guns into the wings of the two, and tries getting them to duel. But what makes these guys fairly amusing is that they are fairly intelligent, and they both shoot their prey.

Foggy tries to get rid of them by claiming there is a tornado on the way, and nailing them in the storm cellar. Then the actual tornado hits him. Foghorn decides to take shelter in an explosives shed. The other two follow him and Foggy leaves them in there with a light. The resulting explosion sends the raptors back to their nest. They decide that the peas will make an adequate dinner after all.

Favorite Part: When in the shed, Elvis asks his father what T.N.T. spells. A very unique way to discover and announce your doom. I hope I can go in a similar way.

Personal Rating: I want to give it a four. There are some good jokes that even manage to subvert your expectations at times. But I don’t know, are the adversaries racial stereotypes? Let me clarify: offensive racial stereotypes? I enjoyed them and didn’t think they were hurtful, but I’m naive and scared of someone accusing me of being insensitive. It’s gotta stay a 3.