Land of the Midnight Fun

“Many of the passengers made the entire trip by rail.”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Story by Melvin Millar; Animation by Charles McKimson; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on September 23, 1939.

Before we begin, I must insist you watch this if you haven’t done so already:

Now that you’re properly hyped, (and if you aren’t, then you aren’t living properly. Try again.) we can move on to today’s feature.

Time for a ocean voyage up north. As a cold loather, I can’t fathom why anyone would want to subject themselves to such an excursion, but I might as well follow and see if we can scrounge up a few good jokes. Considering Avery thought bringing back the “fairy boat” joke was a good idea, I’m apprehensive. (And I don’t buy the narrator’s claim of this being “educational.” That penguin on the title card already disproves that theory.)

Actually, maybe Tex is already proving me wrong. For when we take a peek under the Atlantic waters, we see an abundance of sea life, that is drawn fairly realistically! A battery of barracuda, a pair of swordfish, a float of tuna! Oh, and a can of salmon. There’s even life above the waves; witness the castaway on a raft. The boat tries throwing him a line, but he throws it back. Seeing as how he has a woman on board, he’s fine thanks. (That situation actually sounds like a decent basis for a novel. DIBS!)

When the ship arrives at Nome, (parallel parking, no less) we get to see some “Eskimo humor.” The caricatures are a bit outdated, and the lifestyle seems to be composed of outdated stereotypes, but don’t worry. None of them are gutbustingly hilarious, so you don’t have to feel guilty. There’s one native sitting in cramped igloo, a woman putting lipstick on her nose, (yeah, okay. She’s kind of cute.) and a telephone pole for the dogsleds.

So, if that’s what the humans are doing, what are the animals up to? Chicken’s lay eggs encased in ice, a timber wolf constantly yelling his namesake, and a…. penguin.

There’s a penguin in Alaska.

The clearly American Alaska.

Come on, Fred! You’re insulting my zoology cred! And to go even further, you state that the birds live entirely on fish! No, I don’t care if science hadn’t dis-proven these claims in the 30’s. By that logic, I should be okay with every racist caricature that gets shown on the screen. Happily for me, the last fish on the penguin’s menu turns the tables and eats it. Thus leading me to believe that it was just an invasive species that got nipped in the bud. Thank goodness.

Before the tour ends, we take a peek at the nearby night club. There’s no hurry, as the nights are a good six months up here. We get some nice rotoscoped skating, courtesy of one of the natives. But the tour has to end sometime, so we head back down to New York. (Wait, did we really sail over the Arctic circle to get here? Eat it, Nautilus!) However, due to heavy fogs, the boat somehow ends up on top of the Trylon. (We’re kings of the world!)

Favorite Part: that wolf. Not only is he being voice by Avery, doing that infectious laugh I know and love so well, but he even takes the time to comment on how silly the gag is. (Darn it, Tex. I can’t stay mad at you.)

Personal Rating: 3

 

 

Wise Quackers

“I sthink he looksth better that way.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Manuel Perez, Pete Burness, Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on January 1, 1949.

If the gray skies, red foliage and migrating ducks are any indication: Autumn is here. Dafffy does his best to keep up with the rest of the flock, but ultimately goes down. He calls out for help, and surprisingly enough, he gets an answer! Wait… I know that voice! That’s Elmer J. Fudd! And he’s not confused; he knows exactly what he’s doing. He gets Daffy down on the ground, and aims his gun.

Daffy isn’t too keen on the whole dying idea, and offers up an alternative: slavery! Elmer spares his life, and Daffy waits on him, wing and foot. (And seeing as how Daffy IS black, he’s not above a quick reference to “Uncle Tom.”) Elmer as it turns out, is totally on board with the idea. (As every single human being secretly thinks. Don’t deny it)  The deal is made, and the two head back to the homestead.

Elmer is about to give himself a shave, when Daffy interrupts. Seeing as how he’s the slave, he’s the one who gets to remove Elmer’s hair. (Seeing as how he’s a bird, Daffy is probably fascinated by the stuff.) He starts with a hot towel. So hot, that he ends up steaming Elmer’s face off. He puts it back where it belongs, just upside down. (Elmer frowns, but since his face is still the wrong way, he’s technically smiling. I can’t say I blame him. If I had unlimited wishes, number 5 would be to have my face upside down.)

Now for the actual shaving. It looks like Daffy knows what he’s doing, but it isn’t long before he’s asking for various surgical tools. (Elmer just has plasma in his bathroom does he?) Elmer has come to realize that slavery is, and always has been, a mistake. So he decides to kill Daffy. (Letting him go? That’s an odd suggestion.) Daffy is able to get another pass by making Elmer a meal. But he has to give the ole “it might be poisonous” shtick a try, and eats every bite. (I hope that was chicken.)

Killing time again! Daffy saves himself this time, by offering to chop wood for Elmer. The tree he chose falls on Elmer’s neighbor’s domicile. Seems he doesn’t mind though, as he just asks to borrow Elmer’s hammer, friendly like. (He just wanted to hammer Elmer’s head, but it was still a kind way of asking.) Daffy uses this time to escape, so Elmer sics his dogs on the duck’s trail. They might not look like the most focused ones you could send on this job, but they’re organized. They stop and make plans and everything.

After a botched first effort, (lousy tree) they succeed in bringing Daffy back! (That’s…wow. I never should ever doubt a dog. These are, after all the same animals who were smart enough to come up with the idea of adopting humans as pets.) Daffy’s way out of this one? Play up his blackness once more, and beg Elmer not to whip him. (The DVD that this short can be found on is available at the library I work at. In the children’s section. I laugh every time a child checks it out. Even though I support that choice. Better than “Paw Patrol.”)

The second part of his plan? Daffy returns as Lincoln and angrily tells Elmer off. (Silly slave owners, whips are for cream!) Guess that’s all that was needed, as Daffy leaves. (Huh. Kind of a weak ending)

Favorite Part: When playing surgeon, Daffy keeps asking for more and more ridiculous requests. When Elmer gets fed up and points a gun at him, Daffy simply reminds him that that wasn’t what he asked for. (I thought it was funny!)

Personal Rating: The great gags get this cartoon a 4 from me, but if you can’t see past the racially insensitive bits, then it’d probably be a 3.

Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs

“Some folks think I’s kinda dumb, but I know someday my prince will come.”

Supervision by Robert Clampett; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Rod Scribner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on January 16, 1943.

This is, no question, the most famous of the Censored Eleven. If being listed on the “100 greatest Looney Tunes” isn’t reason enough, then how about actually managing to secure a place as one of the “50 greatest cartoons.” (As chosen back in the 90’s, so people were well aware of how offensive this cartoon was, and still is.) And yet, there are some good reasons as to why it earned such a spot. Allow me to explain.

We start with a mother and child. They aren’t going to feature much in our feature. They set up the story, and briefly appear at the end, and that’s it. (Luckily, they’re in silhouette. We already have enough racist drawings.) The child wants to hear the story of “So White and the seven dwarfs.” So the mother tells just that.

The story starts with a queen. She’s a mean one. Know how I know? She’s hoarding wartime luxuries! Sugar, coffee, tires, and scrap metal! That’s stuff our armies could use! How dare she! Seems like all these treasures aren’t enough to satiate her, so she heads over to her magic mirror. (Now that I think about it, where did the queen find that mirror in every variation of this story? Did Rumplestilskin just have a yard sale?)

The queen asks for a prince, and the mirror… er, supplies I think. A prince does indeed show up. His name is Prince Chawmin’, and maybe he just came this way because of the other woman who is around these parts. Despite the cartoon’s title, her name is So White. (Even though her hair IS coal black, but who would want to be named after their follicles?)

(Right, Edward?)

And as for So… I’ll just say it: she is hot. I mean that. She gets my vote for the most attractive animated character I’ve seen. Jessica Rabbit can’t compare. Red Hot Riding Hood has nothing on her. Samus Aran doesn’t cut it. Give me this black beauty any day. Chawmin’ shares my opinion, and the two start dancing, angering the queen. (Who makes one of the scariest faces I’ve ever seen. That’s a little hyperbolic, but it does give me the jibblies.)

Queenie ain’t pleased to see her prince dancing with her… actually, it doesn’t say if she’s related to So. She could just be a very attractive maid. Still, this is enough cause for murder, so the queen calls up Murder Inc. to get rid of So. They’re very adept and arrive immediately. (Good rates too. Anybody can be out of your life for only a dollar! Midgets are half off! Japanese are free. Bad taste, but I’m sorry, that joke got a small chuckle out of me. At least Murder Inc. have wartime priorities.)

Well, maybe they aren’t as adept as I thought. Being alone with So in their vehicle ends up with her getting safely dropped in the forest, and their faces covered in lipstick. (Can’t say I blame them in the slightest. Shame So’s more of a loose woman than I hoped.) Out on her own, and savvy to her source material, So looks for the seven dwarfs. She finds them rather quickly. Most of them look very similar to each other. We’ll call them Dock, Hoppy, Brash, Sweep, and Snazzy. The other two look like Stepin Fetchit, (Because we have to make that reference whenever possible. The joke is timeless!) and chibi-Dopey. (He’s cute. I’ll call him Cheeb.)

They’re happy to take So in, but since there is a World War in progress, she can’t play housekeeper at their place. Instead, she’ll be the cook at their camp. Now, the queen is well aware that So is still alive. (I guess Muder Inc. couldn’t keep their insensitively large lips shut.) Time for the apple. Poison and all. (I’d have just let her eat it as is. It’d given her worms.) Disguised as a peddler, the queen hands So the apple, claiming it’s candy coated. So gleefully swallows it whole. (Which also would just kill her. The poison is just a fail safe.)

Cheeb sees the downed hottie, (complete with core? She didn’t even chew. Where did it come from? The queen just wanted a snack?) He rallies the troops, and they chase the old girl down. They fire Cheeb in a shell towards her, and he knocks her out with a hammer. Almost all well and good, there’s just the matter of So. They need Chawmin’. His kiss will wake her. He shows up, makes what is possibly the first reference to “Citizen Kane” in media, (I’m too lazy to see if my claim there is true) and kisses So.

Something’s wrong here! He kisses and kisses, but she don’t wake up. Seeing his chance, Cheeb kisses her himself, and that does the trick. But why? Sorry, military secret. (The cutie ended up with the hottie. I guess I ship it.)

Favorite Part: The whole cartoon is in rhyme. (Barring a few exceptions.) It makes the whole thing feel like an upbeat jazz number!

Personal Rating: I won’t beat about the bush. This cartoon is full of ugly caricatures, hurtful stereotypes, and outdated jokes. But, if you can remember that and understand that it’s not funny, there is some pretty awesome stuff left over. A fantastic jazzy soundtrack, some pretty sweet voice acting, (done by some honest to goodness African Americans. And Mel. Because Mel is the voice god) and is overall a pretty awesome parody of Disney’s classic film. I give it a 4. Just remember that even if something is offensive, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s garbage.

Pettin’ in the Park

“Stroke! Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!”

Supervision by Bernard Brown; Animation by Jack King and Bob Clampett; Music by Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released on January 27, 1934.

The park is THE place to be if you want to show your love for another being. The birds are certainly aware of this. Everywhere you go they’re either cuddling, kissing, or pecking out hearts in trees. (Well, just the woodpeckers.) It’s not just the birds, though. A cop is currently trying to put the moves on a nursemaid. (She’s plenty hot, but also clearly voiced by a man. Kind of a turnoff.)

I guess there’s chemistry, (Although I’m betting they just met today.) because the lady doesn’t slap the cop when he steals a kiss. Hypocritical as birds are, they immediately start scolding the two. (In song form no less.) It doesn’t work. (I do love the lady’s charge asking to leave. That’s what I’d do.) But there’s another in the park today. It’s a…. penguin.

There’s a penguin in the park.

The clearly American park.

You know what, I decided that I don’t care. Okay, sure. There’s a penguin. It’s chasing a butterfly. The insect lands on the woman’s rear. Now, lepidopterans are quite light as far as animals go, so she takes no notice of it. But a sphenisforme giving you a peck on the cheek is hard to ignore. She feels it and naturally assumes her new “boyfriend” is to blame. (Why must second base be so taboo?) She leaves him, and takes the baby home.

Until she sees the next guy in her path. This man has a car, is single, and isn’t turned off when the lady just abandons the infant to join him. (We never do see that kid again. I like to think he grew up to be a responsible parent.) Envious, and not above trying to abuse his power, the cop tries to break them up. The man isn’t above assaulting an officer, and punches the policeman before driving off. (Assault, abusing power, and abandoning children. All three should go to jail.)

Oops! Looks like there’s another cartoon taking place! You thought all those birds were just there to provide side gags, didn’t you? Now, they’re the focus. (If the sign at the beginning said “Bird Park” instead of “City Park” this would make more sense.) They’re also holding a water carnival. This means there will be both a diving and swimming contest. (*Looking at the penguin* The events are rigged.)

Time for the fist contest. We’ve got a parrot doing commentary. (Good luck trying to make out what he says. His words are drowned out by the soundtrack.) The swan and duck family does quite well. The stork dives into trash. (Might have been more clever as a pigeon or gull. Especially if they were happy about their landing) The ostrich lands in mud. (So… who won?)

Time for the swimming race! (The lake in question is filthy. I see at least three tires and a hubcap.) The pelican seems like he’s doing quite well, but smart birds don’t bet on them to win swimming races. The penguin and the parrot (Who I guess are on a team?) join in, using a tub as a boat, and a bike pump as a motor. Not only does this give them tremendous speed, but also throws the fish into the air. (Much to the pelican’s delight.)

The two get stuck in some mud. The parrot flies off, while the penguin fruitlessly tries to pump. This ends up covering some geese in mud and garbage. Angry, they chase the penguin, but he manages to lose them in a turnstile. This not only makes them lose their feathers, but it ties their necks in knots too. Ouch.

Favorite Part: When the cop marches over to break up his “ex” and her lover, the penguin imitates him. (It’s cute.)

Personal Rating: I’d like to give it a 2, but the two plots really felt disconnected. I’m afraid it earns a 1.

Skyscraper Caper

“What an easy job this is going to be. I think.”

Directed by Alex Lovy; Story by Cal Howard; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, LaVerne Harding, Volus Jones, and Ed Solomon; Layouts by Bob Givens; Backgrounds by Bob Abrams and Ralph Penn; Film Editor: Hal Geer; Voices: Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Merrie Melody released o March 9, 1968.

Daffy has a bad case of sleepwalking. Bad enough to have him walking out of his house. It’s a good thing that Speedy catches sight of this, but his warnings aren’t enough to wake Daffy, and the duck walks into a lake. (Speedy’s house seems disproportioned. Daffy comes up to its roof, but Speedy seems to be half as tall as that. I don’t know. It seems off, but there’s plenty more to complain about.)

Speedy offers a solution: Daffy gives him 5 pesos, and Speedy will watch over him. Waking him in case he sleep walks again. And, believe it or not, Daffy not only agrees to that, but happily so! He’s not convinced that’s too much? He’s okay letting Speedy in his house? This is not the Daffy I know and love. He’s…he’s gone. He’s changed for the worse, just like everything I’ve ever loved. (Fine. I’ll tone it back a bit.)

Staying up all hours is a tiring job, so Speedy rigs up a rope around Daffy’s bed. If Daffy walks into it, it will ring a bell that will wake them both. Speedy will then take the credit. He even has the nerve to ask Daffy for another payment for his services. Unbelievably, Daffy pays up. (Even calling it worth paying for? Daffy, come back to me, pal!) It’s not a perfect plan. Once Daffy exits his bed the other way, he completely bypasses the rope.

Daffy walks out of his already open door, and heads into town. (It’s clearly midday now. How late do those two sleep?) And now, halfway through the picture, Daffy makes his way to a skyscraper. It’s still under construction, but this is one of the oldest known cartoon ideas. Someone will blindly stumble around the place, but always be saved at the last minute. It’s worked with Popeye, it’s worked with Mickey, it’s worked with Bugs. So, it should work here!

And they immediately botch it up. Daffy walks onto a girder, walks to the edge, and…just stands there. BOR-ING! You took the fun out of this gag, why exactly? Now Speedy wakes up and notices the duck is gone. He rushes outside, (not taking the bell for no reason) and sees Daffy still WAITING on the edge of his beam. Speedy is fast enough to make it there, and keep Daffy from falling more.

There’s an ice cream man there. He doesn’t look happy. (But I suppose he is selling at a construction site. There can’t be much business.) His bell wakes Daffy up, and he falls off the building. He grabs on to the side, and saves himself from death. Speedy lowers down a NOOSE that Daffy is supposed to use to get back up, by sticking his head in it, and pulling the other end to get himself up. (Why are these two’s personalities switched?)

Daffy manages to get back up, but a jackhammer sends him back down. He grabs a clock hand, and, for no other reason than to get some more pain out of him, the hour hand begins turning at a rapid rate, hitting Daffy multiple times and causing him to let go. He bounces around the area, thanks to awnings, and telephone wires, before landing in Speedy’s wagon, knocking him out. Speedy returns him to his bed, and Daffy is convinced the whole thing is a dream. (I wish I could think the same.)

Favorite Part: Speedy telling the sleeping Daffy to wake up. Once he’s in the water, Speedy remarks that he is awake now. (Yes, that was the highlight.)

Personal Rating: 1. The characters were out character, the jokes weren’t funny, and the animation was as poor as it usually was at this time.

Ten. Years.

The celebration is today. That’s why I’m six days early.

It was exactly one decade ago today. Ten years. 120 months. And probably many more months, fortnights, days, etc. A man had an idea. To blog about the wondrous works of animated whimsy from Warner Bros. That man, was my father. He had this son, who had been watching the cartoons for at least ten years, and obsessing over them for at least five. Naturally, when someone is obsessed with something, they never shut up about it.

Either my dad was sick of hearing about things he was too busy to watch, or he wanted his kid to share his knowledge with the rest of the world for a change. Either way, he suggested the kid start a blog. That kid, was me. And how did I respond? A shrug, and a “Sure, why not?” (I don’t get excited over much. One of the “perks” of being autistic.) With his help, I set me up at a little slice of Squaespace.com, named the site after my favorite animated work, and I was ready to inform the masses of what they had been missing.

But you wouldn’t know that from those early posts. As I’ve stated before, I acted like whoever would be reading had just watched the cartoon in question and was now just on the lookout for other opinions. Even then, I managed to spit out maybe an underfed paragraph at most. (Actually, I’m kind of glad I did that. Everyone already knows the plots of those cartoons.) I was enjoying myself fine enough, but I won’t lie: I was originally just doing it to try and get some attention about something I knew. Maybe meet a cute girl, make some fans, get a job in the animation industry? I was fifteen. I could afford such ludicrous dreams.

Luckily, the more I kept at it, the more I not only improved, but started to enjoy blogging for the sake of blogging. It got to the point, where I had actually started to have some pride in what I was writing, and wanted to continue to not only improve my skills as a writer, but make the site look better. I started to add pictures, video clips, and credits. I also decided to do what many would figure obvious, offer a plot synopsis. I learned to trust my own sense of humor, and not worry too much about being like other people online. I even ditched Squarespace to come here, which has given me the opportunity to categorize my posts, and make navigation all the easier.

While nobody has ever called me out on this, I do feel the need to explain the “order” in which I talk about these pictures. Originally, I was quite blatantly just going through my DVD collection. (Though I coyly acted like it was done by my own choice.) I soon grew bored of that though. I should have just gone in chronological order, but it was harder to find everything online back in 2011, so I couldn’t do that, and it would have been odd to do it by this point, so I’ve just started picking shorts at random lately. Gives me the element of surprise, just like you.

And look at that, ten years already. This marking not only that milestone, but my 580th post as well. Not good for ten years work. Since I do other things besides blog, I’m still not all that close to being done to blogging about everything Looney. Still, I enjoy myself more and more with each week. It really has been good for me. Helping me develop my own writing style, and being good practice for working on my own books. I do tend to lean towards entertainment rather than information, but there’s plenty of other places online if you want more serious stuff. (I feel that my wackier side is pretty faithful to the cartoons I adore.)

If I’m allowed to be petty, I’ve still yet to get the attention I feel I deserve. If I’m allowed to show how I really feel: I’m very pleased with the feedback I have received. It’s pretty much been all positive. Sure, I’ve gotten a few comments telling me to correct things, but they weren’t mean about it. They just love the source material like me and want me to honor it justly. I’ve also gotten a bit of attention from the higher-ups. Tony Cervone, animation director of “Space Jam” himself found this humble blog, and he liked it. That was an honor and a half.

Really though, this blog is meant to help people rediscover old favorite cartoons, or maybe come around to being huge fans like me. As long as someone watched a Looney Tune and enjoyed it, then I’ve done what I need to. I can only wonder what the next ten years will contain. I’m nervous, excited, curious and even a little hungry. One thing for sure: It’s going to continue to be…WACKY!

Big Game Haunt

“No use hiding! You can’t escape!”

Directed by Alex Lovy; Story by Cal Howard; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, LaVerne Harding, Volus Jones, and Ed Solomon; Layouts by Bob Givens; Backgrounds by Bob Abrams; Film Editor: Hal Geer; Voice Characterization by Larry Storch; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Merrie Melody released on February 10, 1968.

On a nice day, such as the one shown in this picture, one should really be out hunting tigers. I mean, it’s not like they’re an endangered species, and we’ve already wiped out three of their subspecies. They’re just large cats in stripes. Really, Colonel Rimfire is totally in the right for chasing after Cool Cat. Yet, the tiger doesn’t want to be hunted for some unknown selfish reason. What’s his problem?

C.C. decides to take refuge in some derelict house he finds. Somehow, Rimfire missed that, and heads towards the house just to ask if anyone saw the tiger. Despite the rustic appearance the building has, Rimfire knocks. Cool Cat is on the other end and does the old “does your target have the same features I have, sorry, I haven’t seen him” bit. (He also slams the door on his hunter) Angry, Rimfire chases after him.

Knowing that the tiger is nearby, Rimfire purposefully says aloud that he is giving up. Cool Cat does indeed poke his head out of his hiding place, but manages to escape again. Rimfire gives chase, and despite being less than three feet away, still can’t manage to shoot his prey. The two of them run past an old trunk, and awaken the one who sleeps inside it.

The credits list this guy as “Spooky” but… that nose, that physique, that manner of speech. I think this guy is the ghost of Ranger J. Audubon Woodlore. (There was only so many times he could reprimand Humphrey, before the big guy realized he was a bear.) Despite his name, he’s a friendly ghost. He just wants to be pals with the two trespassers on his property. But the two aren’t so keen, just seeing a ghost is enough to frighten them.

Spooky is actually quite aware they’re afraid of him, as he indicates this has happened before. Still, he decides to return the hat and gun that Rimfire dropped in his attempt to get away. From where Cool Cat hides, all he can see is that someone is wearing that hat, and carrying that gun. It must be the Colonel. Cool Cat tries to team up with the Colonel, only to find himself facing the real one in front of him. The two flee again.

Rimfire tries barricading a door, but since Spooky is a ghost, he can go through walls. (And he can bring the Colonel’s belongings through too. That’s actually pretty scary.) Cool Cat, who was hiding in the curtains, gets scared when Rimfire tries to share his hiding place. The tiger runs, with the sheet still on him, making him look like a ghost. This spooks Spooky, who flees himself. He phases through a brick wall, that C.C. crashes into. (Why is that even in here?)

Rimfire decides to use this time to escape, running the same way the other two did. Despite the fact he clearly saw that Cool Cat was the one under the curtains, he gets scared by that and runs the other way. (Must be getting senile in his old age) Cool Cat follows, and Spooky does likewise. (Because, Cool Cat isn’t wearing the curtains anymore?) When he realizes he is still being followed, he runs and ends up jostling Rimfire out of the phonograph he was in. (I thought he was escaping. Why is he still here?)

Finally, Rimfire runs out the front door. (It really shouldn’t have been that hard.) Cool Cat follows suit, still pursued by Spooky. Ultimately, Cool Cat runs out of energy, and sits down. Spooky joins him, commenting that they had a great race. Cool Cat, still not happy to see the dead, admits that they’ll resume as soon as he catches his breath.

Favorite Part: The fact that Cool Cat was willing to try and save his adversary. Man, this guy really IS cool.

Personal Rating: 2

Thumb Fun

“WHOA-HO-HO-HOOOOOOO, NELLY!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Rod Scribner, Phil DeLara, Charles McKimson, and Bob Wickersham; Layouts by Peter Alvarado; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on March 1, 1952.

Daffy scoffs at the idea of flying south for the winter. I mean, it’s not like ducks are champion endurance flyers. While the common mallards will waste time AND energy, Daffy will get south the way evolution intended him to: hitchhiking. Nobody is offering rides though, and Daffy is reduced to having to paint a fake canyon in the road. (Nice use of perspective. Really brings to mind the works of the masters.)

One driver stops. His name is Porky Pig. Even though he was only stopping to avoid a potential crash, Daffy takes that as an offer to ride. He even fills the trunk with his excess luggage. (What does he even have in there? He’s not even wearing clothes. And to think people harp on Porky’s lack of pants.) There’s not much room, but Daffy makes do. When Porky takes a peek, suitcases fly everywhere. What a start.

They get going, but find they aren’t the only ones on the road. There’s a driver who wants to pass them. Now, Porky has no reason to give in. He got where he was first, and the other driver is acting like an a-hole with a horn. But this is Porky Pig we’re talking about. Friend to the common man and road jerks alike. He wants to let the guy pass, but Daffy shares my sentiments and continuously steers the car back in front. This goes on for awhile, until the other driver crashes into our stars.

Porky is not happy this has happened, but Daffy isn’t worried. The other car is ridiculously small, so the driver ought to be just as well. Said driver is not only tall, but pissed. It’s not enough that kids find his appearance while driving a vehicle humorous, but now he has to find another comediacally small car. Daffy’s reaction is great: he acts like groveling dog. I guess the big guy finds this endearing, because he lets Daffy live. He gives Porky a punch.

After they get going again, Daffy complains at the lack of speed. Porky is a responsible driver, and refuses to speed. Daffy steps on the gas himself, and that’s when the cop shows up. (It’s the universal law.) Daffy has a plan: he tells the officer that Porky has “something” in the trunk. Knowing all too well what will happen, Porky begs for the man to NOT look in the trunk. This doesn’t help matters, it only makes him look more suspicious. The cop takes a peek, and suitcases fly everywhere. Before Daffy can get Porky to flee, they are nabbed.

They’re brought in to Muddville. (Where there is no joy. It’s their slogan.) Not surprisingly, Porky gets off easy. A fine of $2.00. (Sweet!) Daffy is angry to hear it, and goes to fight. This ends up costing Porky an extra fifty. Daffy still feels that’s a victory. Porky has had it, but plays it cool. In fact, he ups and buys Daffy a present. But the fun in giving is seeing the surprise on the giftee’s face. Therefore, Porky refuses to let Daffy have it right away. He stuffs it in the trunk.

Daffy’s greed gets the better of him. He takes a peek, and suitcases fly everywhere. Porky takes his chance, and drives away. Daffy is able to take some solace in still having the present. He opens it up to find: a novelty hitchhiking thumb. (Wah-wah.) Come winter, Daffy is still desperately waving his thumb. One of these two things has got to give first: the season, or Daffy’s life.

Favorite Part: The man who pulls over for a hitchhiking Daffy, just to tell him that he never picks his kind up. (It really is a shame that so many dickweeds ruined trolling for the rest of us. It’s actually quite humorous when done right.)

Personal Rating: 4

The Curious Puppy

“Fun! Exciting! Baffling!”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Story by Robert Givens; Animation by Phil Monroe; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on December 30, 1939.

We regret to inform you that the local amusement park is closed for the season. Those of you who live in a world of pre-covid Disney resorts, might scoff at such practices, but as someone who lives in an area that gets snow, (If you call that living. I don’t.) I can assure you such ways are real. But Joe is our titular curious puppy, and he can’t resist making a quick visit.

The thing that immediately catches his interest is a cat shaped sign. Like a good little, curious puppy, he immediately sets to barking. It might not be a real cat, but its good that he starts with a harmless version. As he barks, he accidentally pulls the master switch. The very switch that turns the whole park on. (Really should have hid that better. It’s why this park is now a strip mall.) Is there no security? Yeah, we spared no expanse. We got a boxer.

Enter Charles. He’s a little grumpy because he’s been left in an empty park with no food, only enchiladas. (I joke, but I find those are rarely worth eating) They may have been friends in past shorts, (or at least, co-stars) but Charles has a job to do, so Joe has got to go. The chase begins.  First stop: the house of mirrors. A perfect opportunity to do the routine Groucho made famous in “Duck Soup.”

Charles creeps ever so slowly, making sure the only other dog he sees is his reflection. Joe appears at the one point where there is no mirror. Although, Charles has his real reflection for a split second. I swear! (Well, I censor myself.) The mirror gag starts, with Charles trying to catch his “reflection” not copying him. (I love the ridiculous happy face he wears. That should be a meme somehow) Joe does eventually screw up, revealing himself and running again.

The puppy hides in a photo booth, using a photo board as camouflage. Charles isn’t fooled, and lunges. The resulting force sends Joe out a window and into a popcorn machine. He’s pretty cool with this, and helps himself to a snack. Charles finds him again, and turns the thing on to get himself a bag of “pup-corn.” He gets the mutt, and carries him off. (To eat? Maybe just to get rid of him, but maybe to eat.) But a flimsy paper bag, weakened by grease no less, was not meant to carry an at least 15 pound animal. It breaks, and Joe leaves.

He probably could have gotten away this time, but he has to stop at bark at the cat toy prizes on show. (More practice! Good boy!) Charles gives chase again, leading them into a… fake mountain? I guess its just a way to give shade to those who wait in line for the pool slide. (I’m pretty clever.) The dogs take a quick dip, before Joe escapes. Charles follows to what is the perfect hiding place: an entire stall of toy puppies, all of which look identical to the little trespasser.

Charles pounces! Good thing he isn’t finding the real one. Just look at the heads fly! When I said Joe escaped, I meant it. He’s outside the park now. Charles sobs. (Even if the puppy is out, he’s probably out himself. Of a job. I counted at least forty toys destroyed. That’s about $20.00 US dollars more than Charles makes in a year.)

Favorite Part: The pup-corn bit. It was cute! The way Joe gets scooped, salted, and buttered. (Luckily it doesn’t burn him.) And packed up neatly in a sack! I wish the parks I attended sold such joys.

Personal Rating: 3

Moonlight for Two

“Stand back, villain!”

Animation by Isadore Freleng and Larry Martin. A Merrie Melody released on June 11, 1932.

You ever heard of Goopy Geer? There’s no shame if you haven’t. He’s one of the WB’s most minor of minor characters. He’s your basic run-of-the-mill anthro-dog. He sings, he dances, he plays musical instruments. He was another attempt to make a recurring character for Merrie Melodies. And I know what you are thinking now: that name and species? It’s another blatant Disney ripoff! Yet, Goopy came first. He predates the dippy dog by a couple of weeks. And, yet, (again) one went on to have his own movie in the 90’s, while the other got a cameo on Tiny Toons. (There are no losers, but some won more than others.)

Late at night, in some Ozarks-ish area, a girl dog heads out with her boyfriend/ormaybehusbandbrotherorjustdancepartner for some dancing fun. Even the birds sing in excitement. (Probably on the other side of the globe. It’s clearly day where they are.) The guy is Goopy and the gal is just Goopy’s gal. (So, it is once more up to me to supply a name. Gigi sounds appropriate) They sing our title song, jump onto a cart, (not sure if that was intentional) and they crash. They end up going to the dance in a wheelbarrow.

Random transition to the dance! We’re just there, man. It kind of feels like we got a different carton shoved in here. Everyone is having such a wonderful time! Look at those asses wiggle! No, really. They have long ears, and are clearly equines. (And yes, their posteriors are moving too.) Goopy and Gigi are ready to cut a rug. Bust a move. Shimmy a shake. Even the stove gets in on the action. (The animators clearly wanted to make him the star. He’s so much more lively.)

You want some conflict? We’ve got a surplus of generic Ozark villains on standby. Have an a-hole Amos on the house! He doesn’t do much more than make a kiss face at Gigi, but that’s enough for Goopy to fight him off. He’s not too good at it, though. The stove ends up chasing the rogue away with his burning embers. (Coming next month: Pot Billy Stove in, “Some like it not!”)

Favorite Part: Two dachshunds dance. One chugs some firewater, and burns most of his flesh away. His partner doesn’t mind how vertically challenged he has become, and continues to dance with him without hesitation. That’s adorable.

Personal Rating: 2