A Ham in a Role

“Temper, hasn’t he?”

A Ham In A Role

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Sid Marcus; Animation by Charles McKimson, Phil DeLara, 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 in 1949.

And here we are with another of the 100 greatest. And the only one starring the Goofy Gophers. Good thing too, those guys are so underrated.

Our story begins with the ending of your classic Warner Bros. cartoon. A dog (who has no name, so let’s call him Hammy) is hit with a pie and flaps his lips. The end. It’s the brevity of this short that makes it work so well. It’s the soul of wit. All right, I’m done pretending you’re actually falling for this. In reality, he is fed up with cartoons. He thinks it’s degrading. (He is clearly an idiot. Well read, but still an idiot.) He decides to quit. (Before doing so, he is subjected to gags without even leaving the room. You’re making so many of us smile. Why would you want to quit?) He decides to pursue more “noble” acting and heads off to his country house to recite some Shakespeare. (Yeah, the man was talented, but animation is entertaining. To everyone.) It’s been awhile since he’s been here it seems, as there are gopher holes everywhere. But I suppose Mac and Tosh realized the house was empty at some point and decided to move in. Hammy finds them asleep in one of his books. He throws them out and gets to work. Not taking kindly to their forced exit, the two began planning some pranks to get back at him. And cleverly enough, they will all allude to what line the dog is reading. Mentioning “tormenting flames” results in a hotfoot. Asking to “drink the joy of life” gets him a tub of water poured on him. And when commenting on how “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” he finds Limburger cheese dropped on his head. But these are annoyances at best, the gophers next dress one of them (I can’t tell them apart. I’ll just guess it’s Mac) as a skeleton just as Hammy is lamenting on “poor Yorrick.” (Poor Hammy.) While reciting some lines from “King George and the Dragon” he dresses as a knight. Now covered in metal, the gophers have the chance to fling him around with magnets. And for their grand finale? “A horse! A horse!” Hammy is kicked out of the house and flies all the way back to the studio. They appear to have been waiting for him, as they are ready to start shooting. He opens with his best “To be…” but is silenced by a pie in the face. Welcome back to the fun side. We’ve missed you.

Okay to be fair, I don’t hate Shakespeare. Those are some really well written stories. I just don’t think it fair for Hammy to call animation “degrading.” It’s art. That’s not up for debate.

Personal Rating: 4

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