Bartholomew Versus the Wheel

“He might’ve been mixed up, but he wasn’t dumb.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by John Dunn; Animation by George Grandpre, Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder; Layouts by: Robert Gribbroek; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc, Leslie Barrings; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on February 29, 1964.

Reason why today’s short is interesting: McKimson is trying out a different visual style than usual. Looking a lot like the works of James Thurber. (Which means many people’s bodies blend into their clothing.) The only downside is that it’s about a decade too late to be considered “new” and “fresh.” For what it’s worth, it’s cute.

A rather ugly little boy narrates the story about his dog, Bartholomew. He’s a dog, therefore he is adorable. He also sounds a lot like Dino when he’s young. (I always suspected the snorkasaurus was the ancient ancestor that evolved into modern day canines, but nobody believed me.) He’s rather well behaved too. So calm is he, that he doesn’t do anything when the jerk cat he lives with steals his food and attention.

Other than the cat, things seem rather great for the pup, but there was the one day he made an enemy. Some inconsiderate prick child rode a scooter over his tail. (Weirdly enough, he doesn’t react until the second wheel runs over it) Since the dog is man’s best friend, the kid is spared this time. All of Bartholomew’s ire goes toward the wheel. The wheel must die! (Just the second one. The first is still cool.) Barty rips the wheel off (which I guess kills it) but this isn’t enough to satiate his wheel lust. He also rips them off a toy train and takes them all to be buried. (It looks like he already has a stash. I suppose this could just be the fabled wheel graveyard we’ve all wondered about)

Since Bartholomew is only a puppy, he can only attack rather small prey. But he grows. And grows. And with each growth, he goes for larger and larger game. (Towering over certain cars at one point! He seems to shrink by the end of the short. I don’t have an answer) He’s pretty much got his reputation as the wheel warrior down, but there is one wheel he has yet to catch: an airplane wheel. He’s never going to catch one just watching the things, so he digs into the airport and gives chase.

The practice has paid off and he catches his target. But he is unable to remove it from the rest of the body, and the plane takes off with him for the ride. He lands in the Sahara desert, (I’m guessing. That’s usually the desert you wander into, in fiction.) His disappearance is felt at home, and the whole friggin’ neighborhood accuses the dogcatcher of taking him away. Barty is sad. He’s doing okay physically, but he doesn’t have any friends, and there are no wheels to chase, (in fact, the only transportation seems to consist of blue elephants and camels with boneless legs) and he’s a little weirded out by how little clothing the people wear.

One day, he sees a poster for the USA. (Which he somehow knows is his home location. Dogs are smart, but… actually no ellipses. Dogs are smart. End of story.) He heads off to the airport and catches another ride home. (Literally in this case. On another note, the guy guarding seems a bit TOO amazed at the planes takeoff. Is it his first day on the job?) Despite not knowing where he ended up, the town knows that Bartholomew is coming home and a celebration is thrown. He even gets a parade! Having learned his lesson, he apologizes to every wheel and their owners. In fact, now he only hates what dogs were meant to hate: cats. Which leads to:

My favorite part: When he sees the jerk cat eating his food once more, he barks hard enough to kill it. (It is definitely dead. It did not survive.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *