“Some Road Runners have been clocked at 50 miles…”
Directed by Rudy Larriva; Story by Rudy Larriva; Animation by Hank Smith, Virgil Ross, and Bob Bransford; Layouts by Erni Nordli; Backgrounds by Anthony Rizzo; Film Editor: Lee Gunther. Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on September 18, 1965.
Wile E. is not chasing the Roadrunner at the onset of this short, he’s just observing. And giving the most lifeless lick of the chops I’ve ever seen. His tongue is the only part that moves. Didn’t even blink. And then he’s chasing all of the sudden. The Roadrunner must be slowing down in his old age, for Wile E. is able to grab a hold of him! (!!!) But the bird manages to shake him loose on a sharp turn, leaving the coyote’s paws full of naught but tail feathers. (Pretty, but not very filling.)
Wile E. flaps those feathers hard, until he’s both tired AND feathered. And he flaps them for a full 5 SECONDS before he starts to fall. They really had to stretch the shot that long. The background even; it’s just an empty sky. No clouds! No distant cliffs to suggest he’s still in the desert! To think I used to defend this decade in Looney Tunes history! (Which I still do, just nowhere near as vehemently.)
Later on, Wile E. reads a book that doesn’t really tell him anything he doesn’t already know. (And as my quote of the day suggests, couldn’t even spell ‘roadrunner’ correctly.) This somehow encourages him to strap a propeller and motor to his back while he wears skates. His tail gets caught in the blades, and he leaps into the air making a noise of pain. Even more lifeless than his licking! He’s just a still image moving across the cel! At least they bothered to put some clouds in. (Yes, I’m aware they’re simulating his movement up. But it’s still nicer to look at since we get his still pose for three. Full. Seconds. Did you know that tedium ISN’T inherently funny?)
I guess Wile E. has given up now, seeing as how he’s not doing anything but imagining roast poultry. He’s not pacing, or reading, or any other way to suggest he’s still thinking up schemes. Then a phone rings. It’s the Roadrunner taunting him. (Rude.) This does give Wile E. an idea. First he disguises some TNT for the phone’s receiver and we then get a panning shot to show it’s attached to a detonator. A panning shot that is NINE! @%$#ING! SECONDS!
Calm… Calm… So the trap isn’t finished yet. In fact, it requires a brief building montage. (*sigh* Did Chuck ever need something like that? I miss the days where we got a few shots of Wile E.’s “ingredients” before just seeing the final project.) He’s built a phony building facade around the explosive phone, cut the wires, (so… nobody can call?) and labels it as a bird sanctuary. Then he makes a billboard to advertise it, saying it gives birds a safe place that is free of things that want to kill them directly, and free phones. (No Wi-Fi.)
The Roadrunner takes note of the sign, but Wile E. hears a phone ring. But how? He cut the wires! (Was that really why we saw him do that? To set up for this obvious punchline?) Wile E. gives in and goes to answer the phone. He blows up because the Roadrunner stands on the detonator to reach the bird seed Wile E. had behind him for no given reason. And what of the ringing? Was that the Roadrunner? I don’t care. It’s over.
Favorite Part: Hard to choose. There really wasn’t much to spark joy. I choose Wile E. actually laying a paw on his prey. The Roadrunner’s shocked expression is slightly funny.
Personal Rating: 1. Yeah, this is the worst Wile E. short I’ve discussed. I hope that is never up for debate.