Two Crows from Tacos

“I am not a grasshopper.”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Virgil Ross and Art Davis; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on November 24, 1956.

About three years before Mr. Freleng would direct what many would consider to be the best Speedy Gonzales cartoon, he directed a short with a chubby character and a slimmer one named Jose and Manuel, respectively. But these guys aren’t cats; as the title promises, they are crows, and I guess they are from a place called “Tacos.” Which I looked up, and it apparently DOES exist in Bolivia. And Spanish is commonly spoken there, so I can buy it.

These two are enjoying life the way most smart people want to, but can’t. They’re lounging in a tree, lazily singing, and not giving a remote *$#@. But one can’t subsist on songs alone. And Manuel spies a tasty morsel on his amigo’s sombrero: a grasshopper. And Jose gets his head smashed. But he likes the idea of grasshopper guacamole, and joins in the chase. A furious pounding ensues, but Jose is the one whose heads connects with the club. (He returns the favor though.)

Using the sky as a way to see further, the two find their prey once more and dive after him. They crash, because Manuel is just having too much fun. (Look at that face! Hysterical.) When the grasshopper hides in a tree, Jose reaches in for him. The insect tricks him into grabbing a firecracker, and Jose shows his true colors. He meant to eat the grasshopper all by himself. But Manuel does have agility and hunger on his side, and takes the catch for himself. Peeking in his fingers, he sees they’ve been tricked. He goes back to Jose to apologize… and tell him that grasshopper is rightfully his. Seeing what he is holding, causes Jose to call for help, and Manuel comes to give aid seeing as how they’re amigos. They both blow up.

The two try to lure the insect out by feigning defeat and a claim of going to hunt for the stupid grasshoppers that live in Guadalajara. The insect creeps out, and the two try to smash him once more. Crafty creature that he is, the grasshopper stands next to a cactus he has decked out in sombrero and serape. The corvids think it’s a real person who is stealing their meal, and attack. They end up covered in quills, but even then they aren’t as sharp as crows usually are.

And you know what? The cartoon just kinda ends there. Sure, the crows go back to the tree and we get quite the beautiful screenshot to end on, but there’s no big finale, no end joke, and nothing more than what is shown. And you know what? I like that. Sometimes things end without the bang or the whimper, and you’re just back where you started. Deep stuff.

Favorite Part: Yep, Manuel’s “eager face.” That’s great. It should really be a meme of some sort. Caption it like “Me, when I see Thanksgiving dinner.” Or “How I looked when Banjo was revealed for Smash.”

Personal Rating: 2. But that’s only because “Mexicali Shmoes” is everything this cartoon is, but better. But don’t get too disheartened if you prefer crows to cats, we haven’t seen the last of Jose and Manuel.

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