“I’m a beast.”
Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Tedd Pierce, Michael Maltese; Animation by Ben Washam, Ken Harris, Basil Davidovich and Lloyd Vaughn; Layouts and Backgrounds by Richard Morley and Peter Brown; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on September 28, 1946.
You know about chase cartoons, right? It typically has a chaser and a chasee. Two adversaries. It’s a formula that works. Sure, sometimes you can up the number to three, but it tends to stop there. Not here. Here we have Jones’s unit attempting to cement itself as the ultimate chase cartoon. I must admit, I’ve yet to see anything top it in its amount of characters.
Let’s start with what gets everything rolling: an apple. Sweet, crispy, and worth getting out of paradise for. It’s not really a character though, just an object of desire. Desired by a worm, that is. (I’ve just realized that I haven’t seen apple-loving worms in media for decades now. Pesticides have ruined what was once as believed as cheese-loving mice and peanut-loving elephants.)
Worms are chock full of protein, and lack a skeleton that’s either exo or endo. This makes it a great morsel for something that has no teeth: a crow. We could stop there, but the food chain won’t. A cat wants that crow, and a dog wants that cat. This isn’t enough. How about a dogcatcher trying to do what his title promises? But even he’s got a fear: his wife. She claims to be afraid of nothing, but a little mouse calls her bluff. (Don’t worry. Those last two barely function into our story. They’re relegated to literal running gag.)
The crow tries to disguise his fist, (Yup. Crows have those.) as that apple. The worm may be blind (Those aren’t real eyes because I say so.) but he isn’t that stupid, and he mallets the faux fruit. The dog, meanwhile, is chasing the cat up the tree with the aid of some tree climbing spurs. The resourceful cat eats bananas and sends the peels to the dog, to send him to the gleeful catcher at the bottom. This catches the attention of the crow who does some thinking. If cats chase birds, and dogs chase cats, then its his duty as a bird to give the dog a hand. Brilliant deduction! Just snip a little here and…
The dog falls through the net, but the cat won’t let this setback go unchallenged, and throws him back to the catcher. In turn, the crow gets a boot and kicks the catcher in the shins. This makes the bird the new subject of desire for the man, meaning the dog is free to chase once more. I love how the cat flees piece by piece. Even better is the dog’s pupil turning white with rage. (I’m really not sure if that is a coloring error or not.)
When the worm tries creeping up on the unguarded apple, he isn’t aware that the rest of the chain is on his heels. (The dog just appearing out of nowhere instead of from behind the tree like the others. Definitely an error. Also, the distance to the apple has increased dramatically.) They give themselves away by saying “gesundheit” to the sneezing worm. Everybody chases, but runs from the newest entrant in our cartoon: a skunk. Which is never stated to be Pepe, but it does his signature hop complete with musical score. I’m going to say it’s Pepe. (If Chuck wasn’t the director, I might consider otherwise.) Be glad I’m not claiming the human is Snafu. I totally would!
Whilst everyone follows the worm underground to avoid what’s most definitely Pepe, the worm utilizes a pin to get them out. Each fleeing from the skunk. (And taking away the imprint they made as well. That’s courteous.) Leaving with a gas-mask, (Because worms are known for their keen noses.) The little guy finally gets himself the apple that started all this. A narrator who we haven’t heard from since the beginning asks the worm if this sorta thing happens whenever he wants food. The worm reveals that he wasn’t looking for food, he intends to live in the fruit. (With housing prices what they are, I don’t doubt the whole thing was worth it.)
Favorite Part: The worms launches a torpedo at the crow, but misses and it goes toward the cat. The worm is quick to make sure the bird gets the blast. I choose it not because I secretly love cats and have been hiding my true intentions for my whole life because I’m that insecure. I just like how the worm is willing to protect those who can protect him. It’s how friendships are born.
Personal Rating: 3. Not a whole lot of jokes, and I feel the story could have been more creative. Like, having the odds and evens teaming up? Or maybe the apple was that variety that causes discord and we just kept getting bigger and powerful creatures fighting for its possession? (With the victor being Pepe of course.)