Those were Wonderful Days

” *Laughter that sounds like the Krushas from the GBA port of Donkey Kong Country* “

Supervision by Bernard Brown; Animation by Paul Smith and Don Williams; Music by Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released on April 26, 1934.

The days of which they speak were those gay nineties. Back then, everyone was happier. People sang the title song. Beer flagons sang the title song. (So… does drinking out of one of those count as making out with one of those?) And, as is typical of Warner Bros. shorts, print ads sang the title song. Whatever bar we’re in offers a free lunch, so it’s not surprising that some guy takes the whole spread for himself. What might surprise you, is him using the hat of a strolling woman for a table.

Ah, but it wouldn’t be truly be such a gay time unless there was a picnic, right? That’s where most folk are heading on such a fine day as today. It’s better than the bar, because it offers free beer. I’m amazed at the self control of most of the queue. Taking one mug, and that’s that. (Mostly because there only is one mug.) The last guy in line was the smart one. With no other witnesses, he can drink straight from the tab and down the rest of the barrel’s contents. There’s swimming, and a playground, and those kind of people that make me loathe being lonely: couples.

Two of them are riding a teeter-totter. And if you’re like me, you’ll see what I saw: the one and only Snidely Backslide keeping a close eye on who I think is a combination of Cookie and Betty Lou from “Sesame Street”. (Although, they cut away from him to a shot of him coming out from behind a tree again, so it’s okay to think there’s two of him. I won’t judge.) She’s already on a date with Betty Boop’s boyfriend, Freddy, but that’s okay. When Betty found out he wasn’t faithful, she bought a dog and never looked back. The villain is able to blast him away with a firecracker, and takes Cookie Lou away in a hot-air balloon.

Fearless Freddy fires himself up via human cannonball method, and the two rivals have a fistfight. Freddy falls, but is able to launch himself back up via flagpole. In the meantime, S.B. cuts the basket to send C.L. to her doom. For you see, he knows she’ll never love him and he knew the only way to not obsess over her was to kill her. It’s basic logic, really. No sooner done, when Freddy bounces back for round two. He gets some punches in, and decides to light the balloon’s spout to make sure no one else will ever risk having their lady friend’s taken away. Stealing his adversary’s cape, he flying-squirrels his way down to C.L. who made the balloon basket into a parachute.

The two land safely, while ole Snide falls down in a daze thanks to the whole exploding balloon thing. Freddy clobbers him with a nearby test-your-strength mallet, but C.L. screams at this, giving Freddy a clonk of his own. Turns out, threats on her life put her in the mood and she chooses the only man who can satisfy her in that way. Humorous, but also right the heck out of nowhere!

Favorite Part: There isn’t enough trees for S.B. to hide behind when he makes his first move, so he has to keep whistling for his hiding tree to creep back in front of him. It’s clearly devoted. He’s should’ve tried to kill it.

Personal Rating: 2. But if you have a problem with people choosing mates that will clearly end poorly for them, 1.

The Million Hare

“He probably thinkth he’s miles ahead of me.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Dave Detiege; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, George Grandpre, and Keith Darling; Layouts and Backgrounds by Robert Gribbroek; Effects Animation by Harry Love; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Looney Tune released on April 6, 1963.

Bugs was quite the wealthy actor, back in the day. Just look at the setup on his TV antennae! Probably has ever channel available at the time. When he invites Daffy over for a vacation, all the duck wants to do is vegetate in front of the tube. That’s sorta like I was as a kid. Just replace ‘watch TV’ with ‘read all their books.’ Don’t look at me that way! They had more “Calvin and Hobbes” collections than I knew existed! Bugs is kinda against brain atrophy, but Daffy isn’t budging, so Bugs just joins in.

The program airing at the moment is called “Beat Your Buddy.” Don’t worry! It’s only as violent as one makes it. It goes like this: the host reaches into what is called a buddy barrel and pulls out D̶i̶d̶d̶y̶ K̶o̶n̶g̶  two names. The two mentioned on those scraps of paper must then race each other to the studio to claim their prize. Beautifully showing off the follies of man and how any one of us would probably kill our best pal for financial security. If networks could afford a show that would get sued every week, there’d be new episodes to this day.

Surprise, surprise! The two names drawn are Bugs and Daffy. And Daffy wastes no time getting started. He’s been preparing for this day all season. Bugs is slower, more amused than anything that the two were picked. And maybe confused? How are they getting the names? Just pushing a phone book through a deli slicer? What if you weren’t aware your name was called? Do they have cameramen that could fill you in? What if you really didn’t want to compete? What if one of the names drawn belonged to someone who was working on the show? What if I continued with the plot?

First obstacle is a lake. Daffy takes a motor boat, and when Bugs arrives he reattaches the rope tied to it to the pier. Maybe sabotaging Daffy intentionally, or not. Daffy and the motor rip through the boat, and go along under the water and ground before blasting into the air. Trying to work with this, Daffy tries to go forward, and immediately crashes into a tree. (Great timing.) By this time, Bugs has crossed the lake as well and hops along with springs on his feet. Does that count as cheating? Can you cheat at all if you started from the same place? Well, almost the same. Daffy was slightly farther from the finish then Bugs was.

Daffy takes a shortcut, which probably also isn’t cheating. And neither is trying to sabotage the other racer. Boosts those ratings. I do like how there’s just a key stone to remove in case you need to start an avalanche. You know, to make sure the rocks don’t fall on anybody? Except yourself, of course. Whoever thought this brilliant idea up, made sure the rocks would fall on top of the key stone puller. Bugs is ahead again. Daffy tries to use a tree to sling himself farther, which works for about all of two seconds before he crashes into a cliff face, and Bugs catches up again. Daffy is still able to run ahead, but because he doesn’t take his eyes off Bugs, he runs off the road. Bugs addresses the question I was asking the first time I viewed this: why doesn’t Daffy fly? (He’s forgotten he can.)

Bugs manages to get to the building the studio is in first. Just needs to make it to the top floor. Daffy plans to use a jet pack to get him up there first, but I think they still made it roughly the same time, as when Daffy flies back out, he’s got Bugs in his clutches. They fly through a china shop, hilariously breaking nothing, before they turn right around and do it properly. Emergency hos-pit stop…al. (Almost was clever.) Hey, I just thought of another question about this show! Does it have a time limit? I mean, I don’t know how long it would take to dress their injuries, but Daffy has a cast and cane, and Bugs is now in a wheelchair. Were viewers at home still enthralled?

It’s a good thing the studio building has elevators, so Bugs still has a chance. It’s a close call photo finish, but, yes, Daffy wins! He actually won! Actually… Bugs doesn’t really have a good “track record” for races, does he? Daffy asks for his prize and he gets it: it’s called a ‘million box.’ It’s called that because it has 1,000,000 little boxes inside! (Although, I did some multiplication and estimating, and have concluded that there’s really only a little more than 7,000 in there. Better get your lawsuit on.) Daffy proves what a good friend he is by opting to donate his prize to Bugs. That’s the sign of a real, honest and true buddy, seeing as each of the little boxes had a dollar inside. When asked to say more, Daffy can only bray. Looks like Bugs can upgrade his television again!

Favorite Part: Listen closely to the host when he explains what little rules this show has. I purposefully didn’t mention it earlier, but he really does say you stand to win “the million box.” It’s not his fault Daffy misheard.

Personal Rating: 3

Let it be Me

“Oh, Mr. Bingo!”

Supervised by Isadore Freleng. A Merrie Melody released on May 2, 1936.

Mr. Bingo is the talk of the town. All the hens huddle around the recording studio where he sings, and the radio where his sings come out. Even the married ones can’t help but fawn over the guy, much to their husbands anger. Much like a later picture, the guy looks like Crosby in voice only. At least here he isn’t being portrayed as coward. Just a cock. He knows the ladies love him, and he’s happy to let them destroy each other to get a hold of the boutonniere he throws their way. (After watching him walk for ten seconds. Gives us plenty of time to be attracted as well.)

Well, we’ve all had our celebrity crushes, right? (Mine was Tara Strong.) What’s important is that you come to the understanding that they will never know you exist and go about finding someone you actually have a chance with. I think that’s what’s going on through Emily’s head. She’s making her first appearance and unlike the second time, she talks with that (maybe not even) Bernice Hansen voice that makes her sound 15 years younger than she probably is. She has a guy interested in her named Lem, and I think the feeling is mutual. Good to see she wasn’t always so shallow.

Speak of the crooner! Mr. Bingo is driving by and he likes what he sees. Those breasts! Those legs! It’s what catches my attention on a chicken, that’s for sure! He invites her to come along with him to the city, much to the jealousy of Clem and that patch on his overalls that can shrink. (Why do some of the other birds in this cartoon walk around in the feathered nude? Are they the ones we get to eat?) Now, if those two really were a couple, then Lem really should understand that if a lady can upgrade you, she will. There goes Emily. Good-bye Emily.

Mr. Bingo has taken her to a party. There’s plenty to drink and he offers his new friend some. Maybe he wants her drunk, maybe offering her some is the gentlemanly thing to do. Emily is hesitant, and when she indulges, she finds it too strong for her. There is a singer at this party, and if the rules of this universe apply to her as well, I’m guessing her name is Ms. Fifi-o. Mr. Bingo likes what he sees and when Emily points out what a dick move this is, he has the waiter remove her. Stuck in a city without a ride home, Emily has no choice but to adapt. She makes ends meet by selling flowers on a very familiar street corner

Good old faithful Lem! Even though his lady friend threw him aside like yesterday’s chicken feed, he still worries about her, cares for her, and keeps the picture she gave him. Since he’s not stalking her, I find the whole thing very romantic. But the biggest thing on his mind is Bingo. Just hearing that guy on the radio is enough to get Lem angry enough to march down to his recording studio and beat the gravy out of him. (And because of this, celebrities will always have protection from here-on out. Thanks, cloaca-hole.) It’s pure happenstance that he comes across Emily immediately after, but they look genuinely happy to see each other again. I support it.

Some time later, Lemily, as we should call them has started up a family. Things seem perfect, but one chick starts to sing like Bingo! No idea where they picked up that habit! (Surely, he’s old hat by now. Old shoe even!) Doesn’t matter how they learned it. Daddy is still triggered by it and throws his book at the chick. I’m sure her bones aren’t that fragile, anyway.

Favorite Part: It might be something that I’m reading way too deep into, but I like the reaction Bingo has when Emily can’t handle the liquor. Maybe he’s realizing she’s too immature for him? If I’m right, that was some great and brilliantly subtle example of showing. NOT telling.

Personal Rating: 2. I could see some people finding it a little too mean, but really, throwing away a good stable relationship for someone you barely know is worthy of a little punishment, right?

Sheep Ahoy

“Hello, Sam.”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Richard Thompson and Abe Levitow; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Phil DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on December 11, 1954.

Ralph is getting an early start today. Fred Sheepdog hasn’t even clocked out and Ralph’s already slinking down to the still living mutton chops. But Sam’s on his way. (This being their second picture, Fred still calls Sam ‘Ralph’.) Ever on top of things, Sam allows the sheep to continue living by knocking a stone onto Ralph’s head. Two can play that game! But why just repeat what the other guy already did? Ralph drops a boulder towards Sam, but it gets caught by one of those trees who decided growing in dirt was too easy and made it’s dwelling a cliff face, (*phew*! Lot of words.) and tosses it back.

In between fade-outs, one of the sheep has decided to graze on Sam’s ledge. Ralph merely has to pole vault over the dog, but even that is met with difficulties. Sam grabs the pole before Ralph could let go, and brings him down for another punch. (His paw gets darker in doing so. Maybe he’s wearing brass knuckles?) Ralph next tries a smoke bomb. But he doesn’t try using it to blind everyone else because then he wouldn’t be able to see his targets either. He just uses it as cover for himself because smokescreens have paws a good 58% of the time, and he can still see out of it. (Really, how is this supposed to be useful?) Sam tosses an explosive into the smoke, turning it black and obscuring Ralph’s vision for sure, leaving him to walk off a cliff.

A fake rock disguise seems to work perfectly as Sam treats him as he would any other rock: something to sledgehammer. (I love Ralph’s trembling as he sees this approaching. It’s gonna hurt.) The little pieces head back to regroup for a new tactic. He/they eventually devise a pedal-powered submarine to sneak upon drinking sheep. But… if his legs are poking out, doesn’t that mean water is leaking in? How does he breathe? (He should really listen to the background music. Every Chuck Jones fan knows it means certain doom is ahead.) Seeing the detour sign that Sam is holding gets Ralph to head over the nearby falls. Pedal all you want, pal. Water always wins.

Simple usually works best, so Ralph decides to just use a plank to fling Sam away. I don’t know what physics would usually dictate would happen, but Sam is flung up rather than away. He pounds Ralph. The whistle blows saving Ralph as the night shifts are returning. Fred once more takes Sam’s place whilst George Wolf fills in for Ralph. He’s just as bad with names as Fred is, as he calls Ralph “Sam”. (So at least the names are present and counted for.) You know, I bet Ralph planned that last stunt knowing George would pay the punishment. That’ll teach him for not bothering to learn his name!

I kinda want to see a short based on Fred and George now. Do you think they’re friends on the side as well? (I’m purposefully not making a “Harry Potter” reference, but I guess you can if you want.)

Favorite Part: One of the selling points on the fake rock is “Be popular.” That is blatantly false advertising and they know it, but it works because I’ve bought twenty.

Personal Rating: 3

Life with Feathers

“Aren’t you hungry?”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Virgil Ross; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on March 24, 1945.

Some sort of domestic squabble is going on in a birdcage, and I’m proven right by one of the occupants being evicted. He tells us that he is a lovebird, that was his wife who hates his guts now, and as his name suggests, he needs love to live. No point in suffering. He begins brainstorming some ideas about how to off himself. I’m sure some people would think he’s overreacting, but I think it’s kinda sweet that he is dedicated to the one he loves if she wasn’t. If I ever lost a girlfriend, I’m sure I wouldn’t find life too enjoyable anymore, either.  Me and him should be drinking buddies.

Fate decides his death for him with a cat who looks like he’s in the mood for a snack, seeing as he’s picking through the trash. This cat is Sylvester making his first appearance. And he rushes over once the bird gets his attention. He stops short because this seems too good to be true. He deduces that the bird is poisoned and just wants one less cat in the world. Because that’s what poisonous creatures want right? No point in living if you can’t ever be hugged. (On another note, pay attention to the speck of background between Mr. Lovebird’s wing and head. It’s also depressed as it turns blue.)

Sylvester’s owner calls him back for some milk. Wait, why was he picking through the trash if someone feeds him? (On another note, if you watch his face closely, you’ll see it has more white than usual as he zips into frame.) He spits out every drop once he finds out who was at the bottom of the bowl. Since Sylvester is paranoid and Mr. Lovebird isn’t going to explain why he’s come to the worst life choice possible, he has no choice but to order a mallet, smack the cat, then enter his mouth whilst he shouts.

Sylvester smokes a pipe to get him back out. (Hey, if you want to die so much, why don’t you just inhale that smoke that’s being inhaled. That secondhand stuff is deadly.) He traps Mr. L in a glass jug, and proceeds to open some cat food. (Does he normally feed himself solid food? He’s really well trained!) Whilst his head is turned, a very familiar looking feather drops into the bowl. Not daring to not look behind him, Sylvester doesn’t notice until it’s sticking out of his mouth. His worst fears are confirmed upon checking on the jug. He ate the dirty birdy!

Mr. L is okay though. This is all part of his master scheme: give Sylvester some pills, and hop on the spoon himself before it goes past the gums. Sylvester catches on. The bird decides to play fowl. He turns the radio to some sort of program that does nothing but ask if you’d like to eat this’nthat or so’nso. (Maybe it’s an ad?) To make things harder, Mr. L also shows plenty of pictures of delicious looking meals. The torture is working. (Do those fish have hair on them?) Sylvester soon gives in figuring if this doesn’t kill him, spending the rest of his life starving will. I’d say that adds up. Just before the deed is done, a telegram is delivered to the bird.

Whatever it said, it worked like a charm. Mr. L tells Sylvester that things will be all right back at home, so he doesn’t have to eat him. (On another note, his beak turns blue because it’s still depressed.) Too bad his treatment worked so well! Sylvester is still hungry and this bird on his had is worth two in any bush. The lovebird just barely manages to escape with his life. (Now, aren’t you ashamed you took it for granted?) So what was on that note, anyway? Has the Mrs. forgiven you for whatever she did? Better than that! She’s going to go live with her mother. Oh, Mr. Lovebird. Here I thought you were loyal to the end.

Well, you know what fickle creatures lovebirds are. Sweetiepuss changed her mind last minute, and Mr. L resumes his Sylvester chase. Since the little guy never made another appearance, I think he succeeded.

Favorite Part: One of the ways Mr. L tries to get Sylvester to eat is by dressing as Santa so he can give him a “present”. His pathetic, wimpery “Merry Christmas” is music to my ears.

Personal Rating: 3. A fine way to start a new character off. Good enough to be nominated for the Oscar too! But since it was the forties, you already know it lost to a “Tom and Jerry”.

Joe Glow the Firefly

“ZZZzzz-ZZZzzz”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Story by Rich Hogan; Animation by Philip Monroe; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on March 8, 1941.

Let’s say I asked four different people to draw up a firefly for a piece of media and these were the results:

Which one would get the highest scoring grade?

That’s right, none of them. For you see, I didn’t say “firefly” like a beetle from the Lampyridae family, I said “firefly.” You know, an insect version of a fireman. That’s what I’m choosing was going through Chuck and co.’s heads when designing the title character. That way, I can say that for once in my life, someone made one of these animals actually look remotely accurate to real life.

In these early, pre-Smokey Bear days, the job of keeping aware of potential threats to the forest fell to the smaller animals. Rather, that’s what I think Mr. Glow is doing here. His motivation isn’t really explained. He just enters a tent and explores therein. He doesn’t want to disturb the camper though, so he’s being extra quiet. We’re “light” on laugh-out-loud moments as this is short is in the vein of Chuck’s Sniffles’s pictures: tiny creature exploring the larger world. Hi-jinks ensue.

The man Joe lands on (awkward cut!) is indeed asleep, so that means Joe can make the rest of his rounds in peace. Relative peace, anyway, for this man snores. What’s a minor nuisance at best to fellow humans, becomes a mixture of wind tunnels and earthquakes to those at Joe’s scale. Shaken, he lands on the chest area. Things are a little more stable there. Making his way to the closest finger, he stops to make sure the wrist watch is set correctly. (Lovely shot from inside the timepiece.) Joe then sees another thing he’d better check out: a flashlight. That could possibly cause a fire! It’s had a troubled past!

Nope. Checks out. It’s in perfect working condition, too. The man briefly awakes at the brightness, but Joe is quick to turn it off, taking cover in the dark. Camper goes back to sleeping, and Joe decides to keep on. Even though the man isn’t a light sleeper, he is a sound sleeper, as Joe walking across a cracker doesn’t even make him stir. Better see how the rest of the food is doing. Looks like all the salt is still here, there, and entirely coating Joe. At least now he knows not to open the container that way.

Where there’s salt, there’s pepper. Joe checks that too. And he sneezes of course. Got a hefty set of lungs for an animal that doesn’t possess any. It rockets him out of the shaker, and into a catsup bottle that is now teetering on the edge of the table. But Joe earned that hat he wears. He knows just what to do in situations like this. He grabs some string (which looks kind of out of place, doesn’t it?) and is able to lasso it, and safely lower it to the ground. I’d say everything seems to be on the up and up. His work done, Joe flies out.

It’s then that he remembers the most important part of the inspection. Flying back he wishes the man “goodnight”. Making sure to shout it directly into his eardrum of course. It’s the only way to be heard at that size.

Favorite Part: When Joe is flying away at the table, the background artists remembered to show the spilled salt. I love when details aren’t forgotten like that.

Personal Rating: You know, I could see many casual viewers thinking this short is boring. It’s not. It’s charming. Still, for those who aren’t mature enough for this one, they can see it as a 2. Me though, I think us true fans can give it the 3 it deserves. This is a beautiful picture! The grayscale world really illustrates that the camper is miles away from civilization and its overabundance of light. Things are dark here, and the only source of light is Joe’s lantern. You just wouldn’t be able to sell the idea as well with technicolor. In fact, I’m giving it a 4 for me. Maybe you can do the same.

The Bird came C.O.D.

“Mm-nh.”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Animation by Ken Harris; Musical Direction by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on January 17, 1942.

Conrad! Hey, buddy! Haven’t discussed you for since the twenty-tens. Did you ever get more of a personality than Goofy wannabe? No? I’m sorry. You’ll always have a trio of posts talking about you eventually.

Conrad is playing delivery cat today. His company specializes in delivery of palms. Slogan is, “You grease ours, you’ll get yours.” (Clearly, I should have been writing for these pictures.) Being Conrad’s first film, he makes sure to look directly into the camera. Just to make sure that Mr. Jones know how grateful he is for this opportunity, and he could be the new breakout character for Chuck should Sniffles ever… you know… disappear. Just look at those exaggerated cartoon movements! He’s the ideal star!

His first problem is just trying to get the plant into the theater awaiting the delivery. It really does feel like a “Goofy” cartoon what with the tree getting caught on the door frame and flinging Conrad backwards, and the door shutting on its own when he thinks he found a solution by squat walking inside. No wonder Mr. Colvig would be voicing him. It was clearly always meant to be. Conrad finally figures out the secret: hold the door open with the delivery. Please, enter.

…AND BRING THE PLANT, STUPID! Geeze, hope you’re not expecting a tip after that. Now inside, all Conrad has to do is not trip and get it to its proper location. After he trips, he gets it to its proper location. Not even a scratch! Maybe he does know what he’s doing. He finds the old plant, switches it with the new, and is all set to go on his way, when he sees a top hat that has been left on the stage. That can only mean a magician has performed, and Conrad has always secretly been envious of those guys. He can’t resist having a little fun and pretending to be what he is not. (Without talking. He has no dialogue outside of nervous chuckles and exclamatory grunts.)

Wouldn’t you know it? First try and he pulls out a live rabbit. Even he wasn’t expecting to be that good. His reaction puzzles me. He looks less amazed and more nauseous. Does it smell that bad? Then it should have been a skunk. I bet Chuck could get a lot of mileage out of those. But what’s really worrisome is the other occupant of the hat. The title star finally shows, more than halfway in. Some early ancestor of Henery Hawk it looks like. But I guess he’s a dove? What magician uses hawks in his act? A fun-king awesome one, that’s who.

The little guy doesn’t seem too pleased to see some amateur messing with the hat, but he doesn’t do more than give Conrad a glare. Not even an angry glare, just a “do you mind?” kind of glare. And I get it. I hate when delivery boys bring me a package and then start looking in my drawers. But Conrad feels like he’s been the one wronged, and knocks the bird back out of the hat. Again, Little Birdy just kind of gives a look. A “this is getting old” look. He only slaps Conrad when the cat tries taking a closer peek inside that hat.

Angered, Conrad smashes the hat. Little Birdy is unharmed, but gives the peeking tom (cat) a poke in the eye. Come on, Conrad. It’s not worth it! He agrees, but decides to throw that hat rather than just leave. It comes back to hit him, and L.B. punches his nose now. Conrad should consider himself lucky, considering what silent birds usually do to cats, but he refuses to be three-upped and makes another attempt to get the bird. He’s caught in the act, and Little marches him back into the orchestra pit. I bet a lot of good slapstick is happening. You can tell by the number of instruments flying.

Now sporting a pair of black eyes, Conrad finally gets the hint that he should cut his losses before the bird cuts him. He takes the old plant and tries to flee, but runs straight into the theater’s brick storage room. (I love those rooms.) Dazed and disoriented, he next stumbles into wardrobe where he finds six more top hats. Surely you figured Mr. Birdy wasn’t the only one in the clutch, right? Too bad they don’t do more than pull Conrad’s hat over his face. Passive aggressiveness runs in the family.

Favorite Part: Conrad leaving the plant outside was a good gag made better by the triumphant music petering out.

Personal Rating: 2. I can’t relate to the main character because I think L.B. was totally justified in his threats. He deserves being the title character. (If only he showed up sooner.)

Bosko’s Mechanical Man

“Oh, suh-wish.”

Animation by Isadore Freleng and Thomas McKimson. A Looney Tune released on September 27, 1933.

It’s the final Harmon/Ising film with this studio, which means it’s also the last Bosko short with them. Coming out just a few months after a certain mouse’s “…Mechanical Man”, it feels original enough due to robots not being exclusive to Disney. (Just Blue Sky, who wasn’t around yet.)

Honey does some window washing, giving Bosko an opportunity to trace “I love you” in the water. (From the wrong side mind you. Oops.) He even picks the flowers in front of her house as a gift. Usually in cartoons, that’s what the villain trying to marry for money does. (I was hoping Honey would thank him and plant them right back.) Honey is very happy to see the kid, as he can help her wash some dishes. Bosko laughs at the very idea. I mean him? Doing a woman’s work? Let’s all laugh as the scene fades.

Fade in to see Bosko helping out like a good boy. (Love his sour face.) Of course, being a man means he’s going to eventually do something dumb to catch his crush’s attention. In this case, carrying too many plates at once and heading outside. Honey angrily stomps outside once she hears the crash and glares at him. Just glares. But she’s disappointed and that’s really the worst punishment. She’s not going to forgive this one easily.

Bosko catches sight of the daily paper which is kinda light on the “news”. The top story is just the technocrats of the world proclaiming that robots will one day be doing most of our work. (It’s like that time I made the front page predicting that everyone older than me was likely to die before I did.) It doesn’t matter if I think it’s a waste of ink and trees, Bosko’s got an idea. And he doesn’t even need any sort of engineering degree to put it together. Just a some irons here, a stove there…

Honey demands he get back inside which is confusing. Wouldn’t she want him as far away from her china as possible? Like in China? But Bosko is sure about about this. His positivity is instantly challenged when Bosko Jr. is brought to life. It’s got no reason to be, but angry and murderous it is. It runs amok and you’d be smart to lock your doors, but only if you lived in Fort Knox. It can break down doors. Piano music can calm it, but only if you keep playing. And why would Bosko do that if his life depended on it? He’s got no future at Warners.

Honey to the rescue! She realizes that what this robot needed all along was a phonograph in its butt. Why are you making that face? Do you need to read the sentence again? She realizes that what this robot needed all along was a phonograph in its butt. Happy? He sings along to the record, but it has a crack and he skips a lot. He’s not placated and chases the two out of the house. They pass the sleeping Bruno (Who’s just been outside the whole time. Guess they just wanted to show him one last time, too.) but the robot stops to shock the dog awake letting the doorbell wiring go through his body. And he has pupils now. (And your eyes would dilate too if you had what he had crammed up there.)

The three are chased, but Bosko is able to keep his loved ones safe by hurling some dynamite down his creation’s throat. The robot is dead which is a shame since he wasn’t really alive at any point. And I’m still wondering why he was motivated to act like he did. Did Bosko program him to feel pain? I figure having a stove potbelly does give you eternal heartburn.

Favorite Part: A small thing, (as most of my favorite parts are) but I love the robot’s grinding teeth being the teeth of gears that are grinding. Clever.

Personal Rating: 2. Not a horrible film to end on. (Hint. Develop some new characters at MGM, guys. I’m begging ya 91 years late!)

Toy Town Hall

“Yowza, so help me.”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Bob McKimson and Sandy Walker; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. (One of if not the first to have him.) A Merrie Melody released on September 19, 1936.

We’ve all been in this situation as a kid: you’re just about to start something. Maybe the TV show airing next. Maybe another movie. Maybe your 26th round of Super Smash Bros. Whatever it is, you dread hearing those words. The words no kid wants to hear when they’re enjoying themselves: “It’s time for bed.” You beg and plead and whine that you can’t do that just yet! Your friends don’t suffer such injustices! You’ll do anything in the word to just do this one last thing! But your pleas fall on deaf ears.

So, I feel for little Sunny when his mom-arms turn off the radio before he can hear the next program, even if I’ve never been in the exact same scenario. (I wish we could see more of his matriarch. I know you should never judge a lady by her arms, but I bet she’s attractive.) Well, upset as he is, the kid still goes to bed, reluctantly. He’s got a nice collection of toys. What do you think they’d do if they were alive?

They’d imitate the biggest radio stars of the day! Fred Allen, Eddie Cantor, Rudy Vallee… What do you mean cartoons were always doing that? You want something new? Pah! Just for that, this cartoon is going to feature almost nothing except reused animation from previous Melodies! Remember, you brought this on yourself. Let’s meet our opening act! Quick cut to the same elephant lights operator from “Those Beautiful Dames” and we’ve got a lovely song performed by a Bing Crosby parrot. (Not quite a recycled shot, but he IS singing a song a different Crosby inspired bird sang in/called “Let it be Me”.)

Next up, the Eddie Cantor toy. Now with a completely different body, so we can reuse his song sequence from “Billboard Frolics“. (Rub-em-off will not be joining this time.) At least as far as I can tell, the Rudy Vallee toy isn’t being reused. He still has a different body too, though. Unless Sunny has two Rudys? Nothing wrong with that.

Oh, this next cameo is a fun one! The cockroaches from “The Lady in Red”. Sure, there is the tiniest difference in color, but that just means Sunny has toy roaches. What kid has toy roaches in the 30’s? And when did that package on Sunny’s bed appear? It wasn’t there before. But what’s inside has been on screen before! Peter the rabbit from “My Green Fedora”! He’s a toy now! Singing the same song he sang back then, and reacting to his audience likewise. All the toys dance as we return to reality. It was a dream, like in “Dames” but Sunny isn’t halluci-dying.

His mom wakes him up for the day, and I guess he’s angry that his dream was interrupted. The end.

Favorite Part: One of the toys is a balloon with feet. (Did you have one of those growing up?) After he inflates himself, he plays a flute with the air. But his mouth is down there, so that can only be one other orifice he’s playing with… Yep, his nose.

Personal Rating: 1 if you could tell everything was rehashed. If you were ignorant before, it could’ve been a 2 with a really lousy ending.

A Hick a Slick and a Chick

“No time like the present.”

Directed by Arthur Davis; Animation by J.C. Melendez, Don Williams, Emery Hawkins, and Basil Davidovich; Story by Lloyd Turner and William Scott; Layouts by Don Smith; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on December 27, 1948.

This post would not have been possible without contributions from readers like Carl Hunt. Thank You.

Elmo Mouse will be our titular “hick” this evening. He’s in a good mood as he’s off to visit the resident chick, Daisy Lou. Upon arriving at her place, he thinks he’s made a mistake of addresses as the doe inside is busy making out with someone who isn’t Elmo. Sadly, he’s at the right house. Her make out partner was the third part of our puzzle, Blackie the prick. The two at least have the decency to take a breath now that they’ve got company, and to be fair D.L. is polite enough to let both guys stay. Oh, yeah. I meant “slick” earlier. Honest mistake.

Elmo has some (mouse-scale) flowers and Daisy does seem happy to receive them, even if Blackie already bought out a florist shop for her. Elmo’s flowers are so embarrassed, they regress back into seeds. Elmo tries to play her a song on his mouth organ, but Blackie can play piano. Particularly, a familiar piano piece that leads me to believe Blackie’s father was the mouse in “Rhapsody Rabbit“. About the only other good trait Elmo has is muscles and to his credit, I agree that Blackie could not make his arm go limp like that. His biceps look too healthy. Feel healthy too, seeing as they knock Elmo out of the house.

When Elmo returns, he finds Uncle Blackie (as I think I’m allowed to call him) presenting Ms. Lou with a fur coat. Elmo isn’t impressed like she is, claiming that he could get her something better. As Uncle B. points out, the only thing that feasibly could be better is ermine. Elmo agrees but it’s only once he’s out of the hole that he reveals he’s dug himself into another; he doesn’t know what an ermine even is.

Searching the premises, he looks in a bottle of champagne which really doesn’t help much. What it does do is remove his common sense. Most creatures his size would try to avoid creatures like the dozing cat in the house, but he’s actually approaching. It might have something to do with the fact that the cat’s name is Merman, but he can only see the last five-sixth’s of the word. And yes, the cat’s name probably really is ‘Herman’ but it doesn’t look like it at first glance! (Does this mean Blackie’s real first name is ‘Katnip’? No wonder he changed it.)

The cat isn’t fazed by the punch drunk rodent, and tries to eat him. Elmo escapes and falls into the milk bowl, which is good news since milk is nature’s natural sobering agent. He flees, and the cat chases, taking a swing at him as he runs on a table. This makes the leaf smack him in the face, knocking himself out but good. Well, well. Just look at all that fur just practically begging to be taken! Good thing Elmo’s a furrier! He presents the goods to Daisy and he totally wins. She’s got no problem being a trophy, because she gets things out of it. What a good moral.

Hick and Chick leave together, leaving the Slick to wonder where he managed to get the stuff. The cat tells him to mind his own business, showing us Elmo used his @$$ hair to make the coat. (Why to the you to the sea and kay.) Even the iris-out is coat shaped. And when you get pancakes tomorrow, they’ll probably be coat shaped too.

Favorite Part: Jealousy running rampant in Elmo’s mind, he imagines certain instances of bad luck Blackie could befall. Like Elmo mounting his head over a fireplace.

Personal Rating: 3