The Early Worm gets the Bird

“Who’s-a scared?”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Story by Jack Miller; Animation by Robert Cannon; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on January 13, 1940.

A short that starts with a cotton field? That can only mean one thing… Yep. Blackbirds. So of course they look like stereotypical black people. At least they don’t do much insulting. (If you can take the opinion of an uneducated white guy.) Birds can automatically escape the “big lips” treatment, and there’s no Stepin Fetchit homages.

A mother bird puts her chicks to bed. Two sleep, but the third one, Willie decides to so some reading. His book is entitled, “The Early Bird Gets The Worm.” (It’s probably about ibexes.) He likes what he reads, but his nestmates really couldn’t care less. His mom isn’t too thrilled either. That book is way out of his age range, but that’s not the only reason she doesn’t want him learning.

Seems like the food chain doesn’t end at them. In fact, while birds hunt worms, they in turn are hunted by foxes. Large creatures with teeth. I think they look something like this:

(Note the lack of empathy.)

The threat of death by vulpine is enough to keep the other two chicks in bed, but Willie will not be deterred. He sets his alarm clock early, so he can be an early bird, and catch an early worm. (Then he’ll have plenty of time left over to write that novel he’s been yammering about. Talking won’t make it happen!)

Come morn, Willie slips on his clothes and sneaks out. He’s not the only living thing up at such an ungodly hour. Something is stirring. The cartoon seems to think it’s a worm, but it has legs, antennae and pants. But I guess a worm it must be. I’ll call him Mickey. He finds the book Willie’s mother tossed away the night before, and figures he might as well see what this “early bird” looks like. (I do hope you’re careful Mickey. You’re kinda freakin’ adorable.)

Predator and prey meet, and prey tries to hide. He is briefly able to lose his pursuer by pretending to be a bee in a flower. This scares Willie off, even leaving a bit of a ghostly image behind. (I can’t tell if that was intentional.) Mickey reveals that it was him hiding, which means Willie is willing to ignore anymore buzzing and leap into another flower that holds a REAL bee.

Enter the fox. Willie just assumes that this new creature is also hunting the “worm.” The fox goes along with it, but as Willie talks, he realizes that his new friend has all the features his mom told him foxes have. (Except green eyes. Those are not green eyes, and I know green eyes. I’ve been attracted to them.) The fox prepares a bird sandwich, which leaves Mickey with a choice: let his hunter fall prey to nature’s gran plan, or save the squirt, possibly ending his own life in the process.

Mickey chooses option Bee. He gives the insect’s flower a good shake, then gives his rear end the same thing. Angry bee on the loose! Mickey leads him right to the fox, and the fox gets stung. He’s not allergic to bee stings, so he doesn’t die, but his bottle of catsup does break on his head, and he is led to believe that he is bleeding. (Which probably would be more believable if it wasn’t HIS catsup.) Still, he falls for it and runs off to seek medical assistance.

Willie goes back home, his mother none the wiser to what he’s been up to. She comes to wake her children up and asks what they would like for breakfast. The first two nestlings request worms, of course. But the other two would prefer something a little less familiar. Luckily, we end before Mickey is no doubt torn to pieces by hungry avians.

Favorite Part: When the fox first appears, he introduces himself with two signs. One says, “The Villain.” The other, “As if you didn’t know.”

Personal Rating: 2

 

 

The Lion’s Busy

“Now, let’s quit stalling, Mr. Lion.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Arthur Davis, Gerry Chiniquy, Ken Champin, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on February 18, 1950.

Today is a special day. A day that should be celebrated by everyone who was ever born. After all, if you ever HAVE been born, then you already owe a lot to this one person. This day is known as “Leo the lion’s tenth birthday.” Now, Leo, he’s just the greatest guy. One of those rare Irish lions. And being part of the noble Panthera genus, he’s got strength, speed, and 18 retractable claws that are willing to back up his claims of glory. Thus, all the animals have gathered. (Is it me, or is one of them Bugs?)

It wouldn’t be much of a birthday without gifts, (It’s the only thing that makes them tolerable, really.) and Leo gets one given to him by the buzzard. Oddly enough, the card mentions that he’s been waiting for this day for all of Leo’s ten years. Now, why would he do a thing like that? More importantly, what’s the gift? A book! (The best gift of all!) Leo didn’t even want a book, but he’s a good guy and the book is about lions, which just so happens to be Leo’s favorite animal! He reads. (And no. I don’t have any idea why one of the guests is a raccoon. I mean, a porcupine I could understand.)

The first page Leo opens to contains a very interesting fact about the lifespan of a lion. Namely, in the world of cartoons, they can expect to live to be ten years old. Wait… Uh, yeah. Leo is indeed ten years old. And that’s just what the buzzard wanted to hear. Beaky Buzzard. Making his first appearance without his creator, Bob Clampett, and now being voice by Mel after the untimely death of his original V.A., Kent Rogers. And has he gotten quite the personality overhall. A little like if Droopy became blood hungry.

Leo claims that he is fine. A picture of health. Why, he can even jig as well as he did as a cub. Beaky tosses a banana peel in his way, and the lion goes over a cliff. He’s upset that Beaky can’t be patient enough to wait for him to actually die. It is a little insensitive, but come on. It’s been ten years! Beaky probably won’t even last another two, and dead lion meat is right up there with Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas goose, and Arbor Day nuthatch as delicious dinners.

Leo fights back, but Beaky escapes up a tree. (Wings. Delicious and practical.) Leo needs that bird dead if he ever wants peace of mind, so he climbs up after him. Beaky oils the tree, and the lion goes down. He tries again with some pitons, but Beaky keeps out of reach by constantly adding more to the tree. Soon, Leo has reached the top. There’s no easy way down, unless you’re Beaky, because then you’d have wings. But he wants that lion down, and begins chopping away.

After the crash, Leo comes to, and finds Beaky roasting his tail as if it were made of sausages. He declares that Beaky is never, and I repeat, never going to get him. And to make sure of that, Leo boards a moon-bound rocket that is in the jungle. (Why the surprise? Where else would he find a rocket? Savannah are wildfires waiting to happen.) He makes it to the moon. (The poor Earth is gray in mourning its loss of Leo.) Oh, by the way, Beaky has been waiting for him. (If he can take on a freaking dragon, I don’t see why this would be any struggle.) Leo ducks into a cave, barricades the door, and wouldn’t you know it, Beaky can’t get in. Now, there’s just the matter of waiting.

And waiting. See, nobody can wait like a buzzard, and it only takes about 330 days for 11 months to go by. (Good thing lions eat rocks. Lions eat rocks, right? Right.) And Beaky is still waiting. So Leo is still waiting. And the years go by. Seven years of wasting what time he had in a moon cave. Now, Leo is a much older, much grayer, and much wiser lion. He has realized that he can’t hide from his problems, and gives Beaky permission to eat. Unfortunately, Beaky isn’t immune to the passage of time either, and he too is much older. So much so, that the only thing he can manage to eat anymore is marshmallows.

Favorite Part: Beaky playing shoe salesman. Having Leo try on one of those little paper things cartoon roast turkeys always wear on their tibiotarsus. Dark meat and dark humor.

Personal Rating: 3. A fun and interesting change to Beaky’s character. Too bad he’d only get one more cartoon after this one.

Ain’t that Ducky

“Thsome hunter.

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on May 19, 1945.

Daffy’s bubble bath is interrupted by sobbing. A duckling is very upset about something, and since he is carrying a bag with him, it wouldn’t be odd to assume that it is what is making the little guy bawl as much as he is. Daffy tries to be friendly, but this little guy wants no sympathy. He angrily yells for Daffy to keep away from him and his mystery parcel. Now I can understand not wanting to be bothered, but this kid is a little sh*t. I say we punt him into next month.

Well, my prayers are half answered: here comes a hunter that looks an awful lot like actor Victor Moore. In fact, he sounds an awful lot like his namesake. In fact, he actually IS voiced by that man. And boy does he grate my last nerve. (Such a whiny tone. Is he always like that?) Daffy tries to get the sobby one to come with him, but even that is more contact than the little prick wants, so Daffy hides himself and lets the duckling face whatever fate he gets. (Immature it may be, I’m calling the character, Dick.)

Vic is set to shoot Dick, but the bird’s tears and shouts manage to discourage him. And if a man won’t shoot something that nobody in the world will miss, then he’s no danger to anything else. Daffy emerges from his hiding bush, and tells the hunter to leave. However, since Daffy fits into Victor’s roasting pan, he is the new target. Daffy runs, with Victor in hot pursuit. Since his gun has so much recoil, Daffy is able to put some distance between the two.

Daffy hides in a barrel, but Dick also happens to be in there and is willing to sell Daffy out. So the chase continues with hunter and huntee on opposite sides of fence. (Daffy building more once they reach the end.) And there’s Dick again. Victor tries asking for the kid’s bag, but he doesn’t have any better luck than Daffy has. The two team up, and manage to get the freaking thing. Dick steals it back almost instantly, so I guess the truce is over. Victor chases Daffy again.

Daffy sets up a wooden decoy, which Victor runs right over. (Unintentionally.) He feels bad over supposedly killing the creature he was trying to kill. (It’s a trope I’ve always wondered about in cartoons like this.) Daffy doesn’t help matter much when he comes out in little boy disguise and starts crying over his father. (Now that I think about it, didn’t we all come from some wood? And now I’m done thinking about it.)

Victor is ready to pay for such a mistake, and even offers to raise Daffy as his own. It’s then that Dick returns and rips Daffy’s disguise off. Victor is upset, but not as much as Daffy is. He’s had it up to here with the pest, and tries to get his satchel once and for all. The duckling defends himself with a mallet, and sends Daffy down a cliff. Victor too. Daffy can’t believe Victor got the same treatment. But Victor DID get the bag, and the two eagerly open it up.

It’s contents do their magic, and Daffy and Victor come down with their own cases of depression. What could that bag contain? A piece of paper. And on that piece of paper? “The End.” (Considering Dick doesn’t appear in any other cartoons, I can see why he wouldn’t want his bag opened.)

Favorite Part: Daffy’s barrel isn’t there when he needs it. He complains about the lack of barrel, since the script clearly states there is supposed to be a barrel. It gets painted it once he threatens to tell J.L. Warner. Sure, it’s random, but it’s amusing. A good precursor to “Duck Amuck.”

Personal Rating: 2. Daffy’s co-stars bring this down a notch for me. If they don’t bother you, then it can probably manage a 3.

Those Beautiful Dames

“One, two, three, go!”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Paul Smith and Charles Jones; Musical Score by Bernard Brown. A Merrie Melody released on November 10, 1934.

On a cold, miserable night, (Yes, I know that’s a redundant statement.) a poor, little orphan girl walks through the snow. You can tell she’s an orphan, for she has all the typical orphan traits: a tattered shawl over her shoulders, a glum expression, and only one of her pant legs remains attached. (Okay, it could just be a low stocking. How would I know anything about women’s clothes? I’m a twenty-six year old virgin!)

Jessica, (for that is the name I’ve chosen to give her) would really like to play with some toys in the toy shoppe she peeks into. But even thought the light in the shoppe suggests they are open, she trudges along. (Maybe they operate by the strict “You play with it, you buy it” rule.) I really do feel sorry for the little one. She’s pretty cute. If I could adopt her, I would. (I’d regret it soon afterwards as I’m not fond of kids. But I’d find her the nicest orphanage to dump her off at.)

She makes it back to either her home, or just where she is going to be spending the night. If it isn’t already her home, then she could definitely do better. The only food available is mice skeletons, and the fire is thinner still. Shelter is shelter, though. She drifts off to an uneasy sleep. And then… uh-oh. I think the hypothermia is making her hallucinate. Toys don’t just follow you home from the shoppe. This cartoon sure got dark.

Since Jessica is still “asleep”, the toys use this opportunity to pretty the place up a bit. A little paint, a little wallpaper, and by the stroke of midnight, you’ll have comfortable furniture, electric lights, and a fireplace. Time to wake the waif. They even gave her a crown! Isn’t that…heavenly? The toys aren’t just interior decorators, though. They’re the entertainment. By which I mean, they’ve got a floor show planned. (The black toys only get to supply music and food. If this short wasn’t from the 30’s you might think that I just made a racist joke.)

A couple of concertina clowns do a dance, (must have missed that toy growing up. I’m not complaining though Legos and Gumby rock!) and a steam shovel can’t resist getting first dibs on the cake. But that’s okay, as there’s a whole banquet of desserts for human and toy alike. Too bad the hosts booby-trapped Jessica’s with a jack-in-the-box. (Considering they gave her a crown that constantly disappears throughout the picture, I really should have seen that coming.)

Favorite Part: The steam shovel. They could have just had another toy operating it to steal cake, but they decided to let the truck help itself. Much more imaginative.

Personal Rating: 2. It’s a generic cute plot. Doesn’t offer much to more sophisticated minds.

Porky’s Hare Hunt

“I’m just a trifle pixilated!”

Supervision by Ben Hardaway; Story by Howard Baldwin; Animation by Voleny White; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on April 30, 1938.

A herd of rabbits are enjoying themselves. Not in a carrot patch, but a corn field. Points for variety! I guess they’re quite content to stay there, because gunshots don’t deter their munching at all. It takes Proto-Bugs’ (making his debut,) warnings to get them to flee. And along comes Porky. I’m guessing that was his corn they were devouring. He’s got a gun ready to roll, and begins his hunt. A “Hare Hunt” if you will.

Even though P.B. ran off to the left, he’s right behind Porky when the pig enters the scene. Said pig is accompanied by his hunting dog, Zero. (Who would go hang out with Jack Skellington upon his death. Porky is immortal.) The hare distracts the dog with a decoy and makes Porky’s gun sneeze with pepper. The resulting bang demolishes Proto-Bugs’s hiding tree, so the hare has to use another trick to stay alive. Thus, the hare remover in his paw.

Chugging the bottle makes the lagomorph invisible and intangible, seeing as how Porky’s hand goes right through where the hare is standing. (Hare remover bottles don’t just float on their own, you know.) He reappears out of a hat, and plays bullfighter when Zero charges at him. This dog lacks depth perception, and completely misses the hare every time. When P.B. plays magician and makes the mutt disappear, it’s almost a mercy act. (He brings him back almost immediately, don’t fret.)

Another thing Proto-Bugs can do? He can fly. By spinning his ears in an impossible full circle, he is capable of flight. (Humans could do this too, in theory. But we’re committed to finding the easier way.) Porky figures that since the pest flew away, he and Zero are rid of him. Wishful thinking, and Proto-Bugs lets them know it. (Laughing like Disney’s Max Hare. It’s an homage! Not plagiarism!) So, they continue the chase. Porky manages to get the drop on his prey, and P.B. gives his sob story. Seems he’s mate material, as he has photo evidence of himself with a jill and many offspring. Porky couldn’t possibly shoot him now.

Wishful thinking! (And Porky let’s him know it.) He tries to fire, but his gun won’t comply. Maybe it’s jammed, maybe it’s marmaladed, maybe it’s just out of bullets. Whatever the case, Proto-Bugs destroys the weapon that is no longer a threat and flies off again. Without a more contemporary weapon, Porky has to make do with a rock. I love the little pose he has upon throwing. That sort of “C’mon. Make it. Make it.” pose people get when they throw things. I also love P.B.’s frustrated face he makes upon getting hit. That sort of “Are you f*cking kidding me?” face humans make when they lose at Mario Party.

The hare lands, but is still able to walk any possible injuries off. (After some fake death throes. Modern Bugs had to learn it from someone.) Porky has had enough, and when he chases his target to a hole, he tosses in some dynamite. So sure is he that this will work, that he doesn’t notice the explosive is thrown right back out at him. Luckily for Porky, he gets the best case scenario, and is simply laid up in bed with a broken leg.

He’s even got a visitor. Proto-Bugs? With flowers and everything! That’s so sweet! But before you think he’s too friendly, he proves how malicious he really is, by yanking on the rope holding Porky’s foot up, undoing any healing that might have taken place. (Might be a bit too dark an ending for some.)

Favorite Part: The hare asks if Porky even has a hunting license. When Porky proves he does, the hare rips it in half. “You haven’t got one now!”

Personal Rating: 3. It’s not bad, but anything it does, “Porky’s Duck Hunt” did better. That, and I could see some getting annoyed by Proto-Bugs.

Proto-Bugs

Aside from that name, this character has had many a number of different monikers over the years. Happy Rabbit, Happy Hare, (much too tame for him) Prototype-Bugs Bunny, Prototype-Bugs, (much too clunky) Bugs’ Bunny (yes, with the apostrophe) and even just Bugs Bunny.

So… isn’t he just Bugs? Some would say so, but I’m not like some people. (And proud of it.) When I was first learning about the fine art form that is the Looney Tunes, one of the first things I learned was that Bugs’s first cartoon was “A Wild Hare.” If that is indeed true, and this rabbit made appearances before, then he can’t possibly be Bugs Bunny. So… who is he exactly?

Well, as I previously titled, he is Proto-Bugs. A cartoon rabbit that came before the more modern, sleek design, and helped pave the way for his successor. He was a rabbit who made his debut in “Porky’s Hare Hunt.” A cartoon directed by Cal Dalton, and Ben Hardaway. Ben there, had the nickname of Bugs, and so it wasn’t long before the studio model sheets were labeling the character as “Bugs’ Bunny.”

P.B. may look a bit like Bugs, but he behaves a bit more like Daffy. He doesn’t take anything seriously, he laughs at the drop of a hat, heck, his laugh sounds an awful lot like a famous woodpecker I know of. (Not too much of a coincidence. Ben would go on to help create Woody, and Mel would be the first voice of the character.)

Once Tex Avery used his own take of the rabbit in the aforementioned “A.W.H.” there really was no need to keep the prototype. Audiences loved Bugs, and really, he did do everything his predecessor did, but better. Besides, they already had Daffy as the resident screwball, so there just was no need to keep using the old model. (Don’t cry though. It really was for the best.)

Proto-Bugs has a bit of a legacy. He did appear in “Elmer’s Candid Camera.”, The first cartoon to feature the man. He was going to appear in “Back in Action.” before the scene was deleted. (It was a clever joke, but I doubt the general audience would have understood it. You know who you are and should be ashamed.) He even had a bit of a callback during “New Looney Tunes” when Bugs received a retro makeover. (But the whole scene was in grayscale, so even the uninitiated could understand the joke. Still be ashamed, though.)

All in all, if you love Bugs (And you do. YOU. DO.) then you owe a lot to his forefather, here. Maybe Bugs could have existed without his ancestor, but there’s a chance he wouldn’t have ended up as wonderful as he is today. And we probably would have “lost” WWII to boot, and then where would we be?

Land of the Midnight Fun

“Many of the passengers made the entire trip by rail.”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Story by Melvin Millar; Animation by Charles McKimson; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on September 23, 1939.

Before we begin, I must insist you watch this if you haven’t done so already:

Now that you’re properly hyped, (and if you aren’t, then you aren’t living properly. Try again.) we can move on to today’s feature.

Time for a ocean voyage up north. As a cold loather, I can’t fathom why anyone would want to subject themselves to such an excursion, but I might as well follow and see if we can scrounge up a few good jokes. Considering Avery thought bringing back the “fairy boat” joke was a good idea, I’m apprehensive. (And I don’t buy the narrator’s claim of this being “educational.” That penguin on the title card already disproves that theory.)

Actually, maybe Tex is already proving me wrong. For when we take a peek under the Atlantic waters, we see an abundance of sea life, that is drawn fairly realistically! A battery of barracuda, a pair of swordfish, a float of tuna! Oh, and a can of salmon. There’s even life above the waves; witness the castaway on a raft. The boat tries throwing him a line, but he throws it back. Seeing as how he has a woman on board, he’s fine thanks. (That situation actually sounds like a decent basis for a novel. DIBS!)

When the ship arrives at Nome, (parallel parking, no less) we get to see some “Eskimo humor.” The caricatures are a bit outdated, and the lifestyle seems to be composed of outdated stereotypes, but don’t worry. None of them are gutbustingly hilarious, so you don’t have to feel guilty. There’s one native sitting in cramped igloo, a woman putting lipstick on her nose, (yeah, okay. She’s kind of cute.) and a telephone pole for the dogsleds.

So, if that’s what the humans are doing, what are the animals up to? Chicken’s lay eggs encased in ice, a timber wolf constantly yelling his namesake, and a…. penguin.

There’s a penguin in Alaska.

The clearly North American Alaska.

Come on, Fred! You’re insulting my zoology cred! And to go even further, you state that the birds live entirely on fish! No, I don’t care if science hadn’t dis-proven these claims in the 30’s. By that logic, I should be okay with every racist caricature that gets shown on the screen. Happily for me, the last fish on the penguin’s menu turns the tables and eats it. Thus leading me to believe that it was just an invasive species that got nipped in the bud. Thank goodness.

Before the tour ends, we take a peek at the nearby night club. There’s no hurry, as the nights are a good six months up here. We get some nice rotoscoped skating, courtesy of one of the natives. But the tour has to end sometime, so we head back down to New York. (Wait, did we really sail over the Arctic circle to get here? Eat it, Nautilus!) However, due to heavy fogs, the boat somehow ends up on top of the Trylon. (We’re kings of the world!)

Favorite Part: That wolf. Not only is he being voice by Avery, doing that infectious laugh I know and love so well, but he even takes the time to comment on how silly the gag is. (Darn it, Tex. I can’t stay mad at you.)

Personal Rating: 3

Wise Quackers

“I sthink he looksth better that way.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Manuel Perez, Pete Burness, Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on January 1, 1949.

If the gray skies, red foliage and migrating ducks are any indication: Autumn is here. Dafffy does his best to keep up with the rest of the flock, but ultimately goes down. He calls out for help, and surprisingly enough, he gets an answer! Wait… I know that voice! That’s Elmer J. Fudd! And he’s not confused; he knows exactly what he’s doing. He gets Daffy down on the ground, and aims his gun.

Daffy isn’t too keen on the whole dying idea, and offers up an alternative: slavery! Elmer spares his life, and Daffy waits on him, wing and foot. (And seeing as how Daffy IS black, he’s not above a quick reference to “Uncle Tom.”) Elmer as it turns out, is totally on board with the idea. (As every single human being secretly thinks. Don’t deny it)  The deal is made, and the two head back to the homestead.

Elmer is about to give himself a shave, when Daffy interrupts. Seeing as how he’s the slave, he’s the one who gets to remove Elmer’s hair. (Seeing as how he’s a bird, Daffy is probably fascinated by the stuff.) He starts with a hot towel. So hot, that he ends up steaming Elmer’s face off. He puts it back where it belongs, just upside down. (Elmer frowns, but since his face is still the wrong way, he’s technically smiling. I can’t say I blame him. If I had unlimited wishes, number 5 would be to have my face upside down.)

Now for the actual shaving. It looks like Daffy knows what he’s doing, but it isn’t long before he’s asking for various surgical tools. (Elmer just has plasma in his bathroom does he?) Elmer has come to realize that slavery is, and always has been, a mistake. So he decides to kill Daffy. (Letting him go? That’s an odd suggestion.) Daffy is able to get another pass by making Elmer a meal. But he has to give the ole “it might be poisonous” shtick a try, and eats every bite. (I hope that was chicken.)

Killing time again! Daffy saves himself this time, by offering to chop wood for Elmer. The tree he chose falls on Elmer’s neighbor’s domicile. Seems he doesn’t mind though, as he just asks to borrow Elmer’s hammer, friendly like. (He just wanted to hammer Elmer’s head, but it was still a kind way of asking.) Daffy uses this time to escape, so Elmer sics his dogs on the duck’s trail. They might not look like the most focused ones you could send on this job, but they’re organized. They stop and make plans and everything.

After a botched first effort, (lousy tree) they succeed in bringing Daffy back! (That’s…wow. I never should ever doubt a dog. These are, after all the same animals who were smart enough to come up with the idea of adopting humans as pets.) Daffy’s way out of this one? Play up his blackness once more, and beg Elmer not to whip him. (The DVD that this short can be found on is available at the library I work at. In the children’s section. I laugh every time a child checks it out. Even though I support that choice. Better than “Paw Patrol.”)

The second part of his plan? Daffy returns as Lincoln and angrily tells Elmer off. (Silly slave owners, whips are for cream!) Guess that’s all that was needed, as Daffy leaves. (Huh. Kind of a weak ending)

Favorite Part: When playing surgeon, Daffy keeps asking for more and more ridiculous requests. When Elmer gets fed up and points a gun at him, Daffy simply reminds him that that wasn’t what he asked for. (I thought it was funny!)

Personal Rating: The great gags get this cartoon a 4 from me, but if you can’t see past the racially insensitive bits, then it’d probably be a 3.

Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs

“Some folks think I’s kinda dumb, but I know someday my prince will come.”

Supervision by Robert Clampett; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Rod Scribner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on January 16, 1943.

This is, no question, the most famous of the Censored Eleven. If being listed on the “100 greatest Looney Tunes” isn’t reason enough, then how about actually managing to secure a place as one of the “50 greatest cartoons.” (As chosen back in the 90’s, so people were well aware of how offensive this cartoon was, and still is.) And yet, there are some good reasons as to why it earned such a spot. Allow me to explain.

We start with a mother and child. They aren’t going to feature much in our feature. They set up the story, and briefly appear at the end, and that’s it. (Luckily, they’re in silhouette. We already have enough racist drawings.) The child wants to hear the story of “So White and the seven dwarfs.” So the mother tells just that.

The story starts with a queen. She’s a mean one. Know how I know? She’s hoarding wartime luxuries! Sugar, coffee, tires, and scrap metal! That’s stuff our armies could use! How dare she! Seems like all these treasures aren’t enough to satiate her, so she heads over to her magic mirror. (Now that I think about it, where did the queen find that mirror in every variation of this story? Did Rumplestilskin just have a yard sale?)

The queen asks for a prince, and the mirror… er, supplies I think. A prince does indeed show up. His name is Prince Chawmin’, and maybe he just came this way because of the other woman who is around these parts. Despite the cartoon’s title, her name is So White. (Even though her hair IS coal black, but who would want to be named after their follicles?)

(Right, Edward?)

And as for So… I’ll just say it: she is hot. I mean that. She gets my vote for the most attractive animated character I’ve seen. Jessica Rabbit can’t compare. Red Hot Riding Hood has nothing on her. Samus Aran doesn’t cut it. Give me this black beauty any day. Chawmin’ shares my opinion, and the two start dancing, angering the queen. (Who makes one of the scariest faces I’ve ever seen. That’s a little hyperbolic, but it does give me the jibblies.)

Queenie ain’t pleased to see her prince dancing with her… actually, it doesn’t say if she’s related to So. She could just be a very attractive maid. Still, this is enough cause for murder, so the queen calls up Murder Inc. to get rid of So. They’re very adept and arrive immediately. (Good rates too. Anybody can be out of your life for only a dollar! Midgets are half off! Japanese are free. Bad taste, but I’m sorry, that joke got a small chuckle out of me. At least Murder Inc. have wartime priorities.)

Well, maybe they aren’t as adept as I thought. Being alone with So in their vehicle ends up with her getting safely dropped in the forest, and their faces covered in lipstick. (Can’t say I blame them in the slightest. Shame So’s more of a loose woman than I hoped.) Out on her own, and savvy to her source material, So looks for the seven dwarfs. She finds them rather quickly. Most of them look very similar to each other. We’ll call them Dock, Hoppy, Brash, Sweep, and Snazzy. The other two look like Stepin Fetchit, (Because we have to make that reference whenever possible. The joke is timeless!) and chibi-Dopey. (He’s cute. I’ll call him Cheeb.)

They’re happy to take So in, but since there is a World War in progress, she can’t play housekeeper at their place. Instead, she’ll be the cook at their camp. Now, the queen is well aware that So is still alive. (I guess Muder Inc. couldn’t keep their insensitively large lips shut.) Time for the apple. Poison and all. (I’d have just let her eat it as is. It’d given her worms.) Disguised as a peddler, the queen hands So the apple, claiming it’s candy coated. So gleefully swallows it whole. (Which also would just kill her. The poison is just a fail safe.)

Cheeb sees the downed hottie, (complete with core? She didn’t even chew. Where did it come from? The queen just wanted a snack?) He rallies the troops, and they chase the old girl down. They fire Cheeb in a shell towards her, and he knocks her out with a hammer. Almost all well and good, there’s just the matter of So. They need Chawmin’. His kiss will wake her. He shows up, makes what is possibly the first reference to “Citizen Kane” in media, (I’m too lazy to see if my claim there is true) and kisses So.

Something’s wrong here! He kisses and kisses, but she don’t wake up. Seeing his chance, Cheeb kisses her himself, and that does the trick. But why? Sorry, military secret. (The cutie ended up with the hottie. I guess I ship it.)

Favorite Part: The whole cartoon is in rhyme. (Barring a few exceptions.) It makes the whole thing feel like an upbeat jazz number!

Personal Rating: I won’t beat about the bush. This cartoon is full of ugly caricatures, hurtful stereotypes, and outdated jokes. But, if you can remember that and understand that it’s not funny, there is some pretty awesome stuff left over. A fantastic jazzy soundtrack, some pretty sweet voice acting, (done by some honest to goodness African Americans. And Mel. Because Mel is the voice god) and is overall a pretty awesome parody of Disney’s classic film. I give it a 4. Just remember that even if something is offensive, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s garbage.

Pettin’ in the Park

“Stroke! Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!”

Supervision by Bernard Brown; Animation by Jack King and Bob Clampett; Music by Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released on January 27, 1934.

The park is THE place to be if you want to show your love for another being. The birds are certainly aware of this. Everywhere you go they’re either cuddling, kissing, or pecking out hearts in trees. (Well, just the woodpeckers.) It’s not just the birds, though. A cop is currently trying to put the moves on a nursemaid. (She’s plenty hot, but also clearly voiced by a man. Kind of a turnoff.)

I guess there’s chemistry, (Although I’m betting they just met today.) because the lady doesn’t slap the cop when he steals a kiss. Hypocritical as birds are, they immediately start scolding the two. (In song form no less.) It doesn’t work. (I do love the lady’s charge asking to leave. That’s what I’d do.) But there’s another in the park today. It’s a…. penguin.

There’s a penguin in the park.

The clearly American park.

You know what, I decided that I don’t care. Okay, sure. There’s a penguin. It’s chasing a butterfly. The insect lands on the woman’s rear. Now, lepidopterans are quite light as far as animals go, so she takes no notice of it. But a sphenisforme giving you a peck on the cheek is hard to ignore. She feels it and naturally assumes her new “boyfriend” is to blame. (Why must second base be so taboo?) She leaves him, and takes the baby home.

Until she sees the next guy in her path. This man has a car, is single, and isn’t turned off when the lady just abandons the infant to join him. (We never do see that kid again. I like to think he grew up to be a responsible parent.) Envious, and not above trying to abuse his power, the cop tries to break them up. The man isn’t above assaulting an officer, and punches the policeman before driving off. (Assault, abusing power, and abandoning children. All three should go to jail.)

Oops! Looks like there’s another cartoon taking place! You thought all those birds were just there to provide side gags, didn’t you? Now, they’re the focus. (If the sign at the beginning said “Bird Park” instead of “City Park” this would make more sense.) They’re also holding a water carnival. This means there will be both a diving and swimming contest. (*Looking at the penguin* The events are rigged.)

Time for the fist contest. We’ve got a parrot doing commentary. (Good luck trying to make out what he says. His words are drowned out by the soundtrack.) The swan and duck family does quite well. The stork dives into trash. (Might have been more clever as a pigeon or gull. Especially if they were happy about their landing) The ostrich lands in mud. (So… who won?)

Time for the swimming race! (The lake in question is filthy. I see at least three tires and a hubcap.) The pelican seems like he’s doing quite well, but smart birds don’t bet on them to win swimming races. The penguin and the parrot (Who I guess are on a team?) join in, using a tub as a boat, and a bike pump as a motor. Not only does this give them tremendous speed, but also throws the fish into the air. (Much to the pelican’s delight.)

The two get stuck in some mud. The parrot flies off, while the penguin fruitlessly tries to pump. This ends up covering some geese in mud and garbage. Angry, they chase the penguin, but he manages to lose them in a turnstile. This not only makes them lose their feathers, but it ties their necks in knots too. Ouch.

Favorite Part: When the cop marches over to break up his “ex” and her lover, the penguin imitates him. (It’s cute.)

Personal Rating: I’d like to give it a 2, but the two plots really felt disconnected. I’m afraid it earns a 1.