Tin Pan Alley Cats

“GET ME OUTTA HERE!”

Supervision by Bob Clampett; Story by Warren Foster; Animation: Rod Scribner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on July 17, 1943.

Yessir. This here’s another induction into the “Censored 11” hall of infame. Yet, it got to join “Coal White” on the top 100 Looney Tunes list. And I think it deserves its place. Unfortunately hurtful caricatures and all.

Cats Waller (who isn’t named in the short, but anyone who has even the most remote idea of Fats Waller is going to refer to him as such) is all set to have a good time tonight. His choice of venue is the Kit Kat Klub. Oh geeze. Oh wow. That’s just plain mean. This cartoon is already robbing people of dignity, (or cats as the case may be) but why remind them of that? Despite the fact that it should raise some sort of flag, (and while I’d want it to be red, I’ve got a bad feeling it’d be white.) Cats is still making a beeline thataway.

Next door is the Uncle Tomcat Mission. It’s where you’re likely to find preachers who waste their time trying to keep other cats out. I mean really. Why would you set your base of operations RIGHT NEXT to the place that is just going to tempt people? At least do it from across the street. They try to warn Cats of the danger within. Namely, wine, women, and song. That’s too vague. Wine is everywhere in the bible. (I think. I never really could get past all that begatting.) Not all women are sluts; one could be the positive influence Cats needs. And music is inherently one of the most pure things mankind has ever taken part in. No sell, Cats chooses hell.

That preachy preacher. This place looks great! (Despite how racist it is portrayed. And the humans within. So who is the dominant species in this short?) Cats heads straight for the piano and joins in a sweet jam session. Music. What ever could cause anyone to think this could lead to eternal damnation? The trumpet player at the klub makes Cats a promise: he is going to use his music to send the little guy out of this world. Clearly, we are talking figuratively, so Cats is all for it. Do your thing!

And Cats floats, and floats, and floats, until… he really is out of this world. It may look a little bit disturbing what with the statures shaped like musical instruments with severed hands still attached, but I never forget my ideal home. He’s in Wackyland! That lucky so-and-so! It may not be referred to as such, but it’s definitely the same place. With new features even. Example 1: Cats is welcomed to his new home by a disembodied pair of lips.

Looking ahead, we can see all the residents we’ve come to know and love. That guy who plays music from his flower, the one who smokes a cigar, cigarette, and pipe all at once, that rabbit who swings by his ears. (My mom fears him. I’m fearing that saxophone with a mouth and eye in the background.) But you know what else? This is our first time getting to see Wackyland in glorious technicolor! Sure, all the residents have black accented voices that I can’t be sure are real at all, but what’s more amazing is how much here would get reused in “Dough for the Do-do“. (That giant watermelon slice doesn’t seem so P.C. anymore.)

Cats tries exploring, but the residents are just a bit too out of this world for him. And those… trees, I think? That he’s hiding behind? Those are also scarring me for life. And I’m loving every moment of it! (Who would have thought a cello with feet could give me a heart attack?) Oh, and it might interest you to know that this is also the debut of Wackyland’s pride and joy: The Rubber Band. (Love those guys. They’re cute and they’re talented musicians. You don’t see that often these days.)

And Wackyland is even getting into the wartime spirit. Making us all feel better about ourselves by having Axis leaders rub their buttocks together. Yet, Cats is unhappy and wants to escape back to where he came from. There’s an elevator, but Cats was suddenly lying down to match Porky’s pose from years earlier, and he misses his chance. (It’s not the dodo this time, sadly. Just some black guy who looks like a duck with those inaccurate lips, and bird-like neck.)

The breaking point comes when Cats is forced to see Stalin kicking Hitler in the derriere. He begs, pleads, demands that he be brought back. (Something you’d never hear me saying.) Wish granted. I don’t know how, but the trumpeter is able to get him back to Earth. (Maybe it was a Moonside situation and it was all in Cat’s head?) Scared straight, Cats heads next door to help spread the spiritual word. Judging by their shocked expressions, this is the first time their preaching has ever reached someone.

Favorite Part: You kidding? We got to return to Wackyland! And they were kind enough to change it enough so that it wasn’t a total rerun. Sure, it’s become a bit more mean spirited this time around. But that creepy imagery was impressively creative! Isn’t amazing how putting limbs on random objects automatically makes them lovecraftian?

Personal Rating: 3. I’d like to give it a four, but it just can’t compete with its older brother, and the offensive imagery is sure to offend a good number of people no matter how long it ages. The soundtrack is awesome though.

High Note

” ‘THE BLUE ADNUBE’ “

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Richard Thompson and Ken Harris; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard and William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on December 3, 1960.

MUSIC NOTES ARE PEOPLE!

I know you don’t want to believe me, but it is true. Chuck Jones said so! See, when one writes sheet music, they are really just playing god. Deciding who will live where, and ultimately creating beautiful music/ear cancer. The notes take their job very seriously, they do. They set up the score themselves, including folding out the treble clefs, the score, and the other things that have names.

The notes themselves have the most important job. Not for the faint of heart, you understand. See, what they have to do, is take their place on top of the score, and hang upside down to make what appears to our eyes as this:

Hello, note!

Once everyone is in place, and everything is ready, the conductor note takes to their podium and begins the show. “The Blue Danube” is a classic piece that has can be heard in series ranging from “Animaniacs” to “Spongebob Squarepants.” (And beyond, but they were the first two examples that entered my head.) The notes have performed this piece so many times, why would they ever expect anything could go wrong?

Things go wrong sixteen notes in. The seventeenth note is missing, and that is quite the anomaly as he’s never been late before. Oh, he’s around all right. He’s been  in the sheets next over. The booze related ones. (“Little Brown Jug” IS a catchy tune.) This doesn’t really make him “high” as the title suggests, but there isn’t as many puns one could make. I suppose there could be “Hey Mary, wanna do marijuana?”, or “I’m in pain without cocaine in my brain.” Or the always classic “P.C.P. and L.S.D. (Tell me what they mean to me.)” But those are all terrible ideas that I just made up, so we’ll have to stick with a drunk note. For now.

Highrum (as I affectionately call him) can be identified as an alcoholic by the classic symptoms: tipsy staggering, hiccuping loudly, and a red nose. (Although, since he lacks one of those, his whole head is a lovely vermilion.) He stumbles back to his workspace, but now that his head isn’t very clear, he starts interacting with the other notes. Why, a whole note looks a lot like an egg. That’s because it is. This is how notes reproduce. But hatching it too early, could really throw the tempo off. And it’s rather rude of him to get the quarter rests worked up, seeing as how they are essentially dogs.

The conductor note is constantly many steps behind their quarry, even though High is constantly evading them unintentionally. Seems the conductor will have to act like a drunk note to catch one. So, when High takes one of their eighth note steeds out for a run, the conductor does the same. They are even willing to sacrifice one of their trebles, using it as makeshift lasso with which to catch the interloper. Hope it was worth it. Those things are a b*tch to tangle. (But in all seriousness here, I LOVE the backgrounds in this short.)

Keeping High pinned in his place, the conductor can finally get on with the music. Things go wrong sixteen notes in. Not only did High escape, but the rest of the notes got sick of waiting, and went to try out the liquor lyrics for themselves.

Favorite Part: When High is playing with the rest dog. Not only is it cute, but the object he grabs for it to fetch was just barely established as a baby note. That is so dark. I love it.

Personal Rating: If you’re a kid, you’d probably go no higher than a 3. (And I’m flattered/impressed you’re here, but you’re way too young for my jokes.) For the rest of us, 4. (The rest of us.) Those who really know music will especially enjoy it.

The Cat Came Back

“WHAT THE F-!!!!”

Directed by Cordell Barker; Produced by Richard Condie, Cordell Barker; Written by Cordell Barker; Based on: The Cat Came Back by Harry S. Miller; Starring: Richard Condie. A cartoon released on June 22, 1988.

Boy, oh boy! What a treat we have here! A cartoon well worthy of its spot on the 50 greatest cartoons. It’s got catchy music, great jokes, fun animation, and… isn’t… even a Warner Bros. cartoon. Oops. Let me try it again.

“And she kicked me right here! Right where I sit down!”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Robert McKimson and Ben Clopton. A Merrie Melody released on February 8, 1936. (The last cartoon to be produced in Cinecolor.)

There we go. That’s what we’re used to. And look at the… um, cuties? Look, you should really be aware of my feelings toward cats by now. The only way I could find them cute is roasted to a golden brown, with some of those paper things at the end of its legs, and a garnish on top. But I’ll digress for now. The kittens are having a wonderful time while mother cat watches. And just across the way from the basement they live in is a family of mice.

Things are a little less joyous in the mouse house. Mother mouse is busy lecturing her pups about the evil kats. (sic.) Mere hyperbole and mouse propaganda, right? Hardly! For at this very moment, Mrs. Meow is teaching her kittens how to attack and probably kill mice. Which ordinarily wouldn’t seem too strange, but all the animals are on a similar scale of size. Instead of predator and prey, it just looks like a gang war.

At least Mrs. Squeak doesn’t stop at just talking, she also has the brains to train her children on dodging paws. (She has whiskers now?) But one little mouse can’t help but take a peek outside the hole and see what the world is really like. A kitten cross the way has similar aspirations. At last, the two star-crossed lovers can finally meet! I kid. Actually, they look ready for a rumble. Guess their mothers really did get through to them.

It’s then that Mrs. Squeak catches sight of what’s going on. She tells the kitten to leave her kid alone, and we learn that she was set to become the fourth Chippette before  she became a mother. (Oh? Would you like to explain her sudden change of voice then?) The little cat tries to follow because… it either wants to eat them, or it has learned that the mouse isn’t so different from its kind after all? Its reason doesn’t matter, because the mouse matriarch throws the cat right back out.

The little cat tells its mother what happened, and she goes to give the neighbor a piece of her mind. Squeak ain’t having any of it, and gives her eyes a good poking. She’s won this round, so Mrs. Meow has no choice but to drag her offspring home. Later, as the kitten mopes around, the mouse invites it to come have some fun together. (I guess it got over its hatred too.) The two do some dancing, before the cat falls into an open sewer. (What a typical cat.)

Meow heard those screams (That didn’t occur during the actual falling part.) and runs right over. We skip the tired cliche of her thinking the mouse was behind it all, as the mouse decides to jump in after its new pal. Also becoming alert is Squeak who makes an actual effort to rescue her kid. It doesn’t work, but I give points for effort. The mouse isn’t able to catch up to the cat because of the strong current. (Why is there a cuckoo clock, guitar and chair down here? These animals are just as bad as humans.)

The cat comes to a whirlpool, and is close to death. Time for the mouse to save the day! While holding on to a plank of wood up above, it lowers its tail to be grabbed on. (So, maybe its not a food related animosity. Maybe the cats just hate being constantly shown up.) The whirlpool is strong and twists the mouse like taffy, turning it into a makeshift helicopter. The two fly out. They are safe!

They return home and the two families decide to bury the hatchet and be friends. But wouldn’t you know it, Mrs. Meow just can’t get over that eye poke from earlier and she starts pounding Mrs. Squeak. (Cats also can’t forgive.) Being impressionable youths, the children forego their friendly ways and go back to how things were before.

Favorite Part: Mrs. Squeak training her kids to dart through active mousetraps. The cherry on top is her smile. “Yes, Billy. I want you to enter this contraption that can snap your neck. It’s for your own good.” You can’t prove there’s no risk.

Personal Rating: 2 If you only want to watch the first cartoon up there, I understand.

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. has 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.

Page Miss Glory

“Call for Miss Glory!”

Supervised by Tex Avery; Words and music by Warren & Dubin; Modern At Conceived and Designed by Leodora Congdon. 3/C. A Merrie Melody released on March 7,  1936.

Another one of the 100 greatest. The oldest one in fact.

Hicksville is a pretty slow, country town. It’s the kind of place where one can’t open their mouth without a yawn jumping out. So, the slightest event will really catch the populace’s attention. In this case, a celebrity is coming to town. Her name is Miss Glory, and since this is such a big occasion, the entire town is pitching in to make the place worthy. She will be staying at the only hotel in the place, where the staff is also prettying up for her.

The bellhop is a young man named Abner. He is excited to be a part of everything and practices bellhop manners. Everything is ready, now all we need is the guest of honor. If the clock is to be believed, several days have passed without her showing. (Pft. Celebrities.) As the time passes, Abner sleeps and dreams. In his dreams, not only is he less ugly, (Getting some clothes that actually fit, a haircut, losing his ugly buck teeth) but the hotel becomes an art-deco place of beauty. And Miss Glory is here in Abner’s dreams too.

Being a bellhop, he is asked to page the titular woman. While we are treated to the title song, we do get some gags thrown in as well. After Abner stands on a guest’s train, it tears off of her. She rolls with it and does a fan dance. (If only she was 50 years younger, it would be okay to be turned on by this) Another highlight is the patron getting served a mountain of food, but only eating a bite of an olive.

Abner is not having much luck finding the woman, and things only get more complicated as the hotel announces that Glory is at the hotel. This attracts the attention of every single man in the place, who storms in her direction. Clogging the elevators, Abner is unable to follow and perform his duties. He does eventually get in one, but the operator heads out on his lunch break. Abner decides to send himself up, but due to coming from a world where hotels are not more than one story high, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and sends the elevator up and down at a high speed. Eventually popping out of the building, and landing him in front of a streetcar.

But that bell isn’t just part of a dream! It’s his boss! Miss Glory has finally arrived! (She must be a big deal. If the crowd is any indication, Clampett, Avery, Jones, and Melvin Millar have all shown up to catch a glimpse of her.) Abner prepares to do what he was meant to do, but the question remains: Is Glory as hot as he dreamed? Not unless you’re a pedophile. Miss is an appropriate title, as the woman in question is at max, six years old.

Personal Rating: 3

Much Ado About Nutting

“Brazil Nuts”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Lloyd Vaughn, Ken Harris, and Ben Washam; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling; Orchestrations by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on May 23, 1953.

A brilliant little silent short from a brilliant man who knew exactly how to tell such stories. Not only considered one of the greatest, but the picture’s star would go on to at least have a cameo in “Back in Action.”

On a lovely warm summer day, a little squirrel crosses the street and heads towards a nut store. Unlike how it usually is in these cartoons, this squirrel doesn’t speak. In fact, he acts quite a bit like a real life squirrel. For the most part. For example, I don’t think he read the sign saying “Nuts” judging by how his nose twitches, he acted like most squirrels do and simply smelled the food. Luckily for him, (I’m just assuming the squirrel is a male. Everything I’ve read about this short says so.) all humans have mysteriously vanished from the picture, so there is no one to stop him from heading straight to the peanuts. (Which aren’t really nuts. I claim false advertising)

It’s not long before he spies the walnuts for sale. (An actual nut this time. Good for them.) Since they are bigger, he doesn’t hesitate to ditch the peanuts for a more abundant food source. But there’s always a bigger fish and he ultimately lays eyes on the coconuts. (Which really aren’t nuts, but nobody cares at this point.) They’re big enough for the squirrel to just need one, so he heads back across the street to enjoy some lunch.

But here’s where the conflict really begins. Despite being a rodent, his teeth don’t make so much as a crack in the fruit’s shell. He decides to act smarter than the average squirrel, (which to be fair, is still rather smart.) and uses some tools. Seeing as he is an animal, he starts with one of the tools chimps swear by: a rock. Upon slamming it onto the fruit, the rock snaps in two. And dropping it from a tree just embeds it in the ground. Time for the human tools. (There are too many obvious jokes for me to use here, so just use your favorite one.)

First up: a saw that loses its teeth. Then a jackhammer that is weathered away by the coconut. Eventually,  the squirrel is forced to take drastic measures. It’s time to drop the thing from the highest building he can. We get some great shots here. Several fade-ins to show the squirrels progress as he slowly, but surely hoists the heavy load up the countless stairs. The poor thing! I would gladly carry them to the top. But the squirrel is determined, and does ultimately make it. And he drops his meal. Wouldn’t it be great if this worked? Instead, the fruit just makes a chunk of the street lower than the rest.

That’s it. The squirrel gives up. And he is thoughtful enough to return the thing to where he found it. (Besides, there are many more things to choose from. Those walnuts looked pretty tasty.) But just as he puts it back in place, it slips and lands back on the ground. And it finally is cracked! The squirrel hurries over and pries open his prize. Alas, this appears to be a rare subspecies of matryoshka coconut, as there was another one inside it. Adding disbelief upon stress, the squirrel passes out.

Personal Rating: 4

Rocket-Bye Baby

“Somebody goofed.”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ken Harris, Abe Levitow, and Ben Washam; Layouts by Ernie Nordli; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Effects Animation by Harry Love; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on August 4, 1956.

Back in the year of 1954, the planets of Earth and Mars got a little too close to each other. Because of this, two babies, both of whom were heading towards the planets got intercepted and each ended up heading to the other one. (That’s right! Babies come from space. You didn’t really think a stork delivered them, did you?)

Enter Joseph Wilbur. He’s about to become a father. While nervous, he is also quite happy. So when he is called to see his new child, he is quite excited. His kid is really cute. (When Jones draws something that is supposed to be cute, it is DANG cute.) Chubby body, little eyelashes, big smile. Oh yes, and green skin and antennae. (Perfectly normal for that age. I’m sure it will clear up by his teens.)

Father is a little bit ashamed to of his offspring. But Martha, the wife, won’t have any excuses and sends the two off for a afternoon stroll. Those antennae are marvelous things! They allow the infant to communicate with insects and act as an extra pair of limbs. Perfect for taking an old ladies glasses off, and giving them a try. For some reason, the broad goes into hysterics. Maybe Dad had a reason to be so wary?

Martha also soon sees that the kid is much more different than your usual baby. He does income tax, builds molecule models, and predicts the possibilities of hurricanes thirty years into the future. You’d think most parents would be over the moon to find their kid gifted with such intelligence, but they are more in the “worried” camp. Considering we humans don’t especially like strange things that can’t be explained, it’s probably for the best that they try to make him take up more age appropriate activities: like TV watching. Seeing “Captain Shmideo” holding up a toy spaceship inspires the lad to make his own. (I’d think that the parents would freak out again, but this time they are more impressed than anything. Hypocrites.)

Later, they get a message. From Mars of all places! Turns out, they have the wrong baby. The Martians would like to exchange the two. (Given how self-sufficient the Mars variety is, they are probably going insane with all care they have to supply the Earthling with. On another note, at least the Martians bothered to give both babies names. Joseph and Martha couldn’t even be bothered to do that. So from now on, our green baby is Mot and the one we never see is Yob)

Wouldn’t it be interesting if it turned out that the Wilbur’s actually decided they loved the kid they were given? Well, that’s not happening. It’s the 1950s! What makes you think a white suburban couple would want to look after a child who dared to be part of a different race? Sign them up for the exchange! Only one problem: Mot’s ship he was building actually works, and Joseph has to chase after him. The Martians aren’t going to give him squat if he doesn’t hold up his end of the bargain. Despite Jo’s efforts, the chase ends with him missing his chance to grab the baby and falling out of a open window several stories up. Mot meanwhile, makes his way aboard the (in this case probably literal) mother ship. They got what they came for, they leave. (They’re probably just going to eat Yob)

But Joseph doesn’t die, because it was all a dream. He is back at the hospital and goes to look at his normal human baby. But before you get upset for the use of the most cliched of twist endings, do note the band on the babies wrist. It must be in some kind of foreign language. I mean, what on Earth does “Yob” mean?

Personal Rating: 4

Chow Hound

“I’ve gotta get more food!”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Phil Monroe, Ben Washam, Lloyd Vaughan, and Ken Harris; Layouts by Peter Alvarado; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc (Bea Benaderet); Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on June 16, 1951.

One of the hundred greatest, and possibly Jones’ darkest picture ever!

Butch the cat is put out for the night after a nice steak dinner. But as soon as he is outside, he appears terrified. And he has good reason to be. A dog demands the steak that it turns out, he didn’t eat. You’d think that’d be it, but the dog (who I will name after his voice actor, John T. Smith, who we’ve seen in “Water, water, Every Hare”, “Homeless Hare”, and “Bunny Hugged”.) is not through with him.

They stop at a different house. John pretties up Butch and sends him to the door. The woman living there identifies the cat as Harold. (Which leads me to wonder what his name REALLY is. And while I’m on this tangent, if animals could talk, would they name themselves?) Despite how loving the lady sounds, she must secretly want the cat dead as she gives him some chicken bones with his dinner. He doesn’t get a bite, John takes it again.

What’s the next stop? Some crummy place where John has another animal held hostage: a mouse. Now the cat (now going by Timothy) will get another meal for his master, by pretending to be a mouser. The mouse doesn’t like this arrangement anymore than the feline, (although he actually begs to be free. Unlike the cat who just takes it) The old man living in the building gives the cat more food, the dog takes it, and the mouse is put back in the can.

The next part of the plan requires it to be daytime, as the local zoo isn’t open at night. (A very pretentious establishment, as they use the term: “Zoological Park” Nice touch guys, wanna give the animals actual environments next?) Feeding time is going on and a keeper tosses various meats to various cats. There appears to be a newly discovered species today: The Saber Toothed Alley Cattus. (Felidae chuckmeat) The keeper isn’t entirely sure about this, but he is paid to feed, not think, so the cat is given another steak. (He tries to hide a firecracker in this one, but it only registers a burp with John)

Seems this has been going on for weeks, and it’s finally getting to John. He’s not getting a conscience or anything stupid like that. He’s just annoyed with how little meat each place actually gives. (In the case of the zoo, I agree. A 10 oz. steak won’t do much for a full grown tiger) I guess this “zoological park” has a history of animals trying to find greener pastures, because they actually have a sign offering rewards for missing animals. This gets John thinking…

The four places mentioned notice their lack of cat and soon they are offering money for its safe return. Read the paper carefully. Not only does the park offer a “liberal” reward, but the first guy is apparently animator Lloyd Vaughn (living at Termite Terrace of course) and the old guy is animator Ken Harris. (Which just strikes me as hilarious for some reason) John puts his master plan into action and returns the cat to each place, and taking away when he leaves. (And these people don’t bat an eye at giving a dog money. I love cartoons) John is clearly enjoying this too, as he returns the zoo animal in the guise of a hunter. (The mouse is humiliated to be roped in again. This time as a racially insensitive pygmy. On another note, John looks awesome with that mustache.)

Success! That liberal reward really must have helped, as the dog now has enough money to ensure he never need worry about food again. His purchase? A meat market of course. Self control? Never heard of that. A cut to an animal hospital reveals that John couldn’t control himself, and ate as much as he could fit in his belly and then some. He is now nearly obese as Piggy Hamhock. The doctors leave, and the dog receives two visitors he really doesn’t need: his slaves.

See, if forcing them to collect food wasn’t enough, he was also constantly berating them for not bringing him any gravy. Well, they got plenty of it now. And John can only stare in horror as they stick a funnel in his mouth, and force feed him the stuff. Ooh! Deliciously dark! No better way to end things. (Not surprisingly, that dog never made another appearance. Dead hounds don’t appeal to many audiences.)

Personal Rating: 4 (Although if we are just grading the ending, that’s a 5)

Russian Rhapsody

“Silly, isn’t he?”

 Supervision by Robert Clampett; Story by Lou Lilly; Animation by Rod Scribner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released in 1944. Supervision by Robert Clampett; Story by Lou Lilly; Animation by Rod Scribner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released in 1944.

One of the hundred greatest Looney Tunes and well worth that title!

Germany isn’t doing so hot these days. (These 1941 days to be precise) All of the planes they send to bomb Moscow are being destroyed mysteriously. Could it possibly be gremlins? It couldn’t be! Not with Disney refusing to allow any cartoons about them being made at the time. Hitler is furious. (And let’s be real here, this is the funniest Hitler to ever exist. He screams, he speaks in random words with a bad German accent, and he moves like a spaz! It’s the only time I can say: “I love this guy!”) He finally decides to just send the finest person Germany has to offer: himself. As he flies to Moscow, (which, did you know, borders Berlin?) it appears that he is not alone. Several gremlins are on board and they sing a hauntingly catchy song. What’s more, they appear to be caricatures of various looney people. Tedd Pierce, Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, Leon Schleshinger, and the man himself, Bob Clampett. They set to work destroying the plane. A “Tubby” gremlin tries to stab Hitler in the butt, one saws the plane and just barely misses his pal, a adorable teeny one smashes the dials with a hammer, and one unleashes a termiteski to devour the plane. (Unlike termites which eat wood, termiteskis subsist on only the finest of messerschmidts.) One joke that is kinda dated is replacing Hitler’s C card with an A card. (Gas rationing. C is more.) The “Millar” gremlin finally gets Adolf and the fuhrer finally realizes he has company. (Also the little one he talks to is holding a feather, that magically morphs into a hammer) They put his nose in an electrical socket, and the resulting shock turns him into a glowing swastika, skunk, and donkey in that order. He pulls a knife on them, but they scare him with a Stalin mask. (And then the short immediately jumps to him on the floor. I can’t help but wonder if a scene was cut) With him taken care of, the gremlins cut around him and he falls to earth with the plane crushing him. He pops out of the ground to comment on how “Nutzis is the cwaziest peoples.” The gremlins pound him back under his grave where he belongs.

Personal Rating: 4

A Ham in a Role

“Temper, hasn’t he?”

A Ham In A Role

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Sid Marcus; Animation by Charles McKimson, Phil DeLara, J.C. Melendez, and Emery Hawkins; Layouts by Cornett Wood; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released in 1949.

And here we are with another of the 100 greatest. And the only one starring the Goofy Gophers. Good thing too, those guys are so underrated.

Our story begins with the ending of your classic Warner Bros. cartoon. A dog (who has no name, so let’s call him Hammy) is hit with a pie and flaps his lips. The end. It’s the brevity of this short that makes it work so well. It’s the soul of wit. All right, I’m done pretending you’re actually falling for this. In reality, he is fed up with cartoons. He thinks it’s degrading. (He is clearly an idiot. Well read, but still an idiot.) He decides to quit. (Before doing so, he is subjected to gags without even leaving the room. You’re making so many of us smile. Why would you want to quit?) He decides to pursue more “noble” acting and heads off to his country house to recite some Shakespeare. (Yeah, the man was talented, but animation is entertaining. To everyone.) It’s been awhile since he’s been here it seems, as there are gopher holes everywhere. But I suppose Mac and Tosh realized the house was empty at some point and decided to move in. Hammy finds them asleep in one of his books. He throws them out and gets to work. Not taking kindly to their forced exit, the two began planning some pranks to get back at him. And cleverly enough, they will all allude to what line the dog is reading. Mentioning “tormenting flames” results in a hotfoot. Asking to “drink the joy of life” gets him a tub of water poured on him. And when commenting on how “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” he finds Limburger cheese dropped on his head. But these are annoyances at best, the gophers next dress one of them (I can’t tell them apart. I’ll just guess it’s Mac) as a skeleton just as Hammy is lamenting on “poor Yorrick.” (Poor Hammy.) While reciting some lines from “King George and the Dragon” he dresses as a knight. Now covered in metal, the gophers have the chance to fling him around with magnets. And for their grand finale? “A horse! A horse!” Hammy is kicked out of the house and flies all the way back to the studio. They appear to have been waiting for him, as they are ready to start shooting. He opens with his best “To be…” but is silenced by a pie in the face. Welcome back to the fun side. We’ve missed you.

Okay to be fair, I don’t hate Shakespeare. Those are some really well written stories. I just don’t think it fair for Hammy to call animation “degrading.” It’s art. That’s not up for debate.

Personal Rating: 4