Now Hear This

“QUIET!”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Co-Direction: Maurice Noble; Story by John Dunn, and Chuck Jones; Animation by Ben Washam, and Bob Bransford; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Sound Effects Created by Treg Brown; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Looney Tune released on April 27, 1963.

Oh boy. This is a hard cartoon to describe. It’s kind of like if UPA directed “The Beatles Yellow Submarine.” And that just describes the style. Strange as it may be, it is an artistic masterpiece! And it was rightfully nominated for an academy award. (The last Looney Tune to get such an honor!) What could have beaten it? Another abstract short made by Mel Brooks? I suppose that makes sense, much as I hate to admit it. It’s also where we get the first use of the abstract opening that was used during the sixties. (A shame it is now remembered as part of the weaker shorts.)

So the plot. Unfortunately, the twist is spoiled as soon as it starts. (That’s pretty much my only gripe.) So we’ll just pretend like we never saw anything. An old British gentleman strolls along. Ironically, he is hard of hearing and carries around an ear trumpet. Clearly, it has gotten much use. The poor thing is battered and beaten. So we aren’t surprised to see him trade it for the red, shiny, pristine and perfect one he finds on the ground.

He gives it a test run. And not a moment too soon! Sounds like there is an automobile approaching! Or rather, it was some sort of animal. (As an animal expert, I’m saddened to find I can’t identify it. It resembles an insect, but has a telescoping neck and shoes for feet. It defies all nature.) Well, that was odd. But it seems to be working now, as the man delights in listening to a songbird. But the insanity is just getting started. Part of which is caused by some little man dressed all in pink, and lacks facial features. (Save for a nose)

I’m not sure if he is real or not, but in this short, I’m not sure if anything is real. Even our main character is started to get nervous, judging by the sounds his heart is making. And then? The scariest thing I’ve ever seen in animation. That is no exaggeration. In total darkness, the man is watched by several sets of angry eyes. That’s it. And that horrifying image is awesome. (Part of why it’s scary is that it’s a perfect metaphor for how I view the world. All alone. The only ones who look at us, silently judge.)

Why doesn’t the man just get rid of the thing causing all this trouble? He can’t! The little pink man won’t allow it! And the trumpet begins entangling the old man in music. Eventually leading up to a “Gigantic Explosion!” Happily, the old man is still alive. (If a bit bandaged.) Better yet, his old horn is still in the trash can. Tattered it may be, it still works fine, and the gentleman once more can hear the the lovely sounds the world has to produce. And the owner of the red horn? Satan. (Wish they hadn’t showed him at the beginning) At least that explains the creepy as hell imagery. He happily puts his horn back on his head, and leaves.

This short is something else. A treat for the ears as much as the eyes. (Just like the best cartoons) I think it’s one of the studio’s best, and think it belongs right up there with “Porky’s Preview” as one of the “100 best.”

Mouse and Garden

“We’re pals, aren’t we Sylvester?”

Directed by Friz Freleng. Released in 1960 (Nominated for an Academy Award. Lost to the Noveltoon, Munro.)

Life is hard for Sylvester. If he’s not being anyone’s pet, he doesn’t get any food and is reduced to picking through the trash. At least he’s got a friend. Sam, (voiced by Daws Butler, the same person who voiced many of Hanna Barberas characters, like Yogi, Huckleberry Hound, and Quick Draw) who previously appeared with him in the short “Trick or Tweet” The two are the best of chums. And they’re always willing to share the other’s food. Sylvester takes note of a mouse. It’s small, but it’s got more nutrition than fish bones. Seeing his chance, he ditches Sam and chases the rodent into a boathouse. Unlike most mice in Looney Tunes, this one is not a clever trickster and Sylvester steps on its tail. Sam comes in and Sylvester hides his snack behind a pillar. Somehow, Sam knows about this and hammers Sylvester’s foot and replaces the mouse with a lit firecracker, which Sylvester eats. Sam hides the mouse in a bureau and when Sylvester asks what’s in it, he claims it’s nothing. Sylvester pokes his head in and comments that he’s right. Sam finds the mouse in his friend’s mouth. Now that they both know the other is aware, they decide to put the mouse in a jug (hope they don’t mind if he dies, there can’t be an air supply there) that they dangle from a rope, promising to share it in the morning. The two sleep on a bed that’s there and Sam dreams of a mouse feast. (Sylvester dreams of hitting Sam for dreaming of said mouse) Sam attempts to get the mouse but is caught in the act. Since he can’t be trusted, Sam is tied to the bed. Sylvester attempts, but Sam mallets his head. (All while still tied to the bed) Sam tries to reach the jug from the water below, using a pipe as a snorkel. Sylvester puts another firecracker down it. (Is he walking on water?) Sam spits it back up a few times, before Sylvester plugs it up. To finally stop this whole thing, the two agree to be tied together. But later, Sylvester ties more string on the line so he can get the mouse without Sam waking up. He ties Sam’s end to a motorboat, but Sam wakes up and catches him. He ties Sylvester’s tail to the boat and exposes him. Unaware that he’s now the one tied up, Sylvester announces his plans to have Sam be taken away. Sam points out that he switched the lines and shakes Sylvester’s hand/paw in farewell. The boat takes off with Sylvester, Sam, and the jug all being taken along. They crash and the two cats make it to an offshore rock. As the mouse (somehow escaped) floats back to land in the jug, the two cats continuously kick each other as we iris out.

The Pied Piper of Guadalupe (And a summary of my vacation)

“Don’t go Armando! No! Don’t go!”

Directed by Friz Freleng. Released in 1961

Hello again one and all! I, Dr. Foolio, have returned from my trip. Normally I wouldn’t bother telling you about it on a blog that is focused on Warner Brothers animation, but a fan requested I speak. I’m still getting used to the fact I have a fan(s), so I figure a quick summary couldn’t hurt. I just went to southern Utah. Nice place. Very Warm. Pretty Dry. Hotel was okay. It had a bed, that’s all I needed. I don’t watch tv. Although “Cloudy with a chance of meatballs” was on, but I can’t watch that anymore. It reminds me of someone who I worry about every day. My family and I had either Ice cream or frozen custard every day. We saw “Shaun the sheep” Nice movie. Funny, heartwarming, for lack of a better term, cute. We ate at my favorite place, Olive garden. (That same person really loves their chicken and gnocchi soup…) We hiked and found a pool of tadpole shrimp. (To be fair, my dad found it and said they were tadpoles. I believed him. Some frogs live in deserts. But after awhile I looked closer and saw they were crustaceans. Back at home I showed my dad a picture in one of my books proving that when it comes to animals I’m always right.) We also saw a musical. It was called “When you wish” The plot was simple. A girl goes to bed and dreams about various Disney songs. They had songs from movies you’d expect. The little mermaid, Beauty and the beast, Aladdin, and Marry Poppins. And some from less known films. (Tarzan, Pochahontas, Hercules, Newsies) They did not sing the entirety of “Be our guest”, “I’ll make a man out of you”, or “zero to hero” which are my favorite songs from their respective films, and for whatever reason, Baloo was dressed as Uncle Remus. (?) But it was enjoyable over all. (Although, is it racist to have African Americans play gorillas?) Okay, that’s enough. Let’s get this blog back to the topic it’s meant to be about.

Another Academy nominee? Speedy sure got a few of those didn’t he? So what did it lose to? (google search) A Croatian short where everything is infalatable? At least that sounds creative. I should view it sometime. Sylvester it seems, has really lost his touch. He can’t catch any mice. They’re fast and they carry demeaning signs and smack him with planks. Thinking in front of a book sale, (one of which is apparently written by storyman Warren Foster) he spies a copy of the Pied Piper. Surely the same thing would work on mice as well as rats. After taking some lessons from J.C. Mendelez, (animator who worked on Fantasia. cool. also voiced snoopy. I hate that excuse for a dog. But you probably knew that already) he gets dressed up to play the part and begins to play his flute. The mice laugh at his attemps, but soon stop when it works. They can’t help but dance over to him, where he knocks them out and places them in his jug. Even tying their tails to a stake can’t hold them back and soon they’re all captured. Save one. Speedy is still there. (Did he not hear the music?) He asks for the gato to release his friends or Speedy will rescue them. Underestimating him again, (Sylvester! You have to stop doing that.) he opens the jug and Speedy makes good of his word. Sylvester plays the flute and Speedy dances over onoly to smack him with a mallet. (Why is Speedy immune? That’s not fair) Sylvester ditches his cute outfit and hides in a barrel with some dyanmite. Speedy rolls the barrel along which ends up trapping Sylvester in the container with a lit explosive and a dog. He gets a motorcycle and chases the mouse, who stops short at a cliff and lets the cat careen over the edge. Sylvester eventually gets out, but Speedy next leads him into a collision with a bus. Sylvester has no choice but to go to the “El Gato Infirmary” and get some casts on his broken bones. Speedy points out he dropped his flute. (“Don’t you want heem?” No, I don’t want “heem”.”) He tells Speedy he can have it. The mouse plays and Sylvester is forced to dance after him on his broken foot. (That’s harsh.)

Mexicali Shmoes

“I’m too young to go, kaboom!”

Directed by Friz Freleng, Released in 1959

Another Academy Nominee! (It lost to a short called “Moonbird.”) Our story begins with two cats. The slightly chubby one is Jose, and the lanky one is Manuel. Speedy runs by pretty much just to taunt them, and Manuel pounces. Speedy naturally, escapes. Jose tells him there’s no point to chasing him, you need brains. Manuel is lakcing in that department, but it’s fine. Jose has enough for both of them, and they set out to get some supper. Arriving at Speedy’s place, they invite him out to join their fiesta. Speedy does so, and easily outmaneuvers them when they start trying to take a whack at him. He hides on Manuel and Jose crushes his compadre and misses the mouse. Plan B. Trying something that he saw “That gringo Bugs Bunny” do in a moving picture, he baits a fishing pole with cheese. (I’ve seen every Bugs short at least once, and I don’t recall that) Speedy takes the bait, and drags Jose to L.A. Much later he returns telling Manuel that his sister said hello. (Manuel: “Hello, sister”) They stuff some dynamite in and wait for the explosion. Speedy sneaks behind them and blows up a bag. They rush off, where Jose shows his true colors. He meant to eat Speedy all by himself. (I think this would have been better as the last gag, but whatever. It’s a good one) They tussle, but Jose wins. Peeking in, he sees they’ve been tricked. He goes back to Manuel to apologize… and tell him that Speedy is rightfully his. Manuel gets a face full of explosive. They plant some land mines, but end up chasing Speedy through it. Jose is terrified, but Manuel apparently knows where they buried them all, (Under those dirt mounds?) and carries his pal to safety. (I guess not. He stepped on one) Getting out, he sets Jose down on one of them. Jose returns the favor. They give up. Manuel suggests they go after the slowest mouse in all Mexico, Slowpoke Rodriguez. Jose excitedly goes to the place and grabs the pokey rodent. Manuel tries to tell him something else, but its too late. Slowpoke may be slow, but he’s not defenseless. He packs a gun. And he uses it too.

Tabasco Road

“Hola gato! You wanna fight?”

Directed by Robert Mckimson. (Apparently he was in charge of more than one Speedy short. The lesson here kids, is don’t blog about something unless you know 100% of it’s facts.) Released in 1957.

This short is another nominee for best animated short. It lost to “Birds Anonymous” (At least that’s a good short to lose to.) At night in Mexico (mabye City or maybe some other place, I don’t know) the mice are having a great time at the cantina. They’re celebrating Speedy. (Is it his birthday? The fact they depend on him for survival? It’s not important) Two mice known as Pablo and Fernando are already muy loaded on the Tequila, but ignore Speedy’s warnings and continue to drink up. At 3:00 A.M. the place clears up. Those two aren’t dead despite all the alcohol they have no doubt consumed, and tipsily head home. (I agree with them. They make a fine “trio.”) Speedy is well aware that they are in trouble and sets off to find them. They meanwhile have attracted the attention of an alley gato. (“I think I saw un pussy gato.” “You did! You did see un pussy gato!”) Drunk as they are, they don’t recognize the danger and instead put up their dukes. The cat prepares for a feast, but Speedy arrives in the nick of time and saves Pablo; putting him in a sardine can for safekeeping. When he goes back for Fernando, he only finds his sombrero. He assumes the worse, but finds him in the can also. (Drunken mice have teleporting powers) Speedy runs Ferny home telling Pablo to stay put. Once he gets his friend home, he rushes back for the other one. Unaware that Fernando climbed out of his window and is still stumbling about. The gato meanwhile has found Pablo and puts him in his mouth. (Grey nose) Speedy has seen all this and runs over. The cat screams, we hear a snap and then he kind of explodes. Ummm… what? Speedy apologizes for his… well speed, and does the whole gag again in slow motion. We see that he hammers the cat’s foot causing him to scream. Speedy grabs Pablo and sets him down on a set mousetrap. He quickly gets him off and puts him in a glass bottle, then he lights a firecracker and puts that in the cats mouth. Bad luck though, the bottle was broken and Pablo got out. Fernando meanwhile finds his way into the cats mouth himself. Speedy redoes the fast gag again and this sends the gato running for the “Ceety Leemits.” The two drunkards are safe now right? That’s how a Disney short would end. To Speedy’s surprise, the two have found an alley full of dozens of gatos, challenging them to a fight.

Knighty Knight Bugs

“So DIS is da singing sword. Big deal.”

Directed by Friz Freleng

Well, it is now 2015. So let’s ring in the year with this. Bugs’ only oscar. Heck, he was only nominated for the award three times. (The first two were in the 40s) What did he win against anyway? (quick google search) Well, it did beat Disney and their very well told, “Paul Bunyan.” So I guess it’s okay. (But I still question what was wrong with those morons. Tom and Jerry, as funny as they are, did NOT deserve all the awards they won. 3 at the most.) This isn’t even Bug’s best short. (At least its more oscars then Mickey has… “Lend a Paw” is Pluto’s short.) Does that mean I hate it? No! If you thought that, please go hurt yourself. As for the rest of us, lets get on with it.                                                           King Arthur wants the singing sword which was stolen by the Black Knight. All of his knights refuse to go, as the Black Knight has a dragon. Bugs dances in, as he is the jester. He remarks that only a fool would retrieve it. Arthur agrees and sends Bugs off. (should’ve used better word choice) The Black Knight it turns out, is Sam. And he does indeed have a dragon, but the beast (word of god says his name is Gerry) let his fire go down. Which means he now has a cold. (Brilliant) They are both asleep and Bugs manages to take the sword very easily. Wondering why it has its title, he finds out as it begins emitting music in his hands. This wakes both the knight and the dragon who give chase Bugs escapes with them hot on his tail. (Gerry looks a bit horshish to me) Ducking into a hole, Bugs doubles back to the castle, and raises the drawbridge. (Dropping it on Sam when he demands he lower it) Sam tries a catapult, (with results similar to “Sahara Hare”) and throwing a rope and climbing it. (Bugs uses a hammer to smack him back down.) Later, seeing that the coast appears clear, Bugs sneaks out. Sam and Gerry turns out, were hiding but their position is given away when the creature sneezes. They chase again, and Bugs ends up locking them in a room full of explosives. Sam tells the dragon that if he sneezes, they’ll end up on the moon. As Bugs walks away, the entire tower blasts off. Waving goodbye, he marches off, a job well done. The sword playing “Aloha Oe” to see us off.

 

 

Walky Talky Hawky

I’m a chickenhawk. I’m after my first chicken.”

Directed by Robert Mckimson

We start off at the home of three hawks. (The father of which, happens to read Looney Tune comics) Their child is named Henrey and he tells his father that he craves something, but has no clue what. His father decides its time they had a talk. (“Okay pop. Whadyya wanna know?) Dad tells him that he is a chicken hawk. And as such, he will crave chicken and everyone will shun him. All Henrey takes from this is what food he wants. So he heads off to a nearby farm. There we have the first appearance of Foghorn, who actually is minding his own business, when the Barnyard Dog shoves a watermelon on his head. Foggy can’t be one upped like this, so he paddles the dog with a board, and taunts him at the edge of his rope. (Foghorn sounds more like Yosemite Sam in this picture. Give him time.) Seeing Henrey he asks what he’s doing. Foghorn also tells him that he is a horse and the dog is a chicken. Henrey goes over and takes a bite. The dog chases him before his rope pulls him back. (Foghorn gleefully hits his head to win a croquet game) He tells Henrey to go back and fight. Predators should no fear prey. (I could discuss that this is not entirely true…) Henrey proves to be very strong for his size and carries the doghouse away. B.D. catches on fairly quickly and gives chase again. And gets choked again. (Foghorn puts a helmet on him, and hits him with a hammer) He and Henrey decide to use a complex plan. Henrey sets it up and draws a doorbell on the house to ring with. When B.D. comes out he hears Henrey playing the piano and dances over. Henrey smacks him with a pan. Dazed, the dog stumbles onto a banana peel, which sends him onto a spring, which bounces him onto a skate, which Henrey begins to roll away. B.D. aks what he wants and explains that Foghorn is the chicken. They argue and Henrey sees this is going nowhere fast. He releases the dog who in turn pummels the rooster. Their tussle takes them into a stable where a real horse throws them out. They form a truce and go fight the equine. Henrey goes in and drags all three home with him. One of them has to be a chicken.

Birds Anonymous

“If you really want to beat this, look us up. We can help you.”

Directed by Friz Freleng

It’s another Oscar Winner! It’s the third time Sylvester’s been in one of those! This was Blanc’s favorite short he did voices for! (And if my research is correct, it was originally supposed to be called “Tweety-Totaler”.)

Inside a house, Sylvester carefully closes all the window blinds so there are no witnesses for what’s about to happen. He grabs Tweety quite easily. (Granny’s not in this short) He doesn’t eat him, as another cat (who would later be named Clarence) warns of the perils. Apparently, Birds are a cats alcohol and they have a group that can help break the habit. Sylvester attends a meeting and vows to do the same. He returns home and cheefully greets Tweety with a friendly pat on the head. (Deaw Diawy, I know you won’t bewieve this but…”) Sylvester turns on the television. Surprise! It’s a cooking show describing how to make delicous poultry. (It never specifies WHAT bird it is. It could be a vulture.) Sylvester fights the urges and tries the radio. Of course, it’s only playing alliterative avian albums. (Bye Bye Blackbird, Red Red Robin, No Hungry Hungry Heorn, unfortunately) He handcuffs himself to a radiator, (why were those in the kitchen?) but manages to break free after Tweety asks if he likes him anymore. Clarence arrives to shoot a plunger in his face. (“I was afraid you might be weakening”) At night Sylvester can’t sleep and runs to Tweety, planning to quit after just one more. Clarence pours alum into his mouth, thus making it impossible for him to shove Tweety in, even with a straw. He breaks down, and Clarence tells him that it’s really easy to get along with your prey. He kissess Tweety and unfortunatley gets a taste of him as well. Clarence is now trying to eat the canary while Sylvester tries to stop him.

Pigs in a Polka

“I’m the smart little pig. I build my house of bricks.”

How about another “Fantasia” parody? Set to Brahms Hungarian Dances, we see the familar tale of the big, bad, wolf, andthethreelittlepigs. The first pig has the most adorable voice. (Thank you Sara Berner) He stretches out a wireframe and piles straw on it. Done. The second pig is less adorable and builds his house of matchsticks. It collapses. (Ever notice that in every variation of this story the pigs are all male?) The third pig is not cute. (sorry Blanc) But he is worthy of the intelligence pigs possess. (No really. Smartest animals: 1. apes 2. cetaceans 3. elephants 4. pigs) He works hard while his (siblings? friends? love interests?) play. Cue dancing wolf. To get closer without them running he dons a gypsy disguise. The pigs follow. They fell for it.

 

 

 

PSYCHE! They take the costume and do the dance themselves. Now the chase is on. They run to the straw house. The wolf sets it on fire. They run to the still demolished (match) stick house. The wolf adds one more and it crumbles. Brick house it is! The wolf tries to blow it down, and is only offered mouthwash for his troubles. He goes to run into the door to knock it down, but the pigs open it up and let him run into the back door. Later the pigs are happy. (Except for the third one. He needs a name. They all do. So in order… Crunchy, Pancake and Mel) The wolf is outside dressed as a homeless woman in a snowstorm. (A talcum powder dispenser hanging over his head.) Crunchy and Pancake ignore Mel’s warnings and let “her” in. Mel finds out that the wolf is has a record in the dress to make it SOUND like he is playing a sad violin song. Flipping it over gets a new song that the wolf dances his disguise off to. The pigs run up the stairs to the somehow appeared 2nd floor. They take the elevator down. The wolf does the same, but instead of another lift. He travels down the shaft (passing by ten stories) and lands hardly. (Mel’s full name is Mel C. Escher) He collapses and we fade to black.

It’s Got me Again!

“Oh, Mr. Cat please let me go, oh Mr. Cat don’t tease me so,”

It’s the first Warner Bros. short to be nominated for an Oscar! (It lost to “Flowers and Trees.” Don’t feel bad, Disney was tough to beat. Just being nominated should be a huge honor.) In the after hours at a music shop the mice come out to play with the instruments. They make some lovely music and soon it grows into a party. Turning on a record they begin to dance to the title song. As they play the most threatining cat in all animation, (at least to me) watches with hungry eyes. After we witness the mice dance on a piano, (I think they were describing domestic abuse) the cat sneaks in through the chimney. He eats the cuckoo out of the clock, which unfortunately alerts the mice to his presence. Most of the mice escape but one is trapped. He pleads for help and his friends fire drumsticks and needles at the cat. (Dang. They mean business.) The cat runs away and the mice cheer. The short is ended by… Piggy? What’s he doing here? One of the mice couldn’t end the short? I don’t get it.