Fish and Slips

“I hope you know what you’re doing, father.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Dave Detiege; Animation by Warren Batchelder, George Granpre, and Ted Bonnicksen; Layouts and Backgrounds by Robert Gribbroek; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on March 10, 1962.

Breaking news! A record sized fish has just been caught! (By Treg Brown, no less.) I can’t quite make out what the newscaster is saying. Sounds like “Shark-nosed tralfaz,” which sounds more like a name for a dog to me. Not only that, but the fish look like marlins to me. (But what do I know about fish? Oh yeah! Plenty!)

Sylvester and son saw that broadcast, and Junior is mighty impressed. Seeing as how the only other fisher”man” he knows is his dad, he doesn’t have a lot of options. Sylvester is not pleased to hear this, and takes his son to prove that he does know how to fish. Not from a pier. That’s too hard. Why, humans are kind enough to build buildings fulls of sea life, just begging to be eaten. We call them aquariums. And since the place is closed, cats get in free!

Sylvester’s biggest problem (and where all of the jokes stem from) is his inability to check the sign telling what is in which tank. Using his tail as a line is all well and good, but not when sticking it in a piranha tank. Let’s step away from freshwater and move to the salty stuff. Much more flavor! (That’s not a joke. You’ll learn lots from me. And not just about cartoons.)

This tank is much bigger, so Sylvester can dive in. He catches a good number of groupers, but they’d be a rather boring specimen all on their own. This tank also contains a shovelnose. (Which looks nothing like how they normally do for the sake of the joke) Curiosity is a trait cats tend to have, so Sylvester takes a peek at its hole. It also tends to kill them, as a hammerhead pound him in and he is buried. Junior has to fish him out.

Could Junior do better? It’s possible. He managed to catch a small fish off screen. (I wouldn’t call it a small fry. It looks too old for that. Just “a little fish” humor.) It’s not enough to fill Sylvester’s belly, but it could probably make decent bait. The sperm whale seems to think so. (Wow. Cartoons sure are terrific! My universe has never had such a large creature in captivity!) Junior laments the fact that his father has become a meal. (He also calls it a fish. Something I was sure science had disproved by the 60’s.)

Sylvester uses the classic escape: a fire. (Why was there a raft in there? What sick sense of humor does this place have? “Don’t worry ma’am. Sure, we tricked your kid into being eaten, but there’s a raft in there. If he’s done any scouting at all, he’ll come out fine. Oh. He’s four?”) Sylvester gets out, but the dolphins have gotten bored with no humans around that they can warn of impending doom. They play catch with him. (WITH him.)

One last tank. Sylvester will go in via diving suit, and Junior will pump air to him. Things don’t get off to a great start, as this tank contains such amazements as an electric eel. (So, we’re back in freshwater?) a… lobster? (Well, it could be a very large crayfish. I’m sure there wouldn’t be any more contradic-) and an octopus. (Darn it, McKimson! Unless the mollusk is suicidal, you messed up.) Things get even worse for the feline, when Junior takes a break from pumping to observe an inchworm. Realizing his mistake, he pumps harder, and all that air makes Sylvester’s suit inflate. He winds up landing in a tank of dogfish. (Junior doesn’t bother trying to save him this time. He’d rather make another smart remark.)

Favorite part: A quote from Junior that all children have said at least once in their life: “I don’t think I’ll ever understand grownups.” I know I still don’t, and I’m 24.

Chimp and Zee

“Peanut?”

Directed by Alex Lovy; Story by Don Jurwich; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, LaVerne Harding, Volus Jones, and Ed Solomon; Layouts by Bob Givens; Backgrounds by Bob Abrams; Film Editor: Hal Geer; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Merrie Melody released on October 12, 1968.

A pretty late entry, and it kinda shows. Seems there wasn’t a lot of heart put into this one, as we aren’t given a lot of information. I’ll do my best to explain, but most of it is based on guesswork.

In the jungle, (the mighty jungle) a… and we already have our first guess. I’m not sure what this guy’s profession is. All he tells us is that he is looking for a blue-tailed simian. Apparently, it’s the rarest species of monkey in the world. What he won’t tell us is why he wants one. Fame? Money? An exotic pet? We’re not even given his name! I suppose this could be like a mad-lib, so I’ll “happily” oblige.

His name is “Dexter” he is a “professor” at “Lovy University” and wants a monkey so he can “have his students dissect it to learn how much in common man has with fellow primates.”

So, why the title of this short? Again, I have to guess! Luckily, this one is a bit easier to figure out. There is indeed one of these monkeys in this jungle, but he is accompanied by some type of jungle boy. Neither of them talk, so…

The boy’s name is “Chimp.” (because he looks more like an ape than the monkey does) His parents were “tourists” who were “looking for a way to abandon their offspring.” He was adopted by a “family of monkeys” who “gave him his name, due to a lack of tail.” His brother is named “Zee” because he was the “26th child” his family had.

That should do it. Let’s return to the “plot” so you can “be entertained/educated.”

Dexter takes a shot at what he believes is his monkey prize. It was only a coconut. Hey, a free snack is a free snack. Despite the college degree I gave him, he can’t seem to figure out how to open the fruit. Chimp pulls the pull tab off for him. Dexter drinks before realizing the boy has a monkey in tow. He’s not civilized, so he gets no say in what happens to his “brother” and that is why Dexter chases them down. Chimp shoots a suction cup arrow at the professor’s head, and ties the other end of the rope it is tied to, to a boulder. Dexter plummets.

As the chase gets going, the two come to a river. The camera begins zooming in on the wrong side of the screen for half a second, leaving more evidence that this cartoon was made for a paycheck and nothing more. (Which is too bad. The slapstick isn’t terrible) Zee asks a crocodile to help scare Dexter off. *Sigh* Here we go again…

The “animals” all “respect Chimp” because he has a “highly developed brain.” Therefore, they will “do anything” he or his family ask. (That, and blue-tailed simians have got to be poisonous. The blue tail has to mean SOMETHING!)

What else can fail? Dexter aims a blowgun around a boulder to shoot at them. (He gets himself. Hope there weren’t any toxins in the dart. For his sake) He reaches into a log and finds two arms exit. He bites the one that was hitting him, and finds it was his. Pulling on the other drags out an elephant. UGH!

The “elephant” lives in a “hollow log” because “her husband threw her out for daring to look at another bull.” It was a hippo, but the loophole didn’t make him any happier. (And why do the pachyderms in this jungle have gross looking pompadour-esque growths on their heads? It can’t be healthy.)

The professor’s final plan is to simply dress up as his prey. Not only that, but he will lure him out with a mating call. It works, but a little too well. He attracts every male blue-tail in the jungle, and they clearly have no qualms about initiating a 17 way with the “female.” (Although, if they are as rare as he says, it would probably make sense for the females to do as many males as they could. Gotta rebuild that population.) As Dexter flees, the title characters swing off. (Zee was “not affected by the call” because he is “gay.”)

Favorite Part: As Dexter falls off the cliff, he lands in a raptors nest before falling the rest of the way. Emptying her next of crushed eggs, she finds one intact. In retaliation for the infanticide, she throws the final one at him. (It survives, but the very idea was so dark, that I loved it)

Fistic Mystic

“One of those little, tough guys, eh?”

Directed by Bob McKimson; Story by Cal Howard; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, LaVerne Harding, Jim Davis, Ed Solomon, and Norm McCabe; Layouts by Bob Givens and Jaime Diaz; Backgrounds by Bob Abrams; Film Editor: Hal Geer; Voice Characterization by Larry Storch; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Looney Tune released on March 29, 1969. (Also sports a unique version of “The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down” that was not used in any other shorts)

As one does when they are of the magic arts, (and are willing to let the muggles view it) Merlin is off to perform. His destination is Oshkosh, but you wouldn’t know it if he didn’t say if the surrounding desert is any indication of where he is heading. After he and his sidekick, Second Banana, lose their handcart, (and Merlin is run over by a train) they see a sign advertising the town of Rattlesnake Gulch. Seems like as good a place to take a breather as any.

As is typical of these kind of towns in these kind of pictures, there is a thug at the saloon looking for any excuse to start a fight. Merlin just being polite counts, and the brute dares him to take a punch. (The poor guy has no name in this picture, but I swear I read once that he goes by Tuff. So Tuff it shall be. Isn’t that a shame?) Second Banana takes that opportunity, and then goes on to build Merlin up as some sort of mighty mouse.

To prove it, S.B. puts a board on Merlin’s shoulder, and tells Tuff to knock it off. Hitting one end, causes the other to rise up and knock the galoot out. When he comes to, Merlin is more than willing to pass the blame onto his sidekick. Tuff can’t believe he could have been knocked out by the little fella, and Merlin decides to set up a boxing match. $100.00 to the winner. Tuff agrees. After all, beating up a mouse proves you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. (It also gets you banned from Disneyland)

That night, Merlin reveals the secret to ensure his little buddy’s success. He will be wearing some enchanted boxing gloves that will do all the hitting for him. Hopefully they hit fast enough, so S.B. doesn’t have to worry about dodging or anything, but they look like they’re up to the task. Next day, and everyone is ready to get this fight underway. In one corner, a chubby, nipple-less man without a real name. In the other, a mouse with no pants who everyone wants to see win. (It’s an interesting fight)

Those gloves are a marvel! Second Banana wails away, and Tuff doesn’t land a single punch. In fact, they might be a little too good, as Merlin can’t get them to stop once they get started. Leaving S.B.’s body behind, the gloves chase the Tuff guy out of town. I suppose that makes the mouse our champion? I mean, the fight IS still going on.

Favorite Part: When Merlin makes the wager, he asks for the ruffian to put his hundred bucks in the hat. When asked where HIS contribution is, Merlin pulls the same money out. (I saw this joke coming, but it still got a chuckle out of me)

Hare-Breadth Hurry

“Actually, I can’t run this fast.”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Co-Director: Maurice Noble; Story by John Dunn; Animation by Tom Ray, Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, and Bob Bransford; Backgrounds by William Butler; Effects Animation by Harry Love; Film Editor: Treg. Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Looney Tune released on June 8, 1963.

Wile E. is going through one of his many chases. The “beep-beep” indicates he’s chasing his usual prey, the Roadrunner. Odd. I figured that with Bugs appearing in the opening credits, and that pun-ish name, this short would contain, you know, a rabbit. Actually, it does! Wile E. IS chasing Bugs. You see, our usual roadrunner sprained a giblet. (I don’t want to know how that happened, but I’m sure the end result contains pain we mortals can’t begin to imagine.) So, Bugs is filling in for the bird.  I really love this premise. It’s technically a crossover! Wouldn’t be cool if more were made in this style? Like Sylvester hunting Tweety and Speedy? Or Taz trying to catch Hippety Hopper? Or Beaky trying to eat Foghorn? (So, all my ideas are chase related.) Also of note, this was the last time Bugs and Wile E. starred together. Also, since this is “technically” a Roadrunner picture, Wile E. does not talk like he normally does as Bugs’ co-star.

That roadrunner is a little too fast for Bugs to match speed with naturally, so he takes vitamins to meet the requirements. They work great! As Bugs runs, the road can’t handle his speed and morphs accordingly. The good times can’t last forever, and Bugs soon runs out of speed. He solves this dilemma by drawing out a square in the road. When his pursuer steps on it, it becomes a pitfall. (And since they weren’t on a cliff, it can only lead to hell)

The advantage of chasing a rabbit over a bird, is you can bait a fish hook with a carrot. (Ever tried putting seed on a hook? It’s not worth the effort) The disadvantage to trying to catch a rabbit with a baited hook, is that you run the risk of attracting a large fish. (Environments don’t matter.) Also, since Bugs talks, he can explain when he is giving the predator more of fair shot. Or so he claims. Those pills certainly work wonders, as Bugs adds a bunch of pipe to Wile E’s gun in to time at all. (Don’t let your curiosity follow said pipe. It will only lead to a bullet in the face.)

All too soon, our final gag is upon us. Bugs has spread glue on the road, but Wile E. is going too fast to stop. His momentum carries the upper half of his body forward, and it’s a good thing too, as there’s a phone ringing up ahead. And it’s for him. Bugs hands him the device, just in time, as now the momentum has launched the coyote backwards. (Ripping the chunk of ground he is glued to up as well) He is flung off a cliff and hits the opposing side. He’d fall if he didn’t have a phone to hold on to. If only he’d paid his bills! Then Bugs wouldn’t have had to cut the service. Society is so cruel.

Favorite part: Wile E. drops an anvil towards a target that Bugs is standing on. Thanks to his speed pills, Bugs runs up behind him and holds the target over his head. The magic anvil heads to its destined mate, and the conk sends Wile E. over the edge. Bugs drops the anvil after him, but believe it or not, the anvil misses! (Wile E. is then run over by a van.)

Lighter than Hare

“We’ve been invaded!”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Animation by Virgil Ross, Art Davis, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on December 17, 1960.

This is a weird one. By that title and that quote, you’d be sure this was a Bugs/Marvin picture. But it’s Bugs and Sam! Sam is an alien now. And you can’t claim he’s someone similar in voice and appearance, he flat out calls himself “Yosemite Sam of Outer Space.” (Because there’s a Yosemite outside of Earth?) Sadly, it’s just a generic Bugs short. I think Freleng just liked Jones’s martian and decided to do something similar.

So, we’ve got spaceman Sam; what is he doing coming down to our planet? Just the typical “bring back an Earth creature” thing every alien species that doesn’t want us dead, does. He chooses a rabbit, that lives in a garbage dump. (Not sure WHY Bugs is living there. I suppose it is a place hunters won’t try to bother him) Sam (who looks a bit like a pikmin) sends a robot to bring the rabbit back. In turn, Bugs uses it as a trash can. Which I guess destroys it, as Sam immediately tries a new tactic.

His next plan is to send a demolition squad to destroy the creature. (Good thing Earth has millions of species to choose from. Might I suggest a potato?) Bugs now notices he is having a close encounter of the second kind, and ducks into a shelter. The robots load it up with bombs, but Bugs managed to escape and sticks a magnet in the shelter, leading the bots to their doom. Robots are clearly going to be of no help. Sam decides to try his own luck.

He has an indestructible tank, but I don’t know what he was planning to do with it, as Bugs uses his own contraption to stick him with a TNT stick. Time to make a getaway! Good thing there was a set of rail tracks next to the dump. Bugs leaves on a handcart with Sam in pursuit. This is also one of those times that Bugs is able to spin in ears to possess the power of flight. Sam can keep pace with his jet-pack, but only as long as Bugs doesn’t replace it with another explosive.

When he hits his limit, Sam aims all his firepower at Bug’s hole, and demands his surrender. Bugs instead sends out a decoy with a bomb attached, and Sam takes his leave. Later that night, Bugs has his radio tuned into the frequency of the aliens and hears his prank pay off. Having had his fun, he tunes in for a little “Amos ‘n’ Andy.”

Favorite Part: One of Sam’s robots is clearly on loan from Marvin. It sounds just like him. And if you could give a robot a voice, you’d choose your own. Wouldn’t you?

Dog Gone People

“Why Wupewt, you’we pwastewed!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Warren Batchelder, George Grandpre, Ted Bonnicksen, and Tom Ray; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on November 12, 1960.

One fine day, Elmer gets a call from his boss. He’s asked to do a favor, and unlike most people, he’s genuinely happy to do some extra work for no pay. At least this way he can get into his boss’s good graces. I’m sure he has some, even if his name is Mr. Crabtree. Elmer is tasked with watching the boss’s dog. He doesn’t make the best impression, mistaking the beast for the man upon opening his door. (How long have you worked for this guy?) Actually, that IS a good thing as Rupert there thinks he IS a man. And Crabtree (who, if he isn’t wearing glasses, should really see a doctor about those cataracts) insists he be treated as such. (Which could potentially lead to horrible psychological scarring and years of therapy. Although, a sick part of me would love to see his reaction, should his owner decide to euthanize him. I’m not well.)

Elmer (Being voiced here by Hal Smith. I’m not quite sure if he’s doing a better job than Mel or not. No disrespect to your guy’s memories, but there was only ONE Arthur Q. Bryan.)  doesn’t really have a choice but to obey, because in whatever company he’s a part of, you get promoted or kicked to the curb. (I guess you aren’t allowed to keep your current position. They’re very productive at Idon’tknowwhatwedo Inc.) If Elmer does a good job, he might just make Vice President. With such a delicate task at mind, you’d think Fudd would be a little more careful about offending the dog. Instead, he offends him by turning the T.V. to “Classie”, serves dog food for dinner, and gets out a dog sized bed. Each time, Rupert threatens to leave, or he just straight up calls the boss. (Who probably can’t understand him anyway, but what I want to know is: if Rupert thinks he is a human, what does he think this whole staying with Elmer thing is? Grown men don’t have a lot of sleepovers, do they?)

Come the next morning, Elmer goes to make some breakfast. Rupert heard him gargling and decides to do the same. Because he can’t read, (I’m guessing that explains the next bit) he chooses some Bay rum instead, and being that he has a smaller body, it takes just that sip to get him drunk. Human or not, I don’t think Crabtree would approve of his dog drinking. (For all we know, he’s underage.) Elmer thinks that a drive would be good for the dog, but I guess the dog isn’t as think as we drunk he is, and he takes the wheel. It’s not too long before they are pulled over and arrested. Crabtree does bail the two out, and isn’t actually going to fire Elmer. He’s definitely going up in the company. By which I mean painting a flagpole on the building. Despite the drunk driving, Rupert gets the Vice President position. It pays to be the man’s best friend.

Favorite Part: Rupert at the wheel. A drunk, non-anthropomorphized, dog joyriding in a car that isn’t his. This, my friends is comedy.

Bartholomew Versus the Wheel

“He might’ve been mixed up, but he wasn’t dumb.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by John Dunn; Animation by George Grandpre, Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder; Layouts by: Robert Gribbroek; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc, Leslie Barrings; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on February 29, 1964.

Reason why today’s short is interesting: McKimson is trying out a different visual style than usual. Looking a lot like the works of James Thurber. (Which means many people’s bodies blend into their clothing.) The only downside is that it’s about a decade too late to be considered “new” and “fresh.” For what it’s worth, it’s cute.

A rather ugly little boy narrates the story about his dog, Bartholomew. He’s a dog, therefore he is adorable. He also sounds a lot like Dino when he’s young. (I always suspected the snorkasaurus was the ancient ancestor that evolved into modern day canines, but nobody believed me.) He’s rather well behaved too. So calm is he, that he doesn’t do anything when the jerk cat he lives with steals his food and attention.

Other than the cat, things seem rather great for the pup, but there was the one day he made an enemy. Some inconsiderate prick child rode a scooter over his tail. (Weirdly enough, he doesn’t react until the second wheel runs over it) Since the dog is man’s best friend, the kid is spared this time. All of Bartholomew’s ire goes toward the wheel. The wheel must die! (Just the second one. The first is still cool.) Barty rips the wheel off (which I guess kills it) but this isn’t enough to satiate his wheel lust. He also rips them off a toy train and takes them all to be buried. (It looks like he already has a stash. I suppose this could just be the fabled wheel graveyard we’ve all wondered about)

Since Bartholomew is only a puppy, he can only attack rather small prey. But he grows. And grows. And with each growth, he goes for larger and larger game. (Towering over certain cars at one point! He seems to shrink by the end of the short. I don’t have an answer) He’s pretty much got his reputation as the wheel warrior down, but there is one wheel he has yet to catch: an airplane wheel. He’s never going to catch one just watching the things, so he digs into the airport and gives chase.

The practice has paid off and he catches his target. But he is unable to remove it from the rest of the body, and the plane takes off with him for the ride. He lands in the Sahara desert, (I’m guessing. That’s usually the desert you wander into, in fiction.) His disappearance is felt at home, and the whole friggin’ neighborhood accuses the dogcatcher of taking him away. Barty is sad. He’s doing okay physically, but he doesn’t have any friends, and there are no wheels to chase, (in fact, the only transportation seems to consist of blue elephants and camels with boneless legs) and he’s a little weirded out by how little clothing the people wear.

One day, he sees a poster for the USA. (Which he somehow knows is his home location. Dogs are smart, but… actually no ellipses. Dogs are smart. End of story.) He heads off to the airport and catches another ride home. (Literally in this case. On another note, the guy guarding seems a bit TOO amazed at the planes takeoff. Is it his first day on the job?) Despite not knowing where he ended up, the town knows that Bartholomew is coming home and a celebration is thrown. He even gets a parade! Having learned his lesson, he apologizes to every wheel and their owners. In fact, now he only hates what dogs were meant to hate: cats. Which leads to:

My favorite part: When he sees the jerk cat eating his food once more, he barks hard enough to kill it. (It is definitely dead. It did not survive.)

Wild Wild World

“Even then, movies were their best entertainment.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by George Granpre, Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, and Tom Ray; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on February 27, 1960.

There are many reasons why I am jealous of Toons, but the reason related to today’s short is that they got to interact with dinosaurs. Everyone loves dinosaurs. And as the zoologist that I am, it saddens me to think I’ll never have a chance to examine how they really lived.

Good thing this short exists then! Our narrator fills us in on what this is all about. (His little globe image seems to be having some problems with its Antarctica. It keeps disappearing.) Apparently, the following was part of a film that had been buried in the Gobi desert, and dates back millions of years. (A similar plot to the earlier “Pre-hysterical Hare.” On another note, this narrator is dull! His voice drones and drones like a person who has never discovered the joys that can be found in caffeine/adrenaline.)

In said film, we see how primitive man existed. Some of them made a living by hunting the large animals that roamed around. They are clearly inept hunters, as it only takes one failure for them to switch targets. They’re also tiny. About the size of a cockroach when compared to their prey. (I will give a compliment where it is due. The one using a bow seems to have infinite arrows to fire. That’s pretty impressive.)

Speaking of weapons, one of the most useful was the boomerang, because not only could it assist in killing, but if one should miss, it can return to the thrower; whereupon they can try again. It has more uses than that, though. Say your wife is trying to run away from you again. The handy boomerang can return her to you. (Just be sure that she isn’t currently carrying a rolling pin.)

Even in these older times, Los Angeles was around. There were apartments just like today (made out of stone) and theaters too. (Those were housed in volcanoes) The ancient people even had celebrities! Cary Granite and Dinah Saur were two of the biggest names in the business. Department stores were another feature that these people had in their society. With elevators even! Since electricity wasn’t an option, (which does lead one to wonder how all this footage was supposed to be filmed) they had to use simpler means. One person would throw a rock with their desired floor printed on it, up to the elevator operator. In turn, he would load up a basket with an amount of stones required to get the patron to the floor of their choosing. With the wonder that is the pulley, it was a foolproof way to get you where you wanted to go. (Going down was even easier. They’d just cut the wire.)

Before we go, one does wonder how those hunters made out. One of their prey choices evades death by pointing out the day is Friday. (Even the Gregorian calendar was around back then? The B.C. era never ceases to amaze!) Friday is also fish day, so the trio head to the local lake to partake in some angling. Fish grew larger back then, and were more ferocious too, so it’s no surprise that they all end up in the belly of the beast. This is the worst fish day ever.

Favorite part: It’s not a joke, but there is a dinosaur that appears twice in this picture who I think earns the title of my favorite. He is easily identified by his buck teeth that makes him look like horse. His very appearance makes me smile.

Norman Normal

“♪ He looks a lot like you. ♪”

Directed by Alex Lovy. Story and voice Characterization by N. Paul Stookey and Dave Dixon; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, LaVerne Harding, Volus Jones, and Ed Solomon; Layouts by John Freeman; Backgrounds by Bob Abrams and Ralph Penn; Film Editor: Hal Geer; Musical Direction by William Lava; Produced by William L. Hendricks and N. Paul Stookey. A Cartoon Special released on February 3, 1968.

Yep. This short isn’t technically a Looney Tune or a Merrie Melody, but it was produced by Warner Bros. so it is one of their cartoons. It’s an interesting one. More of a satire on social behavior than anything else. It was also a collaboration with folk singer, Paul Stookey. With a musical origin, it’s no surprise that our short opens with a song. The main character, Norman, shuts the band in a room, promising us we’ll hear them again at the end. (I hope so. That was catchy)

Norman seems to exist in world of doors. Entering one, he comes to his boss’s office. Seems that the ball-bearing company Norman works for is having a hard time getting a potential client interested in their product. Said client has a weakness: alcohol. It will be Norman’s job to take the man and get him drunk so they can get a signature out of him. Understandably, Norman is a bit uncomfortable doing this.

As the boss argues with him, they both get younger. Reflecting how immature this whole thing is while the argument shifts to Norman having to do something to be part of the boss’s gang. (He doesn’t have a name. Unless Boss is his name.) Seeing as Norman is a child now, the boss reverts to his original age and plays the reverse psychology card. Norman is clearly not mature enough to handle such a responsibility. This ploy works and Norman agrees to it while growing back to normal Norman. The boss sends him on his way.

Back in the dimension of doors, Norman once more resolves to not do it. It’s not right, but who is to say what is right? In such puzzling situations, turning to a parent is a good way to at least think things out. Luckily, Norman senior can also be found in a door here, so Norman enters and asks for advice. His dad chooses to instead waste time telling stories from his youth. It’s too bad he’s not being more helpful. Norman is having some serious thoughts about what is right and what is wrong, and how others have differing opinions on it. His dad ultimately disperses some half decent advice: that being to not make waves and fit it. (Translation: Conform. Society is never wrong.) Norman exits.

Rather than exiting back into the door area, Norman finds himself at a party. (Where some guy repeatedly says “Approval?” over and over like some kind of Pokemon. Since he has a lampshade on his head, we can assume this is purely alcohol based behavior.) Seems that this party is taking place later, as one person congratulates him on the sell. (We don’t get to find out if Norman did the morally sound option or not) The man also tries to tell a joke, but we miss most of it because Norman has to ask if it’s a joke about minorities to make them all fell superior. From the punchline, I’m guessing it was a pretty crappy joke, but everyone seems to find some humor in it. Even Norman.

The bartender tries to give Norman a drink. Norman doesn’t want one, saying he’s had enough. (Not sure if he really had any or not.) The bartender gets hostile and begans accusing Norman of not liking himself when drunk. The true him, that doesn’t have to abide by society’s rules and isn’t ruled by his common sense. Angry, Norman storms out.

Back in the familiar door land, Norman apologizes for getting us mixed up in his problems, and as promised, lets us hear the band once more. Before the short ends, we see the whole thing has been taking place in Norman’s mind. How existential. Stookey wanted to have Norman appear in more cartoons, but the studios closure the following year prevented this from happening.

Apologies to anyone who might have wondered where this post was last week. The website was down, and so was I. So down in fact, that I didn’t feel like updating for the rest of the week. While nothing has changed, I don’t feel you should suffer for my personal problems. (Then again, with all the comments I get, nobody probably even noticed my absence.)

Martian through Georgia

“MONSTER!”

Directed by Chuck Jones and Abe Levitow; Co-Director: Maurice Noble; Story by Carl Kohler and Chuck Jones; Animation by Tom Ray, Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, and Bob Bransford; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Dilm Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc, Ed Prentise; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Looney Tune released on December 29, 1962.

Way, way out in space there is a planet. Even though it is yellow, I think we call it Mars. I mean, the indigenous lifeforms are called “Martians.” (I guess the universe is big enough for two Mars’s) They are really interesting. Like humans, they come in two genders: male and female. The males seem to be quite comfortable in their birthday suits, while the females are clad in purple jumpsuits. (Or they just have a purple coloration that covers their entire bodies, save for their faces.) They are a happy race. Well, except for one. And we’ll call that one: Al.

Poor Al. He is depressed. And he is depressed because he is bored. Both activities that martians typically partake in (levitating and though projection) bore him. (How can you be bored when you have constant access to pig pictures? And do martian pigs really resemble our Earth ones?) His depression must be really bad, because a woman tries flirting with him and he doesn’t give a crap. (And given by her heartbroken reaction, I think she was really into him.)

Al goes to a doctor. No martian speaks in this short, (which makes sense if you think about it. If you had thought projection abilities, what use would talking be?) so they communicate via their antenna. The doc thinks that traveling would be a good way to relieve his boredom and though Al doesn’t really think it will help, (I mean, he is still sulking as he leaves) he leaves. As he travels, he comes across a new planet. One full of simple, ignorant, life forms. (I’m stumped. What planet could that be?) Looking at this sad excuse of civilization, he finds a new purpose within him. He will shares his gifts with them! Finally feeling something close to joy, he heads down.

Things don’t seem to be off to a great start. Many people run away in fear, and those that don’t take him away for parking in a “no parking zone.” They send him to his new house, (a prison cell) but he has no time to stay. He must continue his mission! So he easily leaves. This gets everyone in a panic, and soon everyone knows of a monster that is on the loose. (The letters seem to be coming off that newspaper) Everyone except Al. When he does hear about it, he decides this is a good place to start helping these folks, and he soon finds the creature that everyone must be afraid of. I mean, it’s eaten a guy! (I think they are called “eggskahvayters”) He uses his atom re-arranger that he always had on him, and turns the beast into a cow/dragon/ cat. (Don’t worry, it’s friendly)

Satisfied, he begins to look for more wrongs to right, when a youth speaks to him. The child seems friendly enough, but he drops a bombshell: Al is the monster that everyone has been afraid of. According to the kid’s comic book, monsters are easily identified by their lack of noses. (That’s it, huh? So… birds, reptiles, fish, amphibians, mand\y mammals and every invertebrate are a kind of monster? The people of this planet are self-entitled pricks!) Al can make his antenna look like a nose, but it doesn’t change anyone’s opinion. (I think that kid is also a monster. His hands temporarily turn green) Even more miserable than before, he finds no other option. Suicide is the only answer. I mean, what else can one do when no one loves you?

Wait! Someone clearly did love him! (Although, after that cruel rejection of his, would she really still want him? Actually, the martians seem like quite the nice species. But I bet if they were both like the people on this planet, she wouldn’t give him another chance.) Realizing that as long as someone loves you, life is indeed worth living, he heads home. Seems the trip really did help him. (And that goes for non-romantic love too. No more suicide! You’re just hurting others.)