The Cat’s Bah

“We can spend the rest of our lives makking lo-ove!”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ken Harris, Ben Washam, Abe Levitow, Richard Thompson, and Lloyd Vaughan; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Voice Characterization Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on March 20, 1954.

Pepe is in a good mood today, for we are here to interview him about the love of his life. (Well, I am anyway. You’re kinda useless. Feel free to watch.) Pepe is also quite the gracious host. Offering me a glass of champagne, and calling me “Golden Girl.” (Would that I could be that attractive.) Now that we are all quite comfortable, he begins his tale.

It began a while ago. Pepe was living in what I assume to be Algeria. Even better, living right next to his namesake, Pepe Le Moko. His main goal is to find his soulmate, but he’ll settle for any attractive female. And wouldn’t you know it? An American tourist has just arrived, and like most tourists, brought her pet cat along for the trip. Said cat is Penelope, yes, but it’s not just me calling her that today! It really is her name! She doesn’t have to join the club of Jones’ characters who were given names years later!

What did you say, earthling?
*snarls*
No one will talk about you when you’re gone.

I hate it when my idols want to kill me.

Today is also paint the ship day, (which is every September 19.) and Penelope gets a good coating of white down her back. Her owner takes no notice of the new look, but Pepe does. (Love his face.) He decides to liberate the lady and that’s a good marriage proposal around here. She’d be crazy not to love him now. Even better? Pepe doesn’t appear to have any stench in this picture. No odor lines appear, no humans freak out at the sight of him. Heck, he managed to get an in-person interview!

Which, if this is indeed the story of how Pepe met his love, its odd to see the first female he’s encountered run away from him. I thought love always happens at first sight to both parties. Oh well, Pepe can chase. He finds it a turn on. Penelope chooses a rather ingenious hiding place: one empty jar among many. I mean, okay, its rather obvious to hide in one, but the odds of being found on the fist try?

Pepe finds her on the first try, and the chase continues all around the casbah. (Bah!) He finds her on the second hump of a camel who is really enjoying his cud today. Hey! Did you know that camels with two humps, known as Bactrian camels, aren’t native to this part of the world? Because I don’t think Chuck and his team did. Actually, no, I think they did. I think they just figured audiences back then would be too thick to know it. At least the camel doesn’t mind. (“If you’re a camel, you soon learn to put up with anything.”)

Pepe is everywhere, pretending to be anything and anyone. From a snake, to Rick Blaine. (Gets a quick case of Yellow Ear, though.) But even though she was shy, it seems that she eventually overcame that trait, as now she and Pepe are truly inseparable. Ball n’ chains will have that effect on people. She furiously files away, and I feel like I should leave the two alone. I don’t like to get involved in marital disputes. Interview over!

Favorite Part: Before the interview, Pepe asks us to let him slip into something more comfortable. There’s nothing to stop us from viewing him anyway, but he takes it well. “Intimate, no?”

Personal Rating: I’d love to give this a 4, but that ending combined with the fact that you can’t argue that Pepe’s actions are only not wanted because of his smell? I’ve a feeling that it will wad up the panties of sensitive types. I have to give it a 3.

Mouse-placed Kitten

“Happy birthday, Junior.”

Directed by Robert McKimson. Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, Tom Ray, and George Granpre; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on January 24, 1959.

As a man drives his car, he throws out something in a sack. Judging by the sounds coming from within, I’d wager that it’s a kitten. And it’s a wonder that it survives to the bottom of the hill, as it looks like that trip hurts. The small creature comes to a halt at the home of two mice, Clyde and Matilda. Matilda is instantly smitten. A child is something she’s always wanted. So what if he’s on the big side? Just more of him to love, right?

Clyde isn’t taken right away. As he points out, this baby is a cat. One of him and his wife’s natural predators. In other words, the kitten is absolutely, positively, not going to be their child. Which is story-talk for “the very next scene contradicts that statement.” Looks like the kitten is a member of the family after all. But he can only stay so long before contrasting diets make things difficult. The kitten just doesn’t like cheese.

Matilda concedes that her husband is right. (Something most husbands can only dream about.) Junior would be better off being raised by humans. I mean, he’s well past weaned. Clyde takes him to be left on a different doorstop, telling him about how much better his life is going to be. None of that “We never really loved you.” B.S. Quite the contrary, as it seems Clyde has grown to love the kid, and tearfully bids him farewell. Since they didn’t leave Junior at MY house, the kitten is subsequently adopted by the lady therein. (So what if his nose disappears for a second.)

A year goes by. The mice are still alive, and figure that the day the kid is left on your doorstop is as good as any other day to call their birthday. Time for visit. Junior has grown up by this point. And it looks like he’s matured into quite the mouser, as when Julie (the name I’ve decided to give his owner) catches sight of the rodents, he jumps right into action. He grabs the mice, gives them a good sniff… and instantly recognizes them as his parents. It’s really a sweet scene. (Yes, I’m being sincere.)

Julie isn’t happy to find the cat not evicting them. And oddly enough, once Junior puts them in his mouth, she tells him to take them outside. (Your pet too good to eat mice? Or is there a strict “No blood on the linoleum” rule in effect?) Matilda figures that with the reception they’ve gotten from 50% of the household, it’s best that they leave already. Junior won’t hear of it. And I like that. One shouldn’t have to be ashamed of their folks. (Although, I think the other way around is totally fair.)

He invites the two to partake in some snacks. He grabs the most exotic cheeses from the fridge, when Julie catches him in the act. Birthday or not, she’s not going to allow him to touch the food she buys. Clyde is not one to be deterred. He wants that cheese. (I like this guy.) He uses a jug of cider as a boost, but accidentally falls inside it. It’s the hard stuff, and Clyde is thoroughly plastered.

Junior now has to keep his dad safe from the various dangers of the house. (Namely Julie.) The more his mistress catches him messing with various things, the more cross she gets. Culminating with her deciding to kick him out should he bother her one more time. Lucky thing, Clyde’s back to normal by now, and the two decide it’s time for them to go. Junior still feels no ill will towards them, and earnestly hopes for them to visit again.

Back at their place, Matilda is overjoyed to find another kit has been abandoned at their door. (That sounded a lot more sweet in my head.) But it’s not a feline this time. It’s a skunk. Interesting that NOW is when Clyde decides to clothespin up his nasal passage. I mean, skunks only spray when scared, whereas a cat has an unpleasant stench that will follow him beyond death. (THAT sounded a lot more cruel in my head.)

Favorite Part: When Junior sees his parents again in months. Mainly because, when I first saw this short back in the day, I really thought he was going to have forgotten them, and the rest of the picture was going to either be the two trying to escape, or trying to remind him of who they were. It was a heartfelt swerve.

Personal Rating: 4. It’s a sweet story. And I love how Junior knows he’s adopted, and it doesn’t diminish his love at all. Sometimes, your real parents are the ones who don’t throw you out of a moving vehicle.

Tugboat Granny

“ANCHORS AWEIGH!”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Virgil Ross, Art Davis, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on June 23, 1956.

Would you look at that! Granny actually got her name in the title! But… it’s only so they could make a “Tuboat Annie” pun, so she won’t be featuring much in the following short. All we get out of her is a duet with Tweety about tugboats. Granny has a tugboat, you see. I don’t think I’ve made that quite clear. As for Sylvester, he’s been trying to snag a meal by hanging around the fishermen. Since that’s not working out, he decides to try and board the boat and bag the bird.

He first tries a rowboat. Tweety drops an anchor, causing the cat to have to row back to shore, sans boat. Next, he tries a rubber raft. They’re impervious to anchors, but not darts, and it just so happens that Tweety has one of those on him. (Weird. The shot of his dart hitting the raft contains no water. It makes the raft appear to levitate.) Well, the tug is making its way under a bridge now, so Sylvester tries to simply drop down. He lands in the smokestack. (Which would be impressive if this was a video game. It’d probably earn you a piece of heart.)

Right. Going on the water didn’t work. Going over the water didn’t work. Since there aren’t any sharks in this cartoon, it looks like it’s time to try going under and through the water. Sylvester makes a pipe into a handy metal snorkel, but that is exactly the kind of perch that attracts penguin-gulls. And it is insistent on staying put. Since Sylvester has no gills, he has to return to shore. Only then does he find that the bird laid an egg, which is now in his mouth. He throws it at the pest, but gravity returns it to him.

That’s enough tugging for today. Granny (Still not on screen, mind you.) starts docking. Sylvester readies a lasso, but it flies too far, and grabs a hold of a passing speedboat, pulling Sylvester in tow. He starts to get into the spirit of things, and starts pulling faces and stunts. When one doesn’t look where one is going, one is liable to crash into a post. Quoth the fish: “I tawt I taw a puddy-tat.”

Favorite Part: Sylvester’s disastrous fishing trip. Hearing somebody got a bite, he hides in their tackle box. The catch that is put in with him, is a very angry crab. The natural enemy of the common house cat.

Personal Rating: 3

Cats Aweigh

“There goes a brave pussycat!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Phil DeLara, Charles McKimson, Herman Cohen, and Rod Scribner; Layouts by Robert Givens; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on November 28, 1953.

Sylvester doesn’t mind being an alley cat. He can go where he likes, do as he pleases, and it really makes one appreciate your meals. His son, on the other paw, is not pleased. He wants a home! Where humans will feed him, pet him, and possibly find him cute. The main reason Sylvester is against all that, is the work that it will entail. “Meowing” for food? How civilized.

While at a wharf and searching for breakfast, Junior sees a wanted sign for cats to catch mice on a ship. It’s close enough to his wish for him! And if his dad needs help, he’ll help him! Sylvester thinks that maybe, this could work out after all. He agrees and they get the jobs. Or job, rather. Sylvester sees this as a an opportunity to take a cruise.

When Junior calls him out on his slothful behavior, Sylvester makes a deal: since his son is small, he can catch small mice. Since Sylvester is large, he’ll catch any big mice. You know, should any happen to be around. Poor little guy. He can’t bear to refuse his old man, so he resumes his chase into the cargo hold. The mouse he was chasing has hidden in a baby kangaroo’s crate.

Junior has a neat “Jurassic Park” moment with the marsupial, a good 47 years earlier than the novel. He runs to his dad, telling of the giant mouse, and per their arrangement, his job of capturing it. Sylvester humors the little guy, but finds he is telling the truth. Still, he tries to honor the deal, and sets about trying to fight the beast. It goes about as well as the previous 5 cartoons they’ve been in.

Sylvester makes a new deal with his kid: see, it’s unfair for a child to do more work than the parent, so, since there is only one big mouse, and plenty of small ones, Sylvester suggests they trade. (Geeze, Sylvester is a horrible parent.) But since Junior is such a good son, he agrees to his father’s demands once more and prepares to fight. Junior is quite quick to realize that this is all a game to Hippety, and what’s more, he’s copying all of the cat’s actions. With this knowledge, Junior is able to get him back into his crate quite easily.

Sylvester went back to his reading, because I guess he figured this would keep Junior out of his fur. But once Junior reminds him of their deal, he actually honors the deal! (He is a good father after all!) He follows a mouse back into the hold, and tells his son to not open the door. No matter what he says. The mouse (Who has a shock of red hair on his head. Huh.) hides in a crate of vitamins. And they work wonders! (Must be from ACME.)

With the upper paw, the mouse begins to pummel Sylvester, all while the cat calls desperately for Junior to let him out. Unlike how this gag usually goes, I think Junior is quite aware that his dad is in real peril. But he’s earned the right to benefit from this, and honors his father’s last request.

Favorite Part: The fact that Sylvester didn’t try weaseling out of the deal again. He’s not happy, but it takes very little provoking to get him to do his job this time.

Personal Rating: 3

Dr. Jerkyl’s Hide

“LET ME OUT OF ‘ERE!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Arthur Davis, Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on May 8, 1954.

Hey, it’s Spike and Chester! Haven’t spoke about either of them since 2014. Oh, wait. I won’t be mentioning Spike after all. His name is Alf now. Because it’s a more appropriate name for a cockney dog, don’t you know? Oh, yes. The two have some nice thick accents this time around. Makes sense. This short’s source material does take place in London.

“Alf” and Chester, (making their final appearances) are out having a jolly stroll. At least, that’s what “Alf” wants and Chester believes. See, Chester looks up to “Alf” as some sort of hero. He’s bigger, meaner, and has people clothes. The kind of dog we’d all like to be. But “Alf” is also a bit of a bully. Smacking the little guy around, demanding he leave, and turning down his suggestions of fun. Chester then plays his trump card. Maybe “Alf” would like to beat up a cat?

That’s the ticket. “Alf” is always up for a good feline thrashing, and the two give chase to Sylvester. Poor cat takes refuge in a building that belongs to a Mr. Hyde and a Dr. Jerkyl. (And I’m sure at least one of you was planning to tell me I made a typo in the title.) Breathless, due to all the exercise, Sylvester is more than happy to take a swig of what he believes to be soda. (Honestly, can YOU name another liquid with carbonation? Because I can’t. Please help.) But that wasn’t pop.

This stuff, whatever this stuff is, is designed to turn the drinker into a much meaner, much tougher, much scarier version of thyself. So Sylvester grows a couple feet, his eyeteeth grow out, and he gets a murderous look in his eyes. It is then that “Alf” comes in for a pummel. He leaves, white as a ghost. (I like how his shirt changed color, but his hat didn’t.) That stuff only lasts so long though, and Sylvester is back to his normal self when Chester takes a peek at this “scary monster.”

Well, that don’t make any sense to the spaniel. I mean, the cat is actually quite small. Chester could pound him, himself. And logic dictates that if a small dog could do it, a big dog could do it, but easier. Chester drags “Alf” back in, just as they witness their prey escape into another room. Yeah, he looks timid, terrified, and totally weak. “Alf” regains his confidence, and follows after him. (Chester doesn’t follow, for the sake of the joke.)

“Alf” corners the cat in a box, where we see the formula kicks in sporadically. Now powered up again, Sylvester gleefully plots out how we will carve the dog. “Alf” returns to Chester, but falls to pieces. (Probably a good contender for the most violent massacre in all Looney Tunes, and there’s not one drop of blood.) The power wears off again before Sylvester can take on Chester, and the dog proves good of his claim to beat the cat. Now more convinced than ever, he traps “Alf” in the building for his own good.

Sylvester takes this time to flee. (I really can’t tell if he is aware of his transformation or not. Maybe if I read the original “Jeckyll” story, I’d know.) “Alf” sees this and also sees an opportunity to seize. He uses the beakers around him to simulate a fight that he is winning. But one of the beakers he throws was full of more formula, and the stuff lands on a housefly. (And I guess it drinks it. Unless the stuff can be taken topically.) It does its thing, and the fly’s size increases, as does its temper.

Now, the insect is only roughly the size of a hummingbird, but insects ARE immensely strong for their size, and it has no trouble roughing “Alf” up and throwing him out. “Alf” begs for Chester’s protection before the two witness the fly slamming the door in their faces. A big fly, yes, but a fly nonetheless. And thus, the last amount of respect Chester might have had for the big dog is dead. As such, the roles reverse: Chester wears the hat in this relationship now, and he slaps the now hero-worshippy “Alf” around.

Kind of a shame these two had such short careers, but seeing as how this is very similar to their earlier work, there probably just wasn’t enough material to make multiple cartoons.

Favorite Part: How Chester gets “Alf” back into the building: marching him in at gunpoint.

Personal Rating:3

The Lion’s Busy

“Now, let’s quit stalling, Mr. Lion.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thumb Fun

“WHOA-HO-HO-HOOOOOOO, NELLY!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Rod Scribner, Phil DeLara, Charles McKimson, and Bob Wickersham; Layouts by Peter Alvarado; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on March 1, 1952.

Daffy scoffs at the idea of flying south for the winter. I mean, it’s not like ducks are champion endurance flyers. While the common mallards will waste time AND energy, Daffy will get south the way evolution intended him to: hitchhiking. Nobody is offering rides though, and Daffy is reduced to having to paint a fake canyon in the road. (Nice use of perspective. Really brings to mind the works of the masters.)

One driver stops. His name is Porky Pig. Even though he was only stopping to avoid a potential crash, Daffy takes that as an offer to ride. He even fills the trunk with his excess luggage. (What does he even have in there? He’s not even wearing clothes. And to think people harp on Porky’s lack of pants.) There’s not much room, but Daffy makes do. When Porky takes a peek, suitcases fly everywhere. What a start.

They get going, but find they aren’t the only ones on the road. There’s a driver who wants to pass them. Now, Porky has no reason to give in. He got where he was first, and the other driver is acting like an a-hole with a horn. But this is Porky Pig we’re talking about. Friend to the common man and road jerks alike. He wants to let the guy pass, but Daffy shares my sentiments and continuously steers the car back in front. This goes on for awhile, until the other driver crashes into our stars.

Porky is not happy this has happened, but Daffy isn’t worried. The other car is ridiculously small, so the driver ought to be just as well. Said driver is not only tall, but pissed. It’s not enough that kids find his appearance while driving a vehicle humorous, but now he has to find another comediacally small car. Daffy’s reaction is great: he acts like groveling dog. I guess the big guy finds this endearing, because he lets Daffy live. He gives Porky a punch.

After they get going again, Daffy complains at the lack of speed. Porky is a responsible driver, and refuses to speed. Daffy steps on the gas himself, and that’s when the cop shows up. (It’s the universal law.) Daffy has a plan: he tells the officer that Porky has “something” in the trunk. Knowing all too well what will happen, Porky begs for the man to NOT look in the trunk. This doesn’t help matters, it only makes him look more suspicious. The cop takes a peek, and suitcases fly everywhere. Before Daffy can get Porky to flee, they are nabbed.

They’re brought in to Muddville. (Where there is no joy. It’s their slogan.) Not surprisingly, Porky gets off easy. A fine of $2.00. (Sweet!) Daffy is angry to hear it, and goes to fight. This ends up costing Porky an extra fifty. Daffy still feels that’s a victory. Porky has had it, but plays it cool. In fact, he ups and buys Daffy a present. But the fun in giving is seeing the surprise on the giftee’s face. Therefore, Porky refuses to let Daffy have it right away. He stuffs it in the trunk.

Daffy’s greed gets the better of him. He takes a peek, and suitcases fly everywhere. Porky takes his chance, and drives away. Daffy is able to take some solace in still having the present. He opens it up to find: a novelty hitchhiking thumb. (Wah-wah.) Come winter, Daffy is still desperately waving his thumb. One of these two things has got to give first: the season, or Daffy’s life.

Favorite Part: The man who pulls over for a hitchhiking Daffy, just to tell him that he never picks his kind up. (It really is a shame that so many dickweeds ruined trolling for the rest of us. It’s actually quite humorous when done right.)

Personal Rating: 4

Past Perfumance

“Holy smoke!”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, Lloyd Vaughan; Layouts by Robert Givens; Backgrounds by Phil DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Music by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on May 21, 1955.

The year is 1913. The place is Super Magnifique Productions. It’s a movie studio that as the name suggests, is in France. So, Pepe should be around shortly. But what reason would he have to be here? I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s a movie in production. With animals. Lots of animals! I’m not quite sure what sort of plot they have planned, but seeing as it is French, plot probably isn’t their biggest concern. (Maybe they’re just going to adapt some of Saint-Saens’ work. He’d still be alive)

Things are going smoothly enough, but the man in charge of casting the animals, (who is voiced by Arthur Q. Bryan. I almost didn’t recognize him. So talented!) has at least one problem: the movie needs a deodorized skunk. He doesn’t have that. He doesn’t even have a skunk period. What to do? Well, I’ve heard that if want a cow in your movie, your best bet is to paint spots on a horse because cows don’t resemble themselves on camera. So, logically, painting a cat should produce a similar result for those in need of skunks.

While the cat is getting prettied up, Pepe shows up looking for autographs. (I’m not entirely sure if people are hearing and understanding his speaking) As a skunk, he scares most everyone off. The director, his oui-men, the animals, and the casting director once he returns. Pepe is quite happy to take the cat off his hands, because she looks like a skunk and therefore, must be a skunk. Appearances are never deceiving. Penelope isn’t one for dating co-stars, and tries to flee. Plenty of movie sets to hide out in. Too bad Pepe finds her on each one.

She hides on the balcony, made famous in “Julio and Romette.” He calls to her in the words of the immortal bard himself. She hides in a film canister on a set of “The Two Musketeers.” (Maybe there was supposed to be three, but Pepe ruins the shot before such an amount can get on screen.) He finds here there too. He even finds her in a screening room. The characters in the silent movie that is playing, can smell him too. (So, they broke their fourth wall, but not THE fourth wall. They broke the eighth wall, then? If they did acknowledge us, the audience, would that be breaking the fourth wall squared?)

No matter where she runs, Pepe is there. In appropriate costume too. (He looks good in that Tarzan getup. Almost turns me on.) Soon, Penelope has run out of ways to run. Pepe has her trapped on a cliff set. She’d rather jump than be with him, so if that is what must be done, it’s the action she’ll take. Pepe rushes to look, and finds she landed in some water. Which means… the paint washes off! Pepe sees the paint washing off! For once, he realizes that he wasn’t in pursuit of a skunk! What will he do with that knowledge?

Well, I guess he’s desperate. His answer is to paint over his stripe and continue the chase. That should solve everything. Pepe should write a book about how to score.

Favorite Part: Shaking up the formula and letting Pepe know he was mistaken. A nice swerve to throw at us. When your cartoons are the basic chase plot, it helps to keep them from growing stale.

Personal Rating:3

Bonanza Bunny

“This gon’ be fun, you bet!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Tom Ray, George Granpre, Ted Bonnicksen, and Warren Batchelder; 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 September 5, 1959.

You’ve no doubt heard of the Klondike Gold Rush. That time when a good number of folks headed up to Alaska for the sake of a “get rich easy scheme.” (Humans. Always looking for an alternative to the hard way.) Such commotions, its no wonder boom towns are springing up. Such as Dawson City. It will be our setting for today’s picture. It’s a tough looking place. It’s got at least three saloons!

It was in saloon number three, the Malibu Saloon, where our story takes place. Everybody is minding their own business, when a stranger walked in. Well, a stranger to everyone but us. We know him as Bugs Bunny. He’s got little caps on both of his ears! That’s precious! He came round these parts because he heard talk of karats. Sadly for him, all he managed to find was a bunch of rocks. Sorta yellow in color. Odd. And yet, everyone seems interested. Still, Bugs plans to keep them as souvenirs. He’ll only part with the one the bartender is using as payment.

Enter our villain. A French-Canadian Yosemite Sam named, Blaque Jacque Shellaque. (And if you think that’s a rather low blow on my part, he eventually was revealed to be Sam’s cousin on “The Looney Tunes Show.”) I guess McKimson wanted his own character to take Bugs in a saloon setting. Still, he was clearly also inspired by Nasty Canasta, revealing himself nearly shot for shot the same as in “Drip-along Daffy.” He wants Bugs’ bag but is willing to gamble for it.

It will be settled via a game of 21. Bugs is willing to stop at one card, much to Blaque’s amusement. He seems pretty happy with the two cards he drew, both tens. As you’d expect, Bugs wins because he happened to draw the 21 of hearts. (The card box threatens to fade out of existence, but gives up because hardly anyone is noticing.) Jaque isn’t happy to lose and refuses to accept his defeat. Besides, those guns of his say he doesn’t have to take this sort of abuse. Bugs isn’t scared. In fact, he claims another guy in the next room, who is much more tougher. (A gag you may recall him using in “Hare Trigger.”) Said “man” is Bugs, and though he might wield a pop gun, it’s enough to get the job done.

Bugs is able to get rid of Shellaque, by handing him a bag of gunpowder instead. So happy is the canuck, that he fails to notice Bugs making an incision on the bag. Nor does he notice the trail of the stuff following him as he takes his ill gotten gains off to the distance. So, naturally, he also doesn’t notice that Bugs lit the trail. The explosion truly rivals the Aurora Borealis. Bugs can now happily enjoy his rocks. And I’m not just being coy. This whole time, they really were just rocks Bugs painted, . (Hey. A guy’s gotta pay for his drinks, somehow.)

Favorite Part: During our tour of the town, we see the “Rigor Mortis Saloon.” (Come in and get stiff? Seems a bit too personal for my taste.) In case that place isn’t for us, a sign also directs us to the “Band-Ade Saloon.” (Come in & get plastered? That’s more like it!) Two bad puns in the span of one minute. We are spoiled.

Personal Rating: 2 (Too many reused gags. If you haven’t seen as many cartoons as me, you might think this picture is worth a 3)

Touché and Go

“Personally, I prefer girls.”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Richard Thompson, Ken Harris, and Abe Levitow; Layouts by Maurice Noble. Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on October 12, 1957.

Being the guy who paints a stripe down the middle of the road isn’t the best job to have. Then again, any job can be pleasant if you are allowed to sing. It really is a beautiful day. The sky is blue, the sun shines, and dogs chase cats. In particular, one cat we like to call Penelope is in the middle of one such chase. Being the smaller of the two creatures, she is able to slip under the painting device with only a stripe down her back. The dog crashes into the man, and he angrily kicks the dog repeatedly. Finally free of trouble, the cat goes down to the beach. (A cat heading towards a large mass of sand? I guess she almost got the sh*t scared out of her.)

So, where’s Pepe? We all know he’s coming. The French title, his name in the credits, the painted cat. Nearly all the ingredients are here. Pepe is on a boat. When the sailor sees exactly what is on the rope he is pulling, he runs off in fright, leading Pepe to land in the water. Good thing he can see out of his tail, as he is aware of the female on the beach, and rushes to her side. She doesn’t like that. In fact, she tries to escape. Pepe pretends he doesn’t want her for all of about 24 seconds before he chases her down once more.

You wouldn’t want to hang out on this beach. The sand leads straight to a cliff. (Which in turn leads to the water. A literal high dive.) Pepe was too caught up in his chase to notice the lack of land, and he falls over the side. If Penelope plays her cards right, she could potentially be rid of him early for this picture. So where does she hide? At the base of the cliff. (It’s not her brains Pepe admires.) He finds her, looking quite pale, so he rushes off to get her a glass of water. She’s gone by the time he gets back, so he just empties it on the rocks. Never touches the stuff. (Pepe is not a carbon based life form. Confirmed.)

Seems Penelope is desperate enough to hide underwater. She has the foresight to hook up an oxygen tank, but Pepe has no need for such things. As a skunk, he can hold his breath for a long time. (That raises questions. Is he aware of his odor? Is he proud of it? I suppose it is a better weapon than most, as people will flee, even if you miss.) The lack of air may not be a problem for him, but the ocean is full of predators. Including the dreaded Saber-toothed Tiger shark. A beast I always thought only lived in Ralph Phillips imagination. Is Pepe also part of Ralph’s fantasies? Could I be as well?

Ever the gentleman Pepe sticks his love in a clam. (Aww! Even if he rushes into relationships, he really is a sweet guy.)The shark chows down, but regrets his action almost immediately. Considering how powerful his sense of smell is, I’m not surprised to see the poor fish opt to take his chances on land. In the commotion, Pepe loses Penelope and he heads back toward shore looking for her. That was just what she wanted, and she heads in the opposite direction. Seems she’ll have to rapidly evolve into a saltwater catfish if she hopes to survive.

Fine. She could also head for the nearest island. (Why won’t anybody ever give my science fiction a chance?) She comes ashore, and yes, Pepe is already waiting for her. The locals call this place heart island. That doesn’t mean any romance is going to entail, the place is just shaped like the card suit. (It’s the world’s most over hyped honeymoon location.)

Favorite Part: The fact that the shark doesn’t fear Pepe at first. And why would it? Has any shark ever in the history of Earth, ever encountered a skunk? It’s a subtle touch, but it’s there.

Personal Rating: 3