Hare Trimmed

“I can see you through the key hole!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, and Arthur Davis; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on June 20, 1953.

We started this fun themed month with a ghost story, then moved on to real life horror, and now I’ll continue this trend with a cartoon featuring costumes. Maybe next week I’ll discuss “The Cookie Carnival.” Wouldn’t that be a shake-up?

Sam takes note of the local news. Namely, there’s a widow that’s inherited 50 million big ones. And he can’t help but feel that anyone having just lost a loved one should immediately replace what’s missing. You know, he’s single. A suspicious Bugs can’t help but see what the little guy is up to, and finds Sam in the next scene with flowers and candy. He’s got marriage on his mind. Bugs might just need to intervene.

Said widow is Granny (that newspaper photo didn’t do her justice), who has so much cash, she literally sets some aside to burn. (Whoever her husband was, his death clearly didn’t affect her too much. In fact, how do we know this isn’t the first time she’s gotten in such a rewarding situation? I’m worried about you, Sam.) She answers her door to find Sam trying to woo her, and she lets him chase her. But she must put their fun on a brief hiatus as there’s yet another knock.

It’s Bugs dressed as the marquee of Queensberry… rouge, I think. Putting on his best Pepe Le Pew impression, he also gets to chase the flirty Granny around. Sam isn’t pleased and slaps Bugs with his glove. Bugs (and his disappearing/reappearing hat) returns the favor but he bothers to put a brick in his, first. Time for pistols at ten paces. Bugs, ever ten paces ahead, counts out as many steps between nine and ten as he needs to get Sam to walk out into the path of an incoming bus.

When Sam comes banging at the door again, it is answered by Bugs in Granny garb. And Sam refers  to “her” as “Emma.” Could this be Granny’s real name? If it isn’t, what is it with Sam and girls named Emma? Sam gets to chase again, but “Emma” ends things quickly with a piano to the face. It’s then that the real Emma (?) finds him and sets him in a chair while she fixes him some coffee. The other one reaches him first and does the ole ‘giving lumps when asking for lumps’ bit.

When Gremma returns, Sam kicks the coffee out of her hands sending her running for the gun that I’m guessing she’s already used before SOME WAY. Sam realizes that he may have just kicked away the easy life, and follows begging for forgiveness. He gets Bugs (still in disguise) to forgive him and he then suggests they elope, much to Sam’s glee. When they’re walking down the aisle, Bugs’s dress gets caught on a snag and tears off revealing his hairy legs. Leading to a great line from the priest: “Do you, Sam, take this woman… woman?”

That comment gets Sam to look over his bride once more and instantly get cold feet. He flees the wedding, leaving Bugs crying crocodile tears. (Who are all those people they invited anyway? I don’t recognize anybody but me.)

Favorite Part: The animation of Sam and later Bugs chasing Granny. I can’t explain it, but it slays me. And I wish I had an opportunity to chase someone like that without warranting a call for help.

Personal Rating: 4. Granny is probably at her best here. Fun to see her having so much fun.

His Bitter Half

“Cute like a sth-tomach pump!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, Arthur Davis, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on May 20, 1950.

While reading the want ads, (and having an errant ripple overlay his body) Daffy spots the kind of notification wild dreams are mad of: a single woman who is financially stable wants a man to tie it all together. Daffy is single AND  a male! Time for a quick courtship we don’t get to see, a wedding and honeymoon that is suggested, and the brand new happy couple arrives to their humble home. Here, Daffy tries to live the good life. A life of racing forms, lounge chairs, pipes and fezzes. The Mrs. has other ideas.

See, she is much larger and imposing than Daffy, and all that muscle says that he is the one going to be in charge of the housework. (The reason she has money is because she never bothered to hire a maid.) She just has to prove to Daffy that her threats to “slap his mouth clean off his face” aren’t hyperbole. And Daffy scrubs, and sweeps, and launders his life away. (Who’s the one wearing all those socks?) But once he’s got all those tasks accomplished, he meets the the part of the household the ad failed to mention: the step-duckling.

Little Wentworth is one one of those obnoxious kids who thinks fun can’t be had without noise. You know, the kind that nature intended to be eaten. He wants to play “Indians” but Daffy refuses. It’s just not P.C. The wives feet convince him to give it a go, and he spends the next shot on the run from Wentworth’s cleaver. (And if you’re too busy laughing, you might miss Martha’s Jedi powers at work. Those bonbons just leap into her wings!) Daffy’s next assignment: well, there’s a carnival at the park, and Wentworth would really like to attend. Daffy says no, but money talks…

I don’t know what kind of games they were playing, but they kicked tailfeather! Balloons, canes, kewpie dolls and… boxes of popcorn I think. But he drops it all in fright at the sight of Wentworth holding a rifle. Sure, it’s a shooting gallery, but it’s a shooting gallery in the days of your grandparents. Those are probably real lead pellets they’re firing. Daffy aims (rifle pun!) to show the kid how it’s done. But Wentworth is either upset he’s not the one firing the weapon, or I dunno, maybe he just doesn’t like Daffy, so he slingshots the carny every time Daffy takes a shot. The carny threatens bodily harm should Daffy keep hitting him.

Daffy figures out the ruse, and only PRETENDS to shoot. Wentworth doesn’t though, and despite Daffy gleefully smiling at the carny, exactly what you think would happen, happens. Next time, fill the fair folk in on the details of your scheme. Beaten and dazed, Wentworth has to bring Daffy home, where Martha just assumes her new hubby has been hitting the sauce. Wentworth knows that good children don’t correct their parents, so he doesn’t.

The next day, Daffy is roped into helping Wenty light fireworks for the fourth. He gets caught in an explosion and knows who’s to blame: that stick of TNT that has webbed feet! He grabs one that is the same size, and gives it a good spanking before seeing the one he wanted run past. After another explosion, he finds a new task at hand: take Wentworth to the zoo. Daffy’s had it, and refuses, even though his soon to be ex-wife is threatening to yank every feather off his body. Daffy still take his leave, and I’d say he won in the end. He clearly got away with some feathers still intact.

Favorite Part: The little smiling glance Wentworth shoots at us while Daffy is refusing to play *throat clear* “Indians”. He’s known his mother longer than Daffy has, and he knows what she’s capable of.

Personal Rating: 3. Ordinarily, I’d give it a four, but Freleng must’ve really loved this plot line, as he’d use it again in the future. And it was a marked improvement. See you then!

Boston Quackie

“Come on out before I let daylight through ya!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story Tedd Pierce; Animation by George Grandpre, Ted Bonnickson, Keith Darling, and Russ Dyson; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Bob Majors; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on June 22, 1957.

The titular “Boston Quackie” is one of those detective types who is a “friend to those who need no friends” and an “enemy to those who have no enemies.” It’s the second time of three that McKimson would have Daffy play detective, but while the first short was pretty timeless by not parodying anything specifically, this one’s title alone will probably send a few later generations to the Google search bar. (Assuming the younger generations are willing to give these old films a chance and realize that they hold up beyond remarkably well. I’m doing what I can.)

At the moment, Quackie is having a Parisian vacation with his girlfriend, Mary, and a dog that can’t keep his mouth from disappearing. (He’s just the chaperone.) But work will have to come before pleasure as Quackie’s boss, Inspector Faraway, shows up. Don’t know why Mary isn’t pleased to see him show up. He’s the kind of boss I’d invite to go on trips with me. (Of course I still need a girlfriend. Why do you ask?) Quackie’s got a job to do: deliver a package to the consulate in West Slobovia. (And do say “Hi” to Judd Fudd if you see him. Heard he was looking for lepus in those parts.)

Sounds so simple that even a duckling could do it. But spies will be hunting that parcel and- actually, one’s got it already. Time to give chase! Target: male with green hat. I’ve already got a police sketch drawn up.

Careful! I hear he’s a merry man!

Quackie follows the thief to the train station, and onto the most threatening locomotive this side of “Cuphead”. If the shrieking whistle doesn’t make your pants wet themselves, the endless eyes watching from the compartments will make it so. But that’s why Quackie is a detective, and I’m an amateur animation historian. He gets on board. (Watch out for that blue guy! I bet he’s a ghoul.)

There’s the thief! He’s just ducked into one of the cabins. Quackie drills a hole and points his gun. Give up the case or make out with the bullets! Your choice! And yet, despite those very reasonable choices, he chooses to pun the gun inside and shoot Quackie! Cheater! Oh wait. We got the wrong guy. This one is clearly wearing a top hat. And it’s not green.  A customary tip of the hat and this guy is one his w-GREEN!  I saw green on that head! Get him, Quackie! Be a hero!

Well, we can’t be quite sure who this mysterious man is, but he is willing to have Quackie join him for a drink. Rookie error! Reveal that hat, Quackie! And… he’s got a number of any hat BUT green under that top one. Well played, Barty Clubbin. Drink time! And I wanna break character to say how on top of things Daffy is during this scene. Shoots the guy poisoning his tea without looking and dumping the deadly drink into the nearest spittoon. (Even makes Barty flinch.) Still, he manages to subdue the detective with the ‘how many lumps do you want’ gag.

Now we’re sure this is our man! Chase time! It’s brief, but Quackie is outfoxed, stuffed in a mail sack, and left hanging on the nearest mail hook. Barty could get away right here, but he didn’t see the railway crossing, and is knocked off himself. Just in time for Farway and Mary to arrive, the latter knocking the thief out for good with her anvil-laden purse. Time to get that package where it belongs. Upon delivery, Quackie is aghast to find that he has just participated in an instant coffee run. But the consulate reveals it’s better than that: it’s a jar of instant woman! (Err… was that water he added?) He needed an escort, and Quackie delivered. The duck figures their could be a market for this stuff, but I’m not sure humanity is ready for it. I still remember the instant hole fiasco.

Favorite Part: When Quackie is checking the compartments, he finds a man about to be stabbed. It’s also said victim who pulls the privacy shade down.

Personal Rating: 3. I’ve never really heard of “Boston Blackie” before today, but I managed to make it through without scratching my head.

Pappy’s Puppy

“It’s a boy.”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Music by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on December 17, 1955.

When a stork and an animal hospital visit each other very, very much, a baby will soon be born. (A baby ‘what’ all depends on you, the parent.) Butch J. is a bulldog, and so is his soon to be offspring. The blessed moment occurs, and the result is the same answer as this arithmetic formula: Q+T. Pappy takes his puppy home and provides the most important lessons a child can know. The kind you won’t learn in obedience schools. You know, looking tough and killing cats.

Kid is a quick learner. But there’s another kind of learning that he must teach himself: the kind you won’t learn in father’s school. You know, playing. Builds strong muscles, and teaches you survival skills. (I’ve achieved similar feats from playing “Mario 3” my whole life.) During his play, the little tyke (believe me, I’m tempted to make a “Tom and Jerry” reference) runs into his first real cat: Sylvester. Little fella is scared, but remembers his training and comes back to maim, as all good puppies should.

Since he’s small, his attacks are annoying at best. He can gnaw Sylvester’s fur off, but the short is taking place in summer. It’s actually pretty positive, if somewhat embarrassing. Sylvester knows how to deal with puppy pests: stick them under a can. Next time, maybe he’ll remember to only do this when dad isn’t looking, or he’ll replace his son with you. (Oh, don’t think your size will save you. He’ll make you fit.) Sylvester is either going to have to learn to deal with the tiny terror, or get rid of him sneakily.

But first, how about a game of fetch? The teeny dumpling can cease his endless barking for a quick round. He’s a natural! So, Sylvester ups the challenge. He throws the stick into traffic and a-dog-able runs after. (Hmm… you’re right, that is too forced. Guess we’ll just have to call him “Tick”.) You may think Tick is doomed, but funny thing about humans, some of them still possess humanity. And you better be d*mn sure that any human carrying that would rather crash than hit a sweet, teeny puppy.

He’s all right. But dad has had more cheerful days. But it’s nothing a little game of “fetch” couldn’t cure. Won’t you play, Sylvester? Toobadyoudon’thaveachoice! As expected, a cat isn’t worth slowing down for, and the poor schmuck is barely able to dodge death. He gets back okay, forgetting that the majority of street accidents actually occur on the sidewalk. (Darn those scooters.) But the death idea wasn’t that bad. So, give it another go. I’m sure Butch will eventually leave the premises to go share his happy news with Mrs. Butch. (Where is she, anyway?)

Ultimately, Sylvester rigs a bone up to a gun. When the kid pulls on the string… BLAMMO! Except, Mrs. Butch is worth putting off, and father knows best about what to put in front of guns: not puppies. Sylvester is forced to take the shots while Tick pulls repeatedly on the bone. It’s then that a knock on the gate catches the putty tat’s ears. It’s Stupor Stork! Clearly just starting his route for the day, as he’s still sober. Someone must’ve remembered that dogs have litters, so he’s here to deliver the rest of Butch’s nonuplets. Welcome to living hell, Sylvester!

However, Sylvester still has a gun, and while Butch will flay him if any of his nine angels become angels, Stupor is fair game. Cat chases bird, and dogs chase cat. Just like nature intended.

Favorite Part: The look of absolute glee on Tick’s face when his father is demonstrating cat killing techniques. It’s the same look that says “That looks like fun!” and “I’ve found my purpose!”

Personal Rating: 3, unless you’re like me and think Tick is precious and bumps it up to a four. I’d understand if you don’t feel the same way. He sounds like a wheezing chew toy.

People are Bunny

“Have a handful o’ blanks.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, Tom Ray, and George Grandpre; 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 December 19, 1959.

Those born in 2010 C.E. and beyond might just never be able to understand the joy of actually watching T.V. None of this streaming crap; I’m talking about turning on the tube, flipping through the channels to find something, and either getting elated at your lucky find, or having to turn things off and read a book or play with your dog instead. As usual, we’ve sacrificed experience for ease, and while I can’t say Netflix doesn’t have a good many perks, it just isn’t the same.

But imagine how people like me must have felt in the fifties, when television was ruining the enjoyable trips to the motion pictures that used to be an occasional treat on par with visiting amusement parks and zoos. All of this tirade, just so I can point out that our short opens with Daffy watching television. Good thing his home has an island to keep the set functioning. The current show is “The Sportsman’s Hour” which is hosting a contest: be the first one to bring back a rabbit and win $1,000.00. That’s not too shabby. Say, doesn’t Daffy know a rabbit?

Daffy isn’t stupid enough to just outright tell Bugs to go with him to the studio, so he tries to sell the idea by offering him his extra ticket to said location. Bugs isn’t stupid enough to follow Daffy, instead claiming to be too busy for any fun today. Daffy makes him change his mind by taking a gun off the wall, and marching him to the studio. (Why does Bugs have two of those?) Upon reaching the place, Daffy sees exactly what kind of prizes this station can afford to give away. How’d that guy get the key to Fort Knox? And what’s his address? I’m suddenly in the mood to make a new best friend for one month!

Too bad Daffy is already busy trying to win a prize, or he could probably try for another. Wait, why give the benefit of doubt with that duck’s greed? He marches Bugs into a phone booth for safekeeping, and rushes to get himself a grab of the goodies. (Good thing nobody else was watching “The Sportsman’s Hour” or he’d probably get beaten to the punch.) While Bugs is winning call-in sweepstakes in the booth, Daffy has managed to become the contestant on “People are Phony”. (Not ‘Bunny’?) With a title like that, you’ll have enough material to reach “Sesame Street” levels of seasons.

The host, Art Lamplighter, (heh) tells us what Daffy is doing: going out into the world and helping an elderly women cross the street in 20 minutes. She isn’t Granny, but seeing as how this is a post-1950 world, you’d be forgiven for just assuming any elderly woman in the Looneverse was Granny. She also doesn’t want help crossing the street and beats Daffy the whole way. On the return trip, Daffy is run over, so Art declares him lost. (You know, when I was a contestant on this show, I helped an old lady cross a street and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.)

Daffy goes back to collect Bugs, who is still counting his winnings. He lures Daffy into the booth by saying the guy who gave him the dough might call back, and then imitating a ringing phone. (Woah! I didn’t know Bugs could make his arm disappear!) Daffy takes the bait, and the TNT receiver Bugs left for him. Bugs is now loose in the studio, and can disguise himself as an usher to send Daffy into the wrong rooms, or as a director on “Costume Show.” (Wow. That has ‘second season’ written all over it.) He gets Daffy in and in costume too: a rabbit costume.

Following stage instructions, Daffy walks out on the set of “The Sportsman’s Hour” with Bugs dressed as in Elmer attire. (I know Bugs is slightly taller than Daffy, but did the duck shrink in that suit?)Bugs wins another prize. Daffy reveals that he is actually a duck, and that suits the host just fine as the shortest rabbit season on record has just ended, and the shortest duck season has just begun. Fire away!

Favorite Part: Daffy inviting Bugs on the outing and the exasperated “Oh, boy!” and eye roll Bugs lets out. He knows him too well.

Personal Rating: 3

Dog Collared

“Suh-Suh-Sunday driver!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Charles McKimson; Rod Scribner, Phil DeLara, and J.C. Melendez; Layouts by Cornett Wood; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on December 2, 1951.

Here we are. Porky’s final solo work. Of course, it makes me sad, but I can’t deny that his best work was as the second fiddle. And it does give him more of a personality than ‘everyman’. Too bad that Bugs has now taken that role, leaving Porky to usually play the butt of the joke nowadays. (Wasn’t that Sylvester’s job?)

Porky learns it is “Be kind to animals” week. (Which is what I call the first 52 weeks of every year.) Deciding it’s a swell idea, he sets out to praise any beast he may come across in this picture. (I like how the cat he praises thinks he’s insane for being nice to a cat.) This almost immediately proves to not be the best idea, as he instantly earns the affections of a very large, very cute dog. He instantly falls for his new favorite pig, and returns the love x-fold.

Porky changes tune and starts insulting the dog. The poor dear cries and Porky rightfully feels awful. He can easily take back his words, but the dog’s love is part of the package. Porky throws a plank to distract the beast, before making a break for his car. The dog pops out of the back seat and gives Porky the hugs and kisses that he probably receives from random women who fawn over him on a daily basis. But since Porky can’t see during this, they crash.

Porky next tries to lose the beast by taking many different public transport systems, disguising himself as he gets off each one. Brilliant! I’m sure the people he’s stealing clothes from are totally on board for this! (And his Hiawatha outfit is cute.) When he reaches his place in his semi-racially insensitive Chines outfit, he finds the dog copying him. (I’m not too comfortable with the hound pulling his eyes into squints. Good thing he doesn’t know any better, eh animators?)

Luckily, a pig’s home is his castle, and those were built to keep others out. Porky is safe, if a little disturbed that the puppy is still watching him from the outside. Even appearing on his T.V.! Because, get this, he’s actually a lost dog with a reward of $5,000.00! (Porky: “A thousand b-be-b-be-bucks?” T.V.: “No, five thousand b-be-b-be-bucks!”) Of course, once Porky gets outside, the beast is nowhere in sight. (But he does find one of Pluto’s quint-pup-lets. Neat!) The dog he is looking for is doing what I just figure anyone would do upon being rejected by Porky: ending it all.

Don’t worry! Once he sees Porky calling for him, he backs out of what is a always a very, very, bad idea and un-jumps off the bridge. Things are really starting to turn around for everyone, as Porky happily leads the dog back to his original home. But once they’re at the door, the dog slips around the corner and leaves a toy dog for Porky to return instead. (I can’t blame him.) When a butler answers the door, he is decent enough to let Porky keep his dignity and doesn’t point out the phony, just instead saying it’s not the dog they’re looking for, as theirs’ could talk.

Porky can’t believe a dog could ever talk like a pig, and admits that if it were true, he’d keep the creature himself. The dog reveals the truth, and is over the moon and stars to find that he is now officially Porky’s pooch. Would that I could be so lucky. (Oh, and I was calling the dog “Taco” the whole time. I just wasn’t letting you know so as not to spoil the surprise.)

Favorite Part: Porky driving in his car, signaling a right turn.

And turning to the left! Completely missing the pile-up he’s just caused.

Personal Rating: I’ll give it a 3, but a 4 for dog lovers. (Which pretty much means it’s a four.)

 

Don’t axe me

“What’s getting into these animuwls, today?”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Tedd Bonnicksen, George Grandpre, and Tom Ray. Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Bill Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by: Mel Blanc; Music Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on January 4, 1958.

Feeding time on Fudd Farm! First up, feeding the duck. Daffy is the self admitted pig who eats every bite of his meal, the dish it was served in, then grumbles about not having more. He’s also not pleased to see the local Barnyard Dawg be given a ham and not him. (Sounds like I’m indicating that Daffy is into vore.) He eats that too, and shows the dog his chicken impression: drumming the serving dish over the dawg’s head.

Elmer missed the theft, so he scolds “wover” for chasing the duck, and banishes the beast inside. It’s there where we see someone we’ve never seen before, and I’m not sure ever again: The Mrs., Eloise Fudd! I knew Elmer wasn’t gay! There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s misinformation. That’s what bothers me, you understand. She’s just got off the phone with the reverend, who is coming to their place for dinner. She just needs an idea of what to serve, and brother, does that dawg have just the “duckiest” suggestion!

Despite her stating that she loves charades, she proves to not be very good at it, as the dawg has to eventually tell her outright what she should cook. Luckily, she sees this as a good idea and tells her husband to kill the bird. Hilariously, Elmer is considering it a pleasure. I mean, you’re liable to go bankrupt feeding THAT duck on farmer’s salary. (You’d need to at least be a carpenter.) Daffy tries saving his neck by using the PETA spiel. Mentioning that SOME farmers raise birds from egg to chick to adult, just to kill and eat them. Almost like… dare I mention the word… farming!

But not good ole Elmer! Since he has no need for an axe, Daffy chucks it in the well. Barnyard retrieves it, and Daffy beans him with it for his troubles. Elmer decides to use a razor, as it is more discreet. (I mean, sure, but you got to be more precise.) Daffy calls his bluff, and the farmer claims he was just going to shave. (I’d be a little disturbed if my poultry started talking. Don’t eat speaking meat.) Daffy does the whole “slave shtick” again, with the same results. No buttering up will keep a head from rolling now! Daffy at least requests the axe be sharp. Get it done quick-like, you know. Elmer agrees, and Daffy has an excuse to grind the axe to near nothing. Fade-out on a giggling Elmer readying his gun!

Cut to dinner time, Eloise hopes their guest will enjoy the poultry dinner. Only now does he feel need to mention that he’s a vegetarian. Too bad the fade-out wasn’t a fake-out, as Daffy has already been shot, de-feathered, and put in the roasting pan. At least the only thing dead is his dignity.

Favorite Part: Eloise’s charade guessing leading her to believe “wover” is suggesting “woast dawg” for supper. I don’t want her on my team!

Personal Rating: 3

Of Rice and Hen

“WHAM-A-DOODLE!”*

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Herman Cohen, Rod Scribner, Phil DeLara, and Charles McKimson; Layouts by Robert Givens. Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on November 14, 1953. *(I friggin’ love that line.)

Guess who’s finally getting married? Yep! My younger brother! Explains today’s short choice perfectly!

All the local hens are proud mothers who love nothing more than raising their chicks. Excluding Prissy, of course.  She has zero. And not only do the hens know this lack of poultry progeny makes her miserable, but they delight in telling her that she’s the lucky one, because they know that bothers her. They can’t even have the decency to let her be friendly with their brood. (Don’t bother eating their drumsticks; they’re too bitter.) And the hurtful insults are the tipping point. Prissy is opting for what is always the worst option: suicide. (Briefly suffering wing loss as she does.)

Luckily for everyone involved, Foghorn spotted her just as she was about to jump and saves her to boot. She’s smitten. There’s just something about a guy who saves you from a dangerous situation that you put yourself in. Too bad her kiss only confounds him. Oh well. Time for the daily dog beating. Barnyard isn’t even tied up in this short, so Foggy has to slam a gate on him to avoid getting pounded back. After this bit of fun, Prissy returns, doing a sexy flamenco dance. (I honestly had trouble recognizing her without her signature bonnet.)

Foghorn is finally able to catch on, and tells her that he is not interested in as polite a manner as he is capable of. For you see, being married would interfere with his ‘sticking the dog with T.N.T. stick’ shtick. Which fails this time because it was the Dawg’s time to win. (But look closely! While Foghorn checks to see if the hound is asleep, Barnyard clearly looks him right in the eye! Does Foghorn just think he’s tied up in his house? Or was that just a bit of a mistime on the animator’s parts? It all depends on if you want to see the Toons as living beings or not.)

And Prissy is still at it. Now trying to buy Foghorn’s affections with confections. He has to put his talons down and tell her point blank that he has no interest in her. She understands. Saying the saddest version of her catchphrase, she departs. Give Foghorn some credit. At least he knows he was being a jerk. But that Dawg gets to her and plans to help her, as it would be the ultimate victory for him. (Plus, he’s written several shipping fanfic’s about the two. He has secrets.) He says the secret to getting your man is playing hard to get and when she tries it, the results are instantaneous.

What really steams the rooster up though, is seeing the Chinese knock-off version of him, Fog Horn Capon, putting the moves on the hen. (Really just that Dawg in disguise.) Foggy fights for her, and Barnyard is quite the method actor, willing to take some punches and ultimately throw the fight to sell the scene. Even the other ladies witness Prissy having two suitors fight for her, so that really boosts her self esteem. Foghorn quickly claims his prize and rushes off to Church’s Chicken… I mean Chicken Church, and has the deed done.

He celebrates his victory before things really start sinking in. Only now does he realize that one can win the fight, and still lose the war.

Favorite Part: Probably the most savage roast I’ve heard and probably ever will: “Gal reminds me of a highway between Fort Worth and Dallas: no curves.”

Personal Rating: 4. Top form writing.

A Hound for Trouble

“What are you anyway, a dog hater?”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Lloyd Vaughan, Ken Harris, Phil Monroe, Ben Washam, and John Carey; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds Philip DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on April 28, 1951.

It’s hard to be Charlie Dog. Everybody but me seems to despise him, and he’s just been thrown off a boat. (Not for the first time if the captain is to be believed.) He finds he’s been dumped off in Italy of all places. Beauty of that being that there is still a good number of people who could be potential masters. After all, Italians are humans and humans love dogs. (If you don’t, you’re doing a bang-up job of trying to keep your cover from being blown.)

Mama Mia! None of-a de locals capishe de English! It’s a good thing that love is a universal language. Still, English praise will be easier to catch. Charlie sets his sights on on restaurant named Pasquale’s Palazzia de Spagetini. I think the lone employee we see working there is Pasquale himself. He doesn’t give any indication that he can speak a lick of English, but Charlie has made his choice. I admire him choosing a bowl to be his own. Now for the test: showing how lovable and cuddly he is.

Test failed. Although Pasquale is fairly kind in telling the dog to leave. Even if he said yes though, it would be best if Charlie wasn’t inside as Pasquale is leaving for a fifteen minute break. (Those are the best when they’re twice as long.) Then again, staying outside won’t give Charlie a great opportunity to show the guy what a great choice it would be to have an animal in the kitchen amongst the food and utensils that will be entering people’s mouths.

Charlie is now in the kitchen. (A young Brad Bird takes notes.) And just now entering is a customer ready for a feast. He orders… oh boy, here we go. He orders: na bella piatta del una cacciatore di tetrazzini cu ragu di marinara di la piazza rigotini mozzarella fina without onions. (Thank you, Wikipedia.) And I’m pretty sure that translates to a grilled cheese sandwich without onions. They don’t have that. The man settles for spaghett. Charlie serves it to him via spool, and makes sure he doesn’t eat an inch more than he’s paying for. Time for a bit of wine to wash it all down. The man leaves with whatever lunch he can keep down after seeing Charlie stomp the grapes.

Pasquale returns and is not pleased to find his customers being scared away. But Charlie has a surefire way to stay: he’s a singer! You will believe he can find a home after hearing his rendition of “Atsa matta for you?” Pasquale certainly seems convinced as he gives in and agrees to adopt the poor baby. Now, isn’t that touching? No wonder this is Charlie’s final appearance; he’s about to achieve his dream come true! But wait! That leaning tower located in Pisa is going to fall over and crush their little home! Charlie proves he’s the smarter of the two and tries to away from danger, but Pasquale makes him hold the tower while he goes for help. (Seeing as he’s bilingual and all.)

We end with Pasquale happy in his kitchen, no intent of ever going back and Charlie desperately calling for anyone to help; his pleas falling on deaf ears as they only speak Italian. That’s just cruel, Pasquale. (Mostro malvagio. Spero che tu marcisca all’inferno, lentamente.)

Favorite Part: Charlie not only can repeat the original order flawlessly, but he sticks his tongue out at all of us who doubted he could do it. How can anyone not love this dog?

Personal Rating: 3. But I give it a four for myself.

Tree for Two

“I gotta job to do!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, Arthur Davis, and Manuel Perez; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on October 4, 1952.

Best be on the look out ladies and gents, the newspapers say that a panther is on the loose. I’m not a newspaper and I say that a leopard is on the loose. Panther is a term that people who can’t be bothered to read up on big cats use. Regardless of what you call it, this is a potentially dangerous animal that is roaming the streets and you’d be smart to use caution out of doors. The poor thing is lost, confused and scared and when animals feel that: they maul.

Enter Spike and Chester. (The latter making his debut here.) Chester is the hero-worshipper type and his hero is Spike. He suggests many typical dog activities and each suggestion gets him a negative answer and smack across the face. Chester saves his best suggestion for last: beating up on a cat. (I love how he still braces himself for another smack. Don’t let yourself be a hero-worshipper. Even the decent people will get sick of you.) Finally, something that piques Spike’s interest. Chester leads him to where a cat is located.

Their cat of choice is Sylvester. He was just minding his own business, singing and enjoying life. (He’s good at it too! If “Back Alley Oproar” didn’t convince you of his singing prowess, watch it again. It’s a wonderful short.) And that gets him hounded by hounds. He takes refuge in an alley with the two right outside. Spike keeps Chester out while he partakes in all the fun. Once inside he pulls on his prey’s tail. Only not really. That is a leopard tail, and Sylvester is hiding in a trash can. (Confused, but not stupid enough to point out there’s a mix-up.) That tail isn’t coming undone, so Spike follows it. He leaves quite shaken up. (On the bright side, it doesn’t look like he was harmed too physically.)

Chester takes a peek to see this “big” cat, but only sees Sylvester checking if the coast is clear. Chester offers to take care of the cat, but Spike’s pride ain’t having it. He goes back in to really give it to ‘im. The same thing happens, but Spike definitely took a beating this time. Chester still can’t accept this. (It constantly causes his whiskers to disappear in shock.) Chester shows that even a little dog like himself can pound the puss and fling him back to whence he came, so surely a bigger, stronger, (prick-ier) dog can do it. Spike’s resolve is restored.

Spike enters the alley again, and without a hiding place, Sylvester can’t do much more but claw blindly at the air. Amused, Spike lets him give his best shot. With both of them having their eyes obscured, neither one sees the leopard clawing the mutt to bits for daring to pick on his distant relative. Spike is horrified, and flees. Sylvester can’t believe what he’s seeing, but he seems to be seeing it. There must be more power in his paw than he ever imagined. Now feeling strong as a leopard, he comes after the two dogs himself. They’re going to get the claw and leave him alone from now on!

Chester isn’t convinced and once more beats and flings. (Stan Freberg, you are knocking it out of the park with this performance. Really wish you got to star alongside Mel more often.) So in the end, Chester is considered the tough one and he gets to bully and smack the hero-worshipping Spike, the leopard was eventually found and returned to the zoo which was given a good amount of funds to renovate the place and make it so the animals were happy in captivity, and though Sylvester got beaten up, he was known in all the cat circles as the one who turned the feared Spike into a groveling kiss-ass.

Favorite Part: The smile on Chester’s face when Spike tells him he can go get himself killed. It’s the same look we’ve all had when someone allowed us to do something dangerous, and we were about to prove them wrong. (Though not every one of us came out like Chester…)

Personal Rating: 3. But even if it’s successor got the same score, this one is better. I find the ending makes a lot more sense with everyone still unclear about what really went down. Makes Chester’s promotion make more sense.