Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt

“Imagine a joik like that tryin’ to catch a smart guy like me.”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Gil Turner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on June 7, 1941.

Warner Bros. certainly hit gold with their wascawy wabbit! Only four shorts in, and he’s already gotten his second Oscar nomination! (Out of three total, but still…) I can’t say this was better than the year’s winner (Disney’s “Lend a Paw”), but I’d have given the award to “Rhapsody in Rivets.”

Bugs is reading the classic and harmonious “The Song of Hiawatha,” and while he does find it enjoyable, he’s a little bit terrified that the piece tells of the mighty warrior hunting a rabbit. I mean, Bugs is a rabbit, and Hiawatha is right there! Or a facsimile of one who looks like he might have some Elmer Fudd in his ancestry. Still, a bow and arrow can hurt something fierce, and with an intention to make rabbit stew, it’s probably in Bugs’s best interest to hide.

But that cooking pot makes a pretty good tub, and living in wilderness can get a guy rather filthy, so you can’t fault Bugs too much for treating himself to a bath. Just what Hiawatha was planning, so why question the good fortune. He prepares the fire with Bugs’s help and the rabbit eases himself into the just right (for now) temperatures. Awwww! And the hunter is feeding him too! Why would anyone need to fear him- oh, yeah. Those carrots are ingredients. Just like Bugs. He bolts.

Bugs tries to make an escape via one of his holes, but this being early in his career, he actually fails to complete the whole stunt. (I love how ashamed and embarrassed he looks. We’ve all looked like that.) Hiawatha plans to tie Bugs up with a rope. (And his hand? Either he slipped on a glove at falcon speed, or he accidentally cut off all circulation to it for a second. Both are feasible.) Bugs ties him up and does the worst kind of mocking: dance mocking. (Though I love his dance. The butt bouncing is the cherry on the icing on the cake on the plate.)

When the little guy actually manages to point an arrow at Bugs’s cranium, the rabbit finds that hopping away won’t work, as the man follows his jumps precisely. Bugs challenges him to take on his finisher, a series of rapid hops and landing on a branch growing out of a cliff. It’s that last part that is the trickiest, and so it’s the part that slips up Hiawatha. (Oh, and thanks for calling him a sucker, Bugs. I wouldn’t have understood the classic transformation gag if you weren’t commenting. Do it verbal or visual, not voth. Er, both.)

You gotta know when to accept defeat, and Hiawatha does. Time to canoe home and get some takeout from Bison King, or Buckdonalds, or maybe even Kentucky Fried Trout. (Much simpler.) Bugs recites the end of the poem, as he watches him leave. But Hiawatha is determined to have the final say, and he paddles back to give Bugs one of those smooches he’s always giving out. Seems like we’ll have to declare a truce.

Favorite Part: When told he is going to be tied up, Bugs bursts into laughter. The best way to take all pluck out of one’s plan. (Plus, it sounds funny.)

Personal Rating: 3

Fair and Worm-er

“I’m a beast.”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Tedd Pierce, Michael Maltese; Animation by Ben Washam, Ken Harris, Basil Davidovich and Lloyd Vaughn; Layouts and Backgrounds by Richard Morley and Peter Brown; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on September 28, 1946.

You know about chase cartoons, right? It typically has a chaser and a chasee. Two adversaries. It’s a formula that works. Sure, sometimes you can up the number to three, but it tends to stop there. Not here. Here we have Jones’s unit attempting to cement itself as the ultimate chase cartoon. I must admit, I’ve yet to see anything top it in its amount of characters.

Let’s start with what gets everything rolling: an apple. Sweet, crispy, and worth getting out of paradise for. It’s not really a character though, just an object of desire. Desired by a worm, that is. (I’ve just realized that I haven’t seen apple-loving worms in media for decades now. Pesticides have ruined what was once as believed as cheese-loving mice and peanut-loving elephants.)

Worms are chock full of protein, and lack a skeleton that’s either exo or endo. This makes it a great morsel for something that has no teeth: a crow. We could stop there, but the food chain won’t. A cat wants that crow, and a dog wants that cat. This isn’t enough. How about a dogcatcher trying to do what his title promises? But even he’s got a fear: his wife. She claims to be afraid of nothing, but a little mouse calls her bluff. (Don’t worry. Those last two barely function into our story. They’re relegated to literal running gag.)

The crow tries to disguise his fist, (Yup. Crows have those.) as that apple. The worm may be blind (Those aren’t real eyes because I say so.) but he isn’t that stupid, and he mallets the faux fruit. The dog, meanwhile, is chasing the cat up the tree with the aid of some tree climbing spurs. The resourceful cat eats bananas and sends the peels to the dog, to send him to the gleeful catcher at the bottom. This catches the attention of the crow who does some thinking. If cats chase birds, and dogs chase cats, then its his duty as a bird to give the dog a hand. Brilliant deduction! Just snip a little here and…

The dog falls through the net, but the cat won’t let this setback go unchallenged, and throws him back to the catcher. In turn, the crow gets a boot and kicks the catcher in the shins. This makes the bird the new subject of desire for the man, meaning the dog is free to chase once more. I love how the cat flees piece by piece. Even better is the dog’s pupil turning white with rage. (I’m really not sure if that is a coloring error or not.)

When the worm tries creeping up on the unguarded apple, he isn’t aware that the rest of the chain is on his heels. (The dog just appearing out of nowhere instead of from behind the tree like the others. Definitely an error. Also, the distance to the apple has increased dramatically.) They give themselves away by saying “gesundheit” to the sneezing worm. Everybody chases, but runs from the newest entrant in our cartoon: a skunk. Which is never stated to be Pepe, but it does his signature hop complete with musical score. I’m going to say it’s Pepe. (If Chuck wasn’t the director, I might consider otherwise.) Be glad I’m not claiming the human is Snafu. I totally would!

Whilst everyone follows the worm underground to avoid what’s most definitely Pepe, the worm utilizes a pin to get them out. Each fleeing from the skunk. (And taking away the imprint they made as well. That’s courteous.) Leaving with a gas-mask, (Because worms are known for their keen noses.) The little guy finally gets himself the apple that started all this. A narrator who we haven’t heard from since the beginning asks the worm if this sorta thing happens whenever he wants food. The worm reveals that he wasn’t looking for food, he intends to live in the fruit. (With housing prices what they are, I don’t doubt the whole thing was worth it.)

Favorite Part: The worms launches a torpedo at the crow, but misses and it goes toward the cat. The worm is quick to make sure the bird gets the blast. I choose it not because I secretly love cats and have been hiding my true intentions for my whole life because I’m that insecure. I just like how the worm is willing to protect those who can protect him. It’s how friendships are born.

Personal Rating: 3. Not a whole lot of jokes, and I feel the story could have been more creative. Like, having the odds and evens teaming up? Or maybe the apple was that variety that causes discord and we just kept getting bigger and powerful creatures fighting for its possession? (With the victor being Pepe of course.)

Tin Pan Alley Cats

“GET ME OUTTA HERE!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Circus Today

“It’s different from anything you’ve seen before, folks!”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Story by Jack Miller; Animation by Sid Sutherland; Musical Direction by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on June 22, 1940.

I’ve had a pretty tiring week. I need a short to blog about that won’t require much effort on my part. (It usually takes SO much out of me.) Let’s see… “Joe Glow the Firefly?” Nah. “Freddy the Freshman?” Nope. “Corn on the Cop?” Mmmmm… What do you mean the title of this post means I’ve already made my selection? What if I’ve changed my mind?

Time for some more of those Avery spot gags his unit did so well. Just… not here. I’m sorry, but this might just be the weakest one of these cartoons he directed. (At W.B. at least.) Weak jokes, references common folk won’t get, and a setting that tends to make people uncomfortable these days.

Welcome to Jingling Bros. circus! Where you’re sure to have a good time, even if our performers don’t. Why not remember your trip with a genuine helium balloon? Not only are they powerful enough to lift a man into the air, but they change color constantly! What do we put in these things! (We won’t tell. It might talk you out of a purchase.)

We’ve got plenty of sideshow acts as well. Gamer the glutton will eat anything you put in front of him; so what if it makes him all jangly inside? Hot Foot Hogan can walk across burning coals. Sure it causes him great pain, but he can do it! (Pay no attention to his disappearing act.) And Captain Clampett can be launched from a cannon, go on a round-world trip, and have the postage to prove it! (Any relation to A.C. Gamer, Rich Hogan and Bob Clampett will be lost on the casual viewer.)

What kind of circus would be complete without exotic animals being housed in cramped, unsanitary cages? There’s a repeat of the person feeding the animal when they really shouldn’t joke that was seen previously in both “A Day at the Zoo”, and “Cross Country Detours”. At least the punchline differs slightly with the monkey being a narc. There’s also a large gorilla being referred to as an assassin of the jungle, terrifying brute, and all around vicious beast. It might have been a punchline to see it be so gentle back then, but nowadays it’s like “no, crap.”

Inside the tent is where the REAL action is. The Flying Cadenzas are quite the amazing acrobats. Flying really is the perfect word to describe them. “Successful” and “Full set” are not. Then there’s Dixie Dare. A rather hot honey who attempts to grab a handkerchief off the ground with her teeth whilst horse riding. Maybe on the return trip, she can attempt to grab her teeth. Another performer, Madame Trixie, prefers to dance with her horse. He leads. (Is she supposed to look like Freddie Bartholomew?)

Elephants. A majestic animal that has been forced into this humiliating line of work ever since circuses took off. The trick is have a trainer who acts like one of their own. Hence, Ignatz Ignatzavich as part of their parade, a tail in his mouth. Still, the creatures have large developed brains, and just can’t bring to complete a trick that requires them to put all their bulk on his fragile, soft head. Instead, watch our performer who will do one of those death dives from an ungodly height, to a bucket of water. And I do mean “death”, quite literally. You’ve haven’t truly experienced our circus until you’ve heard our band play “Taps”.

Favorite Part: Lion tamer Clyde Binder (who you’re probably not recognizing as a nod to studio executive Henry Binder) has just put his head in a lion’s mouth and lived to show it. Seeing how much applause this gets, has the lion putting his head into the human’s mouth. (His envy is cute.)

Personal Rating: 2. I could see people laughing and enjoying this. But if you’re no stranger to Avery’s works, I can’t imagine you’ll think this is anywhere near his best.

What Makes Daffy Duck?

“Keep up the good work!”

Directed by Arthur Davis; Story by William Scott and Lloyd Turner; Animation by Basil Davidovich, J.C. Melendez, Don Williams and Emery Hawkins; Layouts by Don Smith; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl Stalling. A Looney Tune released on February 14, 1948.

During one particular duck season, Daffy has two hunters interested in him: nature and mankind. On the former: we have a fox. No name. Until now. (Frank it is.) The other side is represented by its usual “champion,” Elmer. Both want him real bad, and neither is willing to let the other have even a feather. Daffy knows the best way to settle things: a race. First one to the lone pine in the distance is the winner.

The two make ready, but Frank is one of those sly foxes, and never actually runs. With Elmer gone, the fox takes his dinner in the opposite direction. Daffy makes things more difficult by calling out to Elmer, and pouring oil on the hill Frank is ascending. The fox runs from Elmer’s gun and ends up smacking into a tree. Elmer takes aim at Daffy. In turn, the duck gives his sob story about always being hunted, and the paranoia getting so bad that he is happy when he’s finally killed. Elmer lets his guard down for a minute, and Daffy uses this opportunity to mallet the hunter’s head and escape.

Elmer may be the type to get outfoxed by a fox, but he has a bit of a brain as well. He disguises himself as a female duck, and is able to lure Daffy closer, because Daffy is desperate for any female form. (Seriously though, that is the ugliest duck disguise I ever saw. Even the ugly duckling wouldn’t want anything to do with her.) Daffy also catches on to the disguise rather fast, but plays along. (Even offering to get “her” a chance with the W.B. I can’t explain the scary look in his eyes, though.)

While offering to show the lady some of his sketches, Daffy blows a duck call to wake Frank up, who is still at the foot of the tree he crashed into earlier. (Nice touch.) Coming to, he sees the “lady duck” and tries to make off with her. Neither predator is too thrilled to see the other again, but since Elmer has the gun, he has the advantage. (But Frank has some height on him! Either he or Elmer is not the correct size for someone of their species.) And since Daffy lassoes Elmer, (because he can, I guess) Frank takes the duck away.

He makes some impressive distance between him and Elmer, but the hunter is right behind him anyway. Daffy tells the fox to fight for his dinner, and the vulpine finally grows a pair and stands up to the gun. While the two fight, a dog game warden appears. (That’s not odd, don’t worry.) He puts up some signs signalling that duck season has ended, and fox season begins. And just like that, Frank is fearful once more. Elmer takes after him, and the warden reveals to us that he was Daffy. (See? Perfectly logical.)

Favortie Part: When Elmer has Frank at gunpoint and tells him to put his hands up, we learn that Frank’s human-esque hands were really gloves hiding paws! Not I’m wondering if there’s another reason Bugs, Mickey, Sonic and magicians wear those…

Personal rating: 3

Hare Splitter

“Let’s pitch some woo.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, and Virgil Ross; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on September 25, 1948.

I get that I should’ve talked about this short a week ago, as it would have been seasonally appropriate. But I’m not one for Valentine’s day. And no, it isn’t because I’m an angsty loner. (Smart asp.) I am of the belief that if you truly love someone, you don’t need a calendar to designate a day for proving it. And if you think I’m covering for myself because of my angst, screw you. I tried.

Now then, spring is a season that’s just right for making babies. But a good many life forms need a partner to do that. Bugs Bunny is one of those life forms. He has his sights on a fetching young doe named Daisy Lou. Daisy for short. She’s rather pretty as far as rabbits go. (More so than Lola, anyway.) I’m guessing that at least one furry was born from seeing her, and it it is you, then there is no shame in that. Unless you make it weird, in which case, shaaaaaaaame.

A pretty thing like Daisy surely wouldn’t have just one suitor. Enter the rival of this picture: Casbah. Bugs certainly takes note, mostly because the other rabbit’s bouquet is bigger. (Bugs was aiming for simple yet sweet.) Still, fighting for mates is something a guy just has to do if he doesn’t want to die alone, so Bugs ups his game to candy. (Scientifically proven to be a better gift than flowers.) Casbah goes bigger. Bugs switches to jewelry. (Economically proven to be more valuable than candy.) Casbah goes bigger. So it goes with the two trying to outdo the other, until Bugs cuts the crap and holds an anvil for Casbah’s head.

Bugs heads for Daisy’s house, without any sort of gift. You may think that will lower his chances, but let’s really compare our two bachelors.

Bugs Bunny: D.O.B.: 7/27/1940. Pros: Hollywood star, future Oscar winner, uture Walk of Famer on the future Walk of Fame. Cons: Well, he might wear your clothes once in a while, but not for any weird purposes!

Casbah Lepus: D.O.B.: 9/25/1948. Pros: Gives expensive gifts. Cons: Is named “Casbah”.

I like Bugs’s odds.

Wouldn’t you know it, Daisy is out shopping at the moment. This gives Bugs the perfect opportunity to raid his girlfriend’s laundry, dress as her, and mess around with other guys. Nope. Not a weird purpose to be found. Casbah isn’t really the brightest guy, (Nor the strongest, nor the luckiest, nor the best smelling…) so he falls for the get-up. He’s also not much of a gentleman, as he keeps trying to touch “Daisy” who isn’t comfortable with that sort of thing. “She” makes her feelings known with a mousetrap, and exploding carrots.

In the next scene, (Bugs is wearing shoes now. ???) Casbah at least tries asking for a kiss. “Daisy” will allow it if he closes his eyes first. Casbah kisses a plunger. Bugs uses the brief bit of time to set up a bomb for Romeo to kiss, but it just turns the big guy on more. (Witness the mating calls of the cartoon rabbit. Note the clucking and barking. That’s how you know he is serious.) Sadly, “Daisy” is not interested, and Casbah is left sulking on “her” front porch.

Bugs shows up, this time as Cupid’s protege, Daniel. He says that his arrow will make Casbah irresistible, when its really just an excuse for Bugs to shoot an arrow into Casbah’s butt. (If only Casbah had gone to school long enough to study Roman mythology. Then he’d known that those arrows make you fall in love. Not the others.) He catches on to Bugs’s real identify, because Bugs wasn’t wearing a dress. He rolls up his sleeve/fur to punch which I only bring up because it’s rolled down in the next shot.

The chase leads into the house, and Bugs sees Daisy returning. He bolts. Casbah sees her and assumes that it’s just Bugs trying to trick him again. He attacks her with a vase, and wouldn’t you know it, she doesn’t like it that much. Casbah flees from the house, probably becoming a homosexual in the process. With no rival, Bugs is free to do his wooing. But he brought the explosive carrots inside with him, and Daisy is partial to root vegetables. When they kiss, they are both impressed by the other’s power. They make a cute couple!

Favorite Part: I liked the ending. I can see some people thinking what Bugs did was wrong, but he was just looking out for his love. It takes a true romantic to keep others out of toxic relationships.

Personal Rating: 3

The Cagey Canary

“Mama’s poor, little, frightened bird.”

Supervision by Tex Avery and Bob Clampett; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Robert McKimson; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on November 22, 1941.

Today, Warner Bros. is no stranger to being well known for cartoons about a cat chasing a canary. But before it was Tweety and Sylvester it was unnamed cat and cagey canary. (Which are terrible names, so we’ll call them Petey and Lester) And it wasn’t Freleng’s unit taking charge. It was started by Avery, he left for MGM, and then finished by Clampett. What a guy.

Petey the cat is hungry (or just plain bloodthirsty) and makes no effort to hide his attempted killing of Lester the canary. Luckily for him, the mistress of the house catches the cat in the act and rescues her beloved bird. She tells him that all he needs to do is whistle for her should the cat try and get him again, and she’ll throw the feline out into the rain where he belongs. Petey is not fond of this idea, so he’s going to behave. And by behave, I mean: try again as soon as the lights are out.

Lester is good at feigning sleep, and just when Petey is about to grab him, he whistles. Petey dashes back to his rug and feigns some sleep of his own. He figures he might as well just take the whole cage, but the bird slips out and the cat doesn’t notice until after he’s thanked him for holding the door open for him. So if we review the facts, we see that: Lester isn’t going to fall asleep, and if he wants the woman, all he has to do is whistle.

Petey creeps away with a smug grin, and like the saying goes: “curiosity nearly got the canary killed.” Lester is now stuck in a jar, and Petey’s paw is the lid. No sound is coming out of that jar, and Lester doesn’t have a pin to poke with. Petey would win right here and now, but there IS one fly in the ointment: a fly. And he has made himself comfortable on Petey’s nose. Those tickly little legs, that high pitched whine of the wings, and the all in one disease zoo it’s packing are enough to get Petey to swat at it. Lester whistles once more and the cat zooms back to his rug.

The cat’s next plan involves crackers. Birds love them, and even better: can’t whistle with a beak full. Lester doesn’t know this, and takes the bait. Petey gets closer than ever before, but Lester finally swallows his snack and whistles again. Petey has no choice but to return him to his cage. Now the bird starts to get cocky. Taunting the cat with faces, and slapstick and rushing back to the safety of his cage each time. The one time he returns with his eyes closed is when Petey beats him to the cage. The bird barely escapes. (No whistle this time.)

Petey hasn’t had any trouble with the woman yet, (she just never wakes once to the whistling. Probably just said she would to give the animals peace of mind/paranoia.) but he isn’t about to take any chances. He places some earmuffs on her, and they work great! He even whistles himself, then poofs away and she still doesn’t wake up. (I like that. It’s funnier than showing him zoom off in a blur. But I can’t say it was intentional.) This will surely turn the tide. He returns to the battle with no fear.

Lester whistles, but the woman didn’t come earlier, I doubt she’d come now. Even if she wasn’t muffed up. The bird flees, and turns on every sound making device he can, which makes no difference. But he is able to find out what’s wrong and waves the empty earmuffs in front of the cat. Realizing he’s lost, the cat rushes outside himself. But the old woman is awake now, and I guess is angry at all the noise the canary made. (Why would she even suspect him?) The canary joins the cat outside. Before the short ends, the bird asks us if we’re interested in adopting homeless pets.

Favorite Part: Lester gets Petey to whistle himself at one point, by holding up a sexy picture. Funny enough on its own, but what’s even better is the fly having a similar reaction when he sees it. (Who knew both species found humans attractive?)

Personal Rating: I give it a 4 thanks to some great facial reactions. If they don’t make you smile, you can call this one a 3.

Of Fox and Hounds

“Well, thanks a lot George! Thanks a lot!”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Story by “Draft No. 1312”; Animation by “Draft No. 6102”; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on December 7, 1940.

Mornings are so peaceful. So serene. So nice to sleep right through. And if you’re not allowed to do that, you try to ruin it for everyone. And so, the fox hunters blowing their ungodly horns and bringing their hounds along for a round of “kill the animal for sport.” One hound, is a bit slow. And I do mean both ways. His name is Willoughby and he is making his screen debut here. He’s packing quite a bit of meat here, (making him look an awful lot like a St. Bernard) and his coat has more white than his later years. (Huh. Usually it’s the other way round.)

Willoughby takes off after the rest, and he has some pretty decent luck, as he almost immediately finds a fox. But he doesn’t know that, and asks the fellow, (named George) if he’s seen a fox. George, (who is to Bugs what Foxy was to Mickey: a ripoff desperately wants some love.) gives him directions. Just past a stump up ahead, and on the other side of a rail fence. Willoughby takes off, jumps the fence and falls off a cliff. At the bottom, he realizes that the chap he was talking to was actually the fox of which he seeks.

He heads back in a murderous fury, but finds another hound. It’s George in disguise, but he doesn’t know that and asks the fellow if he’s seen a fox. George, (not even bothering to disguise his name) gives him directions. He just has to pass a stump up ahead, and he’ll find the fox on the other side of a rail fence. Willoughby heads off, leaps over the fence, and falls off a cliff again. He doesn’t catch on this time. (I do love his little resigned sigh. Sometimes that says it all.)

He returns to George to tell him the directions were faulty, and the little dog decides to go with him this time. But while squeezing through a log, his costume comes off and Willoughby catches on again. (The costume loses a leg for a brief second, and this scares the dog so badly, that his ears turns white.) He chases the vulpine, waking a bear in the process, and barricades off the hole George is hiding in with a boulder. He happily tells the bear what he’s done, before realizing it’s a bear and climbs a tree. (A good safety tip. You can learn a lot from cartoons.)

George is able to move the boulder, and sees the ursine and the treed canine. Some might say it’s a conscience thing, but I think George just can’t resist the opportunity he has here, and gives the bear a hot foot. ( A great reaction I’m not spoiling if you choose to read this synopsis before the watching the short.) Willoughby tries to act cool, but faints in relief. NEXT MORNING! Those cruel hunters are at it again, and Willoughby is once more the last one out. But this time he has George with him, as the two live together now.

Still, a hound has to do what he was bred to do, and he asks George for directions towards the nearest fox. (Preferably one that he isn’t on a first name basis with.) George tells him to head for a stump, turn past it, and he’ll find the fox on the other side of a rail fence. Willoughy heads out, leaps the fence and there is no crash. The dog is learning, and this time he left some mattresses to cushion his landing.

Favorite Part: The little chuckle George gives when pranking the bear. He kinda sounds like a marmoset.

Personal Rating: 3. Sad really. I saw this one all the time back in the day on Cartoon Network, and was looking forward to seeing again for the first time in twenty-one years. I remembered it being a lot funnier, George. A lot!

Porky’s Baseball Broadcast

“What a ball game!”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Animation by Cal Dalton; Story by J.B. Hardaway; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on July 6, 1940.

Six years before Freleng would have Bugs face off against the Gas-house Gorillas, he tried his hand at a baseball cartoon of a different sort. Bugs was still a few weeks from making his official debut, so Porky was to be the one taking the title. But he’s not really an athlete. (Though he looks FABULOUS in his basketball outfits.) He’s much more comfortable playing the announcer.

It’s a big deal. Today just so happens to be the World Series! Tickets are selling like hotcakes, (being crafted like them too.) and the scalpers are having a grand time with all the headcount. And this game looks to be way more fun than anything the real world can offer. One team has a literal giant on their side, and the other, a literal double header. You’d have to be the world’s biggest waste to miss this! So the portly guy that I decided is named Lou had better find his seat posthaste!

Let’s begin! The umpire is blind and has a guide dog, (which is odd because he is clearly a dog himself.) and the catcher is a turtle wearing his shell backwards for safety. Yep, I’ve already gotten my proof that this is way more exciting. And the action! Why, in the first inning we see a dachshund use his body length to ensure at least two of his feet are safe on a base at any one time. He manages to get all the way around the bases, despite hitting a single. *Insert quote at the top of the page here*! And Lou is still trying to find his seat. Poor waste.

Seeing as how we only have a little over seven minutes total for the game, a montage of what we’ve already seen has to be employed to get us to the end and still feel like a story.  So here we are, the bottom of the ninth, the Giants are behind, but they can secure victory if they get this hit right. Lucky for Lou, he has finally found his seat and only after sitting does he find there’s a pillar in his way. And if Porky’s broadcast is any indication, he just missed a spectacular comeback that has netted the Giants a victory! *Insert quote at the the op of the page here*, indeed!

Lou paid good money for this seat. And so he stubbornly sits and tries to pretend he’s enjoying himself. Hours later, after the sun goes down, he finally quits lying to himself and begins tearing apart the stadium in a rage. Really though, the rest of his life isn’t going to be as grand slash epic as that game was, so I feel for him. The waste.

Favorite Part: The reveal of the pillar. It’s handled well. Enough of Lou’s seat is visible that we don’t immediately notice it’s crummy, and Lou is currently blocking other people’s views with his girth, so our eyes are currently pointed elsewhere. But watch it again with your new knowledge, and you can see that no seats behind the crappy one have people in them. They misdirect us most enjoyably!

Personal Rating: 3. The weakest gags you’ve seen in “Baseball Bugs” can all be traced here, and their humor potential is divided in half.

 

Slightly Daffy

“Greetings, gate!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Micahel Maltese; Animation by Virgil Ross; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on June 17, 1944.

In Wackyland2 tradition, I must talk about the colored remake before its source material. Sadly, this is pretty much the same cartoon as “Scalp Trouble.” Only the gags aren’t nearly as funny. Whatever. This time, I’ll talk plot, and whenever I talk about the original, (Which yes, I already should have done if I’m talking about this one.) I’ll discuss gag differances.

Out at some outpost in what is no doubt the American west, General Daffy Duck isn’t pleased to see that most of his troops still snooze. (How/why did they make this guy the general? It seems more like a role for the later Daffy.) Making use of his knife, and the bugler’s buttocks, General Daffy rousts most everyone awake. But one soldier continues to sleep, because he’s the wisest of the lot. This soldier is Porky Pig.

Ahhhhh. Wonderful, blissful sleep. Proof that life is best experienced unconscious. The polite thing to do would be to let a sleeping pig lie. I mean, what could be more important? But then, General Daffy has his name for a reason, and the reason is that he’s the leader, so he’s got to be the bad guy. But Porky is a champion at the R.E.M. cycle, and can’t be woken. Worn out by his efforts, General Daffy decides to join him in his rest.

That was his mistake, as the bed wasn’t designed for two bodies, and it crashes to the floor. Porky is awake now, and follows his general outside. What are they doing out here anyway? Just keeping the natives at bay? I think that’s who they’re up against. They keep saying “Indians” but they don’t look Asian at all. But they are willing to fight. (What, do they think this land belongs to them, or something?) And an entire army descends on the fort.

These guys could be tough! They have guns and horses! Except one who can’t be trusted with such a weapon, as whenever he fires his bow, he shoots his horse. But apart from him? I don’t know how they could be beat! Porky (being the most competent soldier there is) is the first to take note and tries to warn the sleeping troops. Too late! To quote Heather O’Rourke, “They’re here!” and they’re capable! Very soon, Porky is the only thing keeping them from just pouring in!

The pig needs more bullets! General Daffy (who was in his hat for some daffy reason) rushes to comply, but trips on his way back and swallows every shell. Deadly? Yes! That’s just what we need now! With his new superpower, General Daffy has become a super weapon! Porky wields him well, and it’s not too long after that the opposition is on the retreat. (Even better, I counted zero casualties.)

When all is said and done, General Daffy is just glad that it’s over. But he trips again, and lets a fresh round of bullets fly! A pretty normal day for this place.

Favortie Part: When Porky trips over General Daffy’s scabbard, he ends up with the duck in an embrace. Obviously, General Daffy does the “didn’t know you cared” bit, but Porky isn’t embarrassed, angry, or temporarily attracted. Instead, he’s got a big smile on his face. It’s adorable! Who says that an army can’t be a family?

Personal Rating: 2. If it was its own picture, it could have done better.