Fresh Fish

Supervision by Fred Avery; Story by Jack Miller; Animation by Sid Sutherland; Music by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on November 4, 1939.

Well, the mice were a cute experiment, but let’s discuss more about what Avery really made a name for himself with: his blackout gag shorts. However, I’ll admit this isn’t one of his best ones. Simply because it’s full of fish puns. The same fish puns you’ve been hearing since you were in the womb. (Except maybe the one where a fish has five dollar bills for fins. It’s too old.) The fish comments made in Animal Crossing are fresher material! But maybe I’ve just heard them one time too many. You might not have. Yet.

We’re going on a glass bottomed boat ride and we’re all gonna like it! It is the best way to view the wonders of the water world, the scariest things to ever exist on Earth, the guys and gals with the gills, let’s hear it for the ichthyoids! While we enjoy the sights and tolerate the puns, the very one and the same Professor Mackerel Fishface will be manning a diving bell in search of a species that has yet to be captured by man, (and really, how else can we prove we’re the higher beings?) the Whimwam whistling shark. (Cephalosillyum wisling)

Under the sea, under the sea, there are sardines which aren’t a real species, listen to me! Really though; ‘sardine’ is a catch all term for small fish you can stick in a can. So while I understand the joke of the fish swimming in a packed together school, I can’t help but wonder if they’re actually anchovies or really herring. Then we get the expected “crab sounds like Ned Sparks” joke, a hermit crab that is very happy to be one, and a taxi crab. (Okay. That pun isn’t overdone. Yet.) And the animators try their darnedest to make a Katherine Hepburnesque sea star sexy. (Which is a very specific fetish, but to the one person into echinoderms, your life’s journey has concluded.)

Now, here’s a joke you’ve known about for about as long as ever: the electric eel that displays a neon sign. And the only reason I’m not bothering to mention that it shouldn’t be in saltwater is because the narrator himself calls it a visitor. I’m considering that a win. And then there’s the appearance of this thing:

A horrifying monstrosity of a being that must be living in constant agony. No doubt only wanting to see Mr. Ripley so it’s deformity can bring some goodness to the world. But our narrator wants nothing to do with it, and shoos it away. It will be known as a running joke. (Repeatus humorous).

There’s an octopus that has a mouth where its siphon should be and probably vice versa failing to catch a sun perch which means one of these animals is the very wrong habitat. (I’m guessing it’s the one with the spine.) And get this: a seahorse race. You get it? Cause land horses race so it’s a joke to suggest their aquatic (distant) cousins would do the same. I just wish someone would make a joke about how boring that would be. Slowest fish in the world folks. Oh yeah, I guess our monstrosity was female since it laid eggs at the narrator’s suggestion. I’m not sure how she did and I’m happy about that.

Want more fish puns? We’re swimming with them! (Nobody said I couldn’t get in on the act.) A “tiger” shark! A “hammer” head shark. A “shovelnose” shark! (Wait. That last one isn’t a shark.) At least the first two subvert our expectations with additional jokes; the tiger meows and the hammer is hitting himself. Okay, yeah. That’s funny. I need a gif of that. But wait… cartilaginous fish? Does that mean… Yes! That whistle! That’s the shark the professor was looking for! Good thing he came prepared with a net! He hauls the creature aboard his diving bell and is hoisted back aboard.

Too bad containing yourself in an enclosed space with a animal that can eat you means one of you has to die. Ah well. Sacrifices have to be made in the name of science. Let’s name an aquarium after Mr. Fishface to calm his wife down.

Favorite Part: A school of fish (sarcastic *ha*) is being taught how to get bait off hooks without, you know, getting drug to your demise. The teacher makes the mistake of showing what not to do, and the fry all cheer when they learn this means school is over for the day. (Funny because it’s true.)

Personal Rating: 2. It still looks wonderfully visually, but fish and fish puns both stink after three days.

Finally, I ask you to join me in raising a toast to “Coyote Vs Acme” a film I was really looking forward to viewing, but tragically died before it was even born. I try to adore Warner Bros. but its actions like this that make me think I should faun over different studios. It’s just one of those harsh lessons that never sinks in for me: just because you love something, doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to love you back.

A Sunbonnet Blue

“Oh, George! You’re so cuute!”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Animation by Sid Sutherland and Virgil Ross; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on August 21, 1937.

Let’s finish off Avery’s mice trilogy. This time, our short will take place in the “Snobby hatte Shoppe”. A mouse who plagiarized Porky’s blazer and tie checks to make sure there are no people or cats. Nope! Not in this picture! He calls for the rest of the gang to come out of hiding. Well, he tries to. I couldn’t find any prints of this cartoon without his line getting awkwardly cut o-

These mice aren’t here to nibble the hats, or even just to futz about with the things for their own amusement. These mice are performers! They’ve got a little song and dance number to the title song. But I can’t imagine the audience is paying them much thought. Oh, ours for sure, but also their animated one. While they sing, something far more surreal happens with a straw hat and bonnet. They get married! (Good thing there was a priest’s hat nearby.) And these things reproduce like aphids! In the three seconds the camera pans back to the mice, the hats have produced about 13 offspring. (Mrs. Bonnet? Why are you washing so many diapers? Do hats even have urinary tracts?)

Next on the docket is the three Ratz brothers. (It’s kinda weird that their introductory text is just flashed on the bottom of the screen. But then, I guess the mice already would know who they are.) These guys are the highlight of the picture and the reason I’m not rating it a two. They’re having such a fun time hamming it up, singing hat related songs, making faces, acting crazy. Basically being cartoon characters figuratively and literally. It’s a crying shame that they aren’t going to help out during the climax.

Our two mammalian romantic leads have been eyed this whole time by a rat who either has the plague or is Rat Fink’s grandfather. Using Judge Doom’s hat as cover, he is able to steal the doe. George notices immediately and rallies the troops. (I think he identified the villain as “Roughhouse Ratchet”. Which is a pretty awesome name for someone born looking evil.) They march into battle, all wearing the appropriate hats. Hats that are at human scale. They may not be able to see, who they’re looking for, but darn it, they look so cool! I’m sure George will understand.

With sufficient numbers gathered, some of the rodents… float in midair? What happened? Was this the only background available? Did the animator’s just not get to see what their cels were going to overlay? Whatever it is, it’s actually pretty unintentionally funny. Still, this oversight is an oversight, so I couldn’t let it be ignored. I mean really, you think the guy who mentions things like George’s ear being miscolored for a frame would miss a chance like that?

Seems not being able to see anything other than your feet really came back to bite these little pipsqueaks as George is the one who does all the rescuing. He flings a flattened top hat at the villain, scooping him up and loosening his grip on the girl. When the hat pops up again, Roughhouse is flung into a knight’s helmet that George locks up. Now he can ask his lady a question he’s probably been holding in all night. Happily, she agrees.

So the two non-hat romantic leads are also getting wed. Good thing we have a living priest ha-. another rodent in the priest hat. That works too. He pronounces the two buck and doe and a wedding present is presented to the two: live-action baby clothes. (Hint hint, you two. You evolved the ability to replenish your numbers to ludicrous degree for a reason.)

Favorite Part: When George panics, he let out some Daffy “Woo-hoos.” It’s funny to hear them coming out of a mouse for a change.

Personal Rating: 3, for those glory that was those Ritz Bros. I’m sorry, Ratz Bros.

Ain’t we got Fun

“3rd shelf: Things ‘n stuff.”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Animation by Charles Jones and Robert Clampett; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on April 17, 1937.

Let’s return to that strange time when Avery tried to make cute little mice cartoons. (Although, chronologically, this was the first of the three.)

It’s snowing. Isn’t it awful? I like the plan of Old man Numbles: sit in a comfortable chair in front of a beautiful fire. Only thing wrong with that? His cat beat him to the best seat in the house. Easy fix. He smacks it with his newspaper until it returns to the floor where it belongs. This guy isn’t just smart, he’s great with animals. I nominate him as my third grandfather.

As cats do, the cat falls asleep. Ever hear the saying, ‘When the cat’s asleep, the mice will creep?’ It’s playing out right now. Sentry mouse sends the word via paper airplane. Using a model that experience has told me doesn’t fly at all. Side-tangent, but if you’ve thrown the perfect paper airplane, you’ll spend the rest of your life cursing your inability to duplicate it. With the word spread, it’s creeping time. (It’s a hauntingly hypnotic creep. It’s also another great image to screen-cap for memes. When you become the trendiest person on the internet, the right thing to do will be to send me half of the money you made with this great tip.)

Cat’s out like an old fad. Feast time! While the food gags commence, the mice are smart enough to set another one on guard duty. If the cat appears, he’s to whistle. Just a suggestion, but you might want to take those crackers he’s standing in front of with you. I know mice, and I know crackers. Mice will nibble on edible things. Crackers can not be whistled through. When you put the two together, it equals trouble for your soiree.

And the giggles roust the cat. Um, you’re looking the wrong way, moron. The pantry was located to your right. His eyes have changed color, too. Maybe because if you squint as much as Numbles does, he kinda looked like Beans at first? Guard mouse can’t whistle to save his friends lives, but his ear can flash. Good thing a different mouse sees the feline and everybody flees back to the mouse hole in time. With the cat separated by wall, the stragglers hand him the food they pilfered from the pantry. Oh, Numbles! You might want to take a look at this!

The geezer ain’t happy.  Despite the cat’s insistence, he is deemed guilty and doomed to freeze outside. Strangely enough, seeing my two least favorite things together is actually making me laugh. Now the mice can really creep! In fact, things are so good that they sing our title song, with a few modified lyrics. And I think one of the singers is a doe. I mean, she’s(?) wearing a dress, but the singer’s all sound masculine. An oversight? Or an Avery joke? Guard mouse even got himself a metal whistle, so his snacking won’t be a hindrance anymore.

With less caution, the resulting noise manages to wake Numbles. The mice don’t fear him, so they pelt him with food. (I’m sure they won’t mind nibbling it off of him afterwards.) Remembering why he got a cat in the first place, he begs for it to come back inside, apologizing for the mix-up. Cat’s hearing none of it. The man can fix his own mess. It’s the mice’s taunting that convinces it to chase them back to the hole once more. Maybe now they’ll stay put. The cat claims the chair once more, andNumbles, realizing he owes him one, takes the rug instead.

Favorite Part: After smacking the cat away from his chair, Numbles throws a book at it for no real reason. Maybe you have to dislike cats like I do to get it.

Personal Rating: 3. Putting my personal view aside, I don’t think there’s too much cat abuse here for cat lovers to hate it. C’mon, he wins in the end!

Porky’s Tire Trouble

“D-D-Don’t hurt that d-d-dog!”

Supervision by Robert Clampett; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Norman McCabe; Music by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on February 18, 1939.

Starring Porky Pig! (Look at that doofy smile he gives at the beginning. I love this dope!) And yes, it is vital to remind us, as most of the focus will be taken by Porky’s dog of the picture: Flat Foot Flookey. (Don’t you just love names that are tongue twisters? Cause I don’t.) He’s a strange looking one, as dogs go. It’s like Clampett wanted his unit to get Pluto and Goofy for a cameo in one of his shorts, Disney obviously said “Screw off.” (with that charming smile of his), Clampett managed to get a D.N.A. sample off both of them, but accidentally put the two into the same cloning jar. So why do YOU think the dog is wearing shoes?

Porky is heading off to another workday at Snappy Rubber Co. (The scenery is  jumpy today), with the loyal Flat right behind. (I’d really rather not type his entire name out again.) Porky doesn’t notice until the dog enters the building.  Porky yanks him right back out because his boss has some asinine rule that makes no sense to me: No Dogs Allowed. I mean really, what if Porky needed to hug something warm and I wasn’t around? Are you willing to be there when your employee needs you most, boss?

Okay. Tone it back. I’m letting my fanboying take over again. Rules are still rules and Porky has to tie Foot to a car. (Look at the poor dog’s face! Why would Porky do this to him?) I guess it’s a good idea; his walrus boss is another Billy Bletcher role, so he probably can be a pretty nasty foe. But he does his job competently. He uses a machine to chew up rubber trees, and pour the pulp into the giant, novelty waffle irons that Porky mans. Turning out rather handsome tires. How are they considered trouble? Porky handles them like the champ he is.

Flookey (Wait… Lessee… ‘Flat’… ‘Foot’… Aw crap.) doesn’t heed the sign because he can’t read. He digs into the factory, dragging the car along I might add. I do so hope it was the boss’s. (I kinda want to dub him ‘Bletch’ but I’d rather make less references to “The Feebles” than Disney has. He’s not getting a name.) Porky directs his dog to the exit, but the pup steps into a barrel of rubberizing solution. His body absorbs the properties, essentially making him a superhero. Eat it Krypto and Underdog! Before you both existed there was Plastic Pooch!

With the power of rubber, Plastic Pooch does the most obvious thing: turn his face into caricatures! (His Edna Mae Oliver could use some improvements in the eyes, and his Hugh Herbert’s nose changes color. Or maybe it’s just a change of the light?) He can now take on his nemesis: Porky’s boss! He’s fully aware there’s a dog on the premises now, and he aims to eradicate him. (I can tell Mel is doing the shouting for him. That guy was born shouting.) But the dog is rubber, he’s not glue, Plastic Pooch will defeat you! If you grab a hold of him, he can stretch far enough to bite your rear! If you throw him away, he’ll just bounce back! He’s. Gonna. Rub. You. Out!

The boss learns all too well that he can’t rid himself of the Tuniverse’s newest hero. Plastic Pooch ends up knocking him into Porky’s tire press. And now we’ve just witnessed the supervillain origins of P.P.’s greatest nemesis: Snow Tire! Don’t miss the exciting next issue! Our villain continues to get thwarted, and he sure is tired of that! (Wait… “He’s not getting a name!”… Mm-hm… “Snow Tire!”… … Doh!)

Favorite Part: Porky is so chipper, that he even does a little dance on his way to work. Even more adorable is mild mannered Flat Foot copying him. (Oh yeah, Porky is the only one who knows Plastic Pooch’s secret identity.)

Personal Rating: 3.

Porky’s Pet

“Tickets, tickets.”

Supervision by Jack King; Animation by Cal Dalton and Sandy Walker; Music by Norman Spencer. A Looney Tune released on July 11, 1936.

*Sigh* I was really hoping some sort of Christmas miracle would bring back my lost work. I promise, that’s the last time it’ll be brought up. Now, let’s discuss the first short to have Porky’s name in the title.

Porky’s just received a telegram from someone named J. Botts. (Jo Botts?) We never see the person, but they’ve got a great offer for my pig pal: A job that’ll pay seventy-five cents a week in New York, so it must be Broadway related. But it’s not just Porky who’s going to be big, so will his titular pet, Lulu. He rushes to her cage to tell her the good news. How cute! She’s a canary, then? She’s an ostrich.

Now, I’ve always loved ostriches. Probably my first favorite animal before I moved on to yaks, then bats, then newts, then goblin sharks, then hermit crabs, then hamsters, before making pigs my final choice. So I know a fair amount about the largest extant birds. For example, I’ve never known one to speak in a strange garbledygork of insane laughter and English mumblings. And her size and appetite mean that she must be a heck of a hassle of a pet. But I see genuine love in her eyes for the Porkster, so I can’t and won’t interfere with the heartwarming bond between them. (Though I COULD give her a good home…)

Well, with the future calling, P. and L. traverse to the train station. Climbing aboard, it appears that Mr. Pig can’t take a trip with a pet in tow. (Dogs are allowed but not ostriches?) Well, Porky just tells Lu to run ahead of the train and he’ll sneak her on. (Why not just ride her? How far is your journey, anyhow?) She may look like a birdbrain, but she understands and the plan works great. Porky was able to pull her into the moving train by her neck. He is our new god.

But now comes the difficult part: keeping her hidden. She’s a big girl, and is quite noticeable. Lucky all the other passengers are willing to stay mum on the subject. Still, she’ll have to stay out of the conductor’s sight. Porky stuffs her under the seat with some difficulty, but she’s a wide-open spaces kind of bird! She doesn’t stay put and decides to put her special ostrich talent to good use. That’s her appetite. She roams around the area eating whatever catches her eye. Toupees, toy planes, musical instruments. She’d probably eat a baby if she came across one.

Crap! The conductor approacheth! In a panic, Porky hides Lulu into the only thing big enough he can get his mitts on: a cello case. (Why did someone bring an empty one along?) This hardly works before Lulu stands up, giving the conductor quite the ride and interesting story to tell later on. When she’s revealed, he doesn’t need to react with surprise or fright. He grabs her without so much as a flinch, and throws her out the window. Porky is next to go, though he gets the more dignified exit via the back door.

The two are still a long way from Broadway, but their ingenuity sees them through. Tying a nearby handcart to a nearby cow gives them a means of transportation that’s even faster than train! Bet the conductor feels embarrassed now!

Favorite Part: A small thing, but I like how the concertina Lulu swallows is labeled as such. So many people think they’re accordions, but here you’ll have no excuse for the mix-up. (Unless you can’t read.) Together, we can help raise awareness.

Personal Rating: 2. I think I preferred Donald Duck interacting with an ostrich. Hortense was way cuter, too.

(And yes, I know female ostriches don’t have black plumage. But since this isn’t “Fantasia” I can use the grayscale to my advantage and blissfully believe that Lulu is just a very dark shade of brown.)

Jeepers Creepers

“There’s somebody at the door.”

Supervision by Robert Clampett; Animation by Vive Risto; Story by Ernest Gee; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on September 23, 1939.

October is that magical time of year where any mystery is believed to have a supernatural conclusion. To wit, mysterious sounds are being heard at an abandoned building and that means we have to get the police involved. ‘Pig’ might be a derogatory term for those in blue, but in this case, the kop is wearing black. He’ll solve this mystery, and he doesn’t need any “Porky Snacks” to boost his confidence.

The old house is really creepy. Lovely atmosphere shots help build the chills. It’s got bats, rattling shutters, wails and shrieks. That last thing can be explained by the radio inside. So someone is living here? Well, I wouldn’t use the L-word. If the tenet’s voice is any indication, I think this is taking place in the alternate print of “Lonesome Ghosts” in which Goofy didn’t make it out among the breathing.

This goofy ghost loves to scare because that’s just what ghosts do even if they don’t intend to. Whilst waiting for people to scare-ify, he likes to relax with a cigar. I’d tell him those are bad for the health, but I don’t think he has one. Besides, he bathes himself to get the stench out. No sense in scaring folks off before they even lay eyes on you. Officer Porky arrives on the scene, and the ghost lures him in. Here’s wishing you a sporting chance buddy, because my Porky worship tells me that he ain’t a scared of no ghosts.

The ghosts plan? He’s going to put some quacking frogs in shoes he’s tied together, to make it looks like they’re walking by themselves. Seems like a waste when you have a real ghost on the premises. (And are the frogs quacking so I can’t make any jokes about the ghost making them “croak”?) Porky doesn’t notice them, so they keep hopping forward because frogs like being crammed into shoes and would never try to hop out of the opening. The ghost opts to bang a serving platter over Porky’s head instead. (Sometimes we have to sacrifice originality for reliability.)

But the frogs come through for ghost boy, as they end up dragging a hat rack into a curtain, and making a decent specter of death in the process. I guess the pedestal I put Porky on must shatter, as he does indeed freak out upon seeing this thing. He wants out. The ghost decides now is the time to reveal himself and Porky is so petrified, he has to rip out the floorboard his feet refuse to move from. He bolts up the stairs, and unknowingly right into the arms of the ghost. Who has the audacity to mock him. (You made your point, dude. No need to be an a-hole.)

Time to leave! Legends say that ghosts won’t follow you out of the house they’re haunting, but those legends were started by lazy ghosts. This one has a work-ethic and is able to overtake Porky’s speeding car. Beware of hitchhiking ghosts! Porky isn’t one to pick up strangers though, and leaves the ghost with his exhaust. Which sadly means we end this fun Halloween treat with a blackface gag. (At least Rochester is a cool guy to reference? ???)

Favorite Part: The awful description the police chief gives for ghosts. “Those white things that go *evil laughter*.” He’s lucky Porky didn’t go arrest Dick Cheney.

Personal Rating: 3

Bosko the Musketeer

“Hi-dee hi! Ho-dee ho! Ho-dee hey!”

Animation by Rollin Hamilton and Robert Stokes. A Looney Tune released on September 16, 1933.

Bosko gallivants along to visit Honey. (Bruno briefly appears, but won’t be featuring.) This surely ain’t no surprise visit, as Honey is dusting all things that might be any and every. (Poor fish looks uncomfortable.) Bosko arrives just as she finishes dusting a painting of the three musketeers. Truly awesome folks, eh Bosko? He’s not too impressed and starts fencing with an umbrella while his honey, Honey, sings.

And suddenly the screen dissolves to Bosko actually BEING a musketeer and fencing with a SWORD against four adversaries. Sounds like a daunting task, but Bosko’s got a an arm up his sleeve that can do a trick. Namely, letting the gauntlet do all the work while it nips out to unleash keg contents on the four anti-musketeers. Speaking of, counting Bosko we’ve got one short musketeer and two short. And a name like that will never sell. Where’s the rest of them?

In the tavern of course. Since their is three of them, I guess Bosko is our D’Artagnan. Can you name the others? I’ve never read the book or seen any film adaptations, so I’m useless. (But I’ve eaten the candy bar several times!) What a pal, Bosko is. Always looking out for those of us who spent our high school years reading “Asterix” comics for our french fix. I now know that they go by Athos, Amos and Andy. (Truly the “Star Wars” of their day if the amount of references is any indication.)

Lets sing! Dance! Have a good time! Drink and be merry! Look! They’re even inspiring Mickey clones 205, 634 and 431. Swell guys, these musketeers. Even if they do have a habit of using oddly quick cuts to down their drinks. The whole place loves these guys! And yes, that includes clone 511. But it doesn’t include the obvious villain; a man with really hairy hands, or prickly pears attached at his wrists. And now Honey arrives. Is she part of Bosko’s imagination? Or did she take over telling the tale so she could self-insert herself into it? Who imagines the imaginer?

Well, she’s not in period appropriate clothing, so I guess Bosko is the creator of all we’re seeing. (That’s why she can be as topless as she always is.) Obvious villain grabs her, which can’t be at all pleasant with whatever extremities he has coming out of his arms. Bosko to the rescue as the other three have suddenly ceased to exist. Or maybe they’re just giving him a chance to prove himself? Sword dueling commence! Both are evenly matched and damage to their weapons doesn’t automatically mean they’re out. O.V. has a caddy, and Bosko’s sword fits in the pencil sharpener.

Bosko is ultimately the victor because he places a shovelful of hot coals into his adversaries pants. Thus bringing Bosko’s little power trip to a close. But Honey doesn’t believe any of it. (Was Bosko claiming it really happened?) So Bosko busts out the big question: “Was you there, Charlie?” (But… you had her there. So were you really rescuing some homely lady the whole time and you just inserted your girlfriend to get brownie points?)

Favorite Part: While Honey entertains the tavern with a dance, Bosko can’t help but gush about her to the nearest patron. It’s sweet.

Personal Rating: 2. Pretty standard Bosko saves Honey plot. If you’re thinking the two should retire by this point, don’t worry. They only had two more shorts with the W.B. after this.

Hare-um Scare-um

“You don’t have to be crazy to do this. But it sure helps.”

Supervision by Ben Hardaway and Cal Dalton; Story by Melvin Millar; Animation by Gil Turner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on August 12, 1939. (Unusual title card. It appears to be night on an iced over pond. Which I wouldn’t doubt Proto-Bugs doing, but I can’t tell if my guess is intentional.)

If you look at today’s paper, you’ll find that meat prices are rising. You’ll also find Hardaway self inserting himself and advertising his work. (I think. He spells ‘merrie’ “right.”) This angers the man holding the paper, who if the copyright is anything to go by, is named John Sourpuss. I don’t know if the voice Mel’s supplying is the best choice. Makes him sound forty years older than he probably is. He decides that the only thing to do is go out and hunt his own meat. Good thing he has a gun casually leaning against the wall. (That’s not safe.) He takes the dog he was sitting on, and they head out to get some rabbit. We literally barely knew him. (What’s that picture on his wall? A giant parrot in a tricorn stuck in a galleon?)

Being pre-1940 means our rabbit of the picture will be played by Proto-Bugs. He’s kind enough to leave some stamped prints for his pursuers to follow, and crazy enough to have already placed one stamp ahead of his progress. He also plays ‘Guess Who’ with the dog. Smart little feller is able to figure out who it is eventually, and his prize is a log roll down the hill. Coming out dizzy and weak gives P.B. the opportunity to play doctor. You can tell he’s medically licensed because he doles out the best medicine: laughter.

When John finds the hare/rabbit lying in the sun, he decides to salt him up right then and there. (It’ll make his death all the more tasteful.) Proto-Bugs holds out his celery to catch the seasoning, while changing he feet’s fur color for a half second. Jeff can’t follow him into his burrow, because it’s now an elevator. (And yes, Jeff will continue to have those purple rings around his eyes for the rest of the short. This was the moment where I gave up thinking this was another coloring error.)

It’s the dog’s turn again, and Proto-Bugs does something the Definitive-Bugs will become well known for: dressing in drag. Puppy likes what he sees and eagerly accepts the lady dog’s invitation to sit down. When he’s ready to make-out, Proto-Bugs is completely unfazed that the costume is ripped off, and just supports the dog’s choice in mates. Angry, the dog gives chase, but the bunny in cop attire and invisible motorbike pulls him over for speeding. Then he just blatantly reveals who he is and runs off. Song time!

Nope, I’m not trying to be as screwy as him. (I couldn’t compare.) He really does sing a catchy little ditty. The same tune with different lyrics would eventually be sung by Bugs. (This picture is instrumental in shaping up the rabbit we would all come to love and secretly wish to be. But upon finishing his song, he finds John right behind him with gun pointed. Proto-Bugs lays on the details on why he wouldn’t be good eating: being thin and sick. Oddly enough, this gets John crying too. Maybe he’s just upset that this guy won’t make a decent meal after all? Looks like he’ll have to pay the $20.00 a pound for the porterhouse, after all.

The rabbit then gives him a joy buzzer handshake and flees again. Angry, John demands he come back and fight. He is also stupid enough to keep running his mouth and states that he can beat the hare and his whole family. They eagerly accept his challenge, and if you were watching this cartoon on T.V., things would abruptly end here. But the actual ending is thus: They thrash him. Driven mad, John imitates Proto-Bugs, hopping and hooing into the distance. Which got cut because it’s too similar to this ending? Odd reasoning.

But before I go, I want to mention what I was originally told was the real ending. I don’t remember where I read this, and looking back, I don’t recall any sources backing it up, but it was so out of left field that I’ve never been able to forget it. The ending I was told of has the rabbit clan beating the hunter (and dog) all right, but after the dust clears, all that is left is their severed heads! Which would then roll away into the distance. Whoever came up with that must’ve had the worst day in recorded history. Or they were an angsty teen. (Friggin’ psyco.)

Favorite Part: During the song, P.B. finds a Looney Tunes billboard, complete with Porky cameo! *Fanboy squee*! Shame he tears it up. I needed some wallpaper.

Personal Rating: 4. The writing is top-notch! I was deliberately leaving out Proto-Bugs’s wisecracks because you’d love hearing them much more than reading them. Almost makes me wish he stuck around more before evolving. But Daffy really was the more fleshed out screwball, and I’m glad they gave their next one his own distinct version of the personality. It holds up better in a historical context.

Little Lion Hunter

“Shh.”

Supervision by Charles Jones; Story by Robert Givens; Animation by Philip Monroe; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on October 7, 1939.

It’s Inki’s first day on the job, so we can expect a few flubs. Example: despite what the title clearly states, he’s throwing his spear at any and all animals. (Although, in seriousness, if a giraffe chooses to bend down to eat, it’s asking for death.) Being early in his short career, Inki also looks a bit different than we’d later know him. He’s got large lashes, and a shiny black nose. Making it understandable that I used to think he was female, and you thought he was a deer.

The kid finds some tracks that surely lead to some big, dangerous game, so Inki takes cover behind a tree. And the ‘dangerous’ part comes true when we see what comes from the direction of those tracks: the world’s REAL most deadliest game, the Minah Bird. (You can identify him by his flashing wings.) He clearly didn’t make those tracks, he just killed whatever did for intruding on his territory. (If it was lucky, it wasn’t made to suffer. No promises with this bird, though.)

Inki makes another rookie mistake, he decides to tackle this creature. He follows it, waiting for the perfect moment to use his spear. It either never comes, or he squanders it, as the bird hops into a hole. Now, you should never, never, never ever, never, never, ever put your hand into any hole this bird hopes into, if you value said hand and think there will even be a remote chance that you will use it again. Inki is lucky today, just pulling out a sleeping skunk. Perhaps the bird is giving him one break for being so new at this.

Inki decides to hunt tortoises, as there is less danger involved. But after following the reptile into a log, he finds himself back in the company of the destroyer bird. Having not gotten the hint that he should really flee while he still has eight toes, he throws his spear. Bridging a gap that the bird had no problem jumping into, because even gravity knows better than to try and kill him. Hence the bird’s ability to hop vertically up a tree. Inki climbs up after him, and ends up with the bird on his head. Said bird tries to bite his nose off for daring to let his scalp touch the bird’s talons. (Well, would you like to tell me what the bird is doing?)

While trying to squish it or something, Inki only manages to knock himself back to the ground. He’s managed to escape painful death twice now, so he should really leave the mynah bird hunting to the professionals. (Current members in that profession: -1,000,000,000.) But hark, sounds! (In a jungle? No way.) Sounds like some kind of game is coming close. Inki just needs to listen to find out what he’s up against. It’s the very thing the title said he should have been hunting all along: a lion.

The lion is much closer than Inki’s hearing suggests, and the beast has to physically tap the boy to make his presence known. Inki immediately knows he is over his head now, and bolts without even looking at the cat directly. (Good. He’s learning.) He also knows the basic rule of lion survival: hiding in a hollow tree stump works! They are not one to question why a stump has an eye, or what those horrible screechy, scratchy noises are. (I guess there the sounds of Inki trying to creep away?) But he forgot that this trick only works if you stand still. Even lions know that stumps don’t stroll.

With the lion totally aware, Inki has no choice but to accept his fate. But just then, things are made either worse or better by the appearance of who else was in the stump, good old, terrifying old, the Minah bird. The lion isn’t aware that he should flee while the fleeing’s good; animals can’t learn from mistakes that will kill them. It pounces, and a terrific tussle takes place off-screen. When the bird is done proving who the king of the jungle is, the lion is roughed up, tussed up, and ready for slaughter, but the bird feels he has made his point.

Instead, he lets Inki know that he saved the kid from the lion’s digestive system, and kicks him for bothering him in the first place. It’s here where you learn the twist that I just made up: Inki had found a genie, and wished to survive an encounter with this bird, three times. He probably thought that would mean he’d kill it each time, but you know what pricks genies are.

Favorite Part: When Inki is hiding from the lion behind a tree, the lion taps him on the shoulder. Inki figures out who’s poking him by squeezing the lion’s retractable claw out. Nice subtle teaching!

Personal Rating: 3

Young and Healthy

“Wake up, you chump!”

Animation by Rollin Hamilton and Larry Martin; Music by Frank Marsales. A Merrie Melody released on March 4, 1933.

Within every tapestry, there is an entire other world. In the one featured in today’s picture, it’s the 18th century life-round. And it’s also France so that means King Louie’s in charge. Prepare the royal staircase! Sound the color-changing horns! And cheer! In this universe, you might as well worship your leader because you’ll never get a different one! Hail! Oh yes, hail!

But despite our hailing, Louie doesn’t seem too pleased. Naturally, that just makes us love the jerk more. But it does make one wonder why our glorious ruler doesn’t smile. Have we failed as sycophants? Well, maybe the king will feel better after he’s taken a nap. I love that he loves to sleep. I love his color-changing coattail. I love his grotesque, ginormous, disgusting mole. I must, since I can’t take my eyes away from it.

In steps Queen Uhglii. She tells Louie that it is time for a ball. And our mystery is solved! Of course Louie is unhappy! “Balls, parties and picnics!” Day in, day out. 365.25 days a year! 4. Ever. They’re not all that fun to begin with, and as our distinguished, and perfect leader, he has to be proper the entire time. And that really starts to eat at you. And the final straw is the queen killing his Durante-flavored Jack-in-the-box. The only friend who truly understood him. The guy who was there for him when we weren’t allowed to. And he’s hacha’d his last hacha.

But Louie does see something that raises his spirits: children! Romping, and smiling and playing and enjoying life as only kids can. (And transforming into each other while they dance in a circle. I miss the days when I could do that.) That is what Louie is lacking in his life: fun. And one can’t ever be too old for that! (A message one should never get tired of hammering in.) You know what? He’s going to join them! And you know what else? The kids seem happy to include the guy. (Even white Bosko who rides in the royal pocket. Something the rest of us will never have the privilege of.) The only hiccup is ole Uhglii. She doesn’t seem too keen on kids. …. Get her.

The kids do this very well. Once her bloomers are on display, the queen runs off screaming much to Louie’s delight. So nice to see him smile once again! The kids have taken over the palace and set right in to making it their new personal playground. Too bad Louie has taken a tumble into a royal fountain and can’t join in. Even worse, since this is where the short ends, the tapestry will now forever depict the king spitting fountain water. Maybe we should find a new one to live in for the time being.

Favorite Part: The way Uhglii calls for her husband. Sounds like she’s calling a pig. And since there are no pigs in this picture, it’ll have to do.

Personal Rating: 2