Goin’ to Heaven on a Mule

“You’ll pay for this!”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Rollin Hamilton and Bob McKimson; Music by Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released on May 19, 1934.

Oh, boy. Today’s short takes place on a cotton plantation. Of course, that means everyone working is black. Well, at least they all look happy enough. Maybe we can just pretend that the harvesters are actually the ones who own the land for a change? No? Okay, if that’s what you really want. Our starting gags are relatively tame, basically just based on the fact that they are using fairly advanced techniques to harvest the cotton.

One person would rather sleep than work. (My kind of guy!) What would be a good name for this fellow? Nick? If you say so. When he’s not sleeping, Nick has quite the thirst for whatever is in his jug. (Hey for all you know, it could be sarsaparilla.) Nope. Guess it’s of the “booze” family, as an angel and a devil arrive to try and convince Nick to either stay sober, or drink up, respectively.

Now of course, OF COURSE, the angel is white and the devil is black. Chalk it up to our two-tone universe, but it still feels wrong to me. The angel actually goes ahead and wrestles with the evil side, which seeing as how that falls under the “violence” family, pretty much means the devil wins by default. Bottoms up! And man, that must have been some strong stuff, as the entire world around Nick starts to wobble, and fade, and next thing you know, Nick’s dead. (What was in that stuff?)

But you know, he’s actually in good spirits about it. He didn’t even have to die alone, seeing as how his trip to the heaven is delivered by his faithful mule, Rick. (Is it noble to die to give your friend a lift? Or is it too clingy?) They get to heaven which is called “pair ‘o dice”, (Of course it is.) and wouldn’t you know it! The only souls here are black! Now either this means that every race gets their own individual heaven, or I dunno, maybe cartoons don’t reflect reality?

Heaven looks a lot like what many parts of Earth looked like back in the 30’s, but people have wings, and that gives their streets one more dimension to travel along. They’ve even got entertainment clubs with singing, dancing, and all the watermelon you can eat. (Because of course they would!) But Nick sees something outside the place that he really likes: a gin orchard! But I’m not sure that’s a great idea; the signs also say  that this stuff is forbidden fruit. But it’s heaven! Surely you should be allowed anything your heart desires, right?

Well, while I ponder that, Nick helps himself and is caught in the act. God, or one of his valued employees, catches the rouge saint in the act and has him escorted away. (Nick is far too tipsy to care.) He is flung into an elevator shaft that is one way only, and Nick’s destination is Hades. (What no racist name for the other place? I’d offer one, but then you’d probably hate me, and I hate that.) Nick falls, and then wakes up from what was now revealed to have been nothing more than an alcohol induced hallucination. (If only there was technicolor, then he could have had the vision with pink elephants.)

Nick decides then and there, that he is done with the hard stuff and throws his jug away. Half a second later, he dives after it, and keeps it and his habit from breaking.

Favorite Part: A peddler tries to get into heaven, but is denied. Not terribly funny, but I do think we can agree that annoying salesmen are definitely NOT a part of paradise. Oh, sorry. “Pair ‘o dice.”

Personal Rating: 1. Not too funny, not creative enough to look past its depictions. Not like another cartoon I know.

Shake your Powder Puff

“I’m one of the Jones boys.”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Boc McKimson and Bob Clampett; Music by Bernard Brown. A Merrie Melody released on October 17, 1934.

It’s showtime over at Animal Farm! (No relation to Mr. Orwell’s locale.) Tonight we’ve got a real great variety type show at the Powder Puff Revue. To start, we have the house band playing “Zampa.” And if you think Mickey might be watching this, thinking, “I can do this much better and in color!” Then you’re wrong, because he’s a part of the band! (Okay. You caught me lying. In actuality, it’s clones 38 and 620.)

Our title song is performed by a trio of rabbits. Cuties. And they really are the perfect ones to perform this number, as they have built in powder puffs! (And boy, do we love to see them shake ’em! *Howl*) And they share the stage with Donald clones 1, 2, and 3. (I think the one in the middle is Huey, Dewey and Louie’s father.)

You’d have to be a dickhole drunk to find any problem with this performance. Which explains the booze (sic) coming from one of the audience. Why, if it isn’t Boozehound! The unlovable scamp who frequently goes to shows, just to mock the performers because he’s secretly envious that he had never had a chance to be on stage and this is how he masks his insecurities. (One could argue that he was the same guy doing this to Piggy.)

Boozy is thrown out, and isn’t going to be let back in anytime soon. Quick cut back to the stage with pigs singing the song now. Was something cut out? Cut that out! How am I supposed to appreciate these old films if they have more holes than a sea sponge? Because Boozehound has Statlernwaldorf syndrome, he has to get back into the show that he hates. And he’ll show them, he will! He’s going to pour pepper into some bellows, and spray it on the audience!

Sneezing ensues. And with the collective nostril gusts combined, the audience is able to remove the feathers off the dancing chickens. This pleases Boozehound so much, that he laughs and accidentally reveals himself as Goofy clone number 1! Busted! But then, he falls into the theater, and everyone immediately knows that he must be the one responsible for this. Since animals don’t make popcorn, it’s not surprising to find they brought produce to snack on. But they’re not adverse to pelting the drunkard with it. Get ‘im!

Favorite Part: The maestro getting a little too into his conducting. His jumping sends him through his platform.

Personal Rating:2

Along Flirtation Walk

“21! 18! 36! 32! Hike!”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Bob McKimson and Paul Smith; Musical Score by Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released on April 6, 1935.

Tomorrow is the big game! (Actual Big Game date may vary. Please consult a calendar instead of me to get your facts straight.) Good old Plymouth Rock College. So much better than that preppy Rhode Island Reds University. (Think they’re better than us, do they?) To hype everyone up for tomorrow’s event, a dance is being held. And quite the progressive one for the time period at that. Nowhere else in 1935 will you see a chicken dancing with a duck.

Sure, he’s civil when he meets her on the street.

Outside the dance is the perfect place for young couples to get some privacy. The poor bird on the end only looks like they’re lonely and alone. Actually, they’re just nervous about the game tomorrow as they’re competing. Romance doesn’t play any part in today’s story. (But it ties in so well with the title song.) Next day, game day! Our two teams are raring to go! Look at those fine specimens! The coaches should be really proud of those boys! What’s the event anyhow? Cockfighting? Crowing? Something masculi- why do they look ready to lay eggs?

Wait, those are hens? Good twist! Call me a sexist pig all you want, (I like being compared to swine.) but I wasn’t expecting an all female sports team in the 1930’s! Much less one that gets such a turnout. So that’s settles things then. The event is egg laying. Seems like something best kept private, but I should really learn to be more accepting of other cultures. But one thing that can’t be rebutted is that it looks painful. And people think women don’t want to play painful games.

So our little black hen from earlier is named by me! And I’ll name her Penelope. (Haven’t used that one yet. Not for a bird, anyway.) She wants to be on the field where the action is, buy the coach refuses. (Why is she here then? Answer me that, coach!) Comes back to bite him in the tail feathers by half-time. The opposition are leading by 58 points? Those rotten Reds! (It’s not racism, just schoolism.) And it looks like they have a sneaky way to hold on to the lead. They ingest billiard balls. (They’ll regret it tomorrow when they tear their cloacas apart. What a hemorrhoid.)

It’s working! The crowd can’t tell that eggs that look like billiards are often billiards, themselves. Things aren’t going much better for the Rocks as one of the players had a little too much fun with her boyfriend the previous night, and is now producing chicks. That’s a penalty. And it’s coming at such an inopportune time! There’s only five minutes left and the reds have such an insurmountable lead. Once more, Penelope begs to be part of the game. Seeing as how it’s one of those “nothing to lose, everything to gain” scenarios, Coach puts her in.

What an athlete! Barely on that nest for four minutes, and she’s already raised the total to 99! But the opposition has 100! Just a little more! Two hammers to the noggin equals two more eggs, (Not the Disney series. That sucked.) and thus ends the game! Up yours, Rhodes! All hail our new champion! She doesn’t need a trophy to remember this victory. Her bump will do nicely.

Favorite Part: While we’re looking along flirtation walk, we see a turkey couple ready to make out. Seeing our eager faces, the tom uses his fan as a chastity screen. Then he mocks us. (We deserve it.)

Personal Rating: 2

Wake Up the Gypsy in Me

“The fools!”

Animation by Isadore Freleng and Larry Silverman; Music by Frank Marsales. A Merrie Melody released on May 13, 1933.

I don’t know much about anything that isn’t related to zoology, so that means I don’t know an awful lot about Russia. But I do know that at the time of this short’s release, the country being portrayed here was known as the Soviet Union. With that said, I’ll still be referring to it as “Russia.”

It’s time for fun! Who likes dancing? And singing? And having a good time with their neighbors? I don’t, so I’m not sure how authentic this get together is. But everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, which is what I always thought happened in situations like this. But the festivities can’t really get started until an actual Gypsy joins the fun. Here she comes now. I’ll call her Kurabie. (Nobody else seems happy to see her. Rather they’re shocked and or appalled? Or just hungry? I’ve seen young blue tits make the same face.)

Look guys! It’s Kurabie!

While they continue to enjoy themselves, let’s follow what looks to be three kids in a trench coat, but is actually a little person and four bombs. They’re on their way to the residence of Rice Puddin’ AKA The Mad Monk. Clever name. Kids aren’t one to pick up on it, so they won’t know we’re making fun of someone who really existed. And here I thought the ire towards the guy didn’t start until 1997.

R.P. is just doing a jigsaw puzzle. A great way to spend one’s time. (And the bomb guy disappears after he gets inside. He was a waste of story if not animation.) Rice spies Kurabie and wants her. Despite the fact she looks to be about 8. These old shorts just suck at portraying age. Rice isn’t going to get her himself, though. He’s not very popular around these parts. He sends a guard to go and get the girl, while he stays behind and enjoys a cigar. (Helpfully lit by Mickey Clone number 551.)

When the girl is brought back by a completely different person, (Unless he stopped to shave off the rest of his stubble hair.) Rice sends him away (via trapdoor) so he can enjoy her “company.” If you know what I mean. Yet, she doesn’t appear into him. But why? He’s got a nice position of power. Well, I think it’s because of his run cycle. The animators really wanted to make him look like a Bauk. Lumbering, slobbering, and cackling. Such turnoffs.

But Kurabie’s calls for help were heard and a revolution was quickly formed. Rice tries to make an escape via donkey-copter, but the revolutionists were able to get at least one bomb in his attire. The resulting explosion makes him look a lot like that Indian guy, Candi. (No disrespect intended, but if Rasputin’s real name isn’t going to be used, then I don’t see why Gandhi shouldn’t get similar treatment.)

Favorite Part: Not only does Rice Puddin’ cheat at his jigsaw puzzles by cutting out the shapes he needs, but he isn’t shy of where he gets the material from. So we end up with a picture of a horse with the czar’s head on it’s butt. Political commentary!

Personal Rating:2

Egghead Rides Again

“I’m a rootin’, tootin’, shootin’, snootin’, high falutin’, tootin’, shootin’, rootin’, tootin’, cowboy, fella!”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Animation by Paul Smith and Irvin Spence; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on July 17, 1937.

For once, talking about these shorts out of order has worked in my favor. You’ve heard me talk about Egghead before, but back in 1937, audiences hadn’t. So, I’m pretty sure there were a number of people who saw this title, and figured they had missed the first one. But they hadn’t. This was Eggy’s first appearance. (And since Daffy had only had one appearance so far, and barely at that, Mel uses the duck’s voice.)

Egghead lives in the city, but really yearns to be a cowboy. His room is coated in western merchandise, he rides his pogo stick like a steed, and he yells as loud as he can. This displeases the landlord, Mr. Dadburn. So much in fact, that he evicts Egghead right there and then. And since he’s a wannabe cowboy and not a cowboy, he doesn’t have a horse to just aimlessly ride. He needs a job.

The want ad he spies has just the answer he’s looking for. They’s looking for help at the Bar None Ranch in Wahoo, Wyoming. (I’ve been to Wyoming. And I swear it didn’t look as desolate and dry as they’re depicting. Looks more like Utah’s Bryce Canyon to me. Any Wyomingians who can confirm your state looks like this cartoon?) Cow puncher sounds a bit more barbaric than cowboy, but it’s a tomayto, tuhmahto thing. Egghead mails his resume.

And the best thing you can have on a resume is experience, and since that’s something the body supplies, Egghead sends himself. He may be short, bald, have a big nose, and short, but he wants this job so much, that his voice briefly hits puberty. The buckaroos are willing to give him a shot, and let him take a shot. See, cowboys can shoot a cigarette out of someone’s mouth while they stand x feet away. Eggheads can fire a gun, but only at the near cost of the target’s life. Good thing he had his hiding hat on.

Branding is another skill that is vital to know. The terrified little calf they have for practice sessions wants no part in this, so the authentic cowboys are willing to hold it down for the noob. (Is anyone still saying that term? I can’t help it if I’m fourteen years late. My mind never matured past 2010.) Egghead, being a toon, brands every hide butt the calf’s.

The guy in charge makes the little guy a deal, if he can catch the calf that has taken the opportunity to start escaping, then Egghead can have the job. Such a deal! Egghead mounts a pony and sets off. (Looks like all those years of pogoing has paid off.) The calf is quite the tricky one. It takes the rest of the picture for Egghead to make any progress. He does manage to get it back to the pen, but the calf hogties him. Destroying his dignity, and earning jeers from the ranch hands.

But the bossman is willing to keep his word. Egghead got the calf back, so he gets the job. His position is known as the “Sanitation Engineer.” Talk about starting at the bottom! (I’m sorry. I promise to not make anymore jokes of that caliber for at least seven days.)

Favorite Part: The cowboys hear the mail arriving, and decide to ride to its drop-off point. A whole two feet away.

Personal Rating:3

Fagin’s Freshman

“Boy! This is keen!”

Supervision by Ben Hardaway and Cal Dalton; Story by Jack Miller; Animation by Rod Scribner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on November 18, 1939.

You remember the rhyme about the three little kittens who lost their mittens? I was never a fan. Even when you don’t take my feelings towards felines into account, I always found the tune annoying, the lyrics inane, and the plot just depressing. So, this cartoon doesn’t get to a good start with me, since it starts with that precise rhyme.

A mother cat and her kittens are singing, and smiling, and just making the world that much more saccharine. I’m with the kitten sulking in the corner, Alphonse. (He says the kids call him “Blackie” but I come from a millennium where that sounds a bit derogatory. I’m not one to judge kids by the color of their coat.) Now, the radio programs that feature guns, and violence, and death? That’s more his style!

His mother is angry about this. So much so that he’s getting the ole “bed and no dinner” punishment. Pretty harsh. Sure, he interrupted her inoffensively offensive sing-along, and yes, it’s probably not great that he is so fascinated by shooting, but to deny him his meals because of that? That’s poor parenting. Hasn’t she ever tried simply turning the radio off, looking her kid in the eye, and just spanking him?

Well, as long as Alphonse is in his bed, he might as well sleep. And if he’s asleep, he might as well dream. And if he’s dreaming, he might as well dream about something related to this whole thing. So, in his dream, he spots a sign asking for boys. It doesn’t really go into any further detail, so I don’t fault the kid for knocking on the door. He’s greeted by an older cat named Fagin. He seems like a kind enough gentleman, he’s running a school, and everyone knows those are always on the up and level.

Alphonse is introduced to the other classmates, and even though they permanently scowl, they seem chipper enough. But Alphonse isn’t too keen on hearing he just agreed to go to school. But Fagin makes a good point about how education gets you farther in life. (You think I WANT to write a blog that nobody reads?) Why just look at the students that he’s tutored. (I’m a little disturbed that one sometimes goes by “Holocaust Harry.” Wh…Why would that be an alias of his?)

Alphonse is starting to get worried, but Fagin makes a good point about how he just teaches. It’s the pupils who decide what they will do with their education. And yet, the cops just don’t see things that way and knock at the door. The police (who in this dream are all dogs) are doing their best to get inside. And they’re willing to use their firearms too. Either they don’t know their are kits in there, or said kits knew what they were getting into when they signed up.

Now that Alphonse is witnessing all this firsthand, he breaks down. He’s scared, and wants out of this lifestyle. But since he’s still asleep, he’d better find something he can get tangled up in, so they can become covers upon his awakening. Falling out the window, and getting wrapped in the curtains counts. He wakes. And now that he knows that being shot at is no fun, he joins in his families singing.

Favorite part: During the shootout, Fagin asks for everyone to cease while he answers the phone. They comply, and after answering, Fagin relays the message to officer Hogan. His wife needs butter.

Personal Rating: 2. But it teeters on the edge of one.

Buddy’s Bug Hunt

“You’ll get yours today!”

Supervision by Jack King; Animation by Bob McKimson and Paul Smith; Music by Norman Spencer. A Looney Tune released on June 22, 1935.

Despite what the title says, we see Buddy chasing a butterfly. Which may be an insect, but is not a true bug. But fine. For today I’ll do like the common man do, and use “bug” as a catch all term for insects. (Makes me feel dirty.) Anyway, Buddy really wants this butterfly. I don’t know, maybe he’ll get a golden net if he catches it.

Rookie mistake on the butterfly’s part! In its attempt to escape, it flew right into the very place the bravest arthropods hesitate to enter: Buddy’s Bug Hun- House. Buddy gets his prize and adds it to his already extensive collection. (Buddy also sounds like a little kid in this short. A fact that makes his action’s a bit more innocent.) Along came a spider, that Buddy does spy, he grabs hold of the arachnid, it’s going to die.

Wait…. arachnids aren’t bugs either! They’re not even insects! Cheat number two for you, Buddy m’lad. But yeah, he has every intention of killing this animal. How else would a “bug” collector collect? ( Considering this spider has six legs, it’s clearly some undiscovered species. Or maybe it’s a beetle using mimicry to avoid predators?) Buddy glues the poor thing down to keep it still, and readies the ether. Yes, he has ether.

And he’s not too careful with the stuff, ether. It starts affecting Buddy, making him woozy, and dizzy and apt to getting knocked out. And down he goes. During this time, the spider has managed to get itself free and sees the threat is no more. In fact, the threat looks like it could be at its prisoner’s mercy. No time wasted, the spider sets about freeing the other animals Buddy has imprisoned. Including a…frog. Strike three! That’s not even an invertebrate!

Buddy learns how Gulliver felt, when he wakes up to find himself ensnared in a spider’s web. They could just eat him, he’d probably be enough of a feast for seven generations of spiders, but spiders don’t kill for revenge. They’re going to put Buddy on trial first. Just got to bring him down to their size. They force feed him some reducing pills, and Buddy the terror has become Buddy the peanut. (What really makes this terrifying is the glee on the animal’s faces. No malicious smiles here; it’s pure cheer.)

And so Buddy is put on trial for his animal cruelty. Previous offenses include: ripping off a grasshopper’s leg, killing a butterfly’s parents, and making a widow out of…I guess another spider? She has even less legs than the others and has antennae to boot! But what else could they use for a black widow joke? Scarlett Johansson wouldn’t even be a sperm for another forty-nine years.

Buddy’s found guilty and is sentenced to what passes as the electric chair at this scale: a cigarette lighter. (Ironically, this is exactly how the majority of people who know about Buddy, wanted to see him go.) But it was all a dream of course, and the pain on Buddy’s backside is due to sunlight shining through a magnifying glass. Naturally, Buddy sets everyone free. Just in time, as the clubhouse collapses. (Which is the second most wanted way of Buddy’s demise.)

Favorite Part: How the judge reacts to the butterfly’s testimony. His “Ooh, is that so?” Just sounds so sarcastic. “Really? That’s really the extent of your misery? That other guy lost a freakin’ leg! It’s never going to grow back! And you have no parents? You, a butterfly, an animal whose parents never even witness their eggs hatch, blames this monster for your lack of a mom and dad? Well, I guess we have to give him the chair now!” (That’s all subtext, you understand.)

Personal Rating: If you’re like me and love the kind of stories where someone gets put in the place of some animal they’re harming in some way, then I think it’s 3 worthy. Otherwise, it’s stuck at 2.

Viva Buddy

“Zeppo!” “Harpo!” “Chico!” “Groucho!”

Supervision by Jack King; Animation by Frank Tipper and Ben Clopton; Music by Norman Spencer. A Looney Tune released on December 12, 1934.

Buddy sings as he walks. And he walks wherever he wants. In and out of doors, up steps, and onto railings. Of course, this doesn’t bother anyone since no one seems to be around. Nearly ever other in this cartoon is hanging out at the famed “Cantina El Moocher.” The best place for a nap. Not because any and all happenings there are boring, but rather, it’s just that were in Mexico, where everyone sleeps. Stereotyping is fun! (Although it really shouldn’t be. Ask someone to punish you if you continue to do so in spite of my warnings.)

Well, Buddy, you’ve still got a bit of time before Warners washes any traces of you they can find off the Earth, how will you entertain with a bunch of laze-abouts? Oh, you’ll just pop a coin in the piano player’s mouth and things will get jiving? Why didn’t I think  of that. Now that we’ve got some more music playing, we can hear our slightly offensive song. (Having never been to Mexico, I can only assume that they don’t add an “a” suffix to most of their words.)

And now the villain. Or at least some oafy thug who will cause trouble. Everyone knows him as Pancho, and they are wary of him too. It’s a good plan, as this guy fires his gun with reckless abandon. Sure, we don’t see anybody get hurt, but guns aren’t toys! He could put somebodies eyeteeth out. But all he winds up doing is shooting Buddy’s banana. That’s done it. If Buddy can’t enjoy his banana, then Pancho can! Buddy squeezes it in the big guy’s face, and as punishment, Buddy must now play the piano. (Poor guy.)

The music summons forth a dancer, who while not stated to be Cookie, will be treated as such. Pancho likes what he sees, and tries flirting, but she really isn’t interested. (Why aren’t the decent girls ever interested?) Pancho doesn’t care, and threatens to marry her tonight. Either the girl really IS Cookie, or it’s just the chivalrous thing to do, but Buddy uses a cello (maybe?) to shoot a fork at “That big bozo!” (Cookie lets you kiss her with that mouth?) Okay, Pancho vs. Buddy. While I think it’d make for a nice change a pace to got a different direction, my money is still on Buddy.

And my master gambling skills pay off once again. Shrugging off Pancho’s threat to “kill you to little pieces.”, he fires a candelabra (maybe?) which plugs up the scoundrels guns. Last option: the whip! Pancho gets Buddy (color changing string instrument!) leaving Buddy with little more than his puny fists to fight with. So Pancho starts swinging him around by his ankles. (I’m not worried. Be prepared to pony up.) Buddy grabs hold of a chandelier, and the both of them are soon spinning.

Once the chandelier has spun all it can, it spins the other way, throwing the two into a table. And what does Pancho have to say about all that? He was only kidding, of course! *eye-roll*

Favorite Part: During Buddy’s amble, he steps off a balcony and onto a stack of hats on a man’s head, stretching the top one over the rest. Buddy’s fixes things by giving the man a kick in the rear. Funny, because it’s such an un-Buddy thing to do.

Personal Score: 2. The stereotyping and weak ending keep it from scoring the coveted 3. This is still one of the better Buddy cartoons. You know, if you really need one.

 

The Cat Came Back

“WHAT THE F-!!!!”

Directed by Cordell Barker; Produced by Richard Condie, Cordell Barker; Written by Cordell Barker; Based on: The Cat Came Back by Harry S. Miller; Starring: Richard Condie. A cartoon released on June 22, 1988.

Boy, oh boy! What a treat we have here! A cartoon well worthy of its spot on the 50 greatest cartoons. It’s got catchy music, great jokes, fun animation, and… isn’t… even a Warner Bros. cartoon. Oops. Let me try it again.

“And she kicked me right here! Right where I sit down!”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Robert McKimson and Ben Clopton. A Merrie Melody released on February 8, 1936. (The last cartoon to be produced in Cinecolor.)

There we go. That’s what we’re used to. And look at the… um, cuties? Look, you should really be aware of my feelings toward cats by now. The only way I could find them cute is roasted to a golden brown, with some of those paper things at the end of its legs, and a garnish on top. But I’ll digress for now. The kittens are having a wonderful time while mother cat watches. And just across the way from the basement they live in is a family of mice.

Things are a little less joyous in the mouse house. Mother mouse is busy lecturing her pups about the evil kats. (sic.) Mere hyperbole and mouse propaganda, right? Hardly! For at this very moment, Mrs. Meow is teaching her kittens how to attack and probably kill mice. Which ordinarily wouldn’t seem too strange, but all the animals are on a similar scale of size. Instead of predator and prey, it just looks like a gang war.

At least Mrs. Squeak doesn’t stop at just talking, she also has the brains to train her children on dodging paws. (She has whiskers now?) But one little mouse can’t help but take a peek outside the hole and see what the world is really like. A kitten cross the way has similar aspirations. At last, the two star-crossed lovers can finally meet! I kid. Actually, they look ready for a rumble. Guess their mothers really did get through to them.

It’s then that Mrs. Squeak catches sight of what’s going on. She tells the kitten to leave her kid alone, and we learn that she was set to become the fourth Chippette before  she became a mother. (Oh? Would you like to explain her sudden change of voice then?) The little cat tries to follow because… it either wants to eat them, or it has learned that the mouse isn’t so different from its kind after all? Its reason doesn’t matter, because the mouse matriarch throws the cat right back out.

The little cat tells its mother what happened, and she goes to give the neighbor a piece of her mind. Squeak ain’t having any of it, and gives her eyes a good poking. She’s won this round, so Mrs. Meow has no choice but to drag her offspring home. Later, as the kitten mopes around, the mouse invites it to come have some fun together. (I guess it got over its hatred too.) The two do some dancing, before the cat falls into an open sewer. (What a typical cat.)

Meow heard those screams (That didn’t occur during the actual falling part.) and runs right over. We skip the tired cliche of her thinking the mouse was behind it all, as the mouse decides to jump in after its new pal. Also becoming alert is Squeak who makes an actual effort to rescue her kid. It doesn’t work, but I give points for effort. The mouse isn’t able to catch up to the cat because of the strong current. (Why is there a cuckoo clock, guitar and chair down here? These animals are just as bad as humans.)

The cat comes to a whirlpool, and is close to death. Time for the mouse to save the day! While holding on to a plank of wood up above, it lowers its tail to be grabbed on. (So, maybe its not a food related animosity. Maybe the cats just hate being constantly shown up.) The whirlpool is strong and twists the mouse like taffy, turning it into a makeshift helicopter. The two fly out. They are safe!

They return home and the two families decide to bury the hatchet and be friends. But wouldn’t you know it, Mrs. Meow just can’t get over that eye poke from earlier and she starts pounding Mrs. Squeak. (Cats also can’t forgive.) Being impressionable youths, the children forego their friendly ways and go back to how things were before.

Favorite Part: Mrs. Squeak training her kids to dart through active mousetraps. The cherry on top is her smile. “Yes, Billy. I want you to enter this contraption that can snap your neck. It’s for your own good.” You can’t prove there’s no risk.

Personal Rating: 2 If you only want to watch the first cartoon up there, I understand.

Those Beautiful Dames

“One, two, three, go!”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Paul Smith and Charles Jones; Musical Score by Bernard Brown. A Merrie Melody released on November 10, 1934.

On a cold, miserable night, (Yes, I know that’s a redundant statement.) a poor, little orphan girl walks through the snow. You can tell she’s an orphan, for she has all the typical orphan traits: a tattered shawl over her shoulders, a glum expression, and only one of her pant legs remains attached. (Okay, it could just be a low stocking. How would I know anything about women’s clothes? I’m a twenty-six year old virgin!)

Jessica, (for that is the name I’ve chosen to give her) would really like to play with some toys in the toy shoppe she peeks into. But even thought the light in the shoppe suggests they are open, she trudges along. (Maybe they operate by the strict “You play with it, you buy it” rule.) I really do feel sorry for the little one. She’s pretty cute. If I could adopt her, I would. (I’d regret it soon afterwards as I’m not fond of kids. But I’d find her the nicest orphanage to dump her off at.)

She makes it back to either her home, or just where she is going to be spending the night. If it isn’t already her home, then she could definitely do better. The only food available is mice skeletons, and the fire is thinner still. Shelter is shelter, though. She drifts off to an uneasy sleep. And then… uh-oh. I think the hypothermia is making her hallucinate. Toys don’t just follow you home from the shoppe. This cartoon sure got dark.

Since Jessica is still “asleep”, the toys use this opportunity to pretty the place up a bit. A little paint, a little wallpaper, and by the stroke of midnight, you’ll have comfortable furniture, electric lights, and a fireplace. Time to wake the waif. They even gave her a crown! Isn’t that…heavenly? The toys aren’t just interior decorators, though. They’re the entertainment. By which I mean, they’ve got a floor show planned. (The black toys only get to supply music and food. If this short wasn’t from the 30’s you might think that I just made a racist joke.)

A couple of concertina clowns do a dance, (must have missed that toy growing up. I’m not complaining though Legos and Gumby rock!) and a steam shovel can’t resist getting first dibs on the cake. But that’s okay, as there’s a whole banquet of desserts for human and toy alike. Too bad the hosts booby-trapped Jessica’s with a jack-in-the-box. (Considering they gave her a crown that constantly disappears throughout the picture, I really should have seen that coming.)

Favorite Part: The steam shovel. They could have just had another toy operating it to steal cake, but they decided to let the truck help itself. Much more imaginative.

Personal Rating: 2. It’s a generic cute plot. Doesn’t offer much to more sophisticated minds.