Let it be Me

“Oh, Mr. Bingo!”

Supervised by Isadore Freleng. A Merrie Melody released on May 2, 1936.

Mr. Bingo is the talk of the town. All the hens huddle around the recording studio where he sings, and the radio where his sings come out. Even the married ones can’t help but fawn over the guy, much to their husbands anger. Much like a later picture, the guy looks like Crosby in voice only. At least here he isn’t being portrayed as coward. Just a cock. He knows the ladies love him, and he’s happy to let them destroy each other to get a hold of the boutonniere he throws their way. (After watching him walk for ten seconds. Gives us plenty of time to be attracted as well.)

Well, we’ve all had our celebrity crushes, right? (Mine was Tara Strong.) What’s important is that you come to the understanding that they will never know you exist and go about finding someone you actually have a chance with. I think that’s what’s going on through Emily’s head. She’s making her first appearance and unlike the second time, she talks with that (maybe not even) Bernice Hansen voice that makes her sound 15 years younger than she probably is. She has a guy interested in her named Lem, and I think the feeling is mutual. Good to see she wasn’t always so shallow.

Speak of the crooner! Mr. Bingo is driving by and he likes what he sees. Those breasts! Those legs! It’s what catches my attention on a chicken, that’s for sure! He invites her to come along with him to the city, much to the jealousy of Clem and that patch on his overalls that can shrink. (Why do some of the other birds in this cartoon walk around in the feathered nude? Are they the ones we get to eat?) Now, if those two really were a couple, then Lem really should understand that if a lady can upgrade you, she will. There goes Emily. Good-bye Emily.

Mr. Bingo has taken her to a party. There’s plenty to drink and he offers his new friend some. Maybe he wants her drunk, maybe offering her some is the gentlemanly thing to do. Emily is hesitant, and when she indulges, she finds it too strong for her. There is a singer at this party, and if the rules of this universe apply to her as well, I’m guessing her name is Ms. Fifi-o. Mr. Bingo likes what he sees and when Emily points out what a dick move this is, he has the waiter remove her. Stuck in a city without a ride home, Emily has no choice but to adapt. She makes ends meet by selling flowers on a very familiar street corner

Good old faithful Lem! Even though his lady friend threw him aside like yesterday’s chicken feed, he still worries about her, cares for her, and keeps the picture she gave him. Since he’s not stalking her, I find the whole thing very romantic. But the biggest thing on his mind is Bingo. Just hearing that guy on the radio is enough to get Lem angry enough to march down to his recording studio and beat the gravy out of him. (And because of this, celebrities will always have protection from here-on out. Thanks, cloaca-hole.) It’s pure happenstance that he comes across Emily immediately after, but they look genuinely happy to see each other again. I support it.

Some time later, Lemily, as we should call them has started up a family. Things seem perfect, but one chick starts to sing like Bingo! No idea where they picked up that habit! (Surely, he’s old hat by now. Old shoe even!) Doesn’t matter how they learned it. Daddy is still triggered by it and throws his book at the chick. I’m sure her bones aren’t that fragile, anyway.

Favorite Part: It might be something that I’m reading way too deep into, but I like the reaction Bingo has when Emily can’t handle the liquor. Maybe he’s realizing she’s too immature for him? If I’m right, that was some great and brilliantly subtle example of showing. NOT telling.

Personal Rating: 2. I could see some people finding it a little too mean, but really, throwing away a good stable relationship for someone you barely know is worthy of a little punishment, right?

Toy Town Hall

“Yowza, so help me.”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Bob McKimson and Sandy Walker; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. (One of if not the first to have him.) A Merrie Melody released on September 19, 1936.

We’ve all been in this situation as a kid: you’re just about to start something. Maybe the TV show airing next. Maybe another movie. Maybe your 26th round of Super Smash Bros. Whatever it is, you dread hearing those words. The words no kid wants to hear when they’re enjoying themselves: “It’s time for bed.” You beg and plead and whine that you can’t do that just yet! Your friends don’t suffer such injustices! You’ll do anything in the word to just do this one last thing! But your pleas fall on deaf ears.

So, I feel for little Sunny when his mom-arms turn off the radio before he can hear the next program, even if I’ve never been in the exact same scenario. (I wish we could see more of his matriarch. I know you should never judge a lady by her arms, but I bet she’s attractive.) Well, upset as he is, the kid still goes to bed, reluctantly. He’s got a nice collection of toys. What do you think they’d do if they were alive?

They’d imitate the biggest radio stars of the day! Fred Allen, Eddie Cantor, Rudy Vallee… What do you mean cartoons were always doing that? You want something new? Pah! Just for that, this cartoon is going to feature almost nothing except reused animation from previous Melodies! Remember, you brought this on yourself. Let’s meet our opening act! Quick cut to the same elephant lights operator from “Those Beautiful Dames” and we’ve got a lovely song performed by a Bing Crosby parrot. (Not quite a recycled shot, but he IS singing a song a different Crosby inspired bird sang in/called “Let it be Me”.)

Next up, the Eddie Cantor toy. Now with a completely different body, so we can reuse his song sequence from “Billboard Frolics“. (Rub-em-off will not be joining this time.) At least as far as I can tell, the Rudy Vallee toy isn’t being reused. He still has a different body too, though. Unless Sunny has two Rudys? Nothing wrong with that.

Oh, this next cameo is a fun one! The cockroaches from “The Lady in Red”. Sure, there is the tiniest difference in color, but that just means Sunny has toy roaches. What kid has toy roaches in the 30’s? And when did that package on Sunny’s bed appear? It wasn’t there before. But what’s inside has been on screen before! Peter the rabbit from “My Green Fedora”! He’s a toy now! Singing the same song he sang back then, and reacting to his audience likewise. All the toys dance as we return to reality. It was a dream, like in “Dames” but Sunny isn’t halluci-dying.

His mom wakes him up for the day, and I guess he’s angry that his dream was interrupted. The end.

Favorite Part: One of the toys is a balloon with feet. (Did you have one of those growing up?) After he inflates himself, he plays a flute with the air. But his mouth is down there, so that can only be one other orifice he’s playing with… Yep, his nose.

Personal Rating: 1 if you could tell everything was rehashed. If you were ignorant before, it could’ve been a 2 with a really lousy ending.

China Jones

“Me, dragon lady.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Tom Ray, George Grandpre, Ted Bonnicksen, and Warren Batchelder; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on February 14, 1959.

Daffy is Irish, but they call him China Jones. A nod to the series “China Smith” but not a very clever name. How about China Schmidt? Or China Smithers? Or… I don’t know, China Shmith? Actually, that one wouldn’t work as Daffy is actually lisp free in this cartoon. As he finishes the meal he was eating, he cracks into his Chinese fortune “cakes”. There’s no fortune in it, and that really is the worst feeling in the world. They’re not called advice cookies! I mean, “cakes”.

It actually isn’t advice either. It’s a plea! A plea for help! Someone is being held prisoner in a bakery with a reward of 150 pounds. (Do tell. They must have been in there decades to think that joke is still clever.) But as the parody suggests, Daffy is a detective and should probably solve this case. All he needs is a hot tip, and those tend to be supplied at Limey  Louie’s tavern. But as he prepares to depart, he is approached by another famous detective, Charlie Chan, er, Chung. (See? This one makes sense.) And no squinty eyes/Fu Manchu mustache can hide my beloved Porky from my fanboy/stalker eyes. Man, do I want to wallpaper my room in his autograph.

Chung is here on some matter of money. He’s not really elaborating for the sake of a punchline, but a good detective like Jones can figure it out. The most obvious reason is the most likely. Chung is just trying to get himself a piece of the pound pie. Jones brushes him off so he can get to Louie’s. Now, Louie and Jones have a bit of a history. Jones is kinda, sorta the person who sent Louie to prison. And unbeknownst to Jones, Louie is already released and has set this whole prisoner thing up to get some delicious cold revenge. Donning a disguise, he awaits the P.I.

Louie introduces his self to Jones as the Mrs. and gives a sob demonstration of how the cops treated her husband, on Jones. But once that thrashing is over, “she” is willing to give Jones the tip he needs. Pick a card, any card, specifically the card being subtly pushed onto you. These are bad leads that just lead Jones to a couple of painful mishaps, but it doesn’t seem like he’s catching on until after the second attempt. Fun’s gonna have to be cut short Louie, go on and reveal yourself.

Revealing his true identity, and revealing the hoax, Louie is ready for a Peking duck dinner. Jones bravely runs into the backroom. He trips a trapdoor that leaves him dangling over a pit of Chinese alligators. Louie does Tweety’s “piddy” shtick, to feed his pets. (It is a pretty funny change up with the thick cockney accent.) Jones barely manages to escape this familiar situation, when Chung reappears. Can he help out? Well, I wouldn’t doubt Porky is capable, but he never said he was a detective at all. He’s a laundry man. And that money matter he wanted to discuss? Jones’s bill.

In the end, Louie gets away with assault and Jones is forced to work off his tab. Shouting for help, in mock Chinese, about his ironic punishment of being trapped in a Chinese laundromat. (This ending was cut during the 90’s. Probably a good call for impressionable minds. I mean, I definitely used mock Chinese myself as a kid. I really didn’t need more encouragement.)

Favorite Part: Jones, trying to “duck” out on his bill, quotes Confucius. Chung quotes right back, calmly pulling out a club as he does so. Bass. There’s no other word for him.

Personal Rating: I’m giving it a 1. It’s loaded with stereotyping that can not; should not be considered funny in today’s day and today’s age. If it doesn’t bother you as much, I believe you can consider it a 2.

Bingo Crosbyana

“You ain’t seen nothin’, yet.”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Cal Dalton and Sandy Walker; Music by Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released on May 30, 1936.

Who just leaves a perfectly edible plate of spaghetti all alone in a kitchen? A friend of the flies, that’s who. They like this meal because teeth aren’t required to eat it. Two flies each slurp one end of a noodle, but since Disney hasn’t yet made something to parody, they just clonk their heads together. This really is a fly paradise. Sure, it could use a little rotting flesh and festering feces for the maggots, but these are yuppie flies. They’re still courting.

And the one that all guy-flies want to be and she-flies want to have is Bingo. He’s got a nice hat, a smooth Crosby voice and is a master at the one-stringed guitar. Such a happy gentleman, that you could even call a gay caballero. (Wow. Freleng beat Disney to the punch twice? If only Friz had made a theme park increase awareness. Isadore Isles… Freleng Fjords… I can see it now!) A fun song is sung, where Bingo continues to make the girls fawn, and one of the chorus singers has a brief hair dying.

But Bingo isn’t just artistic! He’s one of those animals that is such a master at what they do that humankind decided they could just be named after a verb. Like the skate and the leech. But even by fly standards can this guy fly. He’s fast, he’s agile and he can steal the buttons off your Mickey Mouse style pants. (Finally! Something that could be considered a reference at the time.) Fact is, Bingo is so talented that girls all immediately break up with the guys they promised they would always be faithful to and love forever. Bingo is just that awesome.

But he is also pretty low on the food chain. Mantids, toads, even some plants would all consider him a tasty snack. But the biggest threat (relatively speaking) is your common house spider. The kind with a Billy Bletcher laugh and only six limbs. (I’d make a fuss, but he still has more limbs than the flies so… sure.) Bingo flees, bur really, what is he supposed to do? Throw up in the predator’s face? His kind evolved their amazing aerobatic prowess to avoid danger, not challenge it. So I’m not upset he left the ladies to die.

What is deplorable is him pushing all the girls out of the roll of wax paper they’re hiding in to save himself. That’s a genuine dick move. Doesn’t help much anyway, as the spider saw him enter and tries following. If he wasn’t so big, that spider would be enjoying a Bingoburger right now. But he’s stuck, and that gives the previously rejected guy-flies a chance to prove that they’re worthy as potential mates. What does strength and talent matter when you’ve got courage and heart? The spider is corkscrewed, cork popped and cork electric socketed without the cork.

And after all that, the spider falls onto a sheet of flypaper. Oh, the irony? Yes, the irony. Now that the immediate threat is taken care of, Bingo reappears on the scene, playing cool once again. Now aware of what kind of fly he is, the others fling him into a coffee. Try flying now!

Now, if it weren’t for the voice and name, you’d never guess Bingo was actually a parody of Bing Crosby. (I know, right?) It’s worth bringing up though because the real Crosby’s attorneys weren’t very happy about this cartoon. They demanded that Warners cease distributing/exhibiting the film immediately. They also felt the need to let people know that the real Bing was NOT providing the voice and it was a poor representation of the guy. This fly was a “vainglorious coward.” (But really, I would be too if I was a fly.)

Favorite Part: While flying (read: showing off) Bingo sky-writes  ‘How’m I doin’. Totally in character, and just cheeky enough to be worth a smile.

Personal Rating: 2. It might have been funnier if the fly even barely resembled Bing.

Hop, Skip and a Chump

“Expectoration’s essential, you know.”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Cal Dalton. A Merrie Melody released on January 3, 1942.

This short’s off to a bumpy start, as the camera decides to follow a grasshopper. Try not to get motion sickness until he decides to stand still. He looks only slightly more like an Orthopteran than Jimminy did, what with the antennae. Hopalong Casserole’s his name, and just like his title suggests, he’d make a tasty dish. Two birds have been trying to catch him for years, he says. They better be modeled after a great comedy duo for me to believe they can’t catch one grasshopper.

Two little blackbirds, watching what they will. One’s not named “Jack” the other’s not “Jill”. They don’t actually have given names, but that’s what I’m here for. From now on, the pudgy one can be Bolivar, and his buddy can be Dan. Bolivar gives Dan instructions. Take a club, and hit the insect when he comes by. Let’s skip to the good stuff… and Bolivar is bonked. Classic. Not learning from this, Bolivar next sends Dan out with a sack to secure their supper. (Hopalong is definitely comprised of two servings.) He brings back a bee. Since they’re not bee-eaters, they duck into the nearby pond. (Despite not being ducks either.)

The main problem with catching Hopalong is that they can’t keep up with him. Their wings are just for show. Bolivar has a great idea: bed springs! With these on, he can match the pace of his prey! And he does, but he’s on Hopalong’s left side. There’s a great many low-hanging branches on that side. Worse yet, the two nearly go over a cliff. Instead, only one does. Just kidding! Two indeed go over once Dan asks which way his partner went. Which I know to this day doesn’t mean it’s serious, but screw you, the two are married. (Not sure which one is the better half.)

Hopalong decides to hide in a discarded clock. Does it only count as a cuckoo clock if there’s a cuckoo? Either way, this odd clock won’t chime on the hour every hour. It’s gotta be one of the fours. Or 4:00/16:00 if you insist on that confusing military time. (I don’t. I insist you don’t.) Bolivar totally botches his chance, so he has to roll the hands to the next hour they’ll chime: eleven. (No wonder this clock was thrown away.) He doesn’t mess up this time, he just forgot that grasshoppers with hammers tend to use them.

The cartoon’s ending, but Hopalong manages to leap through the iris-out. Shaken, but safe, he boasts once more about how he always escapes. Since the fourth wall will not protect him, Bolivar is able to snatch him back behind the black for more.

Favorite Part: Bolivar and Dan are hiding in a piano, but Hopalong plays the key to deafen/pound the two with mallets. There’s a nice touch in that he plays “The Storm”, the piece Oliver Owl once took credit for performing. Things are just done in reverse this time with the performer using it to mess with the inner animals.

Personal Rating: 2

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.

Curtain Razor

“I killed them in Cu-… camonga.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Manuel Perez, Ken Chapin, Virgil Ross, and Pete Burness; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on May 21, 1949.

Hope you enjoyed the green rings in the opening because they’re gonna be the iconic orange from here on out!

Today’s role Porky finds himself in is a talent scout at the Goode and Korny talent agency. It really is one of the world’s more entertaining jobs. You get to see the beginning of the greats, total failures embarrass themselves, and best of all: send the worst down a trapdoor. The operatic grasshopper that was singing over the opening titles wasn’t too shabby! Can any other acts top that?

We aren’t off to a promising start. Clara Cluck’s sister, Sara, instead of trying to develop a talent on her own, tries to copy her sibling’s opera shtick, seeing as how said sibling has been retired by now. Here’s a tip Sara: close your eyes when you do that. Makes you look more operatic and less “I’m being goosed by a poltergeist.”. She  stops her performance short upon laying an egg during the performance. Literal or figurative, that’s earned you a trap door ride. (Her egg hatches before it follows her, revealing Tweety’s stepbrother, Tweeter.)

A fox enters the room boasting about what a sensational act he’s got. Porky is willing to see it, but the fox totally cut the line. He’ll have to wait his turn. Next up for real is Cecil Turtle’s nephew, Sessile. He’s this universe’s Mel as he claims to have 1,000 different voices. (Of which, I can make out Bugs, Foghorn, Durante, and Rochester.) Despite his claim, Porky only counted 999. The poor reptile leaves, hoping he’ll remember the last one. (Isn’t it your normal speaking voice? Sessile, get back here! You need to be discovered!)

Next up, a parrot named Bingo, (who you can also see in Arthur Davis’s “Catch as Cats Can”) a chicken named Frankie, and a duck named Al, collectively known as the Three Cavalheiros! They sing just like their namesakes and I think they’re rather swell. Porky thanks them as they leave, but confines to us that that kind of stuff is only going to appeal to the bobbysoxer crowd. (Porky, pal, I can see your socks. Don’t be ashamed of what you like.)

And now a man with two heads enters. Porky is sure this act is going to be awesome, but the man angrily states that he is only the janitor. I figured two heads meant there was two of you. I guess me and Porky are both guilty of facial profiling. That poor guy! He’s just like every tall person who has to tirelessly tell everyone that no, he doesn’t play basketball. When will we learn as a society that we need to ask what other people are into. Oh, and the fox still tries to jump the queue.

After a couple more acts, including a regular old human using the same pigeon act Daffy tried in “Show Biz Bugs“, Porky finally gets tired of the pushy fox, and sends him down the trapdoor. Just in time for a dog to enter. He’s not a dog act. He’s merely the transportation. (Porky? What did we just learn from Double Header‘s son?) The dog’s got a flea circus act! And by that, I mean the fleas build a circus. (And judging by the musical accompaniment, they commissioned the  Rubber Band to join.)

Finally, finally, it’s that foxes turn to perform. This better be nothing we’ve ever seen before, considering how much hype he gave it. The act in question? Ingesting several flammable substances, before swallowing a lit match while dressed as a devil. … Well, I suppose back in 1949, people wouldn’t have yet seen this ending in a different cartoon by Freleng’s unit. I’ll give it to him.

Favorite Part: The scowl Porky gives after Sara’s performance. He’s all “B*tch, don’t you be having no babies on my floors. I just got these carpets cleaned!”

Personal Rating: 3. It’s a shame the aforementioned “S.B.B.” did this sorta idea better, mainly by having established characters with an established rivalry front and center. If you were watching this short before 1957, then it was a 4.

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.

A Tale of Two Mice

“You’re scared of the cat.”

Directed by Frank Tashlin; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Art Davis; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on June 30, 1945.

It’s the first of the two times Babbit and Catstello were mice, and it turns out that hunting cheese is nearly as dangerous as hunting Tweety. There’s a cat that looks a lot like Babbit used to guarding the stuff, but the current Babbit is certain that his rotund chum can get past him to the dairy. He lays out the plan while his ears change color. Catstello is against it until he hears that the cat will be asleep. That’ll be a cinch! He’s ready now! He’ll show the old model of Babbit!

Change of plans! He wants back in the hole, pronto! But Babbit can’t let that happen, and flings Catsy back out via rubber band. Cats crashes into the cat and barely makes it back to the safety of the hole. Plan two is much more sensible: Catstello will fly over in a wind-up plane. Babbit is so sure that this will work, that he’ll be a jackass if it won’t. (His fur will change color regardless.) You know this is going to end swell when the wings get torn off on the small hole. No flying allowed, but the plane does beat the cat up a little before returning back home. Catstello is happy to remind him of his promise. (Number of times ‘jackass’ is said in “A Tale of Two Mice”: 3.)

The next plan must’ve worked great at first as we see the two in the middle of it. From what I can gather, Babbit hoisted a platform over the cat to the fridge for Catstello to load with cheese. But it was a hefty hunk of the stuff, and Babbit struggles to hold both it and Castello’s portly girth. He can’t hold on much longer and the load plunges down towards the cat, stopping at the last possible moment. I get a kick out of Catstello’s raspy, squeaky, whispery yells for help. And I can believe Babbit could hear them, as he’s been dragged right up to the cat’s maw. Soon as he realizes he’s in the danger zone, he’s out, leaving Catstello to face whatever fate the cat chooses, alone.

Catstello has a half good idea: using the cheese as cover. The cat following and appearing to just be gliding along the ground. (I’ve seen cats do that, sure.) Babbit tries to warn his companion, but is just reminded that this is a stealth operation. When the danger is revealed, Babbit does what I’d expect any best friend to do: start advertising for a new roommate. The cat tries to toss his prize into his mouth, but doing that in front of a fold-out ironing board was second only to doing so in the midst of a firing squad in terms of worst places to toss a prize into his mouth.

Catstello opens it, crushing the cat’s skull, somehow warping inside the iron that was also inside, and crushes the cat’s skull again. With imminent death right behind him, he grabs the cheese and makes it back to safety, with doom on his heels. Once safe, Babbit has the audacity to berate his partner for grabbing Swiss, knowing full well that Babbit hates the stuff. (I can’t blame him for not being able to tell at a glance. All cartoon cheese has holes. Without them, they’d look like tofu.) Having had a very tiring day, Catstello stuffs the stuff down Babbit’s throat.

Favorite Part: Babbit trying to go over his plan, with Catstello loudly saying that he’s not doing it. The face Babbit makes upon realized he’s being ignored, coupled with the threatening smile he flashes are two of the greatest gifts to animated facial features.

Personal Rating: 3. The animation on Catstello alone makes this at least worth one watch by every person on Earth.

Shop Look & Listen

I’d like to hold a hand like that myself.”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Dave Monahan. Animation: Cal Dalton; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on December 21, 1940.

There was a video game released in 2007 titled “Super Mario Galaxy.” It was a major hit with both critics and consumers and everyone agreed; they wouldn’t mind a sequel. The creators would deliver with “Super Mario Galaxy 2”, but not because of fan outcry. Rather, it was because they themselves had so many ideas for that one project that one game wasn’t enough to hold them all. I tell you this, because I think something similar happened about 70 years earlier.

Earlier in the year 1940, Freleng’s unit released a cartoon titled “Little Blabbermouse.” It wasn’t anywhere near close to being the studio’s best work. It was just one of their gag oriented cartoons using a mischief of mice taking a tour of a department store as an overlay. The title was referring to one particular mouse who’s one defining character trait was not shutting up.  (A good three years before Sniffles took up that role.) They couldn’t have thought this idea was 14K of comedy gold. But hey, all these gags means one less cartoon idea to come up with while they were brainstorming about this rabbit of theirs that seemed to be taking off.

Thus, we have this sequel short. And Blabbermouse even gets his own title card!

*Is my internal fear showing?*

Eww. I don’t like that face. It’s making him look like a child comma molester. And you know, they didn’t need to use that at all. Blabby hardly features in this feature. Gets about four and a half lines total. Hardly befitting the blabber name.

Well, our gags take place in J. T. Gimlet’s department store. A few decent gags are available on the banners outside the building. But the one about the hours confuses me a little. Oh, I get the joke “Sunday 9-6 If we were open Sundays” But why do they bother listing weekdays and Saturdays separately if they’re going to say the same hours? Either switch the times up, or list them as one. It shouldn’t be that hard.

Our host is the same as it was in the previous short. (Which I’ve yet to discuss, because it’s more fun for me to not know what surprises I will discuss each week. I hope this isn’t your first time here. What a horrible post to sell someone on.) If I can steal a name from another short, then I can call him W. C. Fieldmouse. Showing some mercy to those of us who might have seen the other cartoon, they skip the preparation of their trip and take off. (Reusing the same animation they did last time.) Essentially, they travel by a gondola that is big enough to hold a crowd thrice their size.

Fieldmouse shows them the shoe section where we get a joke that I don’t get. (Are there shoes called mules?) Then, an art gallery where we see “Whistler’s Mother” and “The Thinker” doing what their names suggest. Then we see some of the robotic devices for sale, and they demonstrate what they can do. There’s a device that snuffs out cigars for you, and another one that seems like it was built to play poker all by itself. (It couldn’t be comfortable to sit with those robotic arm attachments pressing into your chest.) It can shuffle, cut, deal, cheat and kill cheaters all by itself. Which means you’re obsolete and not needed anymore, so you might as well go home.

B.M. has been annoying W.C. sporadically during this tour, and the larger mouse threatens him with bodily harm, should he speak once more. (I do love the animation of Fieldmouse stress sweating as he struggles to contain his rage. It was worth using in both shorts.)The tour then comes to a machine that can cut lengths of ribbon for your purchasing pleasure, and wrap it up for you as well. Blabber then opens his mouth again, and Fieldmouse prepares to make good on his promise. But instead of getting his hands dirty, he just has the machine wrap the little pest up instead. I hope it was worth it, as Blabbermouse’s father is a policeman. And policemen aren’t scared of anything. They’re brave and strong. We’reluckythey’resobraveandstrongandwillingtoprotectus.Geewhiz,IwishIcouldbeasbraveasstrongasapolicemansomeday.ToobadIhavenointentionofbeingapolicemansomeday.Itdoesn’tlineupwithmypersonalinterests,butIguessI’mgladthattheoptionisalwaysavailable.That’sthegreatthingaboutbeingapoliceman,anyonecandoit.Well,Iguessnoteveryone.Womenbecomepolicewomen,don’tthey?Oraretheystillcaleedpolicemanaswell?Orwhataboutcops?Isthereadifferencebetweenpolicemenandcops?Andwhy….

Favorite Part: The first time Blabbermouse speaks up, Fieldmouse gives him a good smack on the back of the head, while reprimanding him in rhyme no less. History’s first rap battle victory!

Personal Rating: 2. It only escapes one because it had different gags than its predecessor, and therefore, you can justify showing it to your friends if you feel you need to.