Nelly’s Folly

“The world’s fist singin’ gyraffe!”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Co-Directors: Maurice Noble and Abe Levitow; Story by Dave Detiege and Chuck Jones; Animation by Richard Thompson, Ben Washam, Tom Ray, and Ken Harris; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc, Gloria Wood; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on December 30, 1961.

This tale begins in Africa. Precisely, in one of its jungles. Mistake number 1: there’s a lion. Mistake number 2: there’s a warthog. Mistake number 3: there’s our titular star, Nelly. She’s a giraffe. Now that we’ve got the mistakes named, let’s move on to the rest, because it really is sensational.

Nelly isn’t like your normal giraffes. Chewing cud, and splaying her forelegs out to drink. Well, okay. She probably does those things too, but she has a more unusual talent too: singing! Yes, she can sing! In fact, she attracts quite a crowd from the other animals. They love her voice. And because she has the longest neck in the animal kingdom, her voice can carry for miles around and attract all kinds of public. Including a human. It looks like he came here to hunt, but a member of the Artiodactyla Order that is capable of producing music? That’s even more valuable than some taxidermy trophy!

He offers to help her get discovered. I guess he is a talent scout on the side, because he already has a contract on him. (Even more incredible: Nelly knows how to sign it!) It is with tears in her eyes that she leaves the continent she has known all her life, but she has a gift, and must share it with the world. (Hey, why is a tiger seeing her off?) Next stop: New York City! Her first role: a commercial jingle for some cure-all tonic that probably does jack all. You may think she got scammed, but this is pretty accurate. Even for a giraffe. You have to start at the bottom, gain some notoriety, and then you move on to the big stuff.

It pays off. Her commercial gig leads to lead roles in musicals. Then comes the merchandise. Clothing inspired by her, and albums. Lots of albums. Soon, she is attracting bigger crowds than ever before. (Usually consisting of background of people, with images of clapping hands pasted over it. Stylistic.) She has fame, good looks, and is known the world over! (Probably.) Why is she so unhappy? Well, I’m no giraffe psychiatrist, (at least, not anymore) but I’d wager that these people may love the idea of her, but they don’t love “HER her.” Life is lonely. (That I can attest to.) She can’t enjoy success without someone to share it. (Agents don’t count.)

As she mopes, she finds herself in the zoo. And just look at that fetching bull giraffe! She may have just laid eyes on him, but she knows what she likes. Wait, he’s already in a relationship? That’s a bit of a turn-off, but loneliness is powerful. (Again, I know this well.) She begins to see him, but does this ever cause problems. Of course it makes headlines! The biggest, tallest star getting involved in such a scandal? The public won’t hear of it! It’s well documented that they will accept anything starlets do, except infidelity. In fact, at her next performance, she finds an empty house. Everyone has abandoned her. Her fans, her agent, could her boyfriend be next?

Yep. Now that she’s lost her notoriety, he wants nothing to do with her. (Luckily for him, his original cow easily forgives. I guess if he can be so shallow, so can his mate.) Here’s where the cartoon gets dark. As the narrator explains, “those who remember Nelly, like to think she went back to Africa.” Notice that? They like to THINK that. Seeing how its being said as she lingers on a bridge, could it be that Nelly actually jumped? (No wonder this cartoon was an Academy nominee. I mean, I guess Maurice Noble’s brilliant backgrounds played a part in that. And there’s no shame to losing to “Ersatz” That film deserved to win.)

Even if it never really happened, we see how things would turn out if Nelly did return home. She’d be sad, but at least surrounded by her old friends. They too feel bad for her, because they are true friends. But wait! Another giraffe! Another male giraffe! Another SINGING giraffe! But the absolute best part? He looks faithful. The other animals feel the love in the air, so I’d wager he’s for real. (I love the warthog taking an aside glance to realize he is hugging his predators. He probably has just realized that they have no intention of letting go.) I hope this is the canon ending. It’s a great reward for Nelly, the world’s only singing giraffe. (As far as humanity knows.)

P.S. There’s no “That’s all Folks!” end card. That doesn’t happen often.

Favorite Part: The reveal of Nelly’s true love. You’ll first think it’s just another shot of her, since only the legs are shown. But then his baritone joins her song, the color comes back to her life, and everything looks like it will be all right after all.

Personal Rating: 4

 

Daffy Dilly

“Sthufferin’ sthuccotash, what am I waiting for!”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ben Washam, Lloyd Vaughan, Ken Harris, and Phil Monroe; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Peter Alvarado; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on October 21, 1948.

It sucks to be a novelty salesman. Despite having all manner of wondrous ways to chase away doldrums, nobody bats an eye at your wares. They never do. They never will. Yet, Daffy continues to try and peddle the wares he was given to peddle. Squirting flowers, joke books, rib ticklers, and chicken inspector pins. (Hey. Those are guaranteed to attract the ladies. Not like rubber chickens. I’m speaking from experience.)

It’s getting so the only way one can make an honest living is to save a millionaire’s life. But what are the odds- it’s then that Daffy hears a very interesting new bulletin. Seems there is a very rich type, a millio-somehting or other, who isn’t doing so well these days. Like every rich person ever born, ever going to be born, he is joyless. In fact, he hasn’t laughed in fifty years. He’d give a million bucks for just one laugh. (Wow. What are the odds?) Daffy has heard all he needs, so he sets off for this J.P. Cubish’s mansion.

Daffy makes it to the premises, but that was the easy part. He’s now gotta get past… the butler. Actually, that might not be too hard, as after a sampling of Daffy’s merchandise, he admits the duck permission to see his master. Or not. The door he has Daffy enter leads right back outside. Daffy tries alternate entrance methods. (A grappling hook. A rope swing. The ole chimney entrance.) Each ones fails. (Catches the butler’s teeth. The butler cuts it. The ole fake chimney gag.)

He may be a tough nut to crack, but every butler has a weakness. This one’s is alcohol. Upon finding what appears to be a package of champagne on the steps, he sneakily plans to chug it all. He doesn’t notice that the bottle was Daffy until the duck is already in the house. A chase ensues, and when it looks like Daffy is caught, he changes tactics. Playing like Bogart, he begins asking some pretty good questions. Why would the butler try and get rid of someone who wants to save his master’s life?

Maybe the butler is just get flustered because of the angry duck accusing him of devious, dastardly doings, but really, why? I think Daffy is on to something. If Cubish never recovers- Heck, if nobody even makes an attempt to cheer him up, why wouldn’t he leave all his money to his manservant? Maybe the butler has done all this before? There’s nobody else trying to make money off of the millionaire in this picture. Maybe they already met their match? With no other competition, it’s just a matter of waiting until the butler will be well off enough to hide out in Cancun for the rest of his days. (Besides, he doesn’t have an answer for where he was on April 16. That’s not a random date. That’s my birthday. You’re always forgetting my birthday.)

The mind games work, and Daffy even offers the butler a head start on his fleeing. Once he’s gone, Daffy enters J.P.’s room. Yep, the old guy don’t look too well. Looks like Daffy will have to use every joke, gag, and novelty in his repertoire if he wants to make this guy laugh. However, as I’m sure we all feel, the simplest things are the funniest, and that may be why J.P. laughs when Daffy trips into the dessert tray. No, laughing is putting it mildly. He chortles. He chuckles. He guffaws. He bellows. He giggles. He. Is! CURED!

In fact, it seems like he enjoys laughter so much, that he has Daffy stand still and be pelted with pastries all day long. I hope Daffy is well paid for sacrificing his dignity like that. Sometimes, the smile of the elderly isn’t reward enough.

Favorite Part: Daffy’s arrival at the mansion. After asking to be let in, the butler responds with a deadpan: “Begone.” (Note to self. Start saying that in the exact same way.)

Personal Rating: 3

Touché and Go

“Personally, I prefer girls.”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Richard Thompson, Ken Harris, and Abe Levitow; Layouts by Maurice Noble. Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on October 12, 1957.

Being the guy who paints a stripe down the middle of the road isn’t the best job to have. Then again, any job can be pleasant if you are allowed to sing. It really is a beautiful day. The sky is blue, the sun shines, and dogs chase cats. In particular, one cat we like to call Penelope is in the middle of one such chase. Being the smaller of the two creatures, she is able to slip under the painting device with only a stripe down her back. The dog crashes into the man, and he angrily kicks the dog repeatedly. Finally free of trouble, the cat goes down to the beach. (A cat heading towards a large mass of sand? I guess she almost got the sh*t scared out of her.)

So, where’s Pepe? We all know he’s coming. The French title, his name in the credits, the painted cat. Nearly all the ingredients are here. Pepe is on a boat. When the sailor sees exactly what is on the rope he is pulling, he runs off in fright, leading Pepe to land in the water. Good thing he can see out of his tail, as he is aware of the female on the beach, and rushes to her side. She doesn’t like that. In fact, she tries to escape. Pepe pretends he doesn’t want her for all of about 24 seconds before he chases her down once more.

You wouldn’t want to hang out on this beach. The sand leads straight to a cliff. (Which in turn leads to the water. A literal high dive.) Pepe was too caught up in his chase to notice the lack of land, and he falls over the side. If Penelope plays her cards right, she could potentially be rid of him early for this picture. So where does she hide? At the base of the cliff. (It’s not her brains Pepe admires.) He finds her, looking quite pale, so he rushes off to get her a glass of water. She’s gone by the time he gets back, so he just empties it on the rocks. Never touches the stuff. (Pepe is not a carbon based life form. Confirmed.)

Seems Penelope is desperate enough to hide underwater. She has the foresight to hook up an oxygen tank, but Pepe has no need for such things. As a skunk, he can hold his breath for a long time. (That raises questions. Is he aware of his odor? Is he proud of it? I suppose it is a better weapon than most, as people will flee, even if you miss.) The lack of air may not be a problem for him, but the ocean is full of predators. Including the dreaded Saber-toothed Tiger shark. A beast I always thought only lived in Ralph Phillips imagination. Is Pepe also part of Ralph’s fantasies? Could I be as well?

Ever the gentleman Pepe sticks his love in a clam. (Aww! Even if he rushes into relationships, he really is a sweet guy.)The shark chows down, but regrets his action almost immediately. Considering how powerful his sense of smell is, I’m not surprised to see the poor fish opt to take his chances on land. In the commotion, Pepe loses Penelope and he heads back toward shore looking for her. That was just what she wanted, and she heads in the opposite direction. Seems she’ll have to rapidly evolve into a saltwater catfish if she hopes to survive.

Fine. She could also head for the nearest island. (Why won’t anybody ever give my science fiction a chance?) She comes ashore, and yes, Pepe is already waiting for her. The locals call this place heart island. That doesn’t mean any romance is going to entail, the place is just shaped like the card suit. (It’s the world’s most over hyped honeymoon location.)

Favorite Part: The fact that the shark doesn’t fear Pepe at first. And why would it? Has any shark ever in the history of Earth, ever encountered a skunk? It’s a subtle touch, but it’s there.

Personal Rating: 3

Dog Tired

“He’s killing me!”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Animation by Phil Monroe; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on April 25, 1942.

I’ll only say this one more time: The brown dog is going to be named “Charles” and the white one will be “Joe.” Next time, I’ll just drop the names I’ve given without any reminder. Remember this well!

The last short of their careers and where are the curious puppies two? Digging a hole of course. All of a sudden, a motorcycle appears out of nowhere and scares them away from their work. I can relate. Motorcycles are on my list of things I can’t stand, but for some reason, I seem to be the only person who does. (If you’re really curious, here’s an abridged version of that list: youtubers bringing their boyfriends/girlfriends into their videos, youtubers letting their cats in their videos, and Squirrel Girl.)

They flee into the nearest place: the local zoo. A strange zoo, where only half the animals are in any sort of enclosure. Sure, it sounds like half the animals have it good, but it’s just going to spell trouble for everyone, guests and exhibits alike. Charles enters by leaping the wall, and lands in a kangaroo’s pouch. Mr. Jones does what might be his first joke with fake Latin and labels the marsupial as “Leapadopterus Rex” (Which almost translates to butterfly/moth king, but not quite.)

Joe, meanwhile got in by squeezing under the front gate. The first animals he comes across are a pair of lovebirds. They begin to get on my nerves, with the male endlessly babbling on about how much he loves his mate. It makes one want to vomit out your duodenum while simultaneously rolling your eyes. But then, the male turns it all around by insulting the dog, and demanding the two get some privacy. (Finally! Someone who recognizes that certain things should only happen between only two! Birds are smarter than humans, confirmed.) Joe meekly leaves, in the process, he trips up a stork who is trying to balance on one leg. (That will be one of our running gags for the evening.)

Charles, meanwhile, is going for a rather bumpy ride. When the kangaroo stops for a flower break, he makes a break of his own. Unfortunately for him, he continues to hop, right into a pipe, doling out some rather amusing pain. Oh, I don’t mean I find dog abuse funny! But the local hyena does. (He laughs to hide his insecurities.) Back to Joe. He sees a bone that is just to his liking. It’s in a lion’s cage, but his moment comes when Charles comes into the big cat’s view. It roars and sends the canine straight up a tree, much to the hyena’s continued delight.

Charles barks at the giggling feliform, but this alerts him to the tree’s other occupant: a monkey. He just stares. That’s all he does. The situation is awkward enough, that Charles tries to leave of his own accord. He lands on the back of a passing porcupine, and slides right back up. The monkey continues to stare. (I always wondered what my spirit monkey looked like. A lifetime quest: completed.) Joe, meanwhile has indeed gotten the lion’s bone and heads off to bury his ill gotten gains. He buries it atop of the creature who was already using the hole: an… ostrich…

Okay. Tirade time. Let’s get this said: OSTRICHES DON’T DO THIS! You might be saying, “Of course they don’t. It’s animation.” Yes, but the fact that it is depicted at all means people believe there’s some modicum of truth there! It’s insulting to these majestic birds! Sure, they aren’t the smartest animals on the planet, but no creature is dumb enough to think that hiding your head is enough to keep you safe. Ostriches are fast, powerful, and possess excellent eyesight! If there’s a blackface of the animal kingdom, then this is it. I’m sorry I had to be the one to label it as such.

The ostrich runs off with the bone, but trips and it lands on a turtle’s back. Joe leaps upon the reptile and the resulting wrestling match has the dog with the shell, and the turtle with the bone. (Naturally, the hyena is beside himself with laughter.) As Charles is still up the tree, the monkey finally gets rid of him by shouting. (A howler monkey is my spirit monkey? The quest shall continue, methinks. That doesn’t correlate to me at all.) Charles dives back into the kangaroo’s pouch. Now, BACK to Joe, (I’m starting to get dizzy) he tackles the turtle, causing the bone to end up in the hippopotamus’s enclosure. (What luck. It’s asleep.)

Joe rushes in, but accidentally ends up going through the hippo’s yawning mouth. Judging by all the splashes, it sounds very wet inside the big animal. (As it should be. If humans are 60% water, I don’t see why a much larger animal would be any less if not equal.) Joe escapes, and likewise, Charles once more exits the marsupial. His leap has him landing in a pelican’s bill. (That hyena can’t recall a time he’s had more fun.) I think it’s time to tie everything all up.

Joe builds up some speed, and runs back to the bone. The hippo yawns again, and the little dog ends up launching off the inclined mouth and crashing past other animals he’s inconvenienced today, like the aforementioned lion and stork. (And you wonder why zoo animals dislike pets so much) His rolling continues and he ends up dislodging his companion from the pelican, and I guess they continue to roll all around the zoo’s perimeter, as they end up back in the kangaroo pouch. Somehow, the hyena is in there as well, still laughing away.

Favorite Part: That monkey. His silent, unwavering stare. It’s so awkward, you can’t help but laugh. (Unless you’re the hyena. For some reason, the monkey’s subtle humor just doesn’t reach that guy.)

Personal Rating: 3

The Eager Beaver

“Ge-Ge-Ge-Geronimi-mi-Geronim-Ge-Ge-a-Ge-Ge-Geronim-a-Ge-Ge-Ge-Geronimo.”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Tedd Pierce. A Merrie Melody released on July 13, 1946.

Another one of nature’s most impressive creatures, IS the beaver. To think, these rodents aren’t just smart enough to make a home for themselves out in water, so their predators have less of a chance to feast on them, but even go so far as to dam flowing waters to make the still bodies of H2O they need. Even using the materials as their food source to boot! It’s fantastic! And furthermore, it’s unbelieva-

(Wait for it)

So, as I was saying, beavers deserve a cartoon of their own.

You know what? These guys deserve two!

Beavers are always busy, right? As long as the camera isn’t on them. Then they leap into action doing what they do best: chopping down trees. (An interesting method they use, is setting one another on ice blocks, to make their teeth chatter. Then they can be used like chainsaws.) Then, they remove the fallen wood of any parts that might get in the way. Excess bark, twigs, that sort of thing. So they just use a corkscrew to get the smooth, creamy, centers out. Then they are ready to be part of the dam.

Out title promised one who is especially eager, and here he comes now. He’s easily identifiable by the ski cap on his head, and lack of voice in his mouth. He wants to join in on the work, but finds it a bit too crowded. (The beavers have also upgraded to axes for the rest of the picture. Technology is so cool.) He opts to chop at the tree that no beavers are working on. (Probably because it’s a telephone pole. An easy mistake.) Guess he has no choice but to get in the fray.

He joins in, but makes himself a nuisance. The beaver he is bothering sends him off to chop down a tree quite a distance away from everyone. On top of a mountain that no beaver has ever dared climb before, due to lack of water and un-lack of eagles. But Eag is so eager, that he knows no fear and rushes to do his duty. But this tree has seen it all, and is more than a match for a puny axe. Even dynamite does nothing more than blow away the surrounding dirt. (Gee, if only he could chew it down. But that wouldn’t be much of a climax.)

(Ble.)

The other lodge members are still working, when a bird comes bearing dire news: there’s a flood approaching! If these guys don’t have a dam ready, the forest will be underwater! It might sound nice at first, but even a beaver can’t swim for all eternity, they’ve got to move fast! Maybe Eag could save the day? He’s finally figured out how to get the tree down: chewing! Good thing he had termite on paw. Thanks to the insect, the tree comes down. Right in the flood’s path. He may not be built for running, but he’s so eager, that he not only outraces the flood, but gets the tree in place just in time! He’s saved the day! He’s everyone’s hero! Just goes to show, just leave it to Eager Beaver.

Favorite Part: When Eager first tries chopping down a tree, a dog begs him to spare it. (Moderately funny.) Because he has a bone buried there. (Nice misdirection!)

Personal Rating: 3. (This cartoon is full of that nice “smear animation” that Chuck used so well in “The Dover Boys.” It still looks rather amazing.)

Angel Puss

“Four bits is four bits.”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Lou Lilly; Animation by Ken Harris; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on June 3, 1944.

Poor Li’l Sambo! It’s not enough that he is portrayed as some sort of fish lipped person, (as was what white’s thought many a black looked like at the time) and having an annoying Stepin Fetchit-esqe voice, (as whites thought blacks possessed) but he’s been asked to partake in a most terrible job: namely, Cat Drowning. He doesn’t really want to do it, but he IS getting paid, and naturally, if he doesn’t go through with it, he’ll have to return the money. (We never see the woman who hired him to do her own dirty work, but if she hates cats, she’s my kind of lady.)

The cat, for some reason, isn’t too keen on dying, and slips out of the sack. (Replacing his weight with some bricks.) Even though Sambo tries to talk himself out of it, for some reason, the cat pretends to be his conscience, and tells him to do the deed. (But why, though? You have an escape means! Use it you imbecile!) But no, then he wouldn’t be able to screw with the boy, so Sambo goes against his own common sense, and throws the phony sack into the water.

Time for that aforementioned “screwing with.” The cat paints himself white, and adorns himself with phony wings. The perfect striking point? The cemetery, naturally. Just as Sambo passes by, the cat appears and takes his time in building up some great atmosphere. No fooling! He knows he’s scaring the living crap out of the kid (or he could be a teenager) and he does it quite well. It’s probably the best part of the short!

Before  Sambo can run home, the feline beats him there, and moves his gate in front of the place next door. Of course, Sambo enters. He tries to make a retreat, but seeing as how this is one of the censored eleven, the cat is able to easily lure him back with some shaking dice. (It’s probably the worst part of the short.) The chase goes on, but the two aren’t paying enough attention, and run off a balcony, and into the water below. Water doesn’t remove paint, does it?

It does, and the cat is unaware. (Wait, I forgot I’m supposed to name him! Is Peter okay? Too bad! It’s what I’m going with.) This results in another pretty darn good scene where Peter is trying desperately to frighten Sambo again, unaware that he’s been revealed. He doesn’t sound scared, but more frustrated with his failure to horrify. Which makes sense, he doesn’t yet know he’s been exposed. Sambo is pissed. This cat has been playing him for a fool, so he’ll pay with his life. Good thing there’s a gun on the wall. Blammo!

Whoops. Maybe that wasn’t the best idea. Because the cat comes back, the very next second. Yes, the cat comes back. You thought he was a goner? Nah, the cat comes back. He’s not one to stay away. Sambo thought he had it bad earlier, but now there’s not just one ghost here to screw with him for the rest of his life. The other eight are going to join in the fun too!

Favorite Part: Like I said, the Peter’s initial reveal of himself is handled perfectly! Like the best ghost stories, he doesn’t just pop out and shout “Boo!” right away. He hides, letting his eerie harp music be all of him that is revealed at first, THEN he shows up. He really knows what he’s doing!

Personal Rating: 2 (Maybe if this wasn’t so offensive today, it could reach a three)

Zip ‘N Snort

“Guaranteed slippery”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Chuck Jones; Animation by Richard Thompson, Bob Bransford, Tom Ray, and Ken Harris; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on January 21, 1961.

Title not obvious enough? There are some introductions labeling our two main characters. (Love Wile E’s smug expression. It’s how I would smile if I saw my name in a moving picture.) He begins the never ending chase, when his prey pulls a sneaky one. He stops short at a tunnel entrance, and has Wile E make a u-turn away from the large truck. So happy that he is actually outrunning it, he doesn’t notice that he has run off a cliff. When he tries climbing back up, the peak falls off.

What hasn’t he tried yet? Sending out a wind-up plane with a grenade attached? Only the propeller flies away. When he throws the rest, the grenade somehow stays behind. Here’s an idea! Putting some iron pellets in bird seed. Then, his magnet fishing rod will reel the bird in. (If it didn’t get caught up on a power line.) Despite the pain, Wile E takes some solace in the cool fact that his nose glows better than Rudolph’s ever did. (He’s got a lot of great reactions in this picture. The gags come at a fast pace too. You’ll barely have time to catch your breath before you laugh at another one.)

Getting the Roadrunner to stop for more birdseed, the coyote aims a cannon straight down. It comes undone with him on top, and despite his struggling, he ends up in front of it. (Great reaction #2: Wile E praying to Chuck upon seeing he is heading inside.) The bird  finishes just as both crash down. The cannon fires and flings itself back up the cliff, and brings everything down on Wile E’s head.

I think we’ve had ten gags, time for our big finish. Wile E has a bucket of axle grease, and he smears it all over his feet. This lack of friction is just the thing a coyote needs to match the speed of a roadrunner. Too bad it doesn’t work if the bird stops short. Wile E, in turn, ends up on some railroad tracks. Even worse, he winds up struggling to keep himself from being run over. He’s not going to get any respite either. It’s a nonstop trip to New York.

Favorite Part: When Wile E first goes off the cliff, he unhappily notes the lack of ground beneath him. Since he (and by extension, we) are looking down, nobody sees him about to smash into the opposite cliff. (The funniest jokes are the ones you don’t see ahead of time.)

Personal Rating: 4.

Elmer’s Pet Rabbit

“That was weawwy, an awfuwwy good, weg of wamb.”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Story by Rich Hogan; Animation by Rudolf Larriva; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on Janurary 4, 1941.

The title should tell you all you need to know about the plot of the picture. Still, I feel compelled to ask: Do YOU know who Elmer’s pet rabbit is?

Your stupidity is astounding. Simply astounding.

It’s Bugs of course! But I must concede, that at the time of release, you probably wouldn’t know that. Not only was this only the second appearance of the fully fleshed out Bugs character, but it was the first time his name was given. And he sounds like Jimmy Stewart in this picture. (Wait. Why.) Not to mention the yellow gloves and lack of buck teeth. (I’ll chock this all up to puberty. Toons can have it too. You should have seen how Goofy was affected.)

(No. You shouldn’t)

All this talk and I’ve still yet to start my synopsis. As Elmer strolls down the street, something catches his eye. (And I wasn’t talking about the lingerie on display) It’s a rabbit! Such a cute animal! Quiet, lucky, coprophagic, it’s everything you want in a pet! The store seems to really trying their best to sell the one in the window, so he must be the best rabbit of all, right? (Well, yeah. But not to live with!) Elmer gives in and purchases the “wittle, gway, wabbit.” The bunny is not pleased to be named as such, and verbally makes it known. Could this be a mistake?

Even if it was a rather spur of the moment purchase, Elmer makes a great pen for his new pet. Really! There’s shelter, space to roam, and as many vegetables as one could eat. (Okay, that last one proves ignorance. Maybe why that’s why Bugs continuously protests eating them as he eats them? Starving is simply out of the question.) Still, no matter how nice you make a prison look, it still counts as a prison. Bugs is jealous of Elmer’s house. In fact, why not just go inside? Being a pet technically makes him part of the family. And families share.

Bugs barges in, turns on all the lights he can find, and starts a dance. Elmer is not amused and sends him back outside. If you think Bugs is going to listen, you must have… oh wait. You are the same person who thought Elmer was actually going to adopt someone outside his studio. Sorry.

Whatever you thought, Bugs heads right back in there. He even beats Fudd to the bathroom, insisting he wait his turn. Looks like he plans on being in there awhile, judging by that magazine. Really though, reading on the john is one of the most entertaining ways to spend one’s time. (Lord, do I need a girlfriend.) Elmer busts in and heads to his shower. He pays for the water, he gets first dibs, and he throws Bugs out. Even more crazy, when Bugs marches in again, Elmer throws him out a second time! (Betcha thought Elmer was going to be thrown out, right?)

Landing in the tub, (which has some water in it for the sake of the joke) Bugs decides to fake drowning. The cries for help summon his owner, who pulls the bunny out of the bathtub. Bugs is amazed and humbled. Despite all the problems he’s been causing, Elmer still cared enough to rescue the animal he paid 98 cents for. (Is there no greater love?) Bugs feels he deserves a kick in the rear for his behavior, and tells Elmer to do it. Takes some persuading, but Elmer gives in and delivers a very light kick. Quote Bugs: “Of course, you know this means war.” (Making this the first time he said that.)

Enough play, Bugs goes into the bedroom and takes over the bed. Elmer has had enough and goes in there. We don’t actually get to see what goes down, but I bet it’s cool. There’s lightning, and stars, and explosions showing that you can only cross a Fudd so many times! He chases the rabbit back outside where he is supposed to sleep, and heads back to what’s left of his bed. Need I mention who is waiting there for him?

*sigh* You’re really bad at this.

Favorite part: When Elmer first asks how Bugs likes his new home. “Frankly, old man, I don’t like it. It stinks.” It’s the “old man” that gets me. It really shouldn’t be as funny as I’m finding it.

Personal Rating: 3

Inki and the Minah Bird

“ROAR!”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Animation by Robert Cannon, Shamus Culhane; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released o November 13, 1943.

That title is no typo from me. For whatever reason, the bird is labeled as a “Minah.” (Unless that is his actual name. Minah the Mynah. I’ve heard of worse names.) Whatever the reason, this continues the trend of shorts being nothing more than the characters’ names even though it wasn’t their debut.

It’s a beautiful day in the jungle. Even the annelid snake is frolicking. (And it takes a lot to get that guy to show any joy. It’s hard being the only one of your species.) Oop. Spoke too soon. Such a beautiful day means one should take advantage of it, and hunt some game. That’s Inki’s plan, and he just barely misses the earthworm squamate by that much. (It really would have made a cute trophy.) Sure, he could try and hunt literally any other animal in the jungle, but a certain something in the distance sends them all packing. Whatever it is, it shakes the very ground it walks on. None who tangle with it ever survive. When you hear the accompanying music, if you’re smart, you’ll run in whatever direction is opposite of the commotion, and you won’t look back once. You’ll only pray that you aren’t the unfortunate soul who is unlucky enough to suffer the creature’s wrath. It is simply known as: The Mynah Bird. (goosebumps.)

Inki initially takes cover too, but either he isn’t aware of this bird’s otherworldly power, or he really just wants to be the guy who stuffed it. (Or he’s suicidal. It’s not ideal, but it’s a possibility.) He’s got a color changing spear, so why not take a “stab at it?” (I won’t apologize. That pun was worth your time.) He takes his trusty weapon in hand, and heaves towards the bush the bird hopped into. Success? The spear hit something. Might as well see what was hooked. Ah. It appears to be a lion. (Which means if this is Africa, that explains the terror the bird caused. Invasive species are ruthless.)

The big cat doesn’t seem too injured by the weapon, but he is understandably peeved. Inki runs home to get a peacemaker. The steak in the fridge will do nicely. (Why so shocked? People who live in huts can still have modern amenities. Stop being so judgmental.) The lion is happy to eat, but the bird was in his mouth and takes it for himself. The lion is so upset that not only does his hair change color with stress, but his eyes disappear. The bird has gone too far! So the lion gives chase. The bird would probably kill it, but he just ate, so he just hops into some hay. And it shrinks away into nothing before the lion’s eyes!

Things really aren’t going his way. When he beats on a tree in anguish, Inki falls into his paws. (It was still a decent hiding place.) The original chase resumes, but eventually, the lion sees the hay reappearing. The bird is back, and the cat shall have its vengeance! (Warner felines are great at achieving that, right?) Still not giving a d*mn, the bird just hops into a hole. The lion tries to catch him as he comes out, but finds Inki instead. (That was an ever better hiding place! This bird just screws everyone over.) The trio all pull the dust cloud running fake out, (Impressive. Usually, only one of them tries that at a time.) then the bird finally takes the lion and makes him disappear. Inki is saved. He’s a good kid, and offers to shake hand…wing…limbs with the bird.

Rookie mistake! That bird hates being touched, and he brings the lion back. A tussle breaks out, with Inki being the first to run for it. The bird meanwhile, ends up stealing the lion’s teeth for himself. (Now the whole planet is doomed. The only way this bird could any more powerful, is with internet access!)

Favorite part: it was a dang good short all around, but I give props to the lion crying after his steak is eaten. Normally, crying in media annoys me, but it sounds great here. Kudos!

Personal Rating: 3

The Mouse on 57th Street

“Oh boy! Da diamond!”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, and Bob Bransford; Layouts by Maurice Noble and Owen Fitzgerald; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on February 25, 1961.

With the holidays around, my thoughts turn to all the tasty treats that occur this time of year. (I’m not big on this “loving your fellow man”, stuff. They’re annoying) I’m particularly fond of sweets. So, if I was on the “57th” street that the title mentions, my eyes would float right past the diamond on display at “Spiffany’s.” Sure, the Sunflame diamond is the largest uncut diamond in the world, but I’m no geologist. It’s just a rock to me. That bakery looks interesting, though.

What a display! The world’s largest uncut rum cake! (I don’t even care for the flavor of rum, but it sure beats that rock.) The mouse featured in the title seems to think so. (Poor guy. He’s just another mouse without a name. We’ll call him: “Al.” (Kaholic) He tries some of that cake, and love it so much, he eats a tunnel right through! Even though, most of the liquor should have cooked out, there still seems to be enough to get the little guy soused. (Of course, being so little, what small amount was there would probably do the trick.) He staggers home.

After ingesting that much rum, all anyone wants to do is just lounge around and wait for the hangover to dissipate. (You’d think with my constant griping about the world, I’d drink too, but the threat of a hangover scares me. I’m not one for pain. That and I dislike the taste.) Too bad for Al, he lives next to a construction site, and all that machinery seems all the louder when it is several times his size. Head throbbing, he tries to get a drink. Just then, one of the workers notices that rock, and comments on the size of that “ice.” Ice? Why, that’d be just the thing to fix Al up! His size makes it easy for him to “borrow” the stuff.

Yet, everyone seems to get really excited over the loss of their rock. Just go find another one. Is it really that hard? (Well, seeing as it is a diamond and not talc, yes.) Naturally, since it is NOT ice, it’s not helping. Al goes back for that drink, and is spotted by two cops. Big, dumb, Muldoon, and the smaller, smarter, (no name), Earl. They chase the rodent all over, but he always manages to barely escape. (His rock appears to fluctuate in size. Maybe it really IS ice?) While being chased through the subway, he manages to escape out and run over a manhole, just as Earl jumps out via it to avoid a train. The rock comes off of Al and lads on Earl. Since Muldoon is the dumb one, he begins hitting his partner over the head with his billy club.

Al, meanwhile has gotten over the hangover. Well, since that’s settled, how about some more rum cake? (They even refilled the part he already ate.) Ah, how sweet life can be!

Favorite part: Both cops have the exits of a pipe guarded. When Earl shines his flashlight, Muldoon shoots thinking it is the perpetrator. Earl’s response: “Why do you hate me, Muldoon?”

Personal Rating: 3