The Curious Puppy

“Fun! Exciting! Baffling!”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Story by Robert Givens; Animation by Phil Monroe; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on December 30, 1939.

We regret to inform you that the local amusement park is closed for the season. Those of you who live in a world of pre-covid Disney resorts, might scoff at such practices, but as someone who lives in an area that gets snow, (If you call that living. I don’t.) I can assure you such ways are real. But Joe is our titular curious puppy, and he can’t resist making a quick visit.

The thing that immediately catches his interest is a cat shaped sign. Like a good little, curious puppy, he immediately sets to barking. It might not be a real cat, but its good that he starts with a harmless version. As he barks, he accidentally pulls the master switch. The very switch that turns the whole park on. (Really should have hid that better. It’s why this park is now a strip mall.) Is there no security? Yeah, we spared no expanse. We got a boxer.

Enter Charles. He’s a little grumpy because he’s been left in an empty park with no food, only enchiladas. (I joke, but I find those are rarely worth eating) They may have been friends in past shorts, (or at least, co-stars) but Charles has a job to do, so Joe has got to go. The chase begins.  First stop: the house of mirrors. A perfect opportunity to do the routine Groucho made famous in “Duck Soup.”

Charles creeps ever so slowly, making sure the only other dog he sees is his reflection. Joe appears at the one point where there is no mirror. Although, Charles has his real reflection for a split second. I swear! (Well, I censor myself.) The mirror gag starts, with Charles trying to catch his “reflection” not copying him. (I love the ridiculous happy face he wears. That should be a meme somehow) Joe does eventually screw up, revealing himself and running again.

The puppy hides in a photo booth, using a photo board as camouflage. Charles isn’t fooled, and lunges. The resulting force sends Joe out a window and into a popcorn machine. He’s pretty cool with this, and helps himself to a snack. Charles finds him again, and turns the thing on to get himself a bag of “pup-corn.” He gets the mutt, and carries him off. (To eat? Maybe just to get rid of him, but maybe to eat.) But a flimsy paper bag, weakened by grease no less, was not meant to carry an at least 15 pound animal. It breaks, and Joe leaves.

He probably could have gotten away this time, but he has to stop at bark at the cat toy prizes on show. (More practice! Good boy!) Charles gives chase again, leading them into a… fake mountain? I guess its just a way to give shade to those who wait in line for the pool slide. (I’m pretty clever.) The dogs take a quick dip, before Joe escapes. Charles follows to what is the perfect hiding place: an entire stall of toy puppies, all of which look identical to the little trespasser.

Charles pounces! Good thing he isn’t finding the real one. Just look at the heads fly! When I said Joe escaped, I meant it. He’s outside the park now. Charles sobs. (Even if the puppy is out, he’s probably out himself. Of a job. I counted at least forty toys destroyed. That’s about $20.00 US dollars more than Charles makes in a year.)

Favorite Part: The pup-corn bit. It was cute! The way Joe gets scooped, salted, and buttered. (Luckily it doesn’t burn him.) And packed up neatly in a sack! I wish the parks I attended sold such joys.

Personal Rating: 3

Naughty but Mice

“Sleep tight, ole pal.”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Story by Rich Hogan; Animation by Phil Monroe; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on May 30, 1939.

If you’re from the future, you might know this but: 2020 A.D. was one of the low points in the history of years. I wouldn’t expect anyone to forget, but humanity’s stupidity never ceases to amaze. Perhaps in the future, it will be offensive to mention, and people will try and censor any cartoons that have the characters wearing face masks. The babies. Well, so you don’t forget, here’s one last film to end said year with. About illness, no less.

Chuck’s fifth film, and the debut of Sniffles. (Who apparently was never voiced by Bernice Hansen as I’ve previously stated. Blast that lack of on screen names! Instead, it seems to have been by one Margaret Hill, who also supplied the voice for Andy Panda, and a couple of Toms.) He’s earned that name, seeing as he has  a cold. He has an idea of how to go about getting a cure, and that’s by visiting the local drug store for a cold remedy. (That’s all it takes? And here I thought that the common cold couldn’t be cured. Sniffles made me look like more of a moron than I usually do.) The sign says the place is closed, but normal rules don’t apply to Sniffles. He slips in through the mail slot.

So many choices, and only about six and a half minutes to select.  Sniffles opts for the first one he comes across. It must be the best. It has “XLNT” written on the side. (Xiphosurans Love Nude Tabloids) It has another label on it that Sniffles either doesn’t see or doesn’t dignify: 125% alcohol. (Forget how impossible it is, alcohol kills viruses.) Dangerous enough, but Sniffles proceeds to take a human sized dose. (Does being dead count as being cured? I mean, the virus will go with you.)

That puts some fire in the belly! Sniffles cools himself down with a drink from a random glass. It works, so I guess it was some form of dairy. Now, the drunken stupor. But before things get too crazy, Sniffles runs into a friendly face. A living, electric razor. (Not too crazy.) Since the mouse is plastered, this could possibly be a hallucination, but I doubt it. Too much evidence contradicts that later. The razor (should we call it Buzzy? We should call it Buzzy.) has sympathy for Sniffles, who has something to share too: his cold.

What a worthless remedy. If it can’t immediately solve a problem, why even bother with it? Either way, whatever pathogen that can give a mouse cold-like symptoms, can also infect Buzzy. (So, humans don’t have a chance.) Sniffles is a good guy, and goes to get more tonic for his new friend to take. The machine must have some sort of digestive tract, as he can take the tonic, and get just as drunk as his mouse pal. His stupor barely lasts before he passes out. Sniffles treats him as one of the deceased. (Since he’s drunk, it’s cute.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               There’s a cat in the store, and he or she finally shows up, taking note of the still drunk Sniffles. Before it can nab him, Sniffles falls into a claw game. That has no ceiling? (Someone could easily reach in there and take many goodies. Not me, though. I’m an angel.) Cats always carry change, so the feline decides to take a chance, and win dinner. (It’s a pretty sweet machine. Prizes range from perfume to a camera. And all for only five cents! (Which I guess would now be 92 cents as I type this. Still…)

After only three tries, the cat wins the desired prize. (Those games aren’t rigged, but only select few are allowed to win. The gods make sure of that.) Buzzy comes to, and notices what fate is to befall the heroic soul who healed him! After infecting him. (Still a hero in my book.) Attacking as only a razor can, Buzzy shaves the cat of nearly all its fur. The cat flees, meaning Sniffles will live until tomorrow, barring his illness getting worse. As he thanks his savior, he sneezes again. The force sending him back into the machine.

Favorite Part: Buzzy’s manner of speech. He only talks in the sounds a razor can make, and yet, I have no trouble understanding him. It must be heard to be believed.

Personal Rating: 3

Past Perfumance

“Holy smoke!”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, Lloyd Vaughan; Layouts by Robert Givens; Backgrounds by Phil DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Music by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on May 21, 1955.

The year is 1913. The place is Super Magnifique Productions. It’s a movie studio that as the name suggests, is in France. So, Pepe should be around shortly. But what reason would he have to be here? I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s a movie in production. With animals. Lots of animals! I’m not quite sure what sort of plot they have planned, but seeing as it is French, plot probably isn’t their biggest concern. (Maybe they’re just going to adapt some of Saint-Saens’ work. He’d still be alive)

Things are going smoothly enough, but the man in charge of casting the animals, (who is voiced by Arthur Q. Bryan. I almost didn’t recognize him. So talented!) has at least one problem: the movie needs a deodorized skunk. He doesn’t have that. He doesn’t even have a skunk period. What to do? Well, I’ve heard that if want a cow in your movie, your best bet is to paint spots on a horse because cows don’t resemble themselves on camera. So, logically, painting a cat should produce a similar result for those in need of skunks.

While the cat is getting prettied up, Pepe shows up looking for autographs. (I’m not entirely sure if people are hearing and understanding his speaking) As a skunk, he scares most everyone off. The director, his oui-men, the animals, and the casting director once he returns. Pepe is quite happy to take the cat off his hands, because she looks like a skunk and therefore, must be a skunk. Appearances are never deceiving. Penelope isn’t one for dating co-stars, and tries to flee. Plenty of movie sets to hide out in. Too bad Pepe finds her on each one.

She hides on the balcony, made famous in “Julio and Romette.” He calls to her in the words of the immortal bard himself. She hides in a film canister on a set of “The Two Musketeers.” (Maybe there was supposed to be three, but Pepe ruins the shot before such an amount can get on screen.) He finds here there too. He even finds her in a screening room. The characters in the silent movie that is playing, can smell him too. (So, they broke their fourth wall, but not THE fourth wall. They broke the eighth wall, then? If they did acknowledge us, the audience, would that be breaking the fourth wall squared?)

No matter where she runs, Pepe is there. In appropriate costume too. (He looks good in that Tarzan getup. Almost turns me on.) Soon, Penelope has run out of ways to run. Pepe has her trapped on a cliff set. She’d rather jump than be with him, so if that is what must be done, it’s the action she’ll take. Pepe rushes to look, and finds she landed in some water. Which means… the paint washes off! Pepe sees the paint washing off! For once, he realizes that he wasn’t in pursuit of a skunk! What will he do with that knowledge?

Well, I guess he’s desperate. His answer is to paint over his stripe and continue the chase. That should solve everything. Pepe should write a book about how to score.

Favorite Part: Shaking up the formula and letting Pepe know he was mistaken. A nice swerve to throw at us. When your cartoons are the basic chase plot, it helps to keep them from growing stale.

Personal Rating:3

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

 

I was a Teenage Thumb

“Oh boo-hoo, oh hoo.”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Co-Director: Maurice Noble; Story by John Dunn and Chuck Jones; Animation by Bob Brnasford, Tom Ray, Ken Harris, and Richard Thompson; Layouts by Bob Givens; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc, Julie Bennet, Ben Frommer, and Richard Peel; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on January 19, 1963.

This post would not have been possible, without contributions from Mr./Mrs./It’es AX. I thank you for your help.

Once upon a time, there was a couple. (But a couple of what, I couldn’t tell you. I think they’re humans.) George and Prunehilda Thumb are their names. George is quite content with the way his life has turned out, but the Mrs. doesn’t share those sentiments. She wants a child, and subtly hints this to her husband by knitting enough booties for all the infants in the world of 1963. Even then, George refuses to put out, (okay, so maybe she’s just impotent.) so she has to contend with making the local animals wear the garments.

Once upon a later time, a magician walks by their place. His name is Ralph K. Merlin, Jr. (He has that name because his mother married a Merlin, and he couldn’t be more creative when naming his child.) He’s actually quite skilled. His hiccups have the extraordinary ability to transform himself into other things. Dragons, cows, prams, babes, and cars, all with two legs! But he can do intentional magic too. He just so happens to hear Pruney making her umpteenth wish for a child, even willing to settle for one that’s the size of her thumb. Mr. Merlin decides to help out, and impregnates her with magic. (So, does that make him the father then? Or did he magically transfer some George juice into the lady? Am I ruining this picture for you? I’m sorry.)

She knows. She immediately knows. The cartoon has proved my theory that females always know the instant they are expecting. (One of the many superpowers I’m convinced they have.) She tells her husband she believes her dreams are going to come true, as the magician leaves. (Still hiccuping, still changing.) Some time later, her son is born, and he is indeed, small enough to warrant his last name. (I’m not sure a baby that size would require nine months to cook, but I’m also not entirely sure how magical insemination works.) George may be a bit shocked, but he’s good father, regardless and helps raise the child.

But you know what is the hardest part of having such a small child? Cats love to eat babies. It’s a well known fact, but most of them are so big, that the feline can’t get much more than a bite before the child’s screams alert the parents. It’s not everyday a cat is able to locate a child that requires only a swallow. The cat sneaks outside where witnesses are near zero, and attempts a snack. Swoop! Grasp! A bird takes the child for itself. Birds love babies, and loathe cats, but are known to drop the former. As long as there’s no water below, I’m pretty sure, Tom will survive.

Water? On this planet? What are the odds? Well, as long as there’s no fish-Oh no! A fish! Fish love babies even more than cats do, but eat them less because of the whole “most of them can’t breathe out of water” thing. (Someone really should wake a horror movie about walking catfish. It’d scare me.) Tom looks like a goner, but that fish just so happens to be the same fish that was caught for the local king. And either the king likes them raw, or the oven’s flames couldn’t harm Tom through all that flesh. Tom is alive and is found by the king.

The king decides to shower this child in luxuries. I guess he’s swayed by how cute Tom is? (Mr. Jones is well known for drawing cute infants.) Eventually, Tom is made a knight and is capturing dragons and defeating giants with the best of them. (Small dragons, you understand.) Eventually, Tom marries, and he and his wife have a child of their own. (I’m glad the stork is always a viable option in cartoons. I shudder to think how things would pan out otherwise.) Ironically, Tom’s child is the size of HIS thumb. And this continues down the line, with each following child being the size of the parents opposable digit. (Might want to stop, guys. Things could go too far.)

But whatever happened to Tom’s parents? Well, I guess Prunehilda is still unintentionally cheating on her husband with magicians, because she’s taken to knitting again. This time though, the booty is bigger than she is. (She’s probably just messing with George.)

(Right?)

Favorite Part: When the king decides he’s going to give Tom the good life. Knowing that his decision is random at best, he sternly declares that nobody argue with him.

Personal Rating:3

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)