Leghorn Swoggled

“Kid don’t stop talkin’ so much; he’ll get his tongue sunburned.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Charles McKimson, Rod Scribner, Phil DeLara, and Emery Hawkins; Layouts by Cornett Wood; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Eugene Poddany; Orchestration by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on July 28, 1951.

A total eclipse? Free of charge? Doesn’t sound like the thing Foghorn would be interested in, but he’s excited. He puts his head through the hole in the fence to see, and Barnyard slams a pumpkin on his head. He retaliates by sticking a boxing glove in a camera, and socking the hound. (And everything freezes for at least one second. Intentional?) The usual tricks and pranks are interrupted by Henery playing cowboy in order to get a chicken today. He lassos Foggy good, but the rooster sends him on his way saying the kid is too small for hunting.

Henery is sad. Even young predators have to eat don’t they? Barnyard lends a sympathetic ear and offers a deal: one bone and he’ll help him get a chicken. (Guy must be starving today. He’s normally ready to get Henery Foghorn for free.) Henery takes the deal, but as a non-vulturis bird he doesn’t know how to find a bone. He asks a familiar looking cat for help. Seeing as how this guy has appeared in at least four different pictures, I guess it’s time for me to give him a name: Fred E. Cat.

Fred knows where bones are located as all cats do, but he’s not talking until he gets a fish. (Typical cat. Always wanting something for the most trivial task.) Now, where would Henery get a fish? He’s not an osprey or eagle! The nearby mouse knows and demands cheese for the info. But unlike the other two, he actually has the decency to tell Henery where that’s located. (Good thing too. It’d be kinda awkward if Henery met a goat who’d say where the stuff is located in exchange for some food.)

I take back what I said. The mouse was clearly trying to get a potential future predator dead, seeing as how the cheese he wants is on a mousetrap. Surprisingly, Foggy stops the little guy from getting seriously hurt by trying to show how to get the goods without the pain. He fails, but Henery gets the cheese regardless. Foghorn doesn’t really care what the kid wants with the dairy, as he’s readying his next prank: building a train set that will deliver a pie to the dawg’s face. (Is it just me? It looks like Foggy should be singing as he lays the tracks. Or is that just the goofiest smile he’s ever worn?)

Weirdly enough, the mouse tells Henery where to get fish as promised, but Henery is still holding onto the cheese. He really strolled up the rodent and said: “Here’s your cheese, give me my end of the bargain! And now it’s still mine until your tip pays off.”? (Think of how many awesome deleted scenes we’ll never get a glimpse of.) Foghorn once more tries to show how it’s done and is dragged into the water. (And somehow got the fish stuck in his crop. He still gives it to Henery.)

Henery does it again! He knows where to dig for a bone, but still has the fish! What a joik! Well, he’s doing the digging right, but his shovel is adorably small. Foghorn comes to dig for him with real tools, but Henery leaves once a single bone is unearthed. Then Henery finally gives the other animals their orders. Foghorn has witnessed it, and asks why he didn’t get a present. Demanding his due, he fails to notice Barnyard about to clobber him with the bone. Once properly knocked out, Henery takes the rooster away on the toy train. Hard work and good deeds pay off in the grand scheme of things.

Favorite Part: When Foghorn is giving fishing tips. The disgusted grimace Henery gives us is just wonderful.

Personal Rating: Foggy has some great lines here, but it feels like two different cartoons got spliced together and the misjoint is felt. It’s lucky to get a 3.

A Star is Hatched

“Goodnight my little pine knot.”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Bob McKimson; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on April 2, 1938.

In the little town of Hickville, Emily the hen idolizes the stars and starlets of Hollywood and fantasizes about the time when she too will be on the silver screen. (Ironically enough, this short actually being her second time. She wouldn’t get a third.) So enamored is she that she even talks like Katharine Hepburn. (Unless that is her normal speaking voice. It’s possible. I sound like J.K. Simmons, myself.) She can’t be bothered with the local rooster who comes a courtin’ for her wing in marriage. The high life is always the best life!

What luck! There’s someone at the gas station she lives at who could be a huge help with getting into pictures. A one J. Megga Phone by name, on his way back to Hollywood. (I love how he wears three pairs on sunglasses. I should do the same.) Emily lets him know that she has every intention of being big one day, and he likes what he sees. (She is pretty cute.) He hands her his card telling her to look him up, as home he goes.

Emily rushes to get her bags. (Past Alfred Hick-cock who never moved an inch.) She’s Hollywood bound! And she’s so committed to her dream that she walks the entire 2,000 miles which means Hickville is located in Maryland or West Virginia. (Or maybe her hitchhiking had more success than the montage suggested. Less impressive.) She makes it though, and she gets to see what some of the stars are doing when not on screen. Clark Gable drives a trolley, and W.C. Fields directs traffic, for example. And we see the cement footsteps left behind by Robinson and Garbo. (The former having a gun print; the latter being humongous.)

The picture business, that’s what Emily is here for. And Mr. Colossal wasn’t bluffing, he really is a director. One with at least 15 assistant directors who agree to whatever he says. (Except the 15th one who still has a shred of individuality and personality. Give us one week more, we’ll fix him.) His latest picture is a musical medley to America’s 48 states and if the clapboard is accurate, his name is actually Buzzard Berkelee. (I knew his cool name was too cool to be true.) Odder still, his movie is comprised of humans. Yeah, we already saw plenty, but it was only now that I realized how weird this world is. What does everyone eat?

Emily finds a casting office, but it turns out she’s not the only pullet here. Seems Mr. C gives out business cards to any girl he comes across and the room is already packed. And when the man himself enters, Emily can’t catch his attention; not that he even looks at or acknowledges she exists. Emily is already broken. Embarrassed and upset to find she was just one of many, she decides to forgo any hard work that would get her a position, and heads back home.

She married Alfred and we see how happy their little family looks. But one daughter can’t help but idolize the silver screen, and fantasize about when she too will be a star. Emily ain’t having it and gives her kid such a smack. If she’s not going to be an instant success, then nobody is.

Favorite Part: When Colossal says, “If you ever want to get in pictures, look me up.” and hands Emily his card. Flipping it reveals just that is written on the back. Not only gives a clue that he has so many of those cards, he’s memorized the script, but can be interpreted as him just being too dumb to remember what to say.

Personal Rating: If you’re not familiar with some of the biggest stars of the day, you might find the majority of jokes confusing. It’s a 2 for people like you, and a 3 for the rest of us.

The Lone Stranger and Porky

“Magic mirror on the wall, who needs my help the most of all?”

Supervision by Robert Clampett; Animation by I. Ellis and Robert Cannon; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on January 7, 1939.

It’s 1865 and with the end of the Civil War, a new problem arises to fill the void. Many settlers are out west settling, but the activity is attracting all sorts of villains, bullies, thieves and probably even the occasional cad. (One of these crooks is known as Cob Blampett. Reminds me of the similar person we have in our universe: Ogd.) But we need not worry, as our narrator brings a hero to our attention. A man whose horse is faster than a speeding roadrunner. The man; more powerful than rattlesnake venom. With a mask to not only keep his identity secret, but his house’s as well, he is: The Lone Stranger! (And no, we never do get to see under that mask.)

He and his horse (named ‘Silver’ because we were so proud of our Lone Ranger parody, we forgot to think up a better name for the equine.) have had a busy day. Just like all the rest. Time for some vittles and shuteye. Even eats with that mask on? I hope he washes it. (Whilst wearing it.) These two are comfortable enough with each other to share a bed. It’s not weird. They’re partners, and everything they own, they share. It helps build camaraderie.

Now for Porky’s addition to the title. He’s got a shipment of gold to deliver, but this has caught the attention of a cad! (I knew they were out here!) He looks pretty tough. He’s got a color-changing mustache and a gun he doesn’t mind using. And a horse to tie it all together. (I think I’ll call his horse “Bullion”. “Bullly” for short.) One of the rarer breeds: a mustache mustang. (They need breeding to avoid extinction.) The cad with no name holds the pig up at gunpoint. (And I do mean “up”.) Porky is scared enough to phase out of the plane of existence for a moment. Where is a stranger when you need one? We’d settle for a social one, even!

Not to worry, the Stranger’s faithful scout, Pronto, has seen the whole thing and lets the hero know of the threat. Hero and horse come to the rescue, splitting up to take on their same species. Maybe that cad’s gun isn’t such a threat after all, as after unloading all the bullets it’s revealed that every one missed the target. Then the narrator mocks him, and is shot for his troubles. (You probably found him annoying anyway.) The cad now has a body count. (Of one, but that’s always just a start.)

The horses hiss and arch their backs as horses do when threatened, but then they actually get a good look at each other. It’s love at first sight! (You didn’t even know that Silver was a mare, did you? Sometimes it rocks to be a zoologist.) The two go off screen for some quality time, and that’s for the best. Not just because I respect their privacy, but the stallion clearly ate Goofy and it is distracting. (Makes him sound like a Pinto pinto.) The Stranger, however, has gotten himself knocked off a cliff. Will he be killed by gravity and sharp rocks? It’s up to us, folks.

You have chosen…”No”. A very good choice. Well, I did catch a few smart asps say “yes” and some idiot who didn’t vote at all. (Turns out he was deaf. Whoops.) With the power of audience participation, our hero ascends the perilous precipice, pounds the pugnacious palooka, and sends him… er, flying into a boulder. The impact turning it into an impenetrable prison. Porky is saved, and it is now time for our heroes to return home. Silver is followed by the litter horses naturally have. The five fillies are spitting images of their mother, and the colt has his father’s mustache. The breed will live on!

Favorite Part: When we first see the villain, we are so scared that we miss our cue. The narrator is on top of his game and asks us to not hiss the villain. Naturally, we have to save face, and begin our role at last. (Heh… sorry. First time jitters.)

Personal Rating: 3 that borders on four territory. Maybe I’d have let it have that higher score if Porky HAD ANY LINES! He doesn’t get any dialogue apart from his outro. (Which might be why it sounds like he’s really putting his all into it.)

Woolen Under Where

“Another day, another dollar.”

Directed by Phil Monroe and Richard Thompson; Animation by Richard Thompson, Bob Bransford, Tom Ray, and Ken Harris; Designed by Maurice Noble; Layouts by Alex Ignatiev; Backgrounds by Philip De Guard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on May 11, 1963.

The last short to star Ralph and Sam begins with the two enjoying some breakfast in the same house. Probably just on a business trip. I like Ralph’s odd today, as Sam’s fur is being more of a hindrance than usual. He can barely, get his coffee mug to his mouth, and blunders into just about every tree in his path. Since Ralph is such a good buddy, he clocks the dog in for the day.

Things are just about to get started, and Sam’s lack of vision has caused him to almost walk right over his cliff spot. Ralph is on his top game and rushes to the muttony treats as soon as the whistle blows. One successful grab and Ralph rushes back just as Sam finishes struggling back up the cliff. He knocks a rock loose, and it makes contact with Ralph’s head. He puts the sheep back.

All right, let’s review what we know about these sheep: they like to graze. That means the grass itself might be a good spot to set up an ambush. Ralph uses this knowledge by slipping under the grass (but still above the dirt) to get closer. Sam does the same and punches him back out. Armor won’t help much against those punches, as Sam can grab Ralph’s raspberrying tongue, and yank him through the helmet. And we’re not even going to dignify Ralph’s half of a uni-tank. (Seriously man, what were you thinking?)

A good healthy sheep mixes up the green part of its diet with a healthy helping of fresh water. Ralph plans to dive in so he can ambush the ungulate, crocodile style. But his dive is botched when he lands back on his diving board, dislodging it and the boulder keeping it in place, (I’m loving Ralph’s “Oh, what now?” look.) and when the two land below, Ralph launches into Sam’s grasp. He drops Ralph off the cliff, forcing the wolf to swim through the dirt below.

This calls for now tomfoolery. Ralph needs serious weaponry. A guillotine, axes, arrows, cannons, bombs, dangerous reptiles. The works, really. But just as Ralph is about to pull the switch that will activate everything, the time clock blows. Well, if he’s not going to get paid, there’s no point in offing his best friend. Sam apologizes for Ralph failing again, but the wolf takes it all in good spirits. Still friends, the two walk home. (Or wherever they’re staying these days.)

Favorite Part: The fact that it didn’t end with Ralph suffering at the end. He’s ending his film career in good health, his best friend at his side, and a gorgeous sunset. Life can pretty good, sometimes.

Personal Rating: 3

Tweet and Sour

“You did sthee a pussthycat!”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Virgil Ross, Art Davis, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc (June Foray); Music by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on March 24, 1956.

Granny is heading out for the time being, but she assures Tweety that he will be safe as she is locking the door. But she makes the foolish mistake of sticking the key under the welcome mat, the very place cats like Sylvester tend to hide. As she drives away she waves what could potentially be her final goodbye to her bird, but she snaps out of it and gets the canary out of the cat’s mouth.

Time for a threat. Either Tweety is unharmed by the time she gets back from… wherever it is she is going, or Sylvester is sold to a violin string factory. (That isn’t what catgut is, lady! Leave the feline alone!) Her threat flies straight through those ears, as he is all set to try again once she’s gone. Only after Tweety reminds him of the very real threat does he reluctantly decide to behave himself. But Sylvester isn’t the only cat in town…

Hey! I recognize that orange cat! It’s the one-eyed fellow from “Puddy Tat Twouble“! I’ve heard people say this guy is Sam, but since he doesn’t talk and can’t tell them they are mistaken, his name is Lee. And he helps himself to the bird, despite Sylvester telling him that his life is on the line. Why should Lee care about something that doesn’t affect him? That’s the American lifestyle! Sylvester does his best to get Tweety away from this interloper, and vice versa.

Tweety, in turn is trying to keep away from the both of them. He hides under a hen that lives in a hen house. (Naturally.) The hen is a little spooked when she feels something slip under her, but she seems to get over it quickly as when Sylvester makes a grab, she has a huge smile. (Ew.) Once she sees the claws that were groping her, she runs to tell the resident rooster, Not Foghorn the leghorn. He prepares to wallop the intruder, when Lee comes back and chases Sylvester off. His paw ends up flat as a pancake.

Sylvester gets Tweety back in the house, who comments on how kind the putty-tat is. Sylvester isn’t pleased to hear his reputation referred to in such a kindly manner and points out this is all to keep his body alive. (Don’t you have nine lives, son?) Not like Granny is going to forget this threat after this one time. Lee is planning to come down via chimney, so Sylvester sends up some dynamite via balloon. Lee lets it pass, and slips back down. It’s at that moment that the balloon realizes it has no helium and it drifts back down. Lee flees.

Sylvester notices Granny has returned from… wherever it is she was, and rushes Tweety back to the cage. She comes in just at that moment where the cage door is still open and his paw is still touching the bird. Knowing she wouldn’t believe him anyway, (I’m not even sure the two can communicate) he falls into a violin box on his own. Umm… Tweety? This is where you speak up and defend your hero… Tweety?

Favorite Part: When Granny waves to Tweety in Sylvester’s grasp, Sylvester waves back. It’s funnily cute. Like a pig with a pail on his head, or an elephant taking someone’s lunch.

Personal Rating: 3

The Dixie Fryer

“I’m a rooster, not a roaster.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, Tom Ray, and George Granpre; Layouts by Robert Givens; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on September 24, 1960.

Cold is bad. Cold equals death. Foghorn is the wisest chicken this side of Aardman, so he knew enough to get south once the weather turned on him. Since he can’t fly as well as a duck, he uses one to pull his balloon basket. Taking note of the magnolia scent in the air, he figures this must be his stop and he leaps out via the Mary Poppins approach. He came well packed with all one needs for a vacation: a comfy chair, and a table to hold a drink. (The mint julep is a cute touch.)

But predators are a worldly thing, and there is a couple in that tree just yonder. If you’ve watched every Looney Tune and Merrie Melody in chronological order, then you’d recognize these guys. If not, I’ll introduce you. They are Pappy and his son, Elvis, two raptors of indeterminate species. I call them that because they were turkey vultures in their first picture, but have shrunk down to chicken hawks for this, their final appearance.

They’ve been subsisting on black-eyed peas for some time now, and Elvis is really craving a chicken. The lack of them is all that is keeping his wildest desires from coming true. They take note of Foghorn and are ready to have themselves a good old fashioned BBQ. Foghorn isn’t too pleased to wake up to someone plucking his feathers off, but he finds even more to complain about once he finds out what is on the menu for dinner. (I hate hearing people complain on their vacations.)

With their dinner on the run, Pappy chases him down telling Elvis to shoot him with the gun they have. Elvis has been trained to fire when ‘fire’ is said, and unfortunately for his father, Foghorn knows this. This calls for dueling pistols. Foggy almost immediately gets the guns into the wings of the two, and tries getting them to duel. But what makes these guys fairly amusing is that they are fairly intelligent, and they both shoot their prey.

Foggy tries to get rid of them by claiming there is a tornado on the way, and nailing them in the storm cellar. Then the actual tornado hits him. Foghorn decides to take shelter in an explosives shed. The other two follow him and Foggy leaves them in there with a light. The resulting explosion sends the raptors back to their nest. They decide that the peas will make an adequate dinner after all.

Favorite Part: When in the shed, Elvis asks his father what T.N.T. spells. A very unique way to discover and announce your doom. I hope I can go in a similar way.

Personal Rating: I want to give it a four. There are some good jokes that even manage to subvert your expectations at times. But I don’t know, are the adversaries racial stereotypes? Let me clarify: offensive racial stereotypes? I enjoyed them and didn’t think they were hurtful, but I’m naive and scared of someone accusing me of being insensitive. It’s gotta stay a 3.

Hare-way to the Stars

“At long last, my dream come true!”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Richard Thompson, Ken Harris, and Abe Levitow; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip De Guard; Effects Animation by Harry Love; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on March 29, 1958.

Aside from “D.D.I.T.241/5C.,” this might be Marvin’s best remembered short. Kinda odd, as I think it might be the weakest one. In terms of comedy, of course.

Bugs has just woken up for the day, and is feeling the effects of a root vegetable hangover. (Radish juice and carrot juice. Never again.) He’s in need of a nice, cool bath and begins the climb out of his hole. Unbeknownst to him, the space race is still relatively new, and one rocket is being launched right over his house. Still groggy, the rabbit doesn’t notice he has climbed aboard, and continues to not notice until he has left the planet.

Getting hit by a passing satellite, Bugs is carried to some sort of place in space. I… really don’t know how else to describe it. It’s red pathways, panes of glass, and not much else. It’s… beautiful. I’m not trying to be funny for once. These really are some great backgrounds, and I’m automatically bumping the short up a grade because of them. Bugs isn’t so taken with his new surroundings, and wonders if the only other sign of life might be able to get him back home.

Said sign, is Marvin of course. And he’s rocking a color slightly different than how most remember him. His helmet and kilt are brown rather than green, and his…skin?…clothes?…the body area is green rather than red. (A color scheme he’d keep for the rest of his golden-age movie career.) Something’s got him in a real good mood, and he takes no notice of Bugs at first. He’s far more interested in what he calls “The Illudium pu thirty-six exlosive space modulator.” (It’s taken 2000 years of work? Either he’s aged great, or it’s been a project spanning generations.)

Bugs finally gets to request a ride back to Earth, but Marvin has a bit of sad news to relay: Earth’s seconds are numbered as he’s just about to blow it up. You see, it really does a number blocking Marvin’s view of Venus, and there’s just no other way around it; the planet has got to go. Bugs isn’t quite done with the place yet, and takes the I.P.36E.S.M. when the martian isn’t looking. Marvin catches on rather quickly, and decides to send out some reserves.

Enter the Instant Martians. (Even if a previous short claims they’re not.) Ten thousand of them, all crammed into one handy little space. Just add some water, and they instantly spring to full size. (A nifty trick that another alien, Jumba Jookiba, would utilize himself one day.)The trio set out to capture Bugs, and one almost immediately catches up to the rabbit via scooter. Bugs plays a game of “do what I’m doing” with the creature, and tricks it into riding off the edge of the red. Since there is definitely gravity in space, the guy (or maybe girl) plummets.

Bugs then runs into the other…three? (Unless one of them is the one he just barely got rid of. It’s a possibility!) They chase Bugs up to some doors, and each party takes turns holding them open for each other. Sadly for them, it was Bugs’s turn to hold open the door that leads into open space, and the definite gravity takes them away. Having witnessed the whole thing, Marvin has no choice but to get some more of the martians. Good thing he has between 9,997-9,996 left. (And if you’re trying to be a smart @$$ and asking “If Marvin is  martian, why doesn’t he look like them?” Remember that iguanas are earthlings just like us, and we don’t look a whole lot alike.)

Bugs finds himself a saucer that he of course knows how to fly, and prepares for his journey home. En route, he smashes into the martian dispenser, taking the glass part with him and leaving behind Marvin’s explosive. And it’s been lit. Marvin is just happy to get his stuff back, and doesn’t take note of that. Seeing as how it was designed to blow up an entire planet, it does a good job destroying Marvin’s digs. (Eugh. I don’t like seeing him without his shoes on. Thank Chuck that never happened again.)

Bugs manages to get back home, but lands in a sewer. And those things are full of water. He flees, as we see the pavement crack, bulging with over 9,000 invasive species. Here’s hoping “War of the World’s” twist holds true!

Favorite Part: How Marvin doesn’t react with glee when he explains what he’s doing. It’s like when you take down a tree that is growing into your foundation, it needs to go, but one can still fell guilty about how many homes you’re destroying. At least he has more empathy than the Vogons ever did.

Personal Rating: 3.

The Hasty Hare

“That wasn’t at all nice!”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ken Harris, Lloyd Vaughan, and Ben Washam; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on June 7, 1952.

If they’re not coming to invade us, then people from other planets typically drop by just to examine the local life. That usually requires abduction, but it’s such an ugly word. They prefer “relocating.” Marvin is on one of these such missions, but he is only required to bring back a single specimen. (Don’t want to alter either habitat too much.) Interestingly, seeing as Marvin hasn’t received his official name yet, he’s known as “Flying Saucer X-2.” Not the best name there is. (Even if “X” is the coolest letter in the English alphabet.)

But you know, it pairs well with the assistance he has brought along, K-9. Maybe I should give myself a martian name that’s composed of a letter and digit. Let’s see… G-6? Nah, I’m not too religious. W-7? Sounds too British. F-0? Actually, that sounds a bit race-ist. Actually, this is harder than it looks. Maybe I should stop wasting your time with pointless crap. (But I get so much enjoyment at seeing your face furrow.)

Marvin just decides to take the creature that made the first tracks he sees and those tracks were made by Bugs. When Bugs catches sight of the two visitors, he instantly assumes that the two are nothing more than kids looking for Halloween goodies. He gives them bags of candy, (Hey! No fair! I never got such a haul as a kid!) and figures he’ll see no more of them. Marvin proves his power by using his disintegrating pistol to remove most of Bugs’ house. The rabbit finally catches on.

Marvin tells the bunny that all three of them will be returning to Mars, and Bugs demands to know what the martian will do if he refuses to comply. I love this: Marvin doesn’t get angry, I mean, he really is just doing his job, and he might as well convince the beast to come along as non-violently as possible. He merely disintegrates a boulder. Bugs is convinced and is the first one aboard. But he’s always thinking a step ahead, and immediately disembarks to play conductor and ushers his adversaries aboard without him. They make it halfway back home before realizing their error.

When they return to Earth, Bugs explains that the reason he doesn’t want to go is because he’d hate to get involved with mutiny. Another great moment here, with the suspicion and doubt being seeded. Marvin takes no chances, and gives K-9 a good shot. (Strangely enough, this was the last time the dog would appear. He doesn’t even get any lines in this one.) They finally manage to get Bugs by firing a strait-jacket ejecting bazooka at him, which wraps him up snug. Success!

As Marvin pilots his craft, K-9 is left to guard the prisoner. He’d better not try any funny stuff! Oh, nothing of the sort, it’s just that the jacket Bugs has on, it’s really not his size. Too much arm room. Surely the dog could get him a different one? Seems like a reasonable request. He complies, and Bugs slips it on, but ultimately decides it would suit K-9 much more. And just like that Bugs, has captured the capture-er. He manages to do the same to Marvin, by claiming they hit an iceberg, and the jacket is a life preserver.

Now in control, Bugs decides to fly back to Earth. Too bad he doesn’t know how to pilot one of these crafts. Worse yet, the anchor he threw over board has caught on to a crescent moon, which is catching planets, which are grabbing stars and dragging them all along. (And just making up their own laws about gravity. Newton would not be pleased.) As it so happens, an astronomer sits down at the observatory to marvel at the vastness of space. (Something I don’t like doing. I already know I don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I don’t need the universe to rub it in.)

The short, red-haired, Friz Frelengesque man (who actually IS named I. Frisby.) takes one look at that mess of a galaxy and announces his retirement. He’s going to take up turkey farming. (A noble profession if I ever heard one!) And that is what led to the first Thanksgiving, and why I say a prayer of thanks to Mr. Freleng every night.

Favorite Part: When Bugs suggests the idea of mutiny. The little thumb motion Marvin does when saying “You mean, he against me?” is so freakin’ bass. It needs to be done in a summer blockbuster.

Personal Rating: 3

Strife with Father

“Monte will do no such thing!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Emery Hawkins, Charles McKimson, Phil DeLara, Rod Scribner, and J.C. Melendez; Layouts by Cornett Wood; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on April 1, 1950.

You know, I’m disappointed. You see, my Mother was happily showing me something on “Instagram” the other day. Someone had posted “The Lion’s Busy,” there, and judging by the comments, everyone was enjoying it as they should. But get this, they were all referring to Beaky as “Buzzy Buzzard.” And really, this could have been avoided if YOU bothered to tell anyone about this place.

Okay, that was rude, and I apologize. Why don’t we honor BEAKY the right way, by discussing his final picture?

Late at night when diurnal birds slumber, a mysterious figure leaves something on the doorstep of a pair of English Sparrows. Come the morn, Monte, (the male) finds it is an egg with a note imploring him and his wife, Gwendolyn, raise the baby known as Beaky. (Whoever that shadow was, they’re not coming back, and their name was apparently “Big Beaky.”) Monte has no interest in adoption, but the Mrs. is taken with the egg, and so they will keep it.

When the hatching occurs, Monte is none too pleased. Only a mouse would grow to love the adopted son he never wanted. But Gwendolyn won’t let him dispose of it, for you see, if “The Ugly Duckling” has taught her anything, this chick will grow up to be beautiful. Isn’t that swee-did she just admit that she thinks the kid is ugly? Et tu, mama? I think I’ll have to beg to differ. Can we get a picture please?

Baby’s first meal

Yeah, no. I’m right, BEAKY must be adorable.

And yet, the narration doesn’t seem to agree with me, stating that he grows up to still be ugly. What’s worse is that BEAKY is now at that age where he really needs to be eating meat. Monte still hates the kid, but loves his mate and promises to help catch the lad a chicken. BEAKY however, isn’t too keen on flying, so Monte has to saw off the limb he’s sitting on to get him to the ground. Now, on to the chicken farm.

Monte’s plan is to go inside and throw the hens out to BEAKY. But wouldn’t you know it, chickens are much larger than sparrows, and he doesn’t succeed. So, he has a new plan: he’ll willingly get a chicken to chase him, and BEAKY can smash it with a mallet. As you’d expect, Monte ends up smashed. But a gentleman never raises his voice in anger, and he keeps the calm demeanor he has throughout the picture. (It’s actually quite funny how calm he talks. Speaking of voices, his wife barely emotes, and BEAKY sounds more like Goofy than Mortimer Snerd, here.)

Monte (who’s wing/hand actually disappears at the 5:38 mark. See if you can catch it.) resorts to using a grenade. BEAKY has never seen one of those before, and tries to give his father what he believes is an egg. Monte makes it quite clear that he doesn’t want it, and unlike I’m pretty sure every cartoon that’s done something like this before ever, BEAKY actually gets the hint. Still thinks it’s an egg though, and decides he’ll hand it over to his mom.

She does know what a grenade is though, and throws it out of the house and right into the returning Monte. Thus, endeth BEAKY’S movie career. Sad really, I like the little fella. Though I will admit this is my least favorite of the shorts he starred in. In fact, the later the date, the less I think its great. There you go, ranked all his cartoons.

Favorite Part: Monte asking how BEAKY could be so stupid, and the buzzard replying that “I get around.” I like this line not for what is said, but what it entails. BEAKY knows he isn’t the sharpest thing around, but he knows enough to get by, and he’s content with that. It really makes me want to dive into this psyche more.

Personal Rating: 3

Mad as a Mars Hare*

“This joint makes Siberia look like Miami Beach.”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Co-Director: Maurice Noble; Story by John Dunn; Animation by Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, Bob Bransford, and Tom Ray; Backgrounds by Bob Singer; Effects Animation by Harry Love; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on October 19, 1963.

We are not alone in space. Someone is watching us. Observing us. His name is Marvin. And for once in his life, he’s not waging any kind of war on Earth and its inhabitants. No, he’s a scientist in this picture. (His final one, too.) And Earth has a good many species to look at. From the mighty, majestic mammals, to the small and oft-forgotten insects. Marvin has a particular interest in those. His favorite is the one called “man.”

Even more exciting though, is what appears to be some sort of fledgling species leaving Earth for the first time. It’s coming right toward Marvin too! After the crash, he decides that he must exterminate whatever is landing on his planet. It really is the only way to deal with invasive species. Might as well nip it in the bud, and have as little suffering as martianly possible.

We on Earth call this species a “rocket ship.” It’s hypothesized that they could take invasive species to new planets and give them new worlds to colonize, pillage, and maim. The downside being that we haven’t had much of a way to test it, and we sure as heck aren’t going to test it on our own kind. That’s why we send those like “Astro-rabbit” Bugs Bunny to do our dirty work. Now rabbits, they’re expendable.

Bugs wants no part in this and refuses to leave his ship. Mission control was prepared for this, and have prepared a fool-proof plan to get Bugs’ attention, and get him off the ship: a carrot. Bugs takes note, and his leave. (And his front teeth seem to be missing the line normally there to separate the two. Kinda makes them look like a large vampiric tongue.) Tricked again. Carrots lured him into Cape Canaveral in the first place, and worse,  he can’t even enjoy the one he’s just obtained. It’s aluminum.

Marvin shows up with a disintegration gun in hand. Bugs hardly bats an eye, and just takes the gun away. But it goes off anyhow, and Marvin isn’t even half the martian he used to be. This calls for a quick trip to the re-integrator, and a more powerful weapon: the time-space gun. With it, Marvin will be able to project Bugs forward in time where he’ll be a harmless, useful slave. So…what does that entail? Is it just supposed to age Bugs up? We’ve seen him that way. I don’t think he’d be complacent. Is it supposed to morph him into a higher stare of being? One that doesn’t believe in violence, and instead wishes to help those around it?

I ask these questions, because of what happens next. Marvin shoots Bugs all right, but he had the gun set in reverse, and Bugs has now become some frightening combination of rabbit and neanderthal. He’s not younger, and while yes, I would count him as a more primitive species, I’d be more inclined to think he’d end up like this:

Maybe it just wasn’t built for Earth species.

Regardless of what I think, this new form works well in the rabbit’s favor, as he is able to snap the gun with his bare paws, and squish Marvin into his own helmet. Even better, his jaws have become powerful enough to munch on the metal carrot. Sure, he’s still stuck up here for the time being, but as soon as he DOES find a way back home, Elmer (who Bugs name drops despite the studio having retired him by this point) is going to be in for quite the surprise. All in all, things worked out quite nicely.

Favorite Part: Getting some introspection on Bugs and his love of carrots. He wonders why it is that he loves them so much. They’re dry and lacking figurative meat. Like life’s hardest questions, he can’t come up with an answer on the spot. (Personally, befitting his Grouchoesque tendencies, I always saw it as the carrot equivalent of a cigar. Dependencies are hard to give up.)

Personal Rating: 3, but that’s only for the common folk who expect and want mindless cartoon action. I think the more intellectual types can classify it with the 4’s.

*This definitely gets my vote for best pun title.