Let it be Me

“Oh, Mr. Bingo!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life with Feathers

“Aren’t you hungry?”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Virgil Ross; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on March 24, 1945.

Some sort of domestic squabble is going on in a birdcage, and I’m proven right by one of the occupants being evicted. He tells us that he is a lovebird, that was his wife who hates his guts now, and as his name suggests, he needs love to live. No point in suffering. He begins brainstorming some ideas about how to off himself. I’m sure some people would think he’s overreacting, but I think it’s kinda sweet that he is dedicated to the one he loves if she wasn’t. If I ever lost a girlfriend, I’m sure I wouldn’t find life too enjoyable anymore, either.  Me and him should be drinking buddies.

Fate decides his death for him with a cat who looks like he’s in the mood for a snack, seeing as he’s picking through the trash. This cat is Sylvester making his first appearance. And he rushes over once the bird gets his attention. He stops short because this seems too good to be true. He deduces that the bird is poisoned and just wants one less cat in the world. Because that’s what poisonous creatures want right? No point in living if you can’t ever be hugged. (On another note, pay attention to the speck of background between Mr. Lovebird’s wing and head. It’s also depressed as it turns blue.)

Sylvester’s owner calls him back for some milk. Wait, why was he picking through the trash if someone feeds him? (On another note, if you watch his face closely, you’ll see it has more white than usual as he zips into frame.) He spits out every drop once he finds out who was at the bottom of the bowl. Since Sylvester is paranoid and Mr. Lovebird isn’t going to explain why he’s come to the worst life choice possible, he has no choice but to order a mallet, smack the cat, then enter his mouth whilst he shouts.

Sylvester smokes a pipe to get him back out. (Hey, if you want to die so much, why don’t you just inhale that smoke that’s being inhaled. That secondhand stuff is deadly.) He traps Mr. L in a glass jug, and proceeds to open some cat food. (Does he normally feed himself solid food? He’s really well trained!) Whilst his head is turned, a very familiar looking feather drops into the bowl. Not daring to not look behind him, Sylvester doesn’t notice until it’s sticking out of his mouth. His worst fears are confirmed upon checking on the jug. He ate the dirty birdy!

Mr. L is okay though. This is all part of his master scheme: give Sylvester some pills, and hop on the spoon himself before it goes past the gums. Sylvester catches on. The bird decides to play fowl. He turns the radio to some sort of program that does nothing but ask if you’d like to eat this’nthat or so’nso. (Maybe it’s an ad?) To make things harder, Mr. L also shows plenty of pictures of delicious looking meals. The torture is working. (Do those fish have hair on them?) Sylvester soon gives in figuring if this doesn’t kill him, spending the rest of his life starving will. I’d say that adds up. Just before the deed is done, a telegram is delivered to the bird.

Whatever it said, it worked like a charm. Mr. L tells Sylvester that things will be all right back at home, so he doesn’t have to eat him. (On another note, his beak turns blue because it’s still depressed.) Too bad his treatment worked so well! Sylvester is still hungry and this bird on his had is worth two in any bush. The lovebird just barely manages to escape with his life. (Now, aren’t you ashamed you took it for granted?) So what was on that note, anyway? Has the Mrs. forgiven you for whatever she did? Better than that! She’s going to go live with her mother. Oh, Mr. Lovebird. Here I thought you were loyal to the end.

Well, you know what fickle creatures lovebirds are. Sweetiepuss changed her mind last minute, and Mr. L resumes his Sylvester chase. Since the little guy never made another appearance, I think he succeeded.

Favorite Part: One of the ways Mr. L tries to get Sylvester to eat is by dressing as Santa so he can give him a “present”. His pathetic, wimpery “Merry Christmas” is music to my ears.

Personal Rating: 3. A fine way to start a new character off. Good enough to be nominated for the Oscar too! But since it was the forties, you already know it lost to a “Tom and Jerry”.

The Bird came C.O.D.

“Mm-nh.”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Animation by Ken Harris; Musical Direction by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on January 17, 1942.

Conrad! Hey, buddy! Haven’t discussed you for since the twenty-tens. Did you ever get more of a personality than Goofy wannabe? No? I’m sorry. You’ll always have a trio of posts talking about you eventually.

Conrad is playing delivery cat today. His company specializes in delivery of palms. Slogan is, “You grease ours, you’ll get yours.” (Clearly, I should have been writing for these pictures.) Being Conrad’s first film, he makes sure to look directly into the camera. Just to make sure that Mr. Jones know how grateful he is for this opportunity, and he could be the new breakout character for Chuck should Sniffles ever… you know… disappear. Just look at those exaggerated cartoon movements! He’s the ideal star!

His first problem is just trying to get the plant into the theater awaiting the delivery. It really does feel like a “Goofy” cartoon what with the tree getting caught on the door frame and flinging Conrad backwards, and the door shutting on its own when he thinks he found a solution by squat walking inside. No wonder Mr. Colvig would be voicing him. It was clearly always meant to be. Conrad finally figures out the secret: hold the door open with the delivery. Please, enter.

…AND BRING THE PLANT, STUPID! Geeze, hope you’re not expecting a tip after that. Now inside, all Conrad has to do is not trip and get it to its proper location. After he trips, he gets it to its proper location. Not even a scratch! Maybe he does know what he’s doing. He finds the old plant, switches it with the new, and is all set to go on his way, when he sees a top hat that has been left on the stage. That can only mean a magician has performed, and Conrad has always secretly been envious of those guys. He can’t resist having a little fun and pretending to be what he is not. (Without talking. He has no dialogue outside of nervous chuckles and exclamatory grunts.)

Wouldn’t you know it? First try and he pulls out a live rabbit. Even he wasn’t expecting to be that good. His reaction puzzles me. He looks less amazed and more nauseous. Does it smell that bad? Then it should have been a skunk. I bet Chuck could get a lot of mileage out of those. But what’s really worrisome is the other occupant of the hat. The title star finally shows, more than halfway in. Some early ancestor of Henery Hawk it looks like. But I guess he’s a dove? What magician uses hawks in his act? A fun-king awesome one, that’s who.

The little guy doesn’t seem too pleased to see some amateur messing with the hat, but he doesn’t do more than give Conrad a glare. Not even an angry glare, just a “do you mind?” kind of glare. And I get it. I hate when delivery boys bring me a package and then start looking in my drawers. But Conrad feels like he’s been the one wronged, and knocks the bird back out of the hat. Again, Little Birdy just kind of gives a look. A “this is getting old” look. He only slaps Conrad when the cat tries taking a closer peek inside that hat.

Angered, Conrad smashes the hat. Little Birdy is unharmed, but gives the peeking tom (cat) a poke in the eye. Come on, Conrad. It’s not worth it! He agrees, but decides to throw that hat rather than just leave. It comes back to hit him, and L.B. punches his nose now. Conrad should consider himself lucky, considering what silent birds usually do to cats, but he refuses to be three-upped and makes another attempt to get the bird. He’s caught in the act, and Little marches him back into the orchestra pit. I bet a lot of good slapstick is happening. You can tell by the number of instruments flying.

Now sporting a pair of black eyes, Conrad finally gets the hint that he should cut his losses before the bird cuts him. He takes the old plant and tries to flee, but runs straight into the theater’s brick storage room. (I love those rooms.) Dazed and disoriented, he next stumbles into wardrobe where he finds six more top hats. Surely you figured Mr. Birdy wasn’t the only one in the clutch, right? Too bad they don’t do more than pull Conrad’s hat over his face. Passive aggressiveness runs in the family.

Favorite Part: Conrad leaving the plant outside was a good gag made better by the triumphant music petering out.

Personal Rating: 2. I can’t relate to the main character because I think L.B. was totally justified in his threats. He deserves being the title character. (If only he showed up sooner.)

Ain’t we got Fun

“3rd shelf: Things ‘n stuff.”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Animation by Charles Jones and Robert Clampett; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on April 17, 1937.

Let’s return to that strange time when Avery tried to make cute little mice cartoons. (Although, chronologically, this was the first of the three.)

It’s snowing. Isn’t it awful? I like the plan of Old man Numbles: sit in a comfortable chair in front of a beautiful fire. Only thing wrong with that? His cat beat him to the best seat in the house. Easy fix. He smacks it with his newspaper until it returns to the floor where it belongs. This guy isn’t just smart, he’s great with animals. I nominate him as my third grandfather.

As cats do, the cat falls asleep. Ever hear the saying, ‘When the cat’s asleep, the mice will creep?’ It’s playing out right now. Sentry mouse sends the word via paper airplane. Using a model that experience has told me doesn’t fly at all. Side-tangent, but if you’ve thrown the perfect paper airplane, you’ll spend the rest of your life cursing your inability to duplicate it. With the word spread, it’s creeping time. (It’s a hauntingly hypnotic creep. It’s also another great image to screen-cap for memes. When you become the trendiest person on the internet, the right thing to do will be to send me half of the money you made with this great tip.)

Cat’s out like an old fad. Feast time! While the food gags commence, the mice are smart enough to set another one on guard duty. If the cat appears, he’s to whistle. Just a suggestion, but you might want to take those crackers he’s standing in front of with you. I know mice, and I know crackers. Mice will nibble on edible things. Crackers can not be whistled through. When you put the two together, it equals trouble for your soiree.

And the giggles roust the cat. Um, you’re looking the wrong way, moron. The pantry was located to your right. His eyes have changed color, too. Maybe because if you squint as much as Numbles does, he kinda looked like Beans at first? Guard mouse can’t whistle to save his friends lives, but his ear can flash. Good thing a different mouse sees the feline and everybody flees back to the mouse hole in time. With the cat separated by wall, the stragglers hand him the food they pilfered from the pantry. Oh, Numbles! You might want to take a look at this!

The geezer ain’t happy.  Despite the cat’s insistence, he is deemed guilty and doomed to freeze outside. Strangely enough, seeing my two least favorite things together is actually making me laugh. Now the mice can really creep! In fact, things are so good that they sing our title song, with a few modified lyrics. And I think one of the singers is a doe. I mean, she’s(?) wearing a dress, but the singer’s all sound masculine. An oversight? Or an Avery joke? Guard mouse even got himself a metal whistle, so his snacking won’t be a hindrance anymore.

With less caution, the resulting noise manages to wake Numbles. The mice don’t fear him, so they pelt him with food. (I’m sure they won’t mind nibbling it off of him afterwards.) Remembering why he got a cat in the first place, he begs for it to come back inside, apologizing for the mix-up. Cat’s hearing none of it. The man can fix his own mess. It’s the mice’s taunting that convinces it to chase them back to the hole once more. Maybe now they’ll stay put. The cat claims the chair once more, andNumbles, realizing he owes him one, takes the rug instead.

Favorite Part: After smacking the cat away from his chair, Numbles throws a book at it for no real reason. Maybe you have to dislike cats like I do to get it.

Personal Rating: 3. Putting my personal view aside, I don’t think there’s too much cat abuse here for cat lovers to hate it. C’mon, he wins in the end!

Porky’s Pet

“Tickets, tickets.”

Supervision by Jack King; Animation by Cal Dalton and Sandy Walker; Music by Norman Spencer. A Looney Tune released on July 11, 1936.

*Sigh* I was really hoping some sort of Christmas miracle would bring back my lost work. I promise, that’s the last time it’ll be brought up. Now, let’s discuss the first short to have Porky’s name in the title.

Porky’s just received a telegram from someone named J. Botts. (Jo Botts?) We never see the person, but they’ve got a great offer for my pig pal: A job that’ll pay seventy-five cents a week in New York, so it must be Broadway related. But it’s not just Porky who’s going to be big, so will his titular pet, Lulu. He rushes to her cage to tell her the good news. How cute! She’s a canary, then? She’s an ostrich.

Now, I’ve always loved ostriches. Probably my first favorite animal before I moved on to yaks, then bats, then newts, then goblin sharks, then hermit crabs, then hamsters, before making pigs my final choice. So I know a fair amount about the largest extant birds. For example, I’ve never known one to speak in a strange garbledygork of insane laughter and English mumblings. And her size and appetite mean that she must be a heck of a hassle of a pet. But I see genuine love in her eyes for the Porkster, so I can’t and won’t interfere with the heartwarming bond between them. (Though I COULD give her a good home…)

Well, with the future calling, P. and L. traverse to the train station. Climbing aboard, it appears that Mr. Pig can’t take a trip with a pet in tow. (Dogs are allowed but not ostriches?) Well, Porky just tells Lu to run ahead of the train and he’ll sneak her on. (Why not just ride her? How far is your journey, anyhow?) She may look like a birdbrain, but she understands and the plan works great. Porky was able to pull her into the moving train by her neck. He is our new god.

But now comes the difficult part: keeping her hidden. She’s a big girl, and is quite noticeable. Lucky all the other passengers are willing to stay mum on the subject. Still, she’ll have to stay out of the conductor’s sight. Porky stuffs her under the seat with some difficulty, but she’s a wide-open spaces kind of bird! She doesn’t stay put and decides to put her special ostrich talent to good use. That’s her appetite. She roams around the area eating whatever catches her eye. Toupees, toy planes, musical instruments. She’d probably eat a baby if she came across one.

Crap! The conductor approacheth! In a panic, Porky hides Lulu into the only thing big enough he can get his mitts on: a cello case. (Why did someone bring an empty one along?) This hardly works before Lulu stands up, giving the conductor quite the ride and interesting story to tell later on. When she’s revealed, he doesn’t need to react with surprise or fright. He grabs her without so much as a flinch, and throws her out the window. Porky is next to go, though he gets the more dignified exit via the back door.

The two are still a long way from Broadway, but their ingenuity sees them through. Tying a nearby handcart to a nearby cow gives them a means of transportation that’s even faster than train! Bet the conductor feels embarrassed now!

Favorite Part: A small thing, but I like how the concertina Lulu swallows is labeled as such. So many people think they’re accordions, but here you’ll have no excuse for the mix-up. (Unless you can’t read.) Together, we can help raise awareness.

Personal Rating: 2. I think I preferred Donald Duck interacting with an ostrich. Hortense was way cuter, too.

(And yes, I know female ostriches don’t have black plumage. But since this isn’t “Fantasia” I can use the grayscale to my advantage and blissfully believe that Lulu is just a very dark shade of brown.)

Little Lion Hunter

“Shh.”

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6cq0oo

Supervision by Charles Jones; Story by Robert Givens; Animation by Philip Monroe; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on October 7, 1939.

It’s Inki’s first day on the job, so we can expect a few flubs. Example: despite what the title clearly states, he’s throwing his spear at any and all animals. (Although, in seriousness, if a giraffe chooses to bend down to eat, it’s asking for death.) Being early in his short career, Inki also looks a bit different than we’d later know him. He’s got large lashes, and a shiny black nose. Making it understandable that I used to think he was female, and you thought he was a deer.

The kid finds some tracks that surely lead to some big, dangerous game, so Inki takes cover behind a tree. And the ‘dangerous’ part comes true when we see what comes from the direction of those tracks: the world’s REAL most deadliest game, the Minah Bird. (You can identify him by his flashing wings.) He clearly didn’t make those tracks, he just killed whatever did for intruding on his territory. (If it was lucky, it wasn’t made to suffer. No promises with this bird, though.)

Inki makes another rookie mistake, he decides to tackle this creature. He follows it, waiting for the perfect moment to use his spear. It either never comes, or he squanders it, as the bird hops into a hole. Now, you should never, never, never ever, never, never, ever put your hand into any hole this bird hopes into, if you value said hand and think there will even be a remote chance that you will use it again. Inki is lucky today, just pulling out a sleeping skunk. Perhaps the bird is giving him one break for being so new at this.

Inki decides to hunt tortoises, as there is less danger involved. But after following the reptile into a log, he finds himself back in the company of the destroyer bird. Having not gotten the hint that he should really flee while he still has eight toes, he throws his spear. Bridging a gap that the bird had no problem jumping into, because even gravity knows better than to try and kill him. Hence the bird’s ability to hop vertically up a tree. Inki climbs up after him, and ends up with the bird on his head. Said bird tries to bite his nose off for daring to let his scalp touch the bird’s talons. (Well, would you like to tell me what the bird is doing?)

While trying to squish it or something, Inki only manages to knock himself back to the ground. He’s managed to escape painful death twice now, so he should really leave the mynah bird hunting to the professionals. (Current members in that profession: -1,000,000,000.) But hark, sounds! (In a jungle? No way.) Sounds like some kind of game is coming close. Inki just needs to listen to find out what he’s up against. It’s the very thing the title said he should have been hunting all along: a lion.

The lion is much closer than Inki’s hearing suggests, and the beast has to physically tap the boy to make his presence known. Inki immediately knows he is over his head now, and bolts without even looking at the cat directly. (Good. He’s learning.) He also knows the basic rule of lion survival: hiding in a hollow tree stump works! They are not one to question why a stump has an eye, or what those horrible screechy, scratchy noises are. (I guess there the sounds of Inki trying to creep away?) But he forgot that this trick only works if you stand still. Even lions know that stumps don’t stroll.

With the lion totally aware, Inki has no choice but to accept his fate. But just then, things are made either worse or better by the appearance of who else was in the stump, good old, terrifying old, the Minah bird. The lion isn’t aware that he should flee while the fleeing’s good; animals can’t learn from mistakes that will kill them. It pounces, and a terrific tussle takes place off-screen. When the bird is done proving who the king of the jungle is, the lion is roughed up, tussed up, and ready for slaughter, but the bird feels he has made his point.

Instead, he lets Inki know that he saved the kid from the lion’s digestive system, and kicks him for bothering him in the first place. It’s here where you learn the twist that I just made up: Inki had found a genie, and wished to survive an encounter with this bird, three times. He probably thought that would mean he’d kill it each time, but you know what pricks genies are.

Favorite Part: When Inki is hiding from the lion behind a tree, the lion taps him on the shoulder. Inki figures out who’s poking him by squeezing the lion’s retractable claw out. Nice subtle teaching!

Personal Rating: 3

Little Brother Rat

“I once had an egg.”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Story by Rich Hogan; Animation by Bob McKimson; Musical Direction by Charles W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on September 2, 1939.

Sniffles creeps up on a sleeping cat and yanks out a whisker. He must have a death wish! No, it’s just part of a scavenger hunt he’s taking part in. Bringing it back puts in the lead, beating out Jimmy and flat out annihilating Squeakie. (Even though the list asks for whiskers plural. Oops.) There’s just one last item on the list, but it’s certainly the most difficult: an owl’s egg.

Sniffles accepts the challenge and heads back out again. The cat has come outside too by this point, and begins to follow the little prick who caused him a moment of discomfort. (And upset his sense of balance, let’s be real.) Sniffles manages to avoid getting caught by entering a barn, but the cat has no problem waiting for his return. There isn’t any other holes down here, so it’s a good bet the mouse will return.

Up in the barn, sleeps Papa Owl. (Asleep at night because he’s hungover. I don’t know.) Sniffles easily gets his paws on the unhatched Junior, and is almost immediately caught leaving. The father convinces him to put his child back passively and aggressively. Sniffles is then thrown out from this high, because he’s just too big for the owl to swallow whole. (Nice camera movement.) He bounces off the still waiting cat and is flung right back up again. So, guess he’s just stuck in such a perilous position for the rest of his life, eh?

As if! Winning this scavenger hunt is everything to him! The prize must be that good. (Or he just refuses to be bested by Jimmy. Friggin’ Jimmy.) He tries again, and father doesn’t catch him this time. Instead, Sniffles trips. That’s the end of this egg. Or not. Seems it was just about to hatch as the owlet is alive and unharmed and a chibi version of his father. Sniffles tries to coax him back inside, because it will prove this really is an owl egg, rather than a robin egg. The young bird gets in, but his feet stick out and he walks back to his nest.

Sniffles gets a hold of him once more. And then just puts him back anyway. (I guess he only has qualms about stealing other’s children after they’re born.) Once back outside, he finds the little owl has followed him. Even worse, the cat takes notice of the two and chases. Sniffles carries the young bird, and this kind gesture is witnessed by Mr. Owl. He swoops down, grabs the cat, and throws it down a chimney. (He’ll be back to eat it later.) Because of his bravery, Sniffles is given the egg he needed. Yeah! Eat it, Jimmy!

Favorite Part: The way the owl’s eyes gleam and dilate when Sniffles is spotted. Telling him in no uncertain way that the jig is up.

Personal Rating: 3 for those who can accept a Merrie Melody without much comedy. If you can’t, it’s a 2.

Porky’s Ant

“What I wouldn’t give to catch one of those old pigmuh-nuhuh-pigmuh-nuhuh-pigmuh- those midget ants.”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Story by Rich Hogan; Animation by Rudolph Larriva; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on May 10, 1941.

What is something you’d like to do? Pretend money is no object. Pretend you’re as fit as need be. Pretend you have not fears or worries about failing. What would you do? Me personally, I’d be traveling the world just to see different animals. Porky is in the midst of that, and I’m envious. He’s just waltzing around Africa with a silent guide reading a book about rare insects. (My dream…)

One such insect is known as the Pigmy Ant (Pgymy formicidae). A creature not named for its size, but because it has a habit of dressing like humans. They’re also worth $150,000.00. Sadly, Porky is more interested in the price than the creature. Luckily for him, one of these ants is following him and his guide. (I wish it was Inki. That’d be a fun cameo.) Pigmy ant hierarchies are determined by the size of the bone in their topknots. The bigger the bone, the more likely you are to score mates. As such, the little gal feels the guide’s bone is better because it’s bigger.

Small, though she may be, the guide can feel her tugging on his clothing. When he turns to look. He crashes into Porky, flinging supplies every which way. When Porky sees the ant, he confirms with the book on her species. Yep. She’s the one! She’s fast, too! She bolts for the safety of her hill before Porky can nab her. Time to do a little luring. Good thing Porky brought some chocolates with him. He sets a bonbon behind some flypaper, unaware that the ant could just walk around it. He throws it away, and it lands on his guide’s face.

The ant ducks under some growth and Porky reaches after, unaware of the slumbering lion within. He throws a lasso that the ant sticks around the cat’s paws and pulls it out. (Porky lifts.) He puts it back. Now he knows that ant’s game, but still doesn’t dare get near her when she returns to its protection. She taunts him, but doesn’t realize the lion gets up and leaves until Porky has crawled out of the bush and is nearing.

Back at the guide, he finds another lion. It chases him back to Porky and the two can do nothing more than hide. Good thing the ant doesn’t hate them. She uses the flypaper to trip the lion up, saving the two from his intestinal tract. Porky is grateful and offers her anything she wants that he can give. She gets her bone, and since she’s following them still, I think she’s decided to let Porky adopt her. (…My… dream…)

Favorite Part: The face Porky makes when he first sees the paw he’s reeled in. He was all prepared to be happy, but fate didn’t get her lines right.

Personal Rating: 2

Tree for Two

“I gotta job to do!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, Arthur Davis, and Manuel Perez; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on October 4, 1952.

Best be on the look out ladies and gents, the newspapers say that a panther is on the loose. I’m not a newspaper and I say that a leopard is on the loose. Panther is a term that people who can’t be bothered to read up on big cats use. Regardless of what you call it, this is a potentially dangerous animal that is roaming the streets and you’d be smart to use caution out of doors. The poor thing is lost, confused and scared and when animals feel that: they maul.

Enter Spike and Chester. (The latter making his debut here.) Chester is the hero-worshipper type and his hero is Spike. He suggests many typical dog activities and each suggestion gets him a negative answer and smack across the face. Chester saves his best suggestion for last: beating up on a cat. (I love how he still braces himself for another smack. Don’t let yourself be a hero-worshipper. Even the decent people will get sick of you.) Finally, something that piques Spike’s interest. Chester leads him to where a cat is located.

Their cat of choice is Sylvester. He was just minding his own business, singing and enjoying life. (He’s good at it too! If “Back Alley Oproar” didn’t convince you of his singing prowess, watch it again. It’s a wonderful short.) And that gets him hounded by hounds. He takes refuge in an alley with the two right outside. Spike keeps Chester out while he partakes in all the fun. Once inside he pulls on his prey’s tail. Only not really. That is a leopard tail, and Sylvester is hiding in a trash can. (Confused, but not stupid enough to point out there’s a mix-up.) That tail isn’t coming undone, so Spike follows it. He leaves quite shaken up. (On the bright side, it doesn’t look like he was harmed too physically.)

Chester takes a peek to see this “big” cat, but only sees Sylvester checking if the coast is clear. Chester offers to take care of the cat, but Spike’s pride ain’t having it. He goes back in to really give it to ‘im. The same thing happens, but Spike definitely took a beating this time. Chester still can’t accept this. (It constantly causes his whiskers to disappear in shock.) Chester shows that even a little dog like himself can pound the puss and fling him back to whence he came, so surely a bigger, stronger, (prick-ier) dog can do it. Spike’s resolve is restored.

Spike enters the alley again, and without a hiding place, Sylvester can’t do much more but claw blindly at the air. Amused, Spike lets him give his best shot. With both of them having their eyes obscured, neither one sees the leopard clawing the mutt to bits for daring to pick on his distant relative. Spike is horrified, and flees. Sylvester can’t believe what he’s seeing, but he seems to be seeing it. There must be more power in his paw than he ever imagined. Now feeling strong as a leopard, he comes after the two dogs himself. They’re going to get the claw and leave him alone from now on!

Chester isn’t convinced and once more beats and flings. (Stan Freberg, you are knocking it out of the park with this performance. Really wish you got to star alongside Mel more often.) So in the end, Chester is considered the tough one and he gets to bully and smack the hero-worshipping Spike, the leopard was eventually found and returned to the zoo which was given a good amount of funds to renovate the place and make it so the animals were happy in captivity, and though Sylvester got beaten up, he was known in all the cat circles as the one who turned the feared Spike into a groveling kiss-ass.

Favorite Part: The smile on Chester’s face when Spike tells him he can go get himself killed. It’s the same look we’ve all had when someone allowed us to do something dangerous, and we were about to prove them wrong. (Though not every one of us came out like Chester…)

Personal Rating: 3. But even if it’s successor got the same score, this one is better. I find the ending makes a lot more sense with everyone still unclear about what really went down. Makes Chester’s promotion make more sense.

I wanna play House

“♪ I gotta sing, ’cause I’m gay…♪”

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8angw1

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Cal Dalton and Sandy Walker; Music by Bernard Brown. A Merrie Melody released on January 11, 1936.

If you were a time traveler, and you used that power to just go back and watch every Looney Tune and Merrie Melody in theaters in chronological order, you’d find this cartoon to be the debut of those famous rings that you associate with these shorts. (It’s always been the perfect way to frame the many characters who came after the rings left the screen.)

Out in the woods, two black bear cubs play. (Yes, black bears can have brown fur, you racist.) I think they’re siblings, and I’m claiming they’re both female. But to be on the safe side, I’ll give them the gender fluid names “coal” and “mud”. They’re wrestling and exploring the world, skills that will serve them well should they manage to survive to adulthood. Sadly, often times learning something requires a bit of pain, and Coal learns that even without teeth, a turtle bite hurts.

This amuses Mud, no end, and Coal ain’t having it. She flings a rock at her sister’s face. Look how fast it moves! She’s already displaying great strength! But Mud has awesome reflexes and doesn’t get the stone. Their father does. (Again, assumptions. They’re sometimes right!) He wants to know who did it, and both of his girls naturally blame the other. Personally, I’d always blame the first to deny, (Coal) but father bruin decides to rely on the spit test. You spit into your paw, smack it with the other paw, and whoever the exportation lands closest to gets the punishment. Spit says: Mud.

She gets some spanks (making cries that sound to me like ones you’d hear in a Dingo Pictures “film”) as Coal walks away. Happily, Mud doesn’t seem to hold any animosity and is eager to join a game of hide and seek. She’ll count and Coal will hide. With the game underway, Coal finds a caravan and takes a look inside. Whoever owns the place never learned the most important rule of camping: PUT YOUR FREAKING FOOD AWAY LEST YOU ATTRACT A LAND BEAR! They’re getting no pity from me. I hope Coal’s insatiable lust for the human vittles doesn’t hurt her chances of having cubs of her own one day.

Coal knows all about sandwiches, and makes herself a snack. And since there’s a jug of cider, a drink as well. It’s the hard stuff, and she’s drunk not too long after. The short has been frequently cutting back to Mud’s counting and she finally calls it quits after hitting 1,000,002; leading me to believe this has been going on for weeks. (And I guess Coal was supposed to call out when she was hidden?) Mud isn’t happy to find her sister lushly singing and cavorting in a human dwelling. She hits Coal with a tomato.

Tomato’s are nature’s sobering fruits, and Coal is cured and angry. The two wrestle, and accidentally unstick the brake. Since parking on level ground is for those who aren’t snorting jugs of hard cider, the vehicle careens down the hill; it’s two stowaways doing all in their power to steer. They eventually get the idea to use the brake once more, slowing the vehicle down, sure, but also losing the wheels to extreme friction. They crash, and seem relatively fine, but the cider jug hits Mud on the head, putting her into her own kind of daze. This is exactly the situation you don’t want your-

Father comes to his cub and sees her stumbling by a jug. That’s enough evidence for him, and Mud gets more spanks. (And you thought I gave her that name because of her fur, didn’t you?) Coal decides to get out of there once again, but this time a rock manages to hit her cranium. But we didn’t see who picked it up! Was it her sister getting sweet retribution? Or her father giving her some punishment for joyriding? What’s your guess?

Favorite Part: When drunk, Coal laughs every time she hiccups. It’s adorable. As is witnessing anybodies first drunken stupor.

Personal Rating: 2. Not a lot happened, and it wasn’t as fun watching Mud get unjust punishment as you’d think it is.