Puss N’ Booty

“Have you any more canaries?”

Diected by Frank Tashlin.  Released in 1943

When Merrie Melodies first came out, the main difference between them and their looney counterparts, was that they did not have a main character. As time went by, Merrie Melodies became the shorts that were colored, and Looney Tunes were still black and white. This here, is the last black and white one. After this, I have no idea what the difference was between the two if there was any.

A lady (Bea Benedarret) comes home and finds her canary, Dickie, gone. Rudolph the cat hasn’t seen him, but seems genuinely worried, and helps search. (After he hiccups some feathers) As soon as his owner leaves the room, he whistels like a bird and opens a window. She comes back to find the cat sobbing and waving goodbye. That makes 5 canaries gone in one month. Most people would give up and consider it a waste of money. But not (let’s call her) Megan. She calls up, to see if the pet shop has any more birds. (Rudoph prays too) Happy days! They will send another one right over. Rudolph obviously has a severe case of gluttonly as he paces back and forth many times and gets excited at every passing truck. (Canaries must be really tasty. Anyone have a recipie?) Finally, the truck shows up with the newest addition to the family, Petey. Megan loves him very much and gives him plenty of seed, telling him to eat it all and grow up big and strong. (Rudoph agrees with that statement) She also gives the cat a saucer of either milk or cream, (whatever one gives them) and leaves the room. Rudolph spits out the dairy and immdiately enters viscious mode. He pounces, but Petey is quite the resourceful bird and flies up, lifting his cage to safety, and making Rudolph crash. (I think he’s plenty strong already) Rudolph ties the cage down, (and I can’t help but think if he was able to do that, he could have already gotten Petey) and pounces again. This time the bird opens both of the doors and Rudolph crashes again. That night, Rudolph gets into Petey’s cage and a huge fight ensues. Mean comes downstairs and finds Rudolph missing. She asks a sleeping Petey if he’s seen her, but he hasn’t. However, before the short ends, he does hiccup Rudolph’s ribbon, and looks at us. Gulp! Don’t mess with that bird.

Personal Rating: 4

Cracked Ice

“I can almost feel pneumonia, embracing me in its icy grip.”

Directed by Frank Tashlin.  Released in 1938

This short starts eerily similar to the Mickey Mouse short “On Ice”, which was released 3 years earlier. Many creatures are enjoying some ice skating, and we get a few sight gags, like a centipede’s segments scattering away from it’s body, and a fish skating in a pelican’s mouth. One bird is jumping over barrels. He messes up on the final jump and lands in a open area of the ice. His screams are heard by that W.C. Fields pig caricature we saw in “The Coo-coo nut grove.” (Obviously, his name is W.C. Squeals) He begins to help the best way he can: calling for someone to help him. A St. Bernard hears the cries and comes to the rescue. He hauls the bird out, picks him out of his icy prison, and makes him a drink via the various liqours in his barrel. (For the record, St. Bernards never actually had those) This drink succeeds in warming the bird up. But now, Squeals is claiming he needs some too. He is deathly ill, otherwise he wouldn’t touch the stuff. The dog ignores him, so Squeals tosses a boulder into the water, and calls for help. (Even yelling “Splash. Splash.”) The dog comes back and finds he is lying on the ice. Out Cold. (Get it? Don’t laugh. It wasn’t funny) The dog quickly mixes up another drink… and drinks it himself before leaving. A voice begins laughing at Squeals. To those of you who don’t know your W.C. Fields lore, you’d think it was just a voice from the audience. To those of you who do know your W.C. Fields lore, you’ll know that it’s Charlie Mcarthy mocking him. (I did not know this was something the two did. I had to learn it from the commentary on my DVDs.) Squeals vows to get the goods. He fills up a plate with bones and sends it sliding towards Fido. Before the dog can chow down, Squeals uses a magnent to keep the dish just out of reach. The dog gives chase and Squeals realizes too late, that he’s going to crash. The impact sends the magnent into a hole in the ice, where it gets stuck on a fish. While it struggles with it’s new accessory, the dog’s brandy (which was nowhere near the hole) begins to leak into the lake. The fish becomes a “pickled herring” if you will, and swims around drunk. The magnent pulls an axe above the ice after it, and the fish ends up using said axe to cut a hole in the ice around that bird from earlier. Squeals meanwhile, has come to and gets ready for a drink. The fish comes back, and Squeals’s skates are pulled along. The fish drags him to an ice skating competion, where it plays on a clock, (that is just under the ice. Don’t question it) and swims away from a bigger fish. Squeals is pulled along the whole time, and ends up winning the contest. He is awarded a big trophy. He thanks everyone, (mentioning Termite Terrace as well) and pours the alcohol into the tropy to drink. Before he can indulge, the fish comes back and ends up dragging the trophy away from Squeals. (Much to Charlie’s delight)

Personal Rating: 3

Porky the Fireman

“Scram outta here!”

Directed by Frank Tashlin.  Released in 1938

The alarm goes off at Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1! Porky and the rest of the crew speed off to fight the fire. (Stopping in front of some product placement) The men punch in, Porky too. (In fact, he wins the lottery doing that) They begin their duties, but of course, problems arise. Porky yells for the water to be turned on. The little guy by the hydrant slowly and in the most indirect pathway possible walks over to ask what Porky said. Then he walks all the way back in the same manner. The fire is fierce and refuses to go out without a fight. Many people are still inside as well. A fat woman screams for help, and the little guy climbs the ladder, grabs her, and drops her. (Favorite part) An old man jumps out the window and uses his beard as a parachute. Another person falls though a smoke cloud and comes out as an unfunny blackface stereotype. Porky is so bass (short for bad @$$) that he can scoop the fires into a bucket before putting them out in a fishbowl. A montage of events we just saw take place until finally the fire is out. Or is it? One little flame cautiously peeks out of the rubble and is instantly squirted by the crew. It retaliates by squirting them all back. The villan won this time.

Personal Rating: 3

Plane Daffy

“You think I’m a Benedict whoozits, or somethin’?”

Directed by Frank Tashlin.  Released in 1944

You know what is one of the most heroic birds? Carrier pigeons. It’s amazing that we used them to deliver messages during WWII. But alas, they are not quite at the top of the food chain, and did fall prey to falcons. I mention this, because the short is based on these birds. In a parody of “Dawn Patrol” we see a bunch of pigeons worriedly puffing cigarettes dry in one puff. Seems Homer Pigeon is A.W.O.L. and indeed he is. He is the company of Matta Hari! (I think she’s a falcon) Much like in the Private Snafu short “Censored”, he is slowly led to leaking info to the axis. As dumb as he sounds though, he’s no stool pigeon and refuses to tell. Matta (not voiced by Foray as some might think, but by Sara Berner. Who you might know as Beaky Buzzard’s mom) in turn, makes him a drink and once it’s drunk he can’t stop blabbing. Hitler of course hears it all and Homer, sadly shoots himself in shame. (Outside of course. Don’t want to make a mess) What can be done? All the other pigeons can’t do it, because they will just as likely fall prey to her seducing. The answer lies not in a pigeon, but in a duck! Daffy vows to deliver a secret document, and he won’t be sidetracked because he hates women. (Easy now ladies, I’m sure he didn’t mean it) He takes off and neither wind, hail, rain or sleet can stop him. He even flies past Matta’s place without a second glance. Until she shows some gam. Then he’s reeled in. (See girls? He may hate your personality, but no straight man can resist your meat.) Daffy isn’t all lost though. Inside, he does his best to not play her games. She kisses him and he is electrified! He melts away into a crack, but quicky un-melts as soon as she tries to see his paper. He gives her a kiss of his own and she sparks too. Daffy runs but can’t seem to escape her. (Why doesn’t he just leave? It’s scary outside) Eventually she has him pinned to the wall with a gun. Daffy shows her! He eats the paper so she can’t ever get it. (Although he regrets having only one secret he can swallow for his country) Not to be deterred, Matta straps him into an x-ray and alerts the fuhrer to see it. (Wb was ahead of their times. The first skype!) Hitler, Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels eagerly look to see. What’s the message? “Hitler is a stinker!” (HAH!) Hitler is understandably mad, as that is no secret. His cronies agree as everyone knows that. (One of the best lines ever) Embarrassed at their blunder, they shoot themselves. I think we have this war in the bag!

Personal Rating: 4

Porky’s Railroad

“Am-scray you m-m-mess of t-t-t-bones!”

Directed by Frank Tashlin.  Released in 1937

We see the 515. It’s a huge speeding train! Obviosly, this must be Porky’s vehicle. Why else would his name be in the title? Guesswhatit’snot. Porky is the eningeer of a more humble locomotive. Less of a 515, and more of a 13 1/2. Her name is Toots and she’s a crack train. (And so is her driver. Their words, not mine!) How slow is Toots? A snail is easily able to outpace her. But then, she is powered by one candle. Plus the occasional sprinkle of pepper to give her a speed boost. But Porky is forced to take a stop as their is a cow on the tracks who refuses to move. Of course, she does move when she feels like it, but while she leaves, a bull passes her by and heads into some nearby bushes. Porky missed this, and when he sees a tail on the tracks, he naturally assumes it’s the cow again. He pulls on it, but luckily finds out it’s not a cow in time, and he speeds off. But more bad news threatens to spoil his day, as the dispatch office is told that Porky’s train should be taken off the rails. A character named I. Fuller Cinders is to take his place in his shiny new ride, “The Silver Fish.” Porky is sad, but proves he is mature by wishing Cinders good luck. He seems like a decent enough fellow, but he does have the gall to insult Toots. Porky actually confides to us, (he can see me!) that he is sure his train would win in a race. Cinders heard it too, and accepts. The race begins and Cinders is clearly the owner of faster material. The Silver Fish can leap over boats, whereas Toots has to drive over them. (Clever nod to Leon Schlesinger’s boat. Why else would it be called the S.S. Leon?) But as Porky is crawling along, he passes by that bull from earlier. And wouldn’t you know it? He’s still mad about Porky pulling his tail. He charges into Toots and the resulting momentum propels her over the finish line! Porky wins and is the new captain of The Silver Fish. (Poor Cinders, that was probably his first day on the job) And Toots? Well, I guess Porky doesn’t want her anymore as she is a passenger on the new train. Heading for the last hoosegow. Rest well ole girl. You did great out there.

Personal Rating: 3

You’re an Education

“Calling all countries! Calling all countries!”

Directed by Frank Tashlin. Released in 1938

This short takes place in a travel agency, where the brochures come to life. We see many different countries mixed with appropriate music gags. Hawaii plays “Aloha-oe”, Oxford plays “We’re working our way through college”, Scotland plays “The camels are coming”, Africa plays “Conga”, and Mexico plays “La Cucaracha.” All the racial stereotypes cheer. “Cuba” plays a tuba and “India” plays that pipe, that snake charmers play. “Little America” and “Asia Minor” shake their rattles to the music, and a fish from the “Indian Ocean” does a war chant. While the title song plays, two “Hungary” fellows visit the “Cook Islands” to fill their rumbling bellies. But why stop there? They get “Twin Forks, Minnesota” and load up their plates with “Turkey”, “Sandwhich (Islands), some “Thousand Island” dressing, “Hamberg(er)”, “Oyster” (Bay), and some “Java” to drink. While they tuck in, the thief of “Baddad” sets about robbing the “Kimberly Diamond Mine.” He unlocks the door with the “Florida Keys” and tries to make off with his prize. However, he accidentally steps on a toy duck, waking a baby. It’s “Wales” alert everyone and many troops like the “England” guards and “Canada” mounties rush after him. He is found trying to sell the diamond to the “Pawnee” Indians and he tries to run. The “Pisa” tower blocks his path, he is poked by “West Pointers”, and must take cover from an erupting “Mt. Vesuvius.” His hiding place in the “London” fog, is revealed by the “Holland” windmill. A man from a “Dude Ranch” lassoes him and drags him through the “Red, Black, and Yellow” seas. (Turning him many different colors) “Italy” uses its shape to kick him and he lands on the horse of the Lone Stranger. They gallop off together. (huh. The villain won.) Interestingly enough, the Lone Stranger would reappear a few months later with Porky.

Personal Rating: 3

Porky in the North Woods

“When I catch him, I will tear him limb from tree!”

Directed by Frank Tash, Released in 1936

Porky is the proud owner of a game refuge. There is absolutely no hunting, trapping, fishing, and firing around. Sounds great. (All the animals think so) But a evil character named Jean-Baptiste, is out setting bear traps, fishing, and just tossing torches around any dang way. (It’s Billy Bletcher again. Who I’m just now realizing has played many of my favorite villains: The Big Bad Wolf, Lawyer Goodwill, The yellow scientist, The Pincusion man, just to name a few) Cut to two beavers. One named Benny. (Although I’ve read alternate sources saying it’s Betty) who is in the middle of a game of leapfrog with another. (Who I will call either Benny or Betty. Whichever the other one isn’t) They spy an apple and rush forwards eagerly. But apparently there is only enough for one, and after the tussle, Benny/Betty happily grabs his/her prize. Surprise! It’s a trap. (For shame Jean, hunting beavers with a bear trap) Betty/Benny runs to go find Porky. (But not before helping herself/himself to the now safe apple) She/he gets Porky and he comes back to free the other. (Who is voiced by Bernice Hansen) But there’s more trouble. A rabbit somehow got only it’s ears caught in one. (How did it do that?) And a weasel got it’s whole body caught in another. (Alright I’m going to say it. You must be really stupid to have that happen) Jean meanwhile, is not happy to find all of his traps empty, and vows to make Porky pay. Porky however, is running a first-aid station, where he irons out all the animals bodies to straighten them out again. Jean finds this, and marches in. (And gets his fingers ironed) Caught, Porky has no chance of escape and Jean roughs him up quite a bit. (Clearly he’s the victim here. I mean his illegal traps were robbed.) Seeing Porky in danger, one of the beavers pulls an alarm. (moose) and alerts all of mother nature’s finest. Bears! Skunks! Turtles? (I figure they’d be hibernating) who all come to the rescue. Jean tries to flee on skis, but the animals still beat him up with various tools and send him headfirst into the snow, leaving only his skis above ground. The beavers in turn, make this into a see-saw.

Personal Rating: 3

Now that Summer is Gone

“Poppa needs a new pair o’ shoes.”

Directed by Frank Tashlin. Released in 1938.

Another year has gone by, and in the tradition of updating each year, I will now list the year in which the day’s featured short was released. So, let’s begin.

It’s Fall, and that means the squirrels are busily storing acorns for the winter to come. All except one little squirrel. Work is for those who don’t like to have fun. He’d much rather gamble for them. He wins and the other all storm off. (What poor losers) Unfortunately, the squirrel’s father shows up and scolds him for his deeds. (The other squirrels laugh and tell him that gathering acorns is the right way. Hippocrits) Despite his dad’s warnings, Jr. keeps it up and wins all the time. Soon enough, it’s time to go get the acorns from the “nutional bank.” His dad reminds him to not gamble, but he immidiately runs into another squirrel who offers to play with him. Admist a montage of dice, cards and roulette wheels, the little squirrel steadily loses everything. (Obviously that older guy is cheating) With nothing left, the gentleman leaves and Jr. sadly heads home. Once there, he begins telling a tale of how bandits beat him up and stole the acrons. (They must’be been nice enough to clean him up afterwards) Too engrossed in his fib, he doesn’t notice his dad putting on the disguise he was wearing. (Are you shocked?) But he does soon enough. Caught, his father plans to give him ten lashes. Has Jr. learned his lesson? Will he take the punishment like a man? Heck No! He offers double or nothing but gets paddled anyway. We hear his cries of pain all through the credits.

Personal Rating: 3

Little Beau Porky

“You! Scub my Camel!”

Directed by Frank Tash

At a Foreign Leigon outpost, “Le Comandent” comes out to speak to the troops. He has so many medals, he jangles whenever he steps. Looking over everyone, he sees Porky at the end dozing off. He calls him up for a camel wash. As they walk, Porky imitates him, but “Le Comandent” is not amused. Porky tries his best to wash the ungulate, but it keeps standing up and laying down. Whichever is the opposite of Porky’s location. While that is happening, an injured soldier comes by to deliver a message. It seems like a man named, Ali Mode is coming to attack. Everybody rushes out to the rescue. Even Porky. (Riding the camel that I’m pretty sure established is not his) “Le” tells him that as a camel scrubber, he is not allowed to come. Claiming he’s not scared, Porky locks up everything anyway. (Says he felt a draft) With everyone gone, Ali tries to take advantage of the (what he believes is empty) post. He knocks at the door Porky is hammering shut, and gets the Pig to believe it’s an echo. Soon enough, Porky catches on, and Ali’s forces attack. They dig into the base, but Porky chops a tree that lands on all of them, and sends them back outside. Porky defends the whole place, and he kicks butt! Even that camel I don’t think he owns helps out. At the end of the short, it’s revealed that Porky is now “Le Comandant.” (He has so many medals, they hand off of his uniform) Even that camel gets some regocnition. With medals stretched across his humps.

Personal Rating: 3

Little Pancho Vanilla

“You will never be bullfighter. You will always be, Mamacita’s good little machachito.”

Directed by Frank Tashlin

Our main character, Pancho, (the vanilla part is never really mentioned) is reading a book on bullfighting. His mother however, is very discouraging and pretty much tells him he sucks. As Pancho (whose age is also never mentioned) sulks, three senoritas (of unidentifiable age) walk by. They cheerfully say hi, but Pancho is too busy brooding to be polite. The girls sing/mock him. (That’s the best part) Their attention is grabbed by a poster, that shows Clark Gable as a toreador. He’s apparently the greatest in the world! Or at least in Mexico. Pancho knows of one better: himself. The girls laugh. Come the big day, Pancho tries to enter the amateur entrance with everyone else. (At least he’s not insisting he’s a pro) He is turned away due to being too short. He sits on a wagon and grumbles at the fact they’re not letting him in, because he would scare the bull. (Suddenly, I have a huge craving for sour grapes) Inside, the bull is making billiard balls out of everyone. They bounce around, (dissapearing) and one flies out and lands on the wagon Pancho’s on. This launches him into the arena. He lands on the bull who is knocked down. Getting his second wind, the bull charges. Pancho may not be very big, but he is fast and gets out of the way. The bull still launches him, but Pancho launches him right back. Not fooling around, the bull revs up and gives a mighty charge that sends Pancho into the air. He falls on the bull and knocks him out for good. Back with his mom, Pancho and the girls (who I think I will name: Rose, Rosie, and Rosita) tell her what happened. She still acts kinda like a jerk. (You could’ve gotten hurt) But at least she makes use of Pancho’s first prize: a washing machine.

Personal Rating: 2