Saps in Chaps

“Go west, young man!”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Sgt. Dave Monahan; Animation by Manuel Perez; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on April 11, 1942.

What a time it was expanding the west! There was so much untapped land just waiting to be claimed. (I’m pretty sure there weren’t already PLENTY of people living there, otherwise I’d feel guilty for living where I do.) Things were plenty different back then. Not only were the states in more irregular shapes, but every president on Mt. Rushmore was still a baby.

Not everybody had the luxury of crossing via covered wagon. A few had to make do with crawling desperately through the desert. It was dangerous too! Hungry vultures kept their eyes peeled for any living being that couldn’t cope with the heat. Luckily for the guy we’re following, he comes across a fill-up station that is happy to supply him with water. (His thirst may be quenched, but he is still stuck crawling the rest of the way.)

Towns seemed to grow like fungi, and the people who populated them all walked with a dumb cowboy gait. Even the horses. Even the mice! (When they aren’t being hunted by lasso twirling cats, that is.) At a nearby saloon, you could not only escape the midday heat, but converse with other people. You had to watch out though. Villain types came in rather frequently, and you were pretty much dead unless you were the hero type. (The one who can laugh off gun shots. I wish I could be so bass)

Entertainment? Sure, rodeos exist. Where the men show off how tough they are by riding animals that DO NOT want to be mounted. One of which in particular throws everyone out of its pen. Still, as tough as he is, he can’t cope with an audience, and quietly slinks away to get his much needed privacy. Oh! I nearly forgot! Mail was delivered via pony express in those days, but that doesn’t mean everyone was suited for the job. What to do if you just can’t mount the horse? Simple. Let HIM ride YOU. (It’s good for the back)

Favorite part: During the rodeo, one horse is told that he can’t throw off his rider. He bluntly grabs the man and throws him down. (Sticking his tongue out at the narrator)

Porky’s Hired Hand

“Yuh can depend on me!”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Dave Monahan; Animation by Richard Bickenbach; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on November 30, 1940.

Porky’s farm has seen better days. Lately, a fox has been stealing a good number of hens, and Porky has had enough of the robbery. Good thing that the Cornstalk Employment Agency has sent him some assistance. Gregory Grunt. He looks like Goofy got hit by a severe case of swine flu. And if I’m allowed to judge by appearances, (which I totally am) he doesn’t really look like the best man for any job. I’m guessing the agency was just sick of him and wanted to make the guy somebody else’s problem. Porky’s a better man than I’ll ever be, and gives the lunkhead a chance.

Despite the very clear instructions of “do not fall asleep”, Gregory does just that. Enter the fox. He’s got some clothing, so it’s not like he’s just a wild animal trying to find an easier solution, he’s just some random a-hole who would rather steal than work. (And he dies if he crosses my path. Nobody messes with my pal) With the guard asleep, the fox helps himself to the choicest morsels. He’s even willing to take babies! (Dipsh*t! If you don’t leave anything to repopulate your theft, you won’t be able to return next year. And then where will you be?) He’s all ready to leave, but someone bars his path: Gregory?

Well, it appears I have to eat my words! (Good thing I write so tastefully) Looks like Greg was just pretending to sleep in case the fox was stupid enough to come back. (Thieves should really never hit the same joint twice.) Of course, the other possibility is that the fox just woke him up. (So that means I can upchuck my eaten words) Told to put the birds back, the fox laments that the two of them can’t be partners. I mean, clearly Gregory is a master businessman who could help make a chicken monopoly. Yeah, Gregory is all for it, but what about Porky?

And there’s a random fade out to what seems like half a second later, but the fox knows Gregory’s name by now, so I have no clue what we missed. Either way, he convinces Greg that Porky would WANT him to succeed and stealing from him is a good start. (That’s what I did while working at my local zoo. Strangely, no one wanted to come see penguins in my backyard, and now I’m out of goldfish) Give the fox some credit, he’s even willing to let Gregory’s name go first in their company’s name. (That explains why I haven’t given the fox a name. According to himself, his name IS Fox. I guess his last name is Mc Loud. I mean, he DID wake Mr. Grunt)

Telling his new partner to grab some feed, Fox makes an exit. It was a scam all along! (You know, going into business might still be a good idea. Just some chicken for thought) In his rush to escape, Fox didn’t look where he was going. It wasn’t the exit he left through, but the incubator! He fears for his life as he is no doubt going to roast! (The birds he has don’t seem to mind. They’re not even moving…oops. That’s going to set Porky back a bit) Being a nice enough, dumb guy, Gregory tries to help his partner get out. Unfortunately, his head isn’t hard enough to break the door down.

Still, his banging does alert Porky to all this, and he brings his gun down to investigate. Maybe Gregory IS a little smart, because he refrains from explaining his “business partner” is trapped, and refers to him as a fox once more. Giving him the gun, Porky instructs him to shoot as soon as the door is open. He does, but they didn’t get the fox. Seems he was aiming a bit too high. Being in the incubator so long, Fox has shrunk. (His tail didn’t though. And I’m sure it would fetch a decent price. Heh heh heh!)

Favorite part: Fox is describing the things that Gregory will obtain from this partnership. Including a secretary to sit on his lap.

At Your Service Madame

“Can’t you ever try and behave yourself like the others?”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Don Williams and Cal Dalton; Music by Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released on August 29, 1936.

You know, my grandparents once bought me a DVD set that was said to contain all of Porky’s cartoons. Looking at the cover, I could tell it wasn’t a licensed product. But hey, a gift is a gift and I DID want to see every Porky cartoon. Sadly, it was shoddily made. First off, it was clear that whoever made this, did so by just filming Cartoon Network. Therefore, some of the cartoons had jokes edited out, and ugly recolorings of black and white shorts. The idiot even left snippets of the episodes of Toonheads that were airing certain cartoons. Second, he didn’t include “Dime to Retire” (I only was able to notice this, because it was one I saw as a kid and was looking forward to seeing again) Lastly, (and the reason I’m bringing this story up at all) two of the cartoons didn’t star Porky at all. Instead, it was Piggy Hamhock.

Moral: Don’t lie to a Looney Tune fanatic. You’ll get caught.

Now then, on this day every year, we salute all mothers for what they do for us. However, sometimes, even they need a little help. Such is the case of Mrs. Hamhock, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Our story begins on a tranquil morning. The Hamhock matriarch calls her children to breakfast. One of whom, is Piggy. (This is before his more well known short, “Pigs is pigs.”) He pretty much behaves the same way we last saw him, but he wears pajamas this time around. (Ironically, his mom doesn’t wear anything under her apron. And that makes me uncomfortable)

Enter our villain of the short. Why, it’s W.C. Squeals! Making his first appearance as well! He’s a bum here, that gets his news by reading street newspapers. What a headline that captures his interest! Mrs. Hamhock is a widow with a fortune. (R.I.P. Mr. Hamhock, Piggy Sr.) Well, when you you live on the streets, and are a bachelor yourself (and your nostrils light up, and your snout changes color) wooing a lonely (rich) lady is the gentlemanly thing to do. Good thing he’s right outside their house.

The Mrs. (who, if my logic is correct, (and it always is) is named Fluffy) is happy to let some random person she doesn’t know, but knows who she is, into her house. She maybe well versed in manners, but it was her husband who had all the common sense. Squeals admires her home. To his credit, he doesn’t try to marry her on the spot or anything. Instead, his plan is to distract her while he robs the safe. Asking for a little piano music, he serenades her with the title song, using the noise to drown out his safe opening.

Piggy may be a piggy, but he isn’t one to let his mother be swindled. Squeals keeps pushing the kid away, so he has to get some help from his siblings. They are quite the team, and manage to not only rough Squeals up a bit, but eject all the money from his pockets as well. She is quite grateful and gives them all kisses. (Although she never thanks Piggy. This is why he had to steal her pies later on) Having been caught, Squeals has no other option but to be on his way. He acts rather calm though. Much like Nixon did, he leaves with dignity.

The Hamhocks themselves were planned to have a series of cartoons. Each of the children were going to have one where they showed an example of one  of the deadly sins. Only the gluttony one made it. With how deliciously (hee hee) creepy it was, I’m saddened to know there could have been more.

Favorite part*: When one of the piglet’s pajamas comes undone, another one helps put it back into place. Helps enforce the fact that they are family, and will jump in to help each other when needed.

*(An honorable mention goes to Piggy pretending to brush his teeth by wetting his toothbrush. A tactic I used to pull as well)

Lighter than Hare

“We’ve been invaded!”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Animation by Virgil Ross, Art Davis, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on December 17, 1960.

This is a weird one. By that title and that quote, you’d be sure this was a Bugs/Marvin picture. But it’s Bugs and Sam! Sam is an alien now. And you can’t claim he’s someone similar in voice and appearance, he flat out calls himself “Yosemite Sam of Outer Space.” (Because there’s a Yosemite outside of Earth?) Sadly, it’s just a generic Bugs short. I think Freleng just liked Jones’s martian and decided to do something similar.

So, we’ve got spaceman Sam; what is he doing coming down to our planet? Just the typical “bring back an Earth creature” thing every alien species that doesn’t want us dead, does. He chooses a rabbit, that lives in a garbage dump. (Not sure WHY Bugs is living there. I suppose it is a place hunters won’t try to bother him) Sam (who looks a bit like a pikmin) sends a robot to bring the rabbit back. In turn, Bugs uses it as a trash can. Which I guess destroys it, as Sam immediately tries a new tactic.

His next plan is to send a demolition squad to destroy the creature. (Good thing Earth has millions of species to choose from. Might I suggest a potato?) Bugs now notices he is having a close encounter of the second kind, and ducks into a shelter. The robots load it up with bombs, but Bugs managed to escape and sticks a magnet in the shelter, leading the bots to their doom. Robots are clearly going to be of no help. Sam decides to try his own luck.

He has an indestructible tank, but I don’t know what he was planning to do with it, as Bugs uses his own contraption to stick him with a TNT stick. Time to make a getaway! Good thing there was a set of rail tracks next to the dump. Bugs leaves on a handcart with Sam in pursuit. This is also one of those times that Bugs is able to spin in ears to possess the power of flight. Sam can keep pace with his jet-pack, but only as long as Bugs doesn’t replace it with another explosive.

When he hits his limit, Sam aims all his firepower at Bug’s hole, and demands his surrender. Bugs instead sends out a decoy with a bomb attached, and Sam takes his leave. Later that night, Bugs has his radio tuned into the frequency of the aliens and hears his prank pay off. Having had his fun, he tunes in for a little “Amos ‘n’ Andy.”

Favorite Part: One of Sam’s robots is clearly on loan from Marvin. It sounds just like him. And if you could give a robot a voice, you’d choose your own. Wouldn’t you?

Goo Goo Goliath

“He’s a heavy one, isn’t he?”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Art Davis, Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on September 18, 1954.

Time for another delivery, courtesy of the stork. (Did you think babies came from outer space? What idiot told you that?) The bird in charge of the latest baby doesn’t look like he’s the best candidate. Having recently finished one delivery, and given glasses of champagne for his troubles. Nonetheless, he takes his bundle and flies off. It’s a rather large baby, as he is intended for the giant couple who lives at the top of the beanstalk. The inebriated bird gives up by the time he reaches Greentown and opts to just drop the child off at the only pink house located for miles.

Luckily for everyone, the stork’s logic of “never seeing any couple not want a baby” pulls through and our couple (Ethel and John) happily take the kid in. (We’re never explicitly told whether or not they actually were supposed to have a kid) And the majority of this picture is showing the hi-jinks that ensue with a baby who is born large, and soon grows larger.  Bouncing him on your leg will break every bone in said leg, he feasts upon gallons of milk and when he moves on to solid food, it is delivered via cement mixer, and they sidestep any tasteless gags they COULD make by just showing a delivery of a diaper that needs two men to carry. Although I must admit, I’ve always wondered similar things about Clifford the dog. I can’t help it, I’m a zoologist! And going back to that last point, isn’t it a little TOO big? How much is needed? I’m no expert on kids!

Dᴀᴅ? I ᴛʜɪɴᴋ I’ᴍ sɪᴄᴋ.

Just wait it out. If you die, that means you were too weak to survive.

More gags follow. The baby (who does look cute, I’ll give him that. But I’m not naming him. That’s a job for his parents.) gets bathed in the pool, uses tires as teething rings, and can push his dad to work when the car doesn’t start. (I guess it just gets towed home each night?) But babies will be babies, and our outstanding parents leave the gate open one day, so he wanders off on his own. (At least they do have the sense to call the police.) It’s like “Honey, I blew up the kid.” (Going off on another unrelated tangent, that movie annoys me. The kid was a danger to countless people as well as himself! Why shouldn’t people be allowed to tranquilize him? Plus, shooting annoying children is always a plus in my book)

Tʜᴀᴛ ᴇxᴘʟᴀɪɴs ᴀ ʟᴏᴛ ᴀʙᴏᴜᴛ ʏᴏᴜ.

*gunshot*

Despite the fact it’s been several weeks if not months by now, the stork is just BARELY going after the kid. (And apparently is going to keep his job. I bet you could write a fascinating book about the stork’s labor union.) And I think they sneak in a subtle reference to why some people are infertile, as the stork says no more babies are to be delivered until this is fixed. He finds the kid asleep in the arms of lady liberty. Impressively, he manages to hoist the titanic toddler up to his real home. (Mr. Giant has been having to make do with a miniature baby. It’s like trying to raise a Lego figurine.) The stork then finishes up by giving the smaller baby to what his still tipsy body identifies as its new home: a kangaroo. (Despite how slimy it probably is in there, the baby seems happy. What a trooper!)

Lights Fantastic

“It’s Swell!!”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Sgt. Dave Monahan; Animation by Gil Turner; Musical Supervision by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on May 23, 1942.

Light is pretty fantastic stuff. I don’t mean the natural kind you can get from the sun. (That stuff causes cancer!) I mean the artificial kind that people use to give nature the finger, and turn night into diet day. And apart from Vegas, I’d say the best place to experience such a marvel, is New York City. What types of gags might we find just marveling at billboards?

One ad is typed out to us as if on a typewriter. But whoever is in charge of things, sure as heck can’t spell “stewpendaus.” And while you’re enjoying the sights that are lights, why not take a trip to Chinatown? (The bus is built like a rickshaw. At least it’s not as racially insensitive as it could have been.) One ad gives a free sample of what it’s promoting: an eye test! Being able to read the first line means you’re average. (Crap. I can make it out, but I can’t read that mess. Guess I need new contacts.) The next one means “above average” and the one below that is “exceptional!” And if you can read the bottom one, you clearly are a foreigner. (Who would bother to learn another language?)

What would a “Merrie Melody” be without a song number? (Still entertaining.) The ads come to life to serenade us. The featured song is “My High Polished Nose.” (“My Wild Irish Rose”) Next on the playbill: “Laugh, Clown, Laugh” performed by the mascot of Clown cakes and cookies. And as many can jokes as they can make! Coffee cans doing the can-can, while frequently showing off their cans! (Can there be anymore? It just can’t be! So I better can it, lest I get canned.)

One ad tries too hard. It tries to grab your attention with as much neon as they can afford. All for a tiny “Eat at Joe’s” message. (Freleng would use a similar gag in “Holiday for Shoestrings.” (Even using the same music piece.) And since this wasn’t the most story driven short, what better way to end it than with a music party? The dripping of coffee, the shaking of peanuts, and the dinging of a cowbell make an irresistible beat that has the rest of the ads dancing. Ending up with the same shot we began with. (What a bright idea.)

 

The Fighting 69th 1/2

“Our objective will be the hot dog!”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Jack Miller; Animation by Gil Turner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on January 18, 1941.

Throughout history there have been many wars. The Civil war, the console war, the game of war, just to name a few. One thing they all have in common is that they were all fought by humankind. But battles aren’t reserved for just people. Sometimes the animal kingdom gets in on the action. Our story begins with a picnic and two colonies of ants. The people who set up the picnic are nowhere to be found, so the ants have free reign over the goodies. It all starts when a red ant and a black ant both lunge for the same olive. There may be plenty of food to go around, but the thought never occurs to them and they declare war on each other. And they ain’t kidding. They’ve got tanks with real caterpillar treads and winged ants to act as bombers. (In case it wasn’t obvious, this short ignores the fact that all of the fighting ants should be female.) A group of reds makes their way to their target. Diving into cheese for cover along the way. When they get what they came for, they are ambushed by the blacks who take it back to their side. (Sadly, the short remembers that it can make a blackface ant joke and does so. Different time periods and all that. At least he only shows up once) The ants are pretty resourceful. Launching a toothpick like a harpoon to catch some peas, (War and peas go so well together you know) and using Limburger cheese as a gas bomb. But in the end, they can’t compete with larger forces, and the battle stalls when a woman comes to take the picnic away. (So I guess she already had eaten before this, but it looked pretty untouched to me. What a waste.) But despite taking it all, she doesn’t take the cake and the ants begin fighting anew. During the scuffle, the generals come to a realization: fighting is what caused them to lose everything in the first place. (Well, most of everything. They did get a few morsels.) A peace conference is declared where they decide to divide the cake equally. Almost. There’s a cherry on top, and each side wants it for themselves. The war reignites.

 

Yankee Dood It

“How can I run my business without elves?”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Virgil Ross, and Art Davis; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on October 13, 1956.

Last of the shorts trying to teach. I promise. (Private Snafu doesn’t count. Those weren’t intended for anyone but soldiers)

We begin in Smurf Village. Or I guess right next door, as we look in a hollow tree that is close to the mushroom houses. Inside, we see elves. (Actually, it’d make sense that they would live in trees. It’s where they make their cookies) The leader looks an awful lot like Elmer, so let’s just call him what we all thought of: Elver.

Clever, but not what I meant. He’s just got done reading the roll call. Despite making it past the Z’s he decides now is the time to question where all the missing W’s are. (I think that’s what he’s looking for. He says it as “wouble u’s”) One little elf, (who we will call Joey. Joey the elf) knows where they went: to help the shoemaker. (Either that or Santa mistook them for his. Just naming all the jobs elves do, today) Elver is upset. That was over one hundred years ago. (No, they never explain how the shoemaker is still alive. It’s one of three options: 1. The shoemaker takes really good care of himself, and has surpassed the average human life expectancy. 2. Eating an elf every year makes you immortal. 3. Elver is exaggerating and is full of crap.) Joey is sent to go retrieve them. As he leaves, he is also reminded that the word “Rumplestilskin” is a magical word for elves and can save them from danger. The elves are indeed at the shoemakers. (From Keebler to cobbler.) The owner, (who I’m naming Sherm) really enjoys it. Mostly because he doesn’t have to pay them. (Slave labor is less wrong when you’ve got an entirely different species doing your work.) Joey arrives as a tiny glowing ball. (Since when can he do that? Is this another elf fact we’re learning today? While I’m on it, why do they have antennae?) Sherm smacks what he thinks is an insect (The antennae aren’t helping make it any easier) but finds it’s another elf. Joey wants his people back, but Sherm is hesitant. He’d have to hire humans then. And they’d probably want *gulp* payment! Or worse, breaks! He also says “Jehosophat” and it turns out this is another one of those magic words that affect elves. It slowly turns them into mice. Now spouting a tail, Joey begs for that word to not get spoken again. Sherm just so happens to have a Sylvester the cat around who is looking at Joey with great interest. The cat leaves and the phone rings. The caller asks for a Jehosophat. Now Joey has matching ears. Then, a telegram is delivered that Sherm reads out loud. It was a birthday greeting for a Jehosophat. That’s done it. Joey is now full on mouse and Sylvester is on the hunt. The new mouse runs into a giant hole. (Seriously, that thing is huge! Sylvester could just follow him in! And for that matter, who made it? They must have rodents of some kind around!) Despite the easier option, Sylvester tries to reach him with a coat hanger, but only nabs some exposed wires. Joey has forgotten the word that will help him and rushes to the phone book, as he at least remembers it was a name that started with R. He finds it just in time and is reverted back to normal. For some reason, this stops Sylvester from eating him. (I’m not an expert on house cats, but aren’t elves responsible for a good 45% of their diet?) Shem tells him to knock it off, and Elver decides to come see why he is still missing elves. (As long as he knows where they are, why does it matter if he has them back or not? We could learn so much about the Elf race, but no, instead we’re going to get another economics lesson.) Elver is here to tell how Sherm can run his business without elves. The main reason he can’t keep up the enslavement isn’t because it’s morally and ethically wrong, it’s just too old fashioned. According to Elver, older methods are destined to fail and must be modernized. (I get what he’s saying, but what if you have a really good way of making your product? One that doesn’t need upgrading.) If he buys better equipment with his profits, he can increase his production, and get an even bigger profit. But the cycle never ends, and he will have to keep using some of his gains to upgrade again and so on. (When, you put it that way, it just sounds depressing.) Nevertheless, Sherm is convinced and agrees to do it the modern way! Six months later, his shop is a much larger building, he has nicer clothes and his own office. Elver shows up again to check in on him. Sherm is doing quite well for himself. He only has one problem now: he needs a name for his new line of boots. Without any reason why, he dubs them “Jehosophat boots.” Turns out, tagging boot on the end of that word instantly turns an elf to a mouse. And Sherm still has Sylvester. Elver runs for his life from the cat, trying to remember the word that will save him, having forgotten it himself.

Well, it was an interesting experiment, but I’m not sure how well it worked or was received. Luckily, Friz would go back to directing comedy, which I feel is where he shined best.

Heir Conditioned

“You, doll!”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Art Davis, Gerry Chiniquy, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Music by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on November 26, 1955.

The second of the shorts designed to teach economics. Figured I might as well get them all taken care of. This one has a bit more comedy over education I feel. It starts off with a cat in an alley. (Quite the dapper one too. He’s got a little vest and hat.) Glancing at a newspaper, he finds out that a friend of his has just inherited some money. He tells friends who tell friends, and the story gets exaggerated. (Considering the total goes from “a fortune” to one million to three million.) Such news even convinces a cat in a cage to put Tweety back in one piece. There are sure to be much tastier things in the future. Sylvester is said friend and it looks like he’s all for spending the money frivolously. But I guess his late owner foresaw that as he is stuck with the company of Elmer as his financial advisor. It’s probably a good thing he’s around. There’s a whole army of moochers (cats) outside coming to help spend the loot. Elmer throws them out, but they stick around. Watching and waiting for a chance to snag their prey. Elmer notices the saw going around the bag and switches it with a firecracker holding one instead. He tells Sylvester they are going to invest the money. (Really now, can’t you let him have some of it to have fun with? I’m not surprised the putty tat tries to make a run for it) His pals are still trying to help too. Dressing as a phony mother, with a phony kitten, in a phony snowstorm asking for pho- I mean real cash. Elmer buys this and is all set to hand over at least a few dollars, but the “baby” ruins it for asking for 5,000. His “mother” beats him for speaking. Why not send in their smartest cat, Charlie? Posing as a salesman, he at least gets in the house and demonstrates a cleaner for metal. He succeeds in dissolving Elmer’s watch. Even if it worked, I guess all that would happen is Elmer would buy some. Either way, he shows himself out. Elmer locks the door so he can finally get the lesson going. Starting up a slideshow, (again, don’t try and learn this stuff from me.) He explains how life used to be much harder. Specifically, the work world. People would work long hours for little pay. But thanks to investing, new products were made. Which led to more jobs to make said products, and higher wages. With more people working, shorter hours could also be allowed. The cats (most of whom I think are voiced by Stan Freberg) saw all this, and wouldn’t you know it, they reform. Sylvester is not so easily swayed, and while Elmer’s back is turned, he runs the money over to his pals. In turn, they scold him and demand he puts it back. The economic structure depends on it! Sylvester finally agrees to invest it. Bitter that his owner didn’t take the money with her, saving him the headache. (Seriously though. That’s three million dollars. During the fifties, yes, but still a goodly amount. Like I said, I’m not an investor, but you really can’t let him have maybe 10,000? At least let him have one party.)

By Word of Mouse

Is good, yes!

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Art Davis, Ben Washam, and Ted Bonnicksen; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on October 2, 1954.

During the 50’s there was a time where Mr. Freleng directed some shorts teaching about America’s economic systems. Sponsored by the Sloanne Foundation, all three of them had Sylvester in them to keep them relatively humorous. This is the first of them.

In a German town called Knokwurst-on-der-Rye, (I hear they have good taste) a mouse named Hans has returned from America. His family eager to hear about his trip. It started off simply enough, he greeted his cousin, Willie and they set off to see the sights. Hans is amazed by all the technological advancements this new land has compared to what he’s familiar with. Surely, these are all very rich people to be able to afford all these wonderful things. Actually, no. But Willie isn’t exactly the best one to explain how the system works and so they visit a mouse at a university to explain things. Basically, the people who make these products, sell them for cheaper than it costs to make them. In such a competitive market, you have to cut prices to give the customer reason to take your product over theirs. Seeing as a cat is stalking them, the professor (who doesn’t really have a name, so I’m just going to call him that) slams Sylvester’s head in a book before continuing the discussion in a drawer. When the cat peeks in, he burns his whisker on the lighter they were using as a light source and as he goes to put it out, they relocate to a filing cabinet. To continue the discussion, selling things without making a profit, can work to the producers favor. If enough people want to buy his product, then in the end he will still make a good amount of money. Sylvester is able to find them easily, because they foolishly hid in the folder about mice. Luckily for them, it was also clearly about mallets. They hide in a water cooler. Can’t have a meal without a drink right? I like how Sylvester actually bothers to drink all the water he’s emptying to get them out. (No sense in wasting it.) But now he’s too waterlogged to catch up to his prey, and the professor is able to lure him into an open manhole. Hans finishes up his story. (Because I guess he came home after that.) His family now knows the ways of mass production. Correction: they always were quite aware of it. Mice have many offspring, after all.

Hope you aren’t trying to actually learn economics from me. I’m an animation historian/zoologist. I’m just summarizing what I got from this short. If you really want to know more, visit your local library. So you can use their computers to study. In today’s day and age, is there really any point in doing it the old way?