“Expectoration’s essential, you know.”
Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Cal Dalton. A Merrie Melody released on January 3, 1942.
This short’s off to a bumpy start, as the camera decides to follow a grasshopper. Try not to get motion sickness until he decides to stand still. He looks only slightly more like an Orthopteran than Jimminy did, what with the antennae. Hopalong Casserole’s his name, and just like his title suggests, he’d make a tasty dish. Two birds have been trying to catch him for years, he says. They better be modeled after a great comedy duo for me to believe they can’t catch one grasshopper.
Two little blackbirds, watching what they will. One’s not named “Jack” the other’s not “Jill”. They don’t actually have given names, but that’s what I’m here for. From now on, the pudgy one can be Bolivar, and his buddy can be Dan. Bolivar gives Dan instructions. Take a club, and hit the insect when he comes by. Let’s skip to the good stuff… and Bolivar is bonked. Classic. Not learning from this, Bolivar next sends Dan out with a sack to secure their supper. (Hopalong is definitely comprised of two servings.) He brings back a bee. Since they’re not bee-eaters, they duck into the nearby pond.
The main problem with catching Hopalong is that they can’t keep up with him. Their wings are just for show. Bolivar has a great idea: bed springs! With these on, he can match the pace of his prey! And he does, but he’s on Hopalong’s left side. There’s a great many low-hanging branches on that side. Worse yet, the two nearly go over a cliff. Instead, only one does. Just kidding! Two indeed go over once Dan asks which way his partner went. Which I know to this day doesn’t mean it’s serious, but screw you, the two are married. (Not sure which one is the better half.)
Hopalong decides to hide in a discarded clock. Does it only count as a cuckoo clock if there’s a cuckoo? Either way, this odd clock won’t chime on the hour every hour. It’s gotta be one of the fours. Or 4:00/16:00 if you insist on that confusing military time. (I don’t. I insist you don’t.) Bolivar totally botches his chance, so he has to roll the hands to the next hour they’ll chime: eleven. (No wonder this clock was thrown away.) He doesn’t mess up this time, he just forgot that grasshoppers with hammers tend to use them.
The cartoon’s ending, but Hopalong manages to leap through the iris-out. Shaken, but safe, he boasts once more about how he always escapes. Since the fourth wall will not protect him, Bolivar is able to snatch him back behind the black for more.
Favorite Part: Bolivar and Dan are hiding in a piano, but Hopalong plays the key to deafen/pound the two with mallets. There’s a nice touch in that he plays “The Storm”, the piece Oliver Owl once took credit for performing. Things are just done in reverse this time with the performer using it to mess with the inner animals.