Hop, Skip and a Chump

“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.

Curtain Razor

“I killed them in Cu-… camonga.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Manuel Perez, Ken Chapin, Virgil Ross, and Pete Burness; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on May 21, 1949.

Hope you enjoyed the green rings in the opening because they’re gonna be the iconic orange from here on out!

Today’s role Porky finds himself in is a talent scout at the Goode and Korny talent agency. It really is one of the world’s more entertaining jobs. You get to see the beginning of the greats, total failures embarrass themselves, and best of all: send the worst down a trapdoor. The operatic grasshopper that was singing over the opening titles wasn’t too shabby! Can any other acts top that?

We aren’t off to a promising start. Clara Cluck’s sister, Sara, instead of trying to develop a talent on her own, tries to copy her sibling’s opera shtick, seeing as how said sibling has been retired by now. Here’s a tip Sara: close your eyes when you do that. Makes you look more operatic and less “I’m being goosed by a poltergeist.”. She  stops her performance short upon laying an egg during the performance. Literal or figurative, that’s earned you a trap door ride. (Her egg hatches before it follows her, revealing Tweety’s stepbrother, Tweeter.)

A fox enters the room boasting about what a sensational act he’s got. Porky is willing to see it, but the fox totally cut the line. He’ll have to wait his turn. Next up for real is Cecil Turtle’s nephew, Sessile. He’s this universe’s Mel as he claims to have 1,000 different voices. (Of which, I can make out Bugs, Foghorn, Durante, and Rochester.) Despite his claim, Porky only counted 999. The poor reptile leaves, hoping he’ll remember the last one. (Isn’t it your normal speaking voice? Sessile, get back here! You need to be discovered!)

Next up, a parrot named Bingo, (who you can also see in Arthur Davis’s “Catch as Cats Can”) a chicken named Frankie, and a duck named Al, collectively known as the Three Cavalheiros! They sing just like their namesakes and I think they’re rather swell. Porky thanks them as they leave, but confines to us that that kind of stuff is only going to appeal to the bobbysoxer crowd. (Porky, pal, I can see your socks. Don’t be ashamed of what you like.)

And now a man with two heads enters. Porky is sure this act is going to be awesome, but the man angrily states that he is only the janitor. I figured two heads meant there was two of you. I guess me and Porky are both guilty of facial profiling. That poor guy! He’s just like every tall person who has to tirelessly tell everyone that no, he doesn’t play basketball. When will we learn as a society that we need to ask what other people are into. Oh, and the fox still tries to jump the queue.

After a couple more acts, including a regular old human using the same pigeon act Daffy tried in “Show Biz Bugs“, Porky finally gets tired of the pushy fox, and sends him down the trapdoor. Just in time for a dog to enter. He’s not a dog act. He’s merely the transportation. (Porky? What did we just learn from Double Header‘s son?) The dog’s got a flea circus act! And by that, I mean the fleas build a circus. (And judging by the musical accompaniment, they commissioned the  Rubber Band to join.)

Finally, finally, it’s that foxes turn to perform. This better be nothing we’ve ever seen before, considering how much hype he gave it. The act in question? Ingesting several flammable substances, before swallowing a lit match while dressed as a devil. … Well, I suppose back in 1949, people wouldn’t have yet seen this ending in a different cartoon by Freleng’s unit. I’ll give it to him.

Favorite Part: The scowl Porky gives after Sara’s performance. He’s all “B*tch, don’t you be having no babies on my floors. I just got these carpets cleaned!”

Personal Rating: 3. It’s a shame the aforementioned “S.B.B.” did this sorta idea better, mainly by having established characters with an established rivalry front and center. If you were watching this short before 1957, then it was a 4.

The Gay Anties

“OW!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce and Michael Maltese; Animation by Ken Chapin, Virgil Ross, Gerry Chiniquy, and Manuel Perez; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on February 15, 1947.

The late 1800’s do look like an idyllic time to live. Media has told me so! It’s a shame that any cartoons at the time were on zoetrope, otherwise I’d definitely give these years a visit. Just long enough for a picnic, anyway. I’ve always wanted to go on one of those. They must’ve been the high point  of fun once. Just look at everyone high-stepping to the park to partake of food amidst the wonder of nature that mankind put a fence around and claimed as city property.

One couple has set up shop on the riverbank. Even though they look like a very healthy happy relationship, she won’t stop being so coy. She gives him the side peek of genuine interest, he responds with a mustache wave to show the feeling is mutual, (wish I wanted a mustache so I could do that) but when he tries to hold her hand, he gets a mousetrap for his trouble. I mean really, you’ll let a guy eat your food but physical contact is too much? These mixed signals are why I prefer animals to most people.

Oh goody! The local ants have heard the picnic’s call and will now take the remainder of the picture’s focus. Who likes food stealing gags? That’s mostly all you’re getting. They take the cake, the hot dogs, even the soda, too. But they’re pretty smart, so they use the goods as simple machines. Donuts make delectable wheels, and make transporting bananas much easier on the thorax. And like the old saying goes: teamwork makes the sandwich. A perfect opportunity to use the ‘hold the onions’ sign gag again. (I kinda wish they would shake things up with a ‘hold everything BUT the onions’ sign gag.)

But for their skills, you have to remember they are ants and as such, tend to be seen as nothing more than insects by humans if they’re even seen at all. The man takes the sandwich without even a thank you, angering the chef ant. But picnics aren’t just all sitting and eating I’m told. There is usually some sort of physical activity to take part in. Humans have choices like croquet, or horseshoes, or maybe even touch football. Ants are smaller than sports equipment, but they have solutions. Flowers make good dresses, corn silk can be used as hair, and olives can augment your nonexistent tats and iss. Put it all together and the you have the human equivalent of a fur suit. It’s not a fetish, it’s their lifestyle.

Some ants don’t dance, but they can sing. Being so small, their voice kind of sounds like the Chipettes with chipmunk voices. Now me, I never found sped up voices annoying like a majority of people. It seems like a majority of ants don’t share my views. They’d rather isolate themselves in areas that have little to no air, and thus, no sound. At least the one in the juice uses a straw to breathe. I hope the one in the jar is pleased with the prison she just made for herself. The singer is shut up the way most are: fruit. (Fruit that shrinks as it travels towards her. A whole banana was launched, but a chunk small enough to just cover her face hits her. What, did a fruit bat eat most of it in the air?)

Meanwhile, the chef ant has just had her third sandwich stolen by the man. (What kind of metabolism allows him to still be hungry after just sitting and ogling?) The chef sets up some karma by placing the woman’s hand in between bread and mustard. And hunger mcgee takes the bait. She slaps him into the water. Now, she could tell he was holding her hand. (Which she had no problems by now as their relationship was several minutes longer by this point.) Logically, she should have felt the handwich being constructed.  Was she expecting a very specific kind of foreplay I never needed to know about? Did she just think he was going to nibble around her fingers, and maybe lick the condiment off? (Hmm… that actually does sound pretty hot, to be honest.)

Oh yeah, the ants take what they couldn’t finish back to the nest. Humans may act high and mighty, but our insect overlords are the true rulers of the planet. How many mass extinctions have they survived?

Favorite Part: The ant dancers were actually kinda attractive, but I’m more impressed with their clever get-ups. I never would have though of using corn silk for hair.

Personal Rating: 2. It’s not terribly funny, but it’s cute enough. Too bad it can’t stand on ever footing with ant pictures Freleng’s unit had already made and would make later.

Notes to You

“Poor dear.”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Manuel Perez; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on September 20, 1941.

And we bring the month of horror to a close with one more tie-in to the month’s post. What could be more thematically appropriate than a cat at night?

Ah yes, Night. Black as tar dipped in shadows. A time where the absence of light helps you realize how insignificant you really are. How vulnerable. You wouldn’t last three minutes against those who thrive in dark. Might as well sleep so you can manage to avoid the feelings of dread that will consume all empty space available in your mind. Helps that you’re probably exhausted to boot. It is at such a moment we find Porky. The best friend I’ve never personally met due to him being animated and I, not so much.

Murphy’s Law. Always lying in wait. Ready to pounce on the best laid plans of mice, men, salmon, and sea turtles. If you’ve got the gift of life, you’ve got an appointment with this phenomenon. All you have to do is anticipate. It will catch you when you stop. These two forces of nature intersect when an alley cat picks the fence bordering Porky’s domicile as the perfect location to partake in the only kind of wauling he partakes of: caterwauling.

Understandably, Porky is not pleased with the feline crooner. It’s around this time that you will take note (s to you) of that peculiar feeling we call deja vu. We’ve discussed a very similar plot over a decade prior.  So, even though this short was the original, you’re liable to see the more polished, colored reimagining first. It hurts me on a spiritual level to have to put Porky down, but the latter cartoon really does everything here, but better.

There’s a few differences. One that I like is when Porky sets out a dish of milk for the cat while he waits with his gun. It remembers that Porky’s patience isn’t the only thing getting exhausted. The cat (That I am now calling ‘Notes’ for obvious reasons.) is able to down the dairy delight without getting a bullet through the cranium. Of course, since cat’s are the natural world’s a-holes, he wakes Porky for no other reason than that it amuses him.

After lulling Porky back to sleep with a lullaby, and placing him back in his bed, he wastes as little as time as possible in turning on the radio, full blast. He leaves to keep in his spirit contained within his body, but doesn’t let up with the songs. Even entering the domicile again to make sure Porky’s ears catch the noise his larynx pitches. It’s hard to sympathize with Notes once he passes such a threshold. At least Sylvester would spend most of his picture’s running time out of Elmer’s place. Makes it easy to wonder why Elmer couldn’t just try ignoring the sound better, and since both are being jerks in their own unique ways, you don’t feel too bad when both end up dead in the end.

Oh! Don’t worry! Freleng and the Frelettes don’t go so far as to let Porky die. But rather than using a more cartoony version of killing, say, blowing a cat up with dynamite, Porky opts to just shoot the kitty. And don’t let Notes’s singing and hamming up his wound make you think he’s faking. Porky just shot a cat through the chest. Your sympathies probably won’t stay with him after such a stunt, regardless of how much you don’t care for cats. It’s pretty out of character for the guy, too. He doesn’t jump to murder as a solution for those who annoy him unless he was already hunting them.  At least Porky feels guilt for having to resort to such extreme measures, and from what I was taught before leaving religion behind, that should be enough of a punishment.

Murphy’s law, my friends. It returns with seven of Notes’s nine lives to continue the serenade with total immunity to guns now. (4 and 8 have gone to heaven and hell, respectively.) It’s an ending to be proud of as it stays on the singin’ sextuplets for over thirty seconds. (Gotta let them finish the song. Not like they’ve been singing throughout the rest of the picture.) And with that said, I’ve brought things full circle back to Porky-centric ghost stories. Will the cycle repeat the next time we meet? It wouldn’t be fun if I told you. Wait like the mortal you are. You’ll have a happy Halloween to keep you company.

Favorite Part: Porky is so sleepy that his head hits the pillow before he can lie down properly. It’s up to the rest of his body to get itself into slumber position. Cute; like a child insisting they are not tired and being betrayed by the eyes they thought were on their side.

Personal Rating: 2. The remake really was better in all ways. It kept the best jokes, gave the cat role to someone who had been building a screen presence, fixed the ending to be less horrific and more, you know, funny. It’s the superior product. If there wasn’t slight differences, you’d actually do fine to pretend this didn’t exist.

Hare Trimmed

“I can see you through the key hole!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, and Arthur Davis; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on June 20, 1953.

We started this fun themed month with a ghost story, then moved on to real life horror, and now I’ll continue this trend with a cartoon featuring costumes. Maybe next week I’ll discuss “The Cookie Carnival.” Wouldn’t that be a shake-up?

Sam takes note of the local news. Namely, there’s a widow that’s inherited 50 million big ones. And he can’t help but feel that anyone having just lost a loved one should immediately replace what’s missing. You know, he’s single. A suspicious Bugs can’t help but see what the little guy is up to, and finds Sam in the next scene with flowers and candy. He’s got marriage on his mind. Bugs might just need to intervene.

Said widow is Granny (that newspaper photo didn’t do her justice), who has so much cash, she literally sets some aside to burn. (Whoever her husband was, his death clearly didn’t affect her too much. In fact, how do we know this isn’t the first time she’s gotten in such a rewarding situation? I’m worried about you, Sam.) She answers her door to find Sam trying to woo her, and she lets him chase her. But she must put their fun on a brief hiatus as there’s yet another knock.

It’s Bugs dressed as the marquee of Queensberry… rouge, I think. Putting on his best Pepe Le Pew impression, he also gets to chase the flirty Granny around. Sam isn’t pleased and slaps Bugs with his glove. Bugs (and his disappearing/reappearing hat) returns the favor but he bothers to put a brick in his, first. Time for pistols at ten paces. Bugs, ever ten paces ahead, counts out as many steps between nine and ten as he needs to get Sam to walk out into the path of an incoming bus.

When Sam comes banging at the door again, it is answered by Bugs in Granny garb. And Sam refers  to “her” as “Emma.” Could this be Granny’s real name? If it isn’t, what is it with Sam and girls named Emma? Sam gets to chase again, but “Emma” ends things quickly with a piano to the face. It’s then that the real Emma (?) finds him and sets him in a chair while she fixes him some coffee. The other one reaches him first and does the ole ‘giving lumps when asking for lumps’ bit.

When Gremma returns, Sam kicks the coffee out of her hands sending her running for the gun that I’m guessing she’s already used before SOME WAY. Sam realizes that he may have just kicked away the easy life, and follows begging for forgiveness. He gets Bugs (still in disguise) to forgive him and he then suggests they elope, much to Sam’s glee. When they’re walking down the aisle, Bugs’s dress gets caught on a snag and tears off revealing his hairy legs. Leading to a great line from the priest: “Do you, Sam, take this woman… woman?”

That comment gets Sam to look over his bride once more and instantly get cold feet. He flees the wedding, leaving Bugs crying crocodile tears. (Who are all those people they invited anyway? I don’t recognize anybody but me.)

Favorite Part: The animation of Sam and later Bugs chasing Granny. I can’t explain it, but it slays me. And I wish I had an opportunity to chase someone like that without warranting a call for help.

Personal Rating: 4. Granny is probably at her best here. Fun to see her having so much fun.

Shop Look & Listen

I’d like to hold a hand like that myself.”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Dave Monahan. Animation: Cal Dalton; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on December 21, 1940.

There was a video game released in 2007 titled “Super Mario Galaxy.” It was a major hit with both critics and consumers and everyone agreed; they wouldn’t mind a sequel. The creators would deliver with “Super Mario Galaxy 2”, but not because of fan outcry. Rather, it was because they themselves had so many ideas for that one project that one game wasn’t enough to hold them all. I tell you this, because I think something similar happened about 70 years earlier.

Earlier in the year 1940, Freleng’s unit released a cartoon titled “Little Blabbermouse.” It wasn’t anywhere near close to being the studio’s best work. It was just one of their gag oriented cartoons using a mischief of mice taking a tour of a department store as an overlay. The title was referring to one particular mouse who’s one defining character trait was not shutting up.  (A good three years before Sniffles took up that role.) They couldn’t have thought this idea was 14K of comedy gold. But hey, all these gags means one less cartoon idea to come up with while they were brainstorming about this rabbit of theirs that seemed to be taking off.

Thus, we have this sequel short. And Blabbermouse even gets his own title card!

*Is my internal fear showing?*

Eww. I don’t like that face. It’s making him look like a child comma molester. And you know, they didn’t need to use that at all. Blabby hardly features in this feature. Gets about four and a half lines total. Hardly befitting the blabber name.

Well, our gags take place in J. T. Gimlet’s department store. A few decent gags are available on the banners outside the building. But the one about the hours confuses me a little. Oh, I get the joke “Sunday 9-6 If we were open Sundays” But why do they bother listing weekdays and Saturdays separately if they’re going to say the same hours? Either switch the times up, or list them as one. It shouldn’t be that hard.

Our host is the same as it was in the previous short. (Which I’ve yet to discuss, because it’s more fun for me to not know what surprises I will discuss each week. I hope this isn’t your first time here. What a horrible post to sell someone on.) If I can steal a name from another short, then I can call him W. C. Fieldmouse. Showing some mercy to those of us who might have seen the other cartoon, they skip the preparation of their trip and take off. (Reusing the same animation they did last time.) Essentially, they travel by a gondola that is big enough to hold a crowd thrice their size.

Fieldmouse shows them the shoe section where we get a joke that I don’t get. (Are there shoes called mules?) Then, an art gallery where we see “Whistler’s Mother” and “The Thinker” doing what their names suggest. Then we see some of the robotic devices for sale, and they demonstrate what they can do. There’s a device that snuffs out cigars for you, and another one that seems like it was built to play poker all by itself. (It couldn’t be comfortable to sit with those robotic arm attachments pressing into your chest.) It can shuffle, cut, deal, cheat and kill cheaters all by itself. Which means you’re obsolete and not needed anymore, so you might as well go home.

B.M. has been annoying W.C. sporadically during this tour, and the larger mouse threatens him with bodily harm, should he speak once more. (I do love the animation of Fieldmouse stress sweating as he struggles to contain his rage. It was worth using in both shorts.)The tour then comes to a machine that can cut lengths of ribbon for your purchasing pleasure, and wrap it up for you as well. Blabber then opens his mouth again, and Fieldmouse prepares to make good on his promise. But instead of getting his hands dirty, he just has the machine wrap the little pest up instead. I hope it was worth it, as Blabbermouse’s father is a policeman. And policemen aren’t scared of anything. They’re brave and strong. We’reluckythey’resobraveandstrongandwillingtoprotectus.Geewhiz,IwishIcouldbeasbraveasstrongasapolicemansomeday.ToobadIhavenointentionofbeingapolicemansomeday.Itdoesn’tlineupwithmypersonalinterests,butIguessI’mgladthattheoptionisalwaysavailable.That’sthegreatthingaboutbeingapoliceman,anyonecandoit.Well,Iguessnoteveryone.Womenbecomepolicewomen,don’tthey?Oraretheystillcaleedpolicemanaswell?Orwhataboutcops?Isthereadifferencebetweenpolicemenandcops?Andwhy….

Favorite Part: The first time Blabbermouse speaks up, Fieldmouse gives him a good smack on the back of the head, while reprimanding him in rhyme no less. History’s first rap battle victory!

Personal Rating: 2. It only escapes one because it had different gags than its predecessor, and therefore, you can justify showing it to your friends if you feel you need to.

His Bitter Half

“Cute like a sth-tomach pump!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, Arthur Davis, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on May 20, 1950.

While reading the want ads, (and having an errant ripple overlay his body) Daffy spots the kind of notification wild dreams are mad of: a single woman who is financially stable wants a man to tie it all together. Daffy is single AND  a male! Time for a quick courtship we don’t get to see, a wedding and honeymoon that is suggested, and the brand new happy couple arrives to their humble home. Here, Daffy tries to live the good life. A life of racing forms, lounge chairs, pipes and fezzes. The Mrs. has other ideas.

See, she is much larger and imposing than Daffy, and all that muscle says that he is the one going to be in charge of the housework. (The reason she has money is because she never bothered to hire a maid.) She just has to prove to Daffy that her threats to “slap his mouth clean off his face” aren’t hyperbole. And Daffy scrubs, and sweeps, and launders his life away. (Who’s the one wearing all those socks?) But once he’s got all those tasks accomplished, he meets the the part of the household the ad failed to mention: the step-duckling.

Little Wentworth is one one of those obnoxious kids who thinks fun can’t be had without noise. You know, the kind that nature intended to be eaten. He wants to play “Indians” but Daffy refuses. It’s just not P.C. The wives feet convince him to give it a go, and he spends the next shot on the run from Wentworth’s cleaver. (And if you’re too busy laughing, you might miss Martha’s Jedi powers at work. Those bonbons just leap into her wings!) Daffy’s next assignment: well, there’s a carnival at the park, and Wentworth would really like to attend. Daffy says no, but money talks…

I don’t know what kind of games they were playing, but they kicked tailfeather! Balloons, canes, kewpie dolls and… boxes of popcorn I think. But he drops it all in fright at the sight of Wentworth holding a rifle. Sure, it’s a shooting gallery, but it’s a shooting gallery in the days of your grandparents. Those are probably real lead pellets they’re firing. Daffy aims (rifle pun!) to show the kid how it’s done. But Wentworth is either upset he’s not the one firing the weapon, or I dunno, maybe he just doesn’t like Daffy, so he slingshots the carny every time Daffy takes a shot. The carny threatens bodily harm should Daffy keep hitting him.

Daffy figures out the ruse, and only PRETENDS to shoot. Wentworth doesn’t though, and despite Daffy gleefully smiling at the carny, exactly what you think would happen, happens. Next time, fill the fair folk in on the details of your scheme. Beaten and dazed, Wentworth has to bring Daffy home, where Martha just assumes her new hubby has been hitting the sauce. Wentworth knows that good children don’t correct their parents, so he doesn’t.

The next day, Daffy is roped into helping Wenty light fireworks for the fourth. He gets caught in an explosion and knows who’s to blame: that stick of TNT that has webbed feet! He grabs one that is the same size, and gives it a good spanking before seeing the one he wanted run past. After another explosion, he finds a new task at hand: take Wentworth to the zoo. Daffy’s had it, and refuses, even though his soon to be ex-wife is threatening to yank every feather off his body. Daffy still take his leave, and I’d say he won in the end. He clearly got away with some feathers still intact.

Favorite Part: The little smiling glance Wentworth shoots at us while Daffy is refusing to play *throat clear* “Indians”. He’s known his mother longer than Daffy has, and he knows what she’s capable of.

Personal Rating: 3. Ordinarily, I’d give it a four, but Freleng must’ve really loved this plot line, as he’d use it again in the future. And it was a marked improvement. See you then!

Prince Violent*

“I see you’ve never dealt with a viking.”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Co-Director: Halwy Pratt; Story by Dave Detiege; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Virgil Ross, Art Davis, and Bob Matz; Layouts by Willie Ito; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on September 2, 1961.

*If you’re watching this short on TV, it’s called “Prince Varmint” because… kids won’t get the reference to “Prince Valiant”? Granted, I’ve never read it, but I’ve always known about it. Maybe Hal Foster didn’t like the pun? Either way, I like the original title better. If only because it doesn’t get name dropped twice in the picture. Feels forced.

The locales had best barricade themselves in the only nearby castle, Sam the Terrible the terrible viking has just landed and is clearly having the time of his life in the role. He follows the people into their castle before they can raise the drawbridge, and it’s only a matter of time before he breaks down what little doors they have left. Having witnessed this, Bugs, ever altruistic anymore, gets into costume, follows Sam and rather easily throws him out. (Treating the guy like an errant trick-or-treater.) Time for Sam to spend the rest of the cartoon breaking back in.

He goes big, elephantine even. He gets one of those European elephants that totally existed trust me on this, so he can bust his way into the fortress. Bugs paints a phony door, and the proboscidean hurts himself. And when Sam tries to be Sam and berate the beast, it reminds him who’s the largest living land mammal, and throunces him. Since the walls are too thick for even nature’s best bulldozer to break through, the elephant just throws boulders over the parapets. Bugs stops him with pepper. (Did his ears shrink?)

The two decide to be smart and hide from view until Bugs declares the bridge safe to lower. They charge, forgetting that flimsy wood and nails were never meant to carry at least 10,000 lbs. Oh, wait. I guess as a zoologist, I should say 4535.924 kilograms. (But as a writer, I can’t help but notice how clunky that looks.) Seems their running out of ways to approach, but Sam, always learning from his mistakes decides they’ll sneak in via the back. He uses the elephant as a raft, forgetting that such animals are fairly adept swimmers, but this way means Bugs can shove a cork in the trunk without being seen.

The elephant flees back to shore, forgetting that he could just stick his mouth out of the water and breathe that way. But more confusing? Why is he afraid of Sam now? We already saw that this was a beast not to be trifled with. Did Sam threaten to wait until his tusks grow in, then kill him and sell them to the Chinese? Whatever the reason, Sam chases him off and tells him to stay gone. And I just fell like the reactions should have been swapped. Have the elephant get sick of Sam’s abuse, and turn on him before leaving. Makes more sense.

Sick of playing around, Sam grabs all the explosives he has on hand to blow his way into the stronghold. As he lights the fuses, he fails to notice that the drawbridge can raise in the opposite direction as well. A risky gamble the people are betting on here, as they’re still inside. I guess they figure Sam will die and the only other casualty will be the door? But he doesn’t die this time, it just roughs him up a lot. Even took his mask off. But he regenerates it and finally gets inside. Oh-ho boy! What he’s going to do with the women and chickens…

Uh-oh. Looks like he’s already rueing the today he offended Ali Phunt, as the elephant (Oh, snap! I get it!) has joined the other side and doesn’t fear Sam at all again, chasing him off with a club. Should be a happy ending, but Sam vows to return, and I have a hunch Ali’s services will only last as long as the free peanuts.

Favorite Part: The boat on the title card. I’m glad one of the shields is the W.B. shield. I wouldn’t have ever thought of that. Wait, if that’s my favorite part, then how low will the score-?

Personal Rating: 2. It’s just a weaker retread of “Knighty Knight Bugs“. And I’ve got a feeling this was one of the first shorts Mel recorded for after his coma. A good chunk of Bugs’s lines sound stilted and bored, almost as if Mel was hurting himself as Sam, and everyone decided his first takes for Bugs would suffice as the only takes.

Pappy’s Puppy

“It’s a boy.”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Music by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on December 17, 1955.

When a stork and an animal hospital visit each other very, very much, a baby will soon be born. (A baby ‘what’ all depends on you, the parent.) Butch J. is a bulldog, and so is his soon to be offspring. The blessed moment occurs, and the result is the same answer as this arithmetic formula: Q+T. Pappy takes his puppy home and provides the most important lessons a child can know. The kind you won’t learn in obedience schools. You know, looking tough and killing cats.

Kid is a quick learner. But there’s another kind of learning that he must teach himself: the kind you won’t learn in father’s school. You know, playing. Builds strong muscles, and teaches you survival skills. (I’ve achieved similar feats from playing “Mario 3” my whole life.) During his play, the little tyke (believe me, I’m tempted to make a “Tom and Jerry” reference) runs into his first real cat: Sylvester. Little fella is scared, but remembers his training and comes back to maim, as all good puppies should.

Since he’s small, his attacks are annoying at best. He can gnaw Sylvester’s fur off, but the short is taking place in summer. It’s actually pretty positive, if somewhat embarrassing. Sylvester knows how to deal with puppy pests: stick them under a can. Next time, maybe he’ll remember to only do this when dad isn’t looking, or he’ll replace his son with you. (Oh, don’t think your size will save you. He’ll make you fit.) Sylvester is either going to have to learn to deal with the tiny terror, or get rid of him sneakily.

But first, how about a game of fetch? The teeny dumpling can cease his endless barking for a quick round. He’s a natural! So, Sylvester ups the challenge. He throws the stick into traffic and a-dog-able runs after. (Hmm… you’re right, that is too forced. Guess we’ll just have to call him “Tick”.) You may think Tick is doomed, but funny thing about humans, some of them still possess humanity. And you better be d*mn sure that any human carrying that would rather crash than hit a sweet, teeny puppy.

He’s all right. But dad has had more cheerful days. But it’s nothing a little game of “fetch” couldn’t cure. Won’t you play, Sylvester? Toobadyoudon’thaveachoice! As expected, a cat isn’t worth slowing down for, and the poor schmuck is barely able to dodge death. He gets back okay, forgetting that the majority of street accidents actually occur on the sidewalk. (Darn those scooters.) But the death idea wasn’t that bad. So, give it another go. I’m sure Butch will eventually leave the premises to go share his happy news with Mrs. Butch. (Where is she, anyway?)

Ultimately, Sylvester rigs a bone up to a gun. When the kid pulls on the string… BLAMMO! Except, Mrs. Butch is worth putting off, and father knows best about what to put in front of guns: not puppies. Sylvester is forced to take the shots while Tick pulls repeatedly on the bone. It’s then that a knock on the gate catches the putty tat’s ears. It’s Stupor Stork! Clearly just starting his route for the day, as he’s still sober. Someone must’ve remembered that dogs have litters, so he’s here to deliver the rest of Butch’s nonuplets. Welcome to living hell, Sylvester!

However, Sylvester still has a gun, and while Butch will flay him if any of his nine angels become angels, Stupor is fair game. Cat chases bird, and dogs chase cat. Just like nature intended.

Favorite Part: The look of absolute glee on Tick’s face when his father is demonstrating cat killing techniques. It’s the same look that says “That looks like fun!” and “I’ve found my purpose!”

Personal Rating: 3, unless you’re like me and think Tick is precious and bumps it up to a four. I’d understand if you don’t feel the same way. He sounds like a wheezing chew toy.

Malibu Beach Party

“I don’t want’a be covered in sand.”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Jack Miller; Animation by Gil Turner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on September 14, 1940.

Like many kids, I had the standard ‘dream of being a celebrity’ dream. I was going to be a star of my own direct-to-video movies (I’m that old, yes) I was going to do all my own stunts, and people were going to love me and I’d be on talk shows. Oh, and parents and kids would both adore me because I’d be entertaining AND educational. What changed my mind about such solid and realistic career plans? Well, I don’t fancy the idea of having to socialize with other people in Hollywood. (Why must I entertain the amateurs?)

But thanks to cartoons like this, I can get a glimpse of what kinds of things happen when all the biggest stars of the day get together. Jack Bunny is playing host, and is still stuck with that name despite being all human in this short. He’s in character, seeing as the invitations he sends come with a coupon that will give you a free 25 cent meal in exchange for fifty cents. He’s accompanied with his lady friend Mary, who gets greeted by Spencer Tracy. She’s Miss Livingstone, he presumes, and Kay Kaiser confirms. (Both glad to have escaped from that squeaking Africa.)

Always on the lookout for a way to make money, Jack is selling boats and yachts. While a certain George hangs out with the rest of the rafts. The typical “Gable has big ears joke’ this time is him using them to paddle through the sea, and ‘Garbo has big feet’ one has her using them as water skis. Back on the beach, John Barrymore announces that he is here to bury Caesar. Bad luck for Mr. Romero. (At least now there will be no future arguments about his mustache.)

Bunny has musical accompaniment by “Pill” Harris and his orchestra, and the tunes are enough to get people dancing on the furniture. And we’ve got “Winchester” tending bar. Bunny wouldn’t spring for more than a half-pint of liquor, but it’s a party so he IS willing to splurge on his water bill to fill those glasses. Now for our singing act: Deanna Durbin. Her voice is so lovely that she could even get Ned Sparks to smile. (And he does with great effort!) Mickey Rooney is smitten with her but his difficulties with height means he can’t catch the flower she tosses. Carey Grant has just made a mortal enemy.

Bunny now hypes up the featured attraction: himself! And that means violin playing that many of us are too uncultured to appreciate as the highest art. But with the kind of celebrities we have walking out, I don’t fell like I’m in such bad company. (Even if they have comedically oversized heads.) Winchester too, tries to take his leave, but his boss ain’t having it. At least one person is going to listen to him play, and if he has to sit on Winchester to make it happen, so be it. (I wish I could say this was the first time in history the white man stood over the black.)

Favorite Part: Ned Sparks attitude is so bad that even a literal crab tells him to cork his windpipe. I like the crab’s line delivery.

Personal Rating: 2, if you know your old celebs. Probably a 1 for everyone else. At least “Hollywood Steps Out” had some decent gags that didn’t completely rely on knowledge of the stars.