Flowers for Madame

For this is the day of the flower parade.♫”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Paul Smith and Don Williams; Music by Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released on November 20, 1935.

Free at last! Free at last! Our long Cinecolor nightmare is finally over! Mr. Disney’s exclusivity contract with the 3 strip process has expired at long last, so now the studios too cowardly to take a chance with it can finally experience the entire spectrum of the rainbow! It makes perfect sense to make the picture about something that has no shortage of colors! Like octopuses, LSD freakouts, or flowers!

Zoology nut I may be, I gotta vote for the last one there because I ADORE gardens! Beautiful, soothing, perfumed and serene, a place to escape when the world is too mean. In other words, it won’t help in winter. But we’re in summer, bee-itchers! And if you’re living in the southern hemisphere, then I don’t blame you for getting upset over that comment. Winter makes everyone miserable. Contradict me and I’ll doubt you.

Flowers are already living “creatures”, but in cartoons, they dance. But only the ones who are awake. The sleeping ones get their heads ripped off and converted into tutus for the early risers. It’s barbaric, but it’s less screwed up compared to the real world stuff! Did you know that flowers are brightly colored so they will attract insects that will help spread their pollen? And it gets all over them too, and the insects eat some of it too, and we’re sitting in our gardens, watching it all, thinking about how appropriate it is for all ages!

Okay, I’m done with that tangent. The garden is hosting a little pageant for all the plants. Announced by snails… Isn’t that like crocodiles hosting a fashion show in the river? “Just strut over the ‘runway’. We’ll let you know if you’re a loser.” The prize isn’t specified, but if it’s not your freedom, then it’s either a motel room with the bees, or dinner theater with the gastropods. Good thing flowers don’t have brains!

Some floats are thrown together, but most of them aren’t featuring any anthro flowers. Unless weeds count as flowers. And if you count thistles as weeds. I’m a “Viva Pinata” fan, so I do. One of the spectators is a cactus who gets an idea. And a name: Stickers! (Side note: Anyone else remember the animated short “Prickles the Cactus”? I always wondered how that would have played out as a series.) The idea is to enter the pageant him/herself. (I’ll just guess it’s the first one.) All he needs is that windup toy, and some seeds. A packet of seeds. This world is making me uncomfortable! This means there are humans around, so how do the plants feel about this? Are we just gods that they don’t try to comprehend? Feels powerful.

They’re fast growing, non-anthro seeds that grow around the toy, making a humble if not pretty float. Short-lived, too. It breaks, and Stickers is now the official butt of the joke. It hurts, but I bet he does too. Now, about those gods that they can’t understand. They were careless enough to leave a match under a magnifying glass, and the sun uses the two to make its own offspring: fire. And lots of it. Somewhat led by the one flame who has a face. If the lessons I’ve learned from Pokemon are correct, those plants are in danger.

The lessons are true! This must also mean that poison can be used to kill fairies! The plants make like their leafy cousins, and break. (Look, the pansy is such a pansy that their face lost its highlights.) I know that we’re supposed to see the flame as a villain, but it’s kinda cute. Cuter than the one on “Animaniacs”, anyhow. It’s hard to want to see him lose, since it can only lose if it’s dead. But hey, this gives Stickers a chance to redeem himself! Just gotta douse those flames, and all will be well! If a bear can do it, why not a succulent?

The sprinkler helps a bit. It keeps the big flames at bay, but the little cute one can slip by and turn off the troublesome torrent. Well, compost! If only we had a plant that was full of water already! You know, round and green and living right here in the garden already? Wait a minute! Stickers! That’s it! He could poke holes in the watermelons! They’re nothing more than plant uterus’s, so it’s not like any sacrifices will have to be made. The garden is saved and refreshed and the cute flame gets doused by a grasshopper’s tobacco juice. If anyone is killing those plants, it’ll be him.

Favorite Part: The judges are (and since I know nothing about botany this is just a guess) lilies, and this means that they look like they are already sitting in a judge’s booth. That’s creativity.

Personal Rating: 2. Personally, I prefer “The Cookie Carnival”. More song, creativity, casual racism, cute romance, and looks good enough to eat.

Into your Dance

“It’s only the beginning, folks!”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Cal Dalton and Ben Clopton; Music by Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released on June 8, 1935.

Oh happy day! The riverboat’s a coming to town! You’re not going to want to miss this! It’s one of those showboat riverboats that promises music, singing, and an opportunity to pelt performers with produce. Captain Benny introduces us to our conductor for the evening, the world’s most popular orchestra leader. Which by my definition means Porky P- HOLY CRAP! It IS Porky! Same design and everything! Except, it can’t be. This short isn’t listed as part of Porky’s filmography, and no audience would dare pelt him with tomatoes lest I slice all their middle toes off and replace them with their thumbs. (I’ll throw the toes away.)

Well, I’ll still file this short in my Porky file, just in case anybody else thinks the Paul Whiteman pig is who I wish he was. He starts up the band, but there’s somebody constantly screwing up. Look, I’m sorry, but you just can’t have that in music. Otherwise it’s just cacophony. I give my complete support in Mr. Pig malleting you.  But the screw-up refuses to own up to his own shortcomings, and decides to stick that curly tail in an electrical socket. (At least, I think this is the same guy.) This really accelerates the performance, and the spastic conducting makes the “William Tell Overture” twice as fast. Boo! I like that piece? Where am I supposed to hear it now? “The Band Concert?” Okay!

Music’s done. Now for the singing I promised you. It’s amateur night, so we get an excuse to be honest. First off, Miss Cud doing opera. Hm. Uh-huh. Yep. Gong her. We won’t miss much. The performer remover hook yanks her right out of her clothes. (Does the Hayes code know about this?) Next, Beans’s effeminate father recites poetry. This also kinda sucks really bad, so lets get rid of him too. I mean, sure, he was better than that cow, but I’d hate to give him first prize when I’m sure there’s something better coming along. (If you think you’ve seen the crowd before, you have if you’ve read my posts chronologically.)

The next contestant may look a bit dumb, but he is smart enough to rig things in his favor. He sends Benny off to do… something, then hides the gong in his pants. Can’t eject what can’t technically fail. But, yeesh, I thought Doughtery only ever played Porky. Not so, and the crowd isn’t too pleased either. I think, anyway. Their jeers kinda sound like laughter half the time. But it must be hate, because once the guy finishes the title song, he sees the entire audience had a walk-out. Furious, Benny chases the cheater with a nail ‘n board into the hills. Every time he lands a hit, the gong reminds the world that cheaters are natural losers.

Favorite Part: Though poetry he may try, it turns out Beans’s pop is a fighter at heart. When he is gonged, he takes up a fighting stance. Good thing Benny was prepared with a horseshoe filled boxing glove!

Personal Rating: 2

Let it be Me

“Oh, Mr. Bingo!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life with Feathers

“Aren’t you hungry?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toy Town Hall

“Yowza, so help me.”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Bob McKimson and Sandy Walker; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. (One of if not the first to have him.) A Merrie Melody released on September 19, 1936.

We’ve all been in this situation as a kid: you’re just about to start something. Maybe the TV show airing next. Maybe another movie. Maybe your 26th round of Super Smash Bros. Whatever it is, you dread hearing those words. The words no kid wants to hear when they’re enjoying themselves: “It’s time for bed.” You beg and plead and whine that you can’t do that just yet! Your friends don’t suffer such injustices! You’ll do anything in the word to just do this one last thing! But your pleas fall on deaf ears.

So, I feel for little Sunny when his mom-arms turn off the radio before he can hear the next program, even if I’ve never been in the exact same scenario. (I wish we could see more of his matriarch. I know you should never judge a lady by her arms, but I bet she’s attractive.) Well, upset as he is, the kid still goes to bed, reluctantly. He’s got a nice collection of toys. What do you think they’d do if they were alive?

They’d imitate the biggest radio stars of the day! Fred Allen, Eddie Cantor, Rudy Vallee… What do you mean cartoons were always doing that? You want something new? Pah! Just for that, this cartoon is going to feature almost nothing except reused animation from previous Melodies! Remember, you brought this on yourself. Let’s meet our opening act! Quick cut to the same elephant lights operator from “Those Beautiful Dames” and we’ve got a lovely song performed by a Bing Crosby parrot. (Not quite a recycled shot, but he IS singing a song a different Crosby inspired bird sang in/called “Let it be Me”.)

Next up, the Eddie Cantor toy. Now with a completely different body, so we can reuse his song sequence from “Billboard Frolics“. (Rub-em-off will not be joining this time.) At least as far as I can tell, the Rudy Vallee toy isn’t being reused. He still has a different body too, though. Unless Sunny has two Rudys? Nothing wrong with that.

Oh, this next cameo is a fun one! The cockroaches from “The Lady in Red”. Sure, there is the tiniest difference in color, but that just means Sunny has toy roaches. What kid has toy roaches in the 30’s? And when did that package on Sunny’s bed appear? It wasn’t there before. But what’s inside has been on screen before! Peter the rabbit from “My Green Fedora”! He’s a toy now! Singing the same song he sang back then, and reacting to his audience likewise. All the toys dance as we return to reality. It was a dream, like in “Dames” but Sunny isn’t halluci-dying.

His mom wakes him up for the day, and I guess he’s angry that his dream was interrupted. The end.

Favorite Part: One of the toys is a balloon with feet. (Did you have one of those growing up?) After he inflates himself, he plays a flute with the air. But his mouth is down there, so that can only be one other orifice he’s playing with… Yep, his nose.

Personal Rating: 1 if you could tell everything was rehashed. If you were ignorant before, it could’ve been a 2 with a really lousy ending.

I Gopher you

“I think we should proceed together.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, Arthur Davis, and Manuel Perez; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on January 30, 1954.

Mac and Tosh, living under farmland, are set to harvest THEIR vegetables. (I love that.) But before they can even take a pea, “vandals” grab everything. The gophers are polite but firm, and decide after their eyes are done merging together that they must find who’s responsible. Poking up topside, they see many Ajax trucks carting the produce off to driver’s know where. The rodents follow in hot pursuit.

This leads them to the Ajax canning factory. Acme just never got into the food biz. (Their food would probably just blow up anyway.) The two are actually fairly enamored with this place. The machines just dispense out food into containers. Handy, and somewhat dandy. Mac has to try that out, and hops onto the tomato juice belt. He fills his belly without the tedious chore of chewing, and gets bottle capped for his troubles.

Tosh pries it off and they continue to search for their dinner. The lip sync is bad. Tosh speaks before his mouth starts moving, and Mac gets his one word line in before the first mouth is finished. (I call it Dingophers Pictures.) Tosh climbs aboard the next belt in order to toss some whole tomatoes down to his partner, but isn’t fast enough to do it more than once before he is canned. Mac finds the storage room where they are stored, but only knows Tosh is in one of them. Better get started…

When he does locate the other, they agree to be more careful as they search. Although Mac is the one we follow into the next shot, he becomes Tosh. And you know what? I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if that was intentional. The crew knew the two were impossible to discern, so they probably meant to mess with us. In which case, it’s brilliant. I wish I had proof. Tac or Mosh or whichever one it is falls into a barrel of pickle brine. Even though it shouldn’t work that way, he ends up pickled as much as the cucumbers. Time to stumble!

Rated P.G. for pickled gopher ends up in the dehydration machine. He comes out as a dinner for six that only requires water to eat. Gopher 2 provides the stuff, and he finds the one that is definitely Mac now once again. Even better, they realize they can easily carry the food back home this way. Back at the ranch, they prepare to eat a meal. (Lip sync is off again.) Tosh goes to get the liquid, but doesn’t account for how much force it will spray with. Within seconds, mountains of produce erupt from the earth. What a healthy apocalypse!

Favorite Part: Mac asking why Tosh got himself stuck in the last can he checked. Tosh tells him it WAS the first, and he shouldn’t have done it in reverse.

Personal Rating: 3 (If I used decimal points though, I’d probably give it a 2.5 for the poor dubbing. I hope it was just a mistake on the copy I viewed.)

Bingo Crosbyana

“You ain’t seen nothin’, yet.”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Cal Dalton and Sandy Walker; Music by Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released on May 30, 1936.

Who just leaves a perfectly edible plate of spaghetti all alone in a kitchen? A friend of the flies, that’s who. They like this meal because teeth aren’t required to eat it. Two flies each slurp one end of a noodle, but since Disney hasn’t yet made something to parody, they just clonk their heads together. This really is a fly paradise. Sure, it could use a little rotting flesh and festering feces for the maggots, but these are yuppie flies. They’re still courting.

And the one that all guy-flies want to be and she-flies want to have is Bingo. He’s got a nice hat, a smooth Crosby voice and is a master at the one-stringed guitar. Such a happy gentleman, that you could even call a gay caballero. (Wow. Freleng beat Disney to the punch twice? If only Friz had made a theme park increase awareness. Isadore Isles… Freleng Fjords… I can see it now!) A fun song is sung, where Bingo continues to make the girls fawn, and one of the chorus singers has a brief hair dying.

But Bingo isn’t just artistic! He’s one of those animals that is such a master at what they do that humankind decided they could just be named after a verb. Like the skate and the leech. But even by fly standards can this guy fly. He’s fast, he’s agile and he can steal the buttons off your Mickey Mouse style pants. (Finally! Something that could be considered a reference at the time.) Fact is, Bingo is so talented that girls all immediately break up with the guys they promised they would always be faithful to and love forever. Bingo is just that awesome.

But he is also pretty low on the food chain. Mantids, toads, even some plants would all consider him a tasty snack. But the biggest threat (relatively speaking) is your common house spider. The kind with a Billy Bletcher laugh and only six limbs. (I’d make a fuss, but he still has more limbs than the flies so… sure.) Bingo flees, bur really, what is he supposed to do? Throw up in the predator’s face? His kind evolved their amazing aerobatic prowess to avoid danger, not challenge it. So I’m not upset he left the ladies to die.

What is deplorable is him pushing all the girls out of the roll of wax paper they’re hiding in to save himself. That’s a genuine dick move. Doesn’t help much anyway, as the spider saw him enter and tries following. If he wasn’t so big, that spider would be enjoying a Bingoburger right now. But he’s stuck, and that gives the previously rejected guy-flies a chance to prove that they’re worthy as potential mates. What does strength and talent matter when you’ve got courage and heart? The spider is corkscrewed, cork popped and cork electric socketed without the cork.

And after all that, the spider falls onto a sheet of flypaper. Oh, the irony? Yes, the irony. Now that the immediate threat is taken care of, Bingo reappears on the scene, playing cool once again. Now aware of what kind of fly he is, the others fling him into a coffee. Try flying now!

Now, if it weren’t for the voice and name, you’d never guess Bingo was actually a parody of Bing Crosby. (I know, right?) It’s worth bringing up though because the real Crosby’s attorneys weren’t very happy about this cartoon. They demanded that Warners cease distributing/exhibiting the film immediately. They also felt the need to let people know that the real Bing was NOT providing the voice and it was a poor representation of the guy. This fly was a “vainglorious coward.” (But really, I would be too if I was a fly.)

Favorite Part: While flying (read: showing off) Bingo sky-writes  ‘How’m I doin’. Totally in character, and just cheeky enough to be worth a smile.

Personal Rating: 2. It might have been funnier if the fly even barely resembled Bing.

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. (Despite not being ducks either.)

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.

Personal Rating: 2

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.