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)

Unnatural History

“One of the most difficult birds to train, is the pigeon.”

Directed by Abe Levitow; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ben Washam, Richard Thompson, and Keith Darling; Layouts and Backgrounds by Bob Singer; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on November 14, 1959.

As an animal lover, I can’t help but notice the parallels between us and them. It all boils down to one question: Are humans animals? Or are animals human? Our host, Dr. Beest Lee, (That’s really his first name? The X-Men weren’t around yet, so nobody in his childhood took him seriously. Well, he’s shown them all! He hosts this!) is here to guide us through several gags. It’s up to us to decide.

The most intelligent animal is  a good place to start. A chimpanzee is taking part in an experiment where he has to make use of boxes to get a banana. He is more clever than the unseen researchers give him credit for. Not only does he make it to the fruit, he saws around it in order to get at the fridge that was on top. (Actually, that was probably part of the test. Who puts a fridge on a chimp cage, and doesn’t expect it to get stolen?)

Chickens tend to live in factories these days, and some bits of technology are sure to rub off on them. Namely, laying cube-shaped eggs. And they show that old gag about the man trying to prove his dog can talk, but only asking questions whose answers sound similar to a basic dog call. That’s a little weak. What other gags we got?

Chibi-Bugs is being sent into outer space as some sort of… experiment?  What exactly is this supposed to accomplish? I suppose they were just trying to crossbreed lagomorphs. The bunny comes back with his Martian bride and offspring. And what of rodents? A groundhog is a natural meteorologist. (Although he now uses several pieces of high tech machinery to get info) A beaver damns a river. (Probably the best joke here.) And porcupines kiss despite the pain. (Also, that skunk looks a lot like Pepe. What is with all these cameos? Is the featured subject not strong enough to hold our attention?)

A chameleon is capable of changing color. Being from the 50’s, he is still under the illusion that he can match any background instantly. (Not plaid though, a lizard has his limits) And throughout the whole short, we’ve seen a poor dog waiting dutifully for his master to return. Luckily, we’re not given the “Jurassic Bark” treatment, as we see the reunion unfold. It’s not that cheerful. (The dog is irate to have been left alone for as long as he was. 3 years is nearly a third of his lifetime!)

Favorite Part: That beaver was pretty funny, but I like the elephant gag better. After a mouse gets some kicks terrifying one, he himself gets some comeuppance by an even smaller elephant. And you know what that means: Teeny procreated!

Wild Wild World

“Even then, movies were their best entertainment.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by George Granpre, Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, and Tom Ray; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on February 27, 1960.

There are many reasons why I am jealous of Toons, but the reason related to today’s short is that they got to interact with dinosaurs. Everyone loves dinosaurs. And as the zoologist that I am, it saddens me to think I’ll never have a chance to examine how they really lived.

Good thing this short exists then! Our narrator fills us in on what this is all about. (His little globe image seems to be having some problems with its Antarctica. It keeps disappearing.) Apparently, the following was part of a film that had been buried in the Gobi desert, and dates back millions of years. (A similar plot to the earlier “Pre-hysterical Hare.” On another note, this narrator is dull! His voice drones and drones like a person who has never discovered the joys that can be found in caffeine/adrenaline.)

In said film, we see how primitive man existed. Some of them made a living by hunting the large animals that roamed around. They are clearly inept hunters, as it only takes one failure for them to switch targets. They’re also tiny. About the size of a cockroach when compared to their prey. (I will give a compliment where it is due. The one using a bow seems to have infinite arrows to fire. That’s pretty impressive.)

Speaking of weapons, one of the most useful was the boomerang, because not only could it assist in killing, but if one should miss, it can return to the thrower; whereupon they can try again. It has more uses than that, though. Say your wife is trying to run away from you again. The handy boomerang can return her to you. (Just be sure that she isn’t currently carrying a rolling pin.)

Even in these older times, Los Angeles was around. There were apartments just like today (made out of stone) and theaters too. (Those were housed in volcanoes) The ancient people even had celebrities! Cary Granite and Dinah Saur were two of the biggest names in the business. Department stores were another feature that these people had in their society. With elevators even! Since electricity wasn’t an option, (which does lead one to wonder how all this footage was supposed to be filmed) they had to use simpler means. One person would throw a rock with their desired floor printed on it, up to the elevator operator. In turn, he would load up a basket with an amount of stones required to get the patron to the floor of their choosing. With the wonder that is the pulley, it was a foolproof way to get you where you wanted to go. (Going down was even easier. They’d just cut the wire.)

Before we go, one does wonder how those hunters made out. One of their prey choices evades death by pointing out the day is Friday. (Even the Gregorian calendar was around back then? The B.C. era never ceases to amaze!) Friday is also fish day, so the trio head to the local lake to partake in some angling. Fish grew larger back then, and were more ferocious too, so it’s no surprise that they all end up in the belly of the beast. This is the worst fish day ever.

Favorite part: It’s not a joke, but there is a dinosaur that appears twice in this picture who I think earns the title of my favorite. He is easily identified by his buck teeth that makes him look like horse. His very appearance makes me smile.

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.)

 

Hollywood Canine Canteen

“I’m a baaad bowwow.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Cal Dalton, Don Williams, and Richard Bickenbach; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on April 20, 1946.

TADA! Welcome to the new and improved Wackyland2! When I said I was cancelling the blog, I just meant that I was giving Squarespace the boot. That place sucked. Here is a lot more space for me to stretch my creative wings. It’s the same great taste, but with a whole new package! With still hundreds of shorts left to address, we’d better get started!

Dogs are some of the greatest animals on the planet! Hollywood seems to think so too. As all the biggest stars (at least of the 1940s) all seem to own one. What’s more, they look a lot like their owners too, making it easy to tell who is who. So what do these dogs do when their owners are out being caricatured in Warner Bros. cartoons? They decide to start a nightclub all their own! And everyone of the canine type is invited! Upon entering, patrons can drop their (fur) coats at the entrance. And one doesn’t need to worry about filling your belly: Dogwood himself is on hand making some tasty bone sandwiches, and cleanup is nothing to worry about. We’ve got Laurel and Hardy’s dogs on cleanup duty. (Our dishes wind up extra clean. Seeing as how Laurel’s pooch, keeps accidentally dropping what he just dried back into the sink.) A young dog tries to call home, but has to wait as there are quite a number ahead of him. Not to worry, there is plenty of entertainment to keep one occupied. Why not listen to Leopold Bowwosky conduct? His musicians are playing the Hungarian Dances. (Taking reading breaks when waiting for their part, and breaking violins when performing their part) But some aren’t taking things too seriously. Lou Costello’s dog can’t be bothered to stay with his instrument and will leave in the middle of a performance to get a drink. (And more amusing than that, acting like a jerk when people tell him to get back to work) He just might ruin the song too, as he’ll mistake any flies on his sheet music for actual notes. And our young friend is still waiting to call. But there’s only one ahead of him now! Some dog’s try to make connections. Bing Crosby’s dog is serenading the pet of Dorothy Lamour. But he can’t quite compete with Frank Sinatra’s dog. (Mostly because the latter’s singing is too irresistible for Bing’s pooch to try and top) With a fresh batch of music (and the occasional box of fleas) everyone is really getting into the dancing groove. Well, almost everyone. Our young friend is finally allowed to call home. Hope his voice is strong enough. Since dog’s can’t use telephones, he has to make do with a megaphone.

Meet John Doughboy

“Our Open Door Policy is responsible for the Draft”

Supervision by Robert Clampett; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Vive Risto; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on July 5, 1941.

Want to learn some military secrets? Secrets that are over seventy years old? Porky has got what you want to know! (Sadly, he disappears from the short after his introduction.) Well, what have we got? We see our factories that pour molten metal into tank shapes. (Without those pesky molds. Here in America, we just pour it out, and it takes the shape.) Planes are an essential part of are army. And they can do some pretty spectacular things. A spitfire plane can actually spit fire A couple of guys aren’t worried about being drafted. The bigger one tells the smaller one, that he especially doesn’t have to worry. He’s too short. Unfortunately for him, stilts WERE around by the forties. There are some pretty quick gags too. A machine gun nest is actually a nest for the gun, and we see some of The Draft Horses that actually were picked. (Seeing as they all came from South America, the general is probably just racist.) Considering their ethnicity, It’s no surprise they start a conga line. An anti-tank gun is being tested, but the idiots who are in charge are too busy having a cigarette measuring contest to fire the weapon. So, it’s a good thing that we have other tools to fight with. A land destroyer so fast, that all one can see is a blur. (Slow it down, and you’ll see it’s just Jack Benny and Rochester in their car. Whatever works.) Okay, so maybe we aren’t as prepared as we could be in the event of a war. At least, if all we want to do is fight back. We’ve got a lovely defense system. Should enemy planes ever fly by, Miss Liberty will give them a dose of pesticide. Takes care of those annoying pests.

The Weakly Reporter

“We love California”

 Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ben Washam; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released in 1944. Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ben Washam; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released in 1944.

With that said, who wants more topical humor from the forties? Hopefully, everyone did because that’s what you’re getting. While Wacky Blackout demonstrated how the country life reacts to the war, now we look at the urban side. (With bridging sequences done in a simple stick figure style, predating UPA by a good six years) With such a large war, automobiles are becoming more scarce. Those still around are frightened at the sight of  a horse-drawn cart. With such few cars, some people take to sharing a vehicle. Some go a “step” further and share shoes. Certain foods are really valuable and are delivered in an armored vehicle. (You laugh, but butter is precious to us Americans. It’s our favorite food!) Speaking of food, that’s a luxury now too. Lovely meat for sale. Only $1.19 for a sniff. (Smells like cow blood. So worth the investment) During these times, hoarders are looked upon with disdain. Unless you’re hoarding bonds. But in all seriousness, many men are now in service. What are the ladies doing? They’re still buying the latest styles. (That welder’s mask is you!) And girdles are now used to help win. The only downside is you can see the difference it makes without them. (Oh, you thought I was talking about a woman wearing it and not a man? That’s the short’s best joke) Ladies are now taking on more jobs. (And the men who are still around love to watch them.) But women fight in the war too. Putting lipstick over their gas masks, and training for fights by brawling over nylon. (How accurate.) Sexist jokes aside, they know what they are doing. When the factories stop, it’s a lady to the rescue! (The machine just needed her to insert a new bobby pin) Yes, we are doing a fine job of producing weapons really fast. So fast in fact, we can get a ship delivered before the champagne bottle finishes its swing.

So, unless you’re a WWII buff or Looney-tic, I wouldn’t reccomend this one. But if you’re reading this, I figure you’ve got to be one or the other.

Wacky Blackout

Okay! Lights out!

Supervision by Robert Clampett; Story by Warren Foster; Animtaion by Sid Sutherland; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released in 1942.

In today’s short we will see how animals react to the war. For example a farmer has trained his dog to put out fires. (He’s a Spitz) And milk is and essential part of a soldiers diet, so it is a good thing that this cow gives out 5,000 quarts a day. (or rather we take it from her.) Old Tom is a cat. He has lived through at least three wars so he knows that this one will turn out okay. And next to him is a woodpecker. He knows that it might result in bad things, but he can’t resist giving the cat a peck. Now, when it comes to American holidays, (by that I mean, ones we invented) my favorite is Thanksgiving. Luckily for me, a turkey is busily “gobbling” down food as fast as he can. Unluckily for me, once he learns of my dinner plans, he begins a weight loss program. Next, some turtle eggs are just about to hatch. (But first, that woodpecker pecks Tom again. Remember kids, never peck a pussy.) Yes, well, as I was saying, the eggs begin to hatch. The first two are normal enough, but the last one is convinced he is a jeep. A dog wants some attention from… well, technically speaking, a bitch. (Don’t look at me! That’s the correct term!) But the poor guy is shy. He has to resort to initiating his own blackouts in order to score some make outs. And speaking of blackouts, (wacky and non-wacky) the fireflies are performing a practice one. A turtle that is much older than what we’ve seen thus far is hesitant to go into his shell. He’s afraid of the dark. (Because that’s when dogs get it on. What is wrong with me today?) A mother bird is trying to teach her chick to fly. Does that bird look familiar? It’s Tweety! Or at least a proto-Tweety. He’s got a different voice and a slightly different design, but this is the bird that would become the world’s favorite canary. What’s his gag? He doesn’t want to fly normally, he’d rather be a dive bomber. Speaking of birds, the swallows won’t be returning to Capistrano anytime soon. They are blocked by the fourth interceptor command. But some birds are more loved during the war time. Pigeons for example. One pair in particular produced many offspring during the last war. And though they are quite a bit older this time, they are still as patriotic as a “Draft Horse” (And as for that woodpecker? He pecked Old Tom one time too many and is no longer with us. But he still  is with Tom for at least… 24 hours? How long does it take for a cat to digest a bird?)

Rookie Revue

I’m a baaad general.

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Dave Monahan; Animation by Richard Bickenback; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released in 1941.

For today, we’re going to see how the army lives, so get ready for army related gags! The soldiers snore “You’re in the army now,” but it is time to get up. The guy who is supposed to do that, has a jukebox play it for him. The soldiers fall in. (One of whom looks an awful lot like Elmer.) Of course, being woken up so early, the troops are still asleep even as they march in step. They do perk up once they are supposed to sound off. Mess call is their favorite thing to hear. The infantry eats very sloppily, until they notice they are on camera, they then remember their manners. (They are caricatures of Tex Avery, and executives Henry Binder and Ray Katz.) The machine gunners shovel food into their mouths at high speed, bombers toss food into their mouths, and the suicide squad eat with huge frowns. (If i had to watch that movie, I would frown too.) The calvary’s horses march in step, and the camouflage experts are near invisible. (I can see their guns) Speaking of guns, the soldiers used to be trained by pretending a plank of wood was gun. It was a simpler time. So simple in fact, paratroopers didn’t even get parachutes, and had to settle for a label that said “parachute.” (It’s one of the few times I’m happy with how huge the human population is. We would lose so many soldiers that way) Test pilots amuse themselves, by playing tic-tac-toe with their planes. But the general has no time for such tomfoolery. He is very busy planning coordinates for some gunners to follow. He takes his time calculating before is is ready for them to fire. They do and we find out exactly where those coordinates are: his headquarters. D’oh!    

I’ve Got to Sing a Torch Song

One, two, one two. Breathe Deeply!

 Supervision by Tom Palmer; Animation by Jack King; Music by Bernard Brown and Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released in 1933
Supervision by Tom Palmer; Animation by Jack King; Music by Bernard Brown and Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released in 1933

Once upon a time, there was an invention called the radio. It was THE form of entertainment back in the day. In fact, entire families would do their aerobics in front of it. While others got their exercise in more creative ways like tightening their wife’s girdles or rocking their children to sleep. But there was more than just exercise programs on the radio. Here, many singers who are legends today, got their starts on the radio. Like Cros Bingsby who would sing in the tub to the delight of women everywhere. (This was how many people “viewed” porn before the internet) And the radio wasn’t only popular in America. Wherever there were people, there were radios. In Shanghai, the police listened to it to be aware of any crimes being committed. (And tying it into a knot if it disturbed their naps) Cannibals would tune in to listen to recipes about how to prepare Marx Bros. soup. And even up in the frozen north, the Inuits listen to it while they fished. If they caught a whale by accident, their radio could become lodged in the creature’s blowhole. (They didn’t seem to mind though) The radio was so popular that people would rather listen to it, than watch scantily clad women dance in front of them. The title of this post was the name of a song that was sung by many female celebrities at the time, like Greta Garbo and Mae West. Even Lady Liberty couldn’t help but join in. Finally, the time was even told by a man who looked an awful lot like Ed Wynn. (But I guess this was when he was much younger as he doesn’t even SOUND like Ed Wynn.) Or maybe it could be his father? The entire family looks exactly the same.