Fresh Fish

Supervision by Fred Avery; Story by Jack Miller; Animation by Sid Sutherland; Music by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on November 4, 1939.

Well, the mice were a cute experiment, but let’s discuss more about what Avery really made a name for himself with: his blackout gag shorts. However, I’ll admit this isn’t one of his best ones. Simply because it’s full of fish puns. The same fish puns you’ve been hearing since you were in the womb. (Except maybe the one where a fish has five dollar bills for fins. It’s too old.) The fish comments made in Animal Crossing are fresher material! But maybe I’ve just heard them one time too many. You might not have. Yet.

We’re going on a glass bottomed boat ride and we’re all gonna like it! It is the best way to view the wonders of the water world, the scariest things to ever exist on Earth, the guys and gals with the gills, let’s hear it for the ichthyoids! While we enjoy the sights and tolerate the puns, the very one and the same Professor Mackerel Fishface will be manning a diving bell in search of a species that has yet to be captured by man, (and really, how else can we prove we’re the higher beings?) the Whimwam whistling shark. (Cephalosillyum wisling)

Under the sea, under the sea, there are sardines which aren’t a real species, listen to me! Really though; ‘sardine’ is a catch all term for small fish you can stick in a can. So while I understand the joke of the fish swimming in a packed together school, I can’t help but wonder if they’re actually anchovies or really herring. Then we get the expected “crab sounds like Ned Sparks” joke, a hermit crab that is very happy to be one, and a taxi crab. (Okay. That pun isn’t overdone. Yet.) And the animators try their darnedest to make a Katherine Hepburnesque sea star sexy. (Which is a very specific fetish, but to the one person into echinoderms, your life’s journey has concluded.)

Now, here’s a joke you’ve known about for about as long as ever: the electric eel that displays a neon sign. And the only reason I’m not bothering to mention that it shouldn’t be in saltwater is because the narrator himself calls it a visitor. I’m considering that a win. And then there’s the appearance of this thing:

A horrifying monstrosity of a being that must be living in constant agony. No doubt only wanting to see Mr. Ripley so it’s deformity can bring some goodness to the world. But our narrator wants nothing to do with it, and shoos it away. It will be known as a running joke. (Repeatus humorous).

There’s an octopus that has a mouth where its siphon should be and probably vice versa failing to catch a sun perch which means one of these animals is the very wrong habitat. (I’m guessing it’s the one with the spine.) And get this: a seahorse race. You get it? Cause land horses race so it’s a joke to suggest their aquatic (distant) cousins would do the same. I just wish someone would make a joke about how boring that would be. Slowest fish in the world folks. Oh yeah, I guess our monstrosity was female since it laid eggs at the narrator’s suggestion. I’m not sure how she did and I’m happy about that.

Want more fish puns? We’re swimming with them! (Nobody said I couldn’t get in on the act.) A “tiger” shark! A “hammer” head shark. A “shovelnose” shark! (Wait. That last one isn’t a shark.) At least the first two subvert our expectations with additional jokes; the tiger meows and the hammer is hitting himself. Okay, yeah. That’s funny. I need a gif of that. But wait… cartilaginous fish? Does that mean… Yes! That whistle! That’s the shark the professor was looking for! Good thing he came prepared with a net! He hauls the creature aboard his diving bell and is hoisted back aboard.

Too bad containing yourself in an enclosed space with a animal that can eat you means one of you has to die. Ah well. Sacrifices have to be made in the name of science. Let’s name an aquarium after Mr. Fishface to calm his wife down.

Favorite Part: A school of fish (sarcastic *ha*) is being taught how to get bait off hooks without, you know, getting drug to your demise. The teacher makes the mistake of showing what not to do, and the fry all cheer when they learn this means school is over for the day. (Funny because it’s true.)

Personal Rating: 2. It still looks wonderfully visually, but fish and fish puns both stink after three days.

Finally, I ask you to join me in raising a toast to “Coyote Vs Acme” a film I was really looking forward to viewing, but tragically died before it was even born. I try to adore Warner Bros. but its actions like this that make me think I should faun over different studios. It’s just one of those harsh lessons that never sinks in for me: just because you love something, doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to love you back.

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.

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.

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.

Africa Squeaks

“Now we’re looney-tuney!”

Supervision by Robert Clampett; Story by Dave Hoffman; Animation by John Carey; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on January 27, 1940.

Africa is a place I’d like to visit someday. (But not if I have to share a plane with other human beings. Guess I better start walking.) In the meantime, I think I’ll remember the tales Porky told me after HE went to that particular continent.

He was accompanied by a legion of politically incorrect guides as they traipsed through the various dark stages of Africa. (This time, Porky stops in the darkest part. He knows what he’ll find if he keeps going…) What he actually finds is none other than Spencer Tracy who is quite the method actor, as he came all the way out here to mistake Porky for Dr. Livingston. But he’s not the only one mistaken around here. Tell me Bob, why are you insulting every ostrich on the planet with one of those ‘hiding their head underground’ jokes? I’m not mad. I’m disappointed AND mad!

And then we see some lions who must think they’re hyenas with all the bones they’re devouring. (I pity their stomach lining.) And, wouldn’t you know it, the world’s first Aipom! (Okay, Bob. You and me? We are cool again.) At night, we get a joke that is funny because it’s true. Porky can’t sleep due to the “silence” of the jungle. And Tracy is still looking for the doctor. He’s gotten way off course, as he’s now looking in kangaroo pouches. (He covers good amounts of ground.)

The next day, one of the native’s lets Porky know of the strange white man that is in their village. The narrator can’t believe someone of that complexion would willingly want to stay here! I mean, it’s not like there’s any other humans around here. (Actually, with how they’re drawn, I’m not entirely sure the native’s are human. That’s the kind of hurtful caricatures you just have to expect in this era.) This must be the man Tracy is looking for, and Porky helps the two lost souls reunite at last. Dr. Livingston, we presume?

Not quite. It’s actually Cake Icer! (A brilliant pun on radio personality Kay Kyser.) He’s here to turn up the musical charms and the whole jungle gets jumping! This is great! Who knew Africa was lovely not just for its scenic vistas, but also auditory parties? I could get to like hanging around here, but sadly our time is up. As we leave, the whole continent waves goodbye. (Did you know Madagascar was a hand?)

Favorite Part: After some baby deer shoot down a… condor? (Bo-ob! We need to have another ta-alk!) They laugh in the same way the bird was when he thought they were his dinner. Cute.

Personal Rating: 2 (Lot of hurtful images here, and nothing really noteworthy to offset them.)

Circus Today

“It’s different from anything you’ve seen before, folks!”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Story by Jack Miller; Animation by Sid Sutherland; Musical Direction by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on June 22, 1940.

I’ve had a pretty tiring week. I need a short to blog about that won’t require much effort on my part. (It usually takes SO much out of me.) Let’s see… “Joe Glow the Firefly?” Nah. “Freddy the Freshman?” Nope. “Corn on the Cop?” Mmmmm… What do you mean the title of this post means I’ve already made my selection? What if I’ve changed my mind?

Time for some more of those Avery spot gags his unit did so well. Just… not here. I’m sorry, but this might just be the weakest one of these cartoons he directed. (At W.B. at least.) Weak jokes, references common folk won’t get, and a setting that tends to make people uncomfortable these days.

Welcome to Jingling Bros. circus! Where you’re sure to have a good time, even if our performers don’t. Why not remember your trip with a genuine helium balloon? Not only are they powerful enough to lift a man into the air, but they change color constantly! What do we put in these things! (We won’t tell. It might talk you out of a purchase.)

We’ve got plenty of sideshow acts as well. Gamer the glutton will eat anything you put in front of him; so what if it makes him all jangly inside? Hot Foot Hogan can walk across burning coals. Sure it causes him great pain, but he can do it! (Pay no attention to his disappearing act.) And Captain Clampett can be launched from a cannon, go on a round-world trip, and have the postage to prove it! (Any relation to A.C. Gamer, Rich Hogan and Bob Clampett will be lost on the casual viewer.)

What kind of circus would be complete without exotic animals being housed in cramped, unsanitary cages? There’s a repeat of the person feeding the animal when they really shouldn’t joke that was seen previously in both “A Day at the Zoo”, and “Cross Country Detours”. At least the punchline differs slightly with the monkey being a narc. There’s also a large gorilla being referred to as an assassin of the jungle, terrifying brute, and all around vicious beast. It might have been a punchline to see it be so gentle back then, but nowadays it’s like “no, crap.”

Inside the tent is where the REAL action is. The Flying Cadenzas are quite the amazing acrobats. Flying really is the perfect word to describe them. “Successful” and “Full set” are not. Then there’s Dixie Dare. A rather hot honey who attempts to grab a handkerchief off the ground with her teeth whilst horse riding. Maybe on the return trip, she can attempt to grab her teeth. Another performer, Madame Trixie, prefers to dance with her horse. He leads. (Is she supposed to look like Freddie Bartholomew?)

Elephants. A majestic animal that has been forced into this humiliating line of work ever since circuses took off. The trick is have a trainer who acts like one of their own. Hence, Ignatz Ignatzavich as part of their parade, a tail in his mouth. Still, the creatures have large developed brains, and just can’t bring to complete a trick that requires them to put all their bulk on his fragile, soft head. Instead, watch our performer who will do one of those death dives from an ungodly height, to a bucket of water. And I do mean “death”, quite literally. You’ve haven’t truly experienced our circus until you’ve heard our band play “Taps”.

Favorite Part: Lion tamer Clyde Binder (who you’re probably not recognizing as a nod to studio executive Henry Binder) has just put his head in a lion’s mouth and lived to show it. Seeing how much applause this gets, has the lion putting his head into the human’s mouth. (His envy is cute.)

Personal Rating: 2. I could see people laughing and enjoying this. But if you’re no stranger to Avery’s works, I can’t imagine you’ll think this is anywhere near his best.

Land of the Midnight Fun

“Many of the passengers made the entire trip by rail.”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Story by Melvin Millar; Animation by Charles McKimson; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on September 23, 1939.

Before we begin, I must insist you watch this if you haven’t done so already:

Now that you’re properly hyped, (and if you aren’t, then you aren’t living properly. Try again.) we can move on to today’s feature.

Time for a ocean voyage up north. As a cold loather, I can’t fathom why anyone would want to subject themselves to such an excursion, but I might as well follow and see if we can scrounge up a few good jokes. Considering Avery thought bringing back the “fairy boat” joke was a good idea, I’m apprehensive. (And I don’t buy the narrator’s claim of this being “educational.” That penguin on the title card already disproves that theory.)

Actually, maybe Tex is already proving me wrong. For when we take a peek under the Atlantic waters, we see an abundance of sea life, that is drawn fairly realistically! A battery of barracuda, a pair of swordfish, a float of tuna! Oh, and a can of salmon. There’s even life above the waves; witness the castaway on a raft. The boat tries throwing him a line, but he throws it back. Seeing as how he has a woman on board, he’s fine thanks. (That situation actually sounds like a decent basis for a novel. DIBS!)

When the ship arrives at Nome, (parallel parking, no less) we get to see some “Eskimo humor.” The caricatures are a bit outdated, and the lifestyle seems to be composed of outdated stereotypes, but don’t worry. None of them are gutbustingly hilarious, so you don’t have to feel guilty. There’s one native sitting in cramped igloo, a woman putting lipstick on her nose, (yeah, okay. She’s kind of cute.) and a telephone pole for the dogsleds.

So, if that’s what the humans are doing, what are the animals up to? Chicken’s lay eggs encased in ice, a timber wolf constantly yelling his namesake, and a…. penguin.

There’s a penguin in Alaska.

The clearly North American Alaska.

Come on, Fred! You’re insulting my zoology cred! And to go even further, you state that the birds live entirely on fish! No, I don’t care if science hadn’t dis-proven these claims in the 30’s. By that logic, I should be okay with every racist caricature that gets shown on the screen. Happily for me, the last fish on the penguin’s menu turns the tables and eats it. Thus leading me to believe that it was just an invasive species that got nipped in the bud. Thank goodness.

Before the tour ends, we take a peek at the nearby night club. There’s no hurry, as the nights are a good six months up here. We get some nice rotoscoped skating, courtesy of one of the natives. But the tour has to end sometime, so we head back down to New York. (Wait, did we really sail over the Arctic circle to get here? Eat it, Nautilus!) However, due to heavy fogs, the boat somehow ends up on top of the Trylon. (We’re kings of the world!)

Favorite Part: That wolf. Not only is he being voice by Avery, doing that infectious laugh I know and love so well, but he even takes the time to comment on how silly the gag is. (Darn it, Tex. I can’t stay mad at you.)

Personal Rating: 3

Believe it or Else

“I don’t believe it!”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Story by Dave Monahan; Animation by Virgil Ross; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on June 25, 1939.

You ever hear of “Ripley’s Believe it or not”? It’s a bit obscure. Newspaper comics, books, museums, and more: all to inform you of things you might just claim as false. I mean, a little boy named Chalres Schulz getting a drawing published? Preposterous. I’m sure he never went anywhere, did anything, knew anyone.

So yeah, obscure it may be, it was still worth a parody in a Warner Bros. picture. Brought to us by the master of gags: Tex Avery. Imagination is limitless, so we’re guaranteed a good time! Egghead is also here, but he’s going to play the role of doubting thomas. (Which isn’t fun to be. Be warned, children.)

What sort of oddities, strangeities, and weirdities could we possibly be shown? Example: a man has been drinking fifty quarts of milk a day for two years. Would you believe that all those calories didn’t kill him? It just makes him unleash a good lowing. (Which is odd. Cows give milk, they don’t drink it. Would eating enough apples make you act like a tree?) There’s a snake charmer, (Whose hood looks more like a shell than anything. Cute gag though.) and a man who builds ships in bottles. (You might not be impressed, but I am. I couldn’t even fit my head in one.)

A man calls pigs from several states away, (you don’t believe that most of our states are just misshapen blobs? We said “Believe or else!”) another hasn’t left his room in years. (Jails frown on that, you know.) There’s even a human basketball! (I’m not jealous. You’re jealous.) Keeping in “Ripley’s” style, there’s even some demonstrations on brain tricks you can play with your friends. (If I had friends, you know I’d give it a try.)

Take a look through the telescope. There’s life on Mars you know. (Warner cartoons with martians? No!) Well, it’s really just “Buck Dodgers.” (What a bad pun. Why isn’t he named “Duck?”) And he’s an over the top gay stereotype. The third I’ve seen this year. Okay, there’s life on Mars. Is there any on the Moon? Nope, and we’ll check to prove it- Hey! There’s men on the moon! Men who sing! I wouldn’t have thought that possible, what with the lack of an atmosphere and all, but I guess I’m just wrong about everything.

With what we’ve seen, is there any reason to return to Earth and see what wonders are still there? I’d say so. There’s a wishing well that responds to the wishes made. It doesn’t grant them. Technology isn’t there yet. There’s even a device that allows us to hear the ants talk. (Must be a newly discovered species, as our narrator identifies it as a male, but I see no wings.) Last up, we’re going to see the classic trick: sawing a person in half. Egghead still doubts, despite all he’s experienced, and offers himself as a test subject.

Believe it or Not! (By Dr. Foolio)

Today, a one Egghead Penner found out that the human body can survive in two halves! His head and torso stayed in one location, but his waist and legs walked off by themselves!

This drawing of a nose was submitted by Bradley Daniels, of Annapolis, Maryland.

TRY THIS TRICK!

Draw a square. Cut the square in half. Magically, you now have two rectangles! Amaze your friends!

 

Favorite Part: Seeing the berth of a baby, for the first time on screen. (It’s much more funny when you hear it spoken, as opposed to reading it.)

Personal Rating: 3

 

Injun Trouble

“Groovy, man.”

Directed by Bob McKimson; Story by Cal Howard. Animation: Ted Bonnicksen, Jim Davis, LaVerne Harding, and Ed Solomon; Backgrounds by Bob McIntosh; Layouts by Bob Givens, and Jaime Diaz; Film Editors: Hal Geer and Don Douglas; Voice Characterization by Larry Storch; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Merrie Melody released on September 20, 1969.

Well girls and boys, hamsters and tuna, this is it. The last cartoon from Warners during their golden age. In fact, it’s so recent that my father was already alive for about two months when it debuted, and my mother was only four days away from leaving the womb. We’ve truly come to an end of an era. (Though, since I review these in random order, we’re still far from done.)

Plot? Not really. It’s the final cartoon, they can skimp on the plot this time. Instead, we’re given a bunch of gags that mainly relate to Native Americans. You might be wary, but these are some decent quality jokes. Reminds me an awful lot of what you’d see during the heyday of “The Muppet Show.” (Let us have that, Disney+) These are tied together with the continuing adventures of Cool Cat, driving his dune buggy.

The natives don’t take too kindly to big cats in these parts, and one tries to chase him down. Cool Cat drives as fast as he can, and the bridge he crosses does him a solid, by falling away when the man and horse try to cross. The man falls rather quickly, leaving the horse clutching the cliff face, calling for help. (He sounds an awful lot like Quick Draw McGraw. Guy had to find some way to make ends meet after people realized he and El Kabong were one and the same.)

Cool Cat answers his call to give him a hand. (He applauds.) Good strength in that cat, as he manages to heave the horse back to safety. (To show he’s a good sport, he also throws a rope at the man.) C.C. wouldn’t mind continuing to hang with his new equine pal, but his car is rolling away. The horse helps him catch up by giving him a good kick. Maybe the others natives will act a bit more kindly to their guest? Well, one of them does try to stick Cool Cat with a portly dame. How… generous? (I’m not really sure what his motivations were.)

The gags continue. One native puts a bucket on his head to be a “pail face.” A rather fetching one asks the tiger if he wants to “Indian wrestle.” He happily/hornily agrees, then finds his opponent was the muscly man behind the rock. A third channels Groucho. Seem like friendly folks. Still, they clearly want Cool Cat to leave, seeing as they have smoke signals stating “Cool Cat go home.” (When’d they even learn his name?)

Wish granted. He exits their territory and enters the town of “Hot Foot.” Interesting place, this. The horses play human shoes, and the horse doctor, as his name implies, treats humans. Cool Cat sees a building that sounds like his kind of place: a topless bar. All right! Let’s see some knockers! Aw crap. The bartender is a guy. (I’m not sexist, just straight.) Cool Cat has a drink when someone else enters the bar. He looks familiar. But, it couldn’t be!

The two start up a game of cards. (Love C.C.’s poker face.) The tiger proudly shows his four aces. Seeing as how the other guy has a gun with his cards, he has the better hand. Yeah, this doesn’t look like a good place for Cool Cat to hang, after all. So, time for one of the most creative endings I’ve ever seen to a cartoon. Cool Cat declares that he is “cutting out” and, grabbing some scissors, actually cuts himself out of the animation cel. (That IS cool. I guess you have to admit the guy lives up to his name now)

Still, we can’t end Looney Tunes without one last quote, and I feel that Cool Cat chooses some pretty awesome closing words. “So cool it now, ya hear?” Reading too deep I may be, but I see it as a way of saying “We’ve been at this since 1930. We’re ready to stop. Disney and MGM have already pulled out of the business, and frankly, we don’t mind letting Walter Lantz have it all to himself. Enjoy our reruns, we have plenty of them.” And so, like the best westerns (not the motels) Looney Tunes rode off into the sunset. Shane! Shane! Well done, Shane!

Favorite Part: It was actually hard to choose. (I really did enjoy the jokes.) I choose the smile the horse gives when he boots his rider off the cliff. Clearly, this has been a fantasy of his for some time.

Personal Rating: I really, REALLY, want to give this a three, but the racial stereotyping and common sense tell me that I can’t. I’ll have to give it a 2. If you aren’t bothered by a little teasing of the Red Man, you might agree with a 3.

Dog Tales

“Now, here’s a Newfoundland. With his grandfather, an Oldfoundland.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by George Grandpre, Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, and Tom Ray; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas. Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterizations by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on July 26, 1958.

I’ve said it several times before, dogs are amazing animals that deserve all the adulation they get and more. (Lots more.) And I’ll continue to say that. (With the loss of a Grandfather in my imminent future, my dog is likely the only thing that will keep me going.) With that said, I can’t really fault McKimson for releasing a gag-centric short full of reused and obvious canine jokes, but as late as 1958? Was there any demand?

Not only are the jokes pretty tired, but we aren’t even given a lot of original dogs to carry the gags. This does lead to a fun game of “Which Looney Tune did I hear that one in?” (Not now, not ever with a home edition.) Not only that, but the animators even sneak in half the cast from Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp!” Lady, Jock, Peg, Boris, Pedro, Bull, and Dachsie all appear to illustrate a small sampling of the various “flavors” the wonderful animals can come in. (All with a slight paint job, so Disney’s lawyers don’t get too upset.)

Those gags? They’re the kind of ones you’d see in a Kindergarten level joke book. The Chihuahua shivers because he really IS cold. The French Poodle is a canine Casanova. (Mel uses his Speedy and Pepe voices for them, respectively.) A Pinscher pinches Private Doberman. (A “Sergeant Bilko” reference? That’ll hold up great in reruns!) Heck, Charlie Dog makes a cameo even! (Sadly, doing a near word for word repeat of his “50% various breeds” bit from “Often an Orphan.”)

I won’t lie, I do get a sick sense of pleasure seeing a boy drop a cat into a dog show. (Leading to ANOTHER cameo. This time of the large mass of hounds who chased Bugs in “Foxy by Proxy.”) And before any of you say it, that child looks NOTHING like me. (I don’t wear hats.) So, how should we end a mediocre short full of mediocre table scraps that even your loyal dog would feel insulted to be offered? Another obvious joke! How about the one about the dog who travels across the entire United States, not to reunite with his family (that live several time zones away for what reason, I’m not sure, exactly) but to get a bone buried under a tree? (It’s a classic.)

Favorite Part: The narrator unable to tell if the dog on screen is a “setter pointing,” or a “Pointer sitting.” Ultimately showing a “Pointsettia” instead. (I honestly can’t say I’ve heard that one before.)

Personal Rating: 2 (I’d give it a one if humanity didn’t love dogs so much. So I think every Homo sapiens on the planet will agree with my rating.)