The Cat’s Bah

“We can spend the rest of our lives makking lo-ove!”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ken Harris, Ben Washam, Abe Levitow, Richard Thompson, and Lloyd Vaughan; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Voice Characterization Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on March 20, 1954.

Pepe is in a good mood today, for we are here to interview him about the love of his life. (Well, I am anyway. You’re kinda useless. Feel free to watch.) Pepe is also quite the gracious host. Offering me a glass of champagne, and calling me “Golden Girl.” (Would that I could be that attractive.) Now that we are all quite comfortable, he begins his tale.

It began a while ago. Pepe was living in what I assume to be Algeria. Even better, living right next to his namesake, Pepe Le Moko. His main goal is to find his soulmate, but he’ll settle for any attractive female. And wouldn’t you know it? An American tourist has just arrived, and like most tourists, brought her pet cat along for the trip. Said cat is Penelope, yes, but it’s not just me calling her that today! It really is her name! She doesn’t have to join the club of Jones’ characters who were given names years later!

What did you say, earthling?
*snarls*
No one will talk about you when you’re gone.

I hate it when my idols want to kill me.

Today is also paint the ship day, (which is every September 19.) and Penelope gets a good coating of white down her back. Her owner takes no notice of the new look, but Pepe does. (Love his face.) He decides to liberate the lady and that’s a good marriage proposal around here. She’d be crazy not to love him now. Even better? Pepe doesn’t appear to have any stench in this picture. No odor lines appear, no humans freak out at the sight of him. Heck, he managed to get an in-person interview!

Which, if this is indeed the story of how Pepe met his love, its odd to see the first female he’s encountered run away from him. I thought love always happens at first sight to both parties. Oh well, Pepe can chase. He finds it a turn on. Penelope chooses a rather ingenious hiding place: one empty jar among many. I mean, okay, its rather obvious to hide in one, but the odds of being found on the fist try?

Pepe finds her on the first try, and the chase continues all around the casbah. (Bah!) He finds her on the second hump of a camel who is really enjoying his cud today. Hey! Did you know that camels with two humps, known as Bactrian camels, aren’t native to this part of the world? Because I don’t think Chuck and his team did. Actually, no, I think they did. I think they just figured audiences back then would be too thick to know it. At least the camel doesn’t mind. (“If you’re a camel, you soon learn to put up with anything.”)

Pepe is everywhere, pretending to be anything and anyone. From a snake, to Rick Blaine. (Gets a quick case of Yellow Ear, though.) But even though she was shy, it seems that she eventually overcame that trait, as now she and Pepe are truly inseparable. Ball n’ chains will have that effect on people. She furiously files away, and I feel like I should leave the two alone. I don’t like to get involved in marital disputes. Interview over!

Favorite Part: Before the interview, Pepe asks us to let him slip into something more comfortable. There’s nothing to stop us from viewing him anyway, but he takes it well. “Intimate, no?”

Personal Rating: I’d love to give this a 4, but that ending combined with the fact that you can’t argue that Pepe’s actions are only not wanted because of his smell? I’ve a feeling that it will wad up the panties of sensitive types. I have to give it a 3.

Mouse-placed Kitten

“Happy birthday, Junior.”

Directed by Robert McKimson. Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, Tom Ray, and George Granpre; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on January 24, 1959.

As a man drives his car, he throws out something in a sack. Judging by the sounds coming from within, I’d wager that it’s a kitten. And it’s a wonder that it survives to the bottom of the hill, as it looks like that trip hurts. The small creature comes to a halt at the home of two mice, Clyde and Matilda. Matilda is instantly smitten. A child is something she’s always wanted. So what if he’s on the big side? Just more of him to love, right?

Clyde isn’t taken right away. As he points out, this baby is a cat. One of him and his wife’s natural predators. In other words, the kitten is absolutely, positively, not going to be their child. Which is story-talk for “the very next scene contradicts that statement.” Looks like the kitten is a member of the family after all. But he can only stay so long before contrasting diets make things difficult. The kitten just doesn’t like cheese.

Matilda concedes that her husband is right. (Something most husbands can only dream about.) Junior would be better off being raised by humans. I mean, he’s well past weaned. Clyde takes him to be left on a different doorstop, telling him about how much better his life is going to be. None of that “We never really loved you.” B.S. Quite the contrary, as it seems Clyde has grown to love the kid, and tearfully bids him farewell. Since they didn’t leave Junior at MY house, the kitten is subsequently adopted by the lady therein. (So what if his nose disappears for a second.)

A year goes by. The mice are still alive, and figure that the day the kid is left on your doorstop is as good as any other day to call their birthday. Time for visit. Junior has grown up by this point. And it looks like he’s matured into quite the mouser, as when Julie (the name I’ve decided to give his owner) catches sight of the rodents, he jumps right into action. He grabs the mice, gives them a good sniff… and instantly recognizes them as his parents. It’s really a sweet scene. (Yes, I’m being sincere.)

Julie isn’t happy to find the cat not evicting them. And oddly enough, once Junior puts them in his mouth, she tells him to take them outside. (Your pet too good to eat mice? Or is there a strict “No blood on the linoleum” rule in effect?) Matilda figures that with the reception they’ve gotten from 50% of the household, it’s best that they leave already. Junior won’t hear of it. And I like that. One shouldn’t have to be ashamed of their folks. (Although, I think the other way around is totally fair.)

He invites the two to partake in some snacks. He grabs the most exotic cheeses from the fridge, when Julie catches him in the act. Birthday or not, she’s not going to allow him to touch the food she buys. Clyde is not one to be deterred. He wants that cheese. (I like this guy.) He uses a jug of cider as a boost, but accidentally falls inside it. It’s the hard stuff, and Clyde is thoroughly plastered.

Junior now has to keep his dad safe from the various dangers of the house. (Namely Julie.) The more his mistress catches him messing with various things, the more cross she gets. Culminating with her deciding to kick him out should he bother her one more time. Lucky thing, Clyde’s back to normal by now, and the two decide it’s time for them to go. Junior still feels no ill will towards them, and earnestly hopes for them to visit again.

Back at their place, Matilda is overjoyed to find another kit has been abandoned at their door. (That sounded a lot more sweet in my head.) But it’s not a feline this time. It’s a skunk. Interesting that NOW is when Clyde decides to clothespin up his nasal passage. I mean, skunks only spray when scared, whereas a cat has an unpleasant stench that will follow him beyond death. (THAT sounded a lot more cruel in my head.)

Favorite Part: When Junior sees his parents again in months. Mainly because, when I first saw this short back in the day, I really thought he was going to have forgotten them, and the rest of the picture was going to either be the two trying to escape, or trying to remind him of who they were. It was a heartfelt swerve.

Personal Rating: 4. It’s a sweet story. And I love how Junior knows he’s adopted, and it doesn’t diminish his love at all. Sometimes, your real parents are the ones who don’t throw you out of a moving vehicle.

Buddy’s Bug Hunt

“You’ll get yours today!”

Supervision by Jack King; Animation by Bob McKimson and Paul Smith; Music by Norman Spencer. A Looney Tune released on June 22, 1935.

Despite what the title says, we see Buddy chasing a butterfly. Which may be an insect, but is not a true bug. But fine. For today I’ll do like the common man do, and use “bug” as a catch all term for insects. (Makes me feel dirty.) Anyway, Buddy really wants this butterfly. I don’t know, maybe he’ll get a golden net if he catches it.

Rookie mistake on the butterfly’s part! In its attempt to escape, it flew right into the very place the bravest arthropods hesitate to enter: Buddy’s Bug Hun- House. Buddy gets his prize and adds it to his already extensive collection. (Buddy also sounds like a little kid in this short. A fact that makes his action’s a bit more innocent.) Along came a spider, that Buddy does spy, he grabs hold of the arachnid, it’s going to die.

Wait…. arachnids aren’t bugs either! They’re not even insects! Cheat number two for you, Buddy m’lad. But yeah, he has every intention of killing this animal. How else would a “bug” collector collect? ( Considering this spider has six legs, it’s clearly some undiscovered species. Or maybe it’s a beetle using mimicry to avoid predators?) Buddy glues the poor thing down to keep it still, and readies the ether. Yes, he has ether.

And he’s not too careful with the stuff, ether. It starts affecting Buddy, making him woozy, and dizzy and apt to getting knocked out. And down he goes. During this time, the spider has managed to get itself free and sees the threat is no more. In fact, the threat looks like it could be at its prisoner’s mercy. No time wasted, the spider sets about freeing the other animals Buddy has imprisoned. Including a…frog. Strike three! That’s not even an invertebrate!

Buddy learns how Gulliver felt, when he wakes up to find himself ensnared in a spider’s web. They could just eat him, he’d probably be enough of a feast for seven generations of spiders, but spiders don’t kill for revenge. They’re going to put Buddy on trial first. Just got to bring him down to their size. They force feed him some reducing pills, and Buddy the terror has become Buddy the peanut. (What really makes this terrifying is the glee on the animal’s faces. No malicious smiles here; it’s pure cheer.)

And so Buddy is put on trial for his animal cruelty. Previous offenses include: ripping off a grasshopper’s leg, killing a butterfly’s parents, and making a widow out of…I guess another spider? She has even less legs than the others and has antennae to boot! But what else could they use for a black widow joke? Scarlett Johansson wouldn’t even be a sperm for another forty-nine years.

Buddy’s found guilty and is sentenced to what passes as the electric chair at this scale: a cigarette lighter. (Ironically, this is exactly how the majority of people who know about Buddy, wanted to see him go.) But it was all a dream of course, and the pain on Buddy’s backside is due to sunlight shining through a magnifying glass. Naturally, Buddy sets everyone free. Just in time, as the clubhouse collapses. (Which is the second most wanted way of Buddy’s demise.)

Favorite Part: How the judge reacts to the butterfly’s testimony. His “Ooh, is that so?” Just sounds so sarcastic. “Really? That’s really the extent of your misery? That other guy lost a freakin’ leg! It’s never going to grow back! And you have no parents? You, a butterfly, an animal whose parents never even witness their eggs hatch, blames this monster for your lack of a mom and dad? Well, I guess we have to give him the chair now!” (That’s all subtext, you understand.)

Personal Rating: If you’re like me and love the kind of stories where someone gets put in the place of some animal they’re harming in some way, then I think it’s 3 worthy. Otherwise, it’s stuck at 2.

Porky’s Last Stand

“Don’t get me sore!”

Supervision by Robert Clampett; Animation by I. Ellis; Story by Warren Foster; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on January 6, 1940.

That’s the name of the lunch wagon Porky runs. Daffy works there too, but he’s got those rings around his eyes again. When he loses those, then we can talk about privileges. In the meantime, it’s opening time. Time to cook food, and wash dishes. Because there are customers, and they are hungry. One of these types is placing his order to Daffy. He wants “a good hamburger, and he wants it bad!” I know how to make those!

The secret is to step ON the ingredients.

Of course, to make a good hamburger that’s bad, you kinda, sorta, need some ground beef. And Daffy’s stock has been gobbled up by mice.

Porky, meanwhile, has a customer of his own to take care of. This one wants coffee and eggs. The first part of that order is no problem. And the second part should be easy too. Porky grabs a couple of eggs, (Tiny, aren’t they? Was there a quail under that chicken?) and sets to frying. But since we clearly saw a rooster at the beginning of this picture, it’s not too surprising to find that one of the eggs was fertile.

What a way to begin one’s life! Not only do his feet hurt, but he clips behind the frying egg! Whoops. Better get rid of that thing before Leon sees it. Next shot: no egg! And you don’t need to worry about the chick either. He heads back to his mother, and the “Do Not Disturb” sign he puts up should keep similar mishaps from happening. Now, how is Daffy doing with that g.h.t.b. order?

Well, there is certainly no more beef in the wagon. but there is a calf outside! Veal makes tasty burgers, right? (I’m legitimately asking. I’m curious enough to ask, but not enough to look it up myself.) Well, natural selection dictates that the customer is always right. Daffy picks up a mallet and follows the young ungulate (or “youngulate.” Feel free to spread that around.) Back to the barn. Fade to… I don’t know, half a second later, and Daffy tries pulling out his future sandwich. (So, did he actually try using that mallet at all?)

Seems like a bit of a mix-up occurred, as Daffy has grabbed a full grown bull. (Unless that fade was actually suggesting two years, and Daffy was just waiting to get the most of his meat. A brilliant theory! I’m a genius.) I also like how Daffy uses the old “It’ll hurt me more than you line.” Because, I think he really means it. Business is business, and sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to for our employers’/customers’ benefit. (Like how I want to punch certain people, but instead pretend to be interested in what they say.)

The bull gives chase, but Daffy makes it back to the wagon, shutting the door as well. (Well built, too. I was sure that bull would have torn through it like damp tissue.) His frantic ramblings lead Porky to believe there’s a salesman of some sort at the door. (Great shot of the bull charging towards him.) Porky slams it just in time, so the bull has no choice but to get a running start and ram with all he’s got. The cart is quite sturdy too, as it barely moves as the bull tears right through it. Like… some sort of… wet… Kleenex?

Porky has to run, now that he’s outside his sanctuary with an angry porterhouse on his tail. Daffy manages to get its attention with a cape, and the bovine changes course.  Daffy bolts at the last moment, Porky (who got behind the cape somehow) digs. (And breaks his neck if you look closely enough.) And the bull ends up crashing into the wagon. It finally goes down. (I guess that was the last stand’s last stand.)

Not to worry though, the chickens all survived. And they decide to celebrate by becoming a carousel. A wagon wheel as the base, the hens as the mounts, and the chicks as riders. The bull’s nose ring plays the part of the ring you try to grab. (Do those still exist? I’ve only ever seen them in cartoons.) Maybe the bull is still alive after all. I mean, only a living animal could regenerate rings at such a rate.

Favorite Part: Daffy coming to the rescue. Porky didn’t even call for any assistance. So that means Daffy truly cares!

Personal Rating: 3 Well done action, medium rare jokes.

Who Scent You?

“Wait a just minute!”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Richard Thompson, Ken Harris, Ben Washam, and Keith Darling; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on April 23, 1960.

Before I begin with that:

I have seen the face of God.

And now for today’s regularly featured proram.

Summer is that magical time of year where weather is nice, so people take advantage of the blissful warmth by traveling. Penelope may be a pussycat, but she has yearns to see the world via cruise ship. (Cats love the ocean. Every time I’ve ever thrown one in, I never saw it leave.) The guy who takes the tickets is French, so he greets people in the traditional french way: guys get it on the cheek, girls get it on the lips.

Since Penelope is a pussycat, and doesn’t have a ticket, she is not allowed on board. She is left behind with the transparent luggage. (Sure, it sounds cool now, but it gets embarrassing once you realize people can see all the condoms and tanning oil you have in there.) Still, a cruise is one of those once in a lifetime things for most, and she won’t be deterred. All she has to do is slip under the fence. Sure, it’s got a bit of wet, white paint on it, but it’s a pretty small obstacle all things considered.

Success. Using her amazing claws, she grabs a hold of a rope and goes along for the ride. But wouldn’t you know it, France is the homeland of Pepe Le Pew! He waves the ship off, but notices something dangling from a rope. It’s black, and white, and female all over. Sounds like a skunk to him. And he’s not about to let a little water and his lack of swimming get in the way. As for his object of desire, she clambers onto the deck.

Now, you and I know that Penelope is a pussycat, but with that white paint on her back, she looks an awful lot like a skunk. So much so, that every human on the boat would rather abandon ship than face it head on. (The sharks love it when this happens.) As for Penelope she has found herself in the arms of one very smitten skunk. A wet one, so the stench must be worse than usual. She bolts, but Pepe takes his time before pursuit. He’s got to dry off first. (Shame. I think his hair looks good that way.)

A trip to the salon is just the ticket. (Pepe looks kinda cute all fluffed up. Why is that not a plush toy?) Once back to his normal self, he resumes his chase. The ole “chaser is always where chasee” is hiding routine. It’s pretty basic stuff, even for this formula. Looks like Penelope has changed her mind about her cruise today, so she opts for the lifeboat. Once safely onboard, she watches the troublesome ocean liner head for over the horizon. This is the moment when Pepe reveals that they’re all in the same boat. It’s a little story I’m calling: “Life of cry.”

Favorite Part: The ad for the ship Penelope reads at the beginning. It’s the “Fun?” that makes me chuckle.

Rating: 2. It starts with some good jokes, but things get kinda boring once the two animals make it on to the ship. Perhaps the formula was finally getting stale.

I think I’ll take the next week off. No real reason, I just need to take a look at myself. Reexamine my life. Ask if I’m happy. I don’t plan on quitting yet. If I was, I’d tell whoever actually reads this. Expect me on the 18th. I’ll tell you what I thought of the latest “Space Jam.”

Dr. Jerkyl’s Hide

“LET ME OUT OF ‘ERE!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Arthur Davis, Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on May 8, 1954.

Hey, it’s Spike and Chester! Haven’t spoke about either of them since 2014. Oh, wait. I won’t be mentioning Spike after all. His name is Alf now. Because it’s a more appropriate name for a cockney dog, don’t you know? Oh, yes. The two have some nice thick accents this time around. Makes sense. This short’s source material does take place in London.

“Alf” and Chester, (making their final appearances) are out having a jolly stroll. At least, that’s what “Alf” wants and Chester believes. See, Chester looks up to “Alf” as some sort of hero. He’s bigger, meaner, and has people clothes. The kind of dog we’d all like to be. But “Alf” is also a bit of a bully. Smacking the little guy around, demanding he leave, and turning down his suggestions of fun. Chester then plays his trump card. Maybe “Alf” would like to beat up a cat?

That’s the ticket. “Alf” is always up for a good feline thrashing, and the two give chase to Sylvester. Poor cat takes refuge in a building that belongs to a Mr. Hyde and a Dr. Jerkyl. (And I’m sure at least one of you was planning to tell me I made a typo in the title.) Breathless, due to all the exercise, Sylvester is more than happy to take a swig of what he believes to be soda. (Honestly, can YOU name another liquid with carbonation? Because I can’t. Please help.) But that wasn’t pop.

This stuff, whatever this stuff is, is designed to turn the drinker into a much meaner, much tougher, much scarier version of thyself. So Sylvester grows a couple feet, his eyeteeth grow out, and he gets a murderous look in his eyes. It is then that “Alf” comes in for a pummel. He leaves, white as a ghost. (I like how his shirt changed color, but his hat didn’t.) That stuff only lasts so long though, and Sylvester is back to his normal self when Chester takes a peek at this “scary monster.”

Well, that don’t make any sense to the spaniel. I mean, the cat is actually quite small. Chester could pound him, himself. And logic dictates that if a small dog could do it, a big dog could do it, but easier. Chester drags “Alf” back in, just as they witness their prey escape into another room. Yeah, he looks timid, terrified, and totally weak. “Alf” regains his confidence, and follows after him. (Chester doesn’t follow, for the sake of the joke.)

“Alf” corners the cat in a box, where we see the formula kicks in sporadically. Now powered up again, Sylvester gleefully plots out how we will carve the dog. “Alf” returns to Chester, but falls to pieces. (Probably a good contender for the most violent massacre in all Looney Tunes, and there’s not one drop of blood.) The power wears off again before Sylvester can take on Chester, and the dog proves good of his claim to beat the cat. Now more convinced than ever, he traps “Alf” in the building for his own good.

Sylvester takes this time to flee. (I really can’t tell if he is aware of his transformation or not. Maybe if I read the original “Jeckyll” story, I’d know.) “Alf” sees this and also sees an opportunity to seize. He uses the beakers around him to simulate a fight that he is winning. But one of the beakers he throws was full of more formula, and the stuff lands on a housefly. (And I guess it drinks it. Unless the stuff can be taken topically.) It does its thing, and the fly’s size increases, as does its temper.

Now, the insect is only roughly the size of a hummingbird, but insects ARE immensely strong for their size, and it has no trouble roughing “Alf” up and throwing him out. “Alf” begs for Chester’s protection before the two witness the fly slamming the door in their faces. A big fly, yes, but a fly nonetheless. And thus, the last amount of respect Chester might have had for the big dog is dead. As such, the roles reverse: Chester wears the hat in this relationship now, and he slaps the now hero-worshippy “Alf” around.

Kind of a shame these two had such short careers, but seeing as how this is very similar to their earlier work, there probably just wasn’t enough material to make multiple cartoons.

Favorite Part: How Chester gets “Alf” back into the building: marching him in at gunpoint.

Personal Rating:3

Viva Buddy

“Zeppo!” “Harpo!” “Chico!” “Groucho!”

Supervision by Jack King; Animation by Frank Tipper and Ben Clopton; Music by Norman Spencer. A Looney Tune released on December 12, 1934.

Buddy sings as he walks. And he walks wherever he wants. In and out of doors, up steps, and onto railings. Of course, this doesn’t bother anyone since no one seems to be around. Nearly ever other in this cartoon is hanging out at the famed “Cantina El Moocher.” The best place for a nap. Not because any and all happenings there are boring, but rather, it’s just that were in Mexico, where everyone sleeps. Stereotyping is fun! (Although it really shouldn’t be. Ask someone to punish you if you continue to do so in spite of my warnings.)

Well, Buddy, you’ve still got a bit of time before Warners washes any traces of you they can find off the Earth, how will you entertain with a bunch of laze-abouts? Oh, you’ll just pop a coin in the piano player’s mouth and things will get jiving? Why didn’t I think  of that. Now that we’ve got some more music playing, we can hear our slightly offensive song. (Having never been to Mexico, I can only assume that they don’t add an “a” suffix to most of their words.)

And now the villain. Or at least some oafy thug who will cause trouble. Everyone knows him as Pancho, and they are wary of him too. It’s a good plan, as this guy fires his gun with reckless abandon. Sure, we don’t see anybody get hurt, but guns aren’t toys! He could put somebodies eyeteeth out. But all he winds up doing is shooting Buddy’s banana. That’s done it. If Buddy can’t enjoy his banana, then Pancho can! Buddy squeezes it in the big guy’s face, and as punishment, Buddy must now play the piano. (Poor guy.)

The music summons forth a dancer, who while not stated to be Cookie, will be treated as such. Pancho likes what he sees, and tries flirting, but she really isn’t interested. (Why aren’t the decent girls ever interested?) Pancho doesn’t care, and threatens to marry her tonight. Either the girl really IS Cookie, or it’s just the chivalrous thing to do, but Buddy uses a cello (maybe?) to shoot a fork at “That big bozo!” (Cookie lets you kiss her with that mouth?) Okay, Pancho vs. Buddy. While I think it’d make for a nice change a pace to got a different direction, my money is still on Buddy.

And my master gambling skills pay off once again. Shrugging off Pancho’s threat to “kill you to little pieces.”, he fires a candelabra (maybe?) which plugs up the scoundrels guns. Last option: the whip! Pancho gets Buddy (color changing string instrument!) leaving Buddy with little more than his puny fists to fight with. So Pancho starts swinging him around by his ankles. (I’m not worried. Be prepared to pony up.) Buddy grabs hold of a chandelier, and the both of them are soon spinning.

Once the chandelier has spun all it can, it spins the other way, throwing the two into a table. And what does Pancho have to say about all that? He was only kidding, of course! *eye-roll*

Favorite Part: During Buddy’s amble, he steps off a balcony and onto a stack of hats on a man’s head, stretching the top one over the rest. Buddy’s fixes things by giving the man a kick in the rear. Funny, because it’s such an un-Buddy thing to do.

Personal Score: 2. The stereotyping and weak ending keep it from scoring the coveted 3. This is still one of the better Buddy cartoons. You know, if you really need one.

 

The Lion’s Busy

“Now, let’s quit stalling, Mr. Lion.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Arthur Davis, Gerry Chiniquy, Ken Champin, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on February 18, 1950.

Today is a special day. A day that should be celebrated by everyone who was ever born. After all, if you ever HAVE been born, then you already owe a lot to this one person. This day is known as “Leo the lion’s tenth birthday.” Now, Leo, he’s just the greatest guy. One of those rare Irish lions. And being part of the noble Panthera genus, he’s got strength, speed, and 18 retractable claws that are willing to back up his claims of glory. Thus, all the animals have gathered. (Is it me, or is one of them Bugs?)

It wouldn’t be much of a birthday without gifts, (It’s the only thing that makes them tolerable, really.) and Leo gets one given to him by the buzzard. Oddly enough, the card mentions that he’s been waiting for this day for all of Leo’s ten years. Now, why would he do a thing like that? More importantly, what’s the gift? A book! (The best gift of all!) Leo didn’t even want a book, but he’s a good guy and the book is about lions, which just so happens to be Leo’s favorite animal! He reads. (And no. I don’t have any idea why one of the guests is a raccoon. I mean, a porcupine I could understand.)

The first page Leo opens to contains a very interesting fact about the lifespan of a lion. Namely, in the world of cartoons, they can expect to live to be ten years old. Wait… Uh, yeah. Leo is indeed ten years old. And that’s just what the buzzard wanted to hear. Beaky Buzzard. Making his first appearance without his creator, Bob Clampett, and now being voice by Mel after the untimely death of his original V.A., Kent Rogers. And has he gotten quite the personality overhall. A little like if Droopy became blood hungry.

Leo claims that he is fine. A picture of health. Why, he can even jig as well as he did as a cub. Beaky tosses a banana peel in his way, and the lion goes over a cliff. He’s upset that Beaky can’t be patient enough to wait for him to actually die. It is a little insensitive, but come on. It’s been ten years! Beaky probably won’t even last another two, and dead lion meat is right up there with Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas goose, and Arbor Day nuthatch as delicious dinners.

Leo fights back, but Beaky escapes up a tree. (Wings. Delicious and practical.) Leo needs that bird dead if he ever wants peace of mind, so he climbs up after him. Beaky oils the tree, and the lion goes down. He tries again with some pitons, but Beaky keeps out of reach by constantly adding more to the tree. Soon, Leo has reached the top. There’s no easy way down, unless you’re Beaky, because then you’d have wings. But he wants that lion down, and begins chopping away.

After the crash, Leo comes to, and finds Beaky roasting his tail as if it were made of sausages. He declares that Beaky is never, and I repeat, never going to get him. And to make sure of that, Leo boards a moon-bound rocket that is in the jungle. (Why the surprise? Where else would he find a rocket? Savannah are wildfires waiting to happen.) He makes it to the moon. (The poor Earth is gray in mourning its loss of Leo.) Oh, by the way, Beaky has been waiting for him. (If he can take on a freaking dragon, I don’t see why this would be any struggle.) Leo ducks into a cave, barricades the door, and wouldn’t you know it, Beaky can’t get in. Now, there’s just the matter of waiting.

And waiting. See, nobody can wait like a buzzard, and it only takes about 330 days for 11 months to go by. (Good thing lions eat rocks. Lions eat rocks, right? Right.) And Beaky is still waiting. So Leo is still waiting. And the years go by. Seven years of wasting what time he had in a moon cave. Now, Leo is a much older, much grayer, and much wiser lion. He has realized that he can’t hide from his problems, and gives Beaky permission to eat. Unfortunately, Beaky isn’t immune to the passage of time either, and he too is much older. So much so, that the only thing he can manage to eat anymore is marshmallows.

Favorite Part: Beaky playing shoe salesman. Having Leo try on one of those little paper things cartoon roast turkeys always wear on their tibiotarsus. Dark meat and dark humor.

Personal Rating: 3. A fun and interesting change to Beaky’s character. Too bad he’d only get one more cartoon after this one.

Ain’t that Ducky

“Thsome hunter.

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on May 19, 1945.

Daffy’s bubble bath is interrupted by sobbing. A duckling is very upset about something, and since he is carrying a bag with him, it wouldn’t be odd to assume that it is what is making the little guy bawl as much as he is. Daffy tries to be friendly, but this little guy wants no sympathy. He angrily yells for Daffy to keep away from him and his mystery parcel. Now I can understand not wanting to be bothered, but this kid is a little sh*t. I say we punt him into next month.

Well, my prayers are half answered: here comes a hunter that looks an awful lot like actor Victor Moore. In fact, he sounds an awful lot like his namesake. In fact, he actually IS voiced by that man. And boy does he grate my last nerve. (Such a whiny tone. Is he always like that?) Daffy tries to get the sobby one to come with him, but even that is more contact than the little prick wants, so Daffy hides himself and lets the duckling face whatever fate he gets. (Immature it may be, I’m calling the character, Dick.)

Vic is set to shoot Dick, but the bird’s tears and shouts manage to discourage him. And if a man won’t shoot something that nobody in the world will miss, then he’s no danger to anything else. Daffy emerges from his hiding bush, and tells the hunter to leave. However, since Daffy fits into Victor’s roasting pan, he is the new target. Daffy runs, with Victor in hot pursuit. Since his gun has so much recoil, Daffy is able to put some distance between the two.

Daffy hides in a barrel, but Dick also happens to be in there and is willing to sell Daffy out. So the chase continues with hunter and huntee on opposite sides of fence. (Daffy building more once they reach the end.) And there’s Dick again. Victor tries asking for the kid’s bag, but he doesn’t have any better luck than Daffy has. The two team up, and manage to get the freaking thing. Dick steals it back almost instantly, so I guess the truce is over. Victor chases Daffy again.

Daffy sets up a wooden decoy, which Victor runs right over. (Unintentionally.) He feels bad over supposedly killing the creature he was trying to kill. (It’s a trope I’ve always wondered about in cartoons like this.) Daffy doesn’t help matter much when he comes out in little boy disguise and starts crying over his father. (Now that I think about it, didn’t we all come from some wood? And now I’m done thinking about it.)

Victor is ready to pay for such a mistake, and even offers to raise Daffy as his own. It’s then that Dick returns and rips Daffy’s disguise off. Victor is upset, but not as much as Daffy is. He’s had it up to here with the pest, and tries to get his satchel once and for all. The duckling defends himself with a mallet, and sends Daffy down a cliff. Victor too. Daffy can’t believe Victor got the same treatment. But Victor DID get the bag, and the two eagerly open it up.

It’s contents do their magic, and Daffy and Victor come down with their own cases of depression. What could that bag contain? A piece of paper. And on that piece of paper? “The End.” (Considering Dick doesn’t appear in any other cartoons, I can see why he wouldn’t want his bag opened.)

Favorite Part: Daffy’s barrel isn’t there when he needs it. He complains about the lack of barrel, since the script clearly states there is supposed to be a barrel. It gets painted it once he threatens to tell J.L. Warner. Sure, it’s random, but it’s amusing. A good precursor to “Duck Amuck.”

Personal Rating: 2. Daffy’s co-stars bring this down a notch for me. If they don’t bother you, then it can probably manage a 3.

Porky’s Hare Hunt

“I’m just a trifle pixilated!”

Supervision by Ben Hardaway; Story by Howard Baldwin; Animation by Voleny White; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on April 30, 1938.

A herd of rabbits are enjoying themselves. Not in a carrot patch, but a corn field. Points for variety! I guess they’re quite content to stay there, because gunshots don’t deter their munching at all. It takes Proto-Bugs’ (making his debut,) warnings to get them to flee. And along comes Porky. I’m guessing that was his corn they were devouring. He’s got a gun ready to roll, and begins his hunt. A “Hare Hunt” if you will.

Even though P.B. ran off to the left, he’s right behind Porky when the pig enters the scene. Said pig is accompanied by his hunting dog, Zero. (Who would go hang out with Jack Skellington upon his death. Porky is immortal.) The hare distracts the dog with a decoy and makes Porky’s gun sneeze with pepper. The resulting bang demolishes Proto-Bugs’s hiding tree, so the hare has to use another trick to stay alive. Thus, the hare remover in his paw.

Chugging the bottle makes the lagomorph invisible and intangible, seeing as how Porky’s hand goes right through where the hare is standing. (Hare remover bottles don’t just float on their own, you know.) He reappears out of a hat, and plays bullfighter when Zero charges at him. This dog lacks depth perception, and completely misses the hare every time. When P.B. plays magician and makes the mutt disappear, it’s almost a mercy act. (He brings him back almost immediately, don’t fret.)

Another thing Proto-Bugs can do? He can fly. By spinning his ears in an impossible full circle, he is capable of flight. (Humans could do this too, in theory. But we’re committed to finding the easier way.) Porky figures that since the pest flew away, he and Zero are rid of him. Wishful thinking, and Proto-Bugs lets them know it. (Laughing like Disney’s Max Hare. It’s an homage! Not plagiarism!) So, they continue the chase. Porky manages to get the drop on his prey, and P.B. gives his sob story. Seems he’s mate material, as he has photo evidence of himself with a jill and many offspring. Porky couldn’t possibly shoot him now.

Wishful thinking! (And Porky let’s him know it.) He tries to fire, but his gun won’t comply. Maybe it’s jammed, maybe it’s marmaladed, maybe it’s just out of bullets. Whatever the case, Proto-Bugs destroys the weapon that is no longer a threat and flies off again. Without a more contemporary weapon, Porky has to make do with a rock. I love the little pose he has upon throwing. That sort of “C’mon. Make it. Make it.” pose people get when they throw things. I also love P.B.’s frustrated face he makes upon getting hit. That sort of “Are you f*cking kidding me?” face humans make when they lose at Mario Party.

The hare lands, but is still able to walk any possible injuries off. (After some fake death throes. Modern Bugs had to learn it from someone.) Porky has had enough, and when he chases his target to a hole, he tosses in some dynamite. So sure is he that this will work, that he doesn’t notice the explosive is thrown right back out at him. Luckily for Porky, he gets the best case scenario, and is simply laid up in bed with a broken leg.

He’s even got a visitor. Proto-Bugs? With flowers and everything! That’s so sweet! But before you think he’s too friendly, he proves how malicious he really is, by yanking on the rope holding Porky’s foot up, undoing any healing that might have taken place. (Might be a bit too dark an ending for some.)

Favorite Part: The hare asks if Porky even has a hunting license. When Porky proves he does, the hare rips it in half. “You haven’t got one now!”

Personal Rating: 3. It’s not bad, but anything it does, “Porky’s Duck Hunt” did better. That, and I could see some getting annoyed by Proto-Bugs.