Road to Andaly

“You crazy sthtupid bird!”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Co-Director: Hawley Pratt; Story gy John Dunn; Animation by Norm McCabe, Don Williams, and Bob Matz; Assistant Layout: Homer Jones; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Lee Gunther; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on December 26, 1964.

It’s a well known rule of the universe: Sylvester can’t catch Speedy. He certainly does try, but the mouse is too fast, and his “Yee-Haw”‘s are liable to send one over a cliff. Still, there’s gotta be some way, right? Otherwise, Sylvester is going to lose all respect for himself. Oh, what to do, oh, what to do?

Luckily, it’s not too weird if Sylvester just walks into a pet shop with intent to purchase one of the animals within. (Now that I think about it, is there any rule that says pets can’t own pets?) Sylvester opts for a falcon. (Because this pet shop has those. They’re kept right between the okapi’s and the tuataras.) The bird’s name is Malcom. This should definitely tip the scales, as the peregrine falcon is the world’s fastest animal. (Although, looking at his plumage I’d say that Malcom is really a merlin.)

Sylvester sics the raptor on the rodent, and Malcom does seem to have an easier time keeping pace with Speedy. However, he is currently keeping a rather tight grip on Sylvester, and the putty tat gets dragged into a cactus. New rule! When Sylvester says “Let Go!” Malcom should do just that. He’s a quick learner too, as the next chase goes very similar to the first, and just like it, Sylvester demands to be let go. (Once he realizes how high they really are, he asks to be caught. Too bad Malcom hasn’t learned that command yet.)

As Sylvester whispers to Malcom, Speedy, naturally wants to know what its all about. Sylvester won’t share, so Speedy tries to play it cool by saying he has his own secret. Better than theirs, and he keeps it under his sombrero. He asks the two to not peek while he naps. Sylvester is angry at the suggestion He would never go over there, peek under the hat, and learn what is under it. That’s why he has a falcon to get it for him. (He’s also abashed at how dumb Speedy was to trust him with his hat.) The secret: a firecracker.

Malcom is ready to call it quits as any non-anthropomorphic predator would. Sylvester can’t let him do that. It’s an insult to his species. Surely the next chase will be a success! Actually, Speedy has a trick ready. Pouring salt on the bird’s tail feathers. As the legend typically goes, this should immobilize the bird. Malcom looks scared, but Sylvester pours some of the seasoning on his own tail to prove the claim as false. (Although, as  mammal, it should have no effect anyway. Would this trick work on any and all birds? From choughs to tinamous? Science should look into this.)

According to Speedy, as soon as they wiggle their rear ends, their tails will fall off. They give it a try, and it works! They are officially tailless! (From Malcom, this is really just an embarrassing inconvenience. Sylvester just lost a limb.) The two have no choice, but to head back to town for glue. As for Speedy? He really should have kept that salt in a safer location. It pours on his tail, works his magic, and he has no choice but to follow his pursuers back to town.

Favorite Part: The ending. It’s refreshing to see Speedy fall victim to his own scheme for once.

Personal Rating: 2

 

Nelly’s Folly

“The world’s fist singin’ gyraffe!”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Co-Directors: Maurice Noble and Abe Levitow; Story by Dave Detiege and Chuck Jones; Animation by Richard Thompson, Ben Washam, Tom Ray, and Ken Harris; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc, Gloria Wood; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on December 30, 1961.

This tale begins in Africa. Precisely, in one of its jungles. Mistake number 1: there’s a lion. Mistake number 2: there’s a warthog. Mistake number 3: there’s our titular star, Nelly. She’s a giraffe. Now that we’ve got the mistakes named, let’s move on to the rest, because it really is sensational.

Nelly isn’t like your normal giraffes. Chewing cud, and splaying her forelegs out to drink. Well, okay. She probably does those things too, but she has a more unusual talent too: singing! Yes, she can sing! In fact, she attracts quite a crowd from the other animals. They love her voice. And because she has the longest neck in the animal kingdom, her voice can carry for miles around and attract all kinds of public. Including a human. It looks like he came here to hunt, but a member of the Artiodactyla Order that is capable of producing music? That’s even more valuable than some taxidermy trophy!

He offers to help her get discovered. I guess he is a talent scout on the side, because he already has a contract on him. (Even more incredible: Nelly knows how to sign it!) It is with tears in her eyes that she leaves the continent she has known all her life, but she has a gift, and must share it with the world. (Hey, why is a tiger seeing her off?) Next stop: New York City! Her first role: a commercial jingle for some cure-all tonic that probably does jack all. You may think she got scammed, but this is pretty accurate. Even for a giraffe. You have to start at the bottom, gain some notoriety, and then you move on to the big stuff.

It pays off. Her commercial gig leads to lead roles in musicals. Then comes the merchandise. Clothing inspired by her, and albums. Lots of albums. Soon, she is attracting bigger crowds than ever before. (Usually consisting of background of people, with images of clapping hands pasted over it. Stylistic.) She has fame, good looks, and is known the world over! (Probably.) Why is she so unhappy? Well, I’m no giraffe psychiatrist, (at least, not anymore) but I’d wager that these people may love the idea of her, but they don’t love “HER her.” Life is lonely. (That I can attest to.) She can’t enjoy success without someone to share it. (Agents don’t count.)

As she mopes, she finds herself in the zoo. And just look at that fetching bull giraffe! She may have just laid eyes on him, but she knows what she likes. Wait, he’s already in a relationship? That’s a bit of a turn-off, but loneliness is powerful. (Again, I know this well.) She begins to see him, but does this ever cause problems. Of course it makes headlines! The biggest, tallest star getting involved in such a scandal? The public won’t hear of it! It’s well documented that they will accept anything starlets do, except infidelity. In fact, at her next performance, she finds an empty house. Everyone has abandoned her. Her fans, her agent, could her boyfriend be next?

Yep. Now that she’s lost her notoriety, he wants nothing to do with her. (Luckily for him, his original cow easily forgives. I guess if he can be so shallow, so can his mate.) Here’s where the cartoon gets dark. As the narrator explains, “those who remember Nelly, like to think she went back to Africa.” Notice that? They like to THINK that. Seeing how its being said as she lingers on a bridge, could it be that Nelly actually jumped? (No wonder this cartoon was an Academy nominee. I mean, I guess Maurice Noble’s brilliant backgrounds played a part in that. And there’s no shame to losing to “Ersatz” That film deserved to win.)

Even if it never really happened, we see how things would turn out if Nelly did return home. She’d be sad, but at least surrounded by her old friends. They too feel bad for her, because they are true friends. But wait! Another giraffe! Another male giraffe! Another SINGING giraffe! But the absolute best part? He looks faithful. The other animals feel the love in the air, so I’d wager he’s for real. (I love the warthog taking an aside glance to realize he is hugging his predators. He probably has just realized that they have no intention of letting go.) I hope this is the canon ending. It’s a great reward for Nelly, the world’s only singing giraffe. (As far as humanity knows.)

P.S. There’s no “That’s all Folks!” end card. That doesn’t happen often.

Favorite Part: The reveal of Nelly’s true love. You’ll first think it’s just another shot of her, since only the legs are shown. But then his baritone joins her song, the color comes back to her life, and everything looks like it will be all right after all.

Personal Rating: 4

 

Daffy Dilly

“Sthufferin’ sthuccotash, what am I waiting for!”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ben Washam, Lloyd Vaughan, Ken Harris, and Phil Monroe; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Peter Alvarado; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on October 21, 1948.

It sucks to be a novelty salesman. Despite having all manner of wondrous ways to chase away doldrums, nobody bats an eye at your wares. They never do. They never will. Yet, Daffy continues to try and peddle the wares he was given to peddle. Squirting flowers, joke books, rib ticklers, and chicken inspector pins. (Hey. Those are guaranteed to attract the ladies. Not like rubber chickens. I’m speaking from experience.)

It’s getting so the only way one can make an honest living is to save a millionaire’s life. But what are the odds- it’s then that Daffy hears a very interesting new bulletin. Seems there is a very rich type, a millio-somehting or other, who isn’t doing so well these days. Like every rich person ever born, ever going to be born, he is joyless. In fact, he hasn’t laughed in fifty years. He’d give a million bucks for just one laugh. (Wow. What are the odds?) Daffy has heard all he needs, so he sets off for this J.P. Cubish’s mansion.

Daffy makes it to the premises, but that was the easy part. He’s now gotta get past… the butler. Actually, that might not be too hard, as after a sampling of Daffy’s merchandise, he admits the duck permission to see his master. Or not. The door he has Daffy enter leads right back outside. Daffy tries alternate entrance methods. (A grappling hook. A rope swing. The ole chimney entrance.) Each ones fails. (Catches the butler’s teeth. The butler cuts it. The ole fake chimney gag.)

He may be a tough nut to crack, but every butler has a weakness. This one’s is alcohol. Upon finding what appears to be a package of champagne on the steps, he sneakily plans to chug it all. He doesn’t notice that the bottle was Daffy until the duck is already in the house. A chase ensues, and when it looks like Daffy is caught, he changes tactics. Playing like Bogart, he begins asking some pretty good questions. Why would the butler try and get rid of someone who wants to save his master’s life?

Maybe the butler is just get flustered because of the angry duck accusing him of devious, dastardly doings, but really, why? I think Daffy is on to something. If Cubish never recovers- Heck, if nobody even makes an attempt to cheer him up, why wouldn’t he leave all his money to his manservant? Maybe the butler has done all this before? There’s nobody else trying to make money off of the millionaire in this picture. Maybe they already met their match? With no other competition, it’s just a matter of waiting until the butler will be well off enough to hide out in Cancun for the rest of his days. (Besides, he doesn’t have an answer for where he was on April 16. That’s not a random date. That’s my birthday. You’re always forgetting my birthday.)

The mind games work, and Daffy even offers the butler a head start on his fleeing. Once he’s gone, Daffy enters J.P.’s room. Yep, the old guy don’t look too well. Looks like Daffy will have to use every joke, gag, and novelty in his repertoire if he wants to make this guy laugh. However, as I’m sure we all feel, the simplest things are the funniest, and that may be why J.P. laughs when Daffy trips into the dessert tray. No, laughing is putting it mildly. He chortles. He chuckles. He guffaws. He bellows. He giggles. He. Is! CURED!

In fact, it seems like he enjoys laughter so much, that he has Daffy stand still and be pelted with pastries all day long. I hope Daffy is well paid for sacrificing his dignity like that. Sometimes, the smile of the elderly isn’t reward enough.

Favorite Part: Daffy’s arrival at the mansion. After asking to be let in, the butler responds with a deadpan: “Begone.” (Note to self. Start saying that in the exact same way.)

Personal Rating: 3

The Mice Will Play

“You’re correct. Absolutely correct.”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Story by Jack Miller; Animation by Sid Sutherland; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on December 31, 1938.

There was a brief period during the ’30’s, where the renowned Tex Avery directed a trio of cartoons starring cute, widdle mice. What’s odd and noteworthy is the fact that these cartoons are, dare I say it, a tad Disney-esque. It may sound un-Avery, but he still manages to stick in a good number of amusing gags. This picture was the last of the three.

We open in the medical lab of Dr. I.M. Nutts. Nobody is around, so a bunch of mice decide they might as well do whatever they please with this equipment. It would be very dangerous in the wrong hands, but they have paws. So we’re good. We’re good. Really, what harm can happen when looking through a microscope? It just allows you to see a football game between red and white corpuscles, clucking chicken pox, and whooping, coughing, whooping cough.

Other mice listen to a heartbeat with a stethoscope. If you know as much about mice as I do, then you know that that heartbeat is just too slow. Taking a heart pill helps bring things up to speed, and irritate some eardrums in the process. Still, for as much fun as these guys are having, Susie mouse in the next room, isn’t. She begs and pleads for someone to help her escape from her cage. Seeing as the label on it lists her as a test subject, she has every right to do this.

But that can wait until the climax. What other gags are there? An x-ray that reveals mice are nothing but cheese and a clockwork brain. (Better than most people I know.) One mouse deciding to chug down some liquid neon. (Not what I’d consider the brightest idea, but he ends up glowing, so I guess I can’t talk.) And three mice taking things a bit too far with a syringe, seeing as they are aiming for one of their companion’s rumps. (Actually, maybe they hate this guy. I can’t fault them for that.) Regardless, he’s saved by an audience member.

Okay, climax time. Susie happens to have a piece of paper, and sends a rescue request. Her message can turn into an airplane, and that’s how she send it out. It is found by a mouse named Johnny, who immediately rushes to her aid. It may be sudden, but her x-ray doesn’t lie, she loves her savior, and the two immediately wed. (Exchanging vows with woodwind instruments. Strange, but I suppose I shouldn’t question mouse customs.)

By the way, a cat has been skulking throughout the cartoon, taking his time on getting ready for a feast. (I like that his whiskers form the stereotypical bad guy mustache.) When he finally arrives, he happens to overhear Susie comment that with this marriage done, it seems that there will be plenty of fat, little mice in the future. (Odd way to describe your offspring. But again, mice live differently than you or I. I’m sure Walt said the same thing about Mickey.) With this theory made, the cat decides his meal can wait awhile. (20 days, I’d wager. Might want to grab a snack.)

Favorite Part: Johnny asks Susie why she is acting so weird. She tells him she loves him, and not only is he pleased, but he points out that she should’ve just said so. On behalf of every socially awkward male, Thank you! If only female humans acted this way. I could save myself a good amount of embarrassment.

Personal Rating: 3

Bonanza Bunny

“This gon’ be fun, you bet!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Tom Ray, George Granpre, Ted Bonnicksen, and Warren Batchelder; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on September 5, 1959.

You’ve no doubt heard of the Klondike Gold Rush. That time when a good number of folks headed up to Alaska for the sake of a “get rich easy scheme.” (Humans. Always looking for an alternative to the hard way.) Such commotions, its no wonder boom towns are springing up. Such as Dawson City. It will be our setting for today’s picture. It’s a tough looking place. It’s got at least three saloons!

It was in saloon number three, the Malibu Saloon, where our story takes place. Everybody is minding their own business, when a stranger walked in. Well, a stranger to everyone but us. We know him as Bugs Bunny. He’s got little caps on both of his ears! That’s precious! He came round these parts because he heard talk of karats. Sadly for him, all he managed to find was a bunch of rocks. Sorta yellow in color. Odd. And yet, everyone seems interested. Still, Bugs plans to keep them as souvenirs. He’ll only part with the one the bartender is using as payment.

Enter our villain. A French-Canadian Yosemite Sam named, Blaque Jacque Shellaque. (And if you think that’s a rather low blow on my part, he eventually was revealed to be Sam’s cousin on “The Looney Tunes Show.”) I guess McKimson wanted his own character to take Bugs in a saloon setting. Still, he was clearly also inspired by Nasty Canasta, revealing himself nearly shot for shot the same as in “Drip-along Daffy.” He wants Bugs’ bag but is willing to gamble for it.

It will be settled via a game of 21. Bugs is willing to stop at one card, much to Blaque’s amusement. He seems pretty happy with the two cards he drew, both tens. As you’d expect, Bugs wins because he happened to draw the 21 of hearts. (The card box threatens to fade out of existence, but gives up because hardly anyone is noticing.) Jaque isn’t happy to lose and refuses to accept his defeat. Besides, those guns of his say he doesn’t have to take this sort of abuse. Bugs isn’t scared. In fact, he claims another guy in the next room, who is much more tougher. (A gag you may recall him using in “Hare Trigger.”) Said “man” is Bugs, and though he might wield a pop gun, it’s enough to get the job done.

Bugs is able to get rid of Shellaque, by handing him a bag of gunpowder instead. So happy is the canuck, that he fails to notice Bugs making an incision on the bag. Nor does he notice the trail of the stuff following him as he takes his ill gotten gains off to the distance. So, naturally, he also doesn’t notice that Bugs lit the trail. The explosion truly rivals the Aurora Borealis. Bugs can now happily enjoy his rocks. And I’m not just being coy. This whole time, they really were just rocks Bugs painted, . (Hey. A guy’s gotta pay for his drinks, somehow.)

Favorite Part: During our tour of the town, we see the “Rigor Mortis Saloon.” (Come in and get stiff? Seems a bit too personal for my taste.) In case that place isn’t for us, a sign also directs us to the “Band-Ade Saloon.” (Come in & get plastered? That’s more like it!) Two bad puns in the span of one minute. We are spoiled.

Personal Rating: 2 (Too many reused gags. If you haven’t seen as many cartoons as me, you might think this picture is worth a 3)

Touché and Go

“Personally, I prefer girls.”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Richard Thompson, Ken Harris, and Abe Levitow; Layouts by Maurice Noble. Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on October 12, 1957.

Being the guy who paints a stripe down the middle of the road isn’t the best job to have. Then again, any job can be pleasant if you are allowed to sing. It really is a beautiful day. The sky is blue, the sun shines, and dogs chase cats. In particular, one cat we like to call Penelope is in the middle of one such chase. Being the smaller of the two creatures, she is able to slip under the painting device with only a stripe down her back. The dog crashes into the man, and he angrily kicks the dog repeatedly. Finally free of trouble, the cat goes down to the beach. (A cat heading towards a large mass of sand? I guess she almost got the sh*t scared out of her.)

So, where’s Pepe? We all know he’s coming. The French title, his name in the credits, the painted cat. Nearly all the ingredients are here. Pepe is on a boat. When the sailor sees exactly what is on the rope he is pulling, he runs off in fright, leading Pepe to land in the water. Good thing he can see out of his tail, as he is aware of the female on the beach, and rushes to her side. She doesn’t like that. In fact, she tries to escape. Pepe pretends he doesn’t want her for all of about 24 seconds before he chases her down once more.

You wouldn’t want to hang out on this beach. The sand leads straight to a cliff. (Which in turn leads to the water. A literal high dive.) Pepe was too caught up in his chase to notice the lack of land, and he falls over the side. If Penelope plays her cards right, she could potentially be rid of him early for this picture. So where does she hide? At the base of the cliff. (It’s not her brains Pepe admires.) He finds her, looking quite pale, so he rushes off to get her a glass of water. She’s gone by the time he gets back, so he just empties it on the rocks. Never touches the stuff. (Pepe is not a carbon based life form. Confirmed.)

Seems Penelope is desperate enough to hide underwater. She has the foresight to hook up an oxygen tank, but Pepe has no need for such things. As a skunk, he can hold his breath for a long time. (That raises questions. Is he aware of his odor? Is he proud of it? I suppose it is a better weapon than most, as people will flee, even if you miss.) The lack of air may not be a problem for him, but the ocean is full of predators. Including the dreaded Saber-toothed Tiger shark. A beast I always thought only lived in Ralph Phillips imagination. Is Pepe also part of Ralph’s fantasies? Could I be as well?

Ever the gentleman Pepe sticks his love in a clam. (Aww! Even if he rushes into relationships, he really is a sweet guy.)The shark chows down, but regrets his action almost immediately. Considering how powerful his sense of smell is, I’m not surprised to see the poor fish opt to take his chances on land. In the commotion, Pepe loses Penelope and he heads back toward shore looking for her. That was just what she wanted, and she heads in the opposite direction. Seems she’ll have to rapidly evolve into a saltwater catfish if she hopes to survive.

Fine. She could also head for the nearest island. (Why won’t anybody ever give my science fiction a chance?) She comes ashore, and yes, Pepe is already waiting for her. The locals call this place heart island. That doesn’t mean any romance is going to entail, the place is just shaped like the card suit. (It’s the world’s most over hyped honeymoon location.)

Favorite Part: The fact that the shark doesn’t fear Pepe at first. And why would it? Has any shark ever in the history of Earth, ever encountered a skunk? It’s a subtle touch, but it’s there.

Personal Rating: 3

Dog Tired

“He’s killing me!”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Animation by Phil Monroe; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on April 25, 1942.

I’ll only say this one more time: The brown dog is going to be named “Charles” and the white one will be “Joe.” Next time, I’ll just drop the names I’ve given without any reminder. Remember this well!

The last short of their careers and where are the curious puppies two? Digging a hole of course. All of a sudden, a motorcycle appears out of nowhere and scares them away from their work. I can relate. Motorcycles are on my list of things I can’t stand, but for some reason, I seem to be the only person who does. (If you’re really curious, here’s an abridged version of that list: youtubers bringing their boyfriends/girlfriends into their videos, youtubers letting their cats in their videos, and Squirrel Girl.)

They flee into the nearest place: the local zoo. A strange zoo, where only half the animals are in any sort of enclosure. Sure, it sounds like half the animals have it good, but it’s just going to spell trouble for everyone, guests and exhibits alike. Charles enters by leaping the wall, and lands in a kangaroo’s pouch. Mr. Jones does what might be his first joke with fake Latin and labels the marsupial as “Leapadopterus Rex” (Which almost translates to butterfly/moth king, but not quite.)

Joe, meanwhile got in by squeezing under the front gate. The first animals he comes across are a pair of lovebirds. They begin to get on my nerves, with the male endlessly babbling on about how much he loves his mate. It makes one want to vomit out your duodenum while simultaneously rolling your eyes. But then, the male turns it all around by insulting the dog, and demanding the two get some privacy. (Finally! Someone who recognizes that certain things should only happen between only two! Birds are smarter than humans, confirmed.) Joe meekly leaves, in the process, he trips up a stork who is trying to balance on one leg. (That will be one of our running gags for the evening.)

Charles, meanwhile, is going for a rather bumpy ride. When the kangaroo stops for a flower break, he makes a break of his own. Unfortunately for him, he continues to hop, right into a pipe, doling out some rather amusing pain. Oh, I don’t mean I find dog abuse funny! But the local hyena does. (He laughs to hide his insecurities.) Back to Joe. He sees a bone that is just to his liking. It’s in a lion’s cage, but his moment comes when Charles comes into the big cat’s view. It roars and sends the canine straight up a tree, much to the hyena’s continued delight.

Charles barks at the giggling feliform, but this alerts him to the tree’s other occupant: a monkey. He just stares. That’s all he does. The situation is awkward enough, that Charles tries to leave of his own accord. He lands on the back of a passing porcupine, and slides right back up. The monkey continues to stare. (I always wondered what my spirit monkey looked like. A lifetime quest: completed.) Joe, meanwhile has indeed gotten the lion’s bone and heads off to bury his ill gotten gains. He buries it atop of the creature who was already using the hole: an… ostrich…

Okay. Tirade time. Let’s get this said: OSTRICHES DON’T DO THIS! You might be saying, “Of course they don’t. It’s animation.” Yes, but the fact that it is depicted at all means people believe there’s some modicum of truth there! It’s insulting to these majestic birds! Sure, they aren’t the smartest animals on the planet, but no creature is dumb enough to think that hiding your head is enough to keep you safe. Ostriches are fast, powerful, and possess excellent eyesight! If there’s a blackface of the animal kingdom, then this is it. I’m sorry I had to be the one to label it as such.

The ostrich runs off with the bone, but trips and it lands on a turtle’s back. Joe leaps upon the reptile and the resulting wrestling match has the dog with the shell, and the turtle with the bone. (Naturally, the hyena is beside himself with laughter.) As Charles is still up the tree, the monkey finally gets rid of him by shouting. (A howler monkey is my spirit monkey? The quest shall continue, methinks. That doesn’t correlate to me at all.) Charles dives back into the kangaroo’s pouch. Now, BACK to Joe, (I’m starting to get dizzy) he tackles the turtle, causing the bone to end up in the hippopotamus’s enclosure. (What luck. It’s asleep.)

Joe rushes in, but accidentally ends up going through the hippo’s yawning mouth. Judging by all the splashes, it sounds very wet inside the big animal. (As it should be. If humans are 60% water, I don’t see why a much larger animal would be any less if not equal.) Joe escapes, and likewise, Charles once more exits the marsupial. His leap has him landing in a pelican’s bill. (That hyena can’t recall a time he’s had more fun.) I think it’s time to tie everything all up.

Joe builds up some speed, and runs back to the bone. The hippo yawns again, and the little dog ends up launching off the inclined mouth and crashing past other animals he’s inconvenienced today, like the aforementioned lion and stork. (And you wonder why zoo animals dislike pets so much) His rolling continues and he ends up dislodging his companion from the pelican, and I guess they continue to roll all around the zoo’s perimeter, as they end up back in the kangaroo pouch. Somehow, the hyena is in there as well, still laughing away.

Favorite Part: That monkey. His silent, unwavering stare. It’s so awkward, you can’t help but laugh. (Unless you’re the hyena. For some reason, the monkey’s subtle humor just doesn’t reach that guy.)

Personal Rating: 3

Bars and Stripes Forever

“Why don’t somebody do something? Do something! Say, that’s a good idea! Maybe I can do something. Sure!”

Supervision by Ben Hardaway and Cal Dalton; Story by Jack Miller; Animation by Rod Scribner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on April 8, 1939.

Welcome to Alcarazz prison! Thought there was no such thing as a “bad” dog? Well, I still say there isn’t, but this short is full of canines who are incarcerated for some reason or another. (Maybe this is just a pound, and this is all seen from a pup’s point of view?)

We don’t have any named characters, or at least, not yet. Our large thug of the picture shall now go by: Julius. Which naturally leaves the small comic relief as: Ben. Don’t be fooled. Ben may look innocent enough, with his tiny frame, oversized clothes and squeak of a voice. But he’s in here for a reason. He snapped Dinky Doodle’s neck! (Mostly because he was the only person small enough.) These two have a bit of a running gag: Julius does something to rile up the guard, and Ben takes the punishment, all the time, every time.

We’ve also got a warden who doesn’t factor much into the picture, but he is a caricature of Hugh Herbert. So, he has that going for him. I like him. (He’s silly.) He seems really into his job. Happily waking up the inmates, and believing their blatant lies about who dug the holes in their cells. (Mice, my tail. Rats, maybe. Groundhogs? Possibly. Capybaras? By all means!… I’m rambling again, aren’t I?) There’s even a joke about one prisoner begging not to be taken to a chair, despite being told it’ll be over very soon. (Turns out, it was a barber chair. But admit it, you didn’t know that right away.)

Still, nice as it may be inside, a prison is a prison. Julius wants out. (His crime was a lot less impressive. He just shot Scrappy in the arm.)

(Admit it. You’d do the same)

He plans a riot for 2 ‘o clock. Good thing the dogs are allowed at least two guns per person in here. They let loose at the allotted hour, and Julius uses it as a cover to make a break for it. He’s almost immediately caught. What else can he do, but sing? It actually does work! I mean, the guards don’t put up much of an effort to stop him, and they get locked up to boot, but Julius is able to wish the warden farewell to his face. (Note to self: a song can get me out of work. Acapulco, here I come!)

Scratch those plans. It works for less than a minute before Warden Paws realizes the severity of the situation. His boys set off to bring the rascal back, and they manage to do it too! All too soon, Julius is back in the can, but now with much more security to keep him inside. Still bitter, he clubs the passing guard over the head. Ben is cleaning outside the cell, and he knows that he’s going to get the punishment yet again. If that’s the way it must be, he does it his way, and punishes himself. (With behavior like that, he’ll make parole in no time!)

Favorite Part: Warden Paws. He could make Death Row jolly! (And he probably does!)

Personal Rating: 3

Greetings Bait

“Don’t be so reluctant, Dragon!”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Manuel Perez; Musical Direction by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on May 15, 1943.

Fishing. A nice way to sleep and use the lack of fish biting as an excuse. Unless of course, you’re one of a rare few who actually LIKES wrenching a cold, slippery, wide-eyed, innocent animal from its natural habitat and either eating it, or mounting it on a wall. (Or the even rarer one’s who catch and release. They’re my favorite.) Our mystery fisherman of the picture is probably the “eating” type, as he sends his line down with a serving platter.

He has some bait as well. Believe it or else, this worm has a bit of a history. This short actually marks his second appearance! (Out of two.) He previously debuted two years earlier in “The Wacky Worm.” Which is why we’re going to call him “Wack” from now on. It makes me wonder why Freleng didn’t try to develop any more pictures with this worm, seeing as how this one here is an Oscar nominee.

Wack has a mustache, so in Warner Bros. fashion, he talks like Jerry Colona. Upon reaching the bottom of the water, he makes himself a sandwich. By which I mean, he makes “himself” a sandwich. He’s one of those animals who’s happy to be a part of a fishing team. Like these two were:

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Wack is suicidal. As soon as a fish tries to partake of his wacky flesh, the worm darts away, and gives the line a tug to reel in the goods. Switching out the small (but not literally) fry for a bigger catch on the way up. One fish, is that enough? Not for out mystery, fish-tory, man. Down Wack goes for part two. Fish is fish, so he has no qualms about trying to lure in one of the “lesser” varieties. This guy clearly has more mercury inside of him than a shark; if his mannerisms are any indication. He’s not even smart enough to try and take the bait. He’s gotta be fooled into thinking taking the hook is a circus act. (Seriously. Don’t put that guy in your mouth.)

As is befitting his “Wacky” name, out worm is willing to dress as a mermaid to get the fish’s attention. It works, but it isn’t his boss pulling the line up, but a crab instead. Wack almost loses the latest catch in the crab’s digestive tract, before correcting himself. The crustacean isn’t too pleased to be cheated out of a free meal, and chases the little guy. (I figured this was all taking place in freshwater, but the appearance of seahorses says otherwise. I can admit I made a mistake.)

Wack accuses the crab of only being tough due to it’s exoskeleton. (It does make up for his lack of a spine.) Good thing, that as an arthropod, he can shed it to prove the mouthy annelid wrong. Wack turns to us and admits that the following fight isn’t going to be pretty. In fact, the camera is going to return to the surface while he takes on his clawed foe. (Not cool. I had bets to pool!) After our thrashing  subsides, the loser is reeled in. Seems pride really does come before a fall, as Wack is the loser. (And our fisherman is revealed at last! Who else would make use of Colona-worm, than the human Jerry, himself?)

Favorite part: Probably what got this short it’s chance at Oscar-dom. (Oh well. Donald earned it this year) When Wack is being chased, each of the crab’s eye-stalks view him around different corners of a chest. We actually get to see what each eye sees! Wack running away from one, and closer to the other! It’s art!

Personal Rating: 3, as a whole, but the eye segment earns a four on its own.

Jungle Jitters

“Oh, for goodness sakes!”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Story by George Manuell; Animation by Phil Monroe; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on February 19, 1938.

It’s only number three of the censored 11 that we’ve covered, and this one just might be the most offensive. I’m getting ahead of myself, so lets take a closer look.

The picture takes place in some sort of tribal village. The natives here are black, so that means:

A.) Their lips are grotesquely huge and the whole concept is rather disgusting

B.) They have nose rings that are large enough to jump through, and that is distasteful

C.) The rings around their neck actually ARE their neck, and that’s (admittedly, kinda cool but…) ultimately, rather insensitive

D.) It’s the 1930’s so how about ALL OF THE ABOVE!

We’re just in that sort of era, I get it. Doesn’t make it any more okay.

Enter another character. A salesman of some species. (I…think?) I can’t tell what this guy is! As offensive as the tribals are, I can at least tell they are humans. This guy… Well, he kind of looks like Goofy combined with some sort of dinosaur. We’ll call him Doofy.

As stated, he’s a salesman. Selling (and I quote) “Assorted, useless, utensils.” (At least he’s honest.) If their door slamming wasn’t indication enough, the natives aren’t interested in his wares. Still, they could get SOME use out of the guy. He does look… delicious? (I’m not agreeing, but maybe whatever this guy is, is their natural prey. I seriously doubt eating him counts as cannibalism.) They place him in a cooking pot, and (giving another point to  the humorous, here) he looks less afraid, (or relaxed, which has also been done to death) and more, confused. In the meantime, the locals are absconding with his merchandise. (Dinner and toys? Christmas reaches all corners of the globe!)

News of the upcoming feast, reaches the queen. I would like to know how she got the position. Not only is she white, but she too is some sort of humanimal. Instead of a proper mouth, she has what looks like some sort of pelican beak, but unless it matches her skin color, than it’s inside of her lips? Excuse me, Mr. Freleng? What are you letting your unit put to screen? It’s unholy! Unnatural! I would even be inclined enough to suggest it as evil! I’m scared, and I don’t scare easily. (Unnerve, sure. But not scare!) And to make things even more disgraceful, one of her black guards has a bad, offensive, over the top, Asian accent. (It’s the culmination of unfunny stereotyping! All that’s missing is a big-nosed, Jewish, witch doctor! Which probably was included in the first draft.)

(Wow. That’s off topic, even by my lax standards.) Queenie asks to see the meal, and Doofy is brought before her. As much as her people see a roast bird, she only sees celebrities. Even ignoring his toaster that butters the toast for you. (It’s every American’s dream! Gimmee!) She decides that they are meant to be, and organizes a wedding that would even be a record by Disney movie standards. Doofy, (still keeping that clueless look about him. It’s starting to get old.) agrees, but the deal breaker is being told he has to kiss THAT face. I don’t blame him for hopping back in the pot. He ends his life with the hope that they’ll all get indigestion from him. (I’m sure that’s fairly apt to assume.)

Personal Rating: 1. (Yeah, this might be the low point of the series.

Favorite Part: To be fair, there was one point that I found enjoyable. A bunch of the natives start riding a makeshift merry go round. As to be expected, some of the others actually whistle “The Merry-Go-Round broke down.” Always a pleasure to hear.