The Cat Came Back

“WHAT THE F-!!!!”

Directed by Cordell Barker; Produced by Richard Condie, Cordell Barker; Written by Cordell Barker; Based on: The Cat Came Back by Harry S. Miller; Starring: Richard Condie. A cartoon released on June 22, 1988.

Boy, oh boy! What a treat we have here! A cartoon well worthy of its spot on the 50 greatest cartoons. It’s got catchy music, great jokes, fun animation, and… isn’t… even a Warner Bros. cartoon. Oops. Let me try it again.

“And she kicked me right here! Right where I sit down!”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Robert McKimson and Ben Clopton. A Merrie Melody released on February 8, 1936. (The last cartoon to be produced in Cinecolor.)

There we go. That’s what we’re used to. And look at the… um, cuties? Look, you should really be aware of my feelings toward cats by now. The only way I could find them cute is roasted to a golden brown, with some of those paper things at the end of its legs, and a garnish on top. But I’ll digress for now. The kittens are having a wonderful time while mother cat watches. And just across the way from the basement they live in is a family of mice.

Things are a little less joyous in the mouse house. Mother mouse is busy lecturing her pups about the evil kats. (sic.) Mere hyperbole and mouse propaganda, right? Hardly! For at this very moment, Mrs. Meow is teaching her kittens how to attack and probably kill mice. Which ordinarily wouldn’t seem too strange, but all the animals are on a similar scale of size. Instead of predator and prey, it just looks like a gang war.

At least Mrs. Squeak doesn’t stop at just talking, she also has the brains to train her children on dodging paws. (She has whiskers now?) But one little mouse can’t help but take a peek outside the hole and see what the world is really like. A kitten cross the way has similar aspirations. At last, the two star-crossed lovers can finally meet! I kid. Actually, they look ready for a rumble. Guess their mothers really did get through to them.

It’s then that Mrs. Squeak catches sight of what’s going on. She tells the kitten to leave her kid alone, and we learn that she was set to become the fourth Chippette before  she became a mother. (Oh? Would you like to explain her sudden change of voice then?) The little cat tries to follow because… it either wants to eat them, or it has learned that the mouse isn’t so different from its kind after all? Its reason doesn’t matter, because the mouse matriarch throws the cat right back out.

The little cat tells its mother what happened, and she goes to give the neighbor a piece of her mind. Squeak ain’t having any of it, and gives her eyes a good poking. She’s won this round, so Mrs. Meow has no choice but to drag her offspring home. Later, as the kitten mopes around, the mouse invites it to come have some fun together. (I guess it got over its hatred too.) The two do some dancing, before the cat falls into an open sewer. (What a typical cat.)

Meow heard those screams (That didn’t occur during the actual falling part.) and runs right over. We skip the tired cliche of her thinking the mouse was behind it all, as the mouse decides to jump in after its new pal. Also becoming alert is Squeak who makes an actual effort to rescue her kid. It doesn’t work, but I give points for effort. The mouse isn’t able to catch up to the cat because of the strong current. (Why is there a cuckoo clock, guitar and chair down here? These animals are just as bad as humans.)

The cat comes to a whirlpool, and is close to death. Time for the mouse to save the day! While holding on to a plank of wood up above, it lowers its tail to be grabbed on. (So, maybe its not a food related animosity. Maybe the cats just hate being constantly shown up.) The whirlpool is strong and twists the mouse like taffy, turning it into a makeshift helicopter. The two fly out. They are safe!

They return home and the two families decide to bury the hatchet and be friends. But wouldn’t you know it, Mrs. Meow just can’t get over that eye poke from earlier and she starts pounding Mrs. Squeak. (Cats also can’t forgive.) Being impressionable youths, the children forego their friendly ways and go back to how things were before.

Favorite Part: Mrs. Squeak training her kids to dart through active mousetraps. The cherry on top is her smile. “Yes, Billy. I want you to enter this contraption that can snap your neck. It’s for your own good.” You can’t prove there’s no risk.

Personal Rating: 2 If you only want to watch the first cartoon up there, I understand.

Hopalong Casualty

“*gasp pant pant*”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Chuck Jones; Animation by Tom Ray, Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, and Bob Bransford; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on October 8, 1960.

The Roadrunner is so fast, that it only makes sense that his credits would be fast too. They appear before the title even! And how is Wile E.’s never ending chase going today? Actually, I’d say better than ever, seeing as how he manages to actually wrap his paws around the bird’s neck. A tussle ensues, and when the roadrunner shaped dust clears, the coyote finds nothing is left. His prey beeps behind him, and sends him flying up the nearby telephone pole.

Luckily for the coyote, he didn’t receive an electrical shock, so he begins climbing back down. The Roadrunner comes back to beep him again, and both predator and the pole get spooked enough to jump into the air. Sure, they both come back down, but the pole lodges Wile E. underneath the ground. A bunch of gags follow that don’t merit description. I mean, I swear you’ve seen them all before. The truck mistaken for a roadrunner, pulling a rock on himself, a detonator going off too soon. I mean why waste my time- d*mn it.

The other gags are as follows: trying to get the bird to use a detour that leads into a gift wrapping machine. Another beep gets Wile E. inside it himself. (Wraps him up with a cute little bow, too) Then, a fishing pole with dynamite at the end. When he casts, he gets his… well, I guess I could call it bait (it’s certainly not a lure) stuck in a cactus. He pulls hard, the plant pulls harder, and he is reeled in himself. Now tangled in the line, he can only fruitlessly attempt to blow out the fuse. (Doesn’t work)

Earthquake pills! A pill that causes the body to experience the same sensations one would feel during an earthquake! (You’d be surprised at how much of  a market there is for those.) Wile E. labels a pile as some of that unbelievably tasty free birdseed and waits. The Roadrunner gulps the pile down and heads off. Hey. That wasn’t supposed to happen. Have they expired? Wile E. is a canine of science, and tests that theory by ingesting a pill himself.

No reaction. Well, maybe one pill is just too small a dose? He downs the bottle. No reaction. Guess they were duds. But wait! There’s a bit more writing on the bottle! Seems the pills aren’t effective on roadrunners. Then… that must mean… they work like any ordinary pill and take a bit of time to kick in. Oh boy. These things work like a charm after all! Wile E. shakes, rattles, and bounces across the desert landscape, destroying many natural constructions that took rain and wind millions of years to make.

Miraculously, he makes it out of the pill’s cycle with nary a scratch on him. So relieved is he, that he doesn’t notice his trip had him ending up at the top of the cliff. Since he doesn’t notice that, he walks off said cliff. Can’t win them all.

Favorite Part: His reaction when he catches sight of the bottle’s fine print. He notices it the moment it leaves his grasp, and dives to catch it. What a performance! Haven’t we all been in a similar predicament? So relatable.

Personal Rating: 3

Quackodile Tears

“An egg is an egg!”

Directed by Art Davis; (his last one for the studio) Story by John Dunn and Carl Kohler; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Virgil Ross, Bob Matz, Lee Halpern, and Art Leonardi; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on March 31, 1962.

A duck that I’m going to assume is Daphne (voiced by Ms. Foray rather than Mel) sits on her egg, but it’s time for her husband to take a turn. The husband is a duck that I don’t have to assume is Daffy, because I recognize Daffy when I see him. And it’s a good thing I do, as he is missing his neck stripe in this picture. (Gotta have the neck stripe.) Daffy does not want to sit on the egg as he finds it a threat to his masculinity. His wife’s foot helps change his mind, and he sits, albeit begrudgingly.

While he tries to make his nest a bit more comfortable, his egg rolls away and ends up amongst a clutch of crocodile eggs. His should be easy to tell apart, as its shell is harder than the others, but he’s not entirely sure, and just takes one at random. Not very stealthily though, as Mama Croc saw his theft. She’s not like most mother crocs, as she relies on her husband, George to deal with him. As for her name, we’ll call her Carol. Why? Because that was the name of a grandmother of mine who died the morning of the day I wrote this. She was an ornery, fierce woman who was still almost always smiling and loved her children. It fits perfectly.

George takes the egg back and prepares to sit on his clutch himself. (It won’t warm them, but it should deter any other egg thieves.) Daffy takes it back, and sits on a his nest with a smug smile. That’s because he’s sitting on a lit firecracker that he knows the reptile will take. Which he does, but almost immediately puts it back under Daffy. After Daffy extinguishes his rump roast and takes the egg back again, George just flat out chomps him. No swallowing as Daffy still had the egg in his hand.

Daffy ain’t having it. He threatens the egg at gunpoint, and George has no choice but to let him go with such tactics. (Any good parent would.) Any good parent would also try to take the kid away from the maniac who points a gun in their unborn faces. And so a game of back and forth ensues. Daffy and George both try to keep the egg in their arms, and the other constantly takes it away. Gags happen.

Daffy paints an active grenade to look like the egg, but that’s the time Daphne catches him off the nest, and forces him to sit on the explosive. After that, the blessed event occurs: the hatching of the egg! Now, I’m no expert on babies, but I am a zoologist. That child of theirs isn’t the same species, genus, family, order, or class as its parents. It’s clearly a crocodilian. But why should being adopted make any difference? It doesn’t. And Daphne loves her child regardless. Sure, he may be a figurative ugly duckling, but that just means he’ll be a swan someday. (Which still isn’t a duck, but at least is in the same family.)

As for George, he also doesn’t look too happy with what happened. He and Carol ended up with a literal and figurative ugly duckling. (And three other babies who survived. A dark but accurate portrayal of what happens to the majority of crocodile hatchlings.)

Favorite Part: Daphne telling Daffy to sit on the egg, or have his face slapped off. A threat not to be taken lightly, as she demonstrates by relieving Daffy of his beak AND eyes. A clever take on the old classic.

Personal Rating: 3 that is very close to 4. A fine final film for Mr. Davis to direct for the W.B.

Devil’s Feud Cake

“You’ve got a date with that unmentionable place!”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Friz Freleng and Warren Foster; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Virgil Ross, Bob Matz, Art Leonardi, and Lee Halpern; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin and Irv Wyner; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on February 9, 1963.

You can smell the Deja-vu with this one. At least, if this isn’t your first, twelfth, or three-hundred, fifteenth Warner Bros. cartoon. But if you are at 316 or higher, then there’s a good chance you’ll recognize previous works that have been crammed together here.

Our story starts with 1952’s “Hare Lift.” (A short I’ve yet to talk about at this writing.) It’s old footage, new lines. That’s all you need to make a brand new cartoon. (I’m not trying to sound bitter. I just naturally am.) It plays out similarly to the original, with a bank-robbing Sam mistaking Bugs for a pilot, and forcing him to fly a plane. Only this time, when things look dour and Sam opts to bail, his parachute does not work. (And you can see the immediate drop in animation quality. It makes me want to cry.)

As everyone knows, when you fall out of a flying plane with no parachute, you die. And as some people know, if you sinned as much as Sam did, you ain’t going to paradise in any sense of the word. Sam finds himself in Hell, and in the presence of Satan. Sam isn’t pleased with his predicament, but as Cuphead players know, the devil is willing to make deals. And he’s got one that he thinks Sam could pull off, judging by his records.

It’s like this, see: Satan wants Bugs. Because… Satan just wants everyone and anyone down there? Is Bugs just going to hell anyway, but he just doesn’t die? I can believe that…

Yeah, it makes perfect sense.

That’s the deal, then. Sam kills Bugs, Bugs goes to hell, Sam I guess reincarnates and gets another chance at the pearly gates. Sam goes back to Earth and sees a theater marquee. Looks like Bugs is performing in “Ben Hare.” (A title I’m honestly surprised they never used yet.) Sam gets himself some Roman attire of his own, and goes to deliver on his deal.

Turns out that Bugs is performing for quite the lavish theater. They can afford live lions. Which means we get reused animation from “Roman Leigon-Hare.” You’d expect Sam to meet his end with the lions like the last time, but they instead just continue to chase him outside. (Not sure how we got here. We were clearly in a theater, not an amphitheater.) He comes to a cliff. Seeing as how he’s going to die regardless, Sam chooses to off himself, rather than give the cats the satisfaction.

He’s back in front of Lucifer. The goat-man is beginning to re-think his decision to use Sam, but the human-man begs for another chance. Satan is easily convinced, and Sam goes back again. No explanation, he’s just in “Sahara Hare“. Oh, wait, there IS an explanation: Bugs is in this desert. (No explanation for that. You’re getting greedy.) Things play out similar again, with speedy camels and Bugs taking refuge in an outpost. The difference here is it just takes one cannon shot to off Sam once again.

Back in hell, Satan is actually willing to give Sam ANOTHER chance. (He’s the worst prince of darkness ever!) Sam though, has reached his limit. He decides that the devil can do his own dirty work, and happily adapts to his new “living” quarters. (I guess Freleng really loved this concept, seeing as how the plot would get reused in “The Looney, Looney, Looney, Bugs Bunny Movie.”)

Favorite Part: They reused the escalator/moving sidewalk from “Satan’s Waitn’.” Nice callback.

Personal Rating: 1. I’m sorry, but the sum of its parts are not greater than or equal to the originals. Watch them, not this.

The Early Worm gets the Bird

“Who’s-a scared?”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Story by Jack Miller; Animation by Robert Cannon; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on January 13, 1940.

A short that starts with a cotton field? That can only mean one thing… Yep. Blackbirds. So of course they look like stereotypical black people. At least they don’t do much insulting. (If you can take the opinion of an uneducated white guy.) Birds can automatically escape the “big lips” treatment, and there’s no Stepin Fetchit homages.

A mother bird puts her chicks to bed. Two sleep, but the third one, Willie, decides to so some reading. His book is entitled, “The Early Bird Gets The Worm.” (It’s probably about ibexes.) He likes what he reads, but his nestmates really couldn’t care less. His mom isn’t too thrilled either. That book is way out of his age range, but that’s not the only reason she doesn’t want him learning.

Seems like the food chain doesn’t end at them. In fact, while birds hunt worms, they in turn are hunted by foxes. Large creatures with teeth. I think they look something like this:

(Note the lack of empathy.)

The threat of death by vulpine is enough to keep the other two chicks in bed, but Willie will not be deterred. He sets his alarm clock early, so he can be an early bird, and catch an early worm. (Then he’ll have plenty of time left over to write that novel he’s been yammering about. Talking won’t make it happen!)

Come morn, Willie slips on his clothes and sneaks out. He’s not the only living thing up at such an ungodly hour. Something is stirring. The cartoon seems to think it’s a worm, but it has legs, antennae and pants. But I guess a worm it must be. I’ll call him Mickey. He finds the book Willie’s mother tossed away the night before, and figures he might as well see what this “early bird” looks like. (I do hope you’re careful Mickey. You’re kinda freakin’ adorable.)

Predator and prey meet, and prey tries to hide. He is briefly able to lose his pursuer by pretending to be a bee in a flower. This scares Willie off, even leaving a bit of a ghostly image behind. (I can’t tell if that was intentional.) Mickey reveals that it was him hiding, which means Willie is willing to ignore anymore buzzing and leap into another flower that holds a REAL bee.

Enter the fox. Willie just assumes that this new creature is also hunting the “worm.” The fox goes along with it, but as Willie talks, he realizes that his new friend has all the features his mom told him foxes have. (Except green eyes. Those are not green eyes, and I know green eyes. I’ve been attracted to them.) The fox prepares a bird sandwich, which leaves Mickey with a choice: let his hunter fall prey to nature’s gran plan, or save the squirt, possibly ending his own life in the process.

Mickey chooses option Bee. He gives the insect’s flower a good shake, then gives his rear end the same thing. Angry bee on the loose! Mickey leads him right to the fox, and the fox gets stung. He’s not allergic to bee stings, so he doesn’t die, but his bottle of catsup does break on his head, and he is led to believe that he is bleeding. (Which probably would be more believable if it wasn’t HIS catsup.) Still, he falls for it and runs off to seek medical assistance.

Willie goes back home, his mother none the wiser to what he’s been up to. She comes to wake her children up and asks what they would like for breakfast. The first two nestlings request worms, of course. But the other two would prefer something a little less familiar. Luckily, we end before Mickey is no doubt torn to pieces by hungry avians.

Favorite Part: When the fox first appears, he introduces himself with two signs. One says, “The Villain.” The other, “As if you didn’t know.”

Personal Rating: 2

Those Beautiful Dames

“One, two, three, go!”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Paul Smith and Charles Jones; Musical Score by Bernard Brown. A Merrie Melody released on November 10, 1934.

On a cold, miserable night, (Yes, I know that’s a redundant statement.) a poor, little orphan girl walks through the snow. You can tell she’s an orphan, for she has all the typical orphan traits: a tattered shawl over her shoulders, a glum expression, and only one of her pant legs remains attached. (Okay, it could just be a low stocking. How would I know anything about women’s clothes? I’m a twenty-six year old virgin!)

Jessica, (for that is the name I’ve chosen to give her) would really like to play with some toys in the toy shoppe she peeks into. But even thought the light in the shoppe suggests they are open, she trudges along. (Maybe they operate by the strict “You play with it, you buy it” rule.) I really do feel sorry for the little one. She’s pretty cute. If I could adopt her, I would. (I’d regret it soon afterwards as I’m not fond of kids. But I’d find her the nicest orphanage to dump her off at.)

She makes it back to either her home, or just where she is going to be spending the night. If it isn’t already her home, then she could definitely do better. The only food available is mice skeletons, and the fire is thinner still. Shelter is shelter, though. She drifts off to an uneasy sleep. And then… uh-oh. I think the hypothermia is making her hallucinate. Toys don’t just follow you home from the shoppe. This cartoon sure got dark.

Since Jessica is still “asleep”, the toys use this opportunity to pretty the place up a bit. A little paint, a little wallpaper, and by the stroke of midnight, you’ll have comfortable furniture, electric lights, and a fireplace. Time to wake the waif. They even gave her a crown! Isn’t that…heavenly? The toys aren’t just interior decorators, though. They’re the entertainment. By which I mean, they’ve got a floor show planned. (The black toys only get to supply music and food. If this short wasn’t from the 30’s you might think that I just made a racist joke.)

A couple of concertina clowns do a dance, (must have missed that toy growing up. I’m not complaining though Legos and Gumby rock!) and a steam shovel can’t resist getting first dibs on the cake. But that’s okay, as there’s a whole banquet of desserts for human and toy alike. Too bad the hosts booby-trapped Jessica’s with a jack-in-the-box. (Considering they gave her a crown that constantly disappears throughout the picture, I really should have seen that coming.)

Favorite Part: The steam shovel. They could have just had another toy operating it to steal cake, but they decided to let the truck help itself. Much more imaginative.

Personal Rating: 2. It’s a generic cute plot. Doesn’t offer much to more sophisticated minds.

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

Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs

“Some folks think I’s kinda dumb, but I know someday my prince will come.”

Supervision by Robert Clampett; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Rod Scribner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on January 16, 1943.

This is, no question, the most famous of the Censored Eleven. If being listed on the “100 greatest Looney Tunes” isn’t reason enough, then how about actually managing to secure a place as one of the “50 greatest cartoons.” (As chosen back in the 90’s, so people were well aware of how offensive this cartoon was, and still is.) And yet, there are some good reasons as to why it earned such a spot. Allow me to explain.

We start with a mother and child. They aren’t going to feature much in our feature. They set up the story, and briefly appear at the end, and that’s it. (Luckily, they’re in silhouette. We already have enough racist drawings.) The child wants to hear the story of “So White and the seven dwarfs.” So the mother tells just that.

The story starts with a queen. She’s a mean one. Know how I know? She’s hoarding wartime luxuries! Sugar, coffee, tires, and scrap metal! That’s stuff our armies could use! How dare she! Seems like all these treasures aren’t enough to satiate her, so she heads over to her magic mirror. (Now that I think about it, where did the queen find that mirror in every variation of this story? Did Rumplestilskin just have a yard sale?)

The queen asks for a prince, and the mirror… er, supplies I think. A prince does indeed show up. His name is Prince Chawmin’, and maybe he just came this way because of the other woman who is around these parts. Despite the cartoon’s title, her name is So White. (Even though her hair IS coal black, but who would want to be named after their follicles?)

(Right, Edward?)

And as for So… I’ll just say it: she is hot. I mean that. She gets my vote for the most attractive animated character I’ve seen. Jessica Rabbit can’t compare. Red Hot Riding Hood has nothing on her. Samus Aran doesn’t cut it. Give me this black beauty any day. Chawmin’ shares my opinion, and the two start dancing, angering the queen. (Who makes one of the scariest faces I’ve ever seen. That’s a little hyperbolic, but it does give me the jibblies.)

Queenie ain’t pleased to see her prince dancing with her… actually, it doesn’t say if she’s related to So. She could just be a very attractive maid. Still, this is enough cause for murder, so the queen calls up Murder Inc. to get rid of So. They’re very adept and arrive immediately. (Good rates too. Anybody can be out of your life for only a dollar! Midgets are half off! Japanese are free. Bad taste, but I’m sorry, that joke got a small chuckle out of me. At least Murder Inc. have wartime priorities.)

Well, maybe they aren’t as adept as I thought. Being alone with So in their vehicle ends up with her getting safely dropped in the forest, and their faces covered in lipstick. (Can’t say I blame them in the slightest. Shame So’s more of a loose woman than I hoped.) Out on her own, and savvy to her source material, So looks for the seven dwarfs. She finds them rather quickly. Most of them look very similar to each other. We’ll call them Dock, Hoppy, Brash, Sweep, and Snazzy. The other two look like Stepin Fetchit, (Because we have to make that reference whenever possible. The joke is timeless!) and chibi-Dopey. (He’s cute. I’ll call him Cheeb.)

They’re happy to take So in, but since there is a World War in progress, she can’t play housekeeper at their place. Instead, she’ll be the cook at their camp. Now, the queen is well aware that So is still alive. (I guess Muder Inc. couldn’t keep their insensitively large lips shut.) Time for the apple. Poison and all. (I’d have just let her eat it as is. It’d given her worms.) Disguised as a peddler, the queen hands So the apple, claiming it’s candy coated. So gleefully swallows it whole. (Which also would just kill her. The poison is just a fail safe.)

Cheeb sees the downed hottie, (complete with core? She didn’t even chew. Where did it come from? The queen just wanted a snack?) He rallies the troops, and they chase the old girl down. They fire Cheeb in a shell towards her, and he knocks her out with a hammer. Almost all well and good, there’s just the matter of So. They need Chawmin’. His kiss will wake her. He shows up, makes what is possibly the first reference to “Citizen Kane” in media, (I’m too lazy to see if my claim there is true) and kisses So.

Something’s wrong here! He kisses and kisses, but she don’t wake up. Seeing his chance, Cheeb kisses her himself, and that does the trick. But why? Sorry, military secret. (The cutie ended up with the hottie. I guess I ship it.)

Favorite Part: The whole cartoon is in rhyme. (Barring a few exceptions.) It makes the whole thing feel like an upbeat jazz number!

Personal Rating: I won’t beat about the bush. This cartoon is full of ugly caricatures, hurtful stereotypes, and outdated jokes. But, if you can remember that and understand that it’s not funny, there is some pretty awesome stuff left over. A fantastic jazzy soundtrack, some pretty sweet voice acting, (done by some honest to goodness African Americans. And Mel. Because Mel is the voice god) and is overall a pretty awesome parody of Disney’s classic film. I give it a 4. Just remember that even if something is offensive, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s garbage.

Pettin’ in the Park

“Stroke! Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!”

Supervision by Bernard Brown; Animation by Jack King and Bob Clampett; Music by Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released on January 27, 1934.

The park is THE place to be if you want to show your love for another being. The birds are certainly aware of this. Everywhere you go they’re either cuddling, kissing, or pecking out hearts in trees. (Well, just the woodpeckers.) It’s not just the birds, though. A cop is currently trying to put the moves on a nursemaid. (She’s plenty hot, but also clearly voiced by a man. Kind of a turnoff.)

I guess there’s chemistry, (Although I’m betting they just met today.) because the lady doesn’t slap the cop when he steals a kiss. Hypocritical as birds are, they immediately start scolding the two. (In song form no less.) It doesn’t work. (I do love the lady’s charge asking to leave. That’s what I’d do.) But there’s another in the park today. It’s a…. penguin.

There’s a penguin in the park.

The clearly American park.

You know what, I decided that I don’t care. Okay, sure. There’s a penguin. It’s chasing a butterfly. The insect lands on the woman’s rear. Now, lepidopterans are quite light as far as animals go, so she takes no notice of it. But a sphenisforme giving you a peck on the cheek is hard to ignore. She feels it and naturally assumes her new “boyfriend” is to blame. (Why must second base be so taboo?) She leaves him, and takes the baby home.

Until she sees the next guy in her path. This man has a car, is single, and isn’t turned off when the lady just abandons the infant to join him. (We never do see that kid again. I like to think he grew up to be a responsible parent.) Envious, and not above trying to abuse his power, the cop tries to break them up. The man isn’t above assaulting an officer, and punches the policeman before driving off. (Assault, abusing power, and abandoning children. All three should go to jail.)

Oops! Looks like there’s another cartoon taking place! You thought all those birds were just there to provide side gags, didn’t you? Now, they’re the focus. (If the sign at the beginning said “Bird Park” instead of “City Park” this would make more sense.) They’re also holding a water carnival. This means there will be both a diving and swimming contest. (*Looking at the penguin* The events are rigged.)

Time for the fist contest. We’ve got a parrot doing commentary. (Good luck trying to make out what he says. His words are drowned out by the soundtrack.) The swan and duck family does quite well. The stork dives into trash. (Might have been more clever as a pigeon or gull. Especially if they were happy about their landing) The ostrich lands in mud. (So… who won?)

Time for the swimming race! (The lake in question is filthy. I see at least three tires and a hubcap.) The pelican seems like he’s doing quite well, but smart birds don’t bet on them to win swimming races. The penguin and the parrot (Who I guess are on a team?) join in, using a tub as a boat, and a bike pump as a motor. Not only does this give them tremendous speed, but also throws the fish into the air. (Much to the pelican’s delight.)

The two get stuck in some mud. The parrot flies off, while the penguin fruitlessly tries to pump. This ends up covering some geese in mud and garbage. Angry, they chase the penguin, but he manages to lose them in a turnstile. This not only makes them lose their feathers, but it ties their necks in knots too. Ouch.

Favorite Part: When the cop marches over to break up his “ex” and her lover, the penguin imitates him. (It’s cute.)

Personal Rating: I’d like to give it a 2, but the two plots really felt disconnected. I’m afraid it earns a 1.

Skyscraper Caper

“What an easy job this is going to be. I think.”

Directed by Alex Lovy; Story by Cal Howard; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, LaVerne Harding, Volus Jones, and Ed Solomon; Layouts by Bob Givens; Backgrounds by Bob Abrams and Ralph Penn; Film Editor: Hal Geer; Voices: Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Merrie Melody released o March 9, 1968.

Daffy has a bad case of sleepwalking. Bad enough to have him walking out of his house. It’s a good thing that Speedy catches sight of this, but his warnings aren’t enough to wake Daffy, and the duck walks into a lake. (Speedy’s house seems disproportioned. Daffy comes up to its roof, but Speedy seems to be half as tall as that. I don’t know. It seems off, but there’s plenty more to complain about.)

Speedy offers a solution: Daffy gives him 5 pesos, and Speedy will watch over him. Waking him in case he sleep walks again. And, believe it or not, Daffy not only agrees to that, but happily so! He’s not convinced that’s too much? He’s okay letting Speedy in his house? This is not the Daffy I know and love. He’s…he’s gone. He’s changed for the worse, just like everything I’ve ever loved. (Fine. I’ll tone it back a bit.)

Staying up all hours is a tiring job, so Speedy rigs up a rope around Daffy’s bed. If Daffy walks into it, it will ring a bell that will wake them both. Speedy will then take the credit. He even has the nerve to ask Daffy for another payment for his services. Unbelievably, Daffy pays up. (Even calling it worth paying for? Daffy, come back to me, pal!) It’s not a perfect plan. Once Daffy exits his bed the other way, he completely bypasses the rope.

Daffy walks out of his already open door, and heads into town. (It’s clearly midday now. How late do those two sleep?) And now, halfway through the picture, Daffy makes his way to a skyscraper. It’s still under construction, but this is one of the oldest known cartoon ideas. Someone will blindly stumble around the place, but always be saved at the last minute. It’s worked with Popeye, it’s worked with Mickey, it’s worked with Bugs. So, it should work here!

And they immediately botch it up. Daffy walks onto a girder, walks to the edge, and…just stands there. BOR-ING! You took the fun out of this gag, why exactly? Now Speedy wakes up and notices the duck is gone. He rushes outside, (not taking the bell for no reason) and sees Daffy still WAITING on the edge of his beam. Speedy is fast enough to make it there, and keep Daffy from falling more.

There’s an ice cream man there. He doesn’t look happy. (But I suppose he is selling at a construction site. There can’t be much business.) His bell wakes Daffy up, and he falls off the building. He grabs on to the side, and saves himself from death. Speedy lowers down a NOOSE that Daffy is supposed to use to get back up, by sticking his head in it, and pulling the other end to get himself up. (Why are these two’s personalities switched?)

Daffy manages to get back up, but a jackhammer sends him back down. He grabs a clock hand, and, for no other reason than to get some more pain out of him, the hour hand begins turning at a rapid rate, hitting Daffy multiple times and causing him to let go. He bounces around the area, thanks to awnings, and telephone wires, before landing in Speedy’s wagon, knocking him out. Speedy returns him to his bed, and Daffy is convinced the whole thing is a dream. (I wish I could think the same.)

Favorite Part: Speedy telling the sleeping Daffy to wake up. Once he’s in the water, Speedy remarks that he is awake now. (Yes, that was the highlight.)

Personal Rating: 1. The characters were out character, the jokes weren’t funny, and the animation was as poor as it usually was at this time.