Weasel Stop

“Help! Mountain lion! Bobcat! Coyote!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Ted Pierce; Animation by Keith Darling, Ted Bonnicksen, and Russ Dyson; Layouts and Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Music by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on February 11, 1956.

Quiet days are boring. They are in desperate need of a weasel to liven things up. I’m fresh out of weasels at the moment. Would a stoat do? Fine, fine. Don’t give me that eye roll look. McKimson’s crew are on the ball with their weasel character that my “Looney Tunes 300-piece Fantasy puzzle identifies as “Willy”. Not the worst name, but kinda makes him sound like a mascot for a pizzeria. He shouldn’t be anything to worry about because the local chicken farm has a barnyard dog on duty. The only problem? That’s not Barnyard Dawg.

What the crap? What happened? Where’s my beloved basset? Who does this poser think he is? Granted, there’s nothing wrong with giving the formula a little variety, but Barnyard Dawg is an established character by this point! You think audiences would have liked Chuck’s boys making another rabbit/duck season picture without Elmer? Even if it was good, it’d always be remembered as the freak short of the quadrillogy. I just want to know if there’s a reason, since Farmyard Doug never came back.

Well, dogs is dogs, and roosters are their natural pranksters. Doesn’t help that Foghorn is a little irritated to find the guy supposed to be protecting them from certain death is sawing logs. Whittling, that is. Doug loves his whittling. Foghorn blows the weasel alarm in his face, then sends him on a wild goose chase. Weasel chase, that is. Doug crashes into a fence that Foghorn painted a hole on, and the bird claims the whole thing to have been naught but a nightmare. Sure hope it was worth crying wolf. Weasel, that is. (I’m stopping now. I promise.)

And Willy tries to carry Foggy away. Despite the screaming, Doug can’t be bothered to get up. Maybe he doesn’t believe its really happening, maybe he’s glad it is. Foghorn manages to get free when he is dragged into a low-hanging branch. Now aware of what happened, he’s not worried. Despite Willy still trying to gnaw on him. Foghorn points out the little guy is after a good eating chicken, and that’s all the permission Willy needs. He goes after another one, but Doug wasn’t just whittling wood to waste it. He made a croquet mallet and ball, and sends Willy away.

Foghorn decides to help the weasel get even with the dog. And once the only thing keeping them safe is dead? Don’t bother with the details. Live for the moment! The plan is to send Willy floating via balloon, and drop a lit fire craker on Doug. (Hey, Foggy? The balloon string is going through your beak. Okay. You fixed it.) Doug isn’t caught unawares. He whittles his latest masterpiece: a single toothpick. Attaching that to a paper airplane pops Willy’s balloon and dreams. The mustelid lands on another board Doug was probably planning to carve into a clothespin, flinging the rock it was setting under up. Doug lights his explosive for him, Willy’s snout changes color, and gravity and the rock send weasel back to rooster for the explosive finish.

The two then sneak about in haystack disguise, carrying miscellaneous weapons. Before they can really do anything with them, Doug uses his new greatest work, a wooden hand, to turn on the hay baler. (Foghorn, buddy, now that the hay is gone, I can see your foot going through your cannon. Stop that.) After the ride, the two are stripped of their respective coats. So what’s plan C? Oh, wait. The cartoon is ending here. Okay.

Favorite Part: I like the way Willy says “Yeah.” It’s his only dialogue, but it displays more character than Doug has.

Personal Rating: 2. The team-up doesn’t start until the picture is 2/3 done, the ending gag was pretty weak, and Doug reacts too calmly to things. I think that’s why I prefer our usual Dawg. He really feels like a living, breathing, rooster-pounding animal.

The Music Mice-tro

“Now I’m gonna destroy you, within an inch of your miserable life!”

Produced by William Hendricks and Herb Klynn; Directed by Rudy Larriva; Story by Tom Dagneis and Cal Howard; Animation by Bob Bransford, Ed Friedman, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Don Shepard; Backgrounds by Walt Peregoy; Film Editor: Joe Sircusa; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Merrie Melody released on May 27, 1967.

Daffy Duck plays his most challenging role yet as Daffy Duck, movie star of Hollywood. It’s not an easy life, despite what your fantasies tell you. You’ve got appearances to keep up, parties to attend, and constant retakes of the same scene where you just had to say ‘yup’ with a popping sound while kicking back your legs. Anyone needs a trip after a week of that. And when you need to recuperate, you’d do no better than at Balmy Springs. The resort any celebrity heads to in these trying times.

You know what’s the worst part of being a celebrity? Everyone recognizes you. Daffy is spotted by a band that I’m calling Speedy and the Mph’s. They’re hoping that he could help them get into the movie biz. But even if Daffy was the sort of guy who’d give struggling artists a break, he won’t because their music is not doing anything to soothe his jangled nerves. Speedy recommends he go and relax by the pool, telling one of his friends that they’re still going to audition. (Unless they’re both named Miguel?)

Really, Speedy. You’re kind of being a jerk this week. Daffy hasn’t done anything to you in this continuity yet, and you’re forgetting the fact that he’s only human even if he’s a duck. Ask him later. Right now, Daffy is enjoying the ladies at the water’s edge. No doubt close relations of Geordi La Forge, Elton John and Sunny Miami from Pixar’s “Knick Knack”. Before he can start enjoying life again, the band surprises him once more. He whips them off with a towel.

As a peace offering, Speedy offers a lemonade with a excessively large novelty straw. Daffy is receptive, but doesn’t look where that straw leads and ends up drinking pool water. And I don’t have the heart to tell him that those ladies probably did what we all do in pools when we think we can get away with it. (Common courtesy is no match for even more common sloth.) When Daffy gives chase, Speedy leads him onto the diving board and gives him the slip by running along the underside. The whole thing has made Daffy nervous enough to shiver, and this causes the diving board to fling him in the air. Didn’t even wait for him to bend.

Speedy watches (no tail for a frame) and tries to catch him on his reclining (wheel) chair. Daffy lands on his head, and falls in the pool. (Still can’t remember your flying/ swimming prowess, amigo?) Speedy pulls him out and attends to his “chillys” with a heat lamp. Making sure to go all the way gets Daffy a little burnt out, so he tries to smash the mouse with the lamp. He and it just fall into the water. Speedy gets to play Porky’s straight man routine, with a casual “shocking” whilst leaning back against a house. Daffy goes after him again, and rather than just stick his head in the convenient and perfectly sized hole, lifts it, loses his grip and drops it around his neck. The mice play for him once more. Daffy should not have to struggle what he little he does to escape.

To calm himself, he heads for the golf course. (Boring is soothing.) His lessons are paying off, as he hits a hole in one. Speedy throws it back out, and when Daffy goes over to them, he gets the music full blast again. He tries blowing them up, but they move the hole. They get away and Daffy reminds himself that he needs to relax, so he goes back to his game. Speedy doesn’t think a shaky duck could hit a still ball, so he puts a jumping bean in another for Daffy to hit. Doesn’t work, and when Daffy tries to grab it, it hops down his throat. The mice mistake his new jumping for dancing, and start up the music once more.

Daffy gives chase via golf cart, but crashes. Speedy then gives us an instant replay to watch it again. That’s one way to fill up the time. Seriously though, it wasn’t even played as a clever joke like in “Tabasco Road“! It’s just the same animation with ‘INSTANT REPLAY’ at the bottom of the screen. At least say this is for those who went out to the lobby to smoke or take a leak! Daffy’s had it. He’s heading back to the chaos of Hollywood. At least he’s familiar with that and has an agent he can blame if things annoy him. The band lives up to the name I’ve given them by constantly showing up while Daffy tries to pack.  Just leaving isn’t a solid plan either, as they are in the car too.

Favorite Part: Speedy tells Daffy that he can’t be caught as he is the fastest mouse in Mexico. Daffy curtly reminds him that they’re not in Mexico and gives chase.

Personal Rating: 2

Those were Wonderful Days

” *Laughter that sounds like the Krushas from the GBA port of Donkey Kong Country* “

Supervision by Bernard Brown; Animation by Paul Smith and Don Williams; Music by Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released on April 26, 1934.

The days of which they speak were those gay nineties. Back then, everyone was happier. People sang the title song. Beer flagons sang the title song. (So… does drinking out of one of those count as making out with one of those?) And, as is typical of Warner Bros. shorts, print ads sang the title song. Whatever bar we’re in offers a free lunch, so it’s not surprising that some guy takes the whole spread for himself. What might surprise you, is him using the hat of a strolling woman for a table.

Ah, but it wouldn’t be truly be such a gay time unless there was a picnic, right? That’s where most folk are heading on such a fine day as today. It’s better than the bar, because it offers free beer. I’m amazed at the self control of most of the queue. Taking one mug, and that’s that. (Mostly because there only is one mug.) The last guy in line was the smart one. With no other witnesses, he can drink straight from the tab and down the rest of the barrel’s contents. There’s swimming, and a playground, and those kind of people that make me loathe being lonely: couples.

Two of them are riding a teeter-totter. And if you’re like me, you’ll see what I saw: the one and only Snidely Backslide keeping a close eye on who I think is a combination of Cookie and Betty Lou from “Sesame Street”. (Although, they cut away from him to a shot of him coming out from behind a tree again, so it’s okay to think there’s two of him. I won’t judge.) She’s already on a date with Betty Boop’s boyfriend, Freddy, but that’s okay. When Betty found out he wasn’t faithful, she bought a dog and never looked back. The villain is able to blast him away with a firecracker, and takes Cookie Lou away in a hot-air balloon.

Fearless Fred E. fires himself up via human cannonball method, and the two rivals have a fistfight. Fred E. falls, but is able to launch himself back up via flagpole. In the meantime, S.B. cuts the basket to send C.L. to her doom. For you see, he knows she’ll never love him and he knew the only way to not obsess over her was to kill her. It’s basic logic, really. No sooner done, when Fred E. bounces back for round two. He gets some punches in, and decides to light the balloon’s spout to make sure no one else will ever risk having their lady friends taken away. Stealing his adversary’s cape, he flying-squirrels his way down to C.L. who made the balloon basket into a parachute.

The two land safely, while ole Snide falls down in a daze thanks to the whole exploding balloon thing. Fred E. clobbers him with a nearby test-your-strength mallet, but C.L. screams at this, giving Fred E. a clonk of his own. Turns out, threats on her life put her in the mood and she chooses the only man who can satisfy her in that way. Humorous, but also right the heck out of nowhere!

Favorite Part: There isn’t enough trees for S.B. to hide behind when he makes his first move, so he has to keep whistling for his hiding tree to creep back in front of him. It’s clearly devoted. He should’ve tried to kill it.

Personal Rating: 2. But if you have a problem with people choosing mates that will clearly end poorly for them, 1.

Let it be Me

“Oh, Mr. Bingo!”

Supervised by Isadore Freleng. A Merrie Melody released on May 2, 1936.

Mr. Bingo is the talk of the town. All the hens huddle around the recording studio where he sings, and the radio where his sings come out. Even the married ones can’t help but fawn over the guy, much to their husbands anger. Much like a later picture, the guy looks like Crosby in voice only. At least here he isn’t being portrayed as coward. Just a cock. He knows the ladies love him, and he’s happy to let them destroy each other to get a hold of the boutonniere he throws their way. (After watching him walk for ten seconds. Gives us plenty of time to be attracted as well.)

Well, we’ve all had our celebrity crushes, right? (Mine was Tara Strong.) What’s important is that you come to the understanding that they will never know you exist and go about finding someone you actually have a chance with. I think that’s what’s going on through Emily’s head. She’s making her first appearance and unlike the second time, she talks with that (maybe not even) Bernice Hansen voice that makes her sound 15 years younger than she probably is. She has a guy interested in her named Lem, and I think the feeling is mutual. Good to see she wasn’t always so shallow.

Speak of the crooner! Mr. Bingo is driving by and he likes what he sees. Those breasts! Those legs! It’s what catches my attention on a chicken, that’s for sure! He invites her to come along with him to the city, much to the jealousy of Clem and that patch on his overalls that can shrink. (Why do some of the other birds in this cartoon walk around in the feathered nude? Are they the ones we get to eat?) Now, if those two really were a couple, then Lem really should understand that if a lady can upgrade you, she will. There goes Emily. Good-bye Emily.

Mr. Bingo has taken her to a party. There’s plenty to drink and he offers his new friend some. Maybe he wants her drunk, maybe offering her some is the gentlemanly thing to do. Emily is hesitant, and when she indulges, she finds it too strong for her. There is a singer at this party, and if the rules of this universe apply to her as well, I’m guessing her name is Ms. Fifi-o. Mr. Bingo likes what he sees and when Emily points out what a dick move this is, he has the waiter remove her. Stuck in a city without a ride home, Emily has no choice but to adapt. She makes ends meet by selling flowers on a very familiar street corner

Good old faithful Lem! Even though his lady friend threw him aside like yesterday’s chicken feed, he still worries about her, cares for her, and keeps the picture she gave him. Since he’s not stalking her, I find the whole thing very romantic. But the biggest thing on his mind is Bingo. Just hearing that guy on the radio is enough to get Lem angry enough to march down to his recording studio and beat the gravy out of him. (And because of this, celebrities will always have protection from here-on out. Thanks, cloaca-hole.) It’s pure happenstance that he comes across Emily immediately after, but they look genuinely happy to see each other again. I support it.

Some time later, Lemily, as we should call them has started up a family. Things seem perfect, but one chick starts to sing like Bingo! No idea where they picked up that habit! (Surely, he’s old hat by now. Old shoe even!) Doesn’t matter how they learned it. Daddy is still triggered by it and throws his book at the chick. I’m sure her bones aren’t that fragile, anyway.

Favorite Part: It might be something that I’m reading way too deep into, but I like the reaction Bingo has when Emily can’t handle the liquor. Maybe he’s realizing she’s too immature for him? If I’m right, that was some great and brilliantly subtle example of showing. NOT telling.

Personal Rating: 2. I could see some people finding it a little too mean, but really, throwing away a good stable relationship for someone you barely know is worthy of a little punishment, right?

Sheep Ahoy

“Hello, Sam.”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Richard Thompson and Abe Levitow; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Phil DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on December 11, 1954.

Ralph is getting an early start today. Fred Sheepdog hasn’t even clocked out and Ralph’s already slinking down to the still living mutton chops. But Sam’s on his way. (This being their second picture, Fred still calls Sam ‘Ralph’.) Ever on top of things, Sam allows the sheep to continue living by knocking a stone onto Ralph’s head. Two can play that game! But why just repeat what the other guy already did? Ralph drops a boulder towards Sam, but it gets caught by one of those trees who decided growing in dirt was too easy and made it’s dwelling a cliff face, (*phew*! Lot of words.) and tosses it back.

In between fade-outs, one of the sheep has decided to graze on Sam’s ledge. Ralph merely has to pole vault over the dog, but even that is met with difficulties. Sam grabs the pole before Ralph could let go, and brings him down for another punch. (His paw gets darker in doing so. Maybe he’s wearing brass knuckles?) Ralph next tries a smoke bomb. But he doesn’t try using it to blind everyone else because then he wouldn’t be able to see his targets either. He just uses it as cover for himself because smokescreens have paws a good 58% of the time, and he can still see out of it. (Really, how is this supposed to be useful?) Sam tosses an explosive into the smoke, turning it black and obscuring Ralph’s vision for sure, leaving him to walk off a cliff.

A fake rock disguise seems to work perfectly as Sam treats him as he would any other rock: something to sledgehammer. (I love Ralph’s trembling as he sees this approaching. It’s gonna hurt.) The little pieces head back to regroup for a new tactic. He/they eventually devise a pedal-powered submarine to sneak upon drinking sheep. But… if his legs are poking out, doesn’t that mean water is leaking in? How does he breathe? (He should really listen to the background music. Every Chuck Jones fan knows it means certain doom is ahead.) Seeing the detour sign that Sam is holding gets Ralph to head over the nearby falls. Pedal all you want, pal. Water always wins.

Simple usually works best, so Ralph decides to just use a plank to fling Sam away. I don’t know what physics would usually dictate would happen, but Sam is flung up rather than away. He pounds Ralph. The whistle blows saving Ralph as the night shifts are returning. Fred once more takes Sam’s place whilst George Wolf fills in for Ralph. He’s just as bad with names as Fred is, as he calls Ralph “Sam”. (So at least the names are present and counted for.) You know, I bet Ralph planned that last stunt knowing George would pay the punishment. That’ll teach him for not bothering to learn his name!

I kinda want to see a short based on Fred and George now. Do you think they’re friends on the side as well? (I’m purposefully not making a “Harry Potter” reference, but I guess you can if you want.)

Favorite Part: One of the selling points on the fake rock is “Be popular.” That is blatantly false advertising and they know it, but it works because I’ve bought twenty.

Personal Rating: 3

Life with Feathers

“Aren’t you hungry?”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Virgil Ross; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on March 24, 1945.

Some sort of domestic squabble is going on in a birdcage, and I’m proven right by one of the occupants being evicted. He tells us that he is a lovebird, that was his wife who hates his guts now, and as his name suggests, he needs love to live. No point in suffering. He begins brainstorming some ideas about how to off himself. I’m sure some people would think he’s overreacting, but I think it’s kinda sweet that he is dedicated to the one he loves if she wasn’t. If I ever lost a girlfriend, I’m sure I wouldn’t find life too enjoyable anymore, either.  Me and him should be drinking buddies.

Fate decides his death for him with a cat who looks like he’s in the mood for a snack, seeing as he’s picking through the trash. This cat is Sylvester making his first appearance. And he rushes over once the bird gets his attention. He stops short because this seems too good to be true. He deduces that the bird is poisoned and just wants one less cat in the world. Because that’s what poisonous creatures want right? No point in living if you can’t ever be hugged. (On another note, pay attention to the speck of background between Mr. Lovebird’s wing and head. It’s also depressed as it turns blue.)

Sylvester’s owner calls him back for some milk. Wait, why was he picking through the trash if someone feeds him? (On another note, if you watch his face closely, you’ll see it has more white than usual as he zips into frame.) He spits out every drop once he finds out who was at the bottom of the bowl. Since Sylvester is paranoid and Mr. Lovebird isn’t going to explain why he’s come to the worst life choice possible, he has no choice but to order a mallet, smack the cat, then enter his mouth whilst he shouts.

Sylvester smokes a pipe to get him back out. (Hey, if you want to die so much, why don’t you just inhale that smoke that’s being inhaled. That secondhand stuff is deadly.) He traps Mr. L in a glass jug, and proceeds to open some cat food. (Does he normally feed himself solid food? He’s really well trained!) Whilst his head is turned, a very familiar looking feather drops into the bowl. Not daring to not look behind him, Sylvester doesn’t notice until it’s sticking out of his mouth. His worst fears are confirmed upon checking on the jug. He ate the dirty birdy!

Mr. L is okay though. This is all part of his master scheme: give Sylvester some pills, and hop on the spoon himself before it goes past the gums. Sylvester catches on. The bird decides to play fowl. He turns the radio to some sort of program that does nothing but ask if you’d like to eat this’nthat or so’nso. (Maybe it’s an ad?) To make things harder, Mr. L also shows plenty of pictures of delicious looking meals. The torture is working. (Do those fish have hair on them?) Sylvester soon gives in figuring if this doesn’t kill him, spending the rest of his life starving will. I’d say that adds up. Just before the deed is done, a telegram is delivered to the bird.

Whatever it said, it worked like a charm. Mr. L tells Sylvester that things will be all right back at home, so he doesn’t have to eat him. (On another note, his beak turns blue because it’s still depressed.) Too bad his treatment worked so well! Sylvester is still hungry and this bird on his had is worth two in any bush. The lovebird just barely manages to escape with his life. (Now, aren’t you ashamed you took it for granted?) So what was on that note, anyway? Has the Mrs. forgiven you for whatever she did? Better than that! She’s going to go live with her mother. Oh, Mr. Lovebird. Here I thought you were loyal to the end.

Well, you know what fickle creatures lovebirds are. Sweetiepuss changed her mind last minute, and Mr. L resumes his Sylvester chase. Since the little guy never made another appearance, I think he succeeded.

Favorite Part: One of the ways Mr. L tries to get Sylvester to eat is by dressing as Santa so he can give him a “present”. His pathetic, wimpery “Merry Christmas” is music to my ears.

Personal Rating: 3. A fine way to start a new character off. Good enough to be nominated for the Oscar too! But since it was the forties, you already know it lost to a “Tom and Jerry”.

The Bird came C.O.D.

“Mm-nh.”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Animation by Ken Harris; Musical Direction by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on January 17, 1942.

Conrad! Hey, buddy! Haven’t discussed you for since the twenty-tens. Did you ever get more of a personality than Goofy wannabe? No? I’m sorry. You’ll always have a trio of posts talking about you eventually.

Conrad is playing delivery cat today. His company specializes in delivery of palms. Slogan is, “You grease ours, you’ll get yours.” (Clearly, I should have been writing for these pictures.) Being Conrad’s first film, he makes sure to look directly into the camera. Just to make sure that Mr. Jones know how grateful he is for this opportunity, and he could be the new breakout character for Chuck should Sniffles ever… you know… disappear. Just look at those exaggerated cartoon movements! He’s the ideal star!

His first problem is just trying to get the plant into the theater awaiting the delivery. It really does feel like a “Goofy” cartoon what with the tree getting caught on the door frame and flinging Conrad backwards, and the door shutting on its own when he thinks he found a solution by squat walking inside. No wonder Mr. Colvig would be voicing him. It was clearly always meant to be. Conrad finally figures out the secret: hold the door open with the delivery. Please, enter.

…AND BRING THE PLANT, STUPID! Geeze, hope you’re not expecting a tip after that. Now inside, all Conrad has to do is not trip and get it to its proper location. After he trips, he gets it to its proper location. Not even a scratch! Maybe he does know what he’s doing. He finds the old plant, switches it with the new, and is all set to go on his way, when he sees a top hat that has been left on the stage. That can only mean a magician has performed, and Conrad has always secretly been envious of those guys. He can’t resist having a little fun and pretending to be what he is not. (Without talking. He has no dialogue outside of nervous chuckles and exclamatory grunts.)

Wouldn’t you know it? First try and he pulls out a live rabbit. Even he wasn’t expecting to be that good. His reaction puzzles me. He looks less amazed and more nauseous. Does it smell that bad? Then it should have been a skunk. I bet Chuck could get a lot of mileage out of those. But what’s really worrisome is the other occupant of the hat. The title star finally shows, more than halfway in. Some early ancestor of Henery Hawk it looks like. But I guess he’s a dove? What magician uses hawks in his act? A fun-king awesome one, that’s who.

The little guy doesn’t seem too pleased to see some amateur messing with the hat, but he doesn’t do more than give Conrad a glare. Not even an angry glare, just a “do you mind?” kind of glare. And I get it. I hate when delivery boys bring me a package and then start looking in my drawers. But Conrad feels like he’s been the one wronged, and knocks the bird back out of the hat. Again, Little Birdy just kind of gives a look. A “this is getting old” look. He only slaps Conrad when the cat tries taking a closer peek inside that hat.

Angered, Conrad smashes the hat. Little Birdy is unharmed, but gives the peeking tom (cat) a poke in the eye. Come on, Conrad. It’s not worth it! He agrees, but decides to throw that hat rather than just leave. It comes back to hit him, and L.B. punches his nose now. Conrad should consider himself lucky, considering what silent birds usually do to cats, but he refuses to be three-upped and makes another attempt to get the bird. He’s caught in the act, and Little marches him back into the orchestra pit. I bet a lot of good slapstick is happening. You can tell by the number of instruments flying.

Now sporting a pair of black eyes, Conrad finally gets the hint that he should cut his losses before the bird cuts him. He takes the old plant and tries to flee, but runs straight into the theater’s brick storage room. (I love those rooms.) Dazed and disoriented, he next stumbles into wardrobe where he finds six more top hats. Surely you figured Mr. Birdy wasn’t the only one in the clutch, right? Too bad they don’t do more than pull Conrad’s hat over his face. Passive aggressiveness runs in the family.

Favorite Part: Conrad leaving the plant outside was a good gag made better by the triumphant music petering out.

Personal Rating: 2. I can’t relate to the main character because I think L.B. was totally justified in his threats. He deserves being the title character. (If only he showed up sooner.)

Toy Town Hall

“Yowza, so help me.”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Bob McKimson and Sandy Walker; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. (One of if not the first to have him.) A Merrie Melody released on September 19, 1936.

We’ve all been in this situation as a kid: you’re just about to start something. Maybe the TV show airing next. Maybe another movie. Maybe your 26th round of Super Smash Bros. Whatever it is, you dread hearing those words. The words no kid wants to hear when they’re enjoying themselves: “It’s time for bed.” You beg and plead and whine that you can’t do that just yet! Your friends don’t suffer such injustices! You’ll do anything in the word to just do this one last thing! But your pleas fall on deaf ears.

So, I feel for little Sunny when his mom-arms turn off the radio before he can hear the next program, even if I’ve never been in the exact same scenario. (I wish we could see more of his matriarch. I know you should never judge a lady by her arms, but I bet she’s attractive.) Well, upset as he is, the kid still goes to bed, reluctantly. He’s got a nice collection of toys. What do you think they’d do if they were alive?

They’d imitate the biggest radio stars of the day! Fred Allen, Eddie Cantor, Rudy Vallee… What do you mean cartoons were always doing that? You want something new? Pah! Just for that, this cartoon is going to feature almost nothing except reused animation from previous Melodies! Remember, you brought this on yourself. Let’s meet our opening act! Quick cut to the same elephant lights operator from “Those Beautiful Dames” and we’ve got a lovely song performed by a Bing Crosby parrot. (Not quite a recycled shot, but he IS singing a song a different Crosby inspired bird sang in/called “Let it be Me”.)

Next up, the Eddie Cantor toy. Now with a completely different body, so we can reuse his song sequence from “Billboard Frolics“. (Rub-em-off will not be joining this time.) At least as far as I can tell, the Rudy Vallee toy isn’t being reused. He still has a different body too, though. Unless Sunny has two Rudys? Nothing wrong with that.

Oh, this next cameo is a fun one! The cockroaches from “The Lady in Red”. Sure, there is the tiniest difference in color, but that just means Sunny has toy roaches. What kid has toy roaches in the 30’s? And when did that package on Sunny’s bed appear? It wasn’t there before. But what’s inside has been on screen before! Peter the rabbit from “My Green Fedora”! He’s a toy now! Singing the same song he sang back then, and reacting to his audience likewise. All the toys dance as we return to reality. It was a dream, like in “Dames” but Sunny isn’t halluci-dying.

His mom wakes him up for the day, and I guess he’s angry that his dream was interrupted. The end.

Favorite Part: One of the toys is a balloon with feet. (Did you have one of those growing up?) After he inflates himself, he plays a flute with the air. But his mouth is down there, so that can only be one other orifice he’s playing with… Yep, his nose.

Personal Rating: 1 if you could tell everything was rehashed. If you were ignorant before, it could’ve been a 2 with a really lousy ending.

A Hick a Slick and a Chick

“No time like the present.”

Directed by Arthur Davis; Animation by J.C. Melendez, Don Williams, Emery Hawkins, and Basil Davidovich; Story by Lloyd Turner and William Scott; Layouts by Don Smith; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on December 27, 1948.

This post would not have been possible without contributions from readers like Carl Hunt. Thank You.

Elmo Mouse will be our titular “hick” this evening. He’s in a good mood as he’s off to visit the resident chick, Daisy Lou. Upon arriving at her place, he thinks he’s made a mistake of addresses as the doe inside is busy making out with someone who isn’t Elmo. Sadly, he’s at the right house. Her make out partner was the third part of our puzzle, Blackie the prick. The two at least have the decency to take a breath now that they’ve got company, and to be fair D.L. is polite enough to let both guys stay. Oh, yeah. I meant “slick” earlier. Honest mistake.

Elmo has some (mouse-scale) flowers and Daisy does seem happy to receive them, even if Blackie already bought out a florist shop for her. Elmo’s flowers are so embarrassed, they regress back into seeds. Elmo tries to play her a song on his mouth organ, but Blackie can play piano. Particularly, a familiar piano piece that leads me to believe Blackie’s father was the mouse in “Rhapsody Rabbit“. About the only other good trait Elmo has is muscles and to his credit, I agree that Blackie could not make his arm go limp like that. His biceps look too healthy. Feel healthy too, seeing as they knock Elmo out of the house.

When Elmo returns, he finds Uncle Blackie (as I think I’m allowed to call him) presenting Ms. Lou with a fur coat. Elmo isn’t impressed like she is, claiming that he could get her something better. As Uncle B. points out, the only thing that feasibly could be better is ermine. Elmo agrees but it’s only once he’s out of the hole that he reveals he’s dug himself into another; he doesn’t know what an ermine even is.

Searching the premises, he looks in a bottle of champagne which really doesn’t help much. What it does do is remove his common sense. Most creatures his size would try to avoid creatures like the dozing cat in the house, but he’s actually approaching. It might have something to do with the fact that the cat’s name is Merman, but he can only see the last five-sixth’s of the word. And yes, the cat’s name probably really is ‘Herman’ but it doesn’t look like it at first glance! (Does this mean Blackie’s real first name is ‘Katnip’? No wonder he changed it.)

The cat isn’t fazed by the punch drunk rodent, and tries to eat him. Elmo escapes and falls into the milk bowl, which is good news since milk is nature’s natural sobering agent. He flees, and the cat chases, taking a swing at him as he runs on a table. This makes the leaf smack him in the face, knocking himself out but good. Well, well. Just look at all that fur just practically begging to be taken! Good thing Elmo’s a furrier! He presents the goods to Daisy and he totally wins. She’s got no problem being a trophy, because she gets things out of it. What a good moral.

Hick and Chick leave together, leaving the Slick to wonder where he managed to get the stuff. The cat tells him to mind his own business, showing us Elmo used his @$$ hair to make the coat. (Why to the you to the sea and kay.) Even the iris-out is coat shaped. And when you get pancakes tomorrow, they’ll probably be coat shaped too.

Favorite Part: Jealousy running rampant in Elmo’s mind, he imagines certain instances of bad luck Blackie could befall. Like Elmo mounting his head over a fireplace.

Personal Rating: 3

I Gopher you

“I think we should proceed together.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, Arthur Davis, and Manuel Perez; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on January 30, 1954.

Mac and Tosh, living under farmland, are set to harvest THEIR vegetables. (I love that.) But before they can even take a pea, “vandals” grab everything. The gophers are polite but firm, and decide after their eyes are done merging together that they must find who’s responsible. Poking up topside, they see many Ajax trucks carting the produce off to driver’s know where. The rodents follow in hot pursuit.

This leads them to the Ajax canning factory. Acme just never got into the food biz. (Their food would probably just blow up anyway.) The two are actually fairly enamored with this place. The machines just dispense out food into containers. Handy, and somewhat dandy. Mac has to try that out, and hops onto the tomato juice belt. He fills his belly without the tedious chore of chewing, and gets bottle capped for his troubles.

Tosh pries it off and they continue to search for their dinner. The lip sync is bad. Tosh speaks before his mouth starts moving, and Mac gets his one word line in before the first mouth is finished. (I call it Dingophers Pictures.) Tosh climbs aboard the next belt in order to toss some whole tomatoes down to his partner, but isn’t fast enough to do it more than once before he is canned. Mac finds the storage room where they are stored, but only knows Tosh is in one of them. Better get started…

When he does locate the other, they agree to be more careful as they search. Although Mac is the one we follow into the next shot, he becomes Tosh. And you know what? I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if that was intentional. The crew knew the two were impossible to discern, so they probably meant to mess with us. In which case, it’s brilliant. I wish I had proof. Tac or Mosh or whichever one it is falls into a barrel of pickle brine. Even though it shouldn’t work that way, he ends up pickled as much as the cucumbers. Time to stumble!

Rated P.G. for pickled gopher ends up in the dehydration machine. He comes out as a dinner for six that only requires water to eat. Gopher 2 provides the stuff, and he finds the one that is definitely Mac now once again. Even better, they realize they can easily carry the food back home this way. Back at the ranch, they prepare to eat a meal. (Lip sync is off again.) Tosh goes to get the liquid, but doesn’t account for how much force it will spray with. Within seconds, mountains of produce erupt from the earth. What a healthy apocalypse!

Favorite Part: Mac asking why Tosh got himself stuck in the last can he checked. Tosh tells him it WAS the first, and he shouldn’t have done it in reverse.

Personal Rating: 3 (If I used decimal points though, I’d probably give it a 2.5 for the poor dubbing. I hope it was just a mistake on the copy I viewed.)