Shamrock and Roll

“Anything that green has to be Ireland.”

Directed by Bob McKimson; Story by Cal Howard; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, LaVerne Harding, Jim Davis, Ed Solomon, and Norman McCabe; Layouts by Bob Givens, and Jaime Diaz; Backgrounds by Bob Abrams; Film Editor: Hal Geer; Voice Characterization by Larry Storch; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Merrie Melody released on June 28, 1969.

You know, Merlin the magic mouse has spent every cartoon of his career so far in the USA. It really is a shame that he hoards his amazing feats of wonder (*cough*) away from the rest of the world. Aw, what the hey! For this, his final performance, he will perform in a different country. Picking one at random is the fun part!

Since he’s been a good sidekick, Merlin decides to let Second Banana be the one to pinpoint their destination for prestidigitation. He gives the kid a dart, and tells him to throw it at the spinning globe. After Merlin pulls the dart out of himself, he tells the kid they’ll just blindfold and spin him instead. After getting his eye poked, Merlin rescinds S.B.’s picking privileges, and decides they’re going to the emerald isle.

They travel by magic carpet, and it gets caught on a tree that I thought was part of the background. (It just goes by so fast!) This causes them to land on top of some shamrocks, and more importantly, some guy’s lawn. The lawn in question, belongs to a leprechaun named O’Reilly, who looks like kinda like a smurf that was designed by Dr. Seuss. I swear, just give the guy a couple of those half-moon pupils.

Don’t tell me you can’t see it

Anyhow, O.R. isn’t happy to see trespassers, and S.B. isn’t happy to be labeled as one. Does this guy know who he’s talking to? Merlin the magic mouse, that’s who! Maybe a demonstration of his powers is in order? Merlin’s got a great trick that a moose showed him once. You pull a rabbit out of a hat you see. But rabbits are a bit bigger than mice and leprechauns, so I can’t really be disappointed to find Merlin’s rabbit is a puppet.

The leprechaun isn’t impressed and decides to show the two a REAL trick. He makes Merlin’s watch disappear. When Merlin asks for it back, Reilly makes himself disappear. It was magic AND a trick! He’s keeping the watch, as he likes watches. Is that something leprechauns are known for? I thought they wasted their time hoarding cereal, and shining shoes.

O’Reilly says that if they can catch him, they can have the watch back. The mice chase the thief, but he leads them off a cliff. Merlin makes a paper airplane for them to ride in, and they crash into a tree. You’d think Merlin’s magic could be used to get a hold of that watch but he’s just going to use a trap instead. If you can believe it, Reilly actually falls for it. But I guess since the trap caught him, he doesn’t have to keep his end of the bargain, as he magics himself away.

His house was pretty close by, and Merlin once more demands the watch. O’Reilly decides to make amends by giving the two a whole bag of watches. (He usually sells the things on the street at jacked up prices to unsuspecting brownies.) Merlin agrees to this, and he and his… son? (Are these two related?) are on their way again. (To another locale. The locals have cost Ireland its chance.)

Merlin has plans for these watches. He’ll sell them on the street at jacked up prices to unsuspecting voles! And it’s at that decision that the timepieces disappear. (Leprechauns are dicks.) But there is ticking up ahead! It’s Big Ben, and the mice visit him firsthand. And secondhand and hour hand too!

Favorite Part: Meeting O.R. When he says he’s a leprechaun, S.B. asks “Oh, really?” and is answered with “No, O’Reilly.” (Yeah, it’s a weak pun, but I’d never heard it before. And I happen to like puns.)

Personal Rating: 2

 

Egghead Rides Again

“I’m a rootin’, tootin’, shootin’, snootin’, high falutin’, tootin’, shootin’, rootin’, tootin’, cowboy, fella!”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Animation by Paul Smith and Irvin Spence; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on July 17, 1937.

For once, talking about these shorts out of order has worked in my favor. You’ve heard me talk about Egghead before, but back in 1937, audiences hadn’t. So, I’m pretty sure there were a number of people who saw this title, and figured they had missed the first one. But they hadn’t. This was Eggy’s first appearance. (And since Daffy had only had one appearance so far, and barely at that, Mel uses the duck’s voice.)

Egghead lives in the city, but really yearns to be a cowboy. His room is coated in western merchandise, he rides his pogo stick like a steed, and he yells as loud as he can. This displeases the landlord, Mr. Dadburn. So much in fact, that he evicts Egghead right there and then. And since he’s a wannabe cowboy and not a cowboy, he doesn’t have a horse to just aimlessly ride. He needs a job.

The want ad he spies has just the answer he’s looking for. They’s looking for help at the Bar None Ranch in Wahoo, Wyoming. (I’ve been to Wyoming. And I swear it didn’t look as desolate and dry as they’re depicting. Looks more like Utah’s Bryce Canyon to me. Any Wyomingians who can confirm your state looks like this cartoon?) Cow puncher sounds a bit more barbaric than cowboy, but it’s a tomayto, tuhmahto thing. Egghead mails his resume.

And the best thing you can have on a resume is experience, and since that’s something the body supplies, Egghead sends himself. He may be short, bald, have a big nose, and short, but he wants this job so much, that his voice briefly hits puberty. The buckaroos are willing to give him a shot, and let him take a shot. See, cowboys can shoot a cigarette out of someone’s mouth while they stand x feet away. Eggheads can fire a gun, but only at the near cost of the target’s life. Good thing he had his hiding hat on.

Branding is another skill that is vital to know. The terrified little calf they have for practice sessions wants no part in this, so the authentic cowboys are willing to hold it down for the noob. (Is anyone still saying that term? I can’t help it if I’m fourteen years late. My mind never matured past 2010.) Egghead, being a toon, brands every hide butt the calf’s.

The guy in charge makes the little guy a deal, if he can catch the calf that has taken the opportunity to start escaping, then Egghead can have the job. Such a deal! Egghead mounts a pony and sets off. (Looks like all those years of pogoing has paid off.) The calf is quite the tricky one. It takes the rest of the picture for Egghead to make any progress. He does manage to get it back to the pen, but the calf hogties him. Destroying his dignity, and earning jeers from the ranch hands.

But the bossman is willing to keep his word. Egghead got the calf back, so he gets the job. His position is known as the “Sanitation Engineer.” Talk about starting at the bottom! (I’m sorry. I promise to not make anymore jokes of that caliber for at least seven days.)

Favorite Part: The cowboys hear the mail arriving, and decide to ride to its drop-off point. A whole two feet away.

Personal Rating:3

Tugboat Granny

“ANCHORS AWEIGH!”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Virgil Ross, Art Davis, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on June 23, 1956.

Would you look at that! Granny actually got her name in the title! But… it’s only so they could make a “Tuboat Annie” pun, so she won’t be featuring much in the following short. All we get out of her is a duet with Tweety about tugboats. Granny has a tugboat, you see. I don’t think I’ve made that quite clear. As for Sylvester, he’s been trying to snag a meal by hanging around the fishermen. Since that’s not working out, he decides to try and board the boat and bag the bird.

He first tries a rowboat. Tweety drops an anchor, causing the cat to have to row back to shore, sans boat. Next, he tries a rubber raft. They’re impervious to anchors, but not darts, and it just so happens that Tweety has one of those on him. (Weird. The shot of his dart hitting the raft contains no water. It makes the raft appear to levitate.) Well, the tug is making its way under a bridge now, so Sylvester tries to simply drop down. He lands in the smokestack. (Which would be impressive if this was a video game. It’d probably earn you a piece of heart.)

Right. Going on the water didn’t work. Going over the water didn’t work. Since there aren’t any sharks in this cartoon, it looks like it’s time to try going under and through the water. Sylvester makes a pipe into a handy metal snorkel, but that is exactly the kind of perch that attracts penguin-gulls. And it is insistent on staying put. Since Sylvester has no gills, he has to return to shore. Only then does he find that the bird laid an egg, which is now in his mouth. He throws it at the pest, but gravity returns it to him.

That’s enough tugging for today. Granny (Still not on screen, mind you.) starts docking. Sylvester readies a lasso, but it flies too far, and grabs a hold of a passing speedboat, pulling Sylvester in tow. He starts to get into the spirit of things, and starts pulling faces and stunts. When one doesn’t look where one is going, one is liable to crash into a post. Quoth the fish: “I tawt I taw a puddy-tat.”

Favorite Part: Sylvester’s disastrous fishing trip. Hearing somebody got a bite, he hides in their tackle box. The catch that is put in with him, is a very angry crab. The natural enemy of the common house cat.

Personal Rating: 3

Tired and Feathered

“Some Road Runners have been clocked at 50 miles…”

Directed by Rudy Larriva; Story by Rudy Larriva; Animation by Hank Smith, Virgil Ross, and Bob Bransford; Layouts by Erni Nordli; Backgrounds by Anthony Rizzo; Film Editor: Lee Gunther. Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on September 18, 1965.

Wile E. is not chasing the Roadrunner at the onset of this short, he’s just observing. And giving the most lifeless lick of the chops I’ve ever seen. His tongue is the only part that moves. Didn’t even blink. And then he’s chasing all of the sudden. The Roadrunner must be slowing down in his old age, for Wile E. is able to grab a hold of him! (!!!) But the bird manages to shake him loose on a sharp turn, leaving the coyote’s paws full of naught but tail feathers. (Pretty, but not very filling.)

Wile E. flaps those feathers hard, until he’s both tired AND feathered. And he flaps them for a full 5 SECONDS before he starts to fall. They really had to stretch the shot that long. The background even; it’s just an empty sky. No clouds! No distant cliffs to suggest he’s still in the desert! To think I used to defend this decade in Looney Tunes history! (Which I still do, just nowhere near as vehemently.)

Later on, Wile E. reads a book that doesn’t really tell him anything he doesn’t already know. (And as my quote of the day suggests, couldn’t even spell ‘roadrunner’ correctly.) This somehow encourages him to strap a propeller and motor to his back while he wears skates. His tail gets caught in the blades, and he leaps into the air making a noise of pain. Even more lifeless than his licking! He’s just a still image moving across the cel! At least they bothered to put some clouds in. (Yes, I’m aware they’re simulating his movement up. But it’s still nicer to look at since we get his still pose for three. Full. Seconds. Did you know that tedium ISN’T inherently funny?)

I guess Wile E. has given up now, seeing as how he’s not doing anything but imagining roast poultry. He’s not pacing, or reading, or any other way to suggest he’s still thinking up schemes. Then a phone rings. It’s the Roadrunner taunting him. (Rude.) This does give Wile E. an idea. First he disguises some TNT for the phone’s receiver and we then get a panning shot to show it’s attached to a detonator. A panning shot that is NINE! @%$#ING! SECONDS!

GOOD! LORD!

Calm… Calm… So the trap isn’t finished yet. In fact, it requires a brief building montage. (*sigh* Did Chuck ever need something like that? I miss the days where we got a few shots of Wile E.’s “ingredients” before just seeing the final project.) He’s built a phony building facade around the explosive phone, cut the wires, (so… nobody can call?)  and labels it as a bird sanctuary. Then he makes a billboard to advertise it, saying it gives birds a safe place that is free of things that want to kill them directly, and free phones. (No Wi-Fi.)

The Roadrunner takes note of the sign, but Wile E. hears a phone ring. But how? He cut the wires! (Was that really why we saw him do that? To set up for this obvious punchline?) Wile E. gives in and goes to answer the phone. He blows up because the Roadrunner stands on the detonator to reach the bird seed Wile E. had behind him for no given reason. And what of the ringing? Was that the Roadrunner? I don’t care. It’s over.

Favorite Part: Hard to choose. There really wasn’t much to spark joy. I choose Wile E. actually laying a paw on his prey. The Roadrunner’s shocked expression is slightly funny.

Personal Rating: 1. Yeah, this is the worst Wile E. short I’ve discussed. I hope that is never up for debate.

Fagin’s Freshman

“Boy! This is keen!”

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 November 18, 1939.

You remember the rhyme about the three little kittens who lost their mittens? I was never a fan. Even when you don’t take my feelings towards felines into account, I always found the tune annoying, the lyrics inane, and the plot just depressing. So, this cartoon doesn’t get to a good start with me, since it starts with that precise rhyme.

A mother cat and her kittens are singing, and smiling, and just making the world that much more saccharine. I’m with the kitten sulking in the corner, Alphonse. (He says the kids call him “Blackie” but I come from a millennium where that sounds a bit derogatory. I’m not one to judge kids by the color of their coat.) Now, the radio programs that feature guns, and violence, and death? That’s more his style!

His mother is angry about this. So much so that he’s getting the ole “bed and no dinner” punishment. Pretty harsh. Sure, he interrupted her inoffensively offensive sing-along, and yes, it’s probably not great that he is so fascinated by shooting, but to deny him his meals because of that? That’s poor parenting. Hasn’t she ever tried simply turning the radio off, looking her kid in the eye, and just spanking him?

Well, as long as Alphonse is in his bed, he might as well sleep. And if he’s asleep, he might as well dream. And if he’s dreaming, he might as well dream about something related to this whole thing. So, in his dream, he spots a sign asking for boys. It doesn’t really go into any further detail, so I don’t fault the kid for knocking on the door. He’s greeted by an older cat named Fagin. He seems like a kind enough gentleman, he’s running a school, and everyone knows those are always on the up and level.

Alphonse is introduced to the other classmates, and even though they permanently scowl, they seem chipper enough. But Alphonse isn’t too keen on hearing he just agreed to go to school. But Fagin makes a good point about how education gets you farther in life. (You think I WANT to write a blog that nobody reads?) Why just look at the students that he’s tutored. (I’m a little disturbed that one sometimes goes by “Holocaust Harry.” Wh…Why would that be an alias of his?)

Alphonse is starting to get worried, but Fagin makes a good point about how he just teaches. It’s the pupils who decide what they will do with their education. And yet, the cops just don’t see things that way and knock at the door. The police (who in this dream are all dogs) are doing their best to get inside. And they’re willing to use their firearms too. Either they don’t know their are kits in there, or said kits knew what they were getting into when they signed up.

Now that Alphonse is witnessing all this firsthand, he breaks down. He’s scared, and wants out of this lifestyle. But since he’s still asleep, he’d better find something he can get tangled up in, so they can become covers upon his awakening. Falling out the window, and getting wrapped in the curtains counts. He wakes. And now that he knows that being shot at is no fun, he joins in his families singing.

Favorite part: During the shootout, Fagin asks for everyone to cease while he answers the phone. They comply, and after answering, Fagin relays the message to officer Hogan. His wife needs butter.

Personal Rating: 2. But it teeters on the edge of one.

Cats Aweigh

“There goes a brave pussycat!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Phil DeLara, Charles McKimson, Herman Cohen, and Rod Scribner; Layouts by Robert Givens; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on November 28, 1953.

Sylvester doesn’t mind being an alley cat. He can go where he likes, do as he pleases, and it really makes one appreciate your meals. His son, on the other paw, is not pleased. He wants a home! Where humans will feed him, pet him, and possibly find him cute. The main reason Sylvester is against all that, is the work that it will entail. “Meowing” for food? How civilized.

While at a wharf and searching for breakfast, Junior sees a wanted sign for cats to catch mice on a ship. It’s close enough to his wish for him! And if his dad needs help, he’ll help him! Sylvester thinks that maybe, this could work out after all. He agrees and they get the jobs. Or job, rather. Sylvester sees this as a an opportunity to take a cruise.

When Junior calls him out on his slothful behavior, Sylvester makes a deal: since his son is small, he can catch small mice. Since Sylvester is large, he’ll catch any big mice. You know, should any happen to be around. Poor little guy. He can’t bear to refuse his old man, so he resumes his chase into the cargo hold. The mouse he was chasing has hidden in a baby kangaroo’s crate.

Junior has a neat “Jurassic Park” moment with the marsupial, a good 47 years earlier than the novel. He runs to his dad, telling of the giant mouse, and per their arrangement, his job of capturing it. Sylvester humors the little guy, but finds he is telling the truth. Still, he tries to honor the deal, and sets about trying to fight the beast. It goes about as well as the previous 5 cartoons they’ve been in.

Sylvester makes a new deal with his kid: see, it’s unfair for a child to do more work than the parent, so, since there is only one big mouse, and plenty of small ones, Sylvester suggests they trade. (Geeze, Sylvester is a horrible parent.) But since Junior is such a good son, he agrees to his father’s demands once more and prepares to fight. Junior is quite quick to realize that this is all a game to Hippety, and what’s more, he’s copying all of the cat’s actions. With this knowledge, Junior is able to get him back into his crate quite easily.

Sylvester went back to his reading, because I guess he figured this would keep Junior out of his fur. But once Junior reminds him of their deal, he actually honors the deal! (He is a good father after all!) He follows a mouse back into the hold, and tells his son to not open the door. No matter what he says. The mouse (Who has a shock of red hair on his head. Huh.) hides in a crate of vitamins. And they work wonders! (Must be from ACME.)

With the upper paw, the mouse begins to pummel Sylvester, all while the cat calls desperately for Junior to let him out. Unlike how this gag usually goes, I think Junior is quite aware that his dad is in real peril. But he’s earned the right to benefit from this, and honors his father’s last request.

Favorite Part: The fact that Sylvester didn’t try weaseling out of the deal again. He’s not happy, but it takes very little provoking to get him to do his job this time.

Personal Rating: 3

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.