Jungle Jitters

“Oh, for goodness sakes!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Eager Beaver

“Ge-Ge-Ge-Geronimi-mi-Geronim-Ge-Ge-a-Ge-Ge-Geronim-a-Ge-Ge-Ge-Geronimo.”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Tedd Pierce. A Merrie Melody released on July 13, 1946.

Another one of nature’s most impressive creatures, IS the beaver. To think, these rodents aren’t just smart enough to make a home for themselves out in water, so their predators have less of a chance to feast on them, but even go so far as to dam flowing waters to make the still bodies of H2O they need. Even using the materials as their food source to boot! It’s fantastic! And furthermore, it’s unbelieva-

(Wait for it)

So, as I was saying, beavers deserve a cartoon of their own.

You know what? These guys deserve two!

Beavers are always busy, right? As long as the camera isn’t on them. Then they leap into action doing what they do best: chopping down trees. (An interesting method they use, is setting one another on ice blocks, to make their teeth chatter. Then they can be used like chainsaws.) Then, they remove the fallen wood of any parts that might get in the way. Excess bark, twigs, that sort of thing. So they just use a corkscrew to get the smooth, creamy, centers out. Then they are ready to be part of the dam.

Out title promised one who is especially eager, and here he comes now. He’s easily identifiable by the ski cap on his head, and lack of voice in his mouth. He wants to join in on the work, but finds it a bit too crowded. (The beavers have also upgraded to axes for the rest of the picture. Technology is so cool.) He opts to chop at the tree that no beavers are working on. (Probably because it’s a telephone pole. An easy mistake.) Guess he has no choice but to get in the fray.

He joins in, but makes himself a nuisance. The beaver he is bothering sends him off to chop down a tree quite a distance away from everyone. On top of a mountain that no beaver has ever dared climb before, due to lack of water and un-lack of eagles. But Eag is so eager, that he knows no fear and rushes to do his duty. But this tree has seen it all, and is more than a match for a puny axe. Even dynamite does nothing more than blow away the surrounding dirt. (Gee, if only he could chew it down. But that wouldn’t be much of a climax.)

(Ble.)

The other lodge members are still working, when a bird comes bearing dire news: there’s a flood approaching! If these guys don’t have a dam ready, the forest will be underwater! It might sound nice at first, but even a beaver can’t swim for all eternity, they’ve got to move fast! Maybe Eag could save the day? He’s finally figured out how to get the tree down: chewing! Good thing he had termite on paw. Thanks to the insect, the tree comes down. Right in the flood’s path. He may not be built for running, but he’s so eager, that he not only outraces the flood, but gets the tree in place just in time! He’s saved the day! He’s everyone’s hero! Just goes to show, just leave it to Eager Beaver.

Favorite Part: When Eager first tries chopping down a tree, a dog begs him to spare it. (Moderately funny.) Because he has a bone buried there. (Nice misdirection!)

Personal Rating: 3. (This cartoon is full of that nice “smear animation” that Chuck used so well in “The Dover Boys.” It still looks rather amazing.)

Stork Naked

“I’LL GIVE THAT STORK A RECEPTION HE WON’T FORGET!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Arthur Davis, Virgil Ross, and Manuel Perez; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Music by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on February 26, 1955.

A sober stork in a Warner Brothers Picture? It’s unthinkable! And yet, that’s how this one starts out. The stork may have a clear head, but that’ll soon be fixed. He doesn’t have just one bundle to deliver. The first one offers him a toast to the baby. As does the second. And the third. There we go. That’s more like the stork we know. He needs a name that I will claim as canonical. From now until the end, he is Tipsy the stork.

Just one more delivery to go. It’s an egg, so it must be headed for some birds. That is correct, specifically, a couple of ducks. Daffy and his wife, Daphne. (Which is a perfect name for her. It’s what I call the wife Daffy has every time he’s married.) Daphne knows he’s coming, as she is already knitting a sweater. (It’s a little known fact that all ducks get one piece of clothing. Hence Daphne’s bow, and her husband’s slippers) Once Daffy catches on that the sweater isn’t intended for him, he realizes that the stork is on the way again. (Again? So, Daphne has had more than one miscarriage? That’s hard. No wonder she spends the rest of the short off camera, grieving.)

It’s never stated why Daffy is so adverse to being a parent, but it’s pretty obvious. Kids are whiny, greedy, egotists who think they can get away with everything. (I would know. I was one, once.) So, Daffy really has no other option than to kill the stork. (Or at least just chase him away.) He’s got quite the impressive armory at the ready, but Tipsy just walks right past him and heads for the chimney. Daffy’s trap-oline works wonders and sends the bird right back up. Too bad Daffy misses his chance to hit him on the return.

Chimney didn’t work, so Tipsy heads for the front door. (Drunks always try and start with the chimney. Why do you think Santa has a red nose?) Daffy has another trap planned: a trap door that leads to an alligator basement. Tipsy walks around the pit, and when Daffy tries shoving him back out, he falls down himself. (He does manage to get away, but at the cost of a good chunk of his plumage.) When Tipsy tries a window entrance, he accidentally enters one of Daffy’s cannons and is fired back into the sky. (Little note, but I like how pleased he is to see the egg is okay. It’s not his kid, but he still wants it to be safe.)

I don’t know how long the egg must be in Daffy’s possession for it to count, but the cartoon is still going, so I guess things are in his favor. Still, Tipsy hasn’t given up either, so Daffy starts chasing him down with an axe. (I never thought about it before, but being a stork must suck. On a different note, someone should make a cartoon about a stork trying to deliver a baby to a teenager, while they, in turn, try to keep it hidden from their parents. I’m sure it would be a hit at a film festival.) When the stork creeps onto a telephone wire to evade the psycho, Daffy chops the wire his adversary is standing on. (It makes his pole fall, and he lands back in the reptiles company.)

Finally, the egg starts to hatch, so Tipsy gets it to deliver itself. It manages to get inside Daffy’s house, and hatches just as Daffy gets his wings on it. Why, it’s not a duckling after all! It’s a stork chick. And if the hat is any indication, it really IS Tipsy’s child. Daffy is delighted as he flies the chick back to where it belongs. Not only because he’s ducked out of responsibility once again, but the stork is finally going to see what it’s like on the receiving end.

Favorite Part: It’s another little thing, but when the egg starts to hatch, look at the legs. They actually foreshadow the twist, by not drawing webbed feet. They took the time to be consistent. I’m so proud!

Personal Rating: 3

I Wish I had Wings

“Hi, Pop!”

Animation by Rollin Hamilton and Paul Smith; Music by Frank Marsales. A Merrie Melody released on October 15, 1932.

Well, yeah, I guess I do.A little snack would be just the fuel I need to make an amusing blog post. Whoops. That was just a title. (You were laughing though, right?) It’s morning at Bird Farm U.S.A. and the rooster wakes all the birds up. (It takes a bit of rousing.) He’s not content with just his hens being up, he wakes the water fowl too. (And he sends them off goose stepping. I knew him learning German wasn’t a waste of money.)

Now that the birds are up, it’s time for some breakfast. One hen has located a very healthy looking worm, and calls her children. Only now does she realize the problem. One worm. Eleven chicks. You do the math. (I’m not your tutor.) She has a brilliant, if rather inhumane idea: (good thing they’re birds) put the meat in a grinder! (Holy hell!) Good thing this is a cartoon. It follows this popular myth: When one cuts a worm into pieces, each piece becomes it’s own new animal. (Only here they eventually grow faces and limbs. What was in that grinder, exactly?)

Ready for a bit of plot? Chicken couple number 412 are expecting! (And if you think you’re suffering from Deja Vu, it’s probably because you saw this exact sequence in “Wise Quacks.” Only with ducks instead of chickens) The father to be is ecstatic, and calls the stork to come do his thing. (What weird farm is this? Is that stork livestock? Are stork nuggets any good?) The blessed event goes smoothly, and the rooster meets his many chicks. 29 white, (yes, I bothered to count) and one black. He is called: Otis. (Because I said)

As all new life can attest, being born is hungry work. (You got all that egg breaking, womb squeezing, budding, etc.)Otis is ready for some grub. (But he’ll settle for corn.) Being the youngest though, he is always last to the feeder and any stray cobs. He stares longingly at a garden just on the other side of a fence, and whines/sings about wishing he had wings to get him over to the edibles. (Poor guy was born with arms instead. What an awful fate for a bird to befall)

His wish is fulfilled with the corset the farmer’s wife just left on the ground. (What a b*tch. Always expecting the animals to pick up after her.) Otis uses the clothing as makeshift wings, and once up, makes a parachute out of what I presume is the same person’s panties. (She deserves it.) Ah, to be in your very own all you can eat buffet. Otis has got to be the happiest bird in the world! But I guess this garden is in Oz, because the nearby scarecrow comes to life, and threatens to…actually, what would he do besides scaring the bird? Scarecrows really aren’t all that threatening.

Otis does indeed run, but he takes care of the dummy. Not only slamming a well crank into it, (why would that hurt him?) but lighting him on fire. Defeated, (even if he’s not dead) the strawman flees.

Favorite Part: Honestly, that scarecrow. He’s a unique one in that, he doesn’t even have a face. (Makes him all the more terrifying.)

Personal Rating: 2

Zip ‘N Snort

“Guaranteed slippery”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Chuck Jones; Animation by Richard Thompson, Bob Bransford, Tom Ray, and Ken Harris; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on January 21, 1961.

Title not obvious enough? There are some introductions labeling our two main characters. (Love Wile E’s smug expression. It’s how I would smile if I saw my name in a moving picture.) He begins the never ending chase, when his prey pulls a sneaky one. He stops short at a tunnel entrance, and has Wile E make a u-turn away from the large truck. So happy that he is actually outrunning it, he doesn’t notice that he has run off a cliff. When he tries climbing back up, the peak falls off.

What hasn’t he tried yet? Sending out a wind-up plane with a grenade attached? Only the propeller flies away. When he throws the rest, the grenade somehow stays behind. Here’s an idea! Putting some iron pellets in bird seed. Then, his magnet fishing rod will reel the bird in. (If it didn’t get caught up on a power line.) Despite the pain, Wile E takes some solace in the cool fact that his nose glows better than Rudolph’s ever did. (He’s got a lot of great reactions in this picture. The gags come at a fast pace too. You’ll barely have time to catch your breath before you laugh at another one.)

Getting the Roadrunner to stop for more birdseed, the coyote aims a cannon straight down. It comes undone with him on top, and despite his struggling, he ends up in front of it. (Great reaction #2: Wile E praying to Chuck upon seeing he is heading inside.) The bird  finishes just as both crash down. The cannon fires and flings itself back up the cliff, and brings everything down on Wile E’s head.

I think we’ve had ten gags, time for our big finish. Wile E has a bucket of axle grease, and he smears it all over his feet. This lack of friction is just the thing a coyote needs to match the speed of a roadrunner. Too bad it doesn’t work if the bird stops short. Wile E, in turn, ends up on some railroad tracks. Even worse, he winds up struggling to keep himself from being run over. He’s not going to get any respite either. It’s a nonstop trip to New York.

Favorite Part: When Wile E first goes off the cliff, he unhappily notes the lack of ground beneath him. Since he (and by extension, we) are looking down, nobody sees him about to smash into the opposite cliff. (The funniest jokes are the ones you don’t see ahead of time.)

Personal Rating: 4.

Elmer’s Pet Rabbit

“That was weawwy, an awfuwwy good, weg of wamb.”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Story by Rich Hogan; Animation by Rudolf Larriva; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on Janurary 4, 1941.

The title should tell you all you need to know about the plot of the picture. Still, I feel compelled to ask: Do YOU know who Elmer’s pet rabbit is?

Your stupidity is astounding. Simply astounding.

It’s Bugs of course! But I must concede, that at the time of release, you probably wouldn’t know that. Not only was this only the second appearance of the fully fleshed out Bugs character, but it was the first time his name was given. And he sounds like Jimmy Stewart in this picture. (Wait. Why.) Not to mention the yellow gloves and lack of buck teeth. (I’ll chock this all up to puberty. Toons can have it too. You should have seen how Goofy was affected.)

(No. You shouldn’t)

All this talk and I’ve still yet to start my synopsis. As Elmer strolls down the street, something catches his eye. (And I wasn’t talking about the lingerie on display) It’s a rabbit! Such a cute animal! Quiet, lucky, coprophagic, it’s everything you want in a pet! The store seems to really trying their best to sell the one in the window, so he must be the best rabbit of all, right? (Well, yeah. But not to live with!) Elmer gives in and purchases the “wittle, gway, wabbit.” The bunny is not pleased to be named as such, and verbally makes it known. Could this be a mistake?

Even if it was a rather spur of the moment purchase, Elmer makes a great pen for his new pet. Really! There’s shelter, space to roam, and as many vegetables as one could eat. (Okay, that last one proves ignorance. Maybe why that’s why Bugs continuously protests eating them as he eats them? Starving is simply out of the question.) Still, no matter how nice you make a prison look, it still counts as a prison. Bugs is jealous of Elmer’s house. In fact, why not just go inside? Being a pet technically makes him part of the family. And families share.

Bugs barges in, turns on all the lights he can find, and starts a dance. Elmer is not amused and sends him back outside. If you think Bugs is going to listen, you must have… oh wait. You are the same person who thought Elmer was actually going to adopt someone outside his studio. Sorry.

Whatever you thought, Bugs heads right back in there. He even beats Fudd to the bathroom, insisting he wait his turn. Looks like he plans on being in there awhile, judging by that magazine. Really though, reading on the john is one of the most entertaining ways to spend one’s time. (Lord, do I need a girlfriend.) Elmer busts in and heads to his shower. He pays for the water, he gets first dibs, and he throws Bugs out. Even more crazy, when Bugs marches in again, Elmer throws him out a second time! (Betcha thought Elmer was going to be thrown out, right?)

Landing in the tub, (which has some water in it for the sake of the joke) Bugs decides to fake drowning. The cries for help summon his owner, who pulls the bunny out of the bathtub. Bugs is amazed and humbled. Despite all the problems he’s been causing, Elmer still cared enough to rescue the animal he paid 98 cents for. (Is there no greater love?) Bugs feels he deserves a kick in the rear for his behavior, and tells Elmer to do it. Takes some persuading, but Elmer gives in and delivers a very light kick. Quote Bugs: “Of course, you know this means war.” (Making this the first time he said that.)

Enough play, Bugs goes into the bedroom and takes over the bed. Elmer has had enough and goes in there. We don’t actually get to see what goes down, but I bet it’s cool. There’s lightning, and stars, and explosions showing that you can only cross a Fudd so many times! He chases the rabbit back outside where he is supposed to sleep, and heads back to what’s left of his bed. Need I mention who is waiting there for him?

*sigh* You’re really bad at this.

Favorite part: When Elmer first asks how Bugs likes his new home. “Frankly, old man, I don’t like it. It stinks.” It’s the “old man” that gets me. It really shouldn’t be as funny as I’m finding it.

Inki and the Minah Bird

“ROAR!”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Animation by Robert Cannon, Shamus Culhane; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released o November 13, 1943.

That title is no typo from me. For whatever reason, the bird is labeled as a “Minah.” (Unless that is his actual name. Minah the Mynah. I’ve heard of worse names.) Whatever the reason, this continues the trend of shorts being nothing more than the characters’ names even though it wasn’t their debut.

It’s a beautiful day in the jungle. Even the annelid snake is frolicking. (And it takes a lot to get that guy to show any joy. It’s hard being the only one of your species.) Oop. Spoke too soon. Such a beautiful day means one should take advantage of it, and hunt some game. That’s Inki’s plan, and he just barely misses the earthworm squamate by that much. (It really would have made a cute trophy.) Sure, he could try and hunt literally any other animal in the jungle, but a certain something in the distance sends them all packing. Whatever it is, it shakes the very ground it walks on. None who tangle with it ever survive. When you hear the accompanying music, if you’re smart, you’ll run in whatever direction is opposite of the commotion, and you won’t look back once. You’ll only pray that you aren’t the unfortunate soul who is unlucky enough to suffer the creature’s wrath. It is simply known as: The Mynah Bird. (goosebumps.)

Inki initially takes cover too, but either he isn’t aware of this bird’s otherworldly power, or he really just wants to be the guy who stuffed it. (Or he’s suicidal. It’s not ideal, but it’s a possibility.) He’s got a color changing spear, so why not take a “stab at it?” (I won’t apologize. That pun was worth your time.) He takes his trusty weapon in hand, and heaves towards the bush the bird hopped into. Success? The spear hit something. Might as well see what was hooked. Ah. It appears to be a lion. (Which means if this is Africa, that explains the terror the bird caused. Invasive species are ruthless.)

The big cat doesn’t seem too injured by the weapon, but he is understandably peeved. Inki runs home to get a peacemaker. The steak in the fridge will do nicely. (Why so shocked? People who live in huts can still have modern amenities. Stop being so judgmental.) The lion is happy to eat, but the bird was in his mouth and takes it for himself. The lion is so upset that not only does his hair change color with stress, but his eyes disappear. The bird has gone too far! So the lion gives chase. The bird would probably kill it, but he just ate, so he just hops into some hay. And it shrinks away into nothing before the lion’s eyes!

Things really aren’t going his way. When he beats on a tree in anguish, Inki falls into his paws. (It was still a decent hiding place.) The original chase resumes, but eventually, the lion sees the hay reappearing. The bird is back, and the cat shall have its vengeance! (Warner felines are great at achieving that, right?) Still not giving a d*mn, the bird just hops into a hole. The lion tries to catch him as he comes out, but finds Inki instead. (That was an ever better hiding place! This bird just screw everyone over.) The trio all pull the dust cloud running fake out, (Impressive. Usually, only one of them tries that at a time.) then the bird finally takes the lion and makes him disappear. Inki is saved. He’s a good kid, and offers to shake hand…wing…limbs with the bird.

Rookie mistake! That bird hates being touched, and he brings the lion back. A tussle breaks out, with Inki being the first to run for it. The bird meanwhile, ends up stealing the lion’s teeth for himself. (Now the whole planet is doomed. The only way this bird could any more powerful, is with internet access!)

Favorite part: it was a dang good short all around, but I give props to the lion crying after his steak is eaten. Normally, crying in media annoys me, but it sounds great here. Kudos!

Country Boy

“♫Teacher’s gonna get’cha cause she’s not a fool…♫

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Bob McKimson and Paul Mith; Musical Score by Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released on February 9, 1935.

Morning time is the time that all well behaved bunnies go to school. (To learn how to make clothes. Living naked is a sin!) So, for fun’s sake, let’s look in on the one naughty rabbit. You can tell he is naughty because he tries to avoid school by hiding amongst the poultry. That and his name is Peter. The universal name for naughty rabbits. Yes, this is essentially a retelling of the classic story. More importantly, Beatrix Potter was still alive at this time of time. And I wonder, did she ever watch cartoons? Was she a fan, with how much she loved animals wearing clothes, and having adventures beyond the typical mate/survive/end up dead lifestyle they usually have?

Yeah, yeah, off topic. Peter heads off after being caught by his mother, but on the way, he spots a delicious looking garden. But before he can sneak in and have a feast worthy of the best salad bars, he is caught by three of his goody-goody classmates. (Heck if I know the genders. Bernice Hansen uses the same voice for all of them. And girls don’t wear nothing but dresses.) They warn him that not only will he end up as a stew ingredient should he trespass, but they will do the most horrible thing they can do to him: tattle. (All in song form, too) Before things get too ugly, they hear the school bell and rush off. Clever little Peter, though, he doubles back at the last moment and heads off to what I want to call “Vegetable Valley.” (If only it was a valley.)

He starts with the carrots, and then heads to the peas. Well, at least they seem like peas. Really, they’re jumping beans. (Which makes me wonder what they were originally, before the farmer just gave up and let the animals rule this part of the garden.) Maybe he should stick to things his body can actually digest? Beets! Even the bull is feasting here. (Is the farmer okay with that?) A tug of war between the two herbivores ends with the bovine in the well, and its cries alert farmer McGregory of the intrusion. Chase time! (Just like in the original stories, he never questions how a rabbit was able to make/purchase clothing and put it on without hands or a complex brain.)

Peter could run, but why not take the mower? Not only does it mean he can run without using energy, but he can tear up the area. (That’ll teach that farmer for his lack of sharing! Sucks to your hard work!) Still, it doesn’t end especially well for the rabbit. He ends up flying through the farmer’s syrup harvest, and his hen house. Once more, he can hide amongst the poultry. And if he wants to keep his body unstewed, he’s going to have to. (If this Peter wasn’t a child, I’d say this is the untold story of how Peter Sr. ended up in a pie. Mcgregory: “Why does this chicken taste like rabbit?”)

Favorite part: The rabbit children’s song. (It’s catchy)

The Mouse on 57th Street

“Oh boy! Da diamond!”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, and Bob Bransford; Layouts by Maurice Noble and Owen Fitzgerald; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on February 25, 1961.

With the holidays around, my thoughts turn to all the tasty treats that occur this time of year. (I’m not big on this “loving your fellow man”, stuff. They’re annoying) I’m particularly fond of sweets. So, if I was on the “57th” street that the title mentions, my eyes would float right past the diamond on display at “Spiffany’s.” Sure, the Sunflame diamond is the largest uncut diamond in the world, but I’m no geologist. It’s just a rock to me. That bakery looks interesting, though.

What a display! The world’s largest uncut rum cake! (I don’t even care for the flavor of rum, but it sure beats that rock.) The mouse featured in the title seems to think so. (Poor guy. He’s just another mouse without a name. We’ll call him: “Al.” (Kaholic) He tries some of that cake, and love it so much, he eats a tunnel right through! Even though, most of the liquor should have cooked out, there still seems to be enough to get the little guy soused. (Of course, being so little, what small amount was there would probably do the trick.) He staggers home.

After ingesting that much rum, all anyone wants to do is just lounge around and wait for the hangover to dissipate. (You’d think with my constant griping about the world, I’d drink too, but the threat of a hangover scares me. I’m not one for pain. That and I dislike the taste.) Too bad for Al, he lives next to a construction site, and all that machinery seems all the louder when it is several times his size. Head throbbing, he tries to get a drink. Just then, one of the workers notices that rock, and comments on the size of that “ice.” Ice? Why, that’d be just the thing to fix Al up! His size makes it easy for him to “borrow” the stuff.

Yet, everyone seems to get really excited over the loss of their rock. Just go find another one. Is it really that hard? (Well, seeing as it is a diamond and not talc, yes.) Naturally, since it is NOT ice, it’s not helping. Al goes back for that drink, and is spotted by two cops. Big, dumb, Muldoon, and the smaller, smarter, (no name), Earl. They chase the rodent all over, but he always manages to barely escape. (His rock appears to fluctuate in size. Maybe it really IS ice?) While being chased through the subway, he manages to escape out and run over a manhole, just as Earl jumps out via it to avoid a train. The rock comes off of Al and lads on Earl. Since Muldoon is the dumb one, he begins hitting his partner over the head with his billy club.

Al, meanwhile has gotten over the hangover. Well, since that’s settled, how about some more rum cake? (They even refilled the part he already ate.) Ah, how sweet life can be!

Favorite part: Both cops have the exits of a pipe guarded. When Earl shines his flashlight, Muldoon shoots thinking it is the perpetrator. Earl’s response: “Why do you hate me, Muldoon?”

One Step Ahead of my Shadow

“Me show you Melican way!”

Animation by Isadore Freleng and Max Maxwell; Music by Frank Marsales. A Merrie Melody released on February 4, 1933.

With a title like that, I’d assume our picture would take place in the land of the rising sun. I guess China is a close enough choice. We dumb Americans think all Asian cultures are one and the same. Considering the time period it’s coming from, should we expect plenty of stereotype jokes? Yes, but luckily most of them seem pretty subdued. Seems the animators were more focused on “the Chinese have long braids of hair” jokes, over the classic “they have freakishly large teeth!” ones. (Though there is one of those in here.)

Although, really, we shouldn’t make fun. The people there are not that different than you or me. They have traffic, folks who quote “Amos N Andy,” and Mickey clones, just like we do! (Numbers 704 and 251, to be precise.) And who is our hero of the day? It’s a young oriental boy named…I won’t lie. I’m afraid to supply him with a name, in case I somehow choose something offensive. I’ll just go with Craig.

Craig sings the title song, while on his way to pick up his girlfriend for a date. If it isn’t Fortune Cookie! (And if it isn’t, it must be her sister, Fortune Wafer.) The two enjoy some swinging. (That’s not a music joke. They use a literal swing. Do couples still do this sort of thing?) Let’s step away from the two for minute and look at another character. Some fat guy who you’d probably expect to be the antagonist, at first glance. Not only does he treat his rickshaw driver as a horse, (but then, he IS neighing. Why do they keep doing that?) but he also has claws, and takes joy in finding the meter go down to zero after hitting a bump. (Actually, that one is rather relatable.)

He heads into a building, and they start swinging. (That’s not a literal description. They play some music) The building in question is right next to where Craig and his gal pal are playing, so they go inside and have more fun. Now we’ll meet the antagonist. A dragon that is in captivity. (It’s easier to worship something when it doesn’t run away.) It has fire breath, (which these type of dragons don’t normally do, so maybe this one IS just a zoo exhibit.) and it is able to melt the bars of its cage and escape. It begins terrorizing everyone, but Craig has the rather brilliant idea of shoving some fireworks down its throat. This doesn’t kill it, but it does succeed in blowing off all the skin and organs within.

Favorite Part: While Craig paddles his boat along the Yangtze (I’m sure there are other rivers in China, but its the one I’m declaring canon) he sees a quacking goose eat some fish. The last fish is big enough to turn the tables.