He was her Man

“Johnny! Where are you?”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Paul Smith and Cal Dalton; Musical Supervision by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on January 2, 1937.

Oh, boy. You thought the Censored Eleven were bad? They kind of are. This… this is worse. This was uncomfortable to watch. Hardly any humor, but plenty of… of… heck, I’ll start from the beginning.

In a world of anthropomorphic mice and birds, we find Frankie. Her name is never mentioned in the picture, but she is in a relationship with a guy named Johnny, and she does take a gun on him, so it’s appropriate. Right now though, she is trying to sell apples in the middle of winter. You know, the season of misery. Business isn’t going too well. I mean, one prick just eats it out of her hand without a cent. I’d love to defend her honor.

It’s not just being chivalrous, she’s adorable. Sure, it wouldn’t work out between us, but she really deserves better. She finally sells one, and heads back to her living quarters. She is blindly in love with Johnny Mouse. He’s… well, I’m sorry to break out the foul language, but he’s an asshole. He not only forces her to freeze outside, peddling her wares, he also does nothing to help, takes away every cent she makes, and forces her to do the cooking. And yet, she is still hopelessly obsessed with him.

Seeing as how I’ve never been in an abusive relationship, I can’t pretend I know how awful it is. I do know, that nobody deserves such an awful life, and I wish Frankie knew that. She almost gets an out, too. Johnny sees another mouse doe across the street, and falls for her on the spot. Keeping with his dick cancer ways, he leaves without telling Frankie. (I guess they weren’t married. He’s just a cock ulcer she can’t bare to part with.) Oh, wait. He did leave a note. A very brief, short note that doesn’t tell her anything.

For all she knows, he could have been kidnapped. Or killed. (Not like he doesn’t deserve it.) Still, she’s unhappy. She shouldn’t be. This is her chance to live her own life, but she wants the anus cyst. The poor thing. An unspecified amount of time passes, and Frankie now makes her living singing in a saloon, singing the title song. (The mice who are partaking of the free lunch don’t move until there’s a good shot of them on screen. Just so you know.)

Frankie is still upset. When you know who walks in? That taint scab of a mouse, Johnny. Still with his new doe. And Frankie? She’s excited to see him! What kind of Stockholm syndrome did Johnny employ? This is painful to see! Oh, but it gets better. As Frankie begs him to take her back, he…he…he smacks her right in the face! Sure, her body reacts like a cartoon would, but it isn’t funny. No matter what kind of music they play.

Frankie tries to fight back, but Johnny is relentless. He punches her! Multiple times! He grabs her neck and shakes her around! He feels no remorse either! This…this… this is f*cked up! Frankie happens to find a gun, and well, I can’t say I blame her, but she shoots the rectum tumor. And she immediately feels bad. I mean, it’s a good thing she isn’t happy to have killed someone, but she needs to get away from this guy. He’s vile, he’s awful, he’s…getting up?

Yeah, turns out the bullets just barely grazed him, so he’s still alive. At least Frankie is still angry enough to break a bottle over his head. So, how should we end such an unpleasant cartoon? Have the two switch roles. Johnny sells the apples, while Frankie lounges around. Giving her “lover” another bottle whack whenever he looks at anyone else. She really decided to stay with him. I’m going to have to believe it’s sorely to keep others safe from this fecal pus sack. I think I’ve made my point.

Favorite Part: Well, I guess there was one part that wasn’t too bad. When Frankie climbs the stairs to Johnny’s place, she seems to pass by a Porky cameo. It wasn’t really worth repeating twice more, but at least it keeps the Johnny time limited.

Personal Rating: 1. I wouldn’t recommend you watch this. Go watch UPA’s “Rooty Toot Toot,” instead. It’s a much better retelling of the tragedy of Johnny and Frankie.

Naughty but Mice

“Sleep tight, ole pal.”

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Story by Rich Hogan; Animation by Phil Monroe; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on May 30, 1939.

If you’re from the future, you might know this but: 2020 A.D. was one of the low points in the history of years. I wouldn’t expect anyone to forget, but humanity’s stupidity never ceases to amaze. Perhaps in the future, it will be offensive to mention, and people will try and censor any cartoons that have the characters wearing face masks. The babies. Well, so you don’t forget, here’s one last film to end said year with. About illness, no less.

Chuck’s fifth film, and the debut of Sniffles. (Who apparently was never voiced by Bernice Hansen as I’ve previously stated. Blast that lack of on screen names! Instead, it seems to have been by one Margaret Hill, who also supplied the voice for Andy Panda, and a couple of Toms.) He’s earned that name, seeing as he has  a cold. He has an idea of how to go about getting a cure, and that’s by visiting the local drug store for a cold remedy. (That’s all it takes? And here I thought that the common cold couldn’t be cured. Sniffles made me look like more of a moron than I usually do.) The sign says the place is closed, but normal rules don’t apply to Sniffles. He slips in through the mail slot.

So many choices, and only about six and a half minutes to select.  Sniffles opts for the first one he comes across. It must be the best. It has “XLNT” written on the side. (Xiphosurans Love Nude Tabloids) It has another label on it that Sniffles either doesn’t see or doesn’t dignify: 125% alcohol. (Forget how impossible it is, alcohol kills viruses.) Dangerous enough, but Sniffles proceeds to take a human sized dose. (Does being dead count as being cured? I mean, the virus will go with you.)

That puts some fire in the belly! Sniffles cools himself down with a drink from a random glass. It works, so I guess it was some form of dairy. Now, the drunken stupor. But before things get too crazy, Sniffles runs into a friendly face. A living, electric razor. (Not too crazy.) Since the mouse is plastered, this could possibly be a hallucination, but I doubt it. Too much evidence contradicts that later. The razor (should we call it Buzzy? We should call it Buzzy.) has sympathy for Sniffles, who has something to share too: his cold.

What a worthless remedy. If it can’t immediately solve a problem, why even bother with it? Either way, whatever pathogen that can give a mouse cold-like symptoms, can also infect Buzzy. (So, humans don’t have a chance.) Sniffles is a good guy, and goes to get more tonic for his new friend to take. The machine must have some sort of digestive tract, as he can take the tonic, and get just as drunk as his mouse pal. His stupor barely lasts before he passes out. Sniffles treats him as one of the deceased. (Since he’s drunk, it’s cute.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               There’s a cat in the store, and he or she finally shows up, taking note of the still drunk Sniffles. Before it can nab him, Sniffles falls into a claw game. That has no ceiling? (Someone could easily reach in there and take many goodies. Not me, though. I’m an angel.) Cats always carry change, so the feline decides to take a chance, and win dinner. (It’s a pretty sweet machine. Prizes range from perfume to a camera. And all for only five cents! (Which I guess would now be 92 cents as I type this. Still…)

After only three tries, the cat wins the desired prize. (Those games aren’t rigged, but only select few are allowed to win. The gods make sure of that.) Buzzy comes to, and notices what fate is to befall the heroic soul who healed him! After infecting him. (Still a hero in my book.) Attacking as only a razor can, Buzzy shaves the cat of nearly all its fur. The cat flees, meaning Sniffles will live until tomorrow, barring his illness getting worse. As he thanks his savior, he sneezes again. The force sending him back into the machine.

Favorite Part: Buzzy’s manner of speech. He only talks in the sounds a razor can make, and yet, I have no trouble understanding him. It must be heard to be believed.

Personal Rating: 3

Believe it or Else

“I don’t believe it!”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Story by Dave Monahan; Animation by Virgil Ross; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on June 25, 1939.

You ever hear of “Ripley’s Believe it or not”? It’s a bit obscure. Newspaper comics, books, museums, and more: all to inform you of things you might just claim as false. I mean, a little boy named Chalres Schulz getting a drawing published? Preposterous. I’m sure he never went anywhere, did anything, knew anyone.

So yeah, obscure it may be, it was still worth a parody in a Warner Bros. picture. Brought to us by the master of gags: Tex Avery. Imagination is limitless, so we’re guaranteed a good time! Egghead is also here, but he’s going to play the role of doubting thomas. (Which isn’t fun to be. Be warned, children.)

What sort of oddities, strangeities, and weirdities could we possibly be shown? Example: a man has been drinking fifty quarts of milk a day for two years. Would you believe that all those calories didn’t kill him? It just makes him unleash a good lowing. (Which is odd. Cows give milk, they don’t drink it. Would eating enough apples make you act like a tree?) There’s a snake charmer, (Whose hood looks more like a shell than anything. Cute gag though.) and a man who builds ships in bottles. (You might not be impressed, but I am. I couldn’t even fit my head in one.)

A man calls pigs from several states away, (you don’t believe that most of our states are just misshapen blobs? We said “Believe or else!”) another hasn’t left his room in years. (Jails frown on that, you know.) There’s even a human basketball! (I’m not jealous. You’re jealous.) Keeping in “Ripley’s” style, there’s even some demonstrations on brain tricks you can play with your friends. (If I had friends, you know I’d give it a try.)

Take a look through the telescope. There’s life on Mars you know. (Warner cartoons with martians? No!) Well, it’s really just “Buck Dodgers.” (What a bad pun. Why isn’t he named “Duck?”) And he’s an over the top gay stereotype. The third I’ve seen this year. Okay, there’s life on Mars. Is there any on the Moon? Nope, and we’ll check to prove it- Hey! There’s men on the moon! Men who sing! I wouldn’t have thought that possible, what with the lack of an atmosphere and all, but I guess I’m just wrong about everything.

With what we’ve seen, is there any reason to return to Earth and see what wonders are still there? I’d say so. There’s a wishing well that responds to the wishes made. It doesn’t grant them. Technology isn’t there yet. There’s even a device that allows us to hear the ants talk. (Must be a newly discovered species, as our narrator identifies it as a male, but I see no wings.) Last up, we’re going to see the classic trick: sawing a person in half. Egghead still doubts, despite all he’s experienced, and offers himself as a test subject.

Believe it or Not! (By Dr. Foolio)

Today, a one Egghead Penner found out that the human body can survive in two halves! His head and torso stayed in one location, but his waist and legs walked off by themselves!

This drawing of a nose was submitted by Bradley Daniels, of Annapolis, Maryland.

TRY THIS TRICK!

Draw a square. Cut the square in half. Magically, you now have two rectangles! Amaze your friends!

 

Favorite Part: Seeing the berth of a baby, for the first time on screen. (It’s much more funny when you hear it spoken, as opposed to reading it.)

Personal Rating: 3

 

Past Perfumance

“Holy smoke!”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, Lloyd Vaughan; Layouts by Robert Givens; Backgrounds by Phil DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Music by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on May 21, 1955.

The year is 1913. The place is Super Magnifique Productions. It’s a movie studio that as the name suggests, is in France. So, Pepe should be around shortly. But what reason would he have to be here? I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s a movie in production. With animals. Lots of animals! I’m not quite sure what sort of plot they have planned, but seeing as it is French, plot probably isn’t their biggest concern. (Maybe they’re just going to adapt some of Saint-Saens’ work. He’d still be alive)

Things are going smoothly enough, but the man in charge of casting the animals, (who is voiced by Arthur Q. Bryan. I almost didn’t recognize him. So talented!) has at least one problem: the movie needs a deodorized skunk. He doesn’t have that. He doesn’t even have a skunk period. What to do? Well, I’ve heard that if want a cow in your movie, your best bet is to paint spots on a horse because cows don’t resemble themselves on camera. So, logically, painting a cat should produce a similar result for those in need of skunks.

While the cat is getting prettied up, Pepe shows up looking for autographs. (I’m not entirely sure if people are hearing and understanding his speaking) As a skunk, he scares most everyone off. The director, his oui-men, the animals, and the casting director once he returns. Pepe is quite happy to take the cat off his hands, because she looks like a skunk and therefore, must be a skunk. Appearances are never deceiving. Penelope isn’t one for dating co-stars, and tries to flee. Plenty of movie sets to hide out in. Too bad Pepe finds her on each one.

She hides on the balcony, made famous in “Julio and Romette.” He calls to her in the words of the immortal bard himself. She hides in a film canister on a set of “The Two Musketeers.” (Maybe there was supposed to be three, but Pepe ruins the shot before such an amount can get on screen.) He finds here there too. He even finds her in a screening room. The characters in the silent movie that is playing, can smell him too. (So, they broke their fourth wall, but not THE fourth wall. They broke the eighth wall, then? If they did acknowledge us, the audience, would that be breaking the fourth wall squared?)

No matter where she runs, Pepe is there. In appropriate costume too. (He looks good in that Tarzan getup. Almost turns me on.) Soon, Penelope has run out of ways to run. Pepe has her trapped on a cliff set. She’d rather jump than be with him, so if that is what must be done, it’s the action she’ll take. Pepe rushes to look, and finds she landed in some water. Which means… the paint washes off! Pepe sees the paint washing off! For once, he realizes that he wasn’t in pursuit of a skunk! What will he do with that knowledge?

Well, I guess he’s desperate. His answer is to paint over his stripe and continue the chase. That should solve everything. Pepe should write a book about how to score.

Favorite Part: Shaking up the formula and letting Pepe know he was mistaken. A nice swerve to throw at us. When your cartoons are the basic chase plot, it helps to keep them from growing stale.

Personal Rating:3

Injun Trouble

“Groovy, man.”

Directed by Bob McKimson; Story by Cal Howard. Animation: Ted Bonnicksen, Jim Davis, LaVerne Harding, and Ed Solomon; Backgrounds by Bob McIntosh; Layouts by Bob Givens, and Jaime Diaz; Film Editors: Hal Geer and Don Douglas; Voice Characterization by Larry Storch; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Merrie Melody released on September 20, 1969.

Well girls and boys, hamsters and tuna, this is it. The last cartoon from Warners during their golden age. In fact, it’s so recent that my father was already alive for about two months when it debuted, and my mother was only four days away from leaving the womb. We’ve truly come to an end of an era. (Though, since I review these in random order, we’re still far from done.)

Plot? Not really. It’s the final cartoon, they can skimp on the plot this time. Instead, we’re given a bunch of gags that mainly relate to Native Americans. You might be wary, but these are some decent quality jokes. Reminds me an awful lot of what you’d see during the heyday of “The Muppet Show.” (Let us have that, Disney+) These are tied together with the continuing adventures of Cool Cat, driving his dune buggy.

The natives don’t take too kindly to big cats in these parts, and one tries to chase him down. Cool Cat drives as fast as he can, and the bridge he crosses does him a solid, by falling away when the man and horse try to cross. The man falls rather quickly, leaving the horse clutching the cliff face, calling for help. (He sounds an awful lot like Quick Draw McGraw. Guy had to find some way to make ends meet after people realized he and El Kabong were one and the same.)

Cool Cat answers his call to give him a hand. (He applauds.) Good strength in that cat, as he manages to heave the horse back to safety. (To show he’s a good sport, he also throws a rope at the man.) C.C. wouldn’t mind continuing to hang with his new equine pal, but his car is rolling away. The horse helps him catch up by giving him a good kick. Maybe the others natives will act a bit more kindly to their guest? Well, one of them does try to stick Cool Cat with a portly dame. How… generous? (I’m not really sure what his motivations were.)

The gags continue. One native puts a bucket on his head to be a “pail face.” A rather fetching one asks the tiger if he wants to “Indian wrestle.” He happily/hornily agrees, then finds his opponent was the muscly man behind the rock. A third channels Groucho. Seem like friendly folks. Still, they clearly want Cool Cat to leave, seeing as they have smoke signals stating “Cool Cat go home.” (When’d they even learn his name?)

Wish granted. He exits their territory and enters the town of “Hot Foot.” Interesting place, this. The horses play human shoes, and the horse doctor, as his name implies, treats humans. Cool Cat sees a building that sounds like his kind of place: a topless bar. All right! Let’s see some knockers! Aw crap. The bartender is a guy. (I’m not sexist, just straight.) Cool Cat has a drink when someone else enters the bar. He looks familiar. But, it couldn’t be!

The two start up a game of cards. (Love C.C.’s poker face.) The tiger proudly shows his four aces. Seeing as how the other guy has a gun with his cards, he has the better hand. Yeah, this doesn’t look like a good place for Cool Cat to hang, after all. So, time for one of the most creative endings I’ve ever seen to a cartoon. Cool Cat declares that he is “cutting out” and, grabbing some scissors, actually cuts himself out of the animation cel. (That IS cool. I guess you have to admit the guy lives up to his name now)

Still, we can’t end Looney Tunes without one last quote, and I feel that Cool Cat chooses some pretty awesome closing words. “So cool it now, ya hear?” Reading too deep I may be, but I see it as a way of saying “We’ve been at this since 1930. We’re ready to stop. Disney and MGM have already pulled out of the business, and frankly, we don’t mind letting Walter Lantz have it all to himself. Enjoy our reruns, we have plenty of them.” And so, like the best westerns (not the motels) Looney Tunes rode off into the sunset. Shane! Shane! Well done, Shane!

Favorite Part: It was actually hard to choose. (I really did enjoy the jokes.) I choose the smile the horse gives when he boots his rider off the cliff. Clearly, this has been a fantasy of his for some time.

Personal Rating: I really, REALLY, want to give this a three, but the racial stereotyping and common sense tell me that I can’t. I’ll have to give it a 2. If you aren’t bothered by a little teasing of the Red Man, you might agree with a 3.

Hiss and Make Up

“I don’t want to hear one peep out of you!”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy; Story by Michael Maltese; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on September 11, 1943.

As an animal expert, I know that certain animals can’t be kept together and still live a happy life. Like a mongoose and a cobra. Or an anteater and a termite. Or a turkey and an octopus. Or the most common: a dog and a cat. They’re just not meant to be together unless the feline is an ingredient. Don’t believe me? The animal expert? Maybe this picture will convince you?

Our prototype Granny has three pets. Roscoe the dog, Wellington the cat, and Tweetee the canary. Two of these three are incompatible as previously stated, and therefore fight like dats and cogs. The old woman can’t stand it and finally tears into the two. Not only do they fight constantly, but they have their other quirks that add frustration to an otherwise happy home. Wellington doesn’t catch enough mice, and Roscoe tends to track mud indoors. She delivers an ultimatum: one more disturbance out of either of them, and they’ll end up outside, suffering in Satan’s splooge: snow.

The two try to behave, oh yes. But have you ever tried to fight your basic instincts? I mean, would you last if you had to stop eating bacon? Or watching “The Mandolorian?” It’d be like asking me to stop watching “Fantasia.” It’s against the ancient laws of nature that have been in effect since life first came into being. In short, the two are having trouble. Roscoe gets Wellington’s tail to be rocking chair’ed, and Wellington smacks Roscoe while trying to get a fly. Still, it’s not enough to get the granny’s attention, and the two are still allowed to stay inside. The old lady heads to bed, leaving the pets to adhere to the honor system.

The two keep the tricks coming. Using the two’s  insecurities against one another, which includes fake mice and real mud. Still, they both manage to keep their owner from finding out, and are still inside. It’s time to finish this. The old woman would never forgive the cat if he were to attack the canary who enjoys the pair’s arguments about as much as the lady does. (You just have to learn to find the enjoyment in these situations. Once I did that, I found my siblings to be endless sources of entertainment.) So, by gluing some feathers to the cat’s maw, and hiding the bird, Roscoe’s victory is nearly assured.

As to be expected, the woman delivers a beat down to the cat. (I’m sad, I don’t get to see the cat abuse. That’s why I watch cartoons. To see the things I can’t in reality.) It doesn’t last long, as Tweetee reveals himself. (You’d think he’d be all for getting rid of a dangerous predator.) The old lady is happy to see her bird alive, but the cat is not pleased with what the dog just pulled. Time for the old “mad dog” routine, courtesy of some shaving cream. Why does a (most likely) unmarried lady have that? Actually… I don’t want to know.

Stop typing your theories!

Roscoe gets his turn at a beating. This doesn’t set well with him, so he heads toward the sleeping cat. (Many back and forth shots here. I’m not fond of those, but at least it’s over faster than when Monty Python did it.) Another fight ensues, but the bird is reaching his breaking point. In fact, even after the other two successfully dodge more blame, they immediately find the canary ruining the place, whilst making their usual calls. In turn, they try and kill the bird off. Not the best position to be caught in. Speaking of…

The old woman has had enough and the two are banished to the outdoors. Roscoe has the right attitude and looks miserable, but why is Wellington smiling? I’ve always said that cats were unintelligent, but I always though it was just a petty jab made to hide my own weaknesses. Well, he managed to do one last thing before they were thrown out: opening his lips reveals Tweetee trapped behind his teeth.

Favorite Part: When proto-Granny is coming downstairs while Roscoe is trying to remove his framing. Unable to clean up the mess in time, he initiates a blackout to keep Granny upstairs.

Personal Rating: 3

Strangled Eggs

“Some pretty posies picked for a pretty pippin.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by George Grandpre, Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, and Tom Ray; Layouts by Robert Gribborek; Backgrounds by Bob Singer; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on March 18, 1961.

Foghorn and me, we agree on a number of things. Most notably, cold weather is a miserable experience that no living thing should have to live through. Especially if you’re living in squalor the way Foghorn is. But, you know, Prissy has a pretty nice place, and she is always pining for a husband, maybe pretending to be into her could allow Foggy to crash at her coop for the worst season nature ever spawned?

Not much is needed for the plan to go off hitchless. Foghorn gets in quite easily, and it looks like his cold problem is solved. (Not like Prissy would say much if given the chance. Her dialogue in this picture is nothing but her trademark “Yes.” and a few “No’s.” What a sad way to make your final film appearance.) Hark! A knock at the door. And an abandoned child. We know him as Henery Hawk, but Foghorn is convinced he is food. (Eating children left on our property. Another trait we share)

You might think Foghorn is just trying to adhere to the rule of “eat or be eaten” but he really does think Henery is a squab. The little hawk is quick to correct him, and Foghorn immediately tries to kill him for being a predator. (Who is also making his final appearance on the silver screen.) Prissy may not have a variable vocabulary, but she is smitten with the chick nonetheless. He is staying as her own. So, let’s see: Foghorn can either choose to die by beak, or die by sleet. (After which, I’m sure Henery would still eat him.) Neither sounds very pleasant.

Alternative time! What if Foghorn took the kid outside, under the pretense that he is teaching the child about how to be a chicken? Then they’d be out of Prissy’s sight, and she wouldn’t have to know if anything bad were to befall her foundling. She allows it, and Foggy takes Henery out for some training. And at first, his efforts seem sincere. He takes Henery up high for some crowing practice, and despite having an opportunity to push Henery off, and die via gravity’s hand, (because if he’s young enough to be left on doorstep, he’s also too young to fly) he actually tries to pull if off without a trick. Henery uses the height to try and hang the rooster.

Too dark? Henery quickly transfers the chicken to a cauldron, and prepares to make a meal. Foghorn escapes and berates the kid. Leading to some interesting thoughts from his tormentor. He’s not trying to kill the ones he is being raised by, but the scent of chicken is awakening his primal instincts. (And really, is it his fault that chickens are so dang delicious?) Enough philosophy, back to the original plan of trying to kill the bird. Foghorn tries to pass off sitting on grenades, and finding landmines as sitting on eggs and scratching for food, respectively. (They backfire of course.)

Well, if Henery is going to be a chicken, (which it looks like he has accepted) Foghorn is going to be the hawk. (Even managing to glide on thermals! Where was this guy in “Chicken Run?” Oh yeah, a different continent.) Henery flees to his mother, and the two take shelter, leaving Foghorn to crash face first into the coop he so desperately wanted to live in at the beginning.

Favorite Part: When Henery reveals that he is a hawk. Foghorn immediately grabs a gun.

Personal Rating: 3

Road to Andaly

“You crazy sthtupid bird!”

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

Apparently, this short’s working title was “Tequila Mockingbird.” I won’t lie, I like that one better.

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

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

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

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

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

According to Speedy, as soon as they wiggle their rear ends, their tails will fall off. (Oh. That wasn’t what I was expecting) They give it a try, and it works! They are officially tailless! (From Malcom, this is really just an embarrassing inconvenience. Sylvester just lost a limb.) The two have no choice, but to head back to town for glue. As for Speedy? He really should have kept that salt in a safer location. It pours on his tail, works its magic, and he has no choice but to follow his pursuers back to town.

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

Personal Rating: 2

Nelly’s Folly

“The world’s fist singin’ gyraffe!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Rating: 4

 

Daffy Dilly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Rating: 3