Hare We Go

“A-nobody believes-a the world, she’s round.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Phil DeLara, Charles McKimson, John Carey, Rod Scribner, and J.C. Melendez; Layouts by Cornett Wood; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on January 6, 1951.

Christopher Columbus has a new theory! The planet we live on, is not flat as many people suspect, but round! (Although, didn’t most people by 1492 KNOW it was round, but thought that the opposing side was nothing but danger water? Correct me if I’m wrong. Please. That means someone reads these) The king of Spain (who has a voice that I’m guessing helped inspire McKimson to create Speedy) is one of those “flatters” and throws Chris out of his palace.

Bugs is just outside, and he believes Chris. (All his underground traveling has taught him much about the globe. Did you know it is composed of layers?) In fact, he can prove it! He just throws a baseball over the horizon, and waits for it to come back adorned with various stamps. (A trick he must have learned from Porky who did the same thing in “Kristopher Kolumbus, Jr.”) The queen herself is a little more believing than her husband, promising Chris plenty of riches should he succeed. 3 ships with crews later, and they’re on their way.

Since Bugs was the first to believe, he is made mascot and brought along. For some reason, this gets the crew upset. Rabbits are jinxes?

 

Huh. Whod’ve guessed?

Chris is the man in charge though, and he says the rabbit stays. They’re good luck! (Well, their feet are. The rest is just tasty.) The days go by and the crew only grows more restless. Surely the lack of land is because of the mascot. It’s not like the ocean is a really big place. Actually, that probably isn’t true at all. Columbus is certain that they will reach land by the ‘morrow and Bugs relays the news. The crew is elated.

Weeks later…

Oops. A little miscalculation. Still no land. And since the mascot was the one saying that, guess who the crew blames? Someone has gotta leave the ship, and Bugs is too beloved by the rest of the world, so the crew better know how to swim. Using a painting of an island, Bugs is able to get all of his pursuers off the ship. And the other two ships leave. Bugs says they were fired. Chris isn’t too happy with this, but Bugs is confident that the two are more than enough people required.

With no other crew, Bugs takes up the job as cook. Since they’ve been at sea this long, the food is rather slim. (I guess they ate all the rats. Should’ve left a couple to keep breeding, boys.) Bugs serves a bean, and tells Columbus that imagination can help. Chris tries it. Apparently, imagination also makes rabbits look like poultry.

     

Wow. I’m learning so much today!

The two are so caught up in the chase, that neither one notices they actually HAVE hit land. Naturally, Columbus takes all the credit. Cool as he is, Bugs lets him have it. (No use changing the history books. Bugs is a time lord)

Favorite part: The debate Chris had with the king. He claims the world is round like his head. The king smashes it and claims it is flat like his head.

At Your Service Madame

“Can’t you ever try and behave yourself like the others?”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Don Williams and Cal Dalton; Music by Norman Spencer. A Merrie Melody released on August 29, 1936.

You know, my grandparents once bought me a DVD set that was said to contain all of Porky’s cartoons. Looking at the cover, I could tell it wasn’t a licensed product. But hey, a gift is a gift and I DID want to see every Porky cartoon. Sadly, it was shoddily made. First off, it was clear that whoever made this, did so by just filming Cartoon Network. Therefore, some of the cartoons had jokes edited out, and ugly recolorings of black and white shorts. The idiot even left snippets of the episodes of Toonheads that were airing certain cartoons. Second, he didn’t include “Dime to Retire” (I only was able to notice this, because it was one I saw as a kid and was looking forward to seeing again) Lastly, (and the reason I’m bringing this story up at all) two of the cartoons didn’t star Porky at all. Instead, it was Piggy Hamhock.

Moral: Don’t lie to a Looney Tune fanatic. You’ll get caught.

Now then, on this day every year, we salute all mothers for what they do for us. However, sometimes, even they need a little help. Such is the case of Mrs. Hamhock, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Our story begins on a tranquil morning. The Hamhock matriarch calls her children to breakfast. One of whom, is Piggy. (This is before his more well known short, “Pigs is pigs.”) He pretty much behaves the same way we last saw him, but he wears pajamas this time around. (Ironically, his mom doesn’t wear anything under her apron. And that makes me uncomfortable)

Enter our villain of the short. Why, it’s W.C. Squeals! Making his first appearance as well! He’s a bum here, that gets his news by reading street newspapers. What a headline that captures his interest! Mrs. Hamhock is a widow with a fortune. (R.I.P. Mr. Hamhock, Piggy Sr.) Well, when you you live on the streets, and are a bachelor yourself (and your nostrils light up, and your snout changes color) wooing a lonely (rich) lady is the gentlemanly thing to do. Good thing he’s right outside their house.

The Mrs. (who, if my logic is correct, (and it always is) is named Fluffy) is happy to let some random person she doesn’t know, but knows who she is, into her house. She maybe well versed in manners, but it was her husband who had all the common sense. Squeals admires her home. To his credit, he doesn’t try to marry her on the spot or anything. Instead, his plan is to distract her while he robs the safe. Asking for a little piano music, he serenades her with the title song, using the noise to drown out his safe opening.

Piggy may be a piggy, but he isn’t one to let his mother be swindled. Squeals keeps pushing the kid away, so he has to get some help from his siblings. They are quite the team, and manage to not only rough Squeals up a bit, but eject all the money from his pockets as well. She is quite grateful and gives them all kisses. (Although she never thanks Piggy. This is why he had to steal her pies later on) Having been caught, Squeals has no other option but to be on his way. He acts rather calm though. Much like Nixon did, he leaves with dignity.

The Hamhocks themselves were planned to have a series of cartoons. Each of the children were going to have one where they showed an example of one  of the deadly sins. Only the gluttony one made it. With how deliciously (hee hee) creepy it was, I’m saddened to know there could have been more.

Favorite part*: When one of the piglet’s pajamas comes undone, another one helps put it back into place. Helps enforce the fact that they are family, and will jump in to help each other when needed.

*(An honorable mention goes to Piggy pretending to brush his teeth by wetting his toothbrush. A tactic I used to pull as well)

Weasel While you Work

“That boy’s as strong as an ox. And just about as smart.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Warren Batchelder, Tom Ray, George Grandpre, and Ted Bonnicksen; Layouts and Backgrounds by Robert Gribbroek; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by John Seely. A Merrie Melody released on August 6, 1958.

Ah, Winter. A beau… actually, it’s rather ugly. Everything is cold, wet and damp. A peace… actually, the stillness is so pronounced that it could lead to a nervous breakdown. A fu… ACTUALLY, it isn’t fun either! It just makes one tired, listless, and irritable. So why would Foghorn enjoy such a miserable season? Well, it does give him the opportunity to try out some different tricks on old Barnyard Dawg. (Rolling him up into a snowman to be precise.)

Their usual rivalry is cut short by a third party: a weasel. This guy has actually appeared in a  few of Foghorn’s shorts, with this one being his final appearance. He’s pretty much just Taz. Doesn’t say much, salivates at every moment, and desperate for food. Also, he’s tiny! Maybe it’s just how he looks when compared to the giant rooster that is Foghorn, but he looks severely malnourished. Which could also explain his never-ending hunger. (Makes him look less like a mustelid, and more like a shrew.)

Teeny weeny weasel begins gnawing on Foghorn’s leg, but he offers up something even better: venison! (But there’s no deer around. Just the dog… Ohhhhhhh.) Placing a small pair of antlers on the dog is enough to fool the creature, and he tries to feast once more. Dawg automatically knows who is to blame for this, and gets the weasel to change his mind on some chicken for dinner. The dog freezes Foggy in a block of ice and leaves him in the company of the weasel and his axe.

Foghorn escapes that somehow. (I guess it was too boring to waste time animating.) For his next move, he dresses up his adversary as a seal and has the weasel carry him off. (All this talk of gourmet meat is driving my stomach crazy! But with 200 lbs. and counting, I don’t think a snack is such a good idea.) When the dog breaks free, I guess that’s the deciding point, as once the weasel has Foghorn in a pot, he won’t be swayed by any more suggestions. Good thing Foghorn has a giant ice sculpture of himself on standby. (When did he carve that? I’m sure I know why.) Weasel takes the bait and starts eating. (Don’t worry, it’s low calorie.) Foghorn tries to pull one more over on the dog, but the hound foresaw this, and tied a fake tail to a firecracker. So it seems that chickens DO fly when it snows in July!

Favorite part: B.D.’s spelling lesson. R-A-T spells chicken.

 

Lighter than Hare

“We’ve been invaded!”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Animation by Virgil Ross, Art Davis, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on December 17, 1960.

This is a weird one. By that title and that quote, you’d be sure this was a Bugs/Marvin picture. But it’s Bugs and Sam! Sam is an alien now. And you can’t claim he’s someone similar in voice and appearance, he flat out calls himself “Yosemite Sam of Outer Space.” (Because there’s a Yosemite outside of Earth?) Sadly, it’s just a generic Bugs short. I think Freleng just liked Jones’s martian and decided to do something similar.

So, we’ve got spaceman Sam; what is he doing coming down to our planet? Just the typical “bring back an Earth creature” thing every alien species that doesn’t want us dead, does. He chooses a rabbit, that lives in a garbage dump. (Not sure WHY Bugs is living there. I suppose it is a place hunters won’t try to bother him) Sam (who looks a bit like a pikmin) sends a robot to bring the rabbit back. In turn, Bugs uses it as a trash can. Which I guess destroys it, as Sam immediately tries a new tactic.

His next plan is to send a demolition squad to destroy the creature. (Good thing Earth has millions of species to choose from. Might I suggest a potato?) Bugs now notices he is having a close encounter of the second kind, and ducks into a shelter. The robots load it up with bombs, but Bugs managed to escape and sticks a magnet in the shelter, leading the bots to their doom. Robots are clearly going to be of no help. Sam decides to try his own luck.

He has an indestructible tank, but I don’t know what he was planning to do with it, as Bugs uses his own contraption to stick him with a TNT stick. Time to make a getaway! Good thing there was a set of rail tracks next to the dump. Bugs leaves on a handcart with Sam in pursuit. This is also one of those times that Bugs is able to spin in ears to possess the power of flight. Sam can keep pace with his jet-pack, but only as long as Bugs doesn’t replace it with another explosive.

When he hits his limit, Sam aims all his firepower at Bug’s hole, and demands his surrender. Bugs instead sends out a decoy with a bomb attached, and Sam takes his leave. Later that night, Bugs has his radio tuned into the frequency of the aliens and hears his prank pay off. Having had his fun, he tunes in for a little “Amos ‘n’ Andy.”

Favorite Part: One of Sam’s robots is clearly on loan from Marvin. It sounds just like him. And if you could give a robot a voice, you’d choose your own. Wouldn’t you?

Unnatural History

“One of the most difficult birds to train, is the pigeon.”

Directed by Abe Levitow; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ben Washam, Richard Thompson, and Keith Darling; Layouts and Backgrounds by Bob Singer; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on November 14, 1959.

As an animal lover, I can’t help but notice the parallels between us and them. It all boils down to one question: Are humans animals? Or are animals human? Our host, Dr. Beest Lee, (That’s really his first name? The X-Men weren’t around yet, so nobody in his childhood took him seriously. Well, he’s shown them all! He hosts this!) is here to guide us through several gags. It’s up to us to decide.

The most intelligent animal is  a good place to start. A chimpanzee is taking part in an experiment where he has to make use of boxes to get a banana. He is more clever than the unseen researchers give him credit for. Not only does he make it to the fruit, he saws around it in order to get at the fridge that was on top. (Actually, that was probably part of the test. Who puts a fridge on a chimp cage, and doesn’t expect it to get stolen?)

Chickens tend to live in factories these days, and some bits of technology are sure to rub off on them. Namely, laying cube-shaped eggs. And they show that old gag about the man trying to prove his dog can talk, but only asking questions whose answers sound similar to a basic dog call. That’s a little weak. What other gags we got?

Chibi-Bugs is being sent into outer space as some sort of… experiment?  What exactly is this supposed to accomplish? I suppose they were just trying to crossbreed lagomorphs. The bunny comes back with his Martian bride and offspring. And what of rodents? A groundhog is a natural meteorologist. (Although he now uses several pieces of high tech machinery to get info) A beaver damns a river. (Probably the best joke here.) And porcupines kiss despite the pain. (Also, that skunk looks a lot like Pepe. What is with all these cameos? Is the featured subject not strong enough to hold our attention?)

A chameleon is capable of changing color. Being from the 50’s, he is still under the illusion that he can match any background instantly. (Not plaid though, a lizard has his limits) And throughout the whole short, we’ve seen a poor dog waiting dutifully for his master to return. Luckily, we’re not given the “Jurassic Bark” treatment, as we see the reunion unfold. It’s not that cheerful. (The dog is irate to have been left alone for as long as he was. 3 years is nearly a third of his lifetime!)

Favorite Part: That beaver was pretty funny, but I like the elephant gag better. After a mouse gets some kicks terrifying one, he himself gets some comeuppance by an even smaller elephant. And you know what that means: Teeny procreated!

Dog Gone People

“Why Wupewt, you’we pwastewed!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Warren Batchelder, George Grandpre, Ted Bonnicksen, and Tom Ray; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on November 12, 1960.

One fine day, Elmer gets a call from his boss. He’s asked to do a favor, and unlike most people, he’s genuinely happy to do some extra work for no pay. At least this way he can get into his boss’s good graces. I’m sure he has some, even if his name is Mr. Crabtree. Elmer is tasked with watching the boss’s dog. He doesn’t make the best impression, mistaking the beast for the man upon opening his door. (How long have you worked for this guy?) Actually, that IS a good thing as Rupert there thinks he IS a man. And Crabtree (who, if he isn’t wearing glasses, should really see a doctor about those cataracts) insists he be treated as such. (Which could potentially lead to horrible psychological scarring and years of therapy. Although, a sick part of me would love to see his reaction, should his owner decide to euthanize him. I’m not well.)

Elmer (Being voiced here by Hal Smith. I’m not quite sure if he’s doing a better job than Mel or not. No disrespect to your guy’s memories, but there was only ONE Arthur Q. Bryan.)  doesn’t really have a choice but to obey, because in whatever company he’s a part of, you get promoted or kicked to the curb. (I guess you aren’t allowed to keep your current position. They’re very productive at Idon’tknowwhatwedo Inc.) If Elmer does a good job, he might just make Vice President. With such a delicate task at mind, you’d think Fudd would be a little more careful about offending the dog. Instead, he offends him by turning the T.V. to “Classie”, serves dog food for dinner, and gets out a dog sized bed. Each time, Rupert threatens to leave, or he just straight up calls the boss. (Who probably can’t understand him anyway, but what I want to know is: if Rupert thinks he is a human, what does he think this whole staying with Elmer thing is? Grown men don’t have a lot of sleepovers, do they?)

Come the next morning, Elmer goes to make some breakfast. Rupert heard him gargling and decides to do the same. Because he can’t read, (I’m guessing that explains the next bit) he chooses some Bay rum instead, and being that he has a smaller body, it takes just that sip to get him drunk. Human or not, I don’t think Crabtree would approve of his dog drinking. (For all we know, he’s underage.) Elmer thinks that a drive would be good for the dog, but I guess the dog isn’t as think as we drunk he is, and he takes the wheel. It’s not too long before they are pulled over and arrested. Crabtree does bail the two out, and isn’t actually going to fire Elmer. He’s definitely going up in the company. By which I mean painting a flagpole on the building. Despite the drunk driving, Rupert gets the Vice President position. It pays to be the man’s best friend.

Favorite Part: Rupert at the wheel. A drunk, non-anthropomorphized, dog joyriding in a car that isn’t his. This, my friends is comedy.

Bartholomew Versus the Wheel

“He might’ve been mixed up, but he wasn’t dumb.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by John Dunn; Animation by George Grandpre, Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder; Layouts by: Robert Gribbroek; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc, Leslie Barrings; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on February 29, 1964.

Reason why today’s short is interesting: McKimson is trying out a different visual style than usual. Looking a lot like the works of James Thurber. (Which means many people’s bodies blend into their clothing.) The only downside is that it’s about a decade too late to be considered “new” and “fresh.” For what it’s worth, it’s cute.

A rather ugly little boy narrates the story about his dog, Bartholomew. He’s a dog, therefore he is adorable. He also sounds a lot like Dino when he’s young. (I always suspected the snorkasaurus was the ancient ancestor that evolved into modern day canines, but nobody believed me.) He’s rather well behaved too. So calm is he, that he doesn’t do anything when the jerk cat he lives with steals his food and attention.

Other than the cat, things seem rather great for the pup, but there was the one day he made an enemy. Some inconsiderate prick child rode a scooter over his tail. (Weirdly enough, he doesn’t react until the second wheel runs over it) Since the dog is man’s best friend, the kid is spared this time. All of Bartholomew’s ire goes toward the wheel. The wheel must die! (Just the second one. The first is still cool.) Barty rips the wheel off (which I guess kills it) but this isn’t enough to satiate his wheel lust. He also rips them off a toy train and takes them all to be buried. (It looks like he already has a stash. I suppose this could just be the fabled wheel graveyard we’ve all wondered about)

Since Bartholomew is only a puppy, he can only attack rather small prey. But he grows. And grows. And with each growth, he goes for larger and larger game. (Towering over certain cars at one point! He seems to shrink by the end of the short. I don’t have an answer) He’s pretty much got his reputation as the wheel warrior down, but there is one wheel he has yet to catch: an airplane wheel. He’s never going to catch one just watching the things, so he digs into the airport and gives chase.

The practice has paid off and he catches his target. But he is unable to remove it from the rest of the body, and the plane takes off with him for the ride. He lands in the Sahara desert, (I’m guessing. That’s usually the desert you wander into, in fiction.) His disappearance is felt at home, and the whole friggin’ neighborhood accuses the dogcatcher of taking him away. Barty is sad. He’s doing okay physically, but he doesn’t have any friends, and there are no wheels to chase, (in fact, the only transportation seems to consist of blue elephants and camels with boneless legs) and he’s a little weirded out by how little clothing the people wear.

One day, he sees a poster for the USA. (Which he somehow knows is his home location. Dogs are smart, but… actually no ellipses. Dogs are smart. End of story.) He heads off to the airport and catches another ride home. (Literally in this case. On another note, the guy guarding seems a bit TOO amazed at the planes takeoff. Is it his first day on the job?) Despite not knowing where he ended up, the town knows that Bartholomew is coming home and a celebration is thrown. He even gets a parade! Having learned his lesson, he apologizes to every wheel and their owners. In fact, now he only hates what dogs were meant to hate: cats. Which leads to:

My favorite part: When he sees the jerk cat eating his food once more, he barks hard enough to kill it. (It is definitely dead. It did not survive.)

Wild Wild World

“Even then, movies were their best entertainment.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by George Granpre, Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, and Tom Ray; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on February 27, 1960.

There are many reasons why I am jealous of Toons, but the reason related to today’s short is that they got to interact with dinosaurs. Everyone loves dinosaurs. And as the zoologist that I am, it saddens me to think I’ll never have a chance to examine how they really lived.

Good thing this short exists then! Our narrator fills us in on what this is all about. (His little globe image seems to be having some problems with its Antarctica. It keeps disappearing.) Apparently, the following was part of a film that had been buried in the Gobi desert, and dates back millions of years. (A similar plot to the earlier “Pre-hysterical Hare.” On another note, this narrator is dull! His voice drones and drones like a person who has never discovered the joys that can be found in caffeine/adrenaline.)

In said film, we see how primitive man existed. Some of them made a living by hunting the large animals that roamed around. They are clearly inept hunters, as it only takes one failure for them to switch targets. They’re also tiny. About the size of a cockroach when compared to their prey. (I will give a compliment where it is due. The one using a bow seems to have infinite arrows to fire. That’s pretty impressive.)

Speaking of weapons, one of the most useful was the boomerang, because not only could it assist in killing, but if one should miss, it can return to the thrower; whereupon they can try again. It has more uses than that, though. Say your wife is trying to run away from you again. The handy boomerang can return her to you. (Just be sure that she isn’t currently carrying a rolling pin.)

Even in these older times, Los Angeles was around. There were apartments just like today (made out of stone) and theaters too. (Those were housed in volcanoes) The ancient people even had celebrities! Cary Granite and Dinah Saur were two of the biggest names in the business. Department stores were another feature that these people had in their society. With elevators even! Since electricity wasn’t an option, (which does lead one to wonder how all this footage was supposed to be filmed) they had to use simpler means. One person would throw a rock with their desired floor printed on it, up to the elevator operator. In turn, he would load up a basket with an amount of stones required to get the patron to the floor of their choosing. With the wonder that is the pulley, it was a foolproof way to get you where you wanted to go. (Going down was even easier. They’d just cut the wire.)

Before we go, one does wonder how those hunters made out. One of their prey choices evades death by pointing out the day is Friday. (Even the Gregorian calendar was around back then? The B.C. era never ceases to amaze!) Friday is also fish day, so the trio head to the local lake to partake in some angling. Fish grew larger back then, and were more ferocious too, so it’s no surprise that they all end up in the belly of the beast. This is the worst fish day ever.

Favorite part: It’s not a joke, but there is a dinosaur that appears twice in this picture who I think earns the title of my favorite. He is easily identified by his buck teeth that makes him look like horse. His very appearance makes me smile.

Sleepy Time Possum

“I’d know’d I’d get some action!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Charles McKimson, Rod Scribner, Phil DeLara, Emery Hawkins, and John Carey; Layouts by Cornett Wood; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on November 3, 1951.

Attention everyone! Opossums are NOT possums. They live on entirely different continents! Apart from both being marsupials, they are only distantly related! Look…

Possum. Poss-um.

Opossum. O-poss-um.

Now, why do I bother so much? Because as the Lorax speaks for the trees, I speak for the animals. Since they can not tell when someone is using the wrong name, (that ironically, humans gave them) I will have to do so. And today’s picture is full of this kind of mistake.

The mailbox at the beginning is the only time the creatures are given the correct name. Seeing as how they all have American accents, they are clearly opossums. Though, honestly, you can’t really tell. The two parents look like some subspecies of kinkajou and their son looks like Hippety Hopper. (  At least he’s another marsupial)

Speaking of the son, his mother is upset to find him sleeping. (I am also upset. Opossums DON’T sleep upside down! They don’t even hang that way! They’re too heavy to do so!) Her reason is a lot more poignant. He’s got chores to do! But the kid is so lazy, that as soon as he hangs down, he sleeps again. (I understand his motives at least. The best part of life is being unconscious.) Ma threatens to sic his father on him, but Junior doesn’t care and sleeps once more.

Ma makes good of her word and tells Pa. He agrees that their son needs some discipline, but reasons that talking will net no results. Good thing he has a hunting dog costume on standby. (Don’t we all? I can’t count all the times I’ve needed to dress up as a dog.) One session of son scaring will keep the kid awake for days! Seems to work too, as one look sends Ma into hysterics and has Junior running for his life. Still, lazy as he is, he doesn’t go far before he stops to sleep once more.  Run and sleep, run and sleep. It goes on like that for awhile before Pa gets his son cornered.

Junior decides to try something opossums actually do, and plays dead. Seeing as how he is one himself, Pa doesn’t fall for it and instead ties his offspring to a firecracker. (Wait, what is the point of this? I though you were trying to stop his nap habits, not KILL him.) Either way, Junior ties the rope around his dad’s ankles when he’s not looking and escapes again.

Finding him at the top of another tree, Pa ties another one down with a rock so he can use it as a bridge to get to his sleeping son. Of course, said son cuts the rope just when his dad is crossing and flings him miles away. Pa proves his Olympic training was worth the effort, and he runs back immediately to catch his kid.

Back home, Pa tells his wife that Junior is finally doing the potato peeling he was supposed to be doing this whole time. The scare tactic didn’t work, so Pa just tied a balloon around his son. Now, forced to be upright, Junior can’t fall asleep anymore.

Much Ado About Nutting

“Brazil Nuts”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Lloyd Vaughn, Ken Harris, and Ben Washam; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling; Orchestrations by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on May 23, 1953.

A brilliant little silent short from a brilliant man who knew exactly how to tell such stories. Not only considered one of the greatest, but the picture’s star would go on to at least have a cameo in “Back in Action.”

On a lovely warm summer day, a little squirrel crosses the street and heads towards a nut store. Unlike how it usually is in these cartoons, this squirrel doesn’t speak. In fact, he acts quite a bit like a real life squirrel. For the most part. For example, I don’t think he read the sign saying “Nuts” judging by how his nose twitches, he acted like most squirrels do and simply smelled the food. Luckily for him, (I’m just assuming the squirrel is a male. Everything I’ve read about this short says so.) all humans have mysteriously vanished from the picture, so there is no one to stop him from heading straight to the peanuts. (Which aren’t really nuts. I claim false advertising)

It’s not long before he spies the walnuts for sale. (An actual nut this time. Good for them.) Since they are bigger, he doesn’t hesitate to ditch the peanuts for a more abundant food source. But there’s always a bigger fish and he ultimately lays eyes on the coconuts. (Which really aren’t nuts, but nobody cares at this point.) They’re big enough for the squirrel to just need one, so he heads back across the street to enjoy some lunch.

But here’s where the conflict really begins. Despite being a rodent, his teeth don’t make so much as a crack in the fruit’s shell. He decides to act smarter than the average squirrel, (which to be fair, is still rather smart.) and uses some tools. Seeing as he is an animal, he starts with one of the tools chimps swear by: a rock. Upon slamming it onto the fruit, the rock snaps in two. And dropping it from a tree just embeds it in the ground. Time for the human tools. (There are too many obvious jokes for me to use here, so just use your favorite one.)

First up: a saw that loses its teeth. Then a jackhammer that is weathered away by the coconut. Eventually,  the squirrel is forced to take drastic measures. It’s time to drop the thing from the highest building he can. We get some great shots here. Several fade-ins to show the squirrels progress as he slowly, but surely hoists the heavy load up the countless stairs. The poor thing! I would gladly carry them to the top. But the squirrel is determined, and does ultimately make it. And he drops his meal. Wouldn’t it be great if this worked? Instead, the fruit just makes a chunk of the street lower than the rest.

That’s it. The squirrel gives up. And he is thoughtful enough to return the thing to where he found it. (Besides, there are many more things to choose from. Those walnuts looked pretty tasty.) But just as he puts it back in place, it slips and lands back on the ground. And it finally is cracked! The squirrel hurries over and pries open his prize. Alas, this appears to be a rare subspecies of matryoshka coconut, as there was another one inside it. Adding disbelief upon stress, the squirrel passes out.