Tin Pan Alley Cats

“GET ME OUTTA HERE!”

Supervision by Bob Clampett; Story by Warren Foster; Animation: Rod Scribner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on July 17, 1943.

Yessir. This here’s another induction into the “Censored 11” hall of infame. Yet, it got to join “Coal White” on the top 100 Looney Tunes list. And I think it deserves its place. Unfortunately hurtful caricatures and all.

Cats Waller (who isn’t named in the short, but anyone who has even the most remote idea of Fats Waller is going to refer to him as such) is all set to have a good time tonight. His choice of venue is the Kit Kat Klub. Oh geeze. Oh wow. That’s just plain mean. This cartoon is already robbing people of dignity, (or cats as the case may be) but why remind them of that? Despite the fact that it should raise some sort of flag, (and while I’d want it to be red, I’ve got a bad feeling it’d be white.) Cats is still making a beeline thataway.

Next door is the Uncle Tomcat Mission. It’s where you’re likely to find preachers who waste their time trying to keep other cats out. I mean really. Why would you set your base of operations RIGHT NEXT to the place that is just going to tempt people? At least do it from across the street. They try to warn Cats of the danger within. Namely, wine, women, and song. That’s too vague. Wine is everywhere in the bible. (I think. I never really could get past all that begatting.) Not all women are sluts; one could be the positive influence Cats needs. And music is inherently one of the most pure things mankind has ever taken part in. No sell, Cats chooses hell.

That preachy preacher. This place looks great! (Despite how racist it is portrayed. And the humans within. So who is the dominant species in this short?) Cats heads straight for the piano and joins in a sweet jam session. Music. What ever could cause anyone to think this could lead to eternal damnation? The trumpet player at the klub makes Cats a promise: he is going to use his music to send the little guy out of this world. Clearly, we are talking figuratively, so Cats is all for it. Do your thing!

And Cats floats, and floats, and floats, until… he really is out of this world. It may look a little bit disturbing what with the statures shaped like musical instruments with severed hands still attached, but I never forget my ideal home. He’s in Wackyland! That lucky so-and-so! It may not be referred to as such, but it’s definitely the same place. With new features even. Example 1: Cats is welcomed to his new home by a disembodied pair of lips.

Looking ahead, we can see all the residents we’ve come to know and love. That guy who plays music from his flower, the one who smokes a cigar, cigarette, and pipe all at once, that rabbit who swings by his ears. (My mom fears him. I’m fearing that saxophone with a mouth and eye in the background.) But you know what else? This is our first time getting to see Wackyland in glorious technicolor! Sure, all the residents have black accented voices that I can’t be sure are real at all, but what’s more amazing is how much here would get reused in “Dough for the Do-do“. (That giant watermelon slice doesn’t seem so P.C. anymore.)

Cats tries exploring, but the residents are just a bit too out of this world for him. And those… trees, I think? That he’s hiding behind? Those are also scarring me for life. And I’m loving every moment of it! (Who would have thought a cello with feet could give me a heart attack?) Oh, and it might interest you to know that this is also the debut of Wackyland’s pride and joy: The Rubber Band. (Love those guys. They’re cute and their talented musicians. You don’t see that often these days.)

And Wackyland is even getting into the wartime spirit. Making us all feel better about ourselves by having Axis leaders rub their buttocks together. Yet, Cats is unhappy and wants to escape back to where he came from. There’s an elevator, but Cats was suddenly lying down to match Porky’s pose from years earlier, and he misses his chance. (It’s not the dodo this time, sadly. Just some black guy who looks like a duck with those inaccurate lips, and bird-like neck.)

The breaking point comes when Cats is forced to see Stalin kicking Hitler in the derriere. He begs, pleads, demands that he be brought back. (Something you’d never hear me saying.) Wish granted. I don’t know how, but the trumpeter is able to get him back to Earth. (Maybe it was a Moonside situation and it was all in Cat’s head?) Scared straight, Cats heads next door to help spread the spiritual word. Judging by their shocked expressions, this is the first time their preaching has ever reached someone.

Favorite Part: You kidding? We got to return to Wackyland! And they were kind enough to change it enough so that it wasn’t a total rerun. Sure, it’s become a bit more mean spirited this time around. But that creepy imagery was impressively creative! Isn’t amazing how putting limbs on random objects automatically makes them lovecraftian?

Personal Rating: 3. I’d like to give it a four, but it just can’t compete with its older brother, and the offensive imagery is sure to offend a good number of people no matter how long it ages. The soundtrack is awesome though.

Woolen Under Where

“Another day, another dollar.”

Directed by Phil Monroe and Richard Thompson; Animation by Richard Thompson, Bob Bransford, Tom Ray, and Ken Harris; Designed by Maurice Noble; Layouts by Alex Ignatiev; Backgrounds by Philip De Guard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on May 11, 1963.

The last short to star Ralph and Sam begins with the two enjoying some breakfast in the same house. Probably just on a business trip. I like Ralph’s odd today, as Sam’s fur is being more of a hindrance than usual. He can barely, get his coffee mug to his mouth, and blunders into just about every tree in his path. Since Ralph is such a good buddy, he clocks the dog in for the day.

Things are just about to get started, and Sam’s lack of vision has caused him to almost walk right over his cliff spot. Ralph is on his top game and rushes to the muttony treats as soon as the whistle blows. One successful grab and Ralph rushes back just as Sam finishes struggling back up the cliff. He knocks a rock loose, and it makes contact with Ralph’s head. He puts the sheep back.

All right, let’s review what we know about these sheep: they like to graze. That means the grass itself might be a good spot to set up an ambush. Ralph uses this knowledge by slipping under the grass (but still above the dirt) to get closer. Sam does the same and punches him back out. Armor won’t help much against those punches, as Sam can grab Ralph’s raspberrying tongue, and yank him through the helmet. And we’re not even going to dignify Ralph’s half of a uni-tank. (Seriously man, what were you thinking?)

A good healthy sheep mixes up the green part of its diet with a healthy helping of fresh water. Ralph plans to dive in so he can ambush the ungulate, crocodile style. But his dive is botched when he lands back on his diving board, dislodging it and the boulder keeping it in place, (I’m loving Ralph’s “Oh, what now?” look.) and when the two land below, Ralph launches into Sam’s grasp. He drops Ralph off the cliff, forcing the wolf to swim through the dirt below.

This calls for now tomfoolery. Ralph needs serious weaponry. A guillotine, axes, arrows, cannons, bombs, dangerous reptiles. The works, really. But just as Ralph is about to pull the switch that will activate everything, the time clock blows. Well, if he’s not going to get paid, there’s no point in offing his best friend. Sam apologizes for Ralph failing again, but the wolf takes it all in good spirits. Still friends, the two walk home. (Or wherever they’re staying these days.)

Favorite Part: The fact that it didn’t end with Ralph suffering at the end. He’s ending his film career in good health, his best friend at his side, and a gorgeous sunset. Life can pretty good, sometimes.

Personal Rating: 3

Circus Today

“It’s different from anything you’ve seen before, folks!”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Story by Jack Miller; Animation by Sid Sutherland; Musical Direction by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on June 22, 1940.

I’ve had a pretty tiring week. I need a short to blog about that won’t require much effort on my part. (It usually takes SO much out of me.) Let’s see… “Joe Glow the Firefly?” Nah. “Freddy the Freshman?” Nope. “Corn on the Cop?” Mmmmm… What do you mean the title of this post means I’ve already made my selection? What if I’ve changed my mind?

Time for some more of those Avery spot gags his unit did so well. Just… not here. I’m sorry, but this might just be the weakest one of these cartoons he directed. (At W.B. at least.) Weak jokes, references common folk won’t get, and a setting that tends to make people uncomfortable these days.

Welcome to Jingling Bros. circus! Where you’re sure to have a good time, even if our performers don’t. Why not remember your trip with a genuine helium balloon? Not only are they powerful enough to lift a man into the air, but they change color constantly! What do we put in these things! (We won’t tell. It might talk you out of a purchase.)

We’ve got plenty of sideshow acts as well. Gamer the glutton will eat anything you put in front of him; so what if it makes him all jangly inside? Hot Foot Hogan can walk across burning coals. Sure it causes him great pain, but he can do it! (Pay no attention to his disappearing act.) And Captain Clampett can be launched from a cannon, go on a round-world trip, and have the postage to prove it! (Any relation to A.C. Gamer, Rich Hogan and Bob Clampett will be lost on the casual viewer.)

What kind of circus would be complete without exotic animals being housed in cramped, unsanitary cages? There’s a repeat of the person feeding the animal when they really shouldn’t joke that was seen previously in both “A Day at the Zoo”, and “Cross Country Detours”. At least the punchline differs slightly with the monkey being a narc. There’s also a large gorilla being referred to as an assassin of the jungle, terrifying brute, and all around vicious beast. It might have been a punchline to see it be so gentle back then, but nowadays it’s like “no, crap.”

Inside the tent is where the REAL action is. The Flying Cadenzas are quite the amazing acrobats. Flying really is the perfect word to describe them. “Successful” and “Full set” are not. Then there’s Dixie Dare. A rather hot honey who attempts to grab a handkerchief off the ground with her teeth whilst horse riding. Maybe on the return trip, she can attempt to grab her teeth. Another performer, Madame Trixie, prefers to dance with her horse. He leads. (Is she supposed to look like Freddie Bartholomew?)

Elephants. A majestic animal that has been forced into this humiliating line of work ever since circuses took off. The trick is have a trainer who acts like one of their own. Hence, Ignatz Ignatzavich as part of their parade, a tail in his mouth. Still, the creatures have large developed brains, and just can’t bring to complete a trick that requires them to put all their bulk on his fragile, soft head. Instead, watch our performer who will do one of those death dives from an ungodly height, to a bucket of water. And I do mean “death”, quite literally. You’ve haven’t truly experienced our circus until you’ve heard our band play “Taps”.

Favorite Part: Lion tamer Clyde Binder (who you’re probably not recognizing as a nod to studio executive Henry Binder) has just put his head in a lion’s mouth and lived to show it. Seeing how much applause this gets, has the lion putting his head into the human’s mouth. (His envy is cute.)

Personal Rating: 2. I could see people laughing and enjoying this. But if you’re no stranger to Avery’s works, I can’t imagine you’ll think this is anywhere near his best.

The Dixie Fryer

“I’m a rooster, not a roaster.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, Tom Ray, and George Granpre; Layouts by Robert Givens; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on September 24, 1960.

Cold is bad. Cold equals death. Foghorn is the wisest chicken this side of Aardman, so he knew enough to get south once the weather turned on him. Since he can’t fly as well as a duck, he uses one to pull his balloon basket. Taking note of the magnolia scent in the air, he figures this must be his stop and he leaps out via the Mary Poppins approach. He came well packed with all one needs for a vacation: a comfy chair, and a table to hold a drink. (The mint julep is a cute touch.)

But predators are a worldly thing, and there is a couple in that tree just yonder. If you’ve watched every Looney Tune and Merrie Melody in chronological order, then you’d recognize these guys. If not, I’ll introduce you. They are Pappy and his son, Elvis, two raptors of indeterminate species. I call them that because they were turkey vultures in their first picture, but have shrunk down to chicken hawks for this, their final appearance.

They’ve been subsisting on black-eyed peas for some time now, and Elvis is really craving a chicken. The lack of them is all that is keeping his wildest desires from coming true. They take note of Foghorn and are ready to have themselves a good old fashioned BBQ. Foghorn isn’t too pleased to wake up to someone plucking his feathers off, but he finds even more to complain about once he finds out what is on the menu for dinner. (I hate hearing people complain on their vacations.)

With their dinner on the run, Pappy chases him down telling Elvis to shoot him with the gun they have. Elvis has been trained to fire when ‘fire’ is said, and unfortunately for his father, Foghorn knows this. This calls for dueling pistols. Foggy almost immediately gets the guns into the wings of the two, and tries getting them to duel. But what makes these guys fairly amusing is that they are fairly intelligent, and they both shoot their prey.

Foggy tries to get rid of them by claiming there is a tornado on the way, and nailing them in the storm cellar. Then the actual tornado hits him. Foghorn decides to take shelter in an explosives shed. The other two follow him and Foggy leaves them in there with a light. The resulting explosion sends the raptors back to their nest. They decide that the peas will make an adequate dinner after all.

Favorite Part: When in the shed, Elvis asks his father what T.N.T. spells. A very unique way to discover and announce your doom. I hope I can go in a similar way.

Personal Rating: I want to give it a four. There are some good jokes that even manage to subvert your expectations at times. But I don’t know, are the adversaries racial stereotypes? Let me clarify: offensive racial stereotypes? I enjoyed them and didn’t think they were hurtful, but I’m naive and scared of someone accusing me of being insensitive. It’s gotta stay a 3.

Captain Hareblower

“I’m taking over your ship!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, and Art Davis; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterizations by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on February 16, 1954.

The final of the three shorts featuring Yosemite Sam as a pirate. The first one was spectacular. The second one was very funny. This one manages to squeak by with a sea average. I apologize on its behalf.

Pirate Sam, (that’s really what he’s going by today) has his sights set on a ship just begging to be plundered. He’s got quite the reputation it seems, as just announcing his arrival is enough to send everybody on board overboard. Save for Bugs who was hanging out in a crate of carrots. Since he doesn’t know the meaning of this “surrender” word, he can’t very well do it, and decides to fight.

Sam gets cannoned to the face no matter how sneaky, slowly and slyly he sails. And Bugs isn’t above sneaking over to the opposing ship to get an extra shot on his assailant. While he’s loading the cannon, no less. Sam tries this trick out himself, but Murphy’s law is on the rabbits side, so it still doesn’t work. Even sending a keg of TNT with a sail fails, as Bugs has an electric fan to blow it right back.

Sam finally decides to just board the other ship and take it over, but Bugs has already vacated to the crows nest. Sam fails to chop him down, so he chooses his only other option and climbs up. Bugs dives into the water. Sam dives into a rock. Then its time to reuse the best gag from “Buccaneer Bunny.” The one where Bugs tosses matches into the powder room. It’s obviously not as funny here. Not just because we’ve seen it, but Bugs and Sam are on opposite ships. Part of what made the original work so well was Bugs acting like a total smug badass, totally confident that any misfortunes will only befall on Sam.

The new wrinkle they did add is Sam coming over to Bugs’s ship to do the same to his powder room. Bugs doesn’t react at all, causing Sam to flee for the horizon. (I do like how fast he left. That’s a great shot.) Bugs shows us that his powder room only contains the talcum variety, and that variety doesn’t explode. The following explosion makes me me doubt his validity.

Favorite Part: Sam trying to deliver a bomb underwater. (His eyebrows change color as he suits up.) Not only does the fuse stay lit with no explanation, but Sam is swallowed by a dolphacuda and when the explosion happens, all that is left is a skeleton. But the eyes are still in their sockets. (That’s disturbingly hilariously creepy.)

Really Scent

“Spring means nothing to you.”

Directed by Abe Levitow; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, and Ben Washam; Layouts by Samuel Armstrong; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Orchestrations by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on June 27, 1959.

Isn’t romance great? I’m really asking seeing as how I’ve never experienced it. But I’m not worried. After all, I’m only 27, so accounting for age and my poor diet, I’ve got about a year and a half left. I mean, Pepe wasn’t one to give up. After 14 years, could his luck finally be on the up and up?

Apart from his Oscar winner, I’d say this is my favorite Pepe short. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Taking place in New Orleans with June Foray as our narrator, we see one Pierre Cat. He and his wife, Fifi, have just welcomed their two daughters to the world. We have Jeanette and Fabrette. (Though nowadays we know her as Penelope.) They’re both perfect in their parents’ eyes; save for one feature. Through the magic of genetics and Murphy’s law, Fabrette is born with a stripe of white fur down her back. Making her look an awful lot like a skunk.

Oh, her parents still love her. The problems arrive once the girls are old enough to start attracting mates. Jeanette has no problem. Fabrette on the other hand sends the males packing once they see what she’s packing. (At least they look at her. She’s doing better than me.) The poor cat mopes, but maybe luck is going to cut her a solid today. For a boat has just docked, and it was carrying none other than Pepe Le Pew. (He’d be every mammal’s dream man if only…)

The two are instantly smitten. (Which probably means Fabrette thinks Pepe is a striped cat.) They embrace, but it’s not long before Fabrette learns exactly why Pepe doesn’t already have scads of women fawning over him. She flees with the skunk following. It takes the envy of her sister’s romance, and the frightening prospect of what others would think of her should she die single, that gets her to try once more. They have a saying in Louisiana: “A true lady does not need to breathe.” Inhaling as much as she can, Fabrette returns to her man.

Pepe is glad to see her again and the two stroll. She lasts about forty full seconds before her lungs can’t take it any more, and she exhales all over the place. (It only sounds gross. I bet you just did it too. Hypocrite.) Even perfume can’t combat Pepe’s aroma, so the cat calls it quits. Pepe, meanwhile, finally decides to learn exactly what ‘pew’ means and why everyone says it when he is nearby. What he learns shocks, saddens, and embarrasses him. But I know Pepe. He’s a swell guy. (Despite what some idiots say.) He’s willing to make an effort  to make a happy relationship. He knows just how to do it too.

He heads for some deodorizing. That’s got to be an embarrassing surgery to reques- oh. He’s just going to expose himself to chloroform. So actually, maybe he isn’t willing to win back his lady? If that’s true, then things will be very awkward in the afterlife soon, as Fabrette is planning on drowning herself. The narrator talks her out of it, telling her that the much smarter solution is to make herself more like her partner. So, she exposes herself to Limburger cheese. (Because… if she stinks herself, she’ll be immune to all odors?)

When all is said and done, it is now the skunk that flees from the cat. I’m sure they’ll work things out.

Favorite Part: Their first hug. It was cute! And if you’re like me, (a hopeless romantic) you’ve been waiting for these two crazy kids to realize they are meant for each other.

Personal Rating: 4. A wonderful change-up to a very formulaic series. Before you tell me how bad it is with how fast the two are progressing. One: they’re animals. Two: they’re toons. Three: the story only had six minutes.

A Mouse Divided

“Let’s face it; I can’t fly any feather.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Art Davis, Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on January 31, 1953.

We’ve seen a cat delivered to mice parents before, what if the situations were reversed? All thanks to Stupor Stork, making his first appearance, and not only being inebriated BEFORE any deliveries, but also sounding a bit more helium-ish. As fate is funny, he gives up at the house of Sylvester and his Mrs. She’s just been complaining to him about their lack of offspring. Something that she must have brought up before, seeing as how Sylvester mockingly imitates her as she weeps.

Stupor leaves them with the bundle, and even if Sylvester wasn’t too keen on the idea of having children, he’s still as excited as his wife to hear the news. (I like that.) To their shock, their son is a mouse. (To my shock, there was lot more bundle than what is needed for a mouse pup. But then, how else could anyone be fooled into thinking a kitten is in there?) Mrs. S. is a bit taken aback, but one “Mama” is enough to get her maternal instincts going. Her husband is more on the “He’s so cute, I could eat him up” train of thought. She won’t have it.

Foolishly enough, she even trusts her man with watching the kid while she goes out. As soon as the door shuts, Sylvester gives the baby a pepper powdering, a lettuce diaper, and two slices of bread to rest between. (I guess the safety pin is akin to a toothpick.) Before one bite happens, the infant identifies the predator as “daddy” and that’s all it takes. Sylvester is more taken with the child then I’ve ever seen him with his biological kid. It’s still sweet.

Well, it looks like father and son are going to get along swimmingly. The two decide to take a stroll around the block, and are almost immediately chased home by throngs of other cats. Seeing as how they are a species that is concerned about nobody’s happiness but their own, they have no problem trying to kill a child in front of its parent. They try anyway they can to get in. Disguised as a salesman, claiming to be a babysitter, even trying to break down the door. (You’d think these drama queens have never eaten before.)

Unlike most of his movie career, Sylvester succeeds in driving them all off. (I mean, if he didn’t, then Friz would have infant blood on his resume. I’m not even sure Parker and Stone can make such a claim. And I’m not looking it up.) But even though I’d say the family is happy together and can overcome these obstacles, the higher ups really got on Stupor’s case and he’s back to retrieve the kid. Rather than, pfft, I don’t know, knocking at the door to explain the mistake, he opts to use a baited fishing line.

Considering the kind of day he’s been having, it’s not strange that Sylvester thinks its just another cat trick. He pulls the line himself, and Stupor proves his strength by reeling him in. (As a stork, I’m sure he’s delivered his fair share of whale calves.) Still not clear in the head, he mistakes Sylvester for the mouse, and delivers him to the mouse parents. That’s going to be embarrassing to explain.

Favorite Part: When his wife says that the kid is theirs, Sylvester takes that as an excuse to share the meal. Even going so far as to hold a cleaver above the child.

Personal Rating: 4. It’s adorable. True the ending is a bit mean, but I choose to think that afterwards, the two cats got to keep the kid, and he learned to fight off all his would be predators.

Hare Splitter

“Let’s pitch some woo.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, and Virgil Ross; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on September 25, 1948.

I get that I should’ve talked about this short a week ago, as it would have been seasonally appropriate. But I’m not one for Valentine’s day. And no, it isn’t because I’m an angsty loner. (Smart asp.) I am of the belief that if you truly love someone, you don’t need a calendar to designate a day for proving it. And if you think I’m covering for myself because of my angst, screw you. I tried.

Now then, spring is a season that’s just right for making babies. But a good many life forms need a partner to do that. Bugs Bunny is one of those life forms. He has his sights on a fetching young doe named Daisy Lou. Daisy for short. She’s rather pretty as far as rabbits go. (More so than Lola, anyway.) I’m guessing that at least one furry was born from seeing her, and it it is you, then there is no shame in that. Unless you make it weird, in which case, shaaaaaaaame.

A pretty thing like Daisy surely wouldn’t have just one suitor. Enter the rival of this picture: Casbah. Bugs certainly takes note, mostly because the other rabbit’s bouquet is bigger. (Bugs was aiming for simple yet sweet.) Still, fighting for mates is something a guy just has to do if he doesn’t want to die alone, so Bugs ups his game to candy. (Scientifically proven to be a better gift than flowers.) Casbah goes bigger. Bugs switches to jewelry. (Economically proven to be more valuable than candy.) Casbah goes bigger. So it goes with the two trying to outdo the other, until Bugs cuts the crap and holds an anvil for Casbah’s head.

Bugs heads for Daisy’s house, without any sort of gift. You may think that will lower his chances, but let’s really compare our two bachelors.

Bugs Bunny: D.O.B.: 7/27/1940. Pros: Hollywood star, future Oscar winner, uture Walk of Famer on the future Walk of Fame. Cons: Well, he might wear your clothes once in a while, but not for any weird purposes!

Casbah Lepus: D.O.B.: 9/25/1948. Pros: Gives expensive gifts. Cons: Is named “Casbah”.

I like Bugs’s odds.

Wouldn’t you know it, Daisy is out shopping at the moment. This gives Bugs the perfect opportunity to raid his girlfriend’s laundry, dress as her, and mess around with other guys. Nope. Not a weird purpose to be found. Casbah isn’t really the brightest guy, (Nor the strongest, nor the luckiest, nor the best smelling…) so he falls for the get-up. He’s also not much of a gentleman, as he keeps trying to touch “Daisy” who isn’t comfortable with that sort of thing. “She” makes her feelings known with a mousetrap, and exploding carrots.

In the next scene, (Bugs is wearing shoes now. ???) Casbah at least tries asking for a kiss. “Daisy” will allow it if he closes his eyes first. Casbah kisses a plunger. Bugs uses the brief bit of time to set up a bomb for Romeo to kiss, but it just turns the big guy on more. (Witness the mating calls of the cartoon rabbit. Note the clucking and barking. That’s how you know he is serious.) Sadly, “Daisy” is not interested, and Casbah is left sulking on “her” front porch.

Bugs shows up, this time as Cupid’s protege, Daniel. He says that his arrow will make Casbah irresistible, when its really just an excuse for Bugs to shoot an arrow into Casbah’s butt. (If only Casbah had gone to school long enough to study Roman mythology. Then he’d known that those arrows make you fall in love. Not the others.) He catches on to Bugs’s real identify, because Bugs wasn’t wearing a dress. He rolls up his sleeve/fur to punch which I only bring up because it’s rolled down in the next shot.

The chase leads into the house, and Bugs sees Daisy returning. He bolts. Casbah sees her and assumes that it’s just Bugs trying to trick him again. He attacks her with a vase, and wouldn’t you know it, she doesn’t like it that much. Casbah flees from the house, probably becoming a homosexual in the process. With no rival, Bugs is free to do his wooing. But he brought the explosive carrots inside with him, and Daisy is partial to root vegetables. When they kiss, they are both impressed by the other’s power. They make a cute couple!

Favorite Part: I liked the ending. I can see some people thinking what Bugs did was wrong, but he was just looking out for his love. It takes a true romantic to keep others out of toxic relationships.

Personal Rating: 3

The Cagey Canary

“Mama’s poor, little, frightened bird.”

Supervision by Tex Avery and Bob Clampett; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Robert McKimson; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on November 22, 1941.

Today, Warner Bros. is no stranger to being well known for cartoons about a cat chasing a canary. But before it was Tweety and Sylvester it was unnamed cat and cagey canary. (Which are terrible names, so we’ll call them Petey and Lester) And it wasn’t Freleng’s unit taking charge. It was started by Avery, he left for MGM, and then finished by Clampett. What a guy.

Petey the cat is hungry (or just plain bloodthirsty) and makes no effort to hide his attempted killing of Lester the canary. Luckily for him, the mistress of the house catches the cat in the act and rescues her beloved bird. She tells him that all he needs to do is whistle for her should the cat try and get him again, and she’ll throw the feline out into the rain where he belongs. Petey is not fond of this idea, so he’s going to behave. And by behave, I mean: try again as soon as the lights are out.

Lester is good at feigning sleep, and just when Petey is about to grab him, he whistles. Petey dashes back to his rug and feigns some sleep of his own. He figures he might as well just take the whole cage, but the bird slips out and the cat doesn’t notice until after he’s thanked him for holding the door open for him. So if we review the facts, we see that: Lester isn’t going to fall asleep, and if he wants the woman, all he has to do is whistle.

Petey creeps away with a smug grin, and like the saying goes: “curiosity nearly got the canary killed.” Lester is now stuck in a jar, and Petey’s paw is the lid. No sound is coming out of that jar, and Lester doesn’t have a pin to poke with. Petey would win right here and now, but there IS one fly in the ointment: a fly. And he has made himself comfortable on Petey’s nose. Those tickly little legs, that high pitched whine of the wings, and the all in one disease zoo it’s packing are enough to get Petey to swat at it. Lester whistles once more and the cat zooms back to his rug.

The cat’s next plan involves crackers. Birds love them, and even better: can’t whistle with a beak full. Lester doesn’t know this, and takes the bait. Petey gets closer than ever before, but Lester finally swallows his snack and whistles again. Petey has no choice but to return him to his cage. Now the bird starts to get cocky. Taunting the cat with faces, and slapstick and rushing back to the safety of his cage each time. The one time he returns with his eyes closed is when Petey beats him to the cage. The bird barely escapes. (No whistle this time.)

Petey hasn’t had any trouble with the woman yet, (she just never wakes once to the whistling. Probably just said she would to give the animals peace of mind/paranoia.) but he isn’t about to take any chances. He places some earmuffs on her, and they work great! He even whistles himself, then poofs away and she still doesn’t wake up. (I like that. It’s funnier than showing him zoom off in a blur. But I can’t say it was intentional.) This will surely turn the tide. He returns to the battle with no fear.

Lester whistles, but the woman didn’t come earlier, I doubt she’d come now. Even if she wasn’t muffed up. The bird flees, and turns on every sound making device he can, which makes no difference. But he is able to find out what’s wrong and waves the empty earmuffs in front of the cat. Realizing he’s lost, the cat rushes outside himself. But the old woman is awake now, and I guess is angry at all the noise the canary made. (Why would she even suspect him?) The canary joins the cat outside. Before the short ends, the bird asks us if we’re interested in adopting homeless pets.

Favorite Part: Lester gets Petey to whistle himself at one point, by holding up a sexy picture. Funny enough on its own, but what’s even better is the fly having a similar reaction when he sees it. (Who knew both species found humans attractive?)

Personal Rating: I give it a 4 thanks to some great facial reactions. If they don’t make you smile, you can call this one a 3.

Fast Buck Duck

“Ingenuity triumpths every time!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Co-Director: Ted Bonnicksen; Story by John Dunn; Animation by Keith Darling, Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, and Geroge Grandpre; Layouts and Backgrounds by Robert Gribbroek; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on March 9, 1963.

Daffy has clearly hit hard times if the slums he lives in is any indication. And the morning paper isn’t doing anything to lift his spirits either. A local millionaire has willed everything to his butler. (Probably because nobody stopped by to make him laugh.) It’s not fair! But wait, there’s a want ad in the paper related to another millionaire. (Having two of them locally might actually play some part in why Daffy’s neighborhood is so crummy.) This one is asking for a companion.

That’s a swell job opportunity! True, it doesn’t list any amount of pay, but being friends with the one percent always pays off. And I do mean “pays.” Daffy heads to the mansion, and finds one of those “beware the dog” signs. Worthless really. The richest people own the tiniest dogs because….

So Daffy plans to befriend the most definitely pekingese or even chihuahua with a ham. His arm is chewed by a bulldog.

So we have the classic “get past the guard” plot. Daffy tries digging, but gets flattened by the dog’s… well, what does one actually call those things that flatten the ground when you push it? A manual steam roller? Which I guess wouldn’t have steam. That’s my convoluted way of saying Daffy is flattened, and the dog makes him a kite to get rid of him.

No self-respecting toon bulldog would ignore a cat, so Daffy concocts a plan to lure him out by calling for nonexistent felines and readying a mallet. But real cats show up, and leap onto the duck’s head to avoid the dog’s jaws. The cat’s fearful scratching tears Daffy’s head up something awful, so he tries to drown them. They leap back on top of him, and when he dives in he finds out why: the dog beat them into the water.

Daffy has a good plan this time! Sleeping… powder? Does that exist? Is it just ground up pills? Do I do any research or do I just ask my generally silent readers to answer things for me? The world may never know. But what is certain is this powder. The stuff works! Daffy just pours it into the dog’s water dish, and he’s out like an underage kid at a strip club. Just to be sure, Daffy makes a goodly amount of noise to test it. The dog sleeps on.

Ah, but as we dog owners know, a dog has to be REALLY out of it to sleep through an invitation to play. Even the unintentional ones count. That’s me offering a scientific explanation as to why the dog wakes upon Daffy stepping on a stick. Maybe playtime could also be the solution? Daffy throws another stick, and the dog happily chases it down. He’s a lot faster than he looks, and returns for another round. Daffy aims to get rid of him with a firecracker.

Daffy makes his way to the mansion’s front door without the dog returning. That’s because the dog was inside waiting to give the duck the stick back. Aw, he likes him! Additionally, Daffy has made it to the front door, so he can get inside and offer up his services. The millionaire is quite impressed by the resume that Daffy probably concocted in the hallway. He gives the duck the job. Daffy suggests some activities they could do, but the man clarifies things: HE didn’t want a friend. (That’s what his money is for.) PERCY wanted a friend. Percy is the dog’s name. Wah-wah.

Favorite Part: The little pose Daffy makes when the cats land on his head for the umpteenth time. Suggesting that he prefers it to the dog’s bites.

Personal Rating: 3