The Hasty Hare

“That wasn’t at all nice!”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ken Harris, Lloyd Vaughan, and Ben Washam; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on June 7, 1952.

If they’re not coming to invade us, then people from other planets typically drop by just to examine the local life. That usually requires abduction, but it’s such an ugly word. They prefer “relocating.” Marvin is on one of these such missions, but he is only required to bring back a single specimen. (Don’t want to alter either habitat too much.) Interestingly, seeing as Marvin hasn’t received his official name yet, he’s known as “Flying Saucer X-2.” Not the best name there is. (Even if “X” is the coolest letter in the English alphabet.)

But you know, it pairs well with the assistance he has brought along, K-9. Maybe I should give myself a martian name that’s composed of a letter and digit. Let’s see… J-6? Nah, I’m not too religious. W-7? Sounds too British. F-0? Actually, that sounds a bit race-ist. Actually, this is harder than it looks. Maybe I should stop wasting your time with pointless crap. (But I get so much enjoyment at seeing your face furrow.)

Marvin just decides to take the creature that made the first tracks he sees and those tracks were made by Bugs. When Bugs catches sight of the two visitors, he instantly assumes that the two are nothing more than kids looking for Halloween goodies. He gives them bags of candy, (Hey! No fair! I never got such a haul as a kid!) and figures he’ll see no more of them. Marvin proves his power by using his disintegrating pistol to remove most of Bugs’ house. The rabbit finally catches on.

Marvin tells the bunny that all three of them will be returning to Mars, and Bugs demands to know what the martian will do if he refuses to comply. I love this: Marvin doesn’t get angry, I mean, he really is just doing his job, and he might as well convince the beast to come along as non-violently as possible. He merely disintegrates a boulder. Bugs is convinced and is the first one aboard. But he’s always thinking a step ahead, and immediately disembarks to play conductor and ushers his adversaries aboard without him. They make it halfway back home before realizing their error.

When they return to Earth, Bugs explains that the reason he doesn’t want to go is because he’d hate to get involved with mutiny. Another great moment here, with the suspicion and doubt being seeded. Marvin takes no chances, and gives K-9 a good shot. (Strangely enough, this was the last time the dog would appear. He doesn’t even get any lines in this one.) They finally manage to get Bugs by firing a strait-jacket ejecting bazooka at him, which wraps him up snug. Success!

As Marvin pilots his craft, K-9 is left to guard the prisoner. He’d better not try any funny stuff! Oh, nothing of the sort, it’s just that the jacket Bugs has on, it’s really not his size. Too much arm room. Surely the dog could get him a different one? Seems like a reasonable request. He complies, and Bugs slips it on, but ultimately decides it would suit K-9 much more. And just like that Bugs, has captured the capture-er. He manages to do the same to Marvin, by claiming they hit an iceberg, and the jacket is a life preserver.

Now in control, Bugs decides to fly back to Earth. Too bad he doesn’t know how to pilot one of these crafts. Worse yet, the anchor he threw over board has caught on to a crescent moon, which is catching planets, which are grabbing stars and dragging them all along. (And just making up their own laws about gravity. Newton would not be pleased.) As it so happens, an astronomer sits down at the observatory to marvel at the vastness of space. (Something I don’t like doing. I already know I don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I don’t need the universe to rub it in.)

The short, red-haired, Friz Frelengesque man (who actually IS named I. Frisby.) takes one look at that mess of a galaxy and announces his retirement. He’s going to take up turkey farming. (A noble profession if I ever heard one!) And that is what led to the first Thanksgiving, and why I say a prayer of thanks to Mr. Freleng every night.

Favorite Part: When Bugs suggests the idea of mutiny. The little thumb motion Marvin does when saying “You mean, he against me?” is so freakin’ bass. It needs to be done in a summer blockbuster.

Personal Rating: 3

Two Crows from Tacos

“I am not a grasshopper.”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Virgil Ross and Art Davis; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on November 24, 1956.

About three years before Mr. Freleng would direct what many would consider to be the best Speedy Gonzales cartoon, he directed a short with a chubby character and a slimmer one named Jose and Manuel, respectively. But these guys aren’t cats; as the title promises, they are crows, and I guess they are from a place called “Tacos.” Which I looked up, and it apparently DOES exist in Bolivia. And Spanish is commonly spoken there, so I can buy it.

These two are enjoying life the way most smart people want to, but can’t. They’re lounging in a tree, lazily singing, and not giving a remote *$#@. But one can’t subsist on songs alone. And Manuel spies a tasty morsel on his amigo’s sombrero: a grasshopper. And Jose gets his head smashed. But he likes the idea of grasshopper guacamole, and joins in the chase. A furious pounding ensues, but Jose is the one whose heads connects with the club. (He returns the favor though.)

Using the sky as a way to see further, the two find their prey once more and dive after him. They crash, because Manuel is just having too much fun. (Look at that face! Hysterical.) When the grasshopper hides in a tree, Jose reaches in for him. The insect tricks him into grabbing a firecracker, and Jose shows his true colors. He meant to eat the grasshopper all by himself. But Manuel does have agility and hunger on his side, and takes the catch for himself. Peeking in his fingers, he sees they’ve been tricked. He goes back to Jose to apologize… and tell him that grasshopper is rightfully his. Seeing what he is holding, causes Jose to call for help, and Manuel comes to give aid seeing as how they’re amigos. They both blow up.

The two try to lure the insect out by feigning defeat and a claim of going to hunt for the stupid grasshoppers that live in Guadalajara. The insect creeps out, and the two try to smash him once more. Crafty creature that he is, the grasshopper stands next to a cactus he has decked out in sombrero and serape. The corvids think it’s a real person who is stealing their meal, and attack. They end up covered in quills, but even then they aren’t as sharp as crows usually are.

And you know what? The cartoon just kinda ends there. Sure, the crows go back to the tree and we get quite the beautiful screenshot to end on, but there’s no big finale, no end joke, and nothing more than what is shown. And you know what? I like that. Sometimes things end without the bang or the whimper, and you’re just back where you started. Deep stuff.

Favorite Part: Yep, Manuel’s “eager face.” That’s great. It should really be a meme of some sort. Caption it like “Me, when I see Thanksgiving dinner.” Or “How I looked when Banjo was revealed for Smash.”

Personal Rating: 2. But that’s only because “Mexicali Shmoes” is everything this cartoon is, but better. But don’t get too disheartened if you prefer crows to cats, we haven’t seen the last of Jose and Manuel.

Strife with Father

“Monte will do no such thing!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Emery Hawkins, Charles McKimson, Phil DeLara, 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 April 1, 1950.

You know, I’m disappointed. You see, my Mother was happily showing me something on “Instagram” the other day. Someone had posted “The Lion’s Busy,” there, and judging by the comments, everyone was enjoying it as they should. But get this, they were all referring to Beaky as “Buzzy Buzzard.” And really, this could have been avoided if YOU bothered to tell anyone about this place.

Okay, that was rude, and I apologize. Why don’t we honor BEAKY the right way, by discussing his final picture?

Late at night when diurnal birds slumber, a mysterious figure leaves something on the doorstep of a pair of English Sparrows. Come the morn, Monte, (the male) finds it is an egg with a note imploring him and his wife, Gwendolyn, raise the baby known as Beaky. (Whoever that shadow was, they’re not coming back, and their name was apparently “Big Beaky.”) Monte has no interest in adoption, but the Mrs. is taken with the egg, and so they will keep it.

When the hatching occurs, Monte is none too pleased. Only a mouse would grow to love the adopted son he never wanted. But Gwendolyn won’t let him dispose of it, for you see, if “The Ugly Duckling” has taught her anything, this chick will grow up to be beautiful. Isn’t that swee-did she just admit that she thinks the kid is ugly? Et tu, mama? I think I’ll have to beg to differ. Can we get a picture please?

Baby’s first meal

Yeah, no. I’m right, BEAKY must be adorable.

And yet, the narration doesn’t seem to agree with me, stating that he grows up to still be ugly. What’s worse is that BEAKY is now at that age where he really needs to be eating meat. Monte still hates the kid, but loves his mate and promises to help catch the lad a chicken. BEAKY however, isn’t too keen on flying, so Monte has to saw off the limb he’s sitting on to get him to the ground. Now, on to the chicken farm.

Monte’s plan is to go inside and throw the hens out to BEAKY. But wouldn’t you know it, chickens are much larger than sparrows, and he doesn’t succeed. So, he has a new plan: he’ll willingly get a chicken to chase him, and BEAKY can smash it with a mallet. As you’d expect, Monte ends up smashed. But a gentleman never raises his voice in anger, and he keeps the calm demeanor he has throughout the picture. (It’s actually quite funny how calm he talks. Speaking of voices, his wife barely emotes, and BEAKY sounds more like Goofy than Mortimer Snerd, here.)

Monte (who’s wing/hand actually disappears at the 5:38 mark. See if you can catch it.) resorts to using a grenade. BEAKY has never seen one of those before, and tries to give his father what he believes is an egg. Monte makes it quite clear that he doesn’t want it, and unlike I’m pretty sure every cartoon that’s done something like this before ever, BEAKY actually gets the hint. Still thinks it’s an egg though, and decides he’ll hand it over to his mom.

She does know what a grenade is though, and throws it out of the house and right into the returning Monte. Thus, endeth BEAKY’S movie career. Sad really, I like the little fella. Though I will admit this is my least favorite of the shorts he starred in. In fact, the later the date, the less I think its great. There you go, ranked all his cartoons.

Favorite Part: Monte asking how BEAKY could be so stupid, and the buzzard replying that “I get around.” I like this line not for what is said, but what it entails. BEAKY knows he isn’t the sharpest thing around, but he knows enough to get by, and he’s content with that. It really makes me want to dive into this psyche more.

Personal Rating: 3

Hippydrome Tiger

“Get off my chariot.”

Directed by Alex Lovy; Story by Tony Benedict; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, LaVerne Harding, Volus Jones, and Ed Solomon; Backgrounds by Bob Abrams; Layouts by Jamie R. Diaz. Film Editor: Hal Geer; Voice Characterization by Larry Storch; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Looney Tune released on March 30, 1968.

Time once again for “Hunting Tigers” with your host, Colonel Rimfire.  Today, he will be hunting with his best friend that is making her second and final appearance, Ella the robot elephant. Yes, a mechanical, pink pachyderm is the man’s preferred mode of transportation. People only tend to laugh once, as one bullet is enough to silence them.

But wouldn’t you know it? Cool Cat isn’t around! He was kind enough to leave a note that says he’s going to Paris. Not knowing where the colonel is now, I can’t say how much of a trip he has to make, but make it he does and learns about the tiger’s whereabouts. C.C. has entered the Grand Prix because tigers are allowed to do that. And hunters are allowed to hunt them regardless of their race. (They were rather progressive like that.)

The race starts, and I hope you weren’t betting on any of the human racers. They’ve disappeared, and haven’t been seen since. (Though, I swear I caught sight of one at the mall.) Since Ella has wheels, Rimfire isn’t too far behind his prey. A little oil slick sends him into the drink, but since Ella has a trunk, it can be used as a periscope and they can find their way out. (Ugh. I don’t like how the thing looks now. Put the trunk down. PLEASE.)

Ella may have wheels and a trunk, but her steering leaves a good deal to be desired. When Cool Cat makes a 90 degree turn, the pursuers keep on going straight towards and over a cliff. But somehow, the track continues below, and Cool Cat was driving fast enough for the two to land on top of his vehicle. Naturally, the tiger tries to make a break for it, but ole Rimmy has a tight grip on the cat. He ends up getting pulled out of the car. Ella, being the sole occupant, is considered the winner once she crosses the finish.

With Cool Cat pinned up against a tree, Rimfire feels assured of victory. But the sporting thing is to offer the feline a final request, and Cool requests a light. Seems fair enough, but when the colonel’s back is turned, we see that the object to be lighted is a rocket that aims to blast the hunter away. It does too. C.C. heads to finish the race, but sees the elephant android receiving his victory parade. With nothing else to do and the short coming to a close, he allows the hunter to chase him once more.

Favorite Part: After Rimfire emerges from the lake, he fires a torpedo Cool Cat. The tiger freakin’ GRABS THE TORPEDO and throws it right back. Thus proving his cooliocity to you.

Personal Rating: 2

Space Jam A New Legacy (First Thoughts)

“You remember fun, don’t you, doc?”

As the title suggests, these are just my first thoughts about this film. A synopsis, complete with annoying jokes, limited information, and inflations to my own ego will happen someday in the future. Not today, for it is the present.

Very short version of this post: 🙂

Long version of this post: I expected this movie to be fun. Not good, bad, great, or abysmal. Just fun. And I got exactly that. Let’s be real. Even the first S.J. wasn’t really all that great. (Something I’ve come to grips with long since I blogged about it.) Neither of them have a great story, these films are just an excuse to have cartoons play basketball. (And sell W.B. merchandise on the side.)

Speaking of weak story, I won’t lie: this film has got one of those. LeBron is just playing the “father who wants his progeny to be like him, despite the kid’s protests to do something else.” Seen it. And yeah, the man isn’t a superb actor. (At least he is able to admit it in the film.) Still, I feel he does better than Jordan did. He definitely emotes more. As opposed to Michael looking dead inside. (Really. How could you not go “Looney” getting to meet animation’s greatest characters?)

But as week as the story is, (and some might disagree with me on this) it’s leagues better than the first one’s. Having the Tunes exist in a digital world makes much more sense than being underground. And for that matter, LeBron’s actor/son’s conflict actually gets some sort of payoff. Unlike Michael’s actor/son who mopes a bit, cheers up upon finding his dad was kidnapped by animated characters, then disappears until the denouement.

And the crossover aspect! If you can fathom the idea of someone never seeing “Ready player one” or any “Avengers” movie, then you can probably believe me when I say I was getting goosebumps when all of Warner’s properties gather to watch the game. But there’s a downside to that too. After they assemble, they don’t do anything. Yes, they’re the audience, but the original film let its audience react a bit more. (The most we get here is a pout from King Kong.)

For that matter, the original utilized the Tunes universe just a bit better. The team you see in all the advertisements? That’s pretty much all we get. Marvin and K-9 get a little screen time, when everyone sans Bugs is coerced into seeing what other worlds they can explore there’s a group shot of many minor characters. It just goes by so fast one can’t enjoy it. (I was able to see Rocky, Muggsy and Playboy.) And Canasta appears in the “Mad Max” universe. That’s it.

Wasted potential there. Why couldn’t they join the rest of the crowd for watching?Too expensive to animate? Which reminds me, the animation was gorgeous. Not spectacular. There’s nothing on the levels of “Fantasia” or “Spirited Away.” But what we get is a real treat. Vibrant, bouncy, and looney. Just what I expected and wanted. But that’s the 2-d stuff. How was the 3-d?

I won’t lie. It looks good. And that’s a relief considering how computer generated animation trying to look like it really exists ranges from nightmare inducing:

“I’m the reason animated spider’s are drawn with simple mouths!”

To laughably pathetic.

“Did I miss the auditions for “Pan’s Labyrinth”?”

The voice acting was nice as well. Zendaya Maree Stoerme Coleman did pretty good as Lola. Heck, if I didn’t know going in, I would’ve figured Ms. Bunny was being voiced by a 25 years older Kath Soucie. And the basketball stars voicing the villains did an admirable job. And mentioning the villains, I thought they were a lot of fun. Even if super-powered mutant basketball players feels strangely familiar.

“Good news, everyone! The public no longer has to remember us via “Pixels!”

It’s a good thing they were a joy to watch, as they don’t get nearly as much screen time as the Monstars. And one of them appears too late, and disappears too fast. Why wasn’t he there from the start? Oh, and while I’m discussing the villains: I found Don Cheadle entertaining, but not Pete. He did nothing to further the story. Completely superfluous. But the Minions have made it so animated films won’t sell if there isn’t at least one tiny, annoying, comic relief character that wouldn’t be missed if cut out completely.

The weakest part of the film in my opinion? The ending. I won’t spoil it here, but it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, and seemed to wrap up a bit too fast. Lucky for me the fun stuff starts a lot quicker than its predecessor, so I don’t feel like there was a bunch of wasted time squeezing the entertaining middle.

And that pretty much wraps up my first thoughts after my first viewing of the first “Looney Tunes” film I’ve been able to see in theaters. My rating is just a few more lines down.

Short version of this post: I quite enjoyed it.

Favorite Part: Really, I did get chills seeing such a large crossover of properties. It might change in the future, but it’s the winner for now.

Personal Rating: I’ve been seeing fairly negative reviews from other people. I however, feel that if you go in expecting to see a movie that is more “fun than substance,” you’ll have a good time. (It’s the film equivalent of a lollipop.) Therefore, I grant it a 3 for the basic crowd, and a 4 for my fellow Looney-tics. (Yes, really.)

Dr. Jerkyl’s Hide

“LET ME OUT OF ‘ERE!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Arthur 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 Looney Tune released on May 8, 1954.

Hey, it’s Spike and Chester! Haven’t spoke about either of them since 2014. Oh, wait. I won’t be mentioning Spike after all. His name is Alf now. Because it’s a more appropriate name for a cockney dog, don’t you know? Oh, yes. The two have some nice thick accents this time around. Makes sense. This short’s source material does take place in London.

“Alf” and Chester, (making their final appearances) are out having a jolly stroll. At least, that’s what “Alf” wants and Chester believes. See, Chester looks up to “Alf” as some sort of hero. He’s bigger, meaner, and has people clothes. The kind of dog we’d all like to be. But “Alf” is also a bit of a bully. Smacking the little guy around, demanding he leave, and turning down his suggestions of fun. Chester then plays his trump card. Maybe “Alf” would like to beat up a cat?

That’s the ticket. “Alf” is always up for a good feline thrashing, and the two give chase to Sylvester. Poor cat takes refuge in a building that belongs to a Mr. Hyde and a Dr. Jerkyl. (And I’m sure at least one of you was planning to tell me I made a typo in the title.) Breathless, due to all the exercise, Sylvester is more than happy to take a swig of what he believes to be soda. (Honestly, can YOU name another liquid with carbonation? Because I can’t. Please help.) But that wasn’t pop.

This stuff, whatever this stuff is, is designed to turn the drinker into a much meaner, much tougher, much scarier version of thyself. So Sylvester grows a couple feet, his eyeteeth grow out, and he gets a murderous look in his eyes. It is then that “Alf” comes in for a pummel. He leaves, white as a ghost. (I like how his shirt changed color, but his hat didn’t.) That stuff only lasts so long though, and Sylvester is back to his normal self when Chester takes a peek at this “scary monster.”

Well, that don’t make any sense to the spaniel. I mean, the cat is actually quite small. Chester could pound him, himself. And logic dictates that if a small dog could do it, a big dog could do it, but easier. Chester drags “Alf” back in, just as they witness their prey escape into another room. Yeah, he looks timid, terrified, and totally weak. “Alf” regains his confidence, and follows after him. (Chester doesn’t follow, for the sake of the joke.)

“Alf” corners the cat in a box, where we see the formula kicks in sporadically. Now powered up again, Sylvester gleefully plots out how we will carve the dog. “Alf” returns to Chester, but falls to pieces. (Probably a good contender for the most violent massacre in all Looney Tunes, and there’s not one drop of blood.) The power wears off again before Sylvester can take on Chester, and the dog proves good of his claim to beat the cat. Now more convinced than ever, he traps “Alf” in the building for his own good.

Sylvester takes this time to flee. (I really can’t tell if he is aware of his transformation or not. Maybe if I read the original “Jeckyll” story, I’d know.) “Alf” sees this and also sees an opportunity to seize. He uses the beakers around him to simulate a fight that he is winning. But one of the beakers he throws was full of more formula, and the stuff lands on a housefly. (And I guess it drinks it. Unless the stuff can be taken topically.) It does its thing, and the fly’s size increases, as does its temper.

Now, the insect is only roughly the size of a hummingbird, but insects ARE immensely strong for their size, and it has no trouble roughing “Alf” up and throwing him out. “Alf” begs for Chester’s protection before the two witness the fly slamming the door in their faces. A big fly, yes, but a fly nonetheless. And thus, the last amount of respect Chester might have had for the big dog is dead. As such, the roles reverse: Chester wears the hat in this relationship now, and he slaps the now hero-worshippy “Alf” around.

Kind of a shame these two had such short careers, but seeing as how this is very similar to their earlier work, there probably just wasn’t enough material to make multiple cartoons.

Favorite Part: How Chester gets “Alf” back into the building: marching him in at gunpoint.

Personal Rating:3

Quackodile Tears

“An egg is an egg!”

Directed by Art Davis; (his last one for the studio) Story by John Dunn and Carl Kohler; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Virgil Ross, Bob Matz, Lee Halpern, and Art Leonardi; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on March 31, 1962.

A duck that I’m going to assume is Daphne (voiced by Ms. Foray rather than Mel) sits on her egg, but it’s time for her husband to take a turn. The husband is a duck that I don’t have to assume is Daffy, because I recognize Daffy when I see him. And it’s a good thing I do, as he is missing his neck stripe in this picture. (Gotta have the neck stripe.) Daffy does not want to sit on the egg as he finds it a threat to his masculinity. His wife’s foot helps change his mind, and he sits, albeit begrudgingly.

While he tries to make his nest a bit more comfortable, his egg rolls away and ends up amongst a clutch of crocodile eggs. His should be easy to tell apart, as its shell is harder than the others, but he’s not entirely sure, and just takes one at random. Not very stealthily though, as Mama Croc saw his theft. She’s not like most mother crocs, as she relies on her husband, George to deal with him. As for her name, we’ll call her Carol. Why? Because that was the name of a grandmother of mine who died the morning of the day I wrote this. She was an ornery, fierce woman who was still almost always smiling and loved her children. It fits perfectly.

George takes the egg back and prepares to sit on his clutch himself. (It won’t warm them, but it should deter any other egg thieves.) Daffy takes it back, and sits on a his nest with a smug smile. That’s because he’s sitting on a lit firecracker that he knows the reptile will take. Which he does, but almost immediately puts it back under Daffy. After Daffy extinguishes his rump roast and takes the egg back again, George just flat out chomps him. No swallowing as Daffy still had the egg in his hand.

Daffy ain’t having it. He threatens the egg at gunpoint, and George has no choice but to let him go with such tactics. (Any good parent would.) Any good parent would also try to take the kid away from the maniac who points a gun in their unborn faces. And so a game of back and forth ensues. Daffy and George both try to keep the egg in their arms, and the other constantly takes it away. Gags happen.

Daffy paints an active grenade to look like the egg, but that’s the time Daphne catches him off the nest, and forces him to sit on the explosive. After that, the blessed event occurs: the hatching of the egg! Now, I’m no expert on babies, but I am a zoologist. That child of theirs isn’t the same species, genus, family, order, or class as its parents. It’s clearly a crocodilian. But why should being adopted make any difference? It doesn’t. And Daphne loves her child regardless. Sure, he may be a figurative ugly duckling, but that just means he’ll be a swan someday. (Which still isn’t a duck, but at least is in the same family.)

As for George, he also doesn’t look too happy with what happened. He and Carol ended up with a literal and figurative ugly duckling. (And three other babies who survived. A dark but accurate portrayal of what happens to the majority of crocodile hatchlings.)

Favorite Part: Daphne telling Daffy to sit on the egg, or have his face slapped off. A threat not to be taken lightly, as she demonstrates by relieving Daffy of his beak AND eyes. A clever take on the old classic.

Personal Rating: 3 that is very close to 4. A fine final film for Mr. Davis to direct for the W.B.

The Lion’s Busy

“Now, let’s quit stalling, Mr. Lion.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Arthur Davis, Gerry Chiniquy, Ken Champin, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on February 18, 1950.

Today is a special day. A day that should be celebrated by everyone who was ever born. After all, if you ever HAVE been born, then you already owe a lot to this one person. This day is known as “Leo the lion’s tenth birthday.” Now, Leo, he’s just the greatest guy. One of those rare Irish lions. And being part of the noble Panthera genus, he’s got strength, speed, and 18 retractable claws that are willing to back up his claims of glory. Thus, all the animals have gathered. (Is it me, or is one of them Bugs?)

It wouldn’t be much of a birthday without gifts, (It’s the only thing that makes them tolerable, really.) and Leo gets one given to him by the buzzard. Oddly enough, the card mentions that he’s been waiting for this day for all of Leo’s ten years. Now, why would he do a thing like that? More importantly, what’s the gift? A book! (The best gift of all!) Leo didn’t even want a book, but he’s a good guy and the book is about lions, which just so happens to be Leo’s favorite animal! He reads. (And no. I don’t have any idea why one of the guests is a raccoon. I mean, a porcupine I could understand.)

The first page Leo opens to contains a very interesting fact about the lifespan of a lion. Namely, in the world of cartoons, they can expect to live to be ten years old. Wait… Uh, yeah. Leo is indeed ten years old. And that’s just what the buzzard wanted to hear. Beaky Buzzard. Making his first appearance without his creator, Bob Clampett, and now being voice by Mel after the untimely death of his original V.A., Kent Rogers. And has he gotten quite the personality overhall. A little like if Droopy became blood hungry.

Leo claims that he is fine. A picture of health. Why, he can even jig as well as he did as a cub. Beaky tosses a banana peel in his way, and the lion goes over a cliff. He’s upset that Beaky can’t be patient enough to wait for him to actually die. It is a little insensitive, but come on. It’s been ten years! Beaky probably won’t even last another two, and dead lion meat is right up there with Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas goose, and Arbor Day nuthatch as delicious dinners.

Leo fights back, but Beaky escapes up a tree. (Wings. Delicious and practical.) Leo needs that bird dead if he ever wants peace of mind, so he climbs up after him. Beaky oils the tree, and the lion goes down. He tries again with some pitons, but Beaky keeps out of reach by constantly adding more to the tree. Soon, Leo has reached the top. There’s no easy way down, unless you’re Beaky, because then you’d have wings. But he wants that lion down, and begins chopping away.

After the crash, Leo comes to, and finds Beaky roasting his tail as if it were made of sausages. He declares that Beaky is never, and I repeat, never going to get him. And to make sure of that, Leo boards a moon-bound rocket that is in the jungle. (Why the surprise? Where else would he find a rocket? Savannah are wildfires waiting to happen.) He makes it to the moon. (The poor Earth is gray in mourning its loss of Leo.) Oh, by the way, Beaky has been waiting for him. (If he can take on a freaking dragon, I don’t see why this would be any struggle.) Leo ducks into a cave, barricades the door, and wouldn’t you know it, Beaky can’t get in. Now, there’s just the matter of waiting.

And waiting. See, nobody can wait like a buzzard, and it only takes about 330 days for 11 months to go by. (Good thing lions eat rocks. Lions eat rocks, right? Right.) And Beaky is still waiting. So Leo is still waiting. And the years go by. Seven years of wasting what time he had in a moon cave. Now, Leo is a much older, much grayer, and much wiser lion. He has realized that he can’t hide from his problems, and gives Beaky permission to eat. Unfortunately, Beaky isn’t immune to the passage of time either, and he too is much older. So much so, that the only thing he can manage to eat anymore is marshmallows.

Favorite Part: Beaky playing shoe salesman. Having Leo try on one of those little paper things cartoon roast turkeys always wear on their tibiotarsus. Dark meat and dark humor.

Personal Rating: 3. A fun and interesting change to Beaky’s character. Too bad he’d only get one more cartoon after this one.

Big Game Haunt

“No use hiding! You can’t escape!”

Directed by Alex Lovy; Story by Cal Howard; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, LaVerne Harding, Volus Jones, and Ed Solomon; Layouts by Bob Givens; Backgrounds by Bob Abrams; Film Editor: Hal Geer; Voice Characterization by Larry Storch; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Merrie Melody released on February 10, 1968.

On a nice day, such as the one shown in this picture, one should really be out hunting tigers. I mean, it’s not like they’re an endangered species, and we’ve already wiped out three of their subspecies. They’re just large cats in stripes. Really, Colonel Rimfire is totally in the right for chasing after Cool Cat. Yet, the tiger doesn’t want to be hunted for some unknown selfish reason. What’s his problem?

C.C. decides to take refuge in some derelict house he finds. Somehow, Rimfire missed that, and heads towards the house just to ask if anyone saw the tiger. Despite the rustic appearance the building has, Rimfire knocks. Cool Cat is on the other end and does the old “does your target have the same features I have, sorry, I haven’t seen him” bit. (He also slams the door on his hunter) Angry, Rimfire chases after him.

Knowing that the tiger is nearby, Rimfire purposefully says aloud that he is giving up. Cool Cat does indeed poke his head out of his hiding place, but manages to escape again. Rimfire gives chase, and despite being less than three feet away, still can’t manage to shoot his prey. The two of them run past an old trunk, and awaken the one who sleeps inside it.

The credits list this guy as “Spooky” but… that nose, that physique, that manner of speech. I think this guy is the ghost of Ranger J. Audubon Woodlore. (There was only so many times he could reprimand Humphrey, before the big guy realized he was a bear.) Despite his name, he’s a friendly ghost. He just wants to be pals with the two trespassers on his property. But the two aren’t so keen, just seeing a ghost is enough to frighten them.

Spooky is actually quite aware they’re afraid of him, as he indicates this has happened before. Still, he decides to return the hat and gun that Rimfire dropped in his attempt to get away. From where Cool Cat hides, all he can see is that someone is wearing that hat, and carrying that gun. It must be the Colonel. Cool Cat tries to team up with the Colonel, only to find himself facing the real one in front of him. The two flee again.

Rimfire tries barricading a door, but since Spooky is a ghost, he can go through walls. (And he can bring the Colonel’s belongings through too. That’s actually pretty scary.) Cool Cat, who was hiding in the curtains, gets scared when Rimfire tries to share his hiding place. The tiger runs, with the sheet still on him, making him look like a ghost. This spooks Spooky, who flees himself. He phases through a brick wall, that C.C. crashes into. (Why is that even in here?)

Rimfire decides to use this time to escape, running the same way the other two did. Despite the fact he clearly saw that Cool Cat was the one under the curtains, he gets scared by that and runs the other way. (Must be getting senile in his old age) Cool Cat follows, and Spooky does likewise. (Because, Cool Cat isn’t wearing the curtains anymore?) When he realizes he is still being followed, he runs and ends up jostling Rimfire out of the phonograph he was in. (I thought he was escaping. Why is he still here?)

Finally, Rimfire runs out the front door. (It really shouldn’t have been that hard.) Cool Cat follows suit, still pursued by Spooky. Ultimately, Cool Cat runs out of energy, and sits down. Spooky joins him, commenting that they had a great race. Cool Cat, still not happy to see the dead, admits that they’ll resume as soon as he catches his breath.

Favorite Part: The fact that Cool Cat was willing to try and save his adversary. Man, this guy really IS cool.

Personal Rating: 2

Moonlight for Two

“Stand back, villain!”

Animation by Isadore Freleng and Larry Martin. A Merrie Melody released on June 11, 1932.

You ever heard of Goopy Geer? There’s no shame if you haven’t. He’s one of the WB’s most minor of minor characters. He’s your basic run-of-the-mill anthro-dog. He sings, he dances, he plays musical instruments. He was another attempt to make a recurring character for Merrie Melodies. And I know what you are thinking now: that name and species? It’s another blatant Disney ripoff! Yet, Goopy came first. He predates the dippy dog by a couple of weeks. And, yet, (again) one went on to have his own movie in the 90’s, while the other got a cameo on Tiny Toons. (There are no losers, but some won more than others.)

Late at night, in some Ozarks-ish area, a girl dog heads out with her boyfriend/ormaybehusbandbrotherorjustdancepartner for some dancing fun. Even the birds sing in excitement. (Probably on the other side of the globe. It’s clearly day where they are.) The guy is Goopy and the gal is just Goopy’s gal. (So, it is once more up to me to supply a name. Gigi sounds appropriate) They sing our title song, jump onto a cart, (not sure if that was intentional) and they crash. They end up going to the dance in a wheelbarrow.

Random transition to the dance! We’re just there, man. It kind of feels like we got a different carton shoved in here. Everyone is having such a wonderful time! Look at those asses wiggle! No, really. They have long ears, and are clearly equines. (And yes, their posteriors are moving too.) Goopy and Gigi are ready to cut a rug. Bust a move. Shimmy a shake. Even the stove gets in on the action. (The animators clearly wanted to make him the star. He’s so much more lively.)

You want some conflict? We’ve got a surplus of generic Ozark villains on standby. Have an a-hole Amos on the house! He doesn’t do much more than make a kiss face at Gigi, but that’s enough for Goopy to fight him off. He’s not too good at it, though. The stove ends up chasing the rogue away with his burning embers. (Coming next month: Pot Billy Stove in, “Some like it not!”)

Favorite Part: Two dachshunds dance. One chugs some firewater, and burns most of his flesh away. His partner doesn’t mind how vertically challenged he has become, and continues to dance with him without hesitation. That’s adorable.

Personal Rating: 2