Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs

“Some folks think I’s kinda dumb, but I know someday my prince will come.”

Supervision by Robert Clampett; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Rod Scribner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on January 16, 1943.

This is, no question, the most famous of the Censored Eleven. If being listed on the “100 greatest Looney Tunes” isn’t reason enough, then how about actually managing to secure a place as one of the “50 greatest cartoons.” (As chosen back in the 90’s, so people were well aware of how offensive this cartoon was, and still is.) And yet, there are some good reasons as to why it earned such a spot. Allow me to explain.

We start with a mother and child. They aren’t going to feature much in our feature. They set up the story, and briefly appear at the end, and that’s it. (Luckily, they’re in silhouette. We already have enough racist drawings.) The child wants to hear the story of “So White and the seven dwarfs.” So the mother tells just that.

The story starts with a queen. She’s a mean one. Know how I know? She’s hoarding wartime luxuries! Sugar, coffee, tires, and scrap metal! That’s stuff our armies could use! How dare she! Seems like all these treasures aren’t enough to satiate her, so she heads over to her magic mirror. (Now that I think about it, where did the queen find that mirror in every variation of this story? Did Rumplestilskin just have a yard sale?)

The queen asks for a prince, and the mirror… er, supplies I think. A prince does indeed show up. His name is Prince Chawmin’, and maybe he just came this way because of the other woman who is around these parts. Despite the cartoon’s title, her name is So White. (Even though her hair IS coal black, but who would want to be named after their follicles?)

(Right, Edward?)

And as for So… I’ll just say it: she is hot. I mean that. She gets my vote for the most attractive animated character I’ve seen. Jessica Rabbit can’t compare. Red Hot Riding Hood has nothing on her. Samus Aran doesn’t cut it. Give me this black beauty any day. Chawmin’ shares my opinion, and the two start dancing, angering the queen. (Who makes one of the scariest faces I’ve ever seen. That’s a little hyperbolic, but it does give me the jibblies.)

Queenie ain’t pleased to see her prince dancing with her… actually, it doesn’t say if she’s related to So. She could just be a very attractive maid. Still, this is enough cause for murder, so the queen calls up Murder Inc. to get rid of So. They’re very adept and arrive immediately. (Good rates too. Anybody can be out of your life for only a dollar! Midgets are half off! Japanese are free. Bad taste, but I’m sorry, that joke got a small chuckle out of me. At least Murder Inc. have wartime priorities.)

Well, maybe they aren’t as adept as I thought. Being alone with So in their vehicle ends up with her getting safely dropped in the forest, and their faces covered in lipstick. (Can’t say I blame them in the slightest. Shame So’s more of a loose woman than I hoped.) Out on her own, and savvy to her source material, So looks for the seven dwarfs. She finds them rather quickly. Most of them look very similar to each other. We’ll call them Dock, Hoppy, Brash, Sweep, and Snazzy. The other two look like Stepin Fetchit, (Because we have to make that reference whenever possible. The joke is timeless!) and chibi-Dopey. (He’s cute. I’ll call him Cheeb.)

They’re happy to take So in, but since there is a World War in progress, she can’t play housekeeper at their place. Instead, she’ll be the cook at their camp. Now, the queen is well aware that So is still alive. (I guess Muder Inc. couldn’t keep their insensitively large lips shut.) Time for the apple. Poison and all. (I’d have just let her eat it as is. It’d given her worms.) Disguised as a peddler, the queen hands So the apple, claiming it’s candy coated. So gleefully swallows it whole. (Which also would just kill her. The poison is just a fail safe.)

Cheeb sees the downed hottie, (complete with core? She didn’t even chew. Where did it come from? The queen just wanted a snack?) He rallies the troops, and they chase the old girl down. They fire Cheeb in a shell towards her, and he knocks her out with a hammer. Almost all well and good, there’s just the matter of So. They need Chawmin’. His kiss will wake her. He shows up, makes what is possibly the first reference to “Citizen Kane” in media, (I’m too lazy to see if my claim there is true) and kisses So.

Something’s wrong here! He kisses and kisses, but she don’t wake up. Seeing his chance, Cheeb kisses her himself, and that does the trick. But why? Sorry, military secret. (The cutie ended up with the hottie. I guess I ship it.)

Favorite Part: The whole cartoon is in rhyme. (Barring a few exceptions.) It makes the whole thing feel like an upbeat jazz number!

Personal Rating: I won’t beat about the bush. This cartoon is full of ugly caricatures, hurtful stereotypes, and outdated jokes. But, if you can remember that and understand that it’s not funny, there is some pretty awesome stuff left over. A fantastic jazzy soundtrack, some pretty sweet voice acting, (done by some honest to goodness African Americans. And Mel. Because Mel is the voice god) and is overall a pretty awesome parody of Disney’s classic film. I give it a 4. Just remember that even if something is offensive, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s garbage.

Nelly’s Folly

“The world’s fist singin’ gyraffe!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Rating: 4

 

One Step Ahead of my Shadow

“Me show you Melican way!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Rating: 2

Lights Fantastic

“It’s Swell!!”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Sgt. Dave Monahan; Animation by Gil Turner; Musical Supervision by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on May 23, 1942.

Light is pretty fantastic stuff. I don’t mean the natural kind you can get from the sun. (That stuff causes cancer!) I mean the artificial kind that people use to give nature the finger, and turn night into diet day. And apart from Vegas, I’d say the best place to experience such a marvel, is New York City. What types of gags might we find just marveling at billboards?

One ad is typed out to us as if on a typewriter. But whoever is in charge of things, sure as heck can’t spell “stewpendaus.” And while you’re enjoying the sights that are lights, why not take a trip to Chinatown? (The bus is built like a rickshaw. At least it’s not as racially insensitive as it could have been.) One ad gives a free sample of what it’s promoting: an eye test! Being able to read the first line means you’re average. (Crap. I can make it out, but I can’t read that mess. Guess I need new contacts.) The next one means “above average” and the one below that is “exceptional!” And if you can read the bottom one, you clearly are a foreigner. (Who would bother to learn another language?)

What would a “Merrie Melody” be without a song number? (Still entertaining.) The ads come to life to serenade us. The featured song is “My High Polished Nose.” (“My Wild Irish Rose”) Next on the playbill: “Laugh, Clown, Laugh” performed by the mascot of Clown cakes and cookies. And as many can jokes as they can make! Coffee cans doing the can-can, while frequently showing off their cans! (Can there be anymore? It just can’t be! So I better can it, lest I get canned.)

One ad tries too hard. It tries to grab your attention with as much neon as they can afford. All for a tiny “Eat at Joe’s” message. (Freleng would use a similar gag in “Holiday for Shoestrings.” (Even using the same music piece.) And since this wasn’t the most story driven short, what better way to end it than with a music party? The dripping of coffee, the shaking of peanuts, and the dinging of a cowbell make an irresistible beat that has the rest of the ads dancing. Ending up with the same shot we began with. (What a bright idea.)

Personal Rating: 3

Shuffle Off to Buffalo

“What a man!”

Animation by Isadore Freleng and Paul Smith; Music by Frank Marsales. A Merrie Melody released on July 8, 1933.

Did you ever wonder where babies come from? What? You mean the only people who visit this site already know very well the answer to that question and have known for several years? Well, you were lied to. Babies are stored in some building that is not explicitly stated to be heaven, and are delivered by storks. (If the stork gets hungry and eats its cargo on the way to the new parents, that is called a “miscarriage.”

The person in charge is some god/father time looking guy. (I’m calling him Tony) He answers the phones and reads letters that people send asking for children. Having a baby is just like writing to Santa! Only, it takes nine months to deliver. (A nice bit of continuity, the letter is dated as July, 1933.) Wherever there are people, there are those who want children. (I can’t fathom why. They are such noisy things) A letter from Mr. and Mrs. Nanook of the north want some twins, so he pulls a couple of Inuits from the freezer. And yes, they look as racially insensitive as they could be drawn. (Except for their feet. At one point they are white. Trying to make a master race, Tony?)

The next letter in written in Hebrew. Seeing as how Tony can’t make it out, I guess that rules him out as being god. Nothing to worry about, though. All he has to do is send the letter to the stock room, and the ideal child will be chosen. (Said child and Tony himself are voiced by Johnny Murray. The same guy supplying Bosko’s voice) They sing our title song and are joined by several of the babies that I guess are just in storage. (Which means that unless someone specifically chooses them, they aren’t ever leaving this place.)

But it’s not the end of the world is you are trapped forever in this state of unbirth. You’ll just get a job as one of the gnomes who are helping to care for the babies. Step one: toss them in a washing machine. (Breaking character for a bit to point out that I know very well this is not an accurate depiction of where babies come from. With that said, don’t worry about the babies in the bathwater. Being in a warm, wet, place that you can’t escape from right away? Sounds like being in a womb to me)

Where was I? Oh yes! Dry the babies and sprinkle on plenty of talcum powder. Then, put on the 1930’s version of the disposable diaper: a paper towel. And staple it shut. And if one of the babies needs changing? Just throw them back in the wash. Don’t pay any attention to their sudden loss of hair.) Finally, before tucking them into bed, feed them some of our special seal milk. (It’s gotta be. Look how fast they chub out.)

So now that you know the basics, you’re ready for some on hands experience. Here’s your situation: all the babies are crying. What do they want? Isn’t it obvious? They want Eddie Cantor. (Yeah, why not?) What do you do?

A. Go find the guy and get him to perform

B. Dress up like the guy and perform

C. Ignore them. They are such noisy things.

D. Don’t worry about it. The guy actually works here.

The correct answer is the same one it always is when someone online makes a multiple choice question: D. Cantor performs, but the kids are hypocritical a-holes. Despite clearly asking for him, they criticize him once he sings. Not even his Ed Wynn impression wins them over. Instead, the racially insensitive Asian baby just shows off racially insensitive blackface babies. But I suppose it’s okay. After all, they aren’t crying anymore. They play, fight and join Cantor in his piano playing as the short comes to a close. But not before one more baby says “so long” to us. AWWWWW! That was pretty cute! I’m convinced. I want children now. 7.6,000,000,000 clearly isn’t enough people. We’ve got to try harder. Write Tony today!

Personal Rating: 3

We’re in the Money

“♪We’ve got a lot of what it takes to get along!♪”

Animation by Isadore Freleng and Larry Martin; Music by Frank Marsales. A Merrie Melody released on August, 26 1933.

It’s night, it’s late, and it’s time to close up the department store. With all humans now vacated from the premises, the merchandise can come to life. Well, they could do that during the day too, but it’d be really awkward. (Either asking to be bought and being refused, or certain products not being aware of their purpose until its too late. I’ll leave it at that, use YOUR imagination for once)

They toys start up some music. You’d think it would be hard to play instruments several sizes larger than you are, but they make it work. Although some of the instruments require more than one of them to play, and in the case of the trombone, they have to use a bike pump to blow the air into it. Hope you enjoy the title tune, they’re playing nothing but for the majority of the short.

The toys aren’t the only ones having fun. Many of the clothes and mannequins also dance to the beat. (As best as they can, seeing as how none of them have complete bodies. By human standards. They aren’t missing any of their parts, despite the lack of limbs. I don’t know where I’m going with this tangent, but it’s nowhere relevant.) Even the coins in the cash registers join in. They have every right to, as in their own words: “They are the money.” One doll plays dress-up and shows her best Mae West impression.

One mannequin actually has a full humanoid body, so he can dance with the best the human race has to offer. (Maybe even top them, as his feet can also function as wheels.) Standing in front of mirrors, he now is part of a quartet to sing the title song. And his talent isn’t limited to dance. He plays every piano in the store. But he gets a little too carried away and crashes into a shelf and getting caught in a avalanche of hat boxes.

(And what if you come to this store but you aren’t “In the money?” Clearly, they mount your severed head as a reminder to those who try to be frugal. Why else are Laurel and Hardy’s heads there?)

Personal Rating: 2

You don’t know what you’re doin’

“O.K. baby!”

Animation by Isadore Freleng and Norm Blackburn; Music by Gus Arnheim’s Brunswick Recording Orchestra. A Merrie Melody released on October 21, 1931.

With Foxy gone, we needed somebody to take the Merrie reigns. A character named Piggy was given a shot for two shorts, but afterwards Merrie Melodies weren’t stuck with just one character anymore. Piggy himself doesn’t have much of a personality to set him apart from other toons of the time. He stole a pair of Mickey’s pants, but that’s about the most interesting thing we know about him. (Please note: this Piggy is not related to the Piggy Hamhock who would appear later in the decade for a couple of shorts. Warner Bros. just had a thing for piggies.)

One night, hundreds of thousands of a crowd are heading for a night at a vaudeville theater. Piggy included. But first, he needs to pick up his girlfriend, Fluffy. (A great name. If their is one thing pigs are known for, it’s their thick fleecy coats.) They head to the show and listen to some of the music. But Piggy is a bit of a musical snob, and accuses the musicians of the title of the short. He figures he could do better, and takes the stage. I’m not a musician, so I can’t say for sure, but I think he sounds pretty good. I guess I’m in the minority, as the crowd isn’t too happy with him. Especially a trio of drunks.

Even though it’s clear they’ve been drinking, and their senses dulled, they think he kind of sucks. They sing the title theme, with Piggy arguing that they are just jealous, and the drunks continue to claim he has no talent. (Fluffy has just disappeared by this point, a shame that no one besides me is willing to defend her boyfriend) Eventually, the lead drunk (A name? How about… Tyler? Tipsy Tyler.) falls onto the stage. He breathes some booze breath at Piggy, and the stuff is potent enough to get him sauced as well.

Now, that he is a slave to the alcohol, Piggy takes the drunk’s drink and runs. With the wino in hot pursuit, Piggy pours some of the drink in a car, and tries to make a getaway. (Seeing as how he came to the theater in a scooter, he is clearly stealing now) For a creative touch, we see how the world looks through their eyes: the world is in waves. The road rises and falls, and it makes for a real wild ride. A clock dances, and a sewer grate becomes a monster. Piggy loses the car, and he and the drunk end up in  a pickup truck. Not wanting to carry them, the vehicle dumps the blissful drunks in a dump. (I think Piggy is going to be a little late picking Fluffy up)

What a fun short! Catchy music, trippy visuals, and fun gags! And so early in the Looney Tunes run! This proves they had what it took to make it in Hollywood. And look how it all turned out in the end. Possibly the most well known characters in animation history!

Personal Rating: 4

Bosko’s Picture Show

“Howdy, howdy, howdy folks!”

Animation by Isadore Freleng and Max Maxwell. A Looney Tune released on September 18, 1933.

Bosko is such a musical fellow, it only makes sense that he’d have a job supplying music for entire audiences. And in the era where silent movies were still in the public’s memory, (and a few were still around) we find him playing the organ for such a venue. And he invites us to sing along! So join in the fun! “We’re in the money!” is what we’ll sing.

Please tell me you sang. We love music around here. After such a fun opening number, we sadly have to tone it down a bit and see a news reel. A peace conference is in effect. Look at the pummeling! (Things must be getting better.) People still flock to California’s beaches despite the snow, and a boxer plans a comeback, even though he needs at least one arm to hold his walking stick.

We see footage from a dog race. (Which in itself is taken from “Bosko’s Dog Race”) with the Marx brothers playing a role as dogcatchers. (Odd. But at least they allowed Zeppo to join in the fun this time) And after being told that a famous screen lover is on a European vacation, we get a really weird joke about Hitler chasing Durante with an ax. (…wha?…) Back to the fun things! How about a Haurel and Lardy short? I think Haurel is the fat one, because it would be too obvious if he was Lardy. Today, they are going to steal a pie off a windowsill. But they get to arguing who will eat it, and Lardy smashes it in his friends face. In turn, he is smacked on the head. (And I don’t think his collar has a shirt attached to it, but that’s just me.)

Time for the feature film. A TNT picture called “He Done Her Dirt. (And How!)” Starring Bosko’s girl, Honey! And I just realized that I never gave her a proper post, so let’s do that now.

Honey was Bosko’s girlfriend. She was born to be a love interest and that is all she ever was.

What? What do you mean that doesn’t count? It’s my website! She fits my “five appearances rule” but she doesn’t have enough character to warrant description. She was made to be a love interest and that’s all she ever was. (part 2) She was just Bosko with a dress, high heels, eyelashes, and a bow. (Neither of them was known for wearing shirts.) But if you really need more Honey in your life, here’s a shot of her when she appeared on “Tiny Toons”

As you might have guessed, the “black person” angle wasn’t going to go over so well in the nineties, so he and Bosko were redesigned as generic dog creatures. (And they had the audacity to claim she was Warner Bros. “first female star.” There was no such thing. Sexist it may be, but people tend to freak out if a female receives slapstick.) Let’s return to our regular post, shall we?

Honey is riding a bike. (And the Marx’s are there again. They heard me say “generic dog creature” and needed to check it out for themselves.) The villain of the piece is called Dirty Dalton. Hey, wansn’t that also the name of a Hanna-Barberra character?

I already knew it was. You didn’t need to add that, me.

As I was saying, Bosko is not too keen to see the villain. I know what it sounds like, but I swear he says “The dirty fox.” (Whats this in the gutter? Why, it’s your mind! You should really keep it out of there) Bosko is loyal to his soulmate and is going to save her, whether it’s reality or not. He jumps through the screen to rescue her. Normally, that would result in him entering the movie, but real world rules are applied this time, and he just tears a hole in it. At least, that seemed to work.

Personal Rating: 2

One More Time

“Oh, bologna!”

Animation by Isadore Freleng and Paul Smith; with Abe Lyman and His Brunswick Recording Orchestra. A Merrie Melody released on October 3, 1931.

Well, seems Walt wasn’t too fond of characters looking an awful lot like his own Mickey. Because of this, Foxy would only appear this “one more time.” Well, until he would appear decades later on Tiny Toons. By then people were extra careful to make him look different from a mouse. With pointier ears and snout. (But at least he wasn’t as blatant a rip off as Milton Mouse.)

(Disney may have killed him off rather quickly, but he’ll live forever in my nightmares)

For his last appearance, Foxy is a cop. And he patrols some pretty nasty streets. He is nearly killed several times. Either by being hit by car or just flat out being shot at. But he’s not unarmed. He has a gun that fires a mouse with a hammer at assailants. But even the non-criminal citizens are causing some trouble. Another hippo (this one speaks mostly in “wahs”) is having some road rage with another Mickey clone. (They are popping up everywhere today) Eventually, she accidentally runs over Foxy and he gives chase.

When she pulls over, she begs and pleads to not be given a ticket. Foxy doesn’t really buy her story, but he does forego on the ticket. (Instead, he just shoves her head in a trash can.) Roxy is making one more appearance too and her dog happily greets the scared vulpine. (Being several years before Disney would prove that a fox and a hound could get along, you can understand Foxy’s terror) The three take a break to enjoy some impromptu music.

Another hippo, meanwhile, has just been robbed. The cops give chase, with Foxy leading the pack. The criminal may seem pretty small, but after entering a pipe, he is not only larger, but accompanied by three other crooks. A grenade is hurled that takes care of the other officers. (I think it kills them. It at least knocked the flesh off their legs.) They also fox-nap Roxy which just gives Foxy even more reason to give chase. He takes a robot horse from a penny arcade and gets her back. With the criminals now chasing him, he tricks them into running into a prison. But he hasn’t completely won. The driver managed to escape and shoots Foxy in the butt. (What a way to make your final appearance!)

Personal Rating: 3

Smile, Darn Ya, Smile

“Boil, darn ya, boil!”

Animation by Isadore Freleng and Max Maxwell; Music by Abe Lyman and His Californians.  A Merrie Melody released on September 5, 1931. (This is the earliest short we know the air date of)

Yes, this is the same song the toons sing in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and what better character to have star in a short that’s title theme was used in a Disney movie, than a guy who looks like he ran away from Ub Iwerk’s sketchbook? Remember Foxy? I’ve mentioned him before. He still looks an awful lot like a mouse. But he’s acting like a lucky rabbit. Here, he is running a trolley. (And he’s sure to have some troubles)

His first customer is a hippo. The perfect choice for making fat jokes. (sdarwkcab secnetnes reh fo lla syas ehs kniht I ,oslA) Foxy takes a pin out of her hat and stabs her. Rather extreme, but she does shrink. (Not due to a large loss of blood, but all the air she had in her.) Even though she is now compact enough to take a ride, she is cross with the fox for some reason. He couldn’t care less. He has rounds to make. And besides then he’d have to share his alone time with his girlfriend, Roxy. (Who’s not even waiting at any station. But when you date the conductor, you get special privileges.)

Life is just so grand, that they start singing the title song. (Early Merrie Melodies were like that. The title just referred to a song that would be sung) Even the ads printed on the trolley’s side join in. But the fun is short lived. As cartoon law dictates, “If you shall find yourself on tracks, then you shall find a cow blocking your way. And chances are, she’ll be really ugly.” (Look, Foxy has a cute hat now!) Even the hoboes that live under the bridge laugh at his misfortune. (When your Lyme disease keeps you from sleeping soundly, you have to find humor wherever you can.) Foxy’s trolley takes a running start, and jumps under the cow. (That’s not a typo. That’s funny.)

Now without his hat, Foxy should have no problems showing his girl a good time. But he wasn’t watching where he was going, and he is knocked out when the trolley enters a tunnel. (To quote Spyro 2: “Trouble with the trolley, eh?”) He tries to tie it down with a rope, but it just drags him back to it. Despite Roxy pleading for him to stop, it apparently has no brakes! And worse yet, the tracks lead to a cliff! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Then Foxy wakes up. It was all a dream. (One of the earlier times this cliche was used, so I’ll forgive it.) And why was that catchy song in his dream? His radio was playing it. Not amused, Foxy kills it with a bedpost.

Personal Rating: 3