Doggone Cats*

“That’s a nice doggy.”

Directed by Arthur Davis; Story by Lloyd Turner and Bill Scott; Animation by Basil Davidovich, J.C. Melendez, Don Williams, and Emery Hawkins; Layouts by Don Smith; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard. A Merrie Melody released on October 25, 1947. (*It was reissued as “Dog Gone Cats” I didn’t misread the title.)

Wellington Dog delights in what any dog would: cat beating. His targets of choice are an orange one I named Stan, and a black one Chuck Jones named Sylvester. And he seems a little out of character as we know him; he’s more dope than oaf. This isn’t even the only time he was portrayed this way, as Davis’s unit would do it again in “Catch as Cats Can”. (That’s now two weeks in a row I’ve mentioned that short. That means I’ll discuss it someday.) I don’t know why he is portrayed this way, but I can’t help but wonder if Freleng said something along the lines of “My cat’s a clown, not a dolt.”, and that’s how Davis made Heathcliff.

Welly’s fun is interrupted by a call from his human. (And yes, that bit of him wearing a trashcan lid on his head and turning quote unquote Chinese had to be cut on some prints.) He is to deliver a package to Uncle Louie, because mailmen got sick of being chased by dogs and decided they could do the job themselves. She also threatens bodily harm on the dog if something happens to his cargo. This is good news to his prey, as now he has a weakness they can employ. They start immediately with glove slaps and eggs to the face. And Wellington can’t do more than growl at the pests, lest he let go of the package. (Wait, was Stan able to see that ghostly image of the woman Wellington imagined? That’s scary.)

Sylvester gets the package hooked on his fishing pole and reels it in, Wellington desperately hanging on by his teeth. This leads to him getting his head stuck in a gap of a fence. Stan is utilizing a crane to lift the end of the board that isn’t nailed down and wasn’t there when Sylvester was fishing, while Sylvester cuts the rope holding it up. (Ouch. A delicious ouch.) Wellington gets the parcel back from them, but loses it again when Sylvester leads him in a dance into Stan’s pin. Sylvester takes it and runs.

Hey! Error! Wait a minute! The next shot has Stan carrying the package. When did they switch? I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder. Actually, I don’t. It’s actually quite trivial and easily ignored in the grand scheme of things. Stan hurls it onto some train tracks, (Leading to a fun little skid on Wellington’s part where his body and head spin independently from each other.) imitates a train with Sylvester to scare Wellington into ducking for safety, and leaving him to get run over by the real deal.

Then, to really mess with the dog, they wrap an iron weight up the same way, and hurl it from a bridge. Wellington and his rental boat sink trying to catch it. (And the repairs are coming out of his pocket, too.) But they lose it again, because Sylvester hits Stan with a mallet instead of Welly. (Which would have happened even if he was in his smarter form. Let’s not fool ourselves.) With the brains of the outfit out for the moment, the dog retrieves the goods once more.

Stan blows on a phony cigarette of pepper to make Wellington sneeze, sending the package right into the line of Sylvester’s steamroller. It may cost every bone in his body, but Wellington manages to keep the package safe, and finally get it delivered to Uncle Louie. He seems a bit too young to be the lady’s uncle. Is he Wellington’s uncle? I guess that means Wellington enjoys beating his cousins up because the cats not only belong to Louie, but the package contained their dinner. Does the woman just have a side business of making homemade cat food? Was it a mail mix-up? Did the cats know what it was? And what was my favorite part?

Favorite Part: The “shh” Wellington tells the cats when his lady is calling him. You may see it as a psychopath telling his victims to stay silent or die, but I see it more like a child not wanting the other kids tattling on him.

Personal Rating: 3

Pappy’s Puppy

“It’s a boy.”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Music by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on December 17, 1955.

When a stork and an animal hospital visit each other very, very much, a baby will soon be born. (A baby ‘what’ all depends on you, the parent.) Butch J. is a bulldog, and so is his soon to be offspring. The blessed moment occurs, and the result is the same answer as this arithmetic formula: Q+T. Pappy takes his puppy home and provides the most important lessons a child can know. The kind you won’t learn in obedience schools. You know, looking tough and killing cats.

Kid is a quick learner. But there’s another kind of learning that he must teach himself: the kind you won’t learn in father’s school. You know, playing. Builds strong muscles, and teaches you survival skills. (I’ve achieved similar feats from playing “Mario 3” my whole life.) During his play, the little tyke (believe me, I’m tempted to make a “Tom and Jerry” reference) runs into his first real cat: Sylvester. Little fella is scared, but remembers his training and comes back to maim, as all good puppies should.

Since he’s small, his attacks are annoying at best. He can gnaw Sylvester’s fur off, but the short is taking place in summer. It’s actually pretty positive, if somewhat embarrassing. Sylvester knows how to deal with puppy pests: stick them under a can. Next time, maybe he’ll remember to only do this when dad isn’t looking, or he’ll replace his son with you. (Oh, don’t think your size will save you. He’ll make you fit.) Sylvester is either going to have to learn to deal with the tiny terror, or get rid of him sneakily.

But first, how about a game of fetch? The teeny dumpling can cease his endless barking for a quick round. He’s a natural! So, Sylvester ups the challenge. He throws the stick into traffic and a-dog-able runs after. (Hmm… you’re right, that is too forced. Guess we’ll just have to call him “Tick”.) You may think Tick is doomed, but funny thing about humans, some of them still possess humanity. And you better be d*mn sure that any human carrying that would rather crash than hit a sweet, teeny puppy.

He’s all right. But dad has had more cheerful days. But it’s nothing a little game of “fetch” couldn’t cure. Won’t you play, Sylvester? Toobadyoudon’thaveachoice! As expected, a cat isn’t worth slowing down for, and the poor schmuck is barely able to dodge death. He gets back okay, forgetting that the majority of street accidents actually occur on the sidewalk. (Darn those scooters.) But the death idea wasn’t that bad. So, give it another go. I’m sure Butch will eventually leave the premises to go share his happy news with Mrs. Butch. (Where is she, anyway?)

Ultimately, Sylvester rigs a bone up to a gun. When the kid pulls on the string… BLAMMO! Except, Mrs. Butch is worth putting off, and father knows best about what to put in front of guns: not puppies. Sylvester is forced to take the shots while Tick pulls repeatedly on the bone. It’s then that a knock on the gate catches the putty tat’s ears. It’s Stupor Stork! Clearly just starting his route for the day, as he’s still sober. Someone must’ve remembered that dogs have litters, so he’s here to deliver the rest of Butch’s nonuplets. Welcome to living hell, Sylvester!

However, Sylvester still has a gun, and while Butch will flay him if any of his nine angels become angels, Stupor is fair game. Cat chases bird, and dogs chase cat. Just like nature intended.

Favorite Part: The look of absolute glee on Tick’s face when his father is demonstrating cat killing techniques. It’s the same look that says “That looks like fun!” and “I’ve found my purpose!”

Personal Rating: 3, unless you’re like me and think Tick is precious and bumps it up to a four. I’d understand if you don’t feel the same way. He sounds like a wheezing chew toy.

Peck up your Troubles

“*Frightened meow*”

https://youtu.be/ffhcE1W9skM

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ken Champin; Musical Direction by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on October 20, 1945.

A little woodpecker has just moved into a tree and Sylvester isn’t far behind. Using a hair net and twigs for camouflage the cat makes it about halfway up the tree before he is spotted. The bird haphazardly slathers the tree with some grease, and the next thing you know, the whole thing is covered, sending Sylvester sliding back down. And chopping the tree down is not an option, so says the nearby bulldog. (I like that he doesn’t interact with the plot much. He couldn’t care less what Sylvester does, as long as the tree if left alone.)

Sylvester tries stilts. He really should’ve thought this one through, as they don’t last long against an animal that frequently pecks holes in wood. The branch he grabs onto has a a similar fate. Sylvester tries crossing on the telephone wires. The bird finds the control switch, and Sylvester pleads for it to not be touched. The woodpecker does some good baiting here with a little ‘all right’ shrug. Sylvester does his best to book it to safety, knowing the bird is going to go back on his word. He does, and we never see it. (Does this cartoon seem a bit dim to anyone else? Even Sylvester’s fur is more gray than white.)

The plan that gets Sylvester to the branch is the riding a kite one. (Who’s holding the other end?) He’s got the bird trapped in his own house, so said bird tries a trick he saw Bugs do once. It works flawlessly, and Sylvester thinks that the totaled tomato is pressed picidae. He’s not getting any sleep tonight, which means it’s time to move to phase two. The bird disguises himself as an angel (Naturally, “Angel in Disguise” is playing. Stalling never misses an opportunity.) The “angel” gives his murderer a gun in order to make things right, because that’s totally what angels do. Sylvester actually starts to go along with it before he sees through the charade. He even manages to get a few well deserved shots taken.

The next day Sylvester is right back at it, and tries to batter down the bird’s front door. He ends up getting stuck in another branch, and the woodpecker baits him again by really taking his time getting set to give him a good pin poking. Fed up, Sylvester wraps some dynamite around the tree before the dog reminds him that it isn’t a good idea. As the cat puts out the fuses, the bird relights them and once they are all exploded, there’s no sign of Sylvester. The bird points up, showing who really wears the angel getup in this relationship.

Favorite Part: Sylvester figuring out an easy way to get up to the branch: just climbing air as if it were stairs. Then flashing the motto by which all animator’s swear: “Anything is possible in a cartoon!”

Personal Rating: 3

Tree for Two

“I gotta job to do!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, Arthur Davis, and Manuel Perez; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on October 4, 1952.

Best be on the look out ladies and gents, the newspapers say that a panther is on the loose. I’m not a newspaper and I say that a leopard is on the loose. Panther is a term that people who can’t be bothered to read up on big cats use. Regardless of what you call it, this is a potentially dangerous animal that is roaming the streets and you’d be smart to use caution out of doors. The poor thing is lost, confused and scared and when animals feel that: they maul.

Enter Spike and Chester. (The latter making his debut here.) Chester is the hero-worshipper type and his hero is Spike. He suggests many typical dog activities and each suggestion gets him a negative answer and smack across the face. Chester saves his best suggestion for last: beating up on a cat. (I love how he still braces himself for another smack. Don’t let yourself be a hero-worshipper. Even the decent people will get sick of you.) Finally, something that piques Spike’s interest. Chester leads him to where a cat is located.

Their cat of choice is Sylvester. He was just minding his own business, singing and enjoying life. (He’s good at it too! If “Back Alley Oproar” didn’t convince you of his singing prowess, watch it again. It’s a wonderful short.) And that gets him hounded by hounds. He takes refuge in an alley with the two right outside. Spike keeps Chester out while he partakes in all the fun. Once inside he pulls on his prey’s tail. Only not really. That is a leopard tail, and Sylvester is hiding in a trash can. (Confused, but not stupid enough to point out there’s a mix-up.) That tail isn’t coming undone, so Spike follows it. He leaves quite shaken up. (On the bright side, it doesn’t look like he was harmed too physically.)

Chester takes a peek to see this “big” cat, but only sees Sylvester checking if the coast is clear. Chester offers to take care of the cat, but Spike’s pride ain’t having it. He goes back in to really give it to ‘im. The same thing happens, but Spike definitely took a beating this time. Chester still can’t accept this. (It constantly causes his whiskers to disappear in shock.) Chester shows that even a little dog like himself can pound the puss and fling him back to whence he came, so surely a bigger, stronger, (prick-ier) dog can do it. Spike’s resolve is restored.

Spike enters the alley again, and without a hiding place, Sylvester can’t do much more but claw blindly at the air. Amused, Spike lets him give his best shot. With both of them having their eyes obscured, neither one sees the leopard clawing the mutt to bits for daring to pick on his distant relative. Spike is horrified, and flees. Sylvester can’t believe what he’s seeing, but he seems to be seeing it. There must be more power in his paw than he ever imagined. Now feeling strong as a leopard, he comes after the two dogs himself. They’re going to get the claw and leave him alone from now on!

Chester isn’t convinced and once more beats and flings. (Stan Freberg, you are knocking it out of the park with this performance. Really wish you got to star alongside Mel more often.) So in the end, Chester is considered the tough one and he gets to bully and smack the hero-worshipping Spike, the leopard was eventually found and returned to the zoo which was given a good amount of funds to renovate the place and make it so the animals were happy in captivity, and though Sylvester got beaten up, he was known in all the cat circles as the one who turned the feared Spike into a groveling kiss-ass.

Favorite Part: The smile on Chester’s face when Spike tells him he can go get himself killed. It’s the same look we’ve all had when someone allowed us to do something dangerous, and we were about to prove them wrong. (Though not every one of us came out like Chester…)

Personal Rating: 3. But even if it’s successor got the same score, this one is better. I find the ending makes a lot more sense with everyone still unclear about what really went down. Makes Chester’s promotion make more sense.

Cats and Bruises

“Here comes Mr. Butt-inski.”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Co-Director: Hawley Pratt; Story by John Dunn; Animation by Bob Matz, Norm McCabe, Don Williams, Manny Perez, Warren Batchelder, and Lee Halpern; Layouts by Dick Ung: Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Lee Gunther; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on January 30, 1965.

On every Cinco de Mayo you can find all the mice in Mexico celebrating. That’s all well and good, but it also means they’re all in one location and Sylvester knows that spot. He tries to infiltrate the party with his own mouse ears (It’s worked before.) but Speedy can see through the disguise and tells everyone to run while he takes care of the party crasher. Speedy even uses an old sign to taunt him. (They still have that? Move on, guys.)

Speedy gets Sylvester into the nearby dog pound a couple of times. (Must be why they chose this venue.) But the budget doesn’t allow any scratches on the cat. He does manage to get Speedy in a net, and dragged around. He’s smart enough to grab a hammer, but slams into a pole. Later, Speedy takes a romantic boat ride with a mouse doe, whilst Sylvester tries to sneak up via rubber raft. Speedy pops that with a dart.

Like the new saying I just made up goes: if you can’t bead’em, outspeed’em. Sylvester is putting his engineering degree to good use as he designs a car that will actually outpace Speedy. We said it was crazy and couldn’t be done, but only the first part of that statement came true. As amazingly enough, the car is doing a dang fine job of catching up to the guy. (If we could see the speedometer, we could use basic math to figure out Speedy’s top speed. I’ve never wanted to do basic math more in my life!)

As it turns out, Speedy is the fastest mouse in all Mexico, and that includes his stopping speed. Meanwhile, it seems Sylvester never foresaw the mouse calling it quits, and didn’t bother to install brakes. He drives off a cliff and into a lake. (Although the camera pans upward. So we should all be forgiven for thinking it launched him into the thermosphere.) Speedy lets everyone know that it is safe to continue partying, and they dance again in the same shot we saw them in originally. (Wait… Speedy really kept them waiting while he went on a date? What a cheesehole!)

But Sylvester isn’t dead if that’s what Speedy was implying; he’s just in a wheelchair. So he can still chase the mouse in a way. Speedy humors him by running a fraction of a fraction of his normal pace. What a cheesehole.

Favorite Part: After Slyvester gets out of the dog pound. Speedy asks if he’s nervous. I like Speedy’s smug face, and the quick “yup” Sylvester responds with.

Personal Rating: 2. And that’s me being nice. This whole picture was a mishmash of reused gags we’ve seen before! (Probably why the animation looks a bit more polished than what was coming out at this time.) However, casual fans and newbies could probably find enjoyment here. (Still, I wouldn’t use this to introduce the characters to them.)

Stooge for a Mouse

“…You like cats, how come?”

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x853mys

Directed by I. Freleng; Animation by Arthur Davis, Gerry Chiniquy, Emery Hawkins, Ken Chapin, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on October 21, 1950.

It’s so nice to see Sylvester happy. Even better? He’s happy with a dog! A dog! His natural enemy! It doesn’t matter what he does, any dog sees him and he gets mauled. Mike is much more understanding than those neander-canines. He’s even happy to let his pal use him as a pillow. But there are still responsibilities to uphold, and Sylvester’s main one at the moment is keeping his eye on a mouse.

Whoever owns this house loves leaving unwrapped cheese on the table. Naturally, the visible scent is going to attract a mouse. But Sylvester is on the job, and while not fully catching him, does send him running back to his hole. Seems like this isn’t the first failure for the rodent, so he’s going to have to resort to chicanery if he wants that rotting milk-wad.

He cuts a hole in the ceiling and lowers a phone receiver. Taking the other end, he starts putting doubts in Mike’s head about enjoying the company of cats. They only like other life-forms for their warmth, and will kill you once you outlive usefulness. (I mean, I don’t think he’s wrong…)  To make things worse, he plants a knife in Sylvester’s paws and has the dog look. He’s not pleased and banishes his chum to the other side of the room. Let’s call the mouse D.J.! (Short for dick jerk)

Mike sleeps once more, and Sylvester decides it’d be okay to at least share the rug. Mike can have some personal space, sure. But once the two are asleep once again, the mouse ups the ante. Wielding a mallet, he gives Mike a whallop and plants the weapon on Sylvester’s person once more, fleeing before his trick is discovered. Again, Mike is pissed to think what he once considered a good friend is now causing him bodily harm.

D.J.’s tricks get worse, and Mike decides the only option is to put the cat in shackles and throw him out of the room. Even though this should help prove Sylvester’s innocence, Mike still blames him when the mouse saws a hole around him, and gives Sylvester the saw. (Really, Mike? You don’t see ANYTHING suspicious about this? You KNOW there’s a mouse in the house.) He gives Sylvester a pounding leaving the cat dazed. But the mouse has one more scheme to try: it involves a boxing glove and horseshoes.

Figure it out yet? D.J. is going to use a magnet to drag a horseshoe-filled-gloved-Sylvester into Mike’s mug. That’s it. Mike retaliates and punches the (still oblivious) cat right back again. And the mouse pulls him right back once more. This goes on for a while, and when it’s all said and done, the house is a wreck and the two pets have been knocked senseless. D.J. goes to get his cheese, but thank goodness for small mercies. You see, you can’t turn a magnet off and it pulls on something else metal. The lighting fixture which comes undone and knocks D.J. unconscious. Hopefully when everyone comes to, they’ll know who’s really to blame: the moron who lets good food sit and spoil.

Favorite Part: Mike being a very supportive friend when Sylvester admits the mouse got away. He still thinks his pal did a good job scaring the pest, and that’s what really matters. What a good dog!

Personal Rating: Before we get to that, here’s a bonus Toon for you to watch:

Now, even thought this cartoon doesn’t look or sound as good as what we’ve already discussed today, I find it the better picture. First off, the dog and cat’s friendship is so cloyingly, saccharine-sweet, that you kinda want to see them change tune. (Doesn’t help that the cat sounds like Meowth with his balls caught in a vice.) Second, Herman actually makes BOTH of them think the other is turning traitor, so you don’t pity them too much. And most importantly, they catch wise to his scheme so things will most probably work out.

TL;DR: I’d give this today’s short a 2, but if you’re not as sentimental as me, you’d probably say it deserves a 3. ( Herman’s short DEFINITELY earns a 2.)

Hoppy Daze

“No mouse is no match for no cat.”

https://youtu.be/VrK5K9rKwKk

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, Tom Ray, and George Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Bob Singer; Effects Animation by Harry Love; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on February 11, 1961.

Age happens to the best of us. (The worst of us too. It don’t discriminate.) Sadly, this leaves one with the inevitable fact that there will be one day where you just will simply not be able to do the things you enjoy. Even basic things like getting sustenance. Such is the fate of a cat I’ve decided to call Moe. He just can’t catch mice like he used to. (Also, he stole Spike’s clothes.)

Spying an equally hungry Sylvester gives Moe an idea, offer to train him as a “champeen” mouser. Sylvester likes the idea and agrees to that, and the fact that he’ll get 20% of the mice. This… seems kind of out of character for him. Sure, he’s gullible, but I’d think his ego would be big enough to think he already was a “champeen.” If anything, I’d think he’d be more likely to just try and prove that the little cat’s tutoring would be useless. (Also, I can’t help but think this would’ve been a perfect opportunity to bring Dodsworth back.)

Sylvester enters a warehouse, and begins chasing a non-anthro mouse. (Which looks scary and out of place here.) It runs into a crate, and Sylvester opens ‘er up, failing to notice the label saying there’s a baby kangaroo inside. Look at that, a giant mouse. Kicks him out, too. Moe doesn’t believe the giant mouse story, and reminds Sylvester that they’re small creatures. Filled with resolve, Sylvester enters again. He is thrown out. Again.

After entering the third time, Sylvester finds Hippety is copying the cat. Without hesitating, Sylvester realizes that he can use this fact to his advantage, and a game of follow the leader commences. Once Hippety is back in his crate, Sylvester slips some TNT in with the marsupial. Hippety sends it back, along with the other five that was in with him. (What the? If he needs to be put down, can’t you find a more humane way?)

Time for an actual tip. (Brought to you by Moe, the cat whose hands change color briefly.) He tells Sylvester to keep his left up. Sounds like a good idea, so Sylvester tries it. (And he tries talking without moving his lips. He gets about six words in before he cracks.) Since Hippety is out of the crate again, he can bounce away from the pugnacious putty-tat. Sylvester tries the bouncing trick himself with some old bed springs. Then, well this happens:

He tricks Syvlester into jumping off the top of a pile of crates. He lands on a barrel of gunpowder. The springs get stuck, and Sylvester in launched up to the ceiling. The springs pull the barrel up, and launch Sylvester out of the warehouse, and into a nearby incinerator smokestack. Seeing the launch, Moe follows and the resulting explosion sends Sylvester’s left right into Moe’s mug. He’s mighty impressed with his pupil. (Oh, by the way, could you tell that Moe talked like Jimmy Durante? No? Then allow Hippety to end with another impression.)

Favorite part: The little clap Hippety gives is adorable. He really thinks Sylvester is here to play with him.

Personal Rating: 2. For the out of character, and missed opportunity.

Birds of a Father

“I feel like an assassin.”

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x84z5vf

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Dave Detiege; Animation by Warren Batchelder, George Grandpre, and Ted Bonnicksen; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on April 1, 1961.

Sylvester can relax in a hammock with pride. His son is the kind of kit that most fathers can only dream about: the kind who is a natural at bird chasing. But wait! The bird is chasing Junior? That’s not how it should be. Could Junior really be afraid of his natural prey? No, worse. He’s friends with the bird! The shame of it all! Time to teach the kid about proper behavior.

Junior is kind of aghast to learn that he is to chase, catch and eat a bird in that order. Spike (for that is the bird’s name) suggests a plan though: a mock fight that will take place in a shed away from Sylvester’s judging eyes. (All said in tweet-ese. Where’d Junior learn to speak that?) It starts out perfect, but the two are really putting their all into their roles, and Sylvester is a bit concerned with how violent his kid is behaving. Especially if the cleaver in the door is any indication.

Sylvester comes in (The cleaver and Spike both disappear. At least we see the bird leave.) and tells his son that there is a much more humane, much more sporting way to hunt birds: searing hot lead that can reach speeds of 2000 feet per second. Guns. What a wonderful invention. Sylvester is quite the marks-cat as well; gets a birdie on his first shot! I’m impressed, but the badminton player isn’t as much. (Probably because he had to pay for it.)

Round 2. (Is it me, or is Sylvester’s tail unnaturally long in this picture? I can already tell its missing the white tip.) The next bird is most definitely a bird. It may have even been alive once. But as of now, it’s a hat ornament and the owner of said hat doesn’t take too kindly to a cat with a gun. (Me personally, I’d let a cat wielding a gun do whatever he pleases. It’s a good survival tactic.) So, maybe technology is the answer. Sylvester builds a cute little plane that will shoot at any target you instruct it to. What happens when you set it to bird? Do you know?

Did you say it goes after birds? You did? Good job! Spike is plenty maneuverable though, and is able to stay alive. But the plane is tenacious and doesn’t give up after one failure, and Spike flees, right towards Sylvester. He runs with the other two right behind him. Spike is able to dodge it once again, but Sylvester gets stuck with it in an explosives shed. After the blast, Junior scatters some feathers around to make his father feel good about himself. Then heads off to play with his new friend: Spike in cat disguise. (So sad that his father is species-ist.)

Favorite Part: After Junior learns of how nature intended for  cats and birds to get along, (With the hairs on his head disappearing very briefly, I swear!) He sadly asks his dad if they are cannibals. Sylvester says yes.

Personal Rating: 3

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.

A Taste of Catnip

“Hello? Oh, Señor Duck! Como sta?”

https://youtu.be/w8Ba4ZygUpw

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Michael O’Connor; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Bob Matz, Manny Perez, Norm McCabe, George Grandpre, and Warren Batchelder; Layouts by Dick Ung; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Lee Gunther; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc and Gonzales Gonzales; Musical Direction by Walter Greene. A Merrie Melody released on December 3, 1966.

At Guadalajara Medical centre, you won’t find a better shrink than that of Dr. Manuel Jose Olvera Sebastian Rudolfo Ortiz Pancho Jiminez Perez III. (His friends call him Rudy.) He really is the top of his game, but he can’t help but point out how strange some of his clientele are behind their backs. Such as the time he helped out a fellow by the name of Daffy Duck.

It was about a year ago that Daffy entered the office with quite the peculiar neurosis. It all began when he was at the park. He saw Speedy walk by and he felt a powerful urge that he had never felt before. He wanted to eat Speedy. But that’s absurd, cartoon ducks don’t eat mice! And yet, every time Speedy crosses his path, Daffy has to avoid seeing him to keep his hunger pangs out of control. But things get worse as he finds himself desperately needing to do something else he’s never even conceived of thinking up. He rushes to the nearest trash receptacle, pokes his head in, and lets out a “meow”.

The symptoms worsen. He begins to stalk Speedy on all fours. His competion is not appreciated by Sylvester the cameo. (Marking this short as the cat’s final appearance during the golden era.) So why not just stay home, away from the source of the obsession? Well, Speedy has moved into Daffy’s house and tries to be neighborly, inviting the duck to dinner and everything.

And it’s not like the life of a cat is all overrated videos and lasagna. Daffy now has an instinctual fear of (color changing) dogs, and a need to lap milk from a saucer. That he kept in an unrefrigerated hiding place on top of a hanging lamp. From a color-changing carton. As if drinking milk wasn’t gross enough! (And yes, I’m aware that real cats aren’t supposed to be drinking the stuff either. No need to think you can try and teach me something.)

So, Daffy has come to Rudy for advice. First up, the Rorschach test. Daffy refuses to admit he sees a mouse, even though the doctor sees the same thing. Thus, he deduces that the problem isn’t mental, but physical. Which probably isn’t part of his profession, but what the hey. He enjoys looking with his microscope. He must have taken a blood sample at some point because he has some shocking news: Daffy’s blood catnip is 3.2%!

Wait…. his what?

Yeah, it seems that Daffy’s got catnip on the brain, spine, and circulatory system. Rudy tells him to find the source, and upon returning home, Daffy notices something that he hadn’t before, but probably should have. (So self-centered!) There’s a catnip factory right across the street from his place, and the fumes have been doing things to him. Well, it must be stopped. Peaceful protests, letters to the C.E.O., and poisoning the workforce all take time. Daffy jumps straight to the ultimate solution: bombing.

Well, that problem is fixed, but Daffy is now on the hit list of every cat in the country. All three of them. (One of whom is Sylvester. I wish the other two were Claude and Conrad. What joy I would have!) Still, his feline urges have been suppressed, so I’d call it a happy ending. Rudy meanwhile, is on to his next patient. Speedy himself! And if the quacking is any indication, then I think Speedy thinks he’s a duck! Looks like a certain tape factory won’t be around too much longer.

Favorite Part: Daffy bombing the factory. Such an over-the-top solution for a minuscule problem. Exactly what how I’d expect Daffy to handle it.

Personal Rating: 3 Amazing quality considering when it was released. An interesting plot with nice jokes. (If not hilarious ones.)