Tugboat Granny

“ANCHORS AWEIGH!”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Virgil Ross, Art Davis, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on June 23, 1956.

Would you look at that! Granny actually got her name in the title! But… it’s only so they could make a “Tuboat Annie” pun, so she won’t be featuring much in the following short. All we get out of her is a duet with Tweety about tugboats. Granny has a tugboat, you see. I don’t think I’ve made that quite clear. As for Sylvester, he’s been trying to snag a meal by hanging around the fishermen. Since that’s not working out, he decides to try and board the boat and bag the bird.

He first tries a rowboat. Tweety drops an anchor, causing the cat to have to row back to shore, sans boat. Next, he tries a rubber raft. They’re impervious to anchors, but not darts, and it just so happens that Tweety has one of those on him. (Weird. The shot of his dart hitting the raft contains no water. It makes the raft appear to levitate.) Well, the tug is making its way under a bridge now, so Sylvester tries to simply drop down. He lands in the smokestack. (Which would be impressive if this was a video game. It’d probably earn you a piece of heart.)

Right. Going on the water didn’t work. Going over the water didn’t work. Since there aren’t any sharks in this cartoon, it looks like it’s time to try going under and through the water. Sylvester makes a pipe into a handy metal snorkel, but that is exactly the kind of perch that attracts penguin-gulls. And it is insistent on staying put. Since Sylvester has no gills, he has to return to shore. Only then does he find that the bird laid an egg, which is now in his mouth. He throws it at the pest, but gravity returns it to him.

That’s enough tugging for today. Granny (Still not on screen, mind you.) starts docking. Sylvester readies a lasso, but it flies too far, and grabs a hold of a passing speedboat, pulling Sylvester in tow. He starts to get into the spirit of things, and starts pulling faces and stunts. When one doesn’t look where one is going, one is liable to crash into a post. Quoth the fish: “I tawt I taw a puddy-tat.”

Favorite Part: Sylvester’s disastrous fishing trip. Hearing somebody got a bite, he hides in their tackle box. The catch that is put in with him, is a very angry crab. The natural enemy of the common house cat.

Personal Rating: 3

Cats Aweigh

“There goes a brave pussycat!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Phil DeLara, Charles McKimson, Herman Cohen, and Rod Scribner; Layouts by Robert Givens; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on November 28, 1953.

Sylvester doesn’t mind being an alley cat. He can go where he likes, do as he pleases, and it really makes one appreciate your meals. His son, on the other paw, is not pleased. He wants a home! Where humans will feed him, pet him, and possibly find him cute. The main reason Sylvester is against all that, is the work that it will entail. “Meowing” for food? How civilized.

While at a wharf and searching for breakfast, Junior sees a wanted sign for cats to catch mice on a ship. It’s close enough to his wish for him! And if his dad needs help, he’ll help him! Sylvester thinks that maybe, this could work out after all. He agrees and they get the jobs. Or job, rather. Sylvester sees this as a an opportunity to take a cruise.

When Junior calls him out on his slothful behavior, Sylvester makes a deal: since his son is small, he can catch small mice. Since Sylvester is large, he’ll catch any big mice. You know, should any happen to be around. Poor little guy. He can’t bear to refuse his old man, so he resumes his chase into the cargo hold. The mouse he was chasing has hidden in a baby kangaroo’s crate.

Junior has a neat “Jurassic Park” moment with the marsupial, a good 47 years earlier than the novel. He runs to his dad, telling of the giant mouse, and per their arrangement, his job of capturing it. Sylvester humors the little guy, but finds he is telling the truth. Still, he tries to honor the deal, and sets about trying to fight the beast. It goes about as well as the previous 5 cartoons they’ve been in.

Sylvester makes a new deal with his kid: see, it’s unfair for a child to do more work than the parent, so, since there is only one big mouse, and plenty of small ones, Sylvester suggests they trade. (Geeze, Sylvester is a horrible parent.) But since Junior is such a good son, he agrees to his father’s demands once more and prepares to fight. Junior is quite quick to realize that this is all a game to Hippety, and what’s more, he’s copying all of the cat’s actions. With this knowledge, Junior is able to get him back into his crate quite easily.

Sylvester went back to his reading, because I guess he figured this would keep Junior out of his fur. But once Junior reminds him of their deal, he actually honors the deal! (He is a good father after all!) He follows a mouse back into the hold, and tells his son to not open the door. No matter what he says. The mouse (Who has a shock of red hair on his head. Huh.) hides in a crate of vitamins. And they work wonders! (Must be from ACME.)

With the upper paw, the mouse begins to pummel Sylvester, all while the cat calls desperately for Junior to let him out. Unlike how this gag usually goes, I think Junior is quite aware that his dad is in real peril. But he’s earned the right to benefit from this, and honors his father’s last request.

Favorite Part: The fact that Sylvester didn’t try weaseling out of the deal again. He’s not happy, but it takes very little provoking to get him to do his job this time.

Personal Rating: 3

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

Road to Andaly

“You crazy sthtupid bird!”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Co-Director: Hawley Pratt; Story by John Dunn; Animation by Norm McCabe, Don Williams, and Bob Matz; Assistant Layout: Homer Jones; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Lee Gunther; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on December 26, 1964.

Apparently, this short’s working title was “Tequila Mockingbird.” I won’t lie, I like that one better.

It’s a well known rule of the universe: Sylvester can’t catch Speedy. He certainly does try, but the mouse is too fast, and his “Yee-Haw”‘s are liable to scare one over a cliff. Still, there’s gotta be some way, right? Otherwise, Sylvester is going to lose all respect for himself. Oh, what to do, oh, what to do?

Luckily, it’s not too weird if Sylvester just walks into a pet shop with intent to purchase one of the animals within. (Now that I think about it, is there any rule that says pets can’t own pets?) Sylvester opts for a falcon. (Because this pet shop has those. They’re kept right between the okapi’s and the tuataras.) The bird’s name is Malcom. This should definitely tip the scales, as the peregrine falcon is the world’s fastest animal. (Although, looking at his plumage I’d say that Malcom is really a merlin.)

Sylvester sics the raptor on the rodent, and Malcom does seem to have an easier time keeping pace with Speedy. However, he is currently keeping a rather tight grip on Sylvester, and the putty tat gets dragged into a cactus. New rule! When Sylvester says “Let Go!” Malcom should do just that. He’s a quick learner too, as the next chase goes very similar to the first, and just like it, Sylvester demands to be let go. (Once he realizes how high they really are, he asks to be caught. Too bad Malcom hasn’t learned that command yet.)

As Sylvester whispers to Malcom, Speedy, naturally wants to know what its all about. Sylvester won’t share, so Speedy tries to play it cool by saying he has his own secret. Better than theirs, and he keeps it under his sombrero. He asks the two to not peek while he naps. Sylvester is angry at the suggestion He would never go over there, peek under the hat, and learn what is under it. That’s why he has a falcon to get it for him. (He’s also abashed at how dumb Speedy was to trust him with his hat.) The secret: a firecracker.

Malcom is ready to call it quits as any non-anthropomorphic predator would. Sylvester can’t let him do that. It’s an insult to his species. Surely the next chase will be a success! Actually, Speedy has a trick ready. Pouring salt on the bird’s tail feathers. As the legend typically goes, this should immobilize the bird. Malcom looks scared, but Sylvester pours some of the seasoning on his own tail to prove the claim as false. Although, as  mammal, it should have no effect anyway. (Would that trick work on any and all birds from choughs to tinamous? Science should look into this.)

According to Speedy, as soon as they wiggle their rear ends, their tails will fall off. (Oh. That wasn’t what I was expecting) They give it a try, and it works! They are officially tailless! (From Malcom, this is really just an embarrassing inconvenience. Sylvester just lost a limb.) The two have no choice, but to head back to town for glue. As for Speedy? He really should have kept that salt in a safer location. It pours on his tail, works its magic, and he has no choice but to follow his pursuers back to town.

Favorite Part: The ending. It’s refreshing to see Speedy fall victim to his own scheme for once.

Personal Rating: 2

Hop, Look and Listen

“I never thought just being a pussthycat could get stho complicated.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Charles McKimson, Manny Gould, and I. Ellis; Layouts by Cornett Wood; Backgrounds by Richard Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc. A Looney Tune released on April 17, 1948.

At the zoo, most of the animals are sleeping. The only one who isn’t is the kangaroo joey. Seeing as how all children think sleep is boring, he hops out of his mother’s pouch, out of the cage they share, out of the zoo they live in, and begins looking around. If you haven’t guessed yet, this kangaroo is Hippety. Making his film debut.

His exploration leads him to Sylvester’s house. The cat is doing some fishing. Er, I think you can call it that if you aren’t going after fish. His method is baiting hooks with cheese, and throwing it into a mouse-hole. He manages to get a bite, and he reels it in, but the poor little thing is just that: little. Not worthy of being of meal. He is spared today, but Sylvester still laments the lack of larger mice.

Hippety enters and gets himself in walls. (I’m honestly surprised that he can fit back there.) He gives Sylvester’s line a tug, and the cat ends up pulling out the marsupial, meeting him for the first time. He measures his catch. Yep. That’s what we in the business like to call a “bigg’un.” He runs from the house, screaming. In the yard, he blabbers to the bulldog about what he has just witnessed. The pooch isn’t pleased to hear this, and sends the cat back in to face what he fears.

Sylvester tries catching the joey in a bag. He manages to cover Hippety, but still ends up going for a wild ride. He is thrown out again. The dog, believes he is doing what is best for the cat, and sends him back in. (At least arming him with an axe as well.) Sylvester still fails, but starts thinking. If this really is a mouse, (which is definitely is. I mean, mice are well known for being at least three feet tall.) then that means, as a cat, he should be able to win. Time for a montage!

It’s brief, but it’s a montage. Sylvester does some exercises to get himself in fighting shape. Maybe he didn’t train enough. Maybe cats just can’t stand up to the awesome power of Osphranter rufus. Whatever the reason, he is thrown out once more. Looks like Hippety’s fun will end though, as his mother has come to claim him. Just then, the dog enters to take on the mouse himself. He freaks out upon seeing a “mouse” that is even larger than Sylvester saw, with two heads to boot!

He packs his things, takes Sylvester with him, and leaves. As he puts it, when you see mice that size, it’s time to get on the water wagon. (Which they literally do. Beats walking.)

Favorite Part: The final time Hippety throws Sylvester out. The background artists actually took the time to be consistent, and draw the windows from the previous throw-outs, still broken. That’s pride in your craft, it is.

Personal Rating: 3

The Slap-Hoppy Mouse

“You and I are going mouse hunting.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, George Grandpre, Keith Darling, and Russ Dyson; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on September 1, 1956.

Wouldn’t it be great to be a pet? (Assuming you don’t have a neglectful owner of course) You could sleep all day, eat without using hands, be adored constantly, and just when the monotony starts getting to you, you die thanks to your shorter lifespan. (Certain animals withstanding. I’d hate to be a tortoise) It’s a nice life. An easy life. And that is bothering Sylvester’s son.

In this picture, the two live in a mansion. Sylvester Sr. is quite content with the way things are going, but Jr. isn’t enjoying himself. (If my nose turned black for a brief second, I might be a little grumpy. Unless I could do it at will. That would be sweet.)  Mostly because of the other cats in the area that we don’t get to see. But according to Junior, they don’t think so highly of the his father. Seems he’s soft. Weak. A has-been. That’s all it takes. Sylvester promises to show the lad the art of the hunt, and prove that he still is a great mouser.

Donning some dapper caps, the two make their way to the best kind of habitat to find a mouse in: a derelict dump of a building. That’s right next to some railroad tracks. Why is that important? Well, a circus train passes by and a crate that isn’t secured at all tumbles off and ends up in the basement. Out of the rubble comes Hippety Hopper. (You like the inconsistencies? This little guy has one in this short. One of his eyelids is white at one point. Can you find it?)

Sylvester, meanwhile, has found an actual mouse, and prepares to strike. The main problem with hunting in these crummy old places, is that the loose boards can send you down to the basement. Creepy things live in basements. Like gargantuan mice! Sylvester runs back upstairs in a panic. Junior believes his dad’s claims as the suspected mouse followed him up. Sylvester is all set to run, but his boy reminds him that cats shouldn’t fear mice. (Sweet and all, but the fact that I shouldn’t fear fish doesn’t help me any.)

The hunt begins, and Sylvester is pummeled. It’s not long before he is grabbing some firepower to aid him. Unfortunately, he can’t seem get the right order of powder, shots and wadding in the gun, and he is constantly fired up to the higher floors. (The smaller mouse from earlier even comes back to the pull the trigger once.) Ultimately, Sylvester puts some glue down to catch his target. All the joey has to do is give him a light tap to foil this plot. (He even gets some buck teeth for a moment. Nice bit of zoological accuracy) With his father out of commission, Junior has to cut the floor out from under him, and carry him home.

Favorite part: After Sylvester calls himself “broken down” at one point, Junior instead claims that he is “a real, cool cat.” Really, it’s funny the way he says it. Even his dad doesn’t quite know how to respond.

Personal Rating:3

Fish and Slips

“I hope you know what you’re doing, father.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Dave Detiege; Animation by Warren Batchelder, George Granpre, and Ted Bonnicksen; Layouts and Backgrounds by Robert Gribbroek; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on March 10, 1962.

Breaking news! A record sized fish has just been caught! (By Treg Brown, no less.) I can’t quite make out what the newscaster is saying. Sounds like “Shark-nosed tralfaz,” which sounds more like a name for a dog to me. Not only that, but the fish look like marlins to me. (But what do I know about fish? Oh yeah! Plenty!)

Sylvester and son saw that broadcast, and Junior is mighty impressed. Seeing as how the only other fisher”man” he knows is his dad, he doesn’t have a lot of options. Sylvester is not pleased to hear this, and takes his son to prove that he does know how to fish. Not from a pier. That’s too hard. Why, humans are kind enough to build buildings fulls of sea life, just begging to be eaten. We call them aquariums. And since the place is closed, cats get in free!

Sylvester’s biggest problem (and where all of the jokes stem from) is his inability to check the sign telling what is in which tank. Using his tail as a line is all well and good, but not when sticking it in a piranha tank. Let’s step away from freshwater and move to the salty stuff. Much more flavor! (That’s not a joke. You’ll learn lots from me. And not just about cartoons.)

This tank is much bigger, so Sylvester can dive in. He catches a good number of groupers, but they’d be a rather boring specimen all on their own. This tank also contains a shovelnose. (Which looks nothing like how they normally do for the sake of the joke) Curiosity is a trait cats tend to have, so Sylvester takes a peek at its hole. It also tends to kill them, as a hammerhead pound him in and he is buried. Junior has to fish him out.

Could Junior do better? It’s possible. He managed to catch a small fish off screen. (I wouldn’t call it a small fry. It looks too old for that. Just “a little fish” humor.) It’s not enough to fill Sylvester’s belly, but it could probably make decent bait. The sperm whale seems to think so. (Wow. Cartoons sure are terrific! My universe has never had such a large creature in captivity!) Junior laments the fact that his father has become a meal. (He also calls it a fish. Something I was sure science had disproved by the 60’s.)

Sylvester uses the classic escape: a fire. (Why was there a raft in there? What sick sense of humor does this place have? “Don’t worry ma’am. Sure, we tricked your kid into being eaten, but there’s a raft in there. If he’s done any scouting at all, he’ll come out fine. Oh. He’s four?”) Sylvester gets out, but the dolphins have gotten bored with no humans around that they can warn of impending doom. They play catch with him. (WITH him.)

One last tank. Sylvester will go in via diving suit, and Junior will pump air to him. Things don’t get off to a great start, as this tank contains such amazements as an electric eel. (So, we’re back in freshwater?) a… lobster? (Well, it could be a very large crayfish. I’m sure there wouldn’t be any more contradic-) and an octopus. (Darn it, McKimson! Unless the mollusk is suicidal, you messed up.) Things get even worse for the feline, when Junior takes a break from pumping to observe an inchworm. Realizing his mistake, he pumps harder, and all that air makes Sylvester’s suit inflate. He winds up landing in a tank of dogfish. (Junior doesn’t bother trying to save him this time. He’d rather make another smart remark.)

Favorite part: A quote from Junior that all children have said at least once in their life: “I don’t think I’ll ever understand grownups.” I know I still don’t, and I’m 24.

Personal Rating: 3

Bugs Bunny’s Howl-oween Special

“Beware! Beware!”

Producer: Hal Geer; Directed by David Detiege, Abe Levitow and Maurice Noble; Story by Cliff Roberts; Music by Harper McKay. A TV special aired on CBS on October 26, 1978.

Halloween is such a fun time of year. You can be as macabre as you want and nobody bats an eye. Having any excuse to eat nothing but chocolate is also a bonus. And unlike other holidays, this one doesn’t have any deeper meaning anymore, and is used solely as a fun excuse. And naturally, there are plenty of cartoon treats on the side.

This special consist of clips from other “spooky” themed Looney Tunes and edited together with some new footage. (Sort of like Frankenstein’s monster.) Even if you aren’t the expert on these shorts, like I am, it’s not hard to tell where edits were made. Voices sounding different and animation not syncing up properly.

We start with a bit of “A-haunting we will go.” Right after Daffy’s nephew warns of the real witch, and his uncle drags him out to prove him wrong, we cut to a snippet of “Broom Stick Bunny.” Hazel still invites Bugs in, but doesn’t explain why she is giving him a tea designed to un-uglify someone. Even more confusing, after Bugs reveals himself to be a rabbit, she still wants him to drink, as she sees “that witch” as a threat. (You’ve lost me. Can a rabbit be a witch? And if the two are combined, will that spell the end of all witches?)

Bugs refuses to drink her tea, saying that he only will drink the kind his doctor makes. So, now we jump to a “Hyde and Hare” clip. While Bugs is chased by Hyde, his screams wake up a sleeping Sylvester, and we next jump to an abridged “Hyde and go Tweet.” After that, Bugs has somehow managed to escape Hyde and samples his formula. Now properly scary, he leaves to try and frighten Hazel. She is immune, turns him back to normal, and that makes him fall asleep. Next up: “A witch’s tangled hare.”

After all that, we finally catch up to Daffy arriving at her place, with most of that short being played. It cuts right after Daffy leaves. (Here’s an omission I never noticed before: when Speedy tries to make Daffy drink, the table is gone. But there is still a chunk of Speedy’s clothes missing that is table shaped.)

After all this, Bugs is still not impressed with Hazel’s attempts at being scary. She decides to show him, by frightening the cat that is accompanying Porky who is coming to stay at her house, since she put up a vacancy sign. (She now lives amongst some other buildings? Magic works fast!) So now, we get a mishmash of “Claws for alarm” and “Scaredy Cat” playing. And despite Hazel saying SHE is going to be the one scaring the cat, he runs off when Porky orders him to get out. (Not to mention, was she doing anything? Were all those mice under her control?)

I guess Bugs is convinced, as he offers to team up with her to frighten people, and proposes a toast. Upon drinking she turns into Count Bloodcount and “Transylvania 6-5000” plays. To be fair, they put in some new dialogue here, with Bugs wondering where the witch went, and Hazel speaking instead of the vampire. (But they don’t explain why Bugs is dressed as an umpire suddenly. Unless you’ve seen the original, you’re going to be confused.)

Once back to her self, she chases Bugs as she has had enough of him. (I do love the face he makes as he runs away from her.) This leads to our last clip from “Bewitched Bunny.” This time, once Hazel is transformed, Bugs doesn’t make a sexist remark, and just notes that no one wants to be alone on Halloween. The two then go to share Hazel’s brew.

This special is kind of a mess. The cartoons don’t always flow together neatly, and will probably confuse anyone over the age of five. I’m sure little kids will love it through and through, but that doesn’t include me. Here’s wishing any of you REAL people who read this, a happy Halloween. (Seriously though people. Stop leaving your spam on my website. You’re just wasting your time.)

Personal Rating: 1 (You’re better off just watching the original shorts)

Yankee Dood It

“How can I run my business without elves?”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, 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 October 13, 1956.

Last of the shorts trying to teach. I promise. (Private Snafu doesn’t count. Those weren’t intended for anyone but soldiers)

We begin in Smurf Village. Or I guess right next door, as we look in a hollow tree that is close to the mushroom houses. Inside, we see elves. (Actually, it’d make sense that they would live in trees. It’s where they make their cookies) The leader looks an awful lot like Elmer, so let’s just call him what we all thought of: Elver.

Clever, but not what I meant. He’s just got done reading the roll call. Despite making it past the Z’s he decides now is the time to question where all the missing W’s are. (I think that’s what he’s looking for. He says it as “wouble u’s”) One little elf, (who we will call Joey. Joey the elf) knows where they went: to help the shoemaker. (Either that or Santa mistook them for his. Just naming all the jobs elves do, today) Elver is upset. That was over one hundred years ago. (No, they never explain how the shoemaker is still alive. It’s one of three options: 1. The shoemaker takes really good care of himself, and has surpassed the average human life expectancy. 2. Eating an elf every year makes you immortal. 3. Elver is exaggerating and is full of crap.) Joey is sent to go retrieve them. As he leaves, he is also reminded that the word “Rumplestilskin” is a magical word for elves and can save them from danger. The elves are indeed at the shoemakers. (From Keebler to cobbler.) The owner, (who I’m naming Sherm) really enjoys it. Mostly because he doesn’t have to pay them. (Slave labor is less wrong when you’ve got an entirely different species doing your work.) Joey arrives as a tiny glowing ball. (Since when can he do that? Is this another elf fact we’re learning today? While I’m on it, why do they have antennae?) Sherm smacks what he thinks is an insect (The antennae aren’t helping make it any easier) but finds it’s another elf. Joey wants his people back, but Sherm is hesitant. He’d have to hire humans then. And they’d probably want *gulp* payment! Or worse, breaks! He also says “Jehosophat” and it turns out this is another one of those magic words that affect elves. It slowly turns them into mice. Now spouting a tail, Joey begs for that word to not get spoken again. Sherm just so happens to have a Sylvester the cat around who is looking at Joey with great interest. The cat leaves and the phone rings. The caller asks for a Jehosophat. Now Joey has matching ears. Then, a telegram is delivered that Sherm reads out loud. It was a birthday greeting for a Jehosophat. That’s done it. Joey is now full on mouse and Sylvester is on the hunt. The new mouse runs into a giant hole. (Seriously, that thing is huge! Sylvester could just follow him in! And for that matter, who made it? They must have rodents of some kind around!) Despite the easier option, Sylvester tries to reach him with a coat hanger, but only nabs some exposed wires. Joey has forgotten the word that will help him and rushes to the phone book, as he at least remembers it was a name that started with R. He finds it just in time and is reverted back to normal. For some reason, this stops Sylvester from eating him. (I’m not an expert on house cats, but aren’t elves responsible for a good 45% of their diet?) Shem tells him to knock it off, and Elver decides to come see why he is still missing elves. (As long as he knows where they are, why does it matter if he has them back or not? We could learn so much about the Elf race, but no, instead we’re going to get another economics lesson.) Elver is here to tell how Sherm can run his business without elves. The main reason he can’t keep up the enslavement isn’t because it’s morally and ethically wrong, it’s just too old fashioned. According to Elver, older methods are destined to fail and must be modernized. (I get what he’s saying, but what if you have a really good way of making your product? One that doesn’t need upgrading.) If he buys better equipment with his profits, he can increase his production, and get an even bigger profit. But the cycle never ends, and he will have to keep using some of his gains to upgrade again and so on. (When, you put it that way, it just sounds depressing.) Nevertheless, Sherm is convinced and agrees to do it the modern way! Six months later, his shop is a much larger building, he has nicer clothes and his own office. Elver shows up again to check in on him. Sherm is doing quite well for himself. He only has one problem now: he needs a name for his new line of boots. Without any reason why, he dubs them “Jehosophat boots.” Turns out, tagging boot on the end of that word instantly turns an elf to a mouse. And Sherm still has Sylvester. Elver runs for his life from the cat, trying to remember the word that will save him, having forgotten it himself.

Well, it was an interesting experiment, but I’m not sure how well it worked or was received. Luckily, Friz would go back to directing comedy, which I feel is where he shined best.

Personal Rating: 2