Confusions of a Nutzy Spy

“That guy sure d-d-does act suspicious.”

Supervision by Norman McCabe; Story by Don Christensen; Animation by I. Ellis; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on January 23, 1943.

You may have noticed that lately, I’ve been talking about many wartime shorts. Well, in honor of mothers everywhere, (including my own; who I don’t think has ever visited this place) this will be the last one for awhile. And there’s no better way to end things off, than with my brother from another porcine mother: Porky!

Said b.f.a.p.m. is working as a constable. And he has decorated his place quite nicely. He has a bunch of hand prints on the wall labeled as a “Fingerprint Dept.” (Fittingly enough, all the prints have three fingers and a thumb), a letter A labeled as “Exhibit A”, a rather sizable limb that is “The Long Arm of the Law”, and several wanted posters. (In the case of the woman, she’s just simply wanted.)

And where would a constable be without a trusty bloodhound by his side? Old Eggbert might be a bit lazy, but his sense of smell is second to none. Good thing too, as there’s a German spy on the loose! A feline fellow by the alias of: The Missing Lynx! (Or maybe that is his real name. Poor guy probably had no choice but to be a spy) Befitting his title, this spy is a master of disguise. I mean, you’d have to be to fool Porky. But it only lasts so long before the pig realizes that the strange person who can make himself look exactly like someone he’s never seen and is wanted by the law, might, just might, be the spy of which he seeks.

And what is this guy even doing here in the states? He’s going to blow up a bridge! Well, that’s what he intends to do. Despite the fact he is capable of keeping Porky away by donning a Porky mask and ordering him away, (Said mask is now in my hands. No shame) Eggbert was able to grab the bomb bag and return it to the Nazi. He hands the explosive to Porky and ducks into a nearby cave. Once he realizes why the bag is ticking, Porky joins him. Eggbert comes too. (Dogs are pack animals.) Eggbert has been sneezing throughout the whole short, and he lets one loose here as well. Porky and the lynx are flung through the air. Porky is saved by grabbing onto a pole, but the lynx ends up embedded in a cliff wall with the bomb at his feet. But wouldn’t you know it? The bomb was a dud. Angered, he bangs it on the ground in frustration. That was all that was needed, and they spy is no more. He may be dead, but he’s just happy his bomb worked after all.

Meet John Doughboy

“Our Open Door Policy is responsible for the Draft”

Supervision by Robert Clampett; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Vive Risto; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on July 5, 1941.

Want to learn some military secrets? Secrets that are over seventy years old? Porky has got what you want to know! (Sadly, he disappears from the short after his introduction.) Well, what have we got? We see our factories that pour molten metal into tank shapes. (Without those pesky molds. Here in America, we just pour it out, and it takes the shape.) Planes are an essential part of are army. And they can do some pretty spectacular things. A spitfire plane can actually spit fire A couple of guys aren’t worried about being drafted. The bigger one tells the smaller one, that he especially doesn’t have to worry. He’s too short. Unfortunately for him, stilts WERE around by the forties. There are some pretty quick gags too. A machine gun nest is actually a nest for the gun, and we see some of The Draft Horses that actually were picked. (Seeing as they all came from South America, the general is probably just racist.) Considering their ethnicity, It’s no surprise they start a conga line. An anti-tank gun is being tested, but the idiots who are in charge are too busy having a cigarette measuring contest to fire the weapon. So, it’s a good thing that we have other tools to fight with. A land destroyer so fast, that all one can see is a blur. (Slow it down, and you’ll see it’s just Jack Benny and Rochester in their car. Whatever works.) Okay, so maybe we aren’t as prepared as we could be in the event of a war. At least, if all we want to do is fight back. We’ve got a lovely defense system. Should enemy planes ever fly by, Miss Liberty will give them a dose of pesticide. Takes care of those annoying pests.

Fifth Column Mouse

Did you ever have a feeling that you a-wanted something?

Supervision by I. Freleng, Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on March 6th, 1943.

Seeing as there’s no cat around, a large gathering of mice are having a grand old time. Singing, skiing, (fake snow) and lounging around. But a cat could come, and it does. (Rubbing his paw on the window to see better, leaves a couple of smudges that make a distinctive hair and mustache) I’m calling him: Dolph. When he enters, most of the rodents flee. But one is captured. (Seeing as how he is larger and gray rather than brown, I think he’s a rat. And with all the symbolism this short provides, that sounds about right.) Seems Dolph has a plan, but he needs the rats help. (His name shall henceforth be: Columbus) Said rat, is initially against the idea, but is easily bribed with cheese. He tells the mice, that the cat simply wants to help. They treat him like a god, and in turn he will keep them safe and well fed. Sounds like a good deal. Can’t possibly see anything backfiring here. The mice agree and appease their new master. But all too soon, Dolph shows his true colors and has a hankering for some mouse. And that does not exclude a rat either. They are all fair game in his eyes. They escape though, and begin a plan to fight back, building a secret weapon in the process. But I’m not above spilling the occasional secret: it’s a mechanical bulldog with extendable teeth. And it works too! Dolph flees and the mice cheer. Columbus tries to play it cool, but still has cheese thrown in his face.   

The Weakly Reporter

“We love California”

 Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ben Washam; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released in 1944. Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ben Washam; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released in 1944.

With that said, who wants more topical humor from the forties? Hopefully, everyone did because that’s what you’re getting. While Wacky Blackout demonstrated how the country life reacts to the war, now we look at the urban side. (With bridging sequences done in a simple stick figure style, predating UPA by a good six years) With such a large war, automobiles are becoming more scarce. Those still around are frightened at the sight of  a horse-drawn cart. With such few cars, some people take to sharing a vehicle. Some go a “step” further and share shoes. Certain foods are really valuable and are delivered in an armored vehicle. (You laugh, but butter is precious to us Americans. It’s our favorite food!) Speaking of food, that’s a luxury now too. Lovely meat for sale. Only $1.19 for a sniff. (Smells like cow blood. So worth the investment) During these times, hoarders are looked upon with disdain. Unless you’re hoarding bonds. But in all seriousness, many men are now in service. What are the ladies doing? They’re still buying the latest styles. (That welder’s mask is you!) And girdles are now used to help win. The only downside is you can see the difference it makes without them. (Oh, you thought I was talking about a woman wearing it and not a man? That’s the short’s best joke) Ladies are now taking on more jobs. (And the men who are still around love to watch them.) But women fight in the war too. Putting lipstick over their gas masks, and training for fights by brawling over nylon. (How accurate.) Sexist jokes aside, they know what they are doing. When the factories stop, it’s a lady to the rescue! (The machine just needed her to insert a new bobby pin) Yes, we are doing a fine job of producing weapons really fast. So fast in fact, we can get a ship delivered before the champagne bottle finishes its swing.

So, unless you’re a WWII buff or Looney-tic, I wouldn’t reccomend this one. But if you’re reading this, I figure you’ve got to be one or the other.

The Ducktators

Tutti frutti and all-a kind of whips cream and a wall-a nuts!

Supervision by Norman McCabe; Story by Melvin Millar; Animation by John Carey; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released in 1942.

Just want to remind everyone that this comes from a time where the country was at war. So naturally, we Americans made fun of our enemies. (Instead of today where we casually make fun of everyone)

Why do all the poultry in the barnyard have cigars? Seems that a pair of ducks are expecting! Wait, why is their egg black? Unless you’re a fish, I don’t think that’s a healthy color for your egg to have. Well, it may not be dead, but it IS rotten. Out hatches a duckling with a familiar looking mustache. Welcome to the world little Hitler Duck. He grows up quickly enough and seems he hasn’t got quite the right mindset. He gives some speeches to other birds about his ideas for the future. (They sound nice on paper… actually they don’t. He’s evil.) Sadly, some poor souls were taken in by his words. Especially one goose in particular. (He’s not given a name, but he is Italian, so it’s safe to assume we all have given him the same name. You were thinking “Goosalini,” right?) I would also like to note, that this cartoon is not so single minded as to think all “ducks” and “geese” are like this, and it offers an apology to those whose countries names are being tainted by these a-holes. They begin amassing a good number of soldiers. (One of whom, is a black duck from south Germany. Unlike the depictions of Nazis, this guy is still pretty offensive today. I give it a pass due to its time period, but it is still sad it was once considered perfectly acceptable) Not all the birds are agreeing to the way things are going. A dove (naturally) wants things to go in a more peaceful direction. The two leaders agree to a peace conference, but then go and shred the treaty. (Not cool guys. And after you even bothered to hand a banner saying “Peace iss vonderful”) But aren’t we missing someone? Wasn’t there one other enemy we had? And here he is now, Tojo the duck. He tries to label an island as Japanese mandated, but the island was really a turtle and he isn’t quite pleased. He chases the bird to beat him. The duck tries to get out of it by showing off his “I am Chinese” button, but the subtitle saying it was made in Japan doesn’t convince anyone. The gang’s all here, and they begin marching. (By this cartoon’s logic, they’re Italian stepping) The dove tries once more to get them to stop, but they just walk over him. Having enough, the dove begins to fight back. Others join his side, including “Hare-y Colona” and a sign advertising war bonds. They are victorious! Later, the dove, (who has two children named Peace and Quiet) admits that he still hates fighting, but he had to so something to stop those fowl types. And he really gave it to them, he mounted their heads on his wall.   

Wacky Blackout

Okay! Lights out!

Supervision by Robert Clampett; Story by Warren Foster; Animtaion by Sid Sutherland; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released in 1942.

In today’s short we will see how animals react to the war. For example a farmer has trained his dog to put out fires. (He’s a Spitz) And milk is and essential part of a soldiers diet, so it is a good thing that this cow gives out 5,000 quarts a day. (or rather we take it from her.) Old Tom is a cat. He has lived through at least three wars so he knows that this one will turn out okay. And next to him is a woodpecker. He knows that it might result in bad things, but he can’t resist giving the cat a peck. Now, when it comes to American holidays, (by that I mean, ones we invented) my favorite is Thanksgiving. Luckily for me, a turkey is busily “gobbling” down food as fast as he can. Unluckily for me, once he learns of my dinner plans, he begins a weight loss program. Next, some turtle eggs are just about to hatch. (But first, that woodpecker pecks Tom again. Remember kids, never peck a pussy.) Yes, well, as I was saying, the eggs begin to hatch. The first two are normal enough, but the last one is convinced he is a jeep. A dog wants some attention from… well, technically speaking, a bitch. (Don’t look at me! That’s the correct term!) But the poor guy is shy. He has to resort to initiating his own blackouts in order to score some make outs. And speaking of blackouts, (wacky and non-wacky) the fireflies are performing a practice one. A turtle that is much older than what we’ve seen thus far is hesitant to go into his shell. He’s afraid of the dark. (Because that’s when dogs get it on. What is wrong with me today?) A mother bird is trying to teach her chick to fly. Does that bird look familiar? It’s Tweety! Or at least a proto-Tweety. He’s got a different voice and a slightly different design, but this is the bird that would become the world’s favorite canary. What’s his gag? He doesn’t want to fly normally, he’d rather be a dive bomber. Speaking of birds, the swallows won’t be returning to Capistrano anytime soon. They are blocked by the fourth interceptor command. But some birds are more loved during the war time. Pigeons for example. One pair in particular produced many offspring during the last war. And though they are quite a bit older this time, they are still as patriotic as a “Draft Horse” (And as for that woodpecker? He pecked Old Tom one time too many and is no longer with us. But he still  is with Tom for at least… 24 hours? How long does it take for a cat to digest a bird?)

The Draft Horse

Raise left foreleg!

Supervision by Charles M. Jones; Story by Ted Pierce; Animation by Robert Cannon; Musical Supervision by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released in 1942.

A short very important in the history of Mr. Jones, as it was the first time he wasn’t trying to be Disney.

A horse (Not named like we’ve come to expect. I’m calling him Stallone. It’s a clever name for a stallion) is happily plowing a field. But he then sees a poster asking for horses for the war. Feeling fully patriotic, he bids the farmer farewell, and heads to the recruitment office. (The plow still attached and driving a gap through the countryside) There, he shows off how great he’d be on the battlefield to the major. He imitates guns firing, bombs dropping and even his own heroic death. The Major even tears up before remembering that the horse is still alive. He orders it to strip. Stallone  does so as sexily as he can. (Which to another male, isn’t any. But plenty funny) He is scrubbed down by a soldier… Well I’ll be! It’s Private Snafu! Making his first appearance! Stallone is ticklish though, and doesn’t stand still. When getting a physical,he screams when told to say, “ah.” When told to lift various limbs, he does so without putting any of the previous down. He doesn’t fall until he’s told he can’t float. (Except, as a toon, he definitely can.) When all is said and done, the poor horse is rejected. As he mopes, he accidentally wanders onto a sham battlefield where a sham war is being held. (What a sham pain.) He runs around in fear from the cannons, tanks and bombs. He agrees that he is not quite ready to be drafted. So back to plowing? Hardly! Still as patriotic as ever, he takes to knitting sweaters for the troops. (And it takes a lot of patriotism to knit with hooves.)

Rookie Revue

I’m a baaad general.

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Dave Monahan; Animation by Richard Bickenback; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released in 1941.

For today, we’re going to see how the army lives, so get ready for army related gags! The soldiers snore “You’re in the army now,” but it is time to get up. The guy who is supposed to do that, has a jukebox play it for him. The soldiers fall in. (One of whom looks an awful lot like Elmer.) Of course, being woken up so early, the troops are still asleep even as they march in step. They do perk up once they are supposed to sound off. Mess call is their favorite thing to hear. The infantry eats very sloppily, until they notice they are on camera, they then remember their manners. (They are caricatures of Tex Avery, and executives Henry Binder and Ray Katz.) The machine gunners shovel food into their mouths at high speed, bombers toss food into their mouths, and the suicide squad eat with huge frowns. (If i had to watch that movie, I would frown too.) The calvary’s horses march in step, and the camouflage experts are near invisible. (I can see their guns) Speaking of guns, the soldiers used to be trained by pretending a plank of wood was gun. It was a simpler time. So simple in fact, paratroopers didn’t even get parachutes, and had to settle for a label that said “parachute.” (It’s one of the few times I’m happy with how huge the human population is. We would lose so many soldiers that way) Test pilots amuse themselves, by playing tic-tac-toe with their planes. But the general has no time for such tomfoolery. He is very busy planning coordinates for some gunners to follow. He takes his time calculating before is is ready for them to fire. They do and we find out exactly where those coordinates are: his headquarters. D’oh!    

Daffy-The Commando

Teh bin fertig mit der feleton, herr von limberger?

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ken Champin; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released in 1943.

A Nazi general by the name of Von Vulture is not in the best of moods. He has just been told that he is through should he let one more commando get through. He doesn’t have much to back him up either. Just a small, constantly goosestepping,constantly heil-ing, silent bird named Schultz who Von constantly smacks on the head. Hearing a plane, they rush outside with a spotlight and spot a commando. Daffy the commando to be precise. And he immediately makes his mark by making shadow puppets in the light. (His chorus line gets much approval from Schultz.) Upon his landing, Von runs back to the safety of the bunker. Daffy knocks on his door and asks for the time, so he can set his time bomb correctly. (It’s a going away gift for the vulture) Von hands it to his little pal and he is blown into the sky. When he lands, Daffy pops out of his helmet and gives Von a smack on the head this time. Chasing Daffy, (and confusing a skunk with Hitler. An easy mistake) He finds him in a phone booth. And no matter how much he knocks, Daffy isn’t letting him in until he’s done. When Daffy is done, Von makes a phone call before remembering his mission. Daffy takes off in a plane, but is surrounded. He dives down, and the Nazi’s fire upon each other. But Daffy’s plane is taken down by Von. With nowhere else to hide, Daffy ducks into a cannon. Von fires him and wouldn’t you know it, it blasts Daffy all the way to Hitler. (Rotoscoped, of course) He gives the fuhrer a much deserved smack on the head.

Russian Rhapsody

Silly, isn’t he?

 Supervision by Robert Clampett; Story by Lou Lilly; Animation by Rod Scribner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released in 1944.
Supervision by Robert Clampett; Story by Lou Lilly; Animation by Rod Scribner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released in 1944.

One of the hundred greatest Looney Tunes and well worth that title!

Germany isn’t doing so hot these days. (These 1941 days to be precise) All of the planes they send to bomb Moscow are being destroyed mysteriously. Could it possibly be gremlins? It couldn’t be! Not with Disney refusing to allow any cartoons about them being made at the time. Hitler is furious. (And let’s be real here, this is the funniest Hitler to ever exist. He screams, he speaks in random words with a bad German accent, and he moves like a spaz! It’s the only time I can say: “I love this guy!”) He finally decides to just send the finest person Germany has to offer: himself. As he flies to Moscow, (which, did you know, borders Berlin?) it appears that he is not alone. Several gremlins are on board and they sing a hauntingly catchy song. What’s more, they appear to be caricatures of various looney people. Tedd Pierce, Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, Leon Schleshinger, and the man himself, Bob Clampett. They set to work destroying the plane. A “Tubby” gremlin tries to stab Hitler in the butt, one saws the plane and just barely misses his pal, a adorable teeny one smashes the dials with a hammer, and one unleashes a termiteski to devour the plane. (Unlike termites which eat wood, termiteskis subsist on only the finest of messerschmidts.) One joke that is kinda dated is replacing Hitler’s C card with an A card. (Gas rationing. C is more.) The “Millar” gremlin finally gets Adolf and the fuhrer finally realizes he has company. (Also the little one he talks to is holding a feather, that magically morphs into a hammer) They put his nose in an electrical socket, and the resulting shock turns him into a glowing swastika, skunk, and donkey in that order. He pulls a knife on them, but they scare him with a Stalin mask. (And then the short immediately jumps to him on the floor. I can’t help but wonder if a scene was cut) With him taken care of, the gremlins cut around him and he falls to earth with the plane crushing him. He pops out of the ground to comment on how “Nutzis is the cwaziest peoples.” The gremlins pound him back under his grave where he belongs.