Directed by Rudy Larriva; Story by Tom Dagenais; Animation by Bob Bransford, Hank Smith, and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Don Sheppard; Backgrounds by Anthony Rizzo; Film Editor: Al Wharman; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Looney Tune released on March 12, 1966.
This here is the first Roadrunner cartoon I’ve talked about that wasn’t directed by the creator himself, Chuck Jones. (Golden age, I mean. Theatrically, too.) It’s also clear that Chuck was a master who could not be replicated. The whole short might seem fine to the common folk, but Looney-tics (like me) can tell it’s not as good as the others.
Wile E. isn’t wasting energy chasing his prey this time. He calmly waits by his mailbox for a package. Since he ordered it airmail, he really doesn’t have anyone but himself to blame for it landing on his head. So, what’s in this wonderful box? A chemistry set! Chemists are the unquestionable experts when it comes to bird trapping! Or, you know, Wile E is just trying out new and unique ways to catch some food.
Just mix the right ingredients together, and you’ve got paint! A special kind of paint that only comes in one color: invisible. Paint it on yourself, and you can’t be seen by anybody. (Including yourself, since your eyes no longer will gather the light needed for sight, but I digress) This does indeed include roadrunners, but this also means that they won’t slow down if you happen to jump in their way, so you’ll probably end up knocked off the road. A cliff, probably wasn’t the best testing grounds.
Wile E falls, and the impact knocks his paint off. (I guess? There’s not really much of a reason as to why he is suddenly visible) Then, something that should never happen in a Roadrunner cartoon, happens. The bird paints a boulder invisible, and pushes it off the cliff, and onto his pursuer. WRONG! NO! UH-UH! That doesn’t happen! It goes against Chuck’s own rules for these cartoons: namely, the bird doesn’t hurt the coyote! It was one of the things that made these pictures different from the endless chase cartoons that people watched. Now I’m upset.
Fine, I’ll keep going.
Wile E invents a new thing with his kit. It’s bouncing capabilities mixed with the viscous consistency, lead me to believe that he invented Flubber. But since this is 1966, (and the substance is blue) what he really made is Phlubber. Coating himself in it, (but first giving us a completely unnecessary thought bubble. I mean really, if we weren’t going to guess what he was going to do with his concoction, his actions would show us) he gains a coat that allows him amazing bouncing properties. Too bad he misses his catch. He bounces all around the desertscape. He eventually bounces straight up (with very unfitting music, I might add. That’s the tune that accompanies a jaunty walk. Not deadly plummet) and comes down. (His protective coat getting snagged off by a rather ugly tree branch. It really looks out of place. Go back to Snagglepuss, where you belong!)
Next up, some type of jet fuel. It’ll be perfect for chasing down the bird. But instead of building an actual jet pack, Wile just pours it into a small seltzer bottle like container. (Again, why? It doesn’t add much to the comedy. You could still have an inevitable crash with a full size model) Either way, this actually gets the Roadrunner to… show fear? It’s not wrong, but it’s kinda werid to see that bird anything other than blissfully happy. The chase leads to a railroad tunel. (First the bird has a spasm. I think he meant to go “Beep-beep.” but nothing comes out.)
Wile E. turns back upon seeing the approaching light, but it was the bird with a miner’s hat. So he turns once more, and doesn’t flee from the next light source he sees. It is a train, and he ends up pinned against it. We zoom into his stressed eyes and see that his pupils are the Roadrunner. The end.
That was the ending? Call it seven days because it was WEEK!
Favorite Part: When Wile E first gets the package, the bird runs by. Because of the speed, the resulting wind catches the parachute that came with it, and Wile E is dragged off a cliff. The animation of him landing in a cactus patch is rather nice. It builds the tension reasonably well, and the punchline is fast and funny.
Personal Rating: 2