One Step Ahead of my Shadow

“Me show you Melican way!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buddy’s Trolley Troubles

“All aboard!”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Drawn by Ben Clopton and Frank Tipper; Music by Norman Spencer. A Looney Tune released on May 5, 1934.

I don’t know what it is about trolleys, but if you drive one, there will be trouble. Doesn’t matter if you’re a lucky rabbit, a fox, or a purple dragon. Then again, it wouldn’t be very entertaining if nothing happened. Then again, (again) if the main character is Buddy, it probably still won’t be TOO entertaining. (I love ya, Buddy. But you are rather boring.)

One fine day, Buddy awakes wearing that same wide smile he always wears. Isn’t life swell? Nothing can go wrong, and if it does, one can solve any problem with a sunny disposition. Golly! Aren’t we in for boatloads of fun! Buddy keeps his trolley in his garage, and gets it to the tracks by using his fence. (Yeah, that is pretty clever, but it must be a pain to replace each day.) Be it that it’s a nice trolley, or the only trolley, Buddy gets some riders. A fat lady, (always has to be at least one) and a guy who hangs on to the outside before getting in. (And it must be larger on the inside, because we never see the two again. Then again, (part 3) I never did see Buddy eat breakfast today…)

The passenger Buddy is most happy to pick up, is his girlfriend. He even has a scissors lift installed so he can reach the floor of the building she lives on. (And he just…stares at her. It’s rather creepy, but she seems to enjoy it. I’ll never understand couples.) This causes trouble for Buddy, as he holds up traffic. (Go on then, show us that smile!) The cop isn’t too patient with him, punching him in the face, and telling him  to shut up. (Something I’m sure many of us would love to do.) They get moving.

As they ride along, they eventually come to a part of track that a convict is hiding under. A trolley would be just the thing to cut the chain on his ball and chain. It works, and Buddy hops out to see what the damage is. The smart thing to do in this situation is to lay low, maybe disguise yourself. Then again (I’m saying again) this guy probably got arrested in the first place for charging people for a game of punch the cop’s balls. (Fun game, disastrous consequences.) So it doesn’t surprise me to see him take off with Cookie in tow.

Buddy manages to chase the brute down with a hand cart, and even get some licks in. He even gets Cookie back without too much of a struggle. Still, he might want to look into a new line of work as the thief can’t slow down in time, and hits a truck of dynamite stuck on the tracks. (Yep, that’s Dumbasp Mcgee, all right. What a pathetic excuse for a criminal)

Favorite part: Me being me, I like what Buddy uses to ring his bell: a cat. (I’m probably going to hell)

Hobo Bobo

“Bobo felt very hurt when he fell down on his… first attempt.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Warren Foster. A Merrie Melody released on May 17, 1947.

India is a delightful country. I’ve never actually been there, but the awesome Asian elephant can be found there, and that’s enough for me. Because they aren’t the more temperamental African variety, these ones can and have been used for manual labor. This doesn’t set very well with one little fellow. The calf, Bobo by name, is still in that small and impossibly adorable phase where he is mostly head. It doesn’t matter, he is SO CUTE! I want to hug him! (I guess I’m just a sucker for small elephants.)

As he is such a smart species of animal, little Bobo knows that just because he only has easy logs to haul now, they are going to get bigger as he does. A lifetime of work? That’s no way to live! It will make Bobo a dull calf! If only he could live at the circus. That’s where Uncle Jumbo lives. He’s a performer that everyone loves, and he is on the…baseball team. The circus elephant baseball team. Uh, oh yeah! The Pachyderm Pirates! Twelfth in the league… and… uh… no. It’s just weird. (Lord, I love cartoons.)

You know, why not? And since there are no circuses in India (or here anymore, for that matter) Bobo decides to board a ship for the states. However, the human supremacists won’t let someone of Bobo’s species on their boat. (Four legs bad, two legs are fine, but no birds either.) Bobo tries sneaking in on various ways, but they either fail to get him on board, or get him evicted on sight. Enter a mynah bird. Correction: THE mynah bird. A character from Chuck Jone’s Inki cartoons. (Who I’ve yet to discuss because I’m not capable of having a schedule that makes sense. In fact, I’m gonna just call it right here: I probably won’t summarize any of those shorts until, let’s say, 2024. See you then!

Oh yeah, I’m not done here. The bird has a grand idea: Bobo should just paint himself pink. People will see him, surely, but they won’t admit it. Being so young, naive, innocent, (and cute. Did I mention that yet?) the little elephant has no idea why everyone is suddenly so accommodating to him, but it’s suits him just fine. They even share there meals and beds with him. (I would. I don’t care if it would cost my bed its life. Beds are replaceable, Bobo’s aren’t.)

Land ho! Welcome to New York! I guess the people there had yet to accustom to  the wacky shenanigans on a daily basis, because everyone is still acting like they don’t see anything. Poor Bobo. It hurts to be ignored. (They’re not even giving him any freebies anymore.) As he mopes though, a street sweeper comes by, and washes off his pretty, pink paint. Suddenly, EVERYONE takes note that there is an elephant running around. (While I won’t lie calling the authorities would probably be wise, I do think everyone is overreacting. Just a tad. As long as his mother isn’t around, I think it’s safe to pet him.)

Well, he’s arrested. (Sure. When it calls for punishment, everyone is HAPPY to treat him like a human. If only I could say we’ve come so far.) Standing before the judge, Bobo awaits his verdict. He is sentenced to life. In the circus that is! Oh, happy day! Bobo is finally going to achieve his dream at last! He even makes it as the team’s bat boy. However, turns out that doesn’t make him happy at all. Finally speaking, he shows his distaste. After all that, he still has ended up carrying logs. Wah-wah-wah.

Favorite part: Such an adorable picture! I’d like to say any part with the main character was my favorite, but by my own rules, that’s cheating. I award the honor to the baby who throws out his bottle upon seeing the pink elephant. (He’s never going to trust his mother again.)

Lumber Jack-Rabbit

“I keep smelling carrots.”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ben Washam, Lloyd Vaughan, Richard Thompson, Abe Levitow, and Ken Harris; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Philip Deguard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on November 13, 1954*.

It’s Warner Bros. first cartoon to be produced in 3-d! (And the only one from the golden age!) And why do it? Honestly, because everyone was. Donald Duck with Chip and Dale. Popeye. Woody Woodpecker. Even Casper! Sadly, they did very little to take advantage of the fad. All it amounts to is the shield smacking us in the face at the beginning. (Careful! You’re liable to knock loose my fillings!) Even without the gimmick, it’s kinda your basic Bugs short. Not their best.

The title references the fact that Paul Bunyan is in this picture. (Ironic, that the only cartoon of Bugs’ to win an Oscar beat out an adaptation of Paul’s story.) Some people may not believe in ole’ P.B. (which is weird since he can’t really hide that well) but Bugs had first hand proof as he actually wandered into Paul’s country once. (Yes, Paul has his own country and everything there is set to his scale. I guess he had to come from somewhere.)

Bugs isn’t initially aware as he’s singing “Jimmy Crack Corn.” (Yes, I know that all of us who are old enough to know that song, are aware of it’s unfortunate origins, but screw it, it’s a catchy song!) Bugs takes a nap against a giant carrot, and flips out once he realizes what it is. He immediately starts mining. (And just dumping away all the part’s he is digging out. Such a waste. If I was mining through a candy bar, I’d eat the “dirt”) Trouble is on the horizon. (Literally, given the size) Paul is heading out to do more lumberjacking off somewhere. (Go ahead and giggle. I know you want to.) He leaves his dog behind to guard things.

Said dog looks an awful lot like Frisky, but he takes things more seriously. (Also, the tag clearly reads “Smidgen” Kind of a mean name. Was “Speck” too cruel?) Dog plucks Bugs away from his work, and tries to rid the vegetables from the rabbit. When Bugs uses a feather to his advantage, the dog’s sneeze sends Bugs into the house and inside a large moose call. When the dog blows Bugs out. (No laughing this time, it’ll be forced) he unwittingly summons a moose. Poor creature flees once he sees who made that call. (Why even have a call if it only attracts normal moose?)

Bugs winds up in an apple eventually, and Smidgen eats it, thinking he’s won. Shouldn’t have picked his teeth, or he might have succeeded. Time to make peace! Bugs scratches the beast, and that’s all it takes! (Dogs are so wonderful. Always willing to forgive.) Now in the hound’s good graces, things actually seem worse as the pup won’t stop following Bugs. (Plus, you could drown in that tongue.) Bugs is able to solve the dilemma by pointing out something even better: a redwood tree. (Which is probably only slightly bigger than the animal, but dogs will be dogs.)

Favorite part: When Bugs is first taken away from his new mine by the dog, he let’s loose this gem of a line: “I’ll be scared later! Right now I’m too mad!” That’s just awesome.

*Correction: it was originally released on September 26, 1953. The release date up there was when it was released in regular format. Thanks to SJC for pointing it out!

Count Me Out

“I’m a professional prize fighter!”

Supervision by Ben Hardaway and Cal Dalton; Story by Melvin Millar; Animation by Herman Cohen; Musical Supervision by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on December 17, 1938.

This is actually a rather important cartoon for the good ole’ WB. You may not notice it right away, so I’ll just tell you. It’s all on the piece of mail Egghead is reading. This was the first appearance of ACME! The greatest “sell anything” company since… well, I suppose it was the first, and nobody else has ever been crazy enough to sell such content. That makes them number one to this day!

Back to business, the ad Egghead is reading promotes some boxing lessons (equipment included, ACME cares about its customers). What really hooks Eggy, is the ad challenging his masculinity. He can be a man or a mouse, and mice don’t box, do they?

Then I guess Egghead doesn’t have to prove anything. But what fun would that be?

He orders the kit and almost immediately gets it. (The delivery man would have been there sooner, but the bridge was out.) Time to get to work! There’s all sorts of nifty gear to make you the champion boxer of the neighborhood! Instructions relayed to you by a Mel Blanc narrator. The most basic rule of boxing is knowing how to punch, so that’s a good starting point. Egghead may not look like he’s got a lot of strength, but he can really hit that punching bag! In fact, it won’t stop swinging when Mel tells him to stop. (Egghead has no choice but to shoot it)

Like any sport, you can’t have offense without defense. (Otherwise, you’d just be getting payed to bully others) Next, will be lessons on dodging. The kit comes with a nice wall of gloves that will try and give you a good socking. Dodge them! Egghead does just that, and the instructions deem him ready! He’s a real boxer now, and real boxers right real matches. (Believe me, I’m tempted to put in joke about real Boxers (the dog breed), but I can’t make such a bad joke if you’re expecting it!)

He must have the right kind of connections, because Egghead is booked to fight the world champion, Biff Stew. (Oddly enough, Egghead is the only person in this short who isn’t an anthropomorphic animal. Then again, I’ve never been entirely sure that he wasn’t a hooded seal.)

(Uncanny.)

The referee is being played by Tex Avery. (Doing that oh, so enjoyable laugh he does. You can’t help but join in.) And the fight begins! Egghead does have some agility on him, and he lands several jabs, but it’s kind of like a grasshopper hitting an ox. No fazing is going to happen. It’s not long before Egghead is getting his rear handed to him. (So dazed is he, he thinks he is Charlie McCarthy at one point and takes a seat on the champ’s lap.)

He can’t just quit. Oh, don’t think he wouldn’t try! Biff is just not going to give him that luxury! They are fighting to the death! Biff might have overdone it on that last punch though, as after stretching the ropes as much as possible, (Egghead comes close enough to kiss! Any desperate people in the audience tonight?) he comes back and knocks Biff off his feet, and onto Eggy’s body. Only one way to get that lummox off, a bite! The galoot flies up, and comes down, the impact dragging the rest of the ring down with him. Could Egghead go down too?

If he was actually there! Turns out Egghead was knocked out by his dodging wall, and dreamed the whole thing up. Dream or not, he’s convinced that a fighter’s life is not for him and he throws everything out. (Except the wall, which gives him one more punch.)

Favorite part: After a grueling exercise, Egghead pants. The record tells him to not have his tongue hanging out, because we’re watching him. (Glad I didn’t have to say it.)

The Eggcited Rooster

“Me, last of mo-hawk-ans.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Rod Scribner, Phil DeLara, Charles McKimson, Herman Cohen; 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 October 4, 1952.

Foghorn’s gotten married at some point! (Poor Prissy, she drank herself into a stupor upon hearing the news) However, like all marriages, the good times only lasted so long before the two began to argue more and love less. Such as today, the Mrs. (who I’ve decided to name Pressy) is off to play some bridge with her pals, and that leaves her dear husband with child duty. In other words: egg sitting. And woe betide him should he not be incubating at all times.

All this greatly amuses the local Dawg. B.D. takes great delight in heckling his nemesis and reminding him that he can’t retaliate. If the egg isn’t being warmed every single, solitary, yoctosecond, the wife will be let known, and he’s going to be very sorry. The cards are all against him, so Foghorn is stuck. If only there was someone else he could burden with the responsibility of his unborn child.

Henery is also in this short, playing the role of stereotypical Native American. Got his feathered headdress, got his bow and arrows, all he needs to win this game is some chicken. Naturally, he goes after Foghorn. Maybe he could use this little bird as a solution to his problem? He announces himself as too tough, and not worth a meal. Young chickens. That’s what makes a good meal. You can’t get much younger than freshly hatched, so why not take a risk and let the hungry predator potentially kill your unborn child? At least it will give him a chance to get a little payback on the hound.

With his trusty plank, Foggy paddles the dog’s rear before sticking him in some stocks. Add a live wire to his tail, and some light bulbs to his mouth: Voila! The first Uncle Fester cosplay! (The best part of being the first? Gives everyone else a chance to improve your work) That’s taken care of, time to see how the kids are doing. Just in time no less! Henery got tired of waiting and tried to do a c-section on the egg. (With a mallet instead of a scalpel, because that’s how it’s done in the bird world)

Okay, so if the kid is so impatient, then maybe Foghorn should give him a different type of egg to hatch. He has quick-hatching one that just needs a little heat source. Like that dog? (If he wasn’t already busy, I’d point out that Foghorn would be a better choice. It’s common knowledge that chickens have a slightly higher body temperature than dogs. No, really. Everyone knows this.) Henery doesn’t see that the egg in question is really a grenade, so he slips it under the dog, and eagerly awaits the hatching.

One explosion later…(Weird. The grenade actually had some albumen and a yolk in it? Hen grenades: “They’re nutritious and deadly!”) The dog informs the kid that they have both been played, and now its time for revenge. (Always been my favorite time.) The plan? Henery tells Foghorn to come look, and then he takes the egg when he goes to see. (It’s simple, but it works.) Foghorn doesn’t notice until the egg is gone, and by that time, the dog has already phoned the Mrs. and told her of her husband’s child abandoning ways. She comes with rolling pin in wing. Foghorn, Henery, and the dog all have a small fight over the egg, but in the end, Foghorn gets it. (Just as his wife gives him the pin) Adding injury to injury, Henery also scalps him.

Favorite Part: Foghorn describes egg sitting akin to walking into a spinning drill, It bores you.

Big Hearted Bosko

“Bruno, where are you?”

Animation by Isadore Freleng and Rollin Hamilton. A Looney Tune released on March 5, 1932.

Really, that doesn’t sound too healthy. Is it like a tumor? Or maybe he just has bad cholesterol or-OH! It’s meant figuratively! And here I thought it might be a clue as to why we don’t see Bosko much anymore.

As I’ve stated many times before, I don’t get the love for the cold. So I really can’t fathom why Bosko would want to be outside in it. (I guess it really doesn’t bother him any. He’s not wearing anything different than his usual get-up.) Bruno has tagged along for this trip, and the two spend some time skating on ice. (They have the whole pond to themselves as nobody else seems to want to skate on ice that has large holes in it. Cowards.)

Okay, sure. Bruno nearly falls in a couple of times, but that doesn’t mean he will-oh, d*mn it. Bruno! How are we to enjoy your escapades if you end up in the death water? I suppose you best be saving him, Bosko.

Bosko is afraid he is too late, as his dog doesn’t surface. He’s fine, though. He comes out via a frozen log. Angry that his dog could have actually died, Bosko throws a stick in frustration. A stick? Bruno loves those! He goes to retrieve it. The stick landed next to a basket, and there must be something inside because noise is coming from within. (It’s a little known fact, but baskets don’t make noises.) This is clearly a job for a man! Or better yet, a talk-ink kid! We’ve got one of those! Bosko is hesitant, but he takes a peek. Why, it’s a baby! Whoever left it out here to die is long gone, but Bosko won’t be viewed any better if he just leaves it. Better adopt the child. It’s what Jesus would do.

At home, the baby continues to wail despite Bosko’s violin playing. (Yeah, I’m not surprised this kid was left to freeze.) The only thing that seems to cheer it up ever so slightly, is a frustrated Bruno being unaware that the seat he is taking is a hot stove. (Clever way of dousing the flames. Pouring the water IN his body. Haven’t seen that method. I should try it on this spare cat I have.) Obviously, burning dogs is something even Satan wouldn’t stoop to, so we need an alternative plan. Music didn’t work before, maybe we should try it again.

Hey, what do you know, that seems to be working! (I guess the child just hates violins and flutes. All the cool babies listen to piano music.) Bruno even decides to keep being entertaining, and puts a lamp shade on like a skirt. Even Bosko’s dinner squawks a note. (Chop the freaking head off, man. What’s the matter with you?) Yes, I think this family just might work out after all. Even if Bosko’s dancing has ended with him getting his head stuck in the fish bowl.

Favorite Part: When Bosko asks the kid what the matter is. Surprisingly, the kid responds. It’s “Crying for the Carolines.”

Buddy the Gob

“I’ll save you!”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Jack King and Ben Clopton; Music by Norman Spencer. A Looney Tune released on January 13, 1934.

“The gob of what?” you might be saying. I can’t blame you. You have a habit of cracking awful jokes. (Which is my job.) Gob means sailor, and that’s because they are full of phlegm. (I hope you aren’t taking me seriously.) This might be one of Buddy’s better pictures, but that isn’t saying too much. We start up with some basic early thirties fare: things bouncing to music.

Buddy (the gob) is just doing some laundry. (Nice of it to help out by drying itself) What’s on the horizon? China! I guess Buddy is allowed to go visit, but I think he’s just shirking his duties. Why wash clothes when you can go gawk at a culture that isn’t your own? Isn’t everyone strange? All this stereotyping sure makes Buddy’s lack of a personality seem great by comparison, huh?

There’s a local that is reading a sign out loud. (In painfully bad fake Chinese. I don’t care how many decades later it is: on behalf of my country, I’m so sorry!) Being a simple gob, Buddy can’t make out what is written there. Lucky for us, the sign briefly translates. Looks like it’s the 150th birthday of THE sacred dragon! Wow! That IS reason to celebrate! What are the plans? A parade? Sounds good. Music? It wouldn’t be a party without that. Human sacrifice? Ummm… Is that a metaphor for anything by chance?

Nope. It’s really part of the celebration. The girl who is set to be food doesn’t seem too excited, but everyone else is all smiles and cheering. Who am I to question someone else’s culture? I’m just visiting. Buddy doesn’t share my mentality and tries to rescue her. He is easily detained. However, he finds another way to get in, and it is pretty clever. He takes a gate, see? And he pulls back like it was a bow, launching the rungs into a wall, making a staircase. Pretty cool. Makes my jackhammer look barbaric in comparison.

Buddy has arrived in the nick of time. The girl is chained to a wall, the guard has swallowed the key and left, and there is a dragon just waiting to be let out of its cage. (Wait, that’s THE sacred dragon? What a letdown. He doesn’t look like anything I imagined. He’s too fat.) Buddy’s got a plan. Since he isn’t strong enough to rip a chain off of a wall, he’ll knock on the door to get the guard back in, slam a barrel over him to keep him contained, and kick the key out! It works, but the dragon is let loose, forcing the two to escape out the window. (I guess it HAS to be a female sacrifice? THE sacred dragon doesn’t seem too interested in eating the guard)

Buddy and (forgive me for this name, but the pun is too perfect, if not accurate) Fortune Cookie flee via rickshaw. The rest of the population isn’t pleased with this, and gives chase. (The guy pulling their ride is cool with it. His mother was probably the last sacrifice)  With a bridge to cross, Buddy cuts it away so they can’t be followed. He still gets a spear thrown at his butt, though. (The short just ends here, and that’s probably good since Buddy just started a war. We need to get these guys in our good graces. They’d make great allies, and it seems like there’s there’s some other war coming up.)

Favorite part: While the two flee, they lose their rickshaw at one point and have to ride their driver as a horse. He even whinnies! (It’s not much, but this IS a Buddy cartoon.)

Hocus Pocus Pow Wow

“The president of the railroad will hear about this!”

Directed by Alex Lovy; Story by Cal Howard; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, LaVerne Harding, Volus Jones, and Ed Solomon; Layouts by Bob Givens; Backgrounds by Bob Abrams; Film Editor: Hal Geer; Voice Characterization by Larry Storch; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Looney Tune released on January 13, 1968.

Merlin (the magic mouse, not that wizard guy) and Second Banana are on their way to Pow wow city to perform. Shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. Then the conductor asks for some tickets. Merlin tries to oblige, but the only thing his hat chooses to produce is flowers. (You know, I don’t think they actually HAVE any tickets.) The conductor doesn’t put up with the shenanigans for long before kicking the two off the train. Seems like walking is their best bet. But first, why not kick back and relax with one of Merlin’s patented magic hat dinners? Featuring great choices such as: Beef Wellington, Pumpkin soup, and the featured attraction: Turkey for two.

Eating all alone in the middle of a desert? Hungry eyes are going to be able to find you easily. It’s not vultures that are eyeing the dead animal on which the mice munch, but a Native American. The credits have credited him as Lo, the poor Indian. (He’s clearly not Indian, and I can’t say that he’s poor, but one CAN greet him with “How, Lo.” It’s not very PC, but in 1968, what Caucasian would care?)

If he really is poor, that might be why he wants Merlin’s hat so much. Or maybe the thought of a never ending food vessel would entice anyone. Regardless, Lo takes the hat and tries getting some food. He actually is able to bring some animals out, but doesn’t manage to take any bites before they flee. Merlin takes the hat back and runs. Lo, in turn, tries firing some arrows at the two, but only manages to hit himself.

Merlin tries a couple tricks to help himself and sidekick escape. Conjuring up a railroad crossing with an actual train attached, wearing a disguise, (Lo isn’t fooled. He can tell mouse feet from human.) and taking the man’s tomahawk and making it disappear. (He can bring it back. But one should really know better than to say “Give it to me!” in  a cartoon. Lo brought that pain on himself) Still, he is insistent that Merlin relinquish the hat. Merlin agrees, but figures they should smoke a peace pipe first. Said pipe is a firecracker, and Merlin is able to escape at last.

Making it to their destination, the mice are all set to perform at the local theatre. So, what are the locals like? Actually, they are all Native American, and I don’t think they are taking too kindly to all the racial stereotyping this cartoon contained. Maybe they just really liked Lo? Whatever the reason, they chase the mice out of town. (Drat. I was really looking forward to the show)

Favorite Part: How Merlin greets the audience. “Greetings ladies and gentlemen! Or whatever the case may be.” It’s always a good idea to put the theatre-goers in their place.

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.