Mouse Warming

“Dear Cat (Pal)…”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Ben Washam, Lloyd Vaughan, and Ken Harris; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling; Orchestrations by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on September 8, 1952.

I won’t lie; this cartoon is cute. Luckily, it’s balanced out quite nicely by some good comedy to keep you from losing your foot to diabetes.

Moving day is an exciting time in any young person’s life. Mice included. Mr. and Mrs. mouse have just moved into the neighborhood with their young daughter. (Who, for lack of a better name, I’ll call Alice.)

Shut up, it wasn’t my idea. (Although, it’s possible that this could be an origin story)

Moving into a new home, not only gives you new surroundings and the chance to make new friends, but also, new potential boyfriends! What luck! Here comes one now! He even has his own car. (The humans of the house don’t seem to mind sharing toys. In fact, they never feature in this picture.) Boy mouse, (who might have a name, but I couldn’t tell since he never speaks) is smitten by the cutie he sees in the window. Sure, they’re judging strictly by appearances, but maybe it’s pup love. (Mouse joke, there.)

Boy mouse intends to go right over and say hi. (Which will be hard, due to him being mute) He’s a bit shy though, so he pretends to be in need of sugar. (He appears to live alone, which makes him hitting on the teenager kinda creepy. But then, mice live by different standards than I.) He doesn’t make it too far before being intercepted by Claude. He manages to escape, but now there is a cat blocking the way to eternal happiness. (Something cats do that I’ve always been aware of.)

Claude begins to take note of how odd the male is acting, and sees why. It’s not only adorable, but it’s fodder for a very dastardly idea. Claude decides to write a love note to the boy. Setting up a fake rendezvous in the kitchen. The little mouse takes the bait, and arrives to find his dream girl waiting. (Actually a puppet. To be fair, she makes a cute puppet too.) Upon seeing the cat attached, he takes the girl and escapes. (He finds out off screen that she was fake, good thing as I don’t think I could stand to watch his teeny-weeny heart break. Or worse, living out some fantasies that a puppet can’t object to.)

Plan A obviously didn’t work. Claude tries another letter, but he’s not dumb enough to expect his target to fall for it a second time. No, this time he sends a letter to Alice’s father. Or rather, a threat that says the boy is coming over to steal their home. Father readies his human sized gun. (When protecting your family, you want to make sure the enemy stays dead.) To further mess things up, Claude puts up a sign asking for a boarder. The boy mouse falls for it again, (Love truly clouds judgements. I’m pretty sure the parents wouldn’t rent a room to someone who clearly just wants their daughter.) He flees for his life again. (Accidentally making a quick detour into Claude’s mouth. In turn, the cat gets the bullet)

The young mouse seems to have caught on to this chicanery, and he writes his own note to Claude. Rather than messing with one’s romantic feelings. (something only cats would be low enough to try) the mouse instead makes it from the dog outside who wishes to befriend the cat. In fact, why not he come over for a game of Canasta? Claude is all for it. In fact, he not only brings the table, but the refreshments. (Swell guy, that Claude.) The dog is confused, but still beats him up. And the lovebirds? They finally hooked up and went on a date to the coolest place around: the fridge. Aren’t they sweet? (I guess they straitened things out with the father already)

Favorite part: Definitely Claude’s first letter. Where he not only says that the girl is 16…months, (Which would make her middle-aged as a mouse) but according to her friends she’s “not unattractive.”

The Foxy Duckling

“I gotta get a duck! I gotta get a duck! I gotta get a duck!”

Directed by Arthur Davis; Animation by J.C. Melendez, Manny Gould, and Don Williams; Layouts by Thomas McKimson; Backgrounds by Phil DeGuard. A Merrie Melody released on August 23, 1947.\

Night is probably my favorite time of day. Things are still and quiet, soothing and peaceful. Perfect for slipping into sleep and forgetting your troubles in the blissful state of unconsciousness. The only problem is when insomnia rears its ugly head. Such is the fate of poor A. Fox. (A for Adam) He can’t, and I mean can’t, sleep. He’s tried near everything too. Boxes of sleeping pills litter the floor, there’s a whole bucket of milk, and he’s tried every possible sleeping position. Even clamping his eyes shut don’t make a difference.

Falling out of bed causes one of his insomnia books to land on his face. I guess he didn’t read this one much, as it states a solution he never thought to try: a pillow full of duck down. (His is full of various metals. Not comfortable, but… actually, I can’t think of a “but” after that.) Well, if that’s what’ll help, the only solution is to get a duck. So he heads out with a mallet. (I like that he isn’t just hunting for some food. There’s already so many cartoons like that)

He finds a duckling and readies his weapon. (It’s interesting that Daffy was not used in this picture. Not bad, just interesting.) He takes a little too long to swing, so the duckling escapes to a lake. Adam follows, but is reminded that he can’t swim. (Despite the fact he should be able to, and adult ducks also have down. There you go. The two animal facts I’ll teach you today.) He tries some tricks. Blowing a duck call gets him shot by hunters, and when he throws an anvil from a boat, the bird just drags him into the firing line. (It frightens the fish, so I guess he won’t be sleeping with them either.)

Maybe this swimming thing could work. All he needs is a flotation device, and a diving board. (With all that preparation, the duck has plenty of time to aim the board towards a tree) Okay, maybe the heavy object trick could work if one was to throw it from a tree. (Since their is a rope tied to the thing, I guess it was an anchor) Duckling ties the rope to Adam’s leg, but the fox is smart enough to cut the rope. (But dumb enough to keep holding it afterwards)

The duckling climbs a strangely placed mountain, (When God gets drunk, he just places them any old place) and when Adam catches up, the duckling flies over the edge, just out of reach. (I’d tell you that the bird hasn’t yet grown the feathers for that, but I’ve already given you your two facts. Don’t be greedy.) Our fox isn’t going to have that, and begins nailing many planks together to catch up to the fowl. Once he’s out a ways, the bird saws through most of his work. It’s just barely hanging on, and Adam freezes in place to not upset it further.

Sadistic duckling that he is, the little guy plucks out a single feather, (his feet flash yellow) and lets it drops on the frightened fox. (The tension is wonderful here!) No fake outs either; once the feather makes contact with the fox, his structure collapses and he falls to his death. You’d think that now he’d be able to rest. (In peace) But forget that! Being an angel means he has wings of his own! And he’s going to use them to chase that duckling! Iris out.

Favorite part: It’s small, but a great touch. When the duckling walks around in the air with his wing/hands behind his back, he still flaps them to keep aloft. Being a cartoon, nobody would have to animate that and everyone could just accept it. But they did. I’m very proud of them.

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.

Chimp and Zee

“Peanut?”

Directed by Alex Lovy; Story by Don Jurwich; 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 Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Merrie Melody released on October 12, 1968.

A pretty late entry, and it kinda shows. Seems there wasn’t a lot of heart put into this one, as we aren’t given a lot of information. I’ll do my best to explain, but most of it is based on guesswork.

In the jungle, (the mighty jungle) a… and we already have our first guess. I’m not sure what this guy’s profession is. All he tells us is that he is looking for a blue-tailed simian. Apparently, it’s the rarest species of monkey in the world. What he won’t tell us is why he wants one. Fame? Money? An exotic pet? We’re not even given his name! I suppose this could be like a mad-lib, so I’ll “happily” oblige.

His name is “Dexter” he is a “professor” at “Lovy University” and wants a monkey so he can “have his students dissect it to learn how much in common man has with fellow primates.”

So, why the title of this short? Again, I have to guess! Luckily, this one is a bit easier to figure out. There is indeed one of these monkeys in this jungle, but he is accompanied by some type of jungle boy. Neither of them talk, so…

The boy’s name is “Chimp.” (because he looks more like an ape than the monkey does) His parents were “tourists” who were “looking for a way to abandon their offspring.” He was adopted by a “family of monkeys” who “gave him his name, due to a lack of tail.” His brother is named “Zee” because he was the “26th child” his family had.

That should do it. Let’s return to the “plot” so you can “be entertained/educated.”

Dexter takes a shot at what he believes is his monkey prize. It was only a coconut. Hey, a free snack is a free snack. Despite the college degree I gave him, he can’t seem to figure out how to open the fruit. Chimp pulls the pull tab off for him. Dexter drinks before realizing the boy has a monkey in tow. He’s not civilized, so he gets no say in what happens to his “brother” and that is why Dexter chases them down. Chimp shoots a suction cup arrow at the professor’s head, and ties the other end of the rope it is tied to, to a boulder. Dexter plummets.

As the chase gets going, the two come to a river. The camera begins zooming in on the wrong side of the screen for half a second, leaving more evidence that this cartoon was made for a paycheck and nothing more. (Which is too bad. The slapstick isn’t terrible) Zee asks a crocodile to help scare Dexter off. *Sigh* Here we go again…

The “animals” all “respect Chimp” because he has a “highly developed brain.” Therefore, they will “do anything” he or his family ask. (That, and blue-tailed simians have got to be poisonous. The blue tail has to mean SOMETHING!)

What else can fail? Dexter aims a blowgun around a boulder to shoot at them. (He gets himself. Hope there weren’t any toxins in the dart. For his sake) He reaches into a log and finds two arms exit. He bites the one that was hitting him, and finds it was his. Pulling on the other drags out an elephant. UGH!

The “elephant” lives in a “hollow log” because “her husband threw her out for daring to look at another bull.” It was a hippo, but the loophole didn’t make him any happier. (And why do the pachyderms in this jungle have gross looking pompadour-esque growths on their heads? It can’t be healthy.)

The professor’s final plan is to simply dress up as his prey. Not only that, but he will lure him out with a mating call. It works, but a little too well. He attracts every male blue-tail in the jungle, and they clearly have no qualms about initiating a 17 way with the “female.” (Although, if they are as rare as he says, it would probably make sense for the females to do as many males as they could. Gotta rebuild that population.) As Dexter flees, the title characters swing off. (Zee was “not affected by the call” because he is “gay.”)

Favorite Part: As Dexter falls off the cliff, he lands in a raptors nest before falling the rest of the way. Emptying her next of crushed eggs, she finds one intact. In retaliation for the infanticide, she throws the final one at him. (It survives, but the very idea was so dark, that I loved it)

Saps in Chaps

“Go west, young man!”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Sgt. Dave Monahan; Animation by Manuel Perez; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on April 11, 1942.

What a time it was expanding the west! There was so much untapped land just waiting to be claimed. (I’m pretty sure there weren’t already PLENTY of people living there, otherwise I’d feel guilty for living where I do.) Things were plenty different back then. Not only were the states in more irregular shapes, but every president on Mt. Rushmore was still a baby.

Not everybody had the luxury of crossing via covered wagon. A few had to make do with crawling desperately through the desert. It was dangerous too! Hungry vultures kept their eyes peeled for any living being that couldn’t cope with the heat. Luckily for the guy we’re following, he comes across a fill-up station that is happy to supply him with water. (His thirst may be quenched, but he is still stuck crawling the rest of the way.)

Towns seemed to grow like fungi, and the people who populated them all walked with a dumb cowboy gait. Even the horses. Even the mice! (When they aren’t being hunted by lasso twirling cats, that is.) At a nearby saloon, you could not only escape the midday heat, but converse with other people. You had to watch out though. Villain types came in rather frequently, and you were pretty much dead unless you were the hero type. (The one who can laugh off gun shots. I wish I could be so bass)

Entertainment? Sure, rodeos exist. Where the men show off how tough they are by riding animals that DO NOT want to be mounted. One of which in particular throws everyone out of its pen. Still, as tough as he is, he can’t cope with an audience, and quietly slinks away to get his much needed privacy. Oh! I nearly forgot! Mail was delivered via pony express in those days, but that doesn’t mean everyone was suited for the job. What to do if you just can’t mount the horse? Simple. Let HIM ride YOU. (It’s good for the back)

Favorite part: During the rodeo, one horse is told that he can’t throw off his rider. He bluntly grabs the man and throws him down. (Sticking his tongue out at the narrator)

Ups ‘N Downs

“On your marks!”

Supervision by Rollin Hamilton and Paul Smith. Music by Frank Marsales. A Looney Tune released in April, 1931.

If you know me, (and I doubt you do, as nobody talks to me) then you’ll also know that I’m not fond of those ugly color remakes of old cartoons. There is nothing wrong with black and white. I think it adds character! Anyway, the reason that I have included one of these atrocious retreads, is because the ending got tweaked! I figure for the sake of being thorough, I have to give you the option to watch it if you choose to. (I’d rather you didn’t. If you choose to, please be honest. It feels wrong to be disappointed because of a lie.)

A whole paragraph and still yet to get into a plot summary. It’s race day! I can’t say for sure if such things attract the kinds of crowds this short suggests, because I’ve never attended one. (It takes away time I could be spending watching more cartoons. You can see the bind I’m in.) As is typical of extremely early Looney Tunes, Bosko is also there. He’s a hot dog vendor. (It’s not the only time he took this career up.) Despite the name, (or maybe because of it) a dog comes to partake of his wares. Sadly, the sausage he bites has blackface. (“Race” day! Not “Racist” day!) The good news is that the two recognize each other as long-lost family members and they skip off together. (I’m sure the next week at most will be the best of times.)

Back to those crowds. The… cow on skates on the railroad track (I just had to type that. *sigh* “You love cartoons. You love cartoons!”) is carrying excited patrons over. (Including a couple more Mickey clones. Numbers 86 and 602 to be precise.) Some of whom are so excited to see some horse v horse action that they are sneaking in. (More clones? I guess these are numbers: 655, 710, 522, 327, 716, 349, 579, 601, 32 and 700. In case you’re wondering, there were 782 total clones of Mickey Mouse made before Disney finally put a stop to it. The majority of them inbred with each other and this indirectly led to the birth of the Minions. I never saw their movie, but I’m sure they told you the exact same origin story.) Back to business!

Bosko is also a participant in the race. The competition looks tough. These jockeys are the to horse racing, what soccer moms are to parenting. How can a simple purveyor of processed meat snacks ever hope to stand a chance competing with those guys? Cheating of course! Bosko has a mechanical horse which he hopes can help him stand a chance. But it still won’t be easy. (Especially if the large bully-type you always see in these type of stories has any say. Wouldn’t it be an interesting twist if there was a sports story where the opponents were good sports who wished the best of luck to their opponents? It’d send a good message to the children.)

After a bit of a shaky start, Bosko manages to make his way through the ranks (even passing clone # 766) to second place. Thanks to support from his biggest fan. (You see, it’s funny because said fan is a hippo.) If Bosko is going to cheat, (and it’s not like he’s hiding it) then so will the first place bully. Spitting at his competition doesn’t do much more than switch their positions. (I didn’t know Bosko could carry his mount. Those rubbery arms are much stronger than they appear.) So he moves up to an actual grenade! Here is where the cartoon splits into different endings, depending on whether or not you are watching in color. Choose your own ending!

If you are a purist and are watching the original, go to pg. 23. (You sound like my kind of guy/gal!)

If you are a traitor to my beliefs, and chose to watch the color crap, turn to pg. 46. (You make me sad.)

If you prefer to live the rest of your life living in suspense, and don’t want to choose, you might as well close the book and go outside. (What are you even doing on my website?)

Pg. 23 The grenade does blow up and turn Bosko’s horse to pieces, but they reform upon hitting the ground. Using the horse’s extendable neck, Bosko wins the race.

*Where are they now: After winning the race, Bosko finally proposed to Honey. The two moved to Alberta, Canada, and went on to father Bosko Jr., Musky Joe, and the child formerly known as Hannibal. The horse went into retirement and spent the rest of it’s days at a penny arcade. It would spring into action one more time. The bully character fell into obscurity and tried to pass himself off as Peg-leg Pete. Nobody fell for it.

Pg. 34 You wake up to find your whole life has been a dream. Nothing is how you remember it, and the person you thought would love you forever is just a roast ham. (And it’s starting to smell) I’d recommend trying for a better ending, but the rest of the story was also part of said dream, so I guess you are pretty much stuck. Why not look around here? Lovely place.

*Where are they now: You lost the game (or book as it were) and didn’t know what to do with yourself. If you had a genie, you might have some sort of starting point, but you don’t and the best you can hope for is working at McDonald’s for the rest of your life. As for the race, the winner was Jackie the jaunty, jockey with jaundice and her horse, Johnny. They later appeared on a box of Wheaties.

Pg. 46 I can’t believe you actually wanted to watch that color crap. I thought we were friends! Ugggggghhhhh! What happens here, is the grenade DOES destroy Bosko’s horse, but the explosion catapults him forward [looking at physics equations] not sure how that works, and knocks bully guy off his horse. Bosko rides it to victory.

*Where are they now: Bosko may have won the race, but the horse was another participants. So it was decided to be a draw. Bosko then began selling out and endorsing all sorts of terrible products, sacrificing his relationship with Honey. When he lost all his money due to various lawsuits, he had no one to turn to and started drinking. His depression hit a high point when his offer to cameo in “Who famed Roger Rabbit” was declined. The Bully actually lived quite comfortably and wrote the best selling book “Horse racing to victory: How you too can make it big on the racetrack!” It has been at the top of the New York Time’s best seller list for 88 years now. The robo-horse died. Nobody came to mourn him.

Favorite Part: The Bully heaving a grenade at Bosko. He went from 0 to whatever the max was, pretty fast.

*I hope I don’t have to tell you I made this up.

Feather Dusted

“What-ah say, what you need boy, is somethin’ more excitin’!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Charles McKimson and Sid Marcus. Animation by Rod Scribner, Phil DeLara, Charles McKimson, and Herman Cohen; Layouts by Robert Givens; Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc (and Bea Benaderet); Music by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on January 15, 1955.

Prissy is off to a party and is leaving her son at home. You may know this guy by sight already, but his name is Egghead Jr. (Although, nowadays he seems to go by Eggbert. Probably to differentiate himself from that other guy.) He doesn’t actually have a name in any of the three shorts he appeared in. Foghorn just calls him boy, and his mother tends to just calls him Junior. Speaking of Foghorn, he feels bad that the hen is telling her kid to just read while she is gone. (Also interesting is that she isn’t fawning over the rooster like pretty much every other time. Seeing him as a lazy oaf who could be a bad influence on her son) Well, since she isn’t going to be around to witness anything (and her son probably won’t tell anyway) Foghorn steals him away to play some typical little boy games. (Typical of the fifties. Mario Kart still needed a couple of decades to exist)

To start: a game of croquet. You may think that Foghorn has an unfair advantage, but you also might think that a kid named “Egghead” will at least be able to get some good shots in. He does indeed. Taking copious notes, he is able to figure out a way to hit the ball so it will pass through every wicket in one shot, and net him victory. Foghorn tries to point out how impossible the whole thing was, but he can’t argue with Jr.’s notes. (I mean, no matter how you look at it, the outcomes remains “I win.”)

Okay, how about cops and robbers? (I’ve only played that once. Is it more fun to be the cop?) Foghorn tells the boy to arrest him as he robs a bank. I love Jr.’s methods. He alerts the actual cops. (They’re all off screen because I doubt we could take the popo seriously if we saw them apprehending a chicken) Then, just to prove his intellect, Jr. marks out the spot Foghorn will emerge when he digs his way out of prison.

Playing pirates might work. (They’re both on the same side in this game.) Foghorn orders the kid to fire a cannon and the lad aims it in a rather unexpected way. Foghorn decides to fire it where he wants regardless, and the ricocheting cannonball comes back to bite him. Since they are already at a pond, why not go for a swim? Egghead refuses to get in, but does take up Foghorn’s challenge of trying to sink him. (He’s pretending to be a battleship) He unleashes a fleet of windup ships that take fire at the big bird.

Egghead is forced to fish him out, and that is where his mother finds him. Soaking wet, with an unconsciousness, wet, older man. (Always hated when that happened to me as a kid. It only looked so bad, because they were missing the context) She scolds her kid, and Foghorn too. She knows his tomfoolery won’t end well for him. He agrees, seeing as he is full of holes.

Favorite part: Foghorn first coming up to the kid and offering to play. He asks if it sounds fun. Egghead shakes his head without even looking at him. (Brother, can I relate)

Porky’s Hired Hand

“Yuh can depend on me!”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Dave Monahan; Animation by Richard Bickenbach; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on November 30, 1940.

Porky’s farm has seen better days. Lately, a fox has been stealing a good number of hens, and Porky has had enough of the robbery. Good thing that the Cornstalk Employment Agency has sent him some assistance. Gregory Grunt. He looks like Goofy got hit by a severe case of swine flu. And if I’m allowed to judge by appearances, (which I totally am) he doesn’t really look like the best man for any job. I’m guessing the agency was just sick of him and wanted to make the guy somebody else’s problem. Porky’s a better man than I’ll ever be, and gives the lunkhead a chance.

Despite the very clear instructions of “do not fall asleep”, Gregory does just that. Enter the fox. He’s got some clothing, so it’s not like he’s just a wild animal trying to find an easier solution, he’s just some random a-hole who would rather steal than work. (And he dies if he crosses my path. Nobody messes with my pal) With the guard asleep, the fox helps himself to the choicest morsels. He’s even willing to take babies! (Dipsh*t! If you don’t leave anything to repopulate your theft, you won’t be able to return next year. And then where will you be?) He’s all ready to leave, but someone bars his path: Gregory?

Well, it appears I have to eat my words! (Good thing I write so tastefully) Looks like Greg was just pretending to sleep in case the fox was stupid enough to come back. (Thieves should really never hit the same joint twice.) Of course, the other possibility is that the fox just woke him up. (So that means I can upchuck my eaten words) Told to put the birds back, the fox laments that the two of them can’t be partners. I mean, clearly Gregory is a master businessman who could help make a chicken monopoly. Yeah, Gregory is all for it, but what about Porky?

And there’s a random fade out to what seems like half a second later, but the fox knows Gregory’s name by now, so I have no clue what we missed. Either way, he convinces Greg that Porky would WANT him to succeed and stealing from him is a good start. (That’s what I did while working at my local zoo. Strangely, no one wanted to come see penguins in my backyard, and now I’m out of goldfish) Give the fox some credit, he’s even willing to let Gregory’s name go first in their company’s name. (That explains why I haven’t given the fox a name. According to himself, his name IS Fox. I guess his last name is Mc Loud. I mean, he DID wake Mr. Grunt)

Telling his new partner to grab some feed, Fox makes an exit. It was a scam all along! (You know, going into business might still be a good idea. Just some chicken for thought) In his rush to escape, Fox didn’t look where he was going. It wasn’t the exit he left through, but the incubator! He fears for his life as he is no doubt going to roast! (The birds he has don’t seem to mind. They’re not even moving…oops. That’s going to set Porky back a bit) Being a nice enough, dumb guy, Gregory tries to help his partner get out. Unfortunately, his head isn’t hard enough to break the door down.

Still, his banging does alert Porky to all this, and he brings his gun down to investigate. Maybe Gregory IS a little smart, because he refrains from explaining his “business partner” is trapped, and refers to him as a fox once more. Giving him the gun, Porky instructs him to shoot as soon as the door is open. He does, but they didn’t get the fox. Seems he was aiming a bit too high. Being in the incubator so long, Fox has shrunk. (His tail didn’t though. And I’m sure it would fetch a decent price. Heh heh heh!)

Favorite part: Fox is describing the things that Gregory will obtain from this partnership. Including a secretary to sit on his lap.

Fistic Mystic

“One of those little, tough guys, eh?”

Directed by Bob McKimson; Story by Cal Howard; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, LaVerne Harding, Jim Davis, Ed Solomon, and Norm McCabe; Layouts by Bob Givens and Jaime Diaz; Backgrounds by Bob Abrams; Film Editor: Hal Geer; Voice Characterization by Larry Storch; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Looney Tune released on March 29, 1969. (Also sports a unique version of “The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down” that was not used in any other shorts)

As one does when they are of the magic arts, (and are willing to let the muggles view it) Merlin is off to perform. His destination is Oshkosh, but you wouldn’t know it if he didn’t say if the surrounding desert is any indication of where he is heading. After he and his sidekick, Second Banana, lose their handcart, (and Merlin is run over by a train) they see a sign advertising the town of Rattlesnake Gulch. Seems like as good a place to take a breather as any.

As is typical of these kind of towns in these kind of pictures, there is a thug at the saloon looking for any excuse to start a fight. Merlin just being polite counts, and the brute dares him to take a punch. (The poor guy has no name in this picture, but I swear I read once that he goes by Tuff. So Tuff it shall be. Isn’t that a shame?) Second Banana takes that opportunity, and then goes on to build Merlin up as some sort of mighty mouse.

To prove it, S.B. puts a board on Merlin’s shoulder, and tells Tuff to knock it off. Hitting one end, causes the other to rise up and knock the galoot out. When he comes to, Merlin is more than willing to pass the blame onto his sidekick. Tuff can’t believe he could have been knocked out by the little fella, and Merlin decides to set up a boxing match. $100.00 to the winner. Tuff agrees. After all, beating up a mouse proves you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. (It also gets you banned from Disneyland)

That night, Merlin reveals the secret to ensure his little buddy’s success. He will be wearing some enchanted boxing gloves that will do all the hitting for him. Hopefully they hit fast enough, so S.B. doesn’t have to worry about dodging or anything, but they look like they’re up to the task. Next day, and everyone is ready to get this fight underway. In one corner, a chubby, nipple-less man without a real name. In the other, a mouse with no pants who everyone wants to see win. (It’s an interesting fight)

Those gloves are a marvel! Second Banana wails away, and Tuff doesn’t land a single punch. In fact, they might be a little too good, as Merlin can’t get them to stop once they get started. Leaving S.B.’s body behind, the gloves chase the Tuff guy out of town. I suppose that makes the mouse our champion? I mean, the fight IS still going on.

Favorite Part: When Merlin makes the wager, he asks for the ruffian to put his hundred bucks in the hat. When asked where HIS contribution is, Merlin pulls the same money out. (I saw this joke coming, but it still got a chuckle out of me)

Merlin the Magic Mouse and Second Banana

This here is the last regular Looney Tune to be make his appearance during the golden age. (By which I mean, making my criteria of appearing in at least five shorts.) As is befitting his name, Merlin is a magician. The joke being, that he’s not a very good one. It’s not much of a joke, but to liven it up a little, he actually HAS some magic powers. (Or at least his hat does.)

For his first appearance (In the appropriately named “Merlin the Magic Mouse”) he was voiced by the talented Daws Butler. For his remaining appearances, the role went to Larry Storch. His voice sounds like a dying W.C. Fields. An odd choice I must say. By 1968, was Fields still popular enough to spoof? Is Merlin a field mouse? Is it just because he has a red nose? Maybe they were just trying to keep the studio afloat as long as they could, knowing that the end was nigh?

Merlin is always accompanied by his sidekick, Second Banana.

A sad enough name, but even worse, the kid doesn’t get many lines. (I’m actually not sure of his age. He seems like a kid.) When he does talk, he shares the voice of whoever is voicing Merlin, minus the Fields voice. He wore a bow tie for his first three appearances, but upgraded to a sweater for the final two.

They’re entertaining enough, but I suppose it just wasn’t enough to keep the public interested in short films playing at theaters any longer. These two kinda faded into obscurity, but they had appearances in merchandise, like dolls and comics. Merlin himself would make cameos in both “The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries” and “Bugs Bunny’s Crazy Castle” Nice to see he had SOME sort of legacy.

They may not be animation’s most popular mice, but they are good enough to see the studio on its way out. Hats off to you Merlin, and your second banana too. I’m happy to blog about your guy’s greatest works. (All five of them)