Buddy the Woodsman

“Take it away!”

Supervision by Jack King; Animation by Paul Smith and Don Williams; Music by Bernard Brown. A Looney Tune released on October 20, 1934.

I feel like I should warn you, that clip has clearly been cut. (Heh. Logging joke) It was the only copy of this cartoon I could find. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be dignifying it with a viewing. Tell you what. If someone can get me a full copy, I’ll happily redo this post in case I missed any important details.

Woodsman, nothing. Woodsmen abound! Buddy isn’t the only one, as he has a whole team. (Or rather, he’s part of the team. I’m not quite sure.) So, we’ll start with some sawing gags. (See those two guys? Yeah, the ones who phase off the cel and to the right. I don’t trust them.) Some of Buddy’s teammates include those who saw logs while sawing logs, (sleeping.) another jab at homosexuals, (Really, Buddy? You’re making this kind of joke, again? It wasn’t funny the first time.) and one who cuts a tree with a deli slicer. (Or, forest slicer? Does it need to be in a deli to qualify?)

There’s Buddy. I swear, he’s smiling even more than usual. It makes me want to deck him. (It’s rare for a day to go by where I don’t feel that way towards somebody.) He takes part in some of the jobs, but seeing as how it would be boring to watch him just do one task, he does a little bit of everything. Mowing trunks into toothpicks, cutting another tree with a saw jump-rope,  and kicking a goat. Oh, that has a purpose. He’s going to trick the goat into cutting some boards for him with its horns. (I must say, I had never wanted to see Buddy smack his @$$ before. And I don’t now. I’m not into this!)

RANDOM SHOT OF TWO GUYS CHOPPING A TOTEM POLE!……….Jerks.

You know, working isn’t too bad when you have music. (As a librarian, I’m always grumpy for this reason.) Buddy makes a xylophone out of some logs, and the music is so great, that a totem pole breaks into segments so it/they can all dance. (Was that why we got that shot earlier? I think we’d have still accepted it had we not established it existed) CHOW TIME! As lumberjacks that are okay, sleep all night, and work all day, it only makes sense that they would also possess huge appetites. They all rush for some grub.

Some girl is their server. I want to say this is Cookie, but the hair is wrong. (And it makes her look like a seven-year-old.) I suppose I’ll have to name her something similar. Let’s call her Biscuit. Either there is two of her, or there was another cut scene. She can’t be behind Buddy, then carrying the food simultaneously! The food must be quite delicious, as the aromas attract the attention of a tree bear. (You know, kind of like a black bear, or a brown bear, but not.) It comes to dinner and gets rid of pretty much everyone. (They just fall into the floorboards.)

RANDOM CIRCLE WIPE! I don’t know what we missed, but I can play detective. The bear startles the racially insensitive cook, then we cut to said bear eating something. There’s only one place that cook could possibly be now. (Such violence! Maybe the cut was necessary after all.) Biscuit gets some credit. Upon seeing the ursine she doesn’t scream, or do anything over the top. She tells it to scram. She hides under the table after it licks her. (Good move. The chef would agree if he could)

Buddy? You want to take care of it? Sure, the bear seems friendly enough, but the smart thing really, is to remove him from the premises. You shouldn’t be interacting with wild animals in such a manner. Buddy freakin’ punches the bear! (And that’s why we call him “Bear Puncher.” He earned that title) The bear isn’t too pleased, especially as the punch sends him into a stove, and gets a pipe stuck on his snout. Buddy uses pepper! (I don’t know why they bothered to label it as “hot.” They don’t make any mention of the Scoville heat units, it may possess. They just do the sneezing bit normally associated with pepper.)

Biscuit has a gun! She’s also a pretty good shot! Gets that bear right in his rump, she does. Buddy helps too. He uses a piano stool to raise the bear up, break through the ceiling, and flee back to the safety of the forest. Is a bear scared sh*tless in the woods? You bet!

Favorite Part: The first shot of a tree falling down. Such perspective shots are something you don’t see in cartoons that often. At least not in these days.

Personal Rating: 2

Injun Trouble

“Groovy, man.”

Directed by Bob McKimson; Story by Cal Howard. Animation: Ted Bonnicksen, Jim Davis, LaVerne Harding, and Ed Solomon; Backgrounds by Bob McIntosh; Layouts by Bob Givens, and Jaime Diaz; Film Editors: Hal Geer and Don Douglas; Voice Characterization by Larry Storch; Musical Direction by William Lava. A Merrie Melody released on September 20, 1969.

Well girls and boys, hamsters and tuna, this is it. The last cartoon from Warners during their golden age. In fact, it’s so recent that my father was already alive for about two months when it debuted, and my mother was only four days away from leaving the womb. We’ve truly come to an end of an era. (Though, since I review these in random order, we’re still far from done.)

Plot? Not really. It’s the final cartoon, they can skimp on the plot this time. Instead, we’re given a bunch of gags that mainly relate to Native Americans. You might be wary, but these are some decent quality jokes. Reminds me an awful lot of what you’d see during the heyday of “The Muppet Show.” (Let us have that, Disney+) These are tied together with the continuing adventures of Cool Cat, driving his dune buggy.

The natives don’t take too kindly to big cats in these parts, and one tries to chase him down. Cool Cat drives as fast as he can, and the bridge he crosses does him a solid, by falling away when the man and horse try to cross. The man falls rather quickly, leaving the horse clutching the cliff face, calling for help. (He sounds an awful lot like Quick Draw McGraw. Guy had to find some way to make ends meet after people realized he and El Kabong were one and the same.)

Cool Cat answers his call to give him a hand. (He applauds.) Good strength in that cat, as he manages to heave the horse back to safety. (To show he’s a good sport, he also throws a rope at the man.) C.C. wouldn’t mind continuing to hang with his new equine pal, but his car is rolling away. The horse helps him catch up by giving him a good kick. Maybe the others natives will act a bit more kindly to their guest? Well, one of them does try to stick Cool Cat with a portly dame. How… generous? (I’m not really sure what his motivations were.)

The gags continue. One native puts a bucket on his head to be a “pail face.” A rather fetching one asks the tiger if he wants to “Indian wrestle.” He happily/hornily agrees, then finds his opponent was the muscly man behind the rock. A third channels Groucho. Seem like friendly folks. Still, they clearly want Cool Cat to leave, seeing as they have smoke signals stating “Cool Cat go home.” (When’d they even learn his name?)

Wish granted. He exits their territory and enters the town of “Hot Foot.” Interesting place, this. The horses play human shoes, and the horse doctor, as his name implies, treats humans. Cool Cat sees a building that sounds like his kind of place: a topless bar. All right! Let’s see some knockers! Aw crap. The bartender is a guy. (I’m not sexist, just straight.) Cool Cat has a drink when someone else enters the bar. He looks familiar. But, it couldn’t be!

The two start up a game of cards. (Love C.C.’s poker face.) The tiger proudly shows his four aces. Seeing as how the other guy has a gun with his cards, he has the better hand. Yeah, this doesn’t look like a good place for Cool Cat to hang, after all. So, time for one of the most creative endings I’ve ever seen to a cartoon. Cool Cat declares that he is “cutting out” and, grabbing some scissors, actually cuts himself out of the animation cel. (That IS cool. I guess you have to admit the guy lives up to his name now)

Still, we can’t end Looney Tunes without one last quote, and I feel that Cool Cat chooses some pretty awesome closing words. “So cool it now, ya hear?” Reading too deep I may be, but I see it as a way of saying “We’ve been at this since 1930. We’re ready to stop. Disney and MGM have already pulled out of the business, and frankly, we don’t mind letting Walter Lantz have it all to himself. Enjoy our reruns, we have plenty of them.” And so, like the best westerns (not the motels) Looney Tunes rode off into the sunset. Shane! Shane! Well done, Shane!

Favorite Part: It was actually hard to choose. (I really did enjoy the jokes.) I choose the smile the horse gives when he boots his rider off the cliff. Clearly, this has been a fantasy of his for some time.

Personal Rating: I really, REALLY, want to give this a three, but the racial stereotyping and common sense tell me that I can’t. I’ll have to give it a 2. If you aren’t bothered by a little teasing of the Red Man, you might agree with a 3.

Hiss and Make Up

“I don’t want to hear one peep out of you!”

Supervision by I. Freleng; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy; Story by Michael Maltese; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on September 11, 1943.

As an animal expert, I know that certain animals can’t be kept together and still live a happy life. Like a mongoose and a cobra. Or an anteater and a termite. Or a turkey and an octopus. Or the most common: a dog and a cat. They’re just not meant to be together unless the feline is an ingredient. Don’t believe me? The animal expert? Maybe this picture will convince you?

Our prototype Granny has three pets. Roscoe the dog, Wellington the cat, and Tweetee the canary. Two of these three are incompatible as previously stated, and therefore fight like dats and cogs. The old woman can’t stand it and finally tears into the two. Not only do they fight constantly, but they have their other quirks that add frustration to an otherwise happy home. Wellington doesn’t catch enough mice, and Roscoe tends to track mud indoors. She delivers an ultimatum: one more disturbance out of either of them, and they’ll end up outside, suffering in Satan’s splooge: snow.

The two try to behave, oh yes. But have you ever tried to fight your basic instincts? I mean, would you last if you had to stop eating bacon? Or watching “The Mandolorian?” It’d be like asking me to stop watching “Fantasia.” It’s against the ancient laws of nature that have been in effect since life first came into being. In short, the two are having trouble. Roscoe gets Wellington’s tail to be rocking chair’ed, and Wellington smacks Roscoe while trying to get a fly. Still, it’s not enough to get the granny’s attention, and the two are still allowed to stay inside. The old lady heads to bed, leaving the pets to adhere to the honor system.

The two keep the tricks coming. Using the two’s  insecurities against one another, which includes fake mice and real mud. Still, they both manage to keep their owner from finding out, and are still inside. It’s time to finish this. The old woman would never forgive the cat if he were to attack the canary who enjoys the pair’s arguments about as much as the lady does. (You just have to learn to find the enjoyment in these situations. Once I did that, I found my siblings to be endless sources of entertainment.) So, by gluing some feathers to the cat’s maw, and hiding the bird, Roscoe’s victory is nearly assured.

As to be expected, the woman delivers a beat down to the cat. (I’m sad, I don’t get to see the cat abuse. That’s why I watch cartoons. To see the things I can’t in reality.) It doesn’t last long, as Tweetee reveals himself. (You’d think he’d be all for getting rid of a dangerous predator.) The old lady is happy to see her bird alive, but the cat is not pleased with what the dog just pulled. Time for the old “mad dog” routine, courtesy of some shaving cream. Why does a (most likely) unmarried lady have that? Actually… I don’t want to know.

Stop typing your theories!

Roscoe gets his turn at a beating. This doesn’t set well with him, so he heads toward the sleeping cat. (Many back and forth shots here. I’m not fond of those, but at least it’s over faster than when Monty Python did it.) Another fight ensues, but the bird is reaching his breaking point. In fact, even after the other two successfully dodge more blame, they immediately find the canary ruining the place, whilst making their usual calls. In turn, they try and kill the bird off. Not the best position to be caught in. Speaking of…

The old woman has had enough and the two are banished to the outdoors. Roscoe has the right attitude and looks miserable, but why is Wellington smiling? I’ve always said that cats were unintelligent, but I always though it was just a petty jab made to hide my own weaknesses. Well, he managed to do one last thing before they were thrown out: opening his lips reveals Tweetee trapped behind his teeth.

Favorite Part: When proto-Granny is coming downstairs while Roscoe is trying to remove his framing. Unable to clean up the mess in time, he initiates a blackout to keep Granny upstairs.

Personal Rating: 3

Porky and Daffy

“I’m so crazy, I don’t know this is impossible.”

Supervision by Robert Clampett; Animation by Robert Cannon and John Carey; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on August 6, 1938.

After slapstick, there’s no truer sense of comedy, then the kind you find in the straight man/ funny man duo. Laurel and Hardy. Abbot and Costello. Or maybe my favorite: Daffy and Porky. (Bet you thought I was going to title drop today’s short, didn’t ya?)

They’re living together in this picture, because Daffy is a boxer and Porky is his manager. (So naturally, Porky gets the better mailbox. Helps hold his fan mail. Only 99% is from me.) The paper delivers some decent news. (Wouldn’t that be a nice change? Aren’t cartoons the best?) Looks like there’s a champion boxer who is willing to take on anyone who’s willing to get in the ring with him. This is the break “Porky and Daffy” (Supervision by Robert Clampett) have been waiting for!

Porky rushes to deliver the news to his client, but Daffy is asleep. Quite the heavy sleeper at that. Porky knows what to do! (I love his little idea face. I’ve been copying it ever since I first saw this cartoon back in 2010.) Using only a pan lid and a spoon, Porky wakes his champion fighter up. Let’s skip to the match, shall we? I doubt the training could be half as fun as the fight. Seeing as that’s our next scene, I think Clampett’s team agrees with me. (What’s that white shape in the crowd shot? It’s so conspicuous.)

Who is this champ anyway? That scrawny, skinny, nothing of a rooster? He’s struggling to breathe! Anyone could take this guy. I could take this guy. (To Popeye’s, preferably. The chicken shack, not the sailor man.) Porky puts his pugilistic pal in the ring. This should be a short… uh-oh. Seems the champ was struggling to breath, because his robe was too tight. It had a lot of muscles to cover up. Well, we might as well get started. In this corner: the champ. In the other: Daffy. In the middle: our pelican referee.

Now, this fight might look pretty one sided, but don’t forget: Daffy is a nut. He doesn’t take anything seriously, so he has no fear. (His neck stripe also seems a bit more jaggedy today. Must be mating season.) Okay, I lied. He has plenty of fear and tries to flee. What’s a good manager to do? Talk to your fighter. Use words he can understand. Porky suggests that Daffy get on his bicycle. Being Daffy, he is able to mime one that is fast enough to outpace the terrifying champ. Even run him over. That’s one point! (Boxing uses points, right?)

Wait. Daffy is gone! I may be wrong about the points, but I do know that you can’t leave the ring mid-match. Is Daffy disqualified? Oh, he’s still in the ring. In fact, he’s in something else. The pelican’s bill. This means the poor ref gets some of the punches that were aimed at Daffy. Daffy manages to get away, still avoiding the wrath of the champ. Time to exploit the weakness that every living being, human or toon shares: candy. He offers Daffy a generously sized candy cane. (Daffy: “How’d you know I like lollipops?”)

It’s a trap! A trick! A tricky trap! However you say it, the champ beans Daffy with the confection and this keeps him from escaping once more. He censors his actions, (Awww! Now where will I get my bloodshed fix? Happy Tree Friends hasn’t been entertaining for at least a decade now) and it looks like Daffy’s out for the count. Good thing the ref takes his sweet time counting out the seconds. (I haven’t been this anxious for the count to reach ten, since I last played “Punch Out!!”) Porky begs, pleads, a third synonym for his fighter to reawaken. Oh, look it’s the return of his idea face!

He runs home, as fast as his trotters can carry him. He grabs the secret weapon and hurries back. The count has just passed nine when Porky once more bangs the lid over his duck’s head. Daffy is up and raring to go! The poor champ doesn’t stand a chance now! (As the ref is passed, the speed gets him stuck in his own bill. A joke we would later see shot for shot again in “Porky’s Hotel.” The pelican even looks exactly the same, save for a hat. Must have been his  ex-wife.)

A frantic fight follows, but the champion loses his title. Daffy is our new winner, and by extension, Porky is, since the manager always walks away with accolades. (Just like in that famous movie about boxing, “Mickey.”) I think Daffy must have hit the poor ex-champ a little too hard, because now he is suffering from a nasty case of “Daffy-itis.” (I don’t care if that’s not the correct suffix. It is on my site.)

Favorite Part: The referee asking who wants to fight. Seeing as how he didn’t clarify, he gets no end of thugs wishing to thrash him.

Personal Rating: 4

Strangled Eggs

“Some pretty posies picked for a pretty pippin.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by George Grandpre, Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, and Tom Ray; Layouts by Robert Gribborek; Backgrounds by Bob Singer; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on March 18, 1961.

Foghorn and me, we agree on a number of things. Most notably, cold weather is a miserable experience that no living thing should have to live through. Especially if you’re living in squalor the way Foghorn is. But, you know, Prissy has a pretty nice place, and she is always pining for a husband, maybe pretending to be into her could allow Foggy to crash at her coop for the worst season nature ever spawned?

Not much is needed for the plan to go off hitchless. Foghorn gets in quite easily, and it looks like his cold problem is solved. (Not like Prissy would say much if given the chance. Her dialogue in this picture is nothing but her trademark “Yes.” and a few “No’s.” What a sad way to make your final film appearance.) Hark! A knock at the door. And an abandoned child. We know him as Henery Hawk, but Foghorn is convinced he is food. (Eating children left on our property. Another trait we share)

You might think Foghorn is just trying to adhere to the rule of “eat or be eaten” but he really does think Henery is a squab. The little hawk is quick to correct him, and Foghorn immediately tries to kill him for being a predator. (Who is also making his final appearance on the silver screen.) Prissy may not have a variable vocabulary, but she is smitten with the chick nonetheless. He is staying as her own. So, let’s see: Foghorn can either choose to die by beak, or die by sleet. (After which, I’m sure Henery would still eat him.) Neither sounds very pleasant.

Alternative time! What if Foghorn took the kid outside, under the pretense that he is teaching the child about how to be a chicken? Then they’d be out of Prissy’s sight, and she wouldn’t have to know if anything bad were to befall her foundling. She allows it, and Foggy takes Henery out for some training. And at first, his efforts seem sincere. He takes Henery up high for some crowing practice, and despite having an opportunity to push Henery off, and die via gravity’s hand, (because if he’s young enough to be left on doorstep, he’s also too young to fly) he actually tries to pull if off without a trick. Henery uses the height to try and hang the rooster.

Too dark? Henery quickly transfers the chicken to a cauldron, and prepares to make a meal. Foghorn escapes and berates the kid. Leading to some interesting thoughts from his tormentor. He’s not trying to kill the ones he is being raised by, but the scent of chicken is awakening his primal instincts. (And really, is it his fault that chickens are so dang delicious?) Enough philosophy, back to the original plan of trying to kill the bird. Foghorn tries to pass off sitting on grenades, and finding landmines as sitting on eggs and scratching for food, respectively. (They backfire of course.)

Well, if Henery is going to be a chicken, (which it looks like he has accepted) Foghorn is going to be the hawk. (Even managing to glide on thermals! Where was this guy in “Chicken Run?” Oh yeah, a different continent.) Henery flees to his mother, and the two take shelter, leaving Foghorn to crash face first into the coop he so desperately wanted to live in at the beginning.

Favorite Part: When Henery reveals that he is a hawk. Foghorn immediately grabs a gun.

Personal Rating: 3

Porky’s Garden

“That’s a some-a nice garden.”

Supervision by Fred Avery; Animation by Sid Sutherland and Elmer Wait; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on September 11, 1937.

Big prize at the fair! If you’ve got a home-grown product, and it’s big enough, then you could be the lucky recipient of $2,000.00! (And we have to adjust for tax. You’ll still get to keep a buck.) Porky has plans to win with his produce. His Italian neighbor, (who I get to name Carlo because nobody else has in 83 years) also plans to win  with his chickens. There can only be one winner, who do you think will take it?

The two rush home. Porky does something I’ve never seen him do before: use his tail to poke holes in the ground. It looks… unnatural. (Does he ever make use of that appendage again?) His neighbor already has most of his work done, as his chickens have reached the adult stage. It couldn’t hurt to give them a bit more nutrients. Mixing up a mess of vitamins and minerals, he expects the birds to gobble it down. However, even though they have less than 500 taste buds, they still hate the stuff.

Porky has a secret weapon. A substance that can cause living things to grow really big, really fast: hair tonic. It works all right. The plants immediately age from seeds to full grown seed producing plants of their own. Just like that! Porky’s earned his rest. He goes inside. Luckily for him, Carlo didn’t see his growing methods. Unluckily, he does see a bounty of food that his hens could feed upon. Logically, anything that grows that big has got to be good for you. Should promote bone growth, muscle strengthening, and probably more of a sex drive.

The birds dive in. Food gags! (And yes, sometimes, food, gags.) One chicken sucks the juice out of all the tomatoes. Another squeezes peas right out of the pod. A third isn’t interested in salad, and just pries a worm out of an apple. (She knows what happens to chickens that go to fairs.) Porky becomes aware and tries to chase the birds off his property. (I notice one seems to disappear before my eyes. It must be a poultrygeist. I don’t care how many people have made that joke before me.)

(It’s a million, isn’t it?)

Porky, rightfully so, asks his fat neighbor (yes, I went there) to collect his birds. He asks them to come back. They don’t. Clearly, he’s done all he can do. (He’s also not too sad. Contests are more fun if your victory is assured, you know.) Porky mopes. Wait, what could be on the end of this vine? *Gasp* A pumpkin!  Granted, I’ve seen larger, but as long as they aren’t at the fair, Porky could still win! The chickens aren’t satisfied, and try to eat this last gourd too. Good thing Porky played football in high school. He makes it past the chickens, and runs off to the fair because I guess the contest is today. (He’s so excited that he phases to the right for a millisecond.)

Carlo calls the birds back proving that he was screwing with Porky earlier. (That fat b@$$turd! Yes, I went there!) The fair seems really popular this year, they’re even playing “The Merry go round broke down.” (Because it’s a funfair.) Since they are free range, the chickens just walk behind Carlo as he strolls to the contest. They pass a barker who has an interesting product. Reducing pills. His sign promises they will make you thin, but his demonstration is a bit more confusing. He gives one to an elephant, and granted, it shrinks. Into a mouse. Wait.

Okay, I looked at the taxonomic chart my species has created. That doesn’t add up, it’s just Avery having fun. Oops! A bottle has spilled open and the pills are spilling in front of the chickens. They still have room to spare, and gobble the pills. (Except one that fades away. So many goof-ups today!) Porky is just about to win, when Carlo shows up. (His hens look much more large than they did half a second ago.) The judge takes Porky’s prize away. (Yeah, um, the contest was clearly over if you were handing  out the prize, and why such a large bag for one dollar? Is it given in pennies? Jerk.)

Oops! The pills kick in. The birds shrink. Back to pullets, back to chicks, back to eggs! Iris out.

Oh wait, things need to be set right. Porky is on top of things, and reverses the ending a bit to grab what is rightfully his.

Favorite Part: Even though the chickens are supposed to be a team, one refuses to share a watermelon with a chick. The little one sobs, but finds some spinach. Not only does this make him stronger, but actually turns him into a Popeye caricature! Speech style included!

Personal Rating: 3

Road to Andaly

“You crazy sthtupid bird!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Rating: 2

Nelly’s Folly

“The world’s fist singin’ gyraffe!”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Co-Directors: Maurice Noble and Abe Levitow; Story by Dave Detiege and Chuck Jones; Animation by Richard Thompson, Ben Washam, Tom Ray, and Ken Harris; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc, Gloria Wood; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on December 30, 1961.

This tale begins in Africa. Precisely, in one of its jungles. Mistake number 1: there’s a lion. Mistake number 2: there’s a warthog. Mistake number 3: there’s our titular star, Nelly. She’s a giraffe. Now that we’ve got the mistakes named, let’s move on to the rest, because it really is sensational.

Nelly isn’t like your normal giraffes. Chewing cud, and splaying her forelegs out to drink. Well, okay. She probably does those things too, but she has a more unusual talent too: singing! Yes, she can sing! In fact, she attracts quite a crowd from the other animals. They love her voice. And because she has the longest neck in the animal kingdom, her voice can carry for miles around and attract all kinds of public. Including a human. It looks like he came here to hunt, but a member of the Artiodactyla Order that is capable of producing music? That’s even more valuable than some taxidermy trophy!

He offers to help her get discovered. I guess he is a talent scout on the side, because he already has a contract on him. (Even more incredible: Nelly knows how to sign it!) It is with tears in her eyes that she leaves the continent she has known all her life, but she has a gift, and must share it with the world. (Hey, why is a tiger seeing her off?) Next stop: New York City! Her first role: a commercial jingle for some cure-all tonic that probably does jack all. You may think she got scammed, but this is pretty accurate. Even for a giraffe. You have to start at the bottom, gain some notoriety, and then you move on to the big stuff.

It pays off. Her commercial gig leads to lead roles in musicals. Then comes the merchandise. Clothing inspired by her, and albums. Lots of albums. Soon, she is attracting bigger crowds than ever before. (Usually consisting of background of people, with images of clapping hands pasted over it. Stylistic.) She has fame, good looks, and is known the world over! (Probably.) Why is she so unhappy? Well, I’m no giraffe psychiatrist, (at least, not anymore) but I’d wager that these people may love the idea of her, but they don’t love “HER her.” Life is lonely. (That I can attest to.) She can’t enjoy success without someone to share it. (Agents don’t count.)

As she mopes, she finds herself in the zoo. And just look at that fetching bull giraffe! She may have just laid eyes on him, but she knows what she likes. Wait, he’s already in a relationship? That’s a bit of a turn-off, but loneliness is powerful. (Again, I know this well.) She begins to see him, but does this ever cause problems. Of course it makes headlines! The biggest, tallest star getting involved in such a scandal? The public won’t hear of it! It’s well documented that they will accept anything starlets do, except infidelity. In fact, at her next performance, she finds an empty house. Everyone has abandoned her. Her fans, her agent, could her boyfriend be next?

Yep. Now that she’s lost her notoriety, he wants nothing to do with her. (Luckily for him, his original cow easily forgives. I guess if he can be so shallow, so can his mate.) Here’s where the cartoon gets dark. As the narrator explains, “those who remember Nelly, like to think she went back to Africa.” Notice that? They like to THINK that. Seeing how its being said as she lingers on a bridge, could it be that Nelly actually jumped? (No wonder this cartoon was an Academy nominee. I mean, I guess Maurice Noble’s brilliant backgrounds played a part in that. And there’s no shame to losing to “Ersatz” That film deserved to win.)

Even if it never really happened, we see how things would turn out if Nelly did return home. She’d be sad, but at least surrounded by her old friends. They too feel bad for her, because they are true friends. But wait! Another giraffe! Another male giraffe! Another SINGING giraffe! But the absolute best part? He looks faithful. The other animals feel the love in the air, so I’d wager he’s for real. (I love the warthog taking an aside glance to realize he is hugging his predators. He probably has just realized that they have no intention of letting go.) I hope this is the canon ending. It’s a great reward for Nelly, the world’s only singing giraffe. (As far as humanity knows.)

P.S. There’s no “That’s all Folks!” end card. That doesn’t happen often.

Favorite Part: The reveal of Nelly’s true love. You’ll first think it’s just another shot of her, since only the legs are shown. But then his baritone joins her song, the color comes back to her life, and everything looks like it will be all right after all.

Personal Rating: 4

 

I was a Teenage Thumb

“Oh boo-hoo, oh hoo.”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Co-Director: Maurice Noble; Story by John Dunn and Chuck Jones; Animation by Bob Brnasford, Tom Ray, Ken Harris, and Richard Thompson; Layouts by Bob Givens; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc, Julie Bennet, Ben Frommer, and Richard Peel; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on January 19, 1963.

This post would not have been possible, without contributions from Mr./Mrs./It’es AX. I thank you for your help.

Once upon a time, there was a couple. (But a couple of what, I couldn’t tell you. I think they’re humans.) George and Prunehilda Thumb are their names. George is quite content with the way his life has turned out, but the Mrs. doesn’t share those sentiments. She wants a child, and subtly hints this to her husband by knitting enough booties for all the infants in the world of 1963. Even then, George refuses to put out, (okay, so maybe she’s just impotent.) so she has to contend with making the local animals wear the garments.

Once upon a later time, a magician walks by their place. His name is Ralph K. Merlin, Jr. (He has that name because his mother married a Merlin, and he couldn’t be more creative when naming his child.) He’s actually quite skilled. His hiccups have the extraordinary ability to transform himself into other things. Dragons, cows, prams, babes, and cars, all with two legs! But he can do intentional magic too. He just so happens to hear Pruney making her umpteenth wish for a child, even willing to settle for one that’s the size of her thumb. Mr. Merlin decides to help out, and impregnates her with magic. (So, does that make him the father then? Or did he magically transfer some George juice into the lady? Am I ruining this picture for you? I’m sorry.)

She knows. She immediately knows. The cartoon has proved my theory that females always know the instant they are expecting. (One of the many superpowers I’m convinced they have.) She tells her husband she believes her dreams are going to come true, as the magician leaves. (Still hiccuping, still changing.) Some time later, her son is born, and he is indeed, small enough to warrant his last name. (I’m not sure a baby that size would require nine months to cook, but I’m also not entirely sure how magical insemination works.) George may be a bit shocked, but he’s good father, regardless and helps raise the child.

But you know what is the hardest part of having such a small child? Cats love to eat babies. It’s a well known fact, but most of them are so big, that the feline can’t get much more than a bite before the child’s screams alert the parents. It’s not everyday a cat is able to locate a child that requires only a swallow. The cat sneaks outside where witnesses are near zero, and attempts a snack. Swoop! Grasp! A bird takes the child for itself. Birds love babies, and loathe cats, but are known to drop the former. As long as there’s no water below, I’m pretty sure, Tom will survive.

Water? On this planet? What are the odds? Well, as long as there’s no fish-Oh no! A fish! Fish love babies even more than cats do, but eat them less because of the whole “most of them can’t breathe out of water” thing. (Someone really should wake a horror movie about walking catfish. It’d scare me.) Tom looks like a goner, but that fish just so happens to be the same fish that was caught for the local king. And either the king likes them raw, or the oven’s flames couldn’t harm Tom through all that flesh. Tom is alive and is found by the king.

The king decides to shower this child in luxuries. I guess he’s swayed by how cute Tom is? (Mr. Jones is well known for drawing cute infants.) Eventually, Tom is made a knight and is capturing dragons and defeating giants with the best of them. (Small dragons, you understand.) Eventually, Tom marries, and he and his wife have a child of their own. (I’m glad the stork is always a viable option in cartoons. I shudder to think how things would pan out otherwise.) Ironically, Tom’s child is the size of HIS thumb. And this continues down the line, with each following child being the size of the parents opposable digit. (Might want to stop, guys. Things could go too far.)

But whatever happened to Tom’s parents? Well, I guess Prunehilda is still unintentionally cheating on her husband with magicians, because she’s taken to knitting again. This time though, the booty is bigger than she is. (She’s probably just messing with George.)

(Right?)

Favorite Part: When the king decides he’s going to give Tom the good life. Knowing that his decision is random at best, he sternly declares that nobody argue with him.

Personal Rating:3

Buddy’s Showboat

“Hello sweetheart!”

Supervision by Earl Duvall; Animation by Jack King and James Pabian; Music by Bernard Brown. A Looney Tune released on December 9, 1933.

Yippee. Joy. Another Buddy short. And? It just might be the worst one. My verdict is still out, but it’s in the running.

Look at that boat maneuvering. That, combined with Buddy’s obnoxious smile tells me that the guy is high as a cirrus cloud. I mean, you know you’ve got a goofy look on your face when even I want to beat you up. Just a little. Buddy’s the captain, which means his lady must have a pretty important job as well. I mean, a potato peeler? That’s got Nobel Prize written all over it. Rounding out our crew, is that fattish guy we saw in “Buddy’s Beer Garden.” (Or it could be one of his identical sextuplets. Probably the most successful one.)

Actually, I don’t know if he works on the boat or is just some free (wide) loader. I don’t know, do employees normally cut their toenails with knives? Looks uncomfortable to me. Do you ever get tired of the constant racist jokes found in early cartoons? Well, here’s something different to feel uncomfortable about: a gay joke! See the smaller boat next to Buddy’s? You know how we know it’s homosexual? Because it’s a ferry! Ha! That’s… not really all that funny. I usually enjoy puns to some capacity, but that was just weak. I guess giving it wings would have been too obvious?

Okay, Buddy. What’s your plan? Oh, you’re docking to show off your entertainment. A parade full of oddballs and weirdos, playing music, making fools of themselves, and other ways one advertises your showmanship. Seems like the crowds have bought the pitch, as they come by the ferry-load to attend the show. As one would expect, Cookie is our main selling point. But before any of you horny, lonely, nobodies think you might have a chance with her, remember that she is already dating the captain. They even send kisses over the phone! (It’s rather nauseating. One of the few times I’m ecstatic to be single.)

Let’s see this entertainment! The couple doing a song and dance with a chorus line behind them. That’s it? I’m still not sure I’ve gotten my money’s worth. (Also, those other women are either several feet in the distance, or I’ve once again forgotten how short Buddy and Cookie really are. Maybe both? I like it when the answer is both.) Next up, more racist imagery! Chief Saucer-Lip. Yes, really. *Heavy sigh* That’s degrading. Buddy, you degrade people. At least he can do a fairly decent Maurice Chavalier impression. (He might still be able to get a career after the last of his dignity is used up.)

Cookie watches from backstage. Finally, this cartoon gets  a bit sexy! Panty shot! What won’t we do to offend? I hope it’s worth it for when the Haye’s code serves our heads on squeaky clean platters! Blimpy uses this opportunity to nab her. He doesn’t make it too far before the captain catches on. Surprisingly, the big lug doesn’t stand much of a chance. He lands a decent punch, but Buddy flies right back and sends his puncher into the ships power switch, giving him a shock.

Buddy knows he can’t punch worth a dime, so he swings a boat into the man. This sends him into the trained walrus cage, who treats the man as a toy. (Um, everyone knows that a walrus doesn’t have six flippers, right? We all know? Good. I was worried.) With the big guy pretty much defeated, Buddy uses the boat’s crane to lift the villain onto the paddle-wheels. A great many spankings is just what he needed.

Favorite Part: Blimpy tries sending a kiss to Cookie via phone, like Buddy. She sends him back a punch.

Personal Rating: 1