Monday, December 31, 2007

Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears 1944 (dir Chuck Jones)

The majority of the cartoons on Vol 1, Disc 3 consists of a good number of monumental shorts so despite the fact that Bugs Bunny features a lot, there is some historical reason.

This cartoon marks the first appearance of Chuck Jones' three bears series. The minisicule bad tempered father, the passive and whiney mother and the huge and blissfully stupid Junyer ( or in this cartoon Junior)

It's quite a simple cartoon as it echoes the story of Goldilocks and the three bears. Basically Pa Bear decides that if they follow the footsteps of the original story, then they'll find some food ready for them. Although they don't have porridge, they use carrot soup and then they go off for a walk in the woods.

Instead of goldilocks along comes Bugs Bunny, who is lured in by the smell of carrot soup. He eats a portion and then goes upstairs in order to take a nap. Yes he does try out all beds and then falls asleep.

When the bears return they are gleeful that their plan is working out and they rush upstairs and overjoyed to find a rabbit in their bed. Once Bugs wakes up the three bears start to chase him. After a couple of gags Bigs tries to flirt with Ma Bear and this works as she becomes smitten with him. From now onwards it is ma bear who is chasing Bugs.

Finally he escapes to his warren and finds Ma Bear there, who smothers him with kisses ( we dont see this) Bugs then emerges and runs away covered in lipstick marks.

As a cartoon it's nothing on the levels of greatness that would occur in Jones' later shorts but it works and it does entertain plus the character of Junyor bear has a lot of potential, something Jones exploited in later films, especially the brilliant 'A Bear for Punishment' (1950)


A couple of hours later and after re watching 'A Bear for Punishment' I have come to the conclusion that the Three Bears are a proto type of American cartoon families such as The Simpsons or *shudder* Family guy. Think of it. Although this isn't that prominent in ...three Bears it comes to the forefront in later films.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Elmer's Candid Camera 1940 (dir Chuck Jones)

Vol 1 , Disc 3

This cartoon is quite pivitol in the Warner Bros canon as it is the first appearance of Elmer Fudd ( who evolved from the similar character Egghead) and a near definite version of Bugs Bunny. Characterwise both Bugs and Elmer are not fully developed. At this point Elmer is too thin and tall and his mannerisms are way too expressive but he still is a dimwit and his speech impediment is there. Bugs (but not called Bugs) is still pudgy and his voice is hoarse with a highly irritating laugh. He's more a prankster in the vein of Daffy Duck than the sly guy who is vengeful.

The plot of candid camera is very simple. Elmer buys a new camera and invades on Bug's territory. This allows Bugs to irritate and play tricks on Elmer. The final minute sees him booting Elemer into a lake - twice. It's not a spectacular cartoon but it's more one that protrays two major characters in a state of development.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century 1953 ( Dir Chuck Jones)

This is the last cartoon in Porky and Daffy disc. From tomorrow i will be focussing on the third disc which is titled Looney Tunes All Stars Party, which is basically a collection of various cartoons ( although Bugs Bunny dominates)


Duck Dodgers is an absolutely FANTASTIC cartoon and is also one of those must sees. Again, like most Chuck Jones cartoons at this stage, the plot is simple but the gags and dialogue is rich and punchy. Yes it does spoof Buck Rogers but it's satire on a whole new level.

Daffy is Duck Dodgers and he is on a mission to find the rare element Illudium Phosdex. Evidently this can only be found on Planet X. Daffy accepts his mission, along with his faithful sidekick Porky. Oh yeah every time Daffy bellows DUCK DODGERS OF THE 24 1/2th CENTURY. He leaps ten feet into the air and starts glowing. Hilarious

After Daffy works out a complicated route to planet X (well before he accidentally mixes up the gears to his rocket and goes straight into the ground), Porky then discovers that the planets are in alphabetical order A, B, C, D, etc and so the duo go to their destination.

Unfortunately Marvin the Martian intends to conquer Planet X in the name of Mars, which leads to Daffy and Marvin fighting it out. Gags here include a disentegrating ray ( which disentegrates) a bullet proof vest ( which is the only thing stays intact when someone is shot) and bullets that have messages inside them)

this leads to a sort of arms race and eventually Daffy and Marvin use the exact same weapons against each other. Thus blowing up planet x to the size of a ball. Daffy triumphantly the claims Planet X to be the territory of the Earth. By now he cant even stand on it and Porky nonchalantly stutters out 'big deal' ( with Marvin Scrabbling on Porkys legs for dear life)

If you do dig deeper into the cartoon you can also see that it is parodying the arms races that were happening at that time (although i admit Dr. Seuss did a better job in the butter Battle Book) . It can also be seen as man trying to play God. Also worth noting that it was one of the cartoon that was referenced and influenced during the space craze of the seventies, with George Lucas insisting that it be shown before the Star Wars films.

A cartoon so good that in the 00's Warner Bros decided to turn it into a sequel ( which sucks) and a television serial ( which sucks as well) .


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Rabbit Fire 1950 (dir Chuck Jones)

Now this is one of the big ones. The cartoon that is a staple on every Looney Tunes compilation, one that is oft imitated and instantly recognisable to every one , fan or not.

yes it's the first part of 'hunting' triliogy ; Rabbit Fire.

What starts out as Bugs Bunny and Daffy trying to convince dimit Elmer Fudd that it is duck or rabbit season descends into a twisted spaghetti-like mess of cross dressing, verbal jokes, visual puns, deceit, a plot twist and loads of laughs.

probably what makes this cartoon stand out is the famous argument, where bugs manages to make Daffy yell out duck season constantly and get shot. Thanks to wikipedia I'll paste the dialogue.

Bugs: "Duck season!"
Daffy: "Rabbit season!"
Bugs: "Duck season!"
Daffy: "Rabbit season!"
Bugs: "Duck season!!"
Daffy: "Rabbit season!!"
Bugs: (reversing the flow) "Rabbit season!"
Daffy: "Duck season!!!"
Bugs: "Rabbit season!!!"
Daffy: "I say it's duck season, and I say, FIRE!"

and it happens again

Daffy: "Let's try that again."
Bugs: "Okay."
Daffy: "I'll start it this time."
Bugs: "Right."
Daffy: (grabs Elmer's rifle and points it to Bugs) "Rabbit season!"
Bugs: (pushing Elmer's rifle towards Daffy) "Duck season."
Daffy: (puts the rifle in front of Bugs again) "Rabbit season!!"
Bugs: (spins the rifle clockwise and aims it at himself, again reversing the flow) "Rabbit season."
Daffy: (grabs the rifle and pulls it toward himself) "Duck season!! FIRE!!!

and a third time
Daffy: "Okay, this time, you start it."
Bugs: "Whatever you say." (aims Elmer's rifle at himself) "Rabbit."
Daffy: (takes the rifle and points it at himself) "DUCK!! FIRE!!!"

Although not a wholly original concept, it works perfectly here mainly because Daffy has got a very distinct character. Yes he is trying to convince Elmer to shoot his friend Bugs but it backfires because of Daffy's character. Daffy is so overexcited that he will actually win against his friend/nemesis Bugs that in the end of the rabbit/duck season argument, he loses.

However during the course of the picture the couple make peace and that's when you see that when their minds are combined they work better. Bugs shrwedness and daffy's forwardness are a good combination. This is seen in the section where Bugs disguises himself as female hunter ( and aptly Daffy is the dog - the follower) in order to seduce elmer.

one interesting bit is when Bugs and Daffy start reading out duck and rabbit recipes so that Elmer will shoot the tastiest one. Fudd then confesses that he is a vegetarian. Again here's another point to think over. Fudd is actually causes a break in a friendship and he has no real purpose for his hunting. It then transpires that the evil is not Daffy, but Elmer and a little bit later he does get his comeuppance because Bugs and Daffy find out that it is Elmer season, Which leads to them collaborating and getting the person who split them up in the firsat place.

All I can say that this is a very strong cartoon that gets better with each viewing and hey if a dialogue cartoon gets on your nerves, there's always the satisfaction of seeing an elephant come out of nowhere and pummel Elmer to the ground!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Golden Yeggs 1950 (dir Friz Freleng)

Am I the only one who finds Freleng's cartoons a bit unimaginative. True they are solid but they tend to descend to repetition very easily. Sometimes the plot isn't strong enough.

Anyway the cartoon takes place on a farm and Porky, the farmer discovers that Daffy has laid a golden egg ( he is actually conned into doing so) This leads to a news furor and Rocky the ganagster ( it's one of his first appearances) kidnaps Daffy and forces him to lay another golden egg.

In order to stall the process Daffy starts to ask for luxurious demands, which Rocky complies. However after a while he gets fed up and gives Daffy five minutes to lay an egg. To Daffy's surprise he actually manages.

Then the camera pans and we see loads of empty egg cartons and Rocky tells Daffy to fill them up.

It's a typical Freleng cartoon. Good on the whole but no pizazz or anything really special. The version of Rocky presented here is the definite version. Daffy doesnt really have much of a character either. Funnily enough in researching this cartoon, most reviews were incredibly scant and on re watching the cartoon I have tried to plump it out a bit but it's very difficult to as there's no hidden meanings or anything like that. In other words it's Freleng all over.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Boobs in the Woods 1950 ( dir Robert McKimson)

As every avid Looney Tunes fan knows Daffy has had different character traits over his 80 year tenure at Warner Bros. Starting out as an off the wall insane creature utilised by Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, Frank Tashlin and early Chuck Jones, A slightly naive and devious schemer which Chuck Jones used just before he improved his art techniques and the highly irritated, tempermental , coniving backstabber, which he as known as.

Veteran Director, Bob McKimson opts to use the original Daffy in this 1950 short i.e the nutty Daffy, but like most later McKimson shorts, seems a bit clumsy.

The cartoons begins with Daffy singing a song about how crazy he is, which seems rather forced, it's like McKimson is proving to us that once upon a time there was another type of Daffy Duck. When this song finishes we cut to the main plot. Porky is driving for a weekend's rest in the country. As soon as he arrives , he decides to paint the landscape and this is where Daffy comes in and starts acting in an irritating fashion. During the course of the cartoon he manages to ruin Porky's painting, ride an imaginary bicycle, dress up as a sheriff, indian and sabatoges Porky's attempts to fish.

Finally Porky packs up only to find that Daffy has removed the car's motor. As a form of revenge he makes daffy a permanent fixture in the car and drives off.

Although the cartoon is well animated, it's subject just doesn't come off a believable and watching this short can try out your patience. True it is admirable that McKimson wants to return to classic Daffy but it doesnt work out as the Jones one has a more distinctive personality. It's a sort of Boobs in the woods is a sort of proof that it is difficult to retrace the past on an ever evolving character.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Deduce you say 1956 dir (Chuck Jones)

Just as drip along Daffy spoofed the Western genre, Deduce... sets out to ;ampoon popular detective stories.

Like a detective film, the short opens with Porky narrating the scene - and now the verbal plays start coming thick and fast. The duo live on Beeker street ( Baker Street), Daffy is Dorlock Homes ( Sherlock Holmes) and Porfky is Watkins (Watson).
While Daffy is deducing he hears a knock on the door and when opening it a mailman falls down, not because he is dead but there is a doorstep he trips upon. Anyway he hands Daffy a telegram, which explains that the notorious Shropshire Slasher has escaped.
They track him down to a bar ( after some half baked and punny attempts at finding clues) and Daffy instantly tries to use violence against him. Since the Slasher is way taller and stronger than Daffy, this proves futile. Porky then uses the non violent approach and manages to get Slasher to apologize.

Daffy being who he is becomes jealous and decides to redeem himself by arresting an old woman selling flowers without a licence. It turns out that the old woman is The Slashers mother and Daffy gets a severe beating.

Porky then ends the cartoon by asking a bent out of shape Daffy where he learnt to be a detective. Daffy replies 'Elementary my dear Watkins, Elementary' and collapses.

As a parody Deduce... is excellent. Humour abounds and the viewer is entertained. Although there are similarities to the aforementioned Drip Along Daffy ( after all in this period Warner Bros cartoon studio was a few years shy of closing down so now the cartoons take a slight dip in originality ) but it holds itself nicely as a cartoon. Again it shows that although Daffy is a dominant character he still ends up a loser cause of his ineptitude at dealing with a situation rationally.

The Wearing of the Grin 1951 ( Dir Chuck Jones)

After a slog of rather uninspiring Porky cartoons, I finally am able to write about one that I like.

The Wearing of the grin is without doubt a product of Chuck Jones' mind. Who else would use a huge cliche, make it surreal and pull it off perfectly? Add that to Michael Maltese's witty script and you have a recipe for an enjoyable 7 minutes.

The cartoon kicks off with the typical classic horror opening. Huge storm and Porky is the weary traveller on his way to Dublin and stuck in the middle of nowhere. He comes across a creepy castle and asks the owner if he can stay for the night. The owner does warn him that the castle is inhabited by leprechauns. Porky laughs it off , shuts the castle door and gets hit by a mace.

while he is in a daze we find out that the owner actually consists of two leprechauns Pat and Mike. Both suspect that Porky is going to stel their gold. When our porcine friend regains consciousness , the leprechauns ( now again as one person) show Porky two his room. After a blunder he discovers that Leprechauns do exist and freaks out. He is arrested by the Leprechauns for trying to steal their pot of gold ( despite the fact that Porky is obviously innocent.) he is sentenced to wearing a pair of green loafers.

After a couple of seconds Porky starts to dance an Irish Jig and moves into a land filled with giant shamrocks, pipes and stereotypical Irish panephernelia. In one excellently animated sequence porky is ensnared into a harp and is falling off a cliff into a vat of gold.

and then he wakes up. Looks at the owner and dashes out of the castle.

the owner smirks , another two pairs of hands shoot out of his coat ( the other leprechaun) and they shake hands triumphantly.

Truest me lots of people use the dream sequence, but how many cartoon directors use the dream within a dream trick? AND then create an open ended conclusion? did the leprechauns infilatrate Porky's mind? was Porky really awake? Jones definitely had the knack of putting his viewers in his cartoons and wearing of the grin is definitely no exception

Porky Chops 1949 ( dir Arthur Davis)

Yeah I know I've been slacking - BIG TIME. I'm not going to promise consistency this time around. I will assure you that I will get this project finished before volume 6 comes out though.


Before we actually go on to the cartoon, it's better if we focus a bit on Arthur Davis.

Although the big directors at Warner Bros were Tashlin, McKimson, Clampett , Jones and Freleng , there were some other minor directors and Davis is one of them. His Warners career started as an animator under Tashlin's direction, then slowly replacing Clampett when he left. To tell the truth Davis did not really direct many cartoons, and to tell the truth not many of them are very good either. Animation is sloppy, plots are weak and gags are forced ( the notable exception being the fabulous dough-ray-mee-ow) Unfortunately Porky Chops is one of these.

The plot? , not much . Porky Pig decides to chop down a tree that is inhabited by a rather obnoxious Squirrel, who retaliates by wrapping a steel plate at the base of the tree. To add a bit more to the plot a bear is included in this chase.

and that's it. Obviously Porky loses and the Squirrel and bear win.