Saturday, March 1, 2008

Lumber Jerks 1955 (Dir : Friz Freleng)

Sorry for the long pause. At the moment i'm trying to develop my music blog and this has fallen on the wayside. I will continue updating. I plan to asses every cartoon in these volumes and it will be achieved!

I first came across Lumber Jerks back in the 80's on the Speedy Gonzales video compilation ( I guess they needed a break in the routine) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Personally the cartoon still hasn't lost it's magic.

The short itself stars the cult characters, the Goofy Gophers ( aka Mac 'n' Tosh), two rodents who speak with upper class British accents and are extremely polite to each other. They were originally a Clampett invention and have been passed down to many directors. Unfortunately out of the nine cartoons they starred in, I have only seen two. Lumber Jerks and 1955's Pest for Guests' ( which was on the Looney Tunes video compilations that were rampant in the 80's), which is equally good.

Unlike Freleng's usual black out gag style, Lumber Jerks is more a character study in the vein of Chuck Jones' later Cartoons. Basically the Gophers have to retrieve their home from a sawmill. It is a very simplistic plot but it gives Freleng time to play around with The Gophers attitude.

Throughout the whole picture the Gophers stay calm and collected, despite the fact that their house ( a tree) has been stolen. Even when avoiding a waterfall these two rodents face their challenge without double takes or anything like that.

The only time when one of them lets loose (some sawdust falls on his head and he pretends to act like a girl) he is quickly brought back into reality and they continue to look for their tree.

Eventually the gophers see their tree being turned into furniture and the cleverly stop the delivery truck and manage to stack the chairs and whatnot into a crude makeshift tree. The fianl shot has them staring at a tv set happy at the fact that they now own a television and wondering when they'll have electricity.

It's also worth noting that Lumber Jerks slyly makes little digs at mass consumption. Most of the trees in the sawmill are practically destroyed to make toothpicks. I'm sure if you look into it, there's an eco moral to the short.

Why Freleng didn't make more character based cartoons during his career mystifies me. He was definitely capable of pulling them off and they were much better than say the Sylvester and Tweety cartoons, which focus on the same plot being repeated constantly. Anyway watch Lumber Jerks and see Freleng expose his true potential.


Kevin Brady said...

I am searching for a very hilarious episode involving various characters square-dancing and flinging each other about (perhpas inclucing Bugs?)... can you assist in tracking this down and what the title is...?



bobblog said...

That's an easy one. The cartoon by bob Mckimson and it's called Hillbilly Hare - it's on Vol 3 of the Golden Collection

Nick said...

out of curiousity, do you know the name of the song that plays while the trees are being cut into toothpicks?