Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Putty Tat Trouble 1951 ( Dir Friz Freleng)

As you probably have guessed from the title it is a Sylvester and Tweety cartoon. However there is one small added twist - there is another cat introduced so this time round Sylvester has a rival.

Putty Tat Trouble can be said to be divided in three conscise segments. The first few minutes take place outdoors, then a lengthy scene that takes place in a cellar and the remaining two minutes on a pond.

There really isn't much to say. Both cats battle it out for tweety and in the end fall into lake and catch colds. The cellar scene is a bit boring as it focus on both cats pushing Tweety in their mouth and small gags based on the antiques found in the attic.

It's a no brainer cartoon, yet one that is well animated but to repetative to fully enjoy it.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Kit for Kat 1948 ( Dir Friz Freleng)

Kit for Kat is one of early Sylvester cartoons. By watching the cartoon you can see that his feartures are still a bit lanky and has something Clampett-esque about him. Although he is not with Tweety in this cartoon, it is worth noting that he had been paired up with that yellow nuisance a year prior to this cartoon.

Sylvester is hungry. He is looking for food in alleyway trash cans. After a few minutes of searching he is joined by a smaller, cuter looking cat, whom he banishes.

It is a cold night and Sylvester needs some shelter so he goes to Elmer Fudd's house and feigns sickness. Elmer takes pity on him and accepts Sylvester in his house.

so far so good.

While Sylvester is comfy and content, Elmer hears a knock on his door and it's the kitten who Sylvester banished earlier. Now Elmer is in a quandary. He can't keep two cats so one has to go out. He advises both cats that he'll make his decision in the morning. Making a big emphasis on the kitten cuteness.

Sylvester, one who knows when he's in trouble, is now plotting to kill the kittem. Naturally all of his plans go horribly wrong. Framing the kitten, keeping him trapped in a mousehole and at one point hypnotising him to beat Elmer up with a baseball bat. Each ploy wakes up Elmer and he gets angrier at Sylvester.

Elemer's breaking point happens when the kitten tries to get the upper hand of the situation and creates even noise to drown out judgement day. Elmer wakes up furious and ready to kick one cat out, but then a hand comes out of nowhere ( deus ex machina? hmmmmm) and gives Elmer an eviction notice.

The cartoon ends with all three rummaging through trash cans.

For soem reason this cartoon would crop up a lot on video compialtions and saturday tv shows. I found boring then and I still do now. There are Freleng cartoons that I like but so far it's been a weak beginning.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bunker Hill Bunny 1950 (Dir : Friz Freleng)

Oh dear here we start with Bugs Bunny again. It's not that I dislike the character but, funnily enough I think his cartoons are the weakest out of the whole Looney Tunes stable.But then the ones that are great stand out as bona fide classics ( I'm thinking What's Opera Doc at this point)

Bunke Hill Bunny is, however, not a great cartoon.

So far the four Yosemite Sam/Bugs Bunny offerings on the boxset have been a teensy bit weak. it's on boxset four that the really good ones start pouring in so there will be a bit of a wait.

As with Freleng cartoon, we are plunged straight into the action as the whole picture starts with images of the 1776 Amercian Civil war. The picture then cuts to Yosemite Sam as a Hessian and Bugs as a minuteman battling it out with cannons.

sam then declares that since he's outnumbered Bugs 'one to one' he should surrender. Bugs refuses and this leads to a series of visual gags involving bombs ( the bomb/baseball sequence is great and unmissable) cannons , dynamite and gunpowder ( another very good scene) Sam gives up and anounces that he's a Hessian without agression and joins Bugs in they march into the sunset.

It's a bit difficult to comment on this without repeating myself. It's a solid no frills cartoon. I'll watch it but it's not one I come back to. Plus it's way too similar to 1949's Buccaneer Bunny.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Canary Row 1950 (Dir Friz Freleng)

Vol 1 Disc 4

I have a certain apathy towards Tweety. The fact that he is annoying, brutal and ruthless bothers me. Also the fact that he think he's so great makes me REALLY want to pulverize that annoying yellow pest. To frank Sylvester should have chewed up that cretin long ago.


As wikipedia is assuring me Canary Row ( it's a pun - Cannary Row) this is the first cartoon that features Granny, tweety's owner. Mind you she's equally bothersome. Like most Tweety and Sylvester cartoons - or most of Friz Freleng's cartoons, the plot is very simple and build around visual gags. By the way Tweety is a Clampett creation, while Sylvester is a Freleng one (albeit it a slightly evolved version of a Clampett cat, check out 1946's Kitty Kornered).

The cartoon begins with Sylvester and Tweety watching each other from adjacent buildings. As soon as tweety utters his famous ' I thought I taw a Puddy Tat' and 'I did , I did tee a puddy tat!' Sylvester licks his chops and races in the building. Two seconds later and he gets booted out due to the fact that it's a hotel and dogs or cats aren't allowed in the building.

This means that Sylvester has to find a way to get in the building unnoticed.

At first Sylvester tries the direct approach and manages to go up on the window sill but Tweety cries for help and granny comes rushing, chucking the cat out of the building.

After the next incident which involves a drainpipe and a bowling ball ( all gone horribly wrong) Sylvester decides to be more cunning and disguises himself as an organ grinders monkey and although he manages to get into the building, Granny sees through his disguise and wallops him with an umbrella.

Sylvester's next ruse is to dress up as a bellboy ( as he finds out that Granny will be leaving the hotel) in order to collect the cage. Finally Sylvester manages to grab Tweety's cage. As soon as he runs outside and pulls away the drop cloth we find granny in the cage and she again clobbers him with her umbrella.

After two more failed attempts, Sylvester's last plan is to get to Tweety's window by balancing upon a series of tram wires. Suddenly a tram comes by and electrocutes sylvester. The driver of the tram? - Tweety and Granny. Both repeat the 'I tawt I taw a puddy tat'

Sylvester loses again - bah - oh yeah notice the advertisement on the wall about 'Friz Drinks' It was common to but Warner Bros cartoon unit staff names on billboards and adverts.

To sum up the cartoon, it's just your typical cat and bird scenario. Nothing new but nothing bad either. Functional.

Tortoise wins by a Hare 1943 ( Dir Bob Clampett)

This is the last cartoon on disc three. The next disc will consist of various Looney Tunes.Ten are directed by Friz Freleng and the remaining four by Bob McKimson.

One thing I liked about Bob Clampett was his depiction of Bugs Bunny. For Clampett Bugs is a lesser intelligent stooge who has a tendency of losing his battles. Although Tortoise wins by a hare is a sort of sequel to Tex Avery's 1941 cartoon 'Tortoise beats Hare' you could say that Clampett leaves his own original mark on the cartoon.

Tortoise beats... has a sort of prelude, It starts off with Cecil Tortoise ( a great character) racing against Bugs and winning, despite Bugs is obviously in the lead. We then find out that Bugs was watching a film of the race and that he desperately wants to know the tortoises' secret ( he states at one point that he's so sporty that he has athlete's foot!), so he hatches up a plan.

Bugs dresses up (badly) as an old man and goes to Cecil's house in order to get some dirt out and Cecil confesses (although he sees through his disguise) that his success lies in the streamlined shell, and he shows him the blueprints and he can't help insulting rabbits in the process while doing this.

Bugs gets excited, builds a turtle shell, wears a bathing cap and challenges Cecil to another race and there is a big fuss about it.

To add another dimension to the plot a Rabbit mob have been placing bets on Bugs and are ready to kill Cecil if he is in the lead.

On the big day, Bugs is all cocky and arrogant about his victory while Cecil is his usual laid back self. When they start running Bugs is in the lead and then slips on his tortoise costume and is way ahead.

Then the Rabbit mob spot him and mistake Bugs for Cecil and beat him up. Despite Bugs' protests they wont believe him. This is accentuated even more when we find out that Cecil is dressed as a rabbit and continues to run the race, is getting closer to the finishing line. Bugs finally manages to break free from the thugs and runs for his life and overtakes Cecil but the gangsters catch him again, while another group grab Cecil ( dressed as a rabbit) and run to the finishing line.

When Bugs pulls off his turtle costume the rabbit thugs look at each other and say in unison.

now he tells us!

The leader puts a gun to his head and commits suicide. The rest follow suite.

Typical Clampett. A twisted narrative - it blurs the idea of who is the tortoise and who is the hare, hugely entertaining and gripping as well. My only qualm is that it's not littered with so many double entendres as previous cartoons are ( although detail is as fine as usual - look at the crushed carrots in Bugs' mouth!). This is nit picking though. It's great fun from the first second.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bugs Bunny gets the Boid 1942 ( Bob Clampett)

After 12 Chuck Jones shorts, it is a bit refreshing to see a Bob Clampett cartoon, and one of his best ones too!

I love Beaky Buzzard, his idiotic giggling, his slower than a crippled tortoise voice, his politness. This whole cartoon just makes me laugh from beginning to end (and it's Beaky's first appearance). It is one of Clampett's higlights and it's far superior than the Clampett cartoon that was one the Bugs Bunny disc.

We begin with the mother buzzard telling her four children to get food for dinner and three rush off enthusiastically, however Beaky ( here nicknamed killer) refuses to get food ( this is done by Beaky repeating nope nope nope and rubbing his head against his mum's body) so his mother encourages him to get something small, Beaky still refuses so she literally kicks him into the sky.

when he realises that he has to fly, he goes into full Mortimer Snerd ( a famous ventriloquest puppet) mode and begins to sing a country hick song. On spying Bugs he tries to grab him in one fel swoop but he fails and crashes into the ground, due to Bugs giving him the wrong angles to land.

When the dust falls Bugs asks what Beaky's looking for and he takes a awhile to remember, when he does, Bugs tells him to wait so that he'll prepare himself. After Beaky realises that Bugs may be tricking, he reaches down Bugs' warren and a chase begins.

Beaky does manage to catch Bugs but drops him after being tickled with one of his own feathers. Bugs then lands on cattle skeleton and falls in the ground waist up. This gives the impression that Bugs has turned into a skeleton, with only his upper torso as the only living thing. This fools Bugs momentarily and he gets out of the ground and moves on.

Beaky manages to catch Bugs again but then Bugs turns it into some type of dance and twirls Beaky so hard that he lands in the skeleton. Beaky really thinks he's dead and begins to cry. Suddenly Mama buzzard comes along and demands to Bugs why her son his like this. When Bugs pulls Beaky out of the ground she pronounces him as the hero and Bugs begins to blush and giggle stupidly.

.... gets the Boid is Clampett through and through. Zany, cultural references, breakneck animation ( thanks to Clampett's partner in crime, top animator Rod Schribner) and laughs by the dozen. Like most cartoons, it's a chase but one that takes some bizarre detours.

In NO WAY can a summary do justice to this cartoon. I cannot mention every single detail and Clampett's cartoons are brimming with them. I urge you to try find this gem and watch it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Don't Give Up the Sheep 1953 ( Dir Chuck Jones)

I can't help liking the Ralph and Sam cartoons. Although it's the same old chase theme that Jones had perfected with previous cartoons, there is a lot of charm. The idea of two characters going to work as friends and yet during their jobs play the roles of enemies is quite intelligent.

The Sam and Ralph cartoons always have the same structure. Ralph is a wolf (not dissimilar to Wil E. Coyote and Sam is a sheepdog. They both punch in for work and seem to be the best of friends.

That is until the whistle that jumpstarts their day begins. They then start to fulfill their roles. The wolf tries to steal the sheep and Sam foils his plans, usually hurting Ralph in the process. Usually during their lunch break they are friendly again but when work resumes they return to their roles till the end of the day. Usually Ralph is a total mess and Sam is triumphant.

Don't give up the Sheep is the first cartoon out of the six that Jones directed ( there is a seventh that was written by Jones but tackled by a different director) and I would say that it's the best one (although 1960's Ready, Woolen and Able comes very very close)

The cartoon starts with Sam punching in for work ( Ralph appears as a colleague from 1954's Sheep Ahoy onwards) and beginning to watch the sheep. Ralph enters the scene and begins to steal Sam's protoge's Like the Wil E. Coyote films im going to list down the various ploys.

1. First Ralph messes with Sam's punch clock
2. Ralph hides under a bush and steals a sheep. Sam hides under a tree and whacks him until he replaces the sheep.
3. Ralph tries to play the pan flute in order to lull Sam. Ralph just gets punched in the face.
4. Ralph digs a whole underground and starts to steal sheep. He accidentally grabs Sam, gets punched and replaces the sheep.
5. Ralph tries to set a wildcat loose on Sam. The wildcat takes a detour and attacks Ralph instead.
6. Ralph swings from a tree in order to swipe a sheep. He gets Sam instead. Luckily Ralph escapes and goes on a tree branch and saws it off. He then finds Sam behind him sawing off the branch, Sam then finds ralph behind him sawing another portion of the branch. Ralph then finds Sam chopping the tree down. Ralph then uses a pickaxe to loosen the cliff edge where Sam is sitting but Ralph's portion of the cliff falls instead. Sam shrugs.
7. Ralph tries to steal sheep while underwater, using a reed as a breathing apparatus. Sam drops a stick of dynamite down the reed. The water bubbles and burbles. Ralph rises to the surface and sinks like a ship.

Sam punches out for the day while his replacement comes over. Sam takes a club and starts beating him. We actually find out it is the wolf in disguise. Sam starts to club the wolf on the behind while Sam's real replacement arrives.Sam hands him the club and he starts his day by beating Ralph on the behind.

It's 7 mins of pure visual gags but it's mesmirising. Like the rooadrunner cartoon we know that the wolf will lose but it's interesting to see how the plans will backfire. In the case of Ralph and Sam it's a three way relationship which gives the chase a bit more of a dimension ( although the sheep are passive) Either way the stalker is the true victim.

Feed the Kitty 1952 ( Dir Chuck Jones)

Ooooooooohhh this is a big fave of mine. I have watched this one dozens of times and it still hasn't lost it's magic. I actually first came across this one through a Looney Tunes sticker album that was published in 1989 and managed to watch it on the Bugs Bunny and Tweety show a year later. It struck me then and eighteen years later it still makes me drop everything.

Why does it work so well? First of all it's a simple story but what saves it from being a maudlin cartoon about love for another is the bulldog Marc Antony. Within 7 mins he pulls off about a dozen facial expressions and goes through a variety of feelings, with his jowls flapping and over dramatic feelings makes you laugh. What more is that Jones directed six more Marc Antony shorts and they are all fantastic. This is the first one.

We kick off with a shot of a can and two little eyes pop up. At first we are lulled into thinking that this may be some grotesque evil cartoon but then we find out when that's it's a harmless, adorable kitten. The camera pans and we are introduced to the second protagfonist. The hulking bulldog Marc Antony, who runs toward the kitten ( called pussyfoot) snarling and barking.

Pussyfoot doesn't show any fear and calmly climbs on Marc Antony and starts to knead his back. Peace his regained and the dog, instantly falls in love with the kitten.

Now that a friendship is established, Jones brings us to the second part of the plot. Marc Antony arrives to his house with Pussyfoot in tow, We find out that he has a bad habit of bringing junk from outside and leaving. So his owner warns him that he cant bring anything else in the house.

from then on the cartoon focuses on Marc Antony trying to hid Pussyfoot, and he does succeed but he ends up looking like a cretin and his owner begins to doubt his sanity.

the third development occurs when Marc Antony decides to hide the kitten in the flour, just when his owner decides to bake some cookies. She scoops up a cupful of flour and those cat eyes shine from the flour cup.

Obviously Marc Antony is terrified and he tries to save the kitten from this rather grisly fate, but ends up being thrown out of the house. Unbeknowst to him Pussyfoot manages to crawl out of the mixing bowl and hide himself. Marc Antony on the other hand watches his owner blend, roll out and bake the dough and he pulls off the finest double takes on this side of Tex Avery.

What is funny here is that Marc Anthony actually thinks the cute kitten is being ground up and us, the audience knows that the kitten left the mixture. The fact that his owner doesn't even know whats happening makes the situation even funnier. It's grotesque but in a restrained way. It also shows how Jones can make something dark seem funny.

After a while Marc Antony's owner feels sorry for punishing him so she gives him a cookie.. in the shape of a kitten. The dog is already red-eyed and bawling and this offering turns him into a snivelling mess. He places the biscuit on his back and bumps into the real pussyfoot. He is overjoyed and his owner lets him keep Pussyfoot. After telling him that he has to take care of the kitten Marc Antony is sort of regretting his decision but Pussyfoot puts him on the right track again by going onto his back and snuggling into Marc Antony's fur. The cartoon ends on a silent wispy note. It's very befitting for this type of story, so the viewer ends up content and satisfied.

In a sense 'Feed the Kitty' is a very serene cartoon. The lulling pinks and yellows of the background create a calm atmosphere and not to mention that the animation and music is superb. Marc anthony is a very versatile character feelings-wise and Jones subtly uses ( well compared to what Tex Avery or Bob Clampett would have done, it is quite tame) his features to convey this. I also like the way Jones captures the Kitten's actions perfectly. As a cat owner for many years I can vouchsafe that some will climb on your back and fall asleep on it.

The cartoon has also been referenced in both Gremlins and Monsters Inc, so it does have a place in popular culture as well and lets face. Such a heartstring puller as this deserves some recognition.

Baton Bunny 1959 ( Dir Chuck Jones)

What is it with cartoons and music? they blend so well together, it's almost scary. Well to be more precise Opera, Classical, country or modern instrumentals seem to work well. Funnily enough hip hop and rock don't mix that well with animation ( see the disastrous Space Jam or the equally dire Looney Tunes back in action).

Although Jones did not create as many music based cartoons as Freleng did, the ones he did manage to pull off are some of the most famous ones of all time. What's Opera Doc? (1957), One Froggy Evening (1955) and Long-Haired Hare (1949)

Baton Bunny, However, not a great music based cartoon. It works, It's functional but it does seriously lack the charisma of the previous ones I've mentioned.

The short begins with Bugs walking up to a podium, ready to conduct a symphony.That is, until there is a guy coughing in the aisles and he is quickly ejected ( the best part is that we don't see this, Jones is using sound for us to conjure an image in our minds). Bugs then, very noisily, puts on some glasses (which is the last non orchestral sound we'll hear throughout the whole picture) , selects and sharpens his baton and the whole orchestra kicks off.

Things are going quite smoothly, until a fly arrives and lands on Bugs' nose. This disrupts Bugs' flow of concentration and he whips the musicians into an orchestral frenzy but manages to get rid of it. After some gags involving his ever sliding shirt cuffs and small recreation of the American civil war, the fly returns and drives Bugs berserk and he ends up destroying the orchestra while pursuing the fly.

When he's finished, Bugs finds out that the whole theatre is empty, except for the sound of one person clapping. When he looks down he finds out that it is the fly. Bugs bows down anyways.

It's a sort of cutesy feel good ending. No one loses , no one is tortured. No one has to use wit. In this respect it's sort of functional. Personally i like it but I feel that so much more could have been done. Funnily enough it has the same feel as Jones' Tom and Jerry Cartoons, very solid but a bit slapdash on the whole.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Hypo-chondri-cat 1950 (Dir Chuck Jones)

I remember an English professor, telling me that the only thing that is considered taboo in literature and film is the subject of death, more so if the dead act like living people or if a film or book is narrated by someone who is deceased.

In that case I guess that would put The Hypo-chondri-cat in an interesting person cause it is about a cat who thinks he is dead but really isn't.

Out of Chuck Jones' characters I think that Hubie and Bertie are the most sinister and devious in character. They may look like two stupid mice but Hubie's brain is always thinking of new ways of causing some type of mental torture, while Bertie carries it out with glee.

I also think that Claude Cat is the most loserish creation in the Jones stable, even more so than Wile E. Coyote. He never wins, is always tortured and is constantly the victim of anything and everything. He will never be triumphant. Also Claude has never really had a definite features from day one, while his nemesis' ( Bertie and Hubie,Frisky Puppy and Marc Anthony) have always maintained the same type of form.

The short starts off with Bertie and Hubie spotting a piece of cheese in a house and immediately attacking it (well Bertie forgets to open the window and crashes into the glass) Suddenly Claude is on the horizon ( as a yellow cat with a white belly and eye patch) and begins chasing the mice.

so far so good.

but then he passes by the window that the mice opened in order to break into the house and he closes the window, begins to swallow handfuls of pills, check his temperature and get the shivers. Once he gets over it, he tries to chase the mice again, passes by the open window, which Hubie reopens and it's back to square one.
Hubie then thinks of a plan.

He goes and tells Claude that he is looking sickly. Being a hypochondriac, Claude believes him and begins to feel every symptom the mice chuck at him. That is until they tell him that an operation is the only cure. Claude agrees. Obviously when they conk him out, the mice do absolutely nothing.

When Claude regains consciousness he has two cardboard wings and a flour sack gown on him, he goes to the window and overhears the mice staging a chat on how the 'operation failed' and Claude died. The cat then freaks out and the mice tell him that he's dead and point to a grave.That is when he really believes them.

They then tell Claude that he has to go to cat heaven, at first the cat is hesitant cause he doesn't think can fly but he jumps off a cliff and we find out (unbeknowst to him) that there is a helium balloon tied to his waist. Claude waves goodbye and flies off into the dark skies. Hubie and Bert are smug.

On re-watching this cartoon at midnight, I couldn't help thinking that this short is rather sinister and creepy. Considering that it takes place at night adds to this atmosphere.Really it is a film about the afterlife, except in a semi-humorous manner. To evoke such feelings from a cartoon only cements Jones' talent as a cartoon director. Plus it is animated so slickly that every frame is memorable. An odd but nonetheless wonderful cartoon.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Frigid Hare 1949 ( Dir Chuck Jones)

Frigid Hare is the first pairing of Bugs Bunny and the helpless Penguin ( who turns up in one other cartoon - '8 Ball Bunny' 1950) As a cartoon it's sweet and moves along nicely and is entertaining but like most of Jones' late 40's Bugs Bunny's shorts, it lacks his signature punchiness.

Bugs is off to Miami and takes a wrong turning, landing in the South Pole, where he saves a penguin from a rather dim Inuit hunter. While he is ready to leave, the penguin desperately wants to join him but Bugs has to refuse. However he does give him a top hat and bow-tie as a small gift. After a moment's reconsideration Bugs decides to forsake some of his vacation in Miami and stay in the South Pole. The penguin is delighted.

As Bugs and the penguin are admiring the scenery, Bugs distracts the penguin and kicks him down a hill. ( and the animation of this piece is fantastic) and he slides into the Inuit's sack. Bugs is about to leave the penguin to his fate but then he feels guilty ( see Bugs is a good soul) and saves his new found friend by dressing as a female Eskimo and forcing him to give the penguin as a gift.
Upon discovering that the female Eskimo is Bugs the, The hunter starts to chase him ( it's another great minute of animation) until they reach an ice ledge. Due to their weight it cracks and both fall. Luckily the penguin sees this and throws a bucket of water, which manages to freeze up and stop the ledge from falling. The Eskimo does attempt to catch Bugs again but fails and lands on a whale heading north.

As Bugs is about to leave, the penguin persuades Bugs to stay by whispering in his ear that a 'day' lasts six months. Thrilled at the prospect of not returning to work for a few years, Bugs dresses up in a baggy tuxedo and the two walk away with Northern lights flashing in the background.

Like I said before, this cartoon works and is a pleasure to watch but it lacks a certain amount of wit, It does signal that Jones golden age is just around the corner.

For Scent-imental Reasons 1949 ( Dir Chuck Jones)

The Title Card

Since I start working again soon, I thought it would be best to squeeze another cartoon today before updates start to become erratic again. Yes I will try to keep the blog up four times a week but when you have a crammed schedule it is difficult.

Right. Personally I think that Pepe Le Pew is one of the most underrated Looney Tunes character. I mean the only cartoon that is constantly broadcast is usually 'For Scent-imental Reasons' and now and then you'll be lucky enough to watch Louvre come back to me. In the 80's there was one VHS collection with 14 of Jones Pepe shorts ( 1947's the Odor-able Kitty and the Arthur Davis directed Odor of the Day {1948} were left out) but it was incredibly difficult to find and I only managed to watch it twice. Hopefully the Golden Collection vol 6 will rectify this and Pepe La Pew will be given his due.

So why do I like Pepe Le Pew so much? I just love the fact that he is oblivious to the fact that he has two completely repulsive character traits. One is that he exudes stink fumes (in fact I always laugh when people melt or die cause of his odor) and the other is that he is very overbearing and will go through any length to achieve his conquest. I'm sure we have met people like this in real life and like the tabby Pepe tries to pursue, we want to escape.

For Scenti-mental Reasons is the fourth Pepe cartoon, but the one where Jones got the character fully formed and is the template for nearly all of Pepe Le Pew shorts. Jones won an academy award for this cartoon and I can see why. It is well animated, very good coloration schemes ( mostly pink, white and green dominates) and it is entertaining. Personally i think 1962's Louvre come back to me and 1961's Scent of the Matterhorn are slightly better but i'm nitpicking.

The cartoon begins with a pansy-ish Frenchman riding through Paris on his bicycle gleefully whistling a merry tune. He walks up to his perfumery and he sees Pepe Le Pew testing out his perfumes. How Pepe got into the shop is not our concern the important thing is that he is in there and, as usual, is unaware that the perfumes have no effect on his stench.

The Frenchman is horrified and quickly runs to a gendarme for help. On realising that he cannot battle against a skunk he flees. The Frenchman stumbles upon a black female cat (well called penelope but does not have a name in this cartoon) and chucks her inside the building. She slides across the floor and hits a white hair dye ( the label is perplexedly in English), which leaves a white stripe down her back. This makes Pepe turn his head and the chase begins.

Here Pepe's egoism shows no boundaries. The cat is trying best to escape him or get rid of his scent and Pepe is under the delusion that she preparing herself for a courting session. Finally she does the intelligent thing and locks herself up in a glass cupboard. Pepe lures her out by putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger. As the cat gets scared she opens the cupboard and finds out that he is still alive and the chase resumes. The cat is breaking the speed barrier and Pepe is bouncing with that effeminate hop that he debuted in the Odor-able Kitty. This shows that Pepe can be very cool and collected in such a situation.

The Glass Cupboard Scene

When the chase is over the cat decides to jump out of a window and Pepe thinks that she is committing suicide for his love. He runs to the sill and grabs her. Unfortunately she slips out of his hands and he decides to jump out of the window too. Pepe lands in a pot of blue paint ( labelled 'La Paint) and the cat falls into a barrel of filthy water. The paint blocks Pepe's scent and the water clogs up the cats nose, due to all the sniffing that she is doing.

As it happens the water renders the once beautiful cat into a stripe less scraggly creature and Pepe does not recognise her and is continuing the search for the skunk. It is at this point when the tables turn and the cat falls in love with Pepe. He still does not recognise that that was the cat he pursued earlier in the film and becomes frightened ( yet is still polite to her) when she locks up the perfumery and begins to chase Pepe. This time the skunk is racing along and the cat is hopping. Pepe's last lines are :

"You know, it is possible to be too attractive!"

and he zooms off.

There you have it. A twisted love story. Two deluded characters. A veritable soap opera in 7 minutes from one of the most interesting Looney Tunes characters.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Haredevil Hare 1948 (Dir Chuck Jones)

(Title Card)

Like most of the cartoons on this disc, Haredevil Hare is important as it's Marvin the Martian ( over here unamed)

So the cartoon starts off ( notice how Jones' early cartoons are straight to the point) with Bugs being lured into a rocket ship, with carrots naturally, for a space mission. As the rocket speeds up (featuring some excellent shots) and crashes, onto the moon.

As Bugs is exploring the new territory he bumps into Marvin the Martian, who is planning to blow up the Earth. after a couple of minutes this registers into Bugs' brain and it is up to him to prevent this from happening.

At first he steals the dynamite that Marvin is using to blow up the Earth but he quickly calls a martian dog to help him ( by the way Marvin's voice is not as nasal sounding as in later cartoons).

The dog actually manages to steal the dynamite stick ( or space modulator as it is called) but Bugs wins it back by the same argument process which was used in 1951's 'Rabbit Fire' - which consists of reversing the argument's subject.

How Bugs won the Modulator back

Finally Bugs gives the modulator back to Marvin, but attached to a detonator, which he pushes down and blows up half the moon in the process. When his Earth superiors finally manage to reach Bugs, he has one message for the Earth, which is


as Bugs is dangling from the moon with Marvin and the Dog gripping on to him, he is definitely justified in doing this.

To be honest I'm not a big fan of this cartoon. It's ill paced, gags are sporadic and it doesn't feel rounded out. I can see why Jones sort of redid it in 1958's Hare-way to the stars and copied the ending for 1953's Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century. It's not a bad cartoon but doesn't fulfil it's potential.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Awful Orphan 1949 ( Dir Chuck Jones)

One thing I noticed about The awful Orphan is it's similarity to Bob Calmpett's 1941 cartoon, 'Porky's Pooch'. Same story and sometimes the same movements. As jones was Clampett's animator for a spell i'm not surprised that he carried on where his unit supervisor left off.

Awful orphan stars Charlie, the annoying persistent dog who featured in the above mentioned Porky's Pooch and his first appearance under Jones' eye ( or pen?) 'Little Orphan Airedale (1947)' All Charlie shorts are the same. The dog wants to be adopted and stops at no means to be accepted by the owner he latches on to.

The cartoon kicks off with Charlie trying to convince a group of people that he is the IDEAL pet. Obviously he fails so he resorts to his usual guerrila tactics and smuggles himself into a canary cage that's being delivered to Porky. Once Porky finds out that he has recieved Charlie, he tries to make every effort to get rid of him by literally kicking him out of the door and sending him to Siberia but Charlie always finds his way back and is Porky's doorstep in a milisecond.

Finally after a fight ( set up by charlie) with a neighbour, Porky decides to keep the dog (even though now Charlie decides to change his mind) and forces him to wear human clothes. The picture ends with the dog dressed as a human and Porky near his feet like a dog. Every time Charlie moves Porky starts to snarl.

I have a soft spot for Charlie cartoons. The fact that he takes full advantage of a situation that he puts himself into is amazing. He's also a very deceitful and nasty character on the whole but gets away with it by looking cute or stupid. Even though I like this Charlie short, my personal favourite is 1950's Dog Gone South, which is genuinley funny (and maybe will be on the sixth volume of the Golden Collection series?)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Hare-Raising Hare 1946 ( Dir Chuck Jones)

Ok another Bugs Bunny cartoon, yet it marks the first appearance of the red monster known as Gossamer ( although in this picture he's called Rudolph, the name Gossamer was given to him at a much later date)

Unlike most Chuck Jones cartoons the plot is explained within the first 30 seconds. An evil scientist (who is a Peter Lorre look alike) wants to feed his hungry monster a rabbit so he lures Bugs Bunny into his castle using a mechanical female rabbit. Bugs falls for it and enters the scientist's lair , when he starts kissing the mechanical rabbit she explodes and Peter Lorre forces Bugs to meet Gossamer.

and a chase ensues

as Bugs is stalling the monster he asks the audience if there is a doctor in the house. When a person announces that he is a doctor Bugs pauses and and says 'what's up doc' and the chase continues.

after some gags, one good one involving Bugs charging into Gossamer, who is wearing knight armour (which causes The monster to crash into a wall and turn into a tin can.) the chase ends by Bugs making Gossamer feel paranoid about the cinema audience who are watching him.

having gotten rid of the monster, Bugs is ready to leave the castle. However the mechanical rabbit robot shows up again and Bugs ends up chasing her again.

The Bugs presented here is a far cry from the one we all know, but there are some traces of it showing up and in fact Jones gave us a better version in 1952's 'Water Water Every Hare' As a cartoon though it is good but not great.

Fast and Furry-ous 1949 ( Dir Chuck Jones)

Finally, the first non Bugs Bunny cartoon in this collection. The fast and Furry-ous is the first official Wile E Coyote and Roadrunner film. Although Wile E is a slightly fatter version than the one we know and the desert backgrounds are quite plain, the template of the series is established : A hungry coyote tries to chase his prey, who is faster and luckier than he is but nonetheless and fails constantly, either through his inability to outrun the roadrunner or to the fact that the gadgets that he orders do not work.

Loads of cartoons thrive on the idea of the chase, Sylvester and Tweety, Elmer and Bugs, Tom and Jerry ( Jones directed a few Tom and Jerry flicks as well), early Droopy. In a way you can also say that Donald is in constant pursual of his nephews (but it is stretching it a bit) but I think it was Chuck Jones who put it on an entire new level, not only with his Road Runner series, but with Pepe Le Pew , Bert and Hubie, Sam and Ralph and those awful Frisky Puppy shorts.

What fascinates me about the Road Runner films is that there is one single idea, yet many different ones as well. I personally want to know how each plan will fail and send the coyote to some impending doom. True it is annoying that the Road Runner will never be caught but then it would spoil the series.

Anyway the cartoon starts with Wile E looking at the Road Runner, smacking his lips and rushes off to chase him with a knife and fork.

And it all begins.

The Fast and Furry-ous gags actually start slowly and build up to a climax, something Jones ditched in later cartoons but works perfectly here. Plus the level of violence is not as bad as in later cartoons either. As it would be tedious to mention all the gags in one long paragraph I will list them down and follow the same process with every Road Runner cartoon from now on.

1. A steel plate which should stop the road Runner. RR brakes. Coyote begins chase. RR picks up steel plate and Coyote crashes into it.
2. Coyote uses a boomerang. After throwing it he gets hit by one thrown by Road Runner. A short pause and he gets hit by the one he threw earlier.
3. Coyote creates a school crossing. RR crashes into him with a sign stating that Road Runners can't read,
4. Coyote straps himself to a rocket. Upon lighting it he goes stright up and crashes into a cliff ledge.
5.Coyote plans to push boulder on roadrunner. Boulder falls in opposite direction, crushing coyote.
6.Coyote paints a road and draws a tunnel on a rack face, hoping that the RR crashes into it. RR runs through tunnel easily. Coyote tries to to the same. He gets hurt. RR runs out of tunnel hitting coyote.
7.Coyote plans to blow up RR from a distance. However the detonator blows up.
8.Coyote buys a Super Hero costume, thinking that when he jumps off a cliff he will fly. Coyote jumps off cliff. Does not fly.
9.Coyote buys a fridge and machine that spews snow. He also buys skies. This is so the snow produced by the fridge will make the ground slippery, thus increasing Coyote's speed. Just as he is about to catch RR , he brakes and coyote falls off a cliff.
10.Coyote buys jet propelled shoes, which work however they run out of fuel.
11.Coyote hides behind a billboard, ready to leap out at RR. When he hears the familiar meep meep he jumps out, only to find a bus, which runs him over. RR is in the back of the bus.

so there you go the first of the most elaborate chase films ever.