Directors: Chuck Jones
Release date:
 April 14, 1967
Stars:
 Tom & Jerry
Rating:
  ★
Review:

Cannery Rodent © MGMChuck Jones returns to direct one final Tom & Jerry cartoon.
Based on a story of his own, ‘Cannery Rodent’, like ‘Much Ado About Mousing‘ (1964) and ‘Cat and Duplicat’ (1967) is set in a harbor. Tom’s adversary this time is a large, purple shark, which looks like it has been borrowed from a Hanna-Barbera television series.

Unfortunately, Jones doesn’t seem to be inspired and the film is not a success, but just another boring entry in Tom & Jerry’s last theatrical series.

Watch ‘Cannery Rodent’ yourself and tell me what you think: http://onlineplayer.eu/Tom-and-Jerry/cannery-rodent-156.html

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 157

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Rock ‘n’ Rodent
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Mouse from H.U.N.G.E.R.

Directors: Abe Levitow
Release date: April 7, 1967
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating:  ★★★★
Review:

Rock 'n' Rodent © MGMAfter directing seven terrible cartoons, Abe Lebitow suddenly strikes with ‘Rock ‘n Rodent’.

The story, by Bob Ogle, is inspired, if not anything new (it’s in fact the reverse of the classic Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘Saturday Evening Puss‘ from 1950): when Tom goes to sleep, Jerry rises to play drums with his hep-cat mice friends in the nightclub ‘Le Cellar Smoqué’.

This, of course, keeps Tom awake, and he desperately tries to get rid of the mice, only to succeed in bothering a large bulldog living in the same apartment block.

Unlike the other Tom & Jerry’s by Chuck Jones’s unit, this short has a lively jazzy score penned by a remarkably inspired Carl Brandt. In short, everything seems to come together for once in this cartoon, making this one of the best of the Chuck Jones Tom & Jerry’s.

Watch ‘Rock ‘n’ Rodent’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://onlineplayer.eu/Tom-and-Jerry/rock-n-rodent-155.html

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 156

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Guided Mouse-ille
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Cannery Rodent

Directors: Abe Levitow
Release date: March 10, 1967
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating:  ★
Review:

Guided Mouse-ille © MGMAfter ‘O-Solar-Meow‘ Tom and Jerry immediately return to the science fiction setting in ‘Guided Mouse-ille’.

The time is 2565 AD and again, Tom and Jerry fight each other with modern technology, including the robot cat from ‘O Solar Meow’. In the end, our heroes are inexplicably blown to the prehistory, where they continue their chase.

Written by story man John Dunn (as was O-Solar-Meow), ‘Guided Mouse-ille’ is a very bad and terribly unfunny cartoon. Luckily, Tom & Jerry’s next short would be much more fun…

Watch ‘Guided Mouse-ille’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 155

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: O-Solar-Meow
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Rock ‘n’ Rodent

Directors: Abe Levitow
Release date: February 24, 1967
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating:  ★★
Review:

O-Solar-Meow © MGMIn a cartoon that looks forward to ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ (released the following year), Tom and Jerry inhabit a roulette-like space station.

Here they fight each other using modern technology, including a robot cat. In the end, Tom manages to shoot Jerry to the moon, but luckily for Jerry, it turns out to be made out of cheese.

This cartoon contains nice settings and some original ideas, but none of them are executed well, resulting in yet another mediocre Tom and Jerry cartoon produced by Chuck Jones. Tom & Jerry’s next cartoon, ‘Guided Mouse-ille‘, also has a science fiction setting. Interestingly, both these shorts were penned by story man John Dunn.

Watch ‘O-Solar-Meow’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://onlineplayer.eu/Tom-and-Jerry/cat-and-dupli-cat-152.html

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 154

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Cat and Dupli-cat
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Guided Mouse-ille

Directors: Chuck Jones
Release date: January 20, 1967
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating:  ★
Review:

Cat and Dupli-cat © MGMThe harbor was a popular setting in Chuck Jones’s Tom & Jerry series. Like the earlier ‘Much Ado About Mousing‘ (1964) and the later ‘Cannery Rodent‘ (1967), ‘Cat and Duplicat’ is set in a harbor.

Here Tom fights a rather dog-like cat over Jerry. The timing of this cartoon is remarkably slow and terrible, especially in an all too elaborate mirror routine. Eugene Poddany’s awfully sounding music wears down the action, like always.

Watch ‘Cat and Dupli-cat’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://onlineplayer.eu/Tom-and-Jerry/cat-and-dupli-cat-152.html

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 154

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Catty Cornered
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: O-Solar-Meow

Directors: Bill Meléndez
Release date: December 4, 1969
Stars: Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and Linus van Pelt, Schroeder, e.o.
Rating:  ★★★★★
Review:

A Boy Named Charlie Brown © Lee Mendelson FilmsMade after six television specials, ‘A Boy Named Charlie Brown’ is Meléndez’ first feature film about the Peanuts gang.

It is a film with a slow, but steady pace: unhurried, yet not too slow. Being totally relaxed, the film takes a long time to introduce the characters, citing a lot of Peanut comic strip gags, and showing Charlie Brown’s troubles in flying kites and playing baseball. Only after 30 minutes the head story kicks in, when Charlie Brown enters a spelling bee.

The laid-back feel of the film is further enhanced by two surprising musical numbers: Snoopy’s playing of the American National Anthem and Schroeder’s playing of the complete second movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata pathétique, which is arguably the film’s highlight. Snoopy receives a fair deal of screen-time, and two of his fantasies are shown: him as a pilot in World War I and as a skater in Holland and in an ice-hockey game. Nevertheless, the story remains with Charlie Brown and his doomed attempt to gain respect. His frustrations and failure are funny, but remain genuine and heartfelt. This focus make the film a well-made tribute to Charles M. Schulz’s strip of the early 1960’s, when Charlie Brown’s frustrations were the strip’s main focal point.

Overall, the designs are gorgeous, especially in the musical interludes, which feature bold, colorfull images. The jazzy score, too, is a delight, and enhances the film’s unique atmosphere. In all, ‘A Boy Named Charlie Brown’ is a great film which has a typical 1960’s feel without ever getting cheap.

Watch ‘A Boy Named Charlie Brown’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Directors: Ward Kimball
Airing date: December 28, 1955
Stars: Walt Disney, Ward Kimball, Wernher von Braun
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Man and the Moon © Walt DisneyAfter ‘Man in Space‘ (1955), ‘Man and the Moon’ is the second of three Disneyland broadcasts documenting man’s plans to conquest space.

‘Man of the Moon’ deals with the conquest of the moon, and consists of four parts. The first, largely animated, tells about man’s fascination for the moon. This sequence is a highlight of ‘cartoon modern’ style, and is full of director Ward Kimball’s trademark zany humor. It’s also the highlight of the documentary, despite the studio’s efforts to evoke the first mission to the moon in the fourth part.

The second features Ward Kimball in real person, telling us facts about the moon. The third part is hosted by German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, who tells about a possible mission to the moon. Surprisingly, Von Braun does not try to land on the moon, but merely wants to fly around it.

His plans are shown in the fourth part as an “on the spot account of the first expedition to the moon”. Unfortunately, this is not as exciting a finale it possibly was in 1955, even though weightlessness is shown quite convincingly using special effects.

In 1957 Disney even showed more ambitious space plans, in ‘Mars and Beyond’.

Watch ‘Man and the Moon’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Directors: William Beaudine & Wilfred Jackson
Airing date: November 30, 1955
Stars: Walt Disney, Gertie the Dinosaur, Colonel Heeza Liar, Silas Bumpkin, Bobby Bumps, Felix the Cat, Koko the Clown
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

The Story of Animated Drawing © Walt DisneyWalt Disney himself hosts a Disneyland television episode on the history of animation, from the humble attempts to capture movement in drawing in the caves of Lascaux to his own masterpiece ‘Fantasia’ (1940).

Disney demonstrates some early devices of animation like the thaumatrope, the phenakistoscope, the zoetrope and the praxinoscope, showing that animation in fact predates cinema. One of the highlights of the program is the complete showing of one of Charles-Émile Reynaud’s animated “films” for his own praxinoscope device. The other one is the reenactment of Winsor McCay’s vaudeville show with Gertie the Dinosaur (1914). This part alone makes the episode worthwhile watching, as McCay’s classic work becomes even stronger in its vaudeville context.

More animation from other early studios is shown, like Bray’s Colonel Heeza Liar, Raoul Barré’s Silas Bumpkin, Earl Hurd’s Bobby Bumps and Pat Sullivan’s Felix the Cat.

Disney also plays tribute to his old rival, Max Fleischer, by showing a Koko the Clown cartoon, accompanied by organ playing by his own cartoon composer, Oliver Wallace. The show ends with one of Walt Disney’s major achievements, the Nutcracker Suite from’Fantasia'(1940), which, unfortunately, is shown in black and white.

Watch ‘The Story of Animated Drawing’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Friz Freleng
Release date: October 13, 1956
Stars: Sylvester, Elmer Fudd
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Yankee Dood It © Warner Brothers‘Yankee Dood It’ was the last of three propaganda cartoons Friz Freleng directed for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, following the earlier ‘By Word of Mouse‘ (1954) and ‘Heir-Conditioned‘ (1955).

This cartoon is an original take on the famous fable of the shoemaker and the elves. Elve company W is missing, and elven king (Elmer Fudd but smaller and wih pointed ears) is wondering where they are. They turn out to be still helping the old shoemaker.

In order to get the elves back, a little elf and the king tell the old shoemaker how companies work, thus telling the short’s propagandistic message. Unfortunately, the shoemaker’s exclamations of ‘Dear Jehosapath’ turn the elves into mice, much to delight of the cat Sylvester (who appears in all three of these shorts).

‘Yankee Dood It’ is a nice, if rather slow propaganda short that only sees advantages of the capitalistic system: lower prices and higher wages. Possible drawbacks like poverty, monopolization, unemployment and pollution are, of course, wisely left out.

Watch ‘Yankee Dood It’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Friz Freleng
Release date: November 26, 1955
Stars: Sylvester, Elmer Fudd, Tweety (cameo)
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Heir-Conditioned © Warner Brothers‘Heir-Conditioned’ was the second of three propaganda cartoons funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (the other two being ‘By Word of Mouse‘ from the previous year, and ‘Yankee Dood It‘ from the next year).

In this cartoon Sylvester has inherited a fortune, and all the alley cats try to persuade him to spend it. But Elmer, who’s Sylvester’s financial adviser, persuades Sylvester, and all the listening cats, to invest the money, in a lecture celebrating the capitalistic system, now focusing on the importance of investment. Sylvester remains pretty much the straight man in this cartoon, with most of the comic relief coming from the alley cats.

Watch ‘Heir-Conditioned’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Friz Freleng
Release date: October 2, 1954
Stars: Sylvester
Rating: ★★★
Review:

By Word of Mouse © Warner BrothersIn the mid-fifties Friz Freleng directed three propaganda shorts celebrating the American capitalistic system. They were funded by the right wing Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and curiously, they all feature Sylvester the cat.

‘By Word of Mouse’ is the first of the three. In this cartoon we’re taken to the rather backward German town of “Knöckwurst-on-der-Rye”. Here mouse Hans tells his siblings about his trip to America. Cut to his memories: we watch him meeting his cousin Willie at the harbor. Willie takes the astounded Hans to a trip, showing the riches of the Americans. Because Hans doesn’t understand how this can be, Willie takes him to a university mouse, who lectures the two about mass production and mass consumption.

Comic relief is provided by Sylvester, who chases the three mice, interrupting the lectures. But he cannot hide the fact that, although being an ordinary Looney Tune, ‘By Word of Mouse’ is pretty informative, if rather propagandistic by single-mindedly glorifying the wonders of capitalism.

‘By Word of Mouse’ was followed by ‘Heir-Conditioned‘ (1955) and ‘Yankee Dood It‘ (1956), covering similar grounds.

Watch ‘By Word of Mouse’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Chuck Jones
Release date: February 25, 1956
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Witch Hazel
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Broom-stick Bunny © Warner Brothers‘Broomstick Bunny’ was the second of three Bugs Bunny cartoons, featuring Witch Hazel, the others being ‘Bewitched Bunny’ (1954) and ‘A Witch’s Tangled Hare’ (1959).

‘Broomstick Bunny’ is a halloween cartoon, in which Bugs Bunny, wearing a witch mask, tries to get trick or treat from Witch Hazel.

Unfortunately, she sees in him a competitor in ugliness. In the end, she drinks her own beautifying potion, turning into a beautiful redhead girl, soon being chased by the genie from her magic mirror. Hazel’s girl image was allegedly modeled after her voice actress, June Foray.

Jones’s animation style becomes close to a mannerism here, with an practically obligatory way to depict Witch Hazel speeding away, leaving numerous hairpins in the air. The cartoon is saved by Ernie Nordli’s extreme layouts and Philip DeGuard’s more than fabulous backgrounds, which belong to the most beautiful of the cartoon modern age.

Watch ‘Broom-stick Bunny’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.ulozto.net/live/x5US9Dz/bugs-bunny-broom-stick-bunny-1956-avi

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 120
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Bugs’ Bonnets
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Rabbitson Crusoe

Director: Bill Justice
Release date: July 18, 1956
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Jack and Old Mac © Walt DisneyDirector Bill Justice had co-directed two educational shorts in 1943: ‘The Grain That Built a Hemisphere‘ and ‘The Winged Scourge‘, but ‘Jack and Old Mac’ marks his solo direction debut.

Taking the cartoon modern-style to the max, ‘Jack and Old Mac’ brings jazzy versions of two familiar addition songs: ‘The House That Jack Built’ and ‘Old MacDonald Had A Farm’.

This simple and unpretentious idea leads to one of Disney’s most daring cartoons. The first song only uses characters made out of words and throughout the picture startlingly modern backgrounds are used, which constantly change and which are totally abstract, giving no sense of space whatsoever. The animation, too, is mostly very limited, although some animation is reused from the ‘All the Cats Join In’-sequence from ‘Make Mine Music’ (1946).

George Bruns’s score is strikingly modern for a Disney cartoon, using genuine bebop jazz. In comparison, Louis Prima’s dixieland jazz in ‘Jungle Book’ from eleven years later is much more old-fashioned.

In all, ‘Jack and Old Mac’ is a neglected little masterpiece, and Disney’s modest, but most daring contribution to the cartoon avant-garde.

Justice would direct four more specials: ‘A Cowboy Needs a Horse’ (1956), ‘The Truth about Mother Goose’ (1957), ‘Noah’s Ark’ (1959) and ‘A Symposium on Popular Songs’ (1962), all strikingly modern in design.

Watch ‘Jack and Old Mac’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Hannah
Release date: October 27, 1956
Stars: Humphrey Bear
Rating: ★★
Review:

Hooked Bear © Walt DisneyIn 1956 Jack Hannah directed two Cinemascope cartoons starring Humphrey the bear and the park ranger, without Donald Duck.

‘Hooked Bear’ is the first one. In this short the park is visited by fishermen. Humphrey, of course, wants to join in, trying to catch some fish, but he is entirely unsuccessful.

Even though Humphrey is a well developed and likable character, ‘Hooked Bear’ does not rank among Hannah’s most inspired cartoons. The short marks only Humphrey’s fifth appearance, but some routine already has sneaked in, and none of the gags ever seem to pay off satisfactorily.

Watch ‘Hooked Bear’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Kinney
Release date: October 15, 1954
Rating: ★★
Review:

Social Lion © Walt DisneyIn this narrated short a lion deliberately gets himself caught to scare the people in New York. Unfortunately, he’s all but unnoticed there.

‘Social Lion’ was the last of three ‘special cartoons’ Jack Kinney directed in 1954, after his own Goofy series had stopped. It is, unfortunately, not a very successful cartoon. Its narration is trite, its timing poor and its animation, by veteran Norm Ferguson, heterogeneous: the full animation of the lion is awkwardly out of contact with the highly stylized animation of the humans.

The cartoon reuses the weird safari song from Kinney’s earlier, way more successful short ‘African Diary’ (1945).

Watch ‘Social Lion’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Kinney
Release date: May 21, 1954
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Pigs Is Pigs © Walt DisneyAfter his own Goofy series had stopped in 1953, Jack Kinney directed six other shorts at the Walt Disney Studio.

‘Pigs is Pigs’ is probably the best of the lot. It’s a story in rhyme and song about a railway station employee who does everything by the rules. At one day he has a dispute with a Scotchman about whether guinea pigs are pigs or not. The guinea pigs remain at the station until the bureaucrats of his company have found out the answer. Unfortunately, the animals multiply by the hour, soon filling the complete station.

The designs and animation of this short are highly stylized, making ‘Pigs is Pigs’ a prime example of ‘cartoon modern’, despite its 1905 setting. The scenes at the railway company are the best, ruthlessly parodying the aimless ways of bureaucracy.

Watch ‘Pigs is Pigs’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Tex Avery
Release date: June 6, 1955
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Sh-h-h-h-h-h © Walter LantzIn ‘Sh-h-h-h-h-h’ small, mustached Mr. Twiddle suffers from “trombonosis”.

He tries to calm down his nerves in an extraordinarily quiet hotel in the Swiss alps. But then some noisy neighbors drop in, who play the trombone and laugh all the time. In the end, they turn out to be Mr. Twiddle’s own doctor and nurse.

‘Sh-h-h-h-h-h’ was the last of only four cartoons Tex Avery directed at Walter Lantz. It is also the last theatrical cartoon he ever made. Unfortunately, it is not a great goodbye. Although excellently timed, ‘Sh-h-h-h-h-h’ is only a mildly amusing cartoon, which reuses many of Avery’s gag routines. It has some fatigued and sad feeling to it, as if Avery himself was tired of his own routines.

Having served his contract at Lantz, Avery left the studio on August 20th, 1954, only six months after he had started there. Avery founded his own company, Cascade Studios, with which he made several animated commercials for television. He kept this studio running until the late 1970’s. After that he joined Hanna-Barbera, working on a few Saturday morning series until his death in August 1980.

After Avery had left Lantz, Alex Lovy took over his unit. Although the studio rarely hit Avery’s heights, Avery’s influence on the Lantz studio was strong, and kept being visible throughout the 1950’s, leading to several inspired cartoons.

Watch ‘Sh-h-h-h-h-h’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Tex Avery
Release date: April 11, 1955
Stars: Chilly Willy
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

The Legend of Rockabye Point © Walter LantzIn ‘The Legend of Rockabye Point’ a polar bear tries to steal blue finned tuna from a ship which is guarded by a vicious bulldog.

However, he’s hindered by Chilly Willy, who does anything to awaken the bulldog. The polar bear repeatedly tries to save his skin by singing the bulldog back to sleep. In the end, it has become a habit, and we watch the old-aged polar bear singing his old friend to sleep in his arms.

Penned by Michael Maltese, this cartoon shares some ideas with ‘Deputy Droopy’ (which was made earlier, but only released six months later), but the result is fresh and original. ‘The Legend of Rockabye Point’ was the third of four cartoons Tex Avery made at Walter Lantz’s studio, and without doubt it is the best of the lot. Avery’s timing is, as always, excellent, and the gags come fast and funny. In fact, the cartoon is one of Tex Avery’s all time best, and it stands as Avery’s last masterpiece.

Watch ‘The Legend of Rockabye Point’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Tex Avery
Release date: February 14, 1955
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Crazy Mixed-up Pup © Walter Lantz‘Crazy Mixed-up Pup’ was the second of four cartoon Tex Avery directed at the Walter Lantz studio. Unfortunately, it is not one of his best.

When a man and his dog are overrun by a car, mixed-up blood plasma results in mixing their behavior: the man starts to act dog-like, while the dog wins some human character traits. This is not a very exciting idea to start with, and Avery milks this premise to a nice finale, without ever getting really funny. Luckily, he would do much, much better with his next cartoon at Lantz, ‘The Legend of Rockabye Point‘ (1955).

The married couple, ‘Maggie and Sam’, were reused in three more cartoons in 1956-1957.

Watch ‘Crazy Mixed-up Pup’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Tex Avery
Release date: December 20, 1954
Stars: Chilly Willy
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

I'm Cold © Walter LantzIn 1954 Tex Avery left MGM to return to his first employer in the animation field, Walter Lantz, at whose studio he had been an animator in the early 1930’s.

I’m Cold’ was the first of a mere four cartoons Tex Avery made at Walter Lantz’s studio. In this cartoon he sets his teeth on a character introduced in 1953 called Chilly Willy, a little cute penguin.

Like Pablo the cold-blooded penguin from ‘Three Caballeros‘ (1944), Chilly Willy finds it too cold in Antarctica. Avery, however, uses this premise with much funnier results. In an attempt to get warm, Chilly Willy sneaks into a fur coat store, guarded by a phlegmatic dog who shares a voice with the laid-back wolf from Tex Avery’s ‘Three Little Pups‘ from 1953. This phlegmatic dog was reused in at least four more Chilly Willy cartoons.

Avery is in excellent form here, delivering a perfectly timed cartoon. ‘I’m Cold’ demonstrates how genius can overcome small budgets and limited (animation) talent. Even Clarence Wheeler’s music sounds more inspired and certainly funnier than normal. Of course, the product was much cruder than Avery’s films at MGM had been, but at the same time it was much better than any earlier Lantz film from the 1950’s. And, Avery’s second film featuring Chilly Willy, ‘The Legend of Rockabye Point‘ (1955) would even be better…

Watch ‘I’m Cold’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://vk.com/video-43215063_168836586?list=f028c7165feec020ba

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