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Director: Michael Lah
Release Date: July 4, 1958
Stars: Droopy, Butch (Spike)
Rating: ★★
Review:

Droopy Leprechaun © MGMIn his last screen appearance, Droopy is a tourist with a few hours in Dublin, Ireland where he buys a leprechaun hat.

Then street bum Butch (Spike) thinks Droopy is a real leprechaun, and follows him into (non-existing) Shillelagh Castle to catch him. There Droopy mistakes Spike for the mad duke of Shillelagh Castle. What follows are several appallingly uninspired blackout gags, involving medieval instruments like an iron maiden, a catapult, and a crossbow.

Droopy is completely out of character in this cartoon: he’s no more than a helpless victim of Spike’s fancy, never in control, and constantly fleeing for ‘the mad duke’. Spike, too, has little of himself: he speaks with an Irish accent and has none of the trickster character traits of earlier Droopy films. The result is certainly the least funny Droopy film ever made. As ‘Droopy Leprechaun’ was also the last of the Droopy cartoons, this is a particularly sad farewell to the once so hilarious character.

Watch ‘Droopy Leprechaun’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Droopy Leprechaun’ is available on the DVD-set ‘Tex Avery’s Droopy – The Complete Theatrical Collection’

Director: Michael Lah
Release Date: April 4, 1958
Stars: Droopy, Butch (Spike)
Rating: ★★
Review:

Mutts About Racing © MGMIn this Cinemascope cartoon ‘Daredevil Butch’ (Spike) and ‘Buzz Droopy’ race against each other in a car race.

As should be expected, Spike hardly plays fair, and the cartoon consists of several blackout gags in which Spike tries to stop Droopy from racing, including the classic paint-a-tunnel-on-a-wall gag.

The cartoon suffers from a bad sound design (especially Butch’s voice sounds like it was recorded in a toilet) and from an inconsistent story line, which does not build to a climax. Moreover, Lah’s timing is too relaxed for the race theme, and none of the gags really come off. All this unfortunately makes ‘Mutts About Racing’ one of the weakest of all Droopy films. Only the last one, ‘Droopy Leprechaun‘, would be worse…

Watch ‘Mutts About Racing’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Mutts About Racing’ is available on the DVD-set ‘Tex Avery’s Droopy – The Complete Theatrical Collection’

Director: Michael Lah
Release Date: February 7, 1958
Stars: Droopy, the Wolf
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Sheep Wrecked © MGMIn ‘Sheep Wrecked’ Droopy is a sheepherder, or more clearly, a sheep dog guarding his flock inside a fenced pasture against the laid-back Southern wolf character ( in his last screen appearance).

‘Sheep Wrecked’ arguably is the most inspired of Michael Lah’s six Droopy films. The animation is fine, and the gags plentiful. Among the wolf’s attempts are him dressing up like a stork and like Bo-Beep, a gag harking all the way back to the Silly Symphony ‘Three Little Wolves‘ (1936). Both Droopy and the wolf are in fine shape in this cartoon.

Unfortunately, the pace is rather slow, and the best features of this Cinemascope cartoon are Scott Bradley’s very inspired music and F. MonteAlegre’s beautiful backgrounds, with their minimal indications of settings on a bright orange canvas. Remarkably, this Homer Brightman-penned story involves a very slow guided missile, very similar to the one in the Woody Woodpecker cartoon ‘Misguided Missile‘. ‘Misguided Missile’ was penned by the very same writer, and only released eleven days earlier.

Watch ‘Sheep Wrecked’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Sheep Wrecked’ is available on the DVD-set ‘Tex Avery’s Droopy – The Complete Theatrical Collection’

Director: Michael Lah
Release Date: December 6, 1957
Stars: Droopy, Butch (Spike)
Rating: ★★★
Review:

One Droopy Knight © MGMIn this Cinemascope cartoon ‘sir Butchalot’ (Butch a.k.a. Spike) and ‘sir Droopalot’ (Droopy) combat a dragon over a beautiful princess.

Despite its medieval setting ‘One Droopy Knight’ feels like a remake of ‘Señor Droopy‘ from 1949, as it reuses no less than three gags from the earlier film, including the last one. Unlike the wolf in ‘Señor Droopy’, however, Spike is as unsuccessful as Droopy in combating the dragon, until the very end. The dragon appears quite invincible, indeed, as is demonstrated by Droopy’s feeble attempts to pinch it with his rubbery sword. He’s a well-conceived character on his own, and less a ferocious bully than the bull was in ‘Señor Droopy’. One has the genuine feel he rightly defends himself against those pesky, puny knights.

As in his other cartoons, Michael Lah’s timing is a little too relaxed to make the gags work right. Moreover, the short is hampered by a large amount of dialogue, and even Scott Bradley’s music sounds more canned than before. Several scenes are stolen by the beautiful, highly stylized backgrounds, laid out by Ed Benedict and painted by F. MonteAlegre, with their bright colors and elementary designs.

Watch ‘One Droopy Knight’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘One Droopy Knight’ is available on the DVD-set ‘Tex Avery’s Droopy – The Complete Theatrical Collection’

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: September 27, 1952
Stars: Droopy, The Wolf
Rating:
Review:

Caballero Droopy © MGMIn 1950 Tex Avery left MGM for a sabbatical, most probably due to overwork. Dick Lundy was hired to replace him, and the first cartoon he directed at MGM was ‘Caballero Droopy’.

This short’ is strangely reminiscent of the cartoons of Lundy’s former employer, Walter Lantz, with which it shares a lesser quality: both the designs and the animation are sub-par. It’s really as if this cartoon was made at Walter Lantz instead of at MGM.

For ‘Caballero Droopy’ Lundy revived the wolf, gave him a mustache and placed him into a Mexican setting, in which he tries to outdo Droopy in serenading the phlegmatic dog’s girl. The cartoon is full of Tex Averyanisms, but due to its low production quality it never takes off.

‘Caballero Droopy’ remained the only Droopy cartoon Lundy directed. He moved on to the ailing Barney Bear series, before he had to leave MGM on Tex Avery’s return in October 1951.

Watch ‘Caballero Droopy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/83899298/

Director: Tex Avery
Release Date: November 17, 1951
Stars: Droopy, Spike
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Droopy's Double Trouble © MGMDroopy is a butler in a mansion who invites his incredibly strong brother Drippy to join him at work.

The pair is told to let nobody into the house while the master’s away, but Droopy brings in his old pal, the tramp Spike. What follows is a series of confusion gags, in which Spike is pampered by Droopy and clobbered by Drippy.

The comedy is less inventive than in earlier Droopy shorts, and ‘Droopy’s Double Trouble’ is arguably Avery’s weakest Droopy cartoon. Spike is in no sense the funny, mean cheater he was in earlier cartoons, like ‘The Chump Champ’ (1950) and ‘Droopy’s Good Deed’ (1951). He speaks with a strange, Irish(?) accent and is only a meek and unfunny victim of the confusion gags.

Watch ‘Droopy’s Double Trouble’ yourself and tell me what you think:

https://archive.org/details/DroopysDoubleTrouble

Director: Tex Avery
Release Date: April 9, 1949
Stars: Droopy, the Wolf, Lina Romay
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Señor Droopy © MGM‘Señor Droopy’ is one of Tex Avery’s most classic cartoons and arguably the best bullfight cartoon of all time, another candidate being Chuck Jones’s ‘Bully for Bugs’ from 1953.

‘Señor Droopy’ is set in Mexico and features the wolf as an overconfident champion bullfighter and Droopy as his measly challenger. Both are in love with Mexican film star/singer Lina Romay, but it’s of course Droopy who wins her: the last scene shows live action footage of this forgotten film star petting our happy hero.

But it’s of course not the story that makes the short so memorable. It’s the gags, and they come in fast and plenty. The film is stuffed with Avery’s own weird logics and cosmic laws, which lead to many a hilarious situation. The best example of Avery’s unique logic may be the following gag: when the bull has vanished between two wooden doors, the wolf closes them together, then another time, but this time vertically, reducing their size by two. He continues doing so until the large doors have been reduced to a tiny cube. He then casually throws the cube behind him, which quickly unfolds to the size of the original doors, which open to reveal a stairway to a cellar, from which the bull rushes back into the arena. Seeing is believing.

‘Señor Droopy’ is not entirely flawless: the wolf’s transformation from über-confident to panic-stricken is not really convincing, and Avery reuses the road gag from ‘Wild and Woolfy‘ (1945), which makes less sense inside the arena. But who cares! The interplay between the wolf, the bull and Droopy is delightful throughout, and even a minor character like the Mexican announcer is animated with gusto.

Watch ‘Señor Droopy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.veoh.com/watch/v202445Gjy2WGzy?h1=Senor+Droopy+-+Droopy

Director: Tex Avery
Release Date: December 26, 1953
Stars: Droopy, The Wolf
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Three Little Pups © MGM‘The Three Little Pups’ starts as a pastiche of the Disney classic ‘Three Little Pigs‘ (1933) with dogs instead of pigs, and the wolf being a dogcatcher.

However it changes into a typical Avery-cartoon as soon as the wolf has failed to blow the smart little pup’s dog house down. He then goes completely berserk on trying to break the house down only to freeze and say into the camera in a remarkably laid-back Southern voice, provided by Daws Butler: “Well, that’s a well-built dog house, man”.

This is clearly a completely different wolf than we had seen before in Tex Avery’s cartoons. Instead of having wild takes, his reactions to his humiliations are absurdly stolid. All through the picture, he remains completely calm, and several times we can hear him whistling the civil war tune ‘Kingdom Coming’, accompanied by the barest minimum of percussion. This would become his signature song in his reappearances in the Tex Avery one-shot ‘Billy Boy’ (1954), and in two of Michael Lah’s Droopy cartoons: ‘Sheep Wrecked‘ (1958) and ‘Blackboard Jumble’ (1957), which reuses some animation from ‘The Three Little Pups’.

Incidentally, the wolf is not the first animated character to whistle this tune. Twenty years earlier, Pooch the Pup already whistled it in the Walter Lantz cartoon ‘King Klunk‘ (1933). Avery worked at Lantz at the time – is it possible he remembered the tune from this cartoon?

The phlegmatic Southern Wolf is by all means a hilarious character to watch, and he plays surprisingly well against the equally deadpan Droopy. Add lots of gags, Tex Avery’s superb timing and spot on music by Scott Bradley, and we have a fine cartoon of excellent comedy. ‘Meow, man!’

Note the anti-television gags in this short. Tex Avery would make more of those in ‘Drag-along Droopy’ (1954). During the 1950s television made things difficult indeed for theatrical cartoons. Less and less visits were paid to the cinemas, and so studios were forced to cut down their costs. This process ultimately led to the demise of the theatrical cartoon, and to the decline of American studio animation in general, which reached an all-time low in the 1970s, only to be revived again at the end of the 1980s.

Watch ‘The Three Little Pups’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘The Three Little Pups’ is available on the DVD-set ‘Tex Avery’s Droopy – The Complete Theatrical Collection’ and on the French DVD-box ‘Tex Avery’

Directors: Tex Avery
Release Date: August 3, 1946
Stars: Droopy, The Wolf
Rating:  ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Northwest Hounded Police © MGM

In ‘Northwest Hounded Police’ Avery revisited the material of ‘Dumb Hounded‘ (1943) to make a film that is faster, more concise, more extreme, more paranoid and funnier than the original.

The idea of Droopy being everywhere is quickly established, while the focus lies on the wolf’s double takes, which get more and more extreme during the film, including the famous jaw drop. The cool part is that Droopy (or ‘Sergeant McPoodle’ as he’s called here) only has to be there to scare the wits out of the wolf. He doesn’t do anything but being there.

In the wolf’s double takes Tex Avery explores the limits of cartoon exaggeration. These extreme takes make ‘Northwest Hounded Police the epitome of animated cartoon paranoia, displaying a world of fear that has not been seen on the animated screen since the Fleischer cartoon ‘Bimbo’s Initiation‘ (1931). If there should be only one classic Tex Avery cartoon, this must be it.

Watch ‘Northwest Hounded Police’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.veoh.com/watch/v202943sX3q26aT?h1=Northwest+Hounded+Police+-+Droopy

Directors: Tex Avery
Release Date: November 3, 1945
Stars: Droopy, Red, The Wolf
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Wild and Woolfy © MGMAfter the successful ‘The Shooting of Dan McGoo‘ Droopy from earlier that year, Red and the Wolf join forces again in ‘Wild and Woolfy’, a hilarious spoof on the classic western.

The cartoon has the simple plot of Droopy following the wolf, who has kidnapped Red after her performance of a nice country & western yodeling song. But Tex Avery once again packs the film with gags, including a wonderful and now classic empty road gag.

Film composer Scott Bradley reuses his twelve tone row he had introduced in the Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘Puttin’ on the Dog’ (1944) to accompany Droopy riding his little blue horse, with equally funny results.

Watch ‘Wild and Woolfy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Directors: Tex Avery
Release Date: April 14, 1945
Stars: Droopy, Red, The Wolf
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

The Shooting of Dan McGoo © MGMIn his second film Droopy enters the wolf’s world of sex, joining forces with the ever sexy Red as his lover Lou, while the wolf’s the villain entering the Alaskan saloon and Droopy is ‘dangerous Dan McGoo’ himself.

The cartoon is a hilarious re-telling of the poem ‘The Shooting of Dan McGrew’ by Robert Service. It is simply packed with self-conscious gags and puns. Red is absolutely stunning, when she sings a great army song, displaying her popularity with the armed forces. Her performance remains a tour of the force of animation, courtesy of animator Preston Blair.

‘The Shooting of Dan McGoo’ was Tex Avery’s second take on Service’s poem, the first being the Warner Brothers cartoon ‘Dangerous Dan McFoo‘  from 1939, which phlegmatic dog star anticipates Droopy.

Watch ‘The Shooting of Dan McGoo’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/83894809/

Directors: Tex Avery
Release Date: March 20, 1943
Stars: Droopy, The Wolf
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Dumb Hounded © MGM‘Dumb Hounded’ marks the debut of Droopy, the first of all cartoon heroes to be deliberately deadpan.

He is introduced as a very slow bloodhound used to catch the escaped convict, the wolf. He manages to do so by being everywhere the wolf flees to.

Droopy’s übercalm contrasts nicely with the wolf’s extreme double-takes. The best gag is when Droopy asks the wolf not to move, whereupon the wolf uses a multitude of vehicles to flee to a very remote log cabin, only to find Droopy there, exclaiming: “you moved, didn’t you?”. This sequence has a lightning fast montage, something that is lacking from the rest of the film, which suffers a little from an inconsistent story line. The result is a film that is not quite satisfying in the end.

Tex Avery may have felt the same, for he would remake ‘Dumb Hounded’ only three years later with ‘Northwest Hounded Police‘, which uses the same or similar gags to a much greater comic effect.

After Bugs Bunny, Droopy would be Tex Avery’s best effort in creating a cartoon star. The phlegmatic dog would last until 1958, starring 24 cartoons in total. The wolf would be his adversary until 1949, after which he was exchanged for the bulldog Spike. Nevertheless, the wolf would return in 1954, in two Western cartoons, ‘Drag-along Droopy’ and ‘Homesteader Droopy’. Unfortunately, Droopy’s popularity would never come near MGM’s superstars Tom and Jerry, let alone win Academy Awards, like the cat and mouse duo did.

Watch ‘Dumb Hounded’ yourself and tell me what you think:

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