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Director: Don Patterson
Release Date: November 20, 1954
Stars: Woody Woodpecker
Rating:
Review:

Convict Concerto © Walter LantzIn ‘Convict Concerto’ Woody Woodpecker is a piano tuner, who’s ordered by a gangster to play the piano continuously, while he hides inside the piano.

Consequently, during the rest of the cartoon we hear Woody play the Hungarian Rhapsody by Franz Liszt. This is the only interesting aspect of this cartoon…

‘Convict Concerto’ was the last of fifteen cartoons Don Patterson directed for Walter Lantz during 1952-1954. None of his cartoons were interesting enough to become classics, with ‘Convict Concerto’ being particularly bad. So he is all but forgotten now. He was replaced by Tex Avery, who, in contrast, was already an animation classic at the time.

Watch ‘Convict Concerto’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Woody Woodpecker cartoon No. 57
To the previous Woody Woodpecker cartoon: Fine Feathered Frenzy
To the next Woody Woodpecker cartoon: Helter Shelter

‘Convict Concerto’ is available on the DVD-set ‘The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection Volume 2’

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: March 25, 1949
Stars: Woody Woodpecker, Buzz Buzzard
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Drooler's Delight © Walter LantzWoody wants to go and buy a ‘drooler’s delight’ (a large sorbet), but Buzz Buzzard steals his quarter.

The rest of the cartoon consists of Woody and Buzz fighting for it, with mildly amusing results.

‘Drooler’s Delight’ was to be Dick Lundy’s last cartoon at Walter Lantz. After a squabble with his distributor, Universal, and a short fling with United Artists, Walter Lantz was forced to close down his studio in 1948, and Lundy was left on the street. In May 1950 he replaced Tex Avery at MGM, who had left for a sabbatical. At MGM Lundy directed one Droopy cartoon and revived the Barney Bear series.

Lantz meanwhile was able to reopen his studio in 1950. But because he had to watch his budgets more than ever, the quality of the cartoons would rarely match that of his 1940s output.

Watch ‘Drooler’s Delight’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Woody Woodpecker cartoon No. 31
To the previous Woody Woodpecker cartoon: Wild and Woody
To the next Woody Woodpecker cartoon: Puny Express

‘Drooler’s Delight’ is available on the DVD-set ‘The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection’

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: August 27, 1948
Stars: Woody Woodpecker, Buzz Buzzard
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

Wet Blanket Policy © Walter LantzWet Blanket Policy’ uses exactly the same idea as Dick Lundy’s last Donald Duck short, ‘Flying Jalopy‘ (1943).

The cartoon even uses the same adversary in Buzz Buzzard, a swindler who makes Woody sign an insurance contract that will give Buzz a $10,000 when Woody dies (in the original Donald Duck cartoon the character was called Ben Buzzard).This leads to a fast and very murderous chase sequence full of nonsense.

Penned by Warner Bros. alumnus Ben Hardaway and Heck Allen, who had collaborated with Tex Avery at MGM, ‘Wet Blanket Policy’ is one of Woody’s wildest cartoons. Unfortunately, it’s also the first in which Woody’s proportions start to waver. At one point he’s particularly tiny. This unsteady sizing of Woody would become a particular problem of the cartoons of the 1950s. Buzz Buzzard, however, proved to be a strong adversary for Woody, and became Woody’s antagonist in many of the following Woody Woodpecker cartoons.

Watch ‘Wet Blanket Policy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Woody Woodpecker cartoon No. 29
To the previous Woody Woodpecker cartoon: Wacky-Bye Baby
To the next Woody Woodpecker cartoon: Wild and Woody

‘Wet Blanket Policy’ is available on the DVD-set ‘The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection’

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: June 9, 1947
Stars: Woody Woodpecker
Rating:  ★★★★
Review:

Coo-Coo Bird © Walter LantzWoody wants to get up early, at 5:00 Am, but he’s kept awake all night, especially by an annoying cuckoo clock.

‘Coo-Coo Bird’ is the second and the better of two Woody Woodpecker cartoons from 1947 about sleeplessness, the other one being ‘Smoked Hams’. In his struggle with inanimate things, Woody resembles Donald Duck a lot in this cartoon, not too surprising as Donald Duck was well-known to director Dick Lundy, who co-created that character. Thus, ‘Coo-Coo Bird’ is very reminiscent of the Donald Duck short ‘Early to Bed‘ (1941), and itself anticipates the Donald Duck cartoon ‘Drip Dippy Donald’ (1948) in which Donald is kept awake by a dripping tap.

Watch ‘Coo-Coo Bird’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Woody Woodpecker cartoon No. 22
To the previous Woody Woodpecker cartoon: Smoked Hams
To the next Woody Woodpecker cartoon: Well Oiled

‘Wet Blanket Policy’ is available on the DVD-set ‘The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection’

Director: Paul J. Smith
Release Date: October 22, 1956
Rating:  ★★★★½
Review:

Niagara Fools © Walter LantzIn this cartoon Woody Woodpecker wants to ride the Niagara falls in a barrel.

However, there’s a park ranger who tries to stop him, and it’s this ranger who repeatedly ends in a barrel on the falls.

It’s amazing to discover a gem like this between the badly designed, badly animated and badly timed Walter Lantz shorts of the late 1950s. Although this cartoon, too, features ugly animation, the story and the gags (penned by Disney-veterans Dick Kinney and Milt Schaffer) are very good. The result is by all means one of the best Woody Woodpeckers of the fifties.

Watch ‘Niagara Fools’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Woody Woodpecker cartoon No. 71
To the previous Woody Woodpecker cartoon: Calling All Cuckoos
To the next Woody Woodpecker cartoon: Arts and Flowers

‘Niagara Fools’ is available on the DVD-set ‘The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection Volume 2’

Director: Shamus Culhane
Release Date: October 4, 1944
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Barber of Seville © Walter LantzWoody Woodpecker enters a barbershop to get a ‘victory’ haircut.

When the barber appears to be gone away, Woody himself steps in, maltreating a large chief and giving an Italian construction worker ‘the works’, singing the complete aria ‘Largo el factotum’ from Gioachino Rossini’s opera ‘The Barber of Seville’.

‘Barber of Seville’ is probably inspired by the barber scene from Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’ (1940), which is set to a Hungarian dance by Brahms. The cartoon in its turn probably inspired Chuck Jones, who would use the opera’s overture in ‘Rabbit of Seville‘ (1950), with even better results.

‘Barber of Seville’ was the first Woody Woodpecker directed by Shamus Culhane. Culhane was an animation veteran, who had worked at Max Fleischer, Ub Iwerks, Van Beuren, Walt Disney and Warner Bros. Culhane obviously understood the character better than his predecessor Alex Lovy did: the gags in ‘Barber of Seville’ are faster and funnier, and the story is more consistent than in most of the earlier Woody Woodpecker cartoons.

Moreover, Woody Woodpecker looks better than ever before. Layout man and color stylist Art Heinemann redesigned the character to make him less grotesque, and more appealing. Unfortunately, Culhane would direct only ten Woody Woodpecker shorts, before he left the studio to set up one of his own to make animation films for television.

Watch ‘Barber of Seville’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Woody Woodpecker cartoon No. 10
To the previous Woody Woodpecker cartoon: Ration Bored
To the next Woody Woodpecker cartoon: The Beach Nut

‘Barber of Seville’ is available on the DVD-set ‘The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection’

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