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Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: November 19, 1949
Stars: Sylvester, Hippety Hopper
Rating: ★★
Review:

Hippety Hopper © Warner Bros‘Hippety Hopper’ introduces the kangaroo of the same name, and its only function during its entire career: being mistaken for a mouse.

The cartoon starts gloomily enough, with a misty harbor scene, where a mouse is trying to commit suicide. He’s rescued by Hippety Hopper, however, and together they face the mouse’s terror: Sylvester the cat. The mouse makes Sylvester think he can grow tall, and lets Hippety Hopper beat him out of the house. The best comedy comes from a bulldog who keeps pushing Sylvester back inside.

Hippety Hopper himself is a silent character with a friendly smile and absolutely no personality. He’s easily the least funny recurring star in the Warner Brothers cartoon catalog before the 1960s. Even in this first cartoon his appearance is tiresome. Nevertheless, he would star in twelve other cartoons, lasting even till 1964. The mouse, on the other hand, would disappear after this cartoon. No wonder: he’s designed and animated rather uglily.

Watch ‘Hippety Hopper’ yourself and tell me what you think:

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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:

http://www.b99.tv/video/yankee-dood/

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: August 8, 1955
Stars: Porky Pig, Sylvester
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Jumpin' Jupiter © Warner Brothers‘Jumpin’ Jupiter’ was the last of three cartoons in which director Chuck Jones employed Porky Pig, and Sylvester as his frightened cat.

This time they’re camping out when they’re visited by a bird-like alien. The alien takes their complete camping site to outer space. As in the former cartoons, Porky remains completely unaware of what’s happening, while Sylvester sees it all, much to his horror. In the end we see them drive off into the horizon on a strange, strange planet.

‘Jumpin’ Jupiter’ is a beautiful and well animated cartoon, and arguably the most enjoyable of the Porky-Sylvester pairings. The action is helped by Carl Stalling’s particularly inspired music, which matches the science fiction setting perfectly.

Watch ‘Jumpin’ Jupiter’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Porky Pig cartoon no. 145
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: My Little Duckaroo
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: Dime to Retire

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: August 7, 1954
Stars: Tweety & Sylvester
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Satan's Waitin' © Warner BrothersDuring a chase Sylvester falls down and ceases to be.

He goes straight to hell, where a bulldog-like devil tells him he can return to earth because he has still eight lives left. Unfortunately, back on earth Sylvester loses his lives fast, especially during a chase at a carnival.

‘Satan’s Waitin’ shows some similarities to the Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘Heavenly Puss‘ (1949), including bulldog devils and a heavenly escalator. Nevertheless, it’s one of the most original and most inspired of the Tweety and Sylvester cartoons, on par with the celebrated ‘Birds Anonymous’ from 1957.

Watch ‘Satan’s Waitin’’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: July 12, 1947
Stars: Foghorn Leghorn, Henery Hawk, Sylvester
Rating:  ★★★½
Review:

Crowing Pains © Warner Brothers‘Crowing Pains’ is Foghorn Leghorn’s second cartoon, and it immediately starts where the first (‘Walky Talky Hawky‘, from the previous year) left off: Henery Hawk wants to catch a chicken, and Foghorn Leghorn tricks him by pointing out somebody else as a chicken. This time it’s Sylvester, in an early appearance.

The cartoon is full of Warren Foster-penned nonsense, but the interplay between the four characters (the barnyard dog is also involved) doesn’t develop very well, and seems an early forerunner of the odd pairings of characters of some Warner Brothers cartoons from the 1960s. Unlike those, however, ‘Crowing Pains’ remains an enjoyable cartoon, albeit not among McKimson’s most inspired shorts.

Watch ‘Crowing Pains’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: December 2, 1961
Stars: Tweety & Sylvester
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

The Last Hungry Cat © Warner Bros.‘The Last Hungry Cat’ must be one of the best entries in the Tweety and Sylvester series.

The short is a parody of the television show ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’, which aired from 1955 to 1965. Luckily, you don’t have to be familiar with this program (I’m not) to enjoy this cartoon.

Introduced by an Alfred Hitchcock-like shadow of a pig, the short tells the story of Sylvester, who for once thinks he has actually eaten Tweety and who is then eaten by guilt.

The cartoon makes use of a conscience-like voice-over and very beautifully colored and a surprisingly large amount of well-staged angular backgrounds (staged by Hawley Pratt, who gets co-directing credits, and painted in beautiful blues and yellows by Tom O’Loughlin). The images succeed in evoking an atmosphere that reflects Sylvester’s inner feelings. Especially the staging of Sylvester’s sleeplessness is very well done: still images of Sylvester lying awake are inter-cut with close-ups of his alarm clock, in rapid succession, zooming in all the time. These scenes are accompanied by Milt Franklyn’s ominous music and insistent ticking of the clock, only.

It’s a surprise such a well-made, beautiful and compelling cartoon could be made as late a 1961. The short is a worthy addition to the very small guilt cartoon canon, which also includes ‘Nursery Scandal‘ from 1933, ‘Pudgy Picks a Fight‘ from and ‘Donalds’ Crime’ from 1945.

Watch ‘The Last Hungry Cat’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date:
 September 22, 1951
Stars:
 Tweety & Sylvester, Granny
Rating:
 ★★★
Review:

Tweety's S.O.S. © Warner BrothersSylvester is down in the dumps and hungry, foraging a harbor, when he discovers Tweety on a ship.

He climbs aboard, and what follows are several gags involving glasses and sea sickness. The best gag is when Sylvester paints Tweety on Granny’s glasses. Most of the other gags, however, are mediocre, and feel routinized. For example, Tweety reuses a sea sickness gag from Tex Avery’s ‘The Screwball Squirrel’ (1944), but much less well executed.

Watch ‘Tweety’s S.O.S.’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Tweety’s S.O.S.’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date:
 February 24, 1951
Stars:
 Tweety & Sylvester
Rating:
 ★★★★
Review:

Putty Tat Trouble © Warner BrothersIt’s winter and Tweety is troubled by two cats (Sylvester and a red cat with a bad eye), who fight over him. Most of the comedy derives from the feud between the two, and only in the end Tweety himself comes into action, making the two cats fall into an icy pond.

With ‘Putty Tat Trouble’ Freleng returns to Tweety’s first solo films, Bob Clampett’s ‘A Tale of Two Kitties’ (1942) and ‘A Gruesome Twosome‘ (1945), in which also two cats fought for the little bird. Freleng’s humor is different from Bob Clampett’s, but once again, the feud works very well. Apart from Tweety’s talking, all the comedy is silent and brilliantly executed, too. This makes ‘Putty Tat Trouble’ one of the better Tweety and Sylvester cartoons.

In one scene we can see a Friz Freleng portrait in the background.

Watch ‘Putty Tat Trouble’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Putty Tat Trouble’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date:
 February 3, 1951
Stars:
 Sylvester
Rating:
 ★★★★★
Review:

Canned Feud © Warner BrothersIn this cartoon Sylvester is the cat of a couple, who go on a holiday to California for two weeks, leaving Sylvester behind and locked indoors.

Sylvester runs into agony when he discovers this, until he finds a kitchen-cupboard full of tins of fish. Unfortunately, a mouse has the can opener. This leads to perfectly timed blackout gags, in which Sylvester makes several attempts to get the can opener. When he finally succeeds, he discovers that the particular cupboard is locked, while the mouse has the key.

Due to its cat-and-mouse-routine ‘Canned Feud’ has similarities to the Tom & Jerry cartoons, although it has a distinct Friz Freleng style. Unlike Jerry, the mouse is completely blank, and its motives remain unclear, but Freleng’s comedy works nonetheless. In fact, this film is better than most contemporary Tweety and Sylvester cartoons.

Watch ‘Canned Feud’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date:
 June 2, 1951
Stars:
 Tweety & Sylvester, Granny
Rating:
 ★★★
Review:

Room and Bird © Warner BrothersGranny sneaks Tweety into a hotel where no pets are allowed.

Another old lady sneaks Sylvester in, who inhabits the room next to Tweety. Like in ‘All a bir-r-r-d‘ Sylvester encounters a vicious bulldog, too. The cartoon contains a classic corridor-with-doors-gag, but the cartoon’s greatest joy is its great twist on the chase routine, provided by a pet inspector who at times interrupts the chase of the three animals.

‘Room and bird’ is the first of four 1951 Warner Brothers cartoons featuring music by Eugene Poddany instead of Carl Stalling.

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

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date:
June 24, 1950
Stars:
 Tweety & Sylvester
Rating:
 ★
Review:

All a Bir-r-r-d © Warner Brothers‘All a Bir-r-r-d’ is Tweety and Sylvester’s fourth cartoon and in this short their chase takes place in the baggage wagon of a train. Sylvester’s pursuit is extra hindered by a train conductor and a vicious bulldog.

‘All Abir-r-rd’ is a rather formulaic chase cartoon, and in no way among Tweety & Sylvester’s best. It is noteworthy however, for introducing Tweety’s theme song, sung, off course, by Tweety himself.

Watch ‘All a Bir-r-r-d’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date:
 July 23, 1949
Stars:
 Tweety & Sylvester
Rating:
 ★★★
Review:

Bad Ol' Putty Tat © Warner Brothers‘Bad Ol’ Putty Tat’ is only the third of the Tweety and Sylvester shorts, but it already feels routine.

The short opens with Tweety’s birdhouse all wrapped in barbed wire and a wrecked Sylvester sitting below, thinking how to reach the bird. Friz Freleng and his team waste no time and immediately start with Sylvester’s attempts in blackout gags involving a fake female bird and a badminton game.

In this short Sylvester does manage to swallow Tweety, but the little bird takes control of his head, steering the cat like a train into a stone wall.

Watch ‘Bad ol’ Putty Tat’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date:
 October 7, 1950
Stars:
 Tweety & Sylvester, Granny
Rating:
 ★★★
Review:

Canary Row © Warner Brothers‘Canary Row’ has absolutely nothing to do with John Steinbeck’s novel ‘Cannery Row’.

Instead, it is the sixth Tweety and Sylvester cartoon, and the first to feature Granny as Tweety’s owner. In this short Sylvester tries to capture Tweety, who lives in on a top floor in a hotel in which no cats are allowed. But Tweety and his owner Granny give Sylvester a hard time.

The takes on Sylvester are superb: he’s well animated and his gags are excellently timed, showing Freleng’s craftsmanship. However, Tweety and Granny are hardly as funny, and their appearances wear the comedy down.

If not necessarily for its comedy,’Canary Row’ is noteworthy for its beautiful urban backgrounds, painted by Paul Julian, who would soon join UPA to elevate his background art to even greater heights.

Watch ‘Canary Row’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Canary Row’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date:
 December 18, 1948
Stars:
 Porky Pig, Sylvester
Rating:
 ★★★
Review:

Scaredy Cat © Warner BrothersChuck Jones was the only director to pair Porky Pig with Sylvester.

His Sylvester is very different from the one in Freleng’s Tweety cartoons. In Jones’s shorts he’s a cowardly cat that cannot speak. In all Porky-Sylvester cartoons Porky tries to stay asleep unaware of the real dangers around him. Sylvester, on the other hand, sees them all, but fails completely in convincing his master of the dangers.

The aptly titled ‘Sacredy Cat’ was the first of a series of three. In this cartoon Porky and his cat Sylvester enter their new mansion, which has genuine horror allure, scaring Sylvester to death. And for a good reason, because this mansion is inhabited by homocidal Hubie and Bertie-like mice who make several attempts to murder Sylvester and Porky.

Only when Porky discovers the mice, too, who lead him to a certain death, Sylvester rediscovers his courage and chases all the mice out of the house, except for the headsman mouse, who knocks the cat down, and reveals to be a caricature of comedian Lew Lehr (1895-1950), exclaiming a twist on the comedian’s catchphrase: “pussycats is the craziest people!”. An odd ending to a sometimes rather unsettling cartoon.

Porky and Sylvester would reunite six years later in an all too similar cartoon called ‘Claws for Alarm’ (1954), and again in ‘Jumpin’ Jupiter‘ (1955).

Watch ‘Scaredy Cat’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Scaredy Cat’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

This is Porky Pig cartoon no. 121
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: Riff Raffy Daffy
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: Awful Orphan

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: 
March 27, 1948
Stars:
 Elmer Fudd, Sylvester
Rating:
 ★★★★★
Review:

Back Alley Oproar © Warner BrothersIn ‘Back Alley Oproar’ a sleepy Elmer Fudd is kept awake by Sylvester’s singing in his back alley.

Sylvester turns out to be a rather talented alley cat. His performance is quite infectious, and includes the famous Largo al factotum aria from Gioachino Rossini’s ‘Il barbiero di Seviglia’, Liszt’s second Hungarian Rhapsody (which he performs by stamping with heavy boots on the staircase), “You Never Know Where You’re Goin’ Till You Get There” and “Moonlight Bay”.

At last, Elmer tries to blow Sylvester to smithereens, but they are both killed, and on his way to heaven, Elmer is disturbed by Sylvester’s nine lives singing the Sextet from Gaetano Donizetti’s ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’.

‘Back Alley Oproar’ is one of director Friz Freleng’s cartoons in which he spreads his own love for music. He does so in a very entertaining way.

The cartoon was the first of only four Elmer Fudd-Sylvester pairings. Only Freleng coupled these two characters, although they did co-star in Chuck Jones’ ensemble film ‘The Scarlet Pumpernickel‘ (1950).

Watch an excerpt from ‘Back Alley Oproar’ yourself and tell me what you think:

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