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

Three Little Pups © MGM‘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 ‘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 ‘Three Little Pups’ yourself and tell me what you think:

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Director: Paul J. Smith
Release Date: August 10, 1953
Stars: Maw and Paw
Rating: ★
Review:

Maw and Paw © Walter LantzIn the early 1950s Lantz seemed to be in search of new characters for his cartoons.

This cartoon introduces Maw and Paw, two poor, phlegmatic farmers with hundreds of kids and one pig, who’s introduced as being the most intelligent of the lot. In an almost plotless story the pig wins a sports car. This leads to a lot of gags, without getting any funny. The cartoon even seem to look back all the way to the early 1930s with its barnyard setting and its abundance of repetitive animation.

Maw and Paw were no strong characters, and their series stopped two years later after only four films.

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: May 30, 1953
Stars: Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Don's Fountain of Youth © Walt DisneyDonald and the boys are on a holiday in Latin America. But Huey, Dewey and Louie only have eyes for their comic book.

Donald then fools them by pretending a fountain of youth has made him younger. He even uses an alligator egg to make them believe he turned into an egg again. This leads to an encounter with the mother alligator, whose not amused. In the end we watch Donald and the boys fleeing into the distance.

The backgrounds in this cartoon are extraordinarily colorful. The characters don’t really read well against these backgrounds, but their lushness is overwhelming and an extra highlight besides the gags.

Watch ‘Don’s Fountain of Youth’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 99
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Trick or Treat
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: The New Neighbor

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date:
 July 25, 1953
Stars:
 Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Marvin Martian
Rating:
 ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century © warner Brothers‘Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century’ is a spoof of the popular pulp magazine science fiction series Buck Rogers, which was made into a television series in 1950-1951. This makes this short one of the earliest theatrical cartoons parodying a television series.

Daffy “Duck Dodgers” and his sidekick “the eager young space cadet” Porky have to claim planet X for planet Earth. Unfortunately, Marvin Martian wants to claim the same planet for Mars. This starts a feud, which ends in both blowing up the entire planet.

Although the story of the cartoon is rather similar to the Bugs Bunny cartoon ‘Haredevil Hare‘ (1948), Daffy’s unique performance gives it an entirely different feel, leading to new and great gags. More than being a typical science fiction cartoon, this short can be regarded the second cartoon in a series which pairs Daffy as a misguided hero to Porky as a more sensible straight man (the first being ‘Drip-along Daffy‘ from 1951). ‘Duck Dodgers’ must be the highlight of the series, as well as a peak in both Daffy’s as Chuck Jones’s career.

Unhampered by conventions, Jones, his layout-man Maurice Noble and background painter Phil DeGuard went totally berserk with the science-fiction theme, creating wild and lushly colored backgrounds, which make ‘Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century’ one of the most beautiful cartoons ever made at Warner Brothers.

Indeed, so great is its fame, it spawned sequels in 1980, 1996 and 2003. From 2003 to 2005 Cartoon Network even broadcasted a Duck Dodgers series.

Watch ‘Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.220.ro/desene-animate/Looney-Tunes-Duck-Dodgers-In-The-24-5-Century/aTflTNIyAr/

This is Porky Pig cartoon no. 142
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: Fool Coverage
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: Claws for Alarm

This is Daffy Duck cartoon No. 65
To the previous Daffy Duck cartoon: Muscle Tussle
To the next Daffy Duck cartoon: Duck! Rabbit! Duck!

‘Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century’ is available on the Blu-Ray ‘Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 2’ and on the DVD-set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume One’

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date:
 February 28, 1953
Stars:
 Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny (cameo)
Rating:
 ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Duck Amuck © Warner BrothersOne of the most self-aware animated cartoons ever made, ‘Duck Amuck’, more than any other cartoon, plays with the conventions of animation and with the frustrations of Daffy Duck.

This cartoon shows how good the character is, because even when drawn awkwardly, even without sound, and even when animated as a small speck in the distance, we know it’s Daffy. His struggles with the off-screen animator (who in the end turns out to be Bugs Bunny) form the zenith of his new frustrated personality, which had replaced his zany personality of the thirties and forties three years earlier. Furthermore he’s the sole character in the entire cartoon, but so strong is his unwilling performance that we become hardly aware of this fact.

The poor Daffy has to deal with disappearing and constantly changing backgrounds, with absent and inappropriate sounds, with deformations of his own body etc. In this cartoon he’s the victim of an omnipotent ‘cartoon god’ whom he cannot escape. In this sense ‘Duck Amuck’ questions the relationship between creator and creation and the responsibility of the creator to the things he created. This makes ‘Duck Amuck’ also one of the most philosophical cartoons ever made. And amazingly, it’s funny, too.

Watch ‘Duck Amuck’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Daffy Duck cartoon No. 63
To the previous Daffy Duck cartoon: Fool Coverage
To the next Daffy Duck cartoon: Muscle Tussle

‘Drip-along Daffy’ is available on the Blu-Ray ‘Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 2’ and on the DVD-set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume One’

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: March 21, 1953
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Johann Mouse © MGM‘Johann Mouse’ is the story of a waltzing mouse, who inhabits the home of Johann Strauss jr. in Vienna.

The mouse (Jerry) only comes out to waltz when the master plays, so when he’s out of town, the cat (Tom) learns to play waltzes to make the mouse waltz. This novelty leads to the two performing for the Austrian emperor.

‘Johann Mouse’ is a cute little fairy tale, told by a quasi-German voice over. However, the cartoon is hampered by all too economic animation. Especially Jerry’s design has become very streamlined and rather stiff in this cartoon, making his dance movements less impressive than in earlier entries.

Watch ‘Johann Mouse’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 75

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Jerry and Jumbo
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: That’s My Pup

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date:
 May 2, 1953
Stars:
 Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam
Rating:
 ★★★★
Review:

Southern Fried Rabbit © Warner BrothersWhen his home country looks like a desert and he becomes short of carrots, Bugs migrates to Alabama.

Unfortunately, the ‘Mason Dixie Line’, the border between the North (desert) and the South (beautiful green landscape), is protected by Southerner Sam, who isn’t aware that the civil war has ended ages ago. This preposterous idea leads to great gags involving several impersonations by Bugs, a.o. of Abraham Lincoln.

Watch ‘Southern Fried Rabbit’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://archive.org/details/SouthernFriedRabbit_35

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 98
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Upswept Hare
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Hare-Trimmed

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date: April 18, 1953
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

The Simple Things © Walt Disney‘The Simple Things’ was to be Mickey’s and Pluto’s last theatrical cartoon (Pluto’s own series had stopped two years earlier).

Unfortunately it is a rather uninspired goodbye. The cartoon returns to the elongated situation comedy of the thirties. There are only two plots here, which hardly build up to a finale. First: Pluto’s encounters with a humanized clam and second, Mickey and Pluto’s fight with a hungry seagull. Both parts are executed routinely, without inspiration.

This makes ‘The Simple Things’ a sad ending to a career that started so phenomenally well, changing the course of animation, 25 years earlier. It would take Mickey another thirty years to return to the movie screen in ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol‘ from 1983. Meanwhile, Mickey & Pluto director Charles Nichols would direct three Donald Duck cartoons, and one special, ‘The Saga of Windwagon Smith‘, before leaving Disney for Hanna-Barbera in 1962.

Watch ‘The Simple Things’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 125
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Pluto’s Christmas Tree
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: January 3, 1953
Stars: Sam Sheepdog & Ralph Wolf
Rating:
 ★★★★★
Review:

Don't Give Up the Sheep © Warner Brothers‘Don’t Give up the Sheep’ is the first cartoon in a series of seven cartoons featuring the excellent duo Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf.

In their first entry Sam Sheepdog is called Ralph, while Ralph remains yet unnamed. Sam goes to work, relieving his colleague Fred in attending the sheep. He has to counter the attacks by Ralph the wolf, who looks like Wile E. Coyote’s scruffy cousin. The cartoon is full of excellent, Road Runner-like blackout cartoons. In his silliest attempt the wolf dresses up as the God Pan to lull the sheepdog to sleep. To no avail, of course.

In this cartoon the backgrounds (by Carlos Manriquez) are becoming more stylized, although they still look like real nature. Sam and Ralph would never become major characters, but their miniseries is a little delight within the Warner Brothers canon.

Watch ‘Don’t Give up the Sheep’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.wimp.com/hilariouscartoon/

‘Don’t Give up the Sheep’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

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