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Director: Hawley Pratt
Release Date: August 1, 1964
Rating: ★★★★

Señorella and the Glass Huarache © Warner Bros.

‘Señorella and the Glass Huarache’ was the last Looney Tunes short released before Warner Bros. closed down its cartoon department in 1963.

It’s also the only Warner Bros. Short directed by layout man Hawley Pratt, whom Friz Freleng already had given co-director credits in earlier cartoons from the 1960s.

The cartoon features two Mexicans in a canteen, of whom we only see their shadows. One tells a Mexican version of the Cinderella to the other, with the prince being a bullfighter, the castle being a ranchero etc. Otherwise the story is quite faithful, and the cartoon is rescued by the bold backgrounds and pleasant cartoon modern designs. These betray a strong UPA influence, as does the fact that this short stars human characters, instead of the stock talking animals of earlier Warner Bros. cartoons.

The end of the Warner Bros. studio didn’t mean the end of Warner Bros. cartoons; between 1964 and 1968 Warner Bros. suddenly started releasing cartoons again, now produced by Friz Freleng’s DePatie-Freleng company, most famous for its Pink Panther cartoons.

Watch ‘Señorella and the Glass Huarache’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Señorella and the Glass Huarache’ is available on the DVD-set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume Five’

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: December 8, 1964
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★

The Unshrinkable Jerry Mouse © MGMIn ‘The Unshrinkable Jerry Mouse’ Tom is master of the house and Jerry is his slave. But then enters a cute young kitten. Tom gets jealous at the intruder and tries to get rid of it. But Jerry befriends the kitten and in the end the tables are turned.

One of the weaker entries in Chuck Jones’ Tom & Jerry series, ‘The Unshrinkable Jerry Mouse’ is a surprisingly unfunny cartoon, suffering from bad timing and ugly music.

Watch ‘The Unshrinkable Jerry Mouse’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 133
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Snowbody Loves Me
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Ah, Sweet Mouse Story of Life

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: May 12, 1964
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★½

Snowbody Loves Me © MGMIn ‘Snowbody Loves Me’ we see Jerry freezing in the Swiss Alps, but then he finds a cheese shop.

Jerry manages to enter it, but locks Tom outside by doing so. Tom manages to throw Jerry out again, but like in the early Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘The Night before Christmas‘ (1941) his conscience plagues him, and he subsequently rescues Jerry from death.

Like ‘Much Ado About Mousing‘  ‘Snowbody Loves Me’ borrows a theme from an earlier Hanna-Barbera cartoon, and again, the result cannot stand the comparison to its source of inspiration. ‘Snowbody Loves Me’ is cute alright, typical for Jones’s late style, and its colors and designs are beautiful. However, the action is slow, and the gags are mediocre.

Watch an excerpt from ‘Snowbody Loves Me’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 132
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Much Ado About Mousing
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Unshrinkable Jerry Mouse

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: April 14, 1964
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★½

Much Ado About Mousing © MGMIn the opening scene of ‘Much Ado About Mousing’ we see Tom fishing for Jerry in a harbor, using cheese. But Jerry seeks help from a yellow bulldog. The bulldog gives Jerry a whistle with which he can call for the Bulldog’s help.

Sounds familiar? Indeed, this idea is  borrowed from the early Tom & Jerry short ‘The Bodyguard’ (1944). ‘Much Ado About Mousing’ is not bad, but it pales when compared to the former cartoon. Its story and its gags are fine, but the music, by Eugene Poddany, wears the action down, despite his effective use of Ludwig van Beethoven’s famous fate theme from his fifth symphony.

Watch ‘Much Ado About Mousing’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 131
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Is There A Doctor in the Mouse?
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Snowbody Loves Me

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: March 24, 1964
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★

Is There a Doctor in the Mouse © MGM.jpgIn ‘Is There a Doctor in the Mouse?’ Jerry invents a potion, which makes him lightning fast.

Jerry uses his new speed to eat everything that Tom wants to eat. When he runs out of speed he drinks a potion, which makes him enormous, thus abruptly ending the film.

Like the Hanna-Barbera Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘The Invisible Mouse‘ (1947), ‘Is There a Doctor in the Mouse?’ suffers from an all too powerful Jerry. When Tom is bullied, it’s not comical, it’s sad. The result is one of the weaker entries in Jones’ Tom & Jerry series.

‘Is There A Doctor in the Mouse’ has the questionable honor to be the first Chuck Jones Tom & Jerry cartoon with a pun in the title. Titles like these would dominate the Chuck Jones Tom & Jerries. They were not their best feature. Apart from being rather trite, they more often than not had nothing to do with the content, at all.

Watch ‘Is There a Doctor in the Mouse?’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 130
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Cat Above, The Mouse Below
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Much Ado About Mousing

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: February 25, 1964
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★★

The Cat Above, The Mouse Below © MGMIn ‘The Cat Above, The Mouse Below’ Tom is a successful opera singer performing Figaro’s famous aria ‘Largo el factotum’ from Gioachino Rossini’s ‘Il barbiere de Sevilla’ (what else?) at a grand theater, but awakening Jerry by doing so.

In this short Tom displays some fantastic facial expressions, director Chuck Jones’ trademark. It’s also probably the best of all Chuck Jones’s Tom & Jerry cartoons, albeit not as funny as Jones’ earlier ‘Long-haired Hare‘ (1949) or Tex Avery’s ‘Magical Maestro’ (1952), which both use the same theme.

Watch ‘The Cat Above, The Mouse Below’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 129
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Penthouse Mouse
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Is There a Doctor in the Mouse?

Director: Jan Švankmajer
Release Date: 1964
Rating: ★★★★★

The Last Trick © Jan SvankmajerIn ‘The Last Trick’ two magicians in large masks perform their impossible tricks one after another against a black, empty background.

Although they stay polite, their congratulationary handshakes between the tricks gradually become more and more violent, ending in a disastrous mutual disembodiment. The last shot is of the only really living organism inhabiting this surrealist world, a beetle, dead.

‘The Last Trick’ is Czech film maker Jan Švankmajer’s first film, and already his obsessions with puppets, body parts and death are full blown. Its humor is dark, its images are grim and its story is very unsettling. Švankmajer’s first film (which contains a little stop motion animation) is also his first masterpiece.

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

‘The Last Trick’ is available on the DVD ‘Jan Svankmajer – The Complete Short Films’

Directors: John & Faith Hubley
Release Date: September 21, 1964
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕

The Hat © John & Faith HubleyOne of directors John & Faith Hubley’s quintessential shorts,’The Hat’ is one of the most beautiful anti-war films ever made.

It’s an extraordinary blend of beautiful design, modern animation, improvisation and politics.

When a border guard accidentally drops his hat across the border, he and his enemy colleague argue about it and about war in general. Surprisingly, this is an improvised dialogue between jazz musicians Dizzy Gillespie and Dudley Moore, who also provide the film’s great jazz score.

The film’s leisurely speed is refreshing, its painted backgrounds of a snowy landscape are beautiful, the painted looks of the characters highly original, and its vivid animation by veteran Shamus Culhane stunning. All these aspects mount to a great and essential animation film. A classic.

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

‘The Hat’ is available on the DVD ‘Art and Jazz in Animation’

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: December 18, 1964
Stars: The Pink Panther, The Little Guy
Rating: ★★★★

The Pink Phink © DePatie-FrelengIn his very first own short The Pink Panther nags a painter by painting everything pink that the painter just has painted blue.

This is the Pink Panther’s first film, and it’s easily one of his best. Its simple idea is worked out perfectly into a tight plot (by John Dunn) with a grand finale. Its pantomime animation is effective and its sober design supporting.

Although he never got a name, the “little guy”,  the white, big-nosed, mustached antagonist, who resembles both his creator, Friz Freleng, and Inspector Clouseau, is very important to the success of the series: he is easily the best designed opponent in the Pink Panther cartoons. Like the Pink Panther he’s monochrome, and a silent character, allowing the animators to make the best out of pantomime animation. Moreover, he could be staged in all kinds of functions and settings. Nevertheless, he kept a consistent character, being normally kind and gentle, but getting puzzled, then frustrated and often in the end, very angry with the Pink Panther’s antics.

Nevertheless, it took the makers a while to realize his potential, for though the little guy would return as a janitor in ‘We Give Pink Stamps’ (1965), he would only become a regular from ‘The Pink Blue Print‘ (1966) on, after twenty films with other, often talking, and always less wonderfully designed characters.

Watch ‘The Pink Think’ yourself and tell me what you think:

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