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Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date: June 28, 1940
Stars: Pluto, Butch
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Bone Trouble © Walt DisneyPluto’s solo career had a slow start: after his first own cartoon, ‘Pluto’s Quin-puplets’ our favorite mutt had to wait three more years for a second cartoon.

Compared to this first, cute cartoon, ‘Bone Trouble’ is an altogether different short: it’s a real exponent of the chase cartoon era: when Pluto steals a bone from vicious neighbor dog Butch, a chase soon follows into a surprisingly empty carnival. Most of the gags originate in Pluto’s adventures in a hall of mirrors. This is a wonderful place, having mirrors that are able to reflect Pluto as an alligator, a camel, an ape, a kangaroo and a seal.

Unlike many of the later Pluto shorts, ‘Bone Trouble’ is a genuine gag cartoon, greatly helped by the carnival atmosphere, and an excellent musical score. The short introduces Butch the bulldog. Butch was not the first vicious bulldog on the animated screen (for example, there’s one in the Betty Boop cartoon ‘You’re Not Built That Way’ from 1936), but he is the prototype of all subsequent animated bulldogs, most notably Spike, who made his debut in the Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘Dog Trouble’ (1942). Why in cartoons Bulldogs were always portrayed as bullies, we’ll never know, as real bulldogs look hardly like their cartoon counterparts.

‘Bone Trouble’ is also noteworthy for being the cartoon in which Jack Kinney’s makes his direction debut. Kinney became the studio’s best gag director, which he showed in the Goofy series, which in 1940 became his own. Kinney directed only one other Pluto cartoon: ‘Cold Storage‘ from 1951, which is even better than ‘Bone Trouble’.

Butch, meanwhile, would return in five other Pluto cartoons, ‘T-Bone for Two‘ (1942), ‘Canine Casanova’ (1945), ‘Pluto’s Kid Brother‘ (1946), ‘Pluto’s Purchase’ (1948) and ‘Pluto’s Heart Throb‘ (1950).

Watch ‘Bone trouble’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 2
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Pluto’s Quin-Puplets
To the next Pluto cartoon: Pantry Pirate

‘Bone Trouble’ is available on the DVD set ‘The Complete Pluto Volume One’

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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:

Director: Ben Washam
Release date: September 8, 1967
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating:  ★
Review:

Purr-Chance to Dream © MGM‘Purr-Chance to Dream’ was Tom & Jerry’s very last theatrical cartoon.

It marks the rather welcome end to the Chuck Jones era, which, despite a few highlights, was a very disappointing age for the cat and the mouse. ‘Purr-Chance to Dream’ is no exception. In this short, Tom is haunted by nightmares about large bulldogs. But when Jerry has acquired a tiny bulldog, this reality is even worse.

The tiny bulldog is the same as was featured in ‘The Cat’s Me-ouch‘ (1965), and so ‘Purr-Chance to Dream’ reuses quite a lot of animation from the earlier cartoon. The good news is that this results in better designs of Tom and Jerry than usual in their 1967 cartoons. Carl Brandt’s music, however, is terrible, and so are the gags, making ‘Purr-Chance to Dream’ anything but enjoyable.

Watch ‘Purr-Chance to Dream’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry 162nd and last theatrical cartoon

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Advance and Be Mechanized

Director: Tex Avery
Release date: April 11, 1955
Stars: Chilly Willy
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

The Legend of Rockabye Point © Walter LantzIn ‘The Legend of Rockabye Point’ a polar bear tries to steal blue finned tuna from a ship which is guarded by a vicious bulldog.

However, he’s hindered by Chilly Willy, who does anything to awaken the bulldog. The polar bear repeatedly tries to save his skin by singing the bulldog back to sleep. In the end, it has become a habit, and we watch the old-aged polar bear singing his old friend to sleep in his arms.

Penned by Michael Maltese, this cartoon shares some ideas with ‘Deputy Droopy’ (which was made earlier, but only released six months later), but the result is fresh and original. ‘The Legend of Rockabye Point’ was the third of four cartoons Tex Avery made at Walter Lantz’s studio, and without doubt it is the best of the lot. Avery’s timing is, as always, excellent, and the gags come fast and funny. In fact, the cartoon is one of Tex Avery’s all time best, and it stands as Avery’s last masterpiece.

Watch ‘The Legend of Rockabye Point’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: February 2, 1952
Stars: Marc Anthony
Rating:
★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Feed the Kitty © Warner BrothersAmong all the masterpieces of animation, this must be the most inconspicuous one: it’s a seemingly classical dog and cat story, involving quite some dull dialogue (provided by the dog’s mistress, of whom we only see her legs), and its looks are quite traditional, with unremarkable layouts and backgrounds.

Nevertheless, ‘Feed The Kitty’ is a real masterpiece, and its reputation is entirely due to the acting of its main character, the gentle bulldog Marc Anthony. His facial expressions are so wide ranging, so extreme and so heartfelt that ‘Feed the Kitty’ can almost be regarded as a study in depiction of emotion. Silent acting really reaches its peak here, and director Chuck Jones is without doubt at his all time best in this sweet little cartoon.

In ‘Feed the Kitty’ Marc Anthony adopts a sweet little kitten, but he’s not allowed to bring anything into the house. This leads to various gags with the dog trying to hide the little kitten from his mistress. However, the highlight of the cartoon is the sequence in which Marc Anthony thinks his darling pet is dead. His emotions are both hilarious and heartbreaking. Never before has the anxiety of having lost a dearly beloved been so convincingly put to the animated screen. At this point I often can’t keep my tears from running.

Indeed, this sequence is so popular among animators that it was almost exactly copied in ‘Monsters, Inc.‘ (2001) as a homage to the original. I’d say, if cartoons were shown at funerals (and why not?), ‘Feed the Kitty’ would be a perfect candidate.

Watch ‘Feed the Kitty’ yourself and tell me what you think:

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

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date:
May 5, 1951
Rating:
 ★★★½
Review:

Early to Bet © Warner Brothers‘Early to Bet’ introduces the ‘gambling bug’, a bug that makes people want to gamble.

The little insect infects a cat who then starts to play gin rummy for penalties with an over-confident bulldog. The bulldog wins several times, and the cat has to pay the elaborate and rather zany, yet painful penalties. In the end, however, he plays against the bug, and wins, making the bug pay a penalty.

Apart from the original and pretty funny penalties, this is a mediocre cartoon, which lacks stars or even appealing characters.

Watch ‘Early to Bet’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.supercartoons.net/cartoon/681/early-to-bet.html

‘Early to Bet’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

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:

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: October 1, 1949
Stars: Tom & Jerry, Spike & Tyke
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Love That Pup © MGMTom’s chases of Jerry disturb Spike’s son Tyke. If Tom is at it again, Spike “will tear him apart”. Needless to say, Jerry takes advantage of this situation.

‘Love that pup’ is one of the most hilarious Tom & Jerry cartoons. The gags come in fast and plenty, and Scott Bradley’s music is particularly inspired, perfectly matching the fast action. Highlight may be the running gag involving Tom rushing into several garden tools.

‘Love That Pup’ marks Tyke’s debut. He has no name, yet. But then again, even Spike is still called Butch in this cartoon. Spike and Tyke would become Tom and Jerry regulars in the fifties, even starring two films without the cat and the mouse in 1957.

Watch ‘Love That Pup’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 44
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Cat and the Mermouse
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Jerry’s Diary

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: June 12, 1943
Stars: Hubie and Bertie
Rating:
 ★★½
Review:

The Aristo-Cat © Warner BrothersThe aristo-cat is the pet of a rich lady. He nags the butler so much that the latter quits. Not knowing how to get food himself, the cat panics, until he learns from a book titled ‘the behavior of cats’ that cats eat mice.

He immediately sets out to get one, but when he encounters one (Hubie) he doesn’t recognize it and he’s scared to death. Hubie and Bertie take advantage of the situation to convince the cat that Rover, a vicious bulldog next door, is a mouse. This leads to several chase routines, until it is revealed that it was all a dream.

‘The Aristo-Cat’ is only moderately funny, and the aristo-cat has a rather ugly voice. But the cartoon’s highly stylized backgrounds are beautiful and an attraction on their own. They are based on layouts by John McGrew, who did some innovative work in a couple of Chuck Jones cartoons from 1942 and 1943, e.g. ‘Conrad the Sailor‘, ‘The Dover Boys‘, and ‘Flop Goes The Weasel’. The backgrounds in ‘The Aristo-Cat’ arguably form the apex of McGrew’s art with their expressionistic angles and patterns, supporting the cat’s agony and fear. In fact, such daring designs would not be seen again before the advent of UPA.

‘The Aristo-Cat’ marks the debut of the mischievous mouse duo Hubie and Bertie. Strangely enough, they were shelved for three years, although Hubie had one solo-outing in 1944 with ‘From hand to Mouse’. The duo returned in 1946 to star five more cartoons: ‘Roughly Squeaking’ (1946), ‘House Hunting Mice’ (1948), ‘The Hypo-Chondri-Cat’ (1950), ‘Cheese Chasers’ (1951) and the greatest of them all, ‘Mouse Wreckers‘ (1949).

Watch ‘The Aristo-Cat’ yourself and tell me what you think:

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

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

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