You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Chuck Jones’ tag.

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: January 9, 1943
Stars: Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

To Duck or not to Duck © Warner Bros.In ‘To Duck or Not to Duck’ Elmer Fudd shoots Daffy out of the sky. The duck then challenges the ‘sportsman’ for a boxing match, something which takes place immediately for a crowd of ducks. Needless to say, the match is far from fair.

‘To Duck or Not to Duck’ is the first Warner Bros. cartoon to star both Daffy and Elmer. The poor hunter is good fowl for the foul-playing duck and his brethren. When Elmer gets his revenge in the end, we’re almost surprised.

The cartoon knows some good gags, but Jones’s timing is still sloppy, and not every gag hits the screen well. Highlight may be Daffy’s ridiculously haughty humphing at Elmer Fudd’s apology for shooting him.

Note the surprisingly empty backgrounds in this cartoon.

Watch ‘To Duck or not to Duck’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: December 5, 1942
Stars: Daffy Duck, Porky Pig
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

My Favorite Duck © Warner Bros.‘My Favorite Duck’ is Chuck Jones’s third try on Daffy Duck (after ‘Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur’ from 1939 and ‘Conrad the Sailor‘ from 1942), and his first cartoon starring both Daffy and Porky Pig.

In this cartoon he finally manages to get grip of Daffy’s wacky character: Daffy’s antics are not only annoying, they’re also funny, and well-timed, and Porky is much more sympathetic victim to his antics than Caspar Caveman and Conrad ever were.

When Porky goes camping, the duck nags him, protected by the law which forbids Porky to harm any duck. Nonetheless, in the end, the tables are turned and Porky has his revenge. However, at that point the film breaks, and Daffy tells us ‘what happened’, or does he?

The film break gag first appeared in Max Fleischer’s Popeye cartoon ‘Goonland’. Six years later Jones reused this wonderful film break gag in ‘Rabbit Punch‘ (1948).

Like in other Chuck Jones cartoons from this era, the beautifully stylized backgrounds are a highlight on their own.

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

This is Porky Pig cartoon no. 97
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: Porky’s Cafe
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: Confusions of a Nutzy Spy

Director: Tex Avery
Release Date: July 5, 1941
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Willoughby
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

The Heckling Hare © Warner Bros.The dumb dog Willoughby was a minor Warner Brothers character, created by Tex Avery, and starring a few cartoons in the early 1940s.

The dog kept changing names, and that’s probably one of the reasons he never got famous. ‘The Heckling Hare’ was his third cartoon, and in it he remains nameless. Tex Avery puts him against his much more famous creation, Bugs Bunny. Penned by Michael Maltese, the result is an inspired cartoon, full of gags.

Willoughby swaps places with Elmer Fudd in hunting rabbits. He’s of course no more successful than Elmer, and Bugs tricks him a lot. The best scene is when Bugs makes the dumb dog making faces, while he puts forward a sign to the audience reading “Silly, isn’t he?”.

However, the cartoon is most famous for its finale: for it ends with a lengthy fall from a cliff by both characters. This scene is obviously cut short in the final version. Producer Leon Schlesinger didn’t like the original ending, which apparently involved no less than two other falls, and ordered the cut. Rumors have it that this was the reason for Tex Avery to leave Warner Bros. This isn’t true. Tex Avery wanted to do a series combining live action animals with animated mouths. Schlesinger wasn’t interested, so Avery ended up doing this series, Christened ‘Speaking of the Animals’ at Paramount. However, this was not a success, and by September 1941 Schlesinger was making cartoons again, now at MGM, where he would direct his greatest shorts.

In his book ‘Chuck Amuck’ Chuck Jones argues that ‘The Heckling Hare’ was the cartoon that re-established Bugs Bunny’s character, after three somewhat misguided cartoons by himself, Tex Avery and Friz Freleng. Bugs Bunny certainly is much more himself and in any of the previous cartoons. In any case, he would meet Willoughby again in the dog’s very last cartoon, ‘Hare Force’ (1944), directed by Bob Clampett.

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

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 5
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: All This and Rabbit Stew

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: November 17, 1951
Stars: Daffy Duck, Porky Pig
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Drip-Along Daffy © Warner BrosFollowing the premise of ‘The Scarlet Pumpernickel’ (1950), Chuck Jones launched a series of cartoons starring Daffy as a misguided hero and Porky as his calm side-kick. ‘Drip-along Daffy’ is the first of this excellent series, with the others being ‘Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century‘ (1953), ‘My Little Duckaroo’ (1954), ‘Rocket Squad’ (1956), ‘Deduce You Say’ (1956) and ‘Robin Hood Daffy‘ (1958).

In ‘Drip-along Daffy’ Daffy is a typical Western hero, clad in white, riding a well-groomed horse, with an unshaven (!) Porky as ‘comic relief’, riding a donkey. Daffy wants to clean up ‘Lawless Western Town’, which lawlessness is depicted in a series of Tex Averyan gags. However, Daffy finds a heavy adversary in the villain Nasty Canasta…

‘Drip-along Daffy’ is a delightful and gag-rich cartoon, highlight being the strong drink scene, an elaboration on a gag Avery had made in ‘The Shooting of Dan McGoo‘ (1945). Also noteworthy is the high noon scene, in which Jones and his team indulge in numerous camera angles depicting Daffy and Canasta approaching each other. Such original and devoted cinematography was rarely been seen since the Frank Tashlin days.

Nasty Canasta who would return in two more cartoons: ‘My Little Duckaroo’ from 1954 and ‘Barbary Coast Bunny’ from 1956.

Watch ‘Drip-along Daffy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Porky Pig cartoon no. 135
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: The Wearing of the Grin
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: Dog Collared

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: May 9, 1951
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Rabbit Fire © Warner Bros.‘Rabbit Fire’ is the first of three cartoons in which writer Michael Maltese and director Chuck Jones play Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd against each other.

The cartoon introduces a new incarnation of Daffy: as the jealous and treacherous miser who never wins. This transformation works, because Daffy the trickster was already present, as can be seen in films like ‘You Ought to be in Pictures‘ (1940) and ‘The Ducksters‘ (1950). As we could expect Daffy’s tricks, so successful against Porky Pig, fail when tried on Bugs Bunny, and Daffy’s repeated failures add to the duck’s frustration.

However, with this transformation, Daffy would lose his lunacy altogether, and it was this new frustrated, misguided, loser type of Daffy that would prevail to the present day, combined with Daffy-the-misguided-hero, championed in other Chuck Jones cartoons, like ‘Drip-along Daffy‘ (1951) and ‘Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½ Century‘(1953).

In ‘Rabbit Fire’ the contrast between Bugs and Daffy is played out very well: Bugs is the initial victim, but he remains über-cool and in total control, while Daffy is the treacherous actor, trying to harm Bugs, but biting the dust every time. In fact, this character trait makes Daffy rather similar to an earlier incarnation of that other famous duck, Donald, who, by the early 1950s had more or less evolved into the straight guy.

The team’s streak of genius is that Daffy never turns into rage, but remains cool, as well. When confronted with a string of defeats, he just walks up to Bugs and utters: ‘you’re despicable!’. Elmer Fudd, meanwhile, remains the confused instrument of the feud between the two animals.

‘Rabbit Fire’ is a dialogue-rich cartoon, but the dialogue never wears down the action. In fact, two of the film’s highlights involve a lot of talking: the gun-pointing scene, and a scene in which Bugs and Daffy read aloud several recipes (strangely enough Daffy pulls out a book on rabbit recipes out of Bugs’s rabbit hole…). Other highlights are a gag involving an elephant gun, and the short’s finale, in which it’s suddenly Elmer Season.

The success of ‘Rabbit Fire’ was repeated in ‘Rabbit Seasoning’ (1952) and ‘Duck! Rabbit! Duck! (1953). After this classic trio the studio paired Bugs and Daffy, and even Elmer in a bunch of other cartoons, and the antagonism between rabbit and duck remains intact to the present day, as can be seen in the feature film ”Looney Tunes: Back in Action’ (2003).

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

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 82
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Fair-Hared Hare
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: French Rarebit

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: September 2, 1950
Stars: Daffy Duck, Porky Pig
Rating: ★★
Review:

The Ducksters © Warner Bros.Chuck Jones is famous for directing cute characters, but throughout his career he directed some extraordinarily cruel cartoons, like ‘Fresh Airedale’ (1945), ‘Scaredy Cat‘ (1948) and ‘Chow Hound’ (1951). ‘The Ducksters’ is probably the cruelest of the lot, and in this cartoon the cartoon violence feels more painful than funny.

In ‘The Ducksters’ Daffy Duck is a quizmaster and Porky the unlucky contestant in the radio quiz ‘Truth or Aaagh’, an extreme take on the radio (and later television) show ‘Truth or Consequences’, which had been around since 1940. The cartoon violence starts immediately, as the opening shot features a tied-up Porky slowly approaching a sawmill. A few scenes later, Daffy shoots someone in the audience.

Throughout the picture Daffy remains the ultra-violent trickster, until the tables are turned in the end. However, Daffy is neither loony nor misguided, being in the midst of a transition of character, which renders him ‘just cruel’, and very unsympathetic, indeed.

Luckily, Chuck Jones knew a better a use for the duck, using him as a misguided hero (e.g. ‘The Scarlet Pumpernickel‘ (1950) and ‘Drip-along Daffy‘ (1951), or playing him against the cleverer Bugs Bunny (e.g. ‘Rabbit Fire‘, 1951 and ‘Rabbit Seasoning’, 1952). These cartoons are all far funnier than ‘The Ducksters’.

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

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

This is Porky Pig cartoon no. 133
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: Golden Yeggs
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: The Wearing of the Grin

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: December 16, 1950
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Rabbit of Seville © Warner Bros.‘Rabbit of Seville’ is the second of three superb Chuck Jones Bugs Bunny cartoons on opera, bridging ‘Long-Haired Hare‘ (1949) and ‘What’s Opera, Doc?‘ (1957).

The cartoon starts with an open air opera theater setting with the Elmer-Bugs chase quickly entering the scene. When Elmer hits the stage, Bugs quickly opens the curtains, prompting the orchestra to play ‘The Barber from Seville’ by Gioacchino Rossini. This leads to a wonderful aria by Bugs, and even Elmer joins in.

But the best part of the film is the silent comedy that follows on the music of the opera’s overture. During this sequence Bugs Bunny’s expressions are priceless, and the action is beautifully staged to the music, leading to a great finale in which Elmer and Bugs get married.

Throughout the picture Jones’s timing and staging are perfect. It improves on both Charlie Chaplin’s barber scene in ‘The Great Dictator’ (1940) and on the vaguely similar Woody Woodpecker cartoon ‘Barber of Seville‘ (1944). The result is no less than a masterpiece.

Surprisingly, this cartoon about  ‘The Barber of Seville’ does not feature the famous ‘Largo el factotum’ aria from that opera. This is remarkable, for this aria was a staple in cartoons, and used extensively in e.g. ‘Barber of Seville’, the Tex Avery cartoon ‘Magical Maestro’ and Chuck Jones own Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘The Cat Above, The Mouse Below‘ (1964).

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

‘Rabbit of Seville’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 77
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Bushy Hare
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Hare We Go

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: August 13, 1949
Stars: Charlie Dog, Porky Pig
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Often an Orphan © Warner Bros.‘Often an Orphan’ is the third of four cartoons featuring Chuck Jones’s minor cartoon star Charlie Dog.

Of the quartet, this short is probably the best. Left alone at the roadside, Charlie Dog tries to become Porky Pig’s dog again, who now is a farmer in the countryside. At no point Porky is willing to take him in, despite some great acting by the deceitful mutt: highlight of the film is his playing of a weak, sick, nervous wreck, ruined by the terrors of the big city. This is arguably Charlie Dog’s all time best moment. The cartoon ends at the roadside, again, but now it’s Porky who gets left behind.

Watch ‘Often an Orphan’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Porky Pig cartoon no. 126
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: Curtain Raizor
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: Dough for the Do-Do

Director: Chuck Jones
Airing Date: February 23, 1978
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam
Rating: ★
Review:

Bugs Bunny in King Arthur's Court © Warner BrothersThe Looney Tunes Television Specials were a series of 25 minute long television programs running from 1976 to 1989 and revisiting the classic Warner Brothers characters in all new material. They were produced by either Chuck Jones’ studio or De Patie-Freleng.

‘Bugs Bunny in King Arthur’s Court’ is the fourth within the series, and produced and directed by Chuck Jones. The story is loosely based on Mark Twain’s ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’ from 1889, as Jones readily admits in the opening titles. It features Bugs Bunny as himself, Elmer Fudd as a knight, Daffy Duck as a very unlikely King Arthur, Yosemite Sam as Merlin, and Porky Pig as an anonymous soldier.

Although Jones’s mastery shines through at times, the episode is a sad caricature of the old cartoons. Just nothing seems right. The designs are weak, especially that of Yosemite Sam (not a Jones character), who is too small compared to the others. Moreover, the timing is remarkably slow, and there’s way too much dialogue, slowing down the animation. The gags are further hampered by Dean Elliott’s terrible, partly electronic music. Even Mel Blanc’s voices are poor: his imitation of Arthur Q. Bryan’s voice of Elmer Fudd is nothing like the real thing, and Porky Pig simply stutters too much.

The episode’s trite story is expanded over 24 minutes, while, considering its flaws, it would already have been difficult to remain interesting within seven minutes. The result is a 24 minute long bore. The 1970s were the middle ages of animation, indeed…

Watch ‘Bugs Bunny in King Arthur’s Court’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.funniermoments.com/watch.php?vid=05851c679

Director: Chuck Jones
Release date:
 April 14, 1967
Stars:
 Tom & Jerry
Rating:
  ★
Review:

Cannery Rodent © MGMChuck Jones returns to direct one final Tom & Jerry cartoon.
Based on a story of his own, ‘Cannery Rodent’, like ‘Much Ado About Mousing‘ (1964) and ‘Cat and Duplicat’ (1967) is set in a harbor. Tom’s adversary this time is a large, purple shark, which looks like it has been borrowed from a Hanna-Barbera television series.

Unfortunately, Jones doesn’t seem to be inspired and the film is not a success, but just another boring entry in Tom & Jerry’s last theatrical series.

Watch ‘Cannery Rodent’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 157

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Rock ‘n’ Rodent
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Mouse from H.U.N.G.E.R.

Director: Chuck Jones
Release date: January 20, 1967
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating:  ★
Review:

Cat and Dupli-cat © MGMThe harbor was a popular setting in Chuck Jones’s Tom & Jerry series. Like the earlier ‘Much Ado About Mousing‘ (1964) and the later ‘Cannery Rodent‘ (1967), ‘Cat and Duplicat’ is set in a harbor.

Here Tom fights a rather dog-like cat over Jerry. The timing of this cartoon is remarkably slow and terrible, especially in an all too elaborate mirror routine. Eugene Poddany’s awfully sounding music wears down the action, like always.

Watch ‘Cat and Dupli-cat’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 154

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Catty Cornered
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: O-Solar-Meow

Director: Chuck Jones
Release date: February 25, 1956
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Witch Hazel
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Broom-stick Bunny © Warner Brothers‘Broomstick Bunny’ was the second of three Bugs Bunny cartoons, featuring Witch Hazel, the others being ‘Bewitched Bunny’ (1954) and ‘A Witch’s Tangled Hare’ (1959).

‘Broomstick Bunny’ is a halloween cartoon, in which Bugs Bunny, wearing a witch mask, tries to get trick or treat from Witch Hazel.

Unfortunately, she sees in him a competitor in ugliness. In the end, she drinks her own beautifying potion, turning into a beautiful redhead girl, soon being chased by the genie from her magic mirror. Hazel’s girl image was allegedly modeled after her voice actress, June Foray.

Jones’s animation style becomes close to a mannerism here, with a practically obligatory way to depict Witch Hazel speeding away, leaving numerous hairpins in the air. The cartoon is saved by Ernie Nordli’s extreme layouts and Philip DeGuard’s more than fabulous backgrounds, which belong to the most beautiful of the cartoon modern age.

Watch ‘Broom-stick Bunny’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.ulozto.net/live/x5US9Dz/bugs-bunny-broom-stick-bunny-1956-avi

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 120
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Bugs’ Bonnets
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Rabbitson Crusoe

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. 144
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: My Little Duckaroo
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: Dime to Retire

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: December 31, 1967
Rating: ★★★
Review:

he Bear That Wasn't © MGMEven though not entirely successful, ‘The Bear That Wasn’t’ is a beautiful, highly stylized film, which uses some avant-garde techniques to tell its story, which makes it one of the most daring of the MGM cartoons, comparable to independent cartoons from the era.

Based on the children’s book by Jones’s former Warner Brothers colleague Frank Tashlin, ‘The Bear That Wasn’t’ tells the story of a bear who ends up in a factory after hibernation, and who’s told he’s not a bear, but “a silly man who needs a shave and who wears a fur coat” so many times, he comes to believe it himself.

Jones quite faithfully retells Tashlin’s simple, but deep story, but the cartoon is hampered by bad sound design, canned music and a theme song that never really develops. Moreover, it features a lot of smoking, which distracts the viewer from the main subject. Despite being billed as a producer Frank Tashlin was not involved in the film, at all, and he reportedly hated the film…

Watch ‘The Bear That Wasn’t’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: March 8, 1958
Stars: Daffy Duck, Porky Pig
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Robin Hood Daffy © Warner Brothers‘Robin Hood Daffy’ is the last of Chuck Jones’s great series of Daffy and Porky pairings.

Like earlier entries, such as ‘Drip-along Daffy‘ (1951) or ‘Deduce You Say’ (1956), Daffy fails completely in acting out the hero he is supposed to be. In this cartoon Daffy Duck is Robin Hood, but he has a hard time proving that to a skeptical Friar Tuck (Porky Pig). He does so by relentlessly trying to rob a rich nobleman who rides on a remarkably little donkey in a hilariously silly fashion.

This nobleman character is totally unaware of the antics around him and is a late addition to a series of similar odd characters that populated many of Jones’s early films, like the Minah Bird (1941-1947) and the bearded sailor in ‘The Dover Boys‘ (1942). Daffy’s attempts, on the other hand, are more akin to those of the Coyote in the Road Runner series. The best gag is when he tries to swing on a rope, Errol Flynn-style, shouting “Yoicks and away”, only to crash into multiple tree trunks.

Porky is redesigned completely into Chuck Jones’s late design: with ridiculously cute eyelashes, anticipating similar redesigns of Jerry in Jones’s Tom & Jerry cartoons seven years later. The redesign is not a success: Porky looks a little too feminine and too cute for the purposes of the cartoon.

Watch ‘Robin Hood Daffy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Porky Pig cartoon no. 149
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: Boston Quackie
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: China Jones

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: 1957
Stars: Ralph Phillips
Rating: ★★
Review:

Drafty, Isn't It © Warner Brothers‘Drafty, isn’t it’ is the second of two propagandistic advertisement shorts Chuck Jones made for the US Army in the late 1950s.

Like its predecessor, ‘90 Days of Wondering‘ (1956), it stars a young adult form of dreamer boy Ralph Phillips. In this short Ralph Phillips has nightmares about all his ideas of  adventure being blocked by a giant shadow of a soldier beckoning him. Then he’s visited by an army pixie who elists some fictions and facts about the army. The cliches, of course, are the most hilarious. This short also contains a very Tex Avery-like running gag in which he pixie repeatedly has to put Ralph’s dog to sleep by singing it a fast lullaby.

‘Drafty, Isn’t It?’ is a well-made and beautiful film, and it would have been more enjoyable were it not so sickeningly propagandistic.

Watch ‘Drafty, Isn’t It?’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: 1956
Stars: Ralph Phillips
Rating: ★★★
Review:

90 Days of Wondering © Warner Brothers’90 Days of Wondering’ is a rather propagandistic advertising film to persuade ex-soldiers to reenlist.

Despite its rather questionable message, the film is beautifully designed and animated. Especially striking is its dazzling opening sequence in which we see a young man (an adult version of dreamer boy Ralph Phillips from ‘From A to Z-Z-Z-Z’ from 1954) being extremely happy to leave the army and rushing home. This opening sequence has a speed and gusto that recalls the Warner Brother shorts from the 1940s. It contrasts with the slow pace of the scenes following after, where the young man soon discovers he is out of tune with is hometown. Soon he is visited by two small characters explaining him why he should reenlist…

In 1957 ’90 Days of Wondering’ was followed by yet another propaganda film for the army called ‘Drafty, isn’t it?‘. It also stars the adult version of Ralph Phillips.

Watch ‘90 Days of Wondering’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: November 10, 1956
Stars: Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote
Rating:   ★★★★
Review:

There They Go-Go-Go! © Warner BrothersThis ninth Road Runner cartoon has a deviant opening, in which we watch the coyote baking a chicken out of clay.

Of course he rather has real meat, and his attempts to catch the Road Runner include a spear on a chord, a revolver on a spring, a catapult, a bundle of maces, a half-sewn-through ladder, a wheel of dynamite sticks and a rocket.

The best gag is saved for last, in which the coyote has assembled several rocks above the road. When these fail to fall on the Road Runner, the coyote nervously tries to make them fall until he realizes that he succeeds and they will fall on him. He then brings forth a sign saying “In Heaven’s name, what am I doing?”.

‘There they Go-Go-Go’ contains the most abstract backgrounds ever conceived in a Road Runner cartoon – Maurice Noble really pushes the limits here. Nevertheless they were reused the next year in ‘Scrambled Aches’.

Watch ‘There They Go-Go-Go!’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: July 6, 1957
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd
Rating:   ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

What's Opera, doc © Warner BrothersOne of the most celebrated animated cartoons of all time, ‘What’s Opera, Doc’ places the typical Elmer Fudd-Bugs Bunny chase routine into the world of Wagnerian opera.

The cartoon’s masterstroke is that it uses all the cliches of the chase, which go all the way back to the first Bugs Bunny Cartoon ‘A Wild Hare’ (1941), but that they are carried out in the most serious, Wagnerian fashion. The result is ridiculously pompous, mocking Wagnerian opera, as well as playing homage to it. Milt Franklyn’s score quotes music from five Wagner operas: ‘Der fliegende Holländer’, ‘Die Walküre’, ‘Siegfried’, ‘Rienzi’ and ‘Tannhäuser’.

The cartoon’s operatic character is emphasized not only by operatic singing, but also by featuring Wagnerian magic (a magic helmet), a ballet (a staple of French opera, but only employed by Richard Wagner in his very first operas), and a sad ending, a cliche of 19th century opera in general. Michael Maltese provided new lyrics to Wagner’s pilgrim chorus from ‘Tannhäuser’ and made it into a rather Hollywood musical-like love duet between Elmer and Bugs.

The animation is outstanding throughout, especially in the ballet and love duet between Bugs and Elmer. Indeed, for the ballet sequence the animators studied Tatania Riabouchinska and David Lichine from The Original Ballet Russe, and there’s a genuine seriousness about this scene. Yet, the main attraction of the cartoon lies in Maurice Noble’s extreme background layouts and bold color designs. Especially when Elmer gets furious, there is a startling emotional use of colors that has not been seen on the animated screen since ‘Bambi‘ (1942).

The opening sequence, with Elmer casting a mighty shadow is a straight homage to ‘The Night on Bold Mountain’ sequence from ‘Fantasia’ (1940), while the shots of Bugs being dressed as Brünnhilde and riding an oversized horse are retaken from ‘Herr meets Hare’ from 1945 (which, like ‘What’s Opera, doc?” was also penned by Michael Maltese). In this sense the cartoon is as much a homage to animation history as it is to opera.

‘What’s Opera, doc?’ is a brilliant cartoon of pure grandeur and one of Chuck Jones’s all time masterpieces. What’s most striking is that it was made during the normal grind of a commercial animated cartoon studio. The film took much longer than normal to make, which Jones and his unit could only manage to do by cheating on their schedule, stealing time from a much more ordinary short, the Road Runner cartoon ‘Zoom and Bored’ (1957).

Watch ‘What’s Opera, Doc?’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 131
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Piker’s Peak
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Bugsy and Mugsy

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: December 31, 1955
Rating:  ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

One Froggy Evening © Warner Brothers‘One Froggy Evening’ tells about a construction worker, who discovers a singing frog inside a cornerstone of a building.

He dreams of earning loads of money with the frog, but unfortunately the frog sings for him only, not for anybody else. This leads to the man’s ruin, and in the end he disposes the frog into another building. But in 2056 AD the same thing is about to happen all over again…

‘One Froggy Evening’ is one of the most perfect cartoons ever made (one competitor that comes to mind is ‘The Band Concert’ from 1935): its story, penned by Michael Maltese, is told with the most economical means, without any dialogue. The silent acting is superb, the timing excellent and the handling of the facial expressions gorgeous. The transition of the frog (baptized Michigan J. Frog in the seventies) from lively entertainer to ordinary amphibian is completely convincing, and a great example of the power of animation.

Although the frog was supposedly locked inside the building in 1892, most of the songs it sings are from a later date: ‘Hello! Ma Baby’ was published in 1899, ‘Won’t You Come Over to My House in 1906, ‘I’m Just Wild About Harry’ in 1921, and ‘Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone’ is even from 1930. Only ‘Come Back to Erin’ and ‘Throw Him Down McCloskey’ are apt, being from 1868 and 1890, respectively. The catchy ‘The Michigan Rag’ was written especially for this cartoon.

‘One Froggy Evening’ feels like a parable. It’s a story of greed, of misfortune, of headstrong belief in a bad idea, and of shattered dreams. It is not hilariously funny, but delightful and simply beautiful. It was Chuck Jones’s personal favorite, and it’s deservedly regarded as an all-time classic. Not that anyone in 1955 thought so, though. The Academy Award went to ‘Speedy Gonzales’, while ‘One Froggy Evening’ didn’t even get an Oscar nomination. Meanwhile, ‘One Froggy Evening’ remains one of the very, very few animated cartoons to inspire a scene in a live action movie, in this case the alien scene in Mel Brooks’s ‘Spaceballs’ (1987).

Watch ‘One Froggy Evening’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 748 other followers

Bookmark and Share

Follow TheGrob on Twitter

Categories