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Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: March 18, 1938
Stars: Popeye, Olive Oyl, Wimpy
Rating: ★★★★

The House Builder Upper © Max Fleischer‘The House Builder Upper’ opens with Olive crying on her doorstep.

It’s soon revealed why: as the camera zooms out, it’s revealed her complete house has burnt down. Firemen Popeye and Wimpy arrive way too late, but they offer to help her build a new house. Enter a series of building gags, which elaborate on the Laurel and Hardy two-reeler ‘The Finishing Touch’ (1928). Like Laurel & Hardy, Popeye and Wimpy are lousy construction workers, with Wimpy excelling in silly acts, accompanied by a particularly goofy tune. So it’s no wonder, the complete house falls apart upon finishing.

Enter that mysterious ingredient, spinach. After swallowing the contents of the can, Popeye builds a new house in a second. But even spinach isn’t sacred: even this house falls apart! So, the cartoon ends with Popeye promising to try again.

‘The House Builder Upper’ is one of those pleasant Popeye cartoons in which the Bluto-Popeye-Olive love triangle has no part at all. It’s a great gag-orientated cartoon, and the gags come in plenty, with the bizarre finale as a highlight within the complete series.

Watch ‘The House Builder Upper’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This Popeye film No. 58
To the previous Popeye film: Learn Polikeness
To the next Popeye film: Big Chief Ugh-Amugh-Ugh

‘The House Builder Upper’ is available on the DVD Box Set ‘Popeye the Sailor 1933-1938’

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

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:

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date:
 March 11, 1950
 Bugs Bunny

Homeless Hare © Warner BrothersIn ‘Homeless Hare’ Bugs’s home happens to be in a construction site.

When the excavator driver ignores Bugs’s pleas for leaving his home alone, Bugs nags him until the bully can’t take no more.

This film contains a gag of a half conscious Bugs walking at great heights without falling, a scene that is clearly borrowed from earlier shorts, like the Popeye cartoon ‘A Dream Walking’ from 1934 and the classic Disney short ‘Clock Cleaners’ from 1937. It also contains an elaborate final gag with a hot rivet, a type of gag Chuck Jones invented. It anticipates similar gags in the Road Runner series and Jones’s Tom and Jerry films from the 1960s. The Highlight of the cartoon, however, is a gag with the bully balancing on a plank with a bunch of bricks, which Bugs slowly withdraws…

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

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 70
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Mutiny on the Bunny
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Big House Bunny

Director: Hawley Pratt
Release Date: May 25, 1966
Stars: The Pink Panther, The Little Guy
Rating:  ★★★½

The Pink Blue Print © DePatie-FrelengThe little guy from ‘The Pink Phink‘ (1964) and ‘We Give Pink Stamps’ (1965) returns and this time to stay.

Luckily so, for the little guy unwillingly helped to make better Pink Panther cartoons, being the perfect foil for the panther’s antics.

In ‘The Pink Blue Print’ the little guy is a construction worker trying to build a house. He’s hindered by the Pink Panther the same way he was in ‘The Pink Phink‘, leading to nice blackout gags.

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

‘The Pink Blue Print’ is available on the DVD Box set ‘The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection’

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