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Director: Bob Clampett
Release Date: April 11, 1942
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕

Horton Hatches the Egg © Warner Bros.

‘Horton Hatches The Egg’ is a unique film within Bob Clampett’s oeuvre, and indeed the complete Warner Bros. canon: it’s the studio’s only book adaptation, it lacks sex and violence, and there is nothing of the zany and extreme animation so typical of Clampett’s unit.

Instead, we’re treated on a surprisingly faithful adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s children’s book to the screen. The cartoon uses most of Dr. Seuss’s rhymes, with adding only a little dialogue of its own, which is easily identifiable because of the lack of rhyme. Dr. Seuss’s designs, too, are wonderfully transferred to the animated screen. Especially Horton and the other forest animals have a distinctive Dr. Seuss character.

The Warner Bros. team departs from Dr. Seuss’s drawings, however, in the human designs. The three hunters are rather bland in Dr. Seuss’s children’s book, but Clampett made them a very funny trio in the cartoon. Moreover, some of the wild Warner Brothers humor has crept into the cartoon, most typically two movie star references, which, unfortunately, date the film a little: Lazy Mayzie imitates Katharine Hepburn, and there’s a fish with Peter Lorre’s features, who, after seeing Horton on a ship, shoots itself, exclaiming “Now I’ve seen everything!”.

Today, a gag like this is regarded inappropriate for children, and it might be this gag that is responsible for the little screen time the cartoon gets today. This is very unfortunate, because this animated adaptation of a Dr. Seuss book is not only the first of all, it is also one of the best, being second only to Chuck Jones’s ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas‘ from 1966.

Watch ‘Horton Hatches the Egg’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Chuck Jones
Airing Date: December 18, 1966
Rating: ★★★★★

How The Grinch Stole Christmas © MGM‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ is a wonderful Christmas cartoon. The Christmas of a little town called the Whoville is threatened by a green character called the Grinch, who disapproves of Christmas, and particularly the noise involved. He decides to ‘steal’ Christmas from the little creatures, but then he discovers that Christmas is not restricted to objects.

This special, lasting 26 minutes, is one of Chuck Jones’s productions for MGM television. It’s a very faithful and beautiful reading of the classic Dr. Seuss children’s book, keeping Dr. Seuss’s rhymes and faithfully reproducing its designs, but extending those by long and beautiful silent comedy scenes and Jones’s wonderful facial expressions, to even better results.

Especially the Grinch himself is a wonderfully expressive character. In him Jones’ mastery of facial expression reaches its apex. Particularly amazing is the scene in which the Grinch thinks up his evil plan, making his face curl with wickedness.

The story is told by Boris Karloff’s grim voice, and it contains two songs: a rather annoying Christmas song sung by the Whos and an odd song describing the meanness of the Grinch. While we hear this song, we see the Grinch steal every Christmas item in Whoville.

All in all, it’s a classic. It’s arguably the best Dr. Seuss adaptation ever, and certainly one of the best Christmas cartoons ever made. It’s certainly better than the rather annoying live action remake from 2000.

Watch ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: March 24, 1965
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★

Haunted Mouse © MGMNot to be confused with the 1941 Tex Avery cartoon ‘The Haunted Mouse’,  this cartoon interrupts the string of chase cartoons by featuring a real story: Jerry is visited by his cousin(?), a Mandrake-like magician, who easily defeats Tom.

Less funny than the remotely similar ‘Jerry’s Cousin‘ (1951), this rather slow cartoon nevertheless features a hilarious scene in which the magician mouse remains an über-cool, deadpan expression while being caught by a sardonically laughing Tom. It also features some rather Dr. Seuss-like rabbits.

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

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 138
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Brothers Carry-Mouse-Off
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: I’m Just Wild About Jerry

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