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Director: Tex Avery
Release Date: May 24, 1941
Stars: a.o. Cary Grant, Greta Garbo, Edward G. Robinson, Johnny Weismuller, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, George Raft, Harpo Marx, Bing Crosby, Leopold Stokowski, James Stewart, Sonja Henie, Boris Karloff, the Three Stooges, Oliver Hardy, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Peter Lorre, Henry Fonda, Buster Keaton, Jerry Colonna, Clark Gable, Groucho Marx
Rating:  ★★★★
Review:

Hollywood Steps Out © Warner Bros.Caricatures of Hollywood stars have been featured in many animated cartoons since ‘Felix goes Hollywood’ (1923).

With cartoons like ‘Mickey’s Gala Premier‘ (1933), ‘Soda Squirt‘ (1933), ‘Mickey’s Polo Team’ (1936). ‘The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos’ (1937) and ‘Mother Goes to Hollywood’ (1938) the caricatures even became the main attraction of the cartoon. This trend reached its climax in Tex Avery’s ‘Hollywood Steps Out’, as this is a spot gag cartoon on nothing but Hollywood stars. After this short Hollywood stars kept popping up in cartoons, but not in such abundance as in this short.

In ‘Hollywood Steps Out’ we watch the stars of the silver screen going out at the Ciro’s nightclub, which had opened in 1940. The gags are actually rather lame, but it’s a sheer joy to see all these caricatures of late 1930s Hollywood stars, some still famous, others forgotten. Among the more familiar names are Cary Grant, Greta Garbo, Edward G. Robinson, Johnny Weismuller (as Tarzan), James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, George Raft, Harpo Marx, Bing Crosby, Leopold Stokowski, James Stewart, Sonja Henie, Boris Karloff (as Frankenstein), the Three Stooges, Oliver Hardy, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Peter Lorre, Henry Fonda, Buster Keaton and Jerry Colonna.

Also featured are Henry Binder and Leon Schlesinger, the animators’ bosses. The cartoon contains some rotoscoped dance movements, including a rather sexy bubble dance, and a running gag about Clark Gable following a girl who turns out to be Groucho Marx.

The caricatures in ‘Hollywood Steps Out’ were based on drawings by Ben Shankman, whose work was first used by Friz Freleng in ‘Malibu Beach Party’ (1940), and who clearly is a worthy successor of Joe Grant (e.g. ‘Mickey’s Gala Premier’) and T. Hee (e.g. ‘Mother Goes to Hollywood’). All Shankman’s caricatures in ‘Hollywood Steps Out’ are pretty good to excellent. Moreover, most of them are well-animated, with the animation of James Stewart as a particular highlight. Like the otherwise very different ‘Old Glory‘ (1939) this short shows that by the turn of the decade the Warner Bros. animators could handle the human figure very well.

The voices, too, are very well done. In ‘The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes Cartoons’ Keith Scott reveals they were all done by one Kent Rogers, who was not yet 18 when ‘Hollywood Steps Out’ was released. Rogers also voiced e.g. Willoughby, Beaky Buzzard, and ‘Henery Hawk’. Unfortunately, he died in World War II in 1944, cutting short a career that might have become as illustrious as Mae Questel’s or Mel Blanc’s. In a way ‘Hollywood Steps Out’ stands out as his greatest work.

Apart from a celebration of Hollywood stars, ‘Hollywood Steps Out’ is also a testimony of the conga craze that took over the United States in the early forties: the irresistible conga beat sounds in the opening sequence and during the dance scene. Other examples of cartoons prominently featuring conga music are ‘Mickey’s Birthday Party’ (1942), ‘Juke Box Jamboree‘ (1942) and ‘Springtime for Pluto‘ (1944).

Watch ‘Hollywood Steps Out’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Hollywood Steps Out’ is available on the Blu-Ray set ‘Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 2’ and the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume Two’

 

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Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: July 8, 1950
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Humphrey Bogart
Rating: ★★½
Review:

8 Ball Bunny © Warner BrothersBugs re-encounters the little penguin form ‘Frigid Hare‘ (1949), complete with the top hat and bow tie he gave him in that cartoon.

He promises the tacit little fellow to bring him home, which Bugs thinks is on the South Pole. This leads to a long voyage across the Americas, including Martinique, Panama and the Amazon. At several places they meet Humphrey Bogart begging for some money, a reference to his role in ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ (1948). This running gag may be the highlight of an otherwise tiresome and unfunny cartoon.

Watch ‘8 Ball Bunny’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 73
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: What’s Up, Doc?
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Hillbilly Hare

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: 
November 1, 1947
Stars:
 Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd
Rating:
 ★★★★★
Review:

Slick Hare © Warner BrothersIn ‘Slick Hare’ Elmer works as a waiter in a restaurant full of celebrities.

Humphrey Bogart (voiced by Dave Barry) is one of the costumers, and he tells Elmer to bring him a rabbit or else… By chance, Elmer discovers Bugs in his kitchen and what follows is a wild chase involving more celebrities, like The Marx Brothers and Carmen Miranda.

‘Slick Hare’ is a hilarious cartoon. Highlights are a well-timed pie throwing sequence and a a great dance routine by Bugs on an irresistible samba, animated with gusto by Gerry Chiniquy. The cartoon contains some more caricatures of Hollywood stars, like Leopold Stokowski, Frank Sinatra and at the end, Bogart’s wife, Lauren Bacall.

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

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 45
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Easter Yeggs
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Gorilla My Dreams

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