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Release Date: January 1, 1933
Stars: Flip the Frog
While ‘The Goal Rush‘ anticipated Disney’s ‘Touchdown Mickey‘, ‘Coo Coo the Magician’ clearly follows ‘Mickey in Arabia‘ from six months earlier. The setting and the story are too similar to ignore, making ‘Coo Coo the Magician’ quite a rip-off of Mickey’s wonderful cartoon.
Like Mickey, Flip visits some vague Arabian country with his sweetheart. There they meet the magician. When Flip challenges him, the magician makes his sweetheart disappear. While Flip gets lost in an Egyptian tomb, his girl comes in the clutches of a sultan. Flip comes to the rescue, battling several stereotyped black servants, which the cartoon unfortunately also inherited from Mickey’s cartoon. In the end the couple manages to escape on a magic carpet. There’s a short erotic scene of Flip falling into a harem.
Maybe just because it is a copy of ‘Mickey in Arabia’, ‘Coo Coo the Magician’ is an enjoyable cartoon. The exotic setting clearly inspired the makers to make other gags than usual, making this short standing above the average Flip the Frog cartoon.
Watch ‘Coo Coo the Magician’ yourself and tell me what you think:
‘Coo Coo the Magician’ is available on the DVD ‘Cartoons That Time Forgot – The Ub Iwerks Collection Vol. 2’
Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: December 12, 1942
Stars: Bugs Bunny
Bugs Bunny is bullied by a large magician, leading to his catch phrase “Of course you realize this means war”. In the second part of the film Bugs Bunny wrecks the magician’s show, and finally the magician himself.
Bugs’s catch phrase was borrowed from Groucho Marx, an important inspiration on Bugs Bunny’s character anyhow. The line would become typical for Bugs as directed by Chuck Jones. Unlike Bob Clampett, Jones would treat the rabbit not as intrinsically mischievous, but as reacting to injustice placed on him.
The large magician in ‘Case of the Missing Hare’ is the first of many particularly large adversaries Jones gave to Bugs, all bullying the rabbit into action. Thus, the magician is the direct forerunner of e.g. the warehouse keeper in ‘Hare Conditioned‘ (1945), the crusher in ‘Rabbit Punch‘ (1948) and Giovanni Jones in ‘Long-Haired Hare‘ (1949).
‘Case of the Missing Hare’ shows that by the end of 1942 Chuck Jones’s mastery over material had become fully realized. The cartoon features his typical character designs, extravagant key poses, original camera angles and sense of design. The latter is exemplified by background artists Gene Fleury and John McGrew’s very unnatural backgrounds. In the first part we watch pink trees and yellow skies. In the second part they got even bolder, reducing the backgrounds to abstract forms in two colors, only.
In its typical and original design and cinematography ‘Case of the Missing Hare’ looks forward to Jones’ mature work of the late forties and fifties.
Watch ‘Case of the Missing Hare’ yourself and tell me what you think:
This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 14
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: The Hare-Brained Hypnotist
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Tortoise Wins by a Hare
Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: March 24, 1965
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Not 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: