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Director: Paul J. Smith
Release Date: April 21, 1958
Stars: Woody Woodpecker, Dooley
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Half Empty Saddles © Walter Lantz‘Half Empty Saddles’ opens with Woody Woodpecker looking for an old treasure in a Western ghost town.

Strangely Dooley already is there, hiding in a barrel, and he soon tries to steal Woody’s treasure (which is something (we don’t know what) hidden in a wooden box).

The complete cartoon is filled with Dooley’s attempts in a blackout gag cartoon. The one-dimensional story is saved by two excellent strings of gags, one in which Dooley’s foot gets hurt repeatedly, and another which he rides a wooden horse. Composer Clarence Wheeler accompanies the wooden horse with a particularly silly sounding version of Franz von Suppés ‘Light Cavalry’ overture. The cartoon ends with Dooley exploding in the distance, forming a mushroom cloud (!) in a rare cartoon reference to the atomic bomb.

Watch ‘Half Empty Saddles’ yourself and tell me what you think:

 

‘Half Empty Saddles’ is available on the DVD-set ‘The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection Volume 2’

Director: Paul J. Smith
Release Date: January 27, 1958
Stars: Woody Woodpecker, Dooley
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

Misguided Missile © Walter Lantz‘Misguided Missile’ starts with a familiar Woody Woodpecker trope of Woody being hungry and looking for food.

In the first scene we watch him picking with a bunch of pigeons, until he says ‘this is for the birds’, and tries to steal a man’s lunch box. When this fails, Woody immediately turns his attention to the ‘Jobs wanted’ page in the newspaper the man is reading, looking for a “Job for Goldbrickers”, as a super salesman selling insurance. Woody even dresses like a skunk to get the job, in a sequence that is reminiscent of a similar scene in Carl Barks’s comic ‘Land of the Totem Poles’ (1950).

In his new profession as a travelling salesman he tries to sell Dooley an insurance policy. This sequence forms the highlight of the cartoon, as Woody reads to Dooley which calamities the insurance covers, which promptly make these happen to the bearded fellow. In a matter of seconds Dooley gets hit by a safe, hit by a streetcar, falls into a printing press, is hit into the ground by a pile-driver, etc.

This remarkable selling strategy succeeds, and Dooley signs. But Dooley double-crosses Woody, thinking he now is insured against everything. He is, except for guided missiles. So Woody launches the slowest guided missile thinkable on Dooley. The rest of the cartoon consists of the guided missile slowly following an agonized Dooley. This is by all means a remarkable sequence, greatly enhanced by the tick-tock sound effects and Clarence Wheeler’s inspired music accompanying the missile.

Curiously, eleven days later, the slow missile would return in the earlier produced Droopy cartoon ‘Sheep Wrecked‘. Indeed, both cartoons were penned by the same writer: Homer Brightman.

Watch ‘Misguided Missile’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Misguided Missile’ is available on the DVD-set ‘The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection Volume 2’

Director: Paul J. Smith
Release Date: November 4, 1957
Stars: Woody Woodpecker, Windy & Breezy
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Fodder and Son © Walter LantzIn Yellowstone Park a father bear shows his son how to get free food from the park visitors.

Father bear gets cake from an old couple, looking particularly miserably, and food from some youngsters playing ‘rock-‘n-roll’ (the tune the bear plays is more rock ‘n roll in name than in sound). The next customer is Woody Woodpecker, who for once isn’t short of food himself.

After making the bear perform some tricks, Woody gives the bear a sandwich and a bottle of ketchup, but when the greedy bear wants more, a gag routine starts, with Woody placing some food on ‘Old Faithful’ (a geyser), and the bear falling for it, no less than five times. This sequence is surprisingly fast-paced, making the comedy, which are essentially variations on one theme, work.

The little bear’s function in the plot is only to address the audience once in a while with an admiring ‘that’s my pop’, no matter what calamity befalls his father. In this respect he resembles Sylvester jr, who had made his debut eight years earlier in ‘Pop ‘Im Pop!’ (1950).

The bear pair was later christened ‘Windy & Breezy’ and starred four cartoons of their own, starting with ‘Salmon Yeggs‘ (1958).

Watch ‘Fodder and Son’ yourself and tell me what you think:

 

‘Fodder and Son’ is available on the DVD-set ‘The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection Volume 2’

Director: Paul J. Smith
Release Date: February 15, 1954
Stars: Sugarfoot
Rating: ★
Review:

A Horse's Tail © Walter LantzIn their search for new characters the Lantz Studio introduced yet another character after launching Maw and Paw in 1953. Their new star, Sugarfoot the horse, was even less successful than the barnyard couple.

In his debut cartoon Sugarfoot is expelled from his farm for wrecking his replacement, a tractor. He soon finds a job at the movies as a double for a star horse, earning enough money for his boss to buy a new tractor.

Sugarfoot was an interesting character for the 1950s, because he did not speak. Nevertheless, he was so remarkably unfunny, he lasted only two cartoons, the other one being ‘Hay Rube’ from the same year. It remains an almost unbelievable fact that this terribly unfunny cartoon was penned by the great Michael Maltese.

Watch ‘A Horse’s Tale’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.trilulilu.ro/video-animatie/sugarfoot-a-horses-tale

Director: Paul J. Smith
Release Date: August 10, 1953
Stars: Maw and Paw
Rating: ★
Review:

Maw and Paw © Walter LantzIn the early 1950s Lantz seemed to be in search of new characters for his cartoons.

This cartoon introduces Maw and Paw, two poor, phlegmatic farmers with hundreds of kids and one pig, who’s introduced as being the most intelligent of the lot. In an almost plotless story the pig wins a sports car. This leads to a lot of gags, without getting any funny. The cartoon even seem to look back all the way to the early 1930s with its barnyard setting and its abundance of repetitive animation.

Maw and Paw were no strong characters, and their series stopped two years later after only four films.

Director: Paul J. Smith
Release Date: October 22, 1956
Rating:  ★★★★½
Review:

Niagara Fools © Walter LantzIn this cartoon Woody Woodpecker wants to ride the Niagara falls in a barrel.

However, there’s a park ranger who tries to stop him, and it’s this ranger who repeatedly ends in a barrel on the falls.

It’s amazing to discover a gem like this between the badly designed, badly animated and badly timed Walter Lantz shorts of the late 1950s. Although this cartoon, too, features ugly animation, the story and the gags (penned by Disney-veterans Dick Kinney and Milt Schaffer) are very good. The result is by all means one of the best Woody Woodpeckers of the fifties.

Watch ‘Niagara Fools’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://oldiesbutgoodiesmusic.e-bookmembers.com/woody/Woody_Woodpecker-Niagara_Fools/

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