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Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: March 25, 1939
Stars: Two Curious Dogs, proto-Bugs Bunny
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Chuck Jones uses the silly rabbit from Ben Hardaway’s ‘Porky’s Hare Hunt‘ (1938) and makes it a magician’s rabbit in a cartoon featuring his earliest stars, the “Two Curious Dogs”, which had made their debut in January in ‘Dog Gone Modern’.

In ‘Prest-O Change-O” the two dogs flee from a dog catcher into a magician’s house, where the tall dog meets the rabbit, while the small dog struggles with a “hindu rope”.

Jones’s handling of the material is very Disney-like, slow in action and with much attention for situation comedy. Unfortunately, his two dog characters are anything but funny, and the complete film fails to impress. The rabbit, a forerunner of Bugs Bunny, is as unsympathetic as he was in ‘Porky’s Hare Hunt’ and rightfully gets punched in the end. He doesn’t talk, however, but shows the weird laugh he got in ‘Porky’s Hare Hunt’.

‘Prest-O Change-O’ doesn’t add anything, however, and the rabbit remains unappealing. So, after this film this particular rabbit was transformed into another design, making its debut in ‘Hare-um Scare-um’ of five months later.

Watch ‘Prest-O Change-O’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Prest-O Change-O’ is available on the Blu-Ray set ‘Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 2’

This is the second of four cartoons featuring a Bugs Bunny forerunner
To the first proto-Bugs Bunny cartoon: Porky’s Hare Hunt
To the next proto-Bugs Bunny cartoon: Hare-um Scare-um

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Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: June 10, 1932
Stars: Betty Boop, Bimbo, Koko the Clown
Rating: ★
Review:

Admission Free © Max FleischerIn ‘Admission Free’ Betty Boop works as a ticket seller in a penny arcade hall.

We’re watching Koko being knocked out by a boxing ball, a monkey watching a boxing game in a mutoscope, and Bimbo trying his luck at a shooting gallery. When he fails to hit pipes and ducks, Bimbo tries to shoot rabbits. One of these wanders into the forest. Bimbo follows him. Suddenly we’re in the forest, never to return to the arcade. Betty Boop only reenters in the last scene, when the rabbit blows Bimbo up into the air with some fireworks. Suddenly Betty is with Bimbo on a large sky-rocket. Iris out.

‘Admission Free’ makes very little sense, and is terribly unfunny. It’s only noteworthy for being the first cartoon to feature Betty Boop’s very own theme song: ‘Made of pen and ink, she can win you with a wink. Ain’t she cute? (Boop-oop-a-doop), Sweet Betty‘.

Watch ‘Admission Free’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Talkartoon No. 40
To the previous Talkartoon: Hide and Seek
To the next Talkartoon: The Betty Boop Limited

‘Admission Free’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Directors: John Foster & George Stallings
Release Date:
 February 27, 1932
Stars: Tom and Jerry
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Rabid Hunters © Van BeurenIn ‘Rabid Hunters’ Tom and Jerry are hunters, who try to catch a rabbit with their semi-anthropomorphized dog and horse.

The rabbit appears to be an early forerunner of Bugs Bunny, outwitting all four characters to a jazzy upbeat score. This soundtrack, by Gene Rodemich, is the absolute highlight of this otherwise erratic, boring and terribly poorly animated short. Also noteworthy is a hallucinatory scene at a tree branch that has to be seen to be believed. Like the Silly Symphony ‘The Fox Hunt‘ from a year earlier, the cartoon ends with a skunk.

Watch ‘Rabid Hunters’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 7
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Rocketeers
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: In the Bag

‘Rabid Hunters’ is available on the DVD ‘The Complete Animated Adventures of Van Beuren Studio’s Tom and Jerry’

Director: Andreas Hykade
Release Date: September 2006
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

The Runt © Andreas Hykade‘The Runt’ is Hykade’s fourth independent film. It’s a disturbing short about a little boy who is allowed to keep a pet rabbit, if he’s going to kill it himself the next year.

Hykade’s simple and cute designs, and use of bright colors contrast with the film’s grim story, but they also make it watchable for everybody. There’s practically no reference to any time or place, and its story about death and coming of age has a universal appeal. Its timelessness makes the film an instant classic.

‘The Runt’ may not be as bold as his previous film, ‘Ring of Fire’ (2000), it is a great example of Andreas Hykade’s talent. He has succeeded in creating one of those rare shorts that make you think.

Watch ‘The Runt’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘The Runt’ is available on the DVD ‘International Animation: Modern Classics’

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date: 
November 14, 1947
Stars:
 Pluto
Rating:
 ★
Review:

Mail Dog © Walt Disney‘Mail Dog’ is another arctic short featuring Pluto (see ‘Rescue Dog‘ from eight months earlier).

This time Pluto is a mail dog in Alaska. While delivering the mail he encounters a totem pole and a chilly rabbit. When he chases it, he accidentally delivers the mail in time, too.

This short follows the typical Pluto story, where Pluto befriends a little animal he dislikes at first. Unfortunately, there’s absolutely nothing special about this particular entry, making it one of Pluto’s most forgettable cartoons.

Watch ‘Mail Dog’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 22
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Rescue Dog
To the next Pluto cartoon: Pluto’s Blue Note

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