You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Robert McKimson’ tag.

Director: Hugh Harman & Rudolf Ising
Release Date: August 25, 1933
Stars: Cubby the Bear
Rating: ★★
Review:

Cubby's World Flight © Van BeurenIn 1933 the Harman and Ising studio had lost their deal with Leon Schlesinger to produce cartoons for Warner Bros. They had not yet got their later deal with MGM, and were in sort of a limbo, doing odds and pieces for several bidders.

One of the most surprising contracts they got was to produce two Cubby the Bear films for the New York-based Van Beuren in 1934. Van Beuren had his own studio making Cubby the Bear films, so what made him contracting Harman and Ising remains a puzzle. What’s clear, however, is that Harman & Ising’s Cubby was a far cry from Van Beuren’s own output.

Harman & Ising’s Cubby was in fact, Bosko but in a different design. His movements and spirit were indistinguishable from Harman & Ising’s former star. Like their cartoons for Warner Bros., Harman & Ising’s two Cubby the Bear films are animated by the same crew who had made the Bosko cartoons (e.g. Friz Freleng and Robert McKimson, before Schlesinger hired them away), resulting in cartoons that are at least well animated.

In the first of the two films, ‘Cubby’s World Flight’, Cubby follows Oswald (‘The Ocean Hop‘, 1927) and Mickey (‘Plane Crazy‘, 1928) in a Charles Lindbergh-inspired aviation film. Cubby starts flying alarmingly low, which leads to gags that go all the way back to ‘Plane Crazy’, he then crosses the United States, only to dive through the earth to reach China at the other side. Undaunted and with seemingly limitless supplies of fuel, Cubby flies over Russia to France, but above the Atlantic his plane is destroyed by a thunderstorm. Luckily our hero lands safely on the statue of liberty.

‘World Flight’ is practically indistinguishable from the early Warner Bros. films, and has little to do with Cubby as conceived by the Van Beuren studio itself. However, it’s a rather uninspired film, low on gags, and with an all too episodic story. In the best Warner Bros. tradition it features caricatures of the four Marx Brothers and of Maurice Chevalier.

Watch ‘Cubby’s World Flight’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Cubby’s World Flight’ is available on the Blu-Ray ‘The Complete Animated Adventures of Cubby Bear’ and on the DVD ‘The Complete Adventures of Cubby Bear’

Advertisements

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: June 17, 1950
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

What's Up, Doc © Warner Bros.‘What’s Up, Doc?’ starts very much like Friz Freleng’s ‘A Hare Grows in Manhattan‘ from 1947: Bugs Bunny is a Hollywood star, interviewed by the press.

However, Writer Warren Foster and director McKimson’s take is much funnier than Freleng’s: instead of turning to an ordinary chase sequence, the duo retains the idea of Bugs being a real actor throughout the picture. The cartoon shows his erratic career in the vaudeville scene.

The most absurd take is when Bugs Bunny is down in the dumps. We seem him hanging out in the park with actors, who, by 1950, belonged pretty much to the has-beens: Al Jolson, Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor and Bing Crosby. At this point, it is Elmer, “the famous vaudeville star”, who turns Bugs into a star. We watch the duo performing in what must be the most terrible vaudeville act ever put on screen. But when Bugs utters “what’s up, doc” the duo hits the jackpot.

This loony, self-satirizing from-rags-to-riches story is entertaining throughout, and leads to a great finale. It may well have inspired the equally tongue-in-cheek opening sequence of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ (1952), which shows some similarities to McKimson’s short.

‘What’s Up, Doc?’ is without doubt one of McKimson’s best cartoons. Sadly, the film more or less marks the end of McKimson’s most inspired era, for during the 1950s the quality of his cartoons steadily declined, becoming more and more routine, and less and less funny.

Watch ‘What’s Up, Doc?’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘What’s Up, Doc?’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 72
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Big House Bunny
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: 8 Ball Bunny

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: December 13, 1949
Stars: Goofy Gophers
Rating: ★★★
Review:

A Ham in a Role © Warner Bros.Robert McKimson reuses the Goofy Gophers from the Art Davis cartoons ‘Goofy Gophers’ (1947) and ‘Two Gophers from Texas’ (1948) to play them against an anonymous dog who wants to be a Shakespearean actor.

The dog finds the gophers in his house, where they start to nag him for no reason. The humor comes from the Shakespeare quotes and the apt practical jokes the Gophers play on the dog. However, it’s the opening scene that is the most remarkable part of the film: directly after the opening titles we watch the dog being hit by a pie, only to get the ‘That’s All Folks’ caption immediately after it. Then we watch the dog leaving ‘the stage’, cartoons and broad comedy in general to follow his Shakespearean dreams. This scene anticipates a similar scene in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?‘ (1988).

It’s a pity that the rest of the cartoon doesn’t live up to this great opening, and that McKimson didn’t use a more familiar or appealing character than this dog, which ultimately fails to impress.

Robert McKimson would return to the Gophers only once, in 1958, with ‘Gopher Broke’.

Watch ‘A Ham in a Role’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: November 19, 1949
Stars: Sylvester, Hippety Hopper
Rating: ★★
Review:

Hippety Hopper © Warner Bros‘Hippety Hopper’ introduces the kangaroo of the same name, and its only function during its entire career: being mistaken for a mouse.

The cartoon starts gloomily enough, with a misty harbor scene, where a mouse is trying to commit suicide. He’s rescued by Hippety Hopper, however, and together they face the mouse’s terror: Sylvester the cat. The mouse makes Sylvester think he can grow tall, and lets Hippety Hopper beat him out of the house. The best comedy comes from a bulldog who keeps pushing Sylvester back inside.

Hippety Hopper himself is a silent character with a friendly smile and absolutely no personality. He’s easily the least funny recurring star in the Warner Brothers cartoon catalog before the 1960s. Even in this first cartoon his appearance is tiresome. Nevertheless, he would star in twelve other cartoons, lasting even till 1964. The mouse, on the other hand, would disappear after this cartoon. No wonder: he’s designed and animated rather uglily.

Watch ‘Hippety Hopper’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: July 12, 1947
Stars: Foghorn Leghorn, Henery Hawk, Sylvester
Rating:  ★★★½
Review:

Crowing Pains © Warner Brothers‘Crowing Pains’ is Foghorn Leghorn’s second cartoon, and it immediately starts where the first (‘Walky Talky Hawky‘, from the previous year) left off: Henery Hawk wants to catch a chicken, and Foghorn Leghorn tricks him by pointing out somebody else as a chicken. This time it’s Sylvester, in an early appearance.

The cartoon is full of Warren Foster-penned nonsense, but the interplay between the four characters (the barnyard dog is also involved) doesn’t develop very well, and seems an early forerunner of the odd pairings of characters of some Warner Brothers cartoons from the 1960s. Unlike those, however, ‘Crowing Pains’ remains an enjoyable cartoon, albeit not among McKimson’s most inspired shorts.

Watch ‘Crowing Pains’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: April 12, 1947
Stars: Daffy Duck
Rating:  ★★★
Review:

Birth of a Notion © Warner BrothersDaffy Duck tricks a dog called Leopold with a ‘poisoned bone’ to let him stay at his house during the winter.

Unfortunately, the dog’s owner is an evil scientist (a caricature of Peter Lorre) who happens to be looking for a duck’s wishbone. This leads to a wild chase full of pretty weird gags and off-beat dialogue penned by Warren Foster.

‘Birth of a Nation’ is the second of two Warner Bros. cartoons featuring Peter Lorre as a mad scientist, the other being ‘Hair-Raising Hare’ from 1946. New voice artist Stan Freberg does an excellent job in mimicking and parodying Lorre’s typical voice.

Watch ‘Birth of a Notion’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: December 14, 1957
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Rabbit Romeo © Warner Brothers‘Rabbit Romeo’ opens with Elmer Fudd receiveing an enormous package from his uncle Judd Fudd containing a ‘Slobavian rabbit’.

The Slobavian rabbit turns out to be a giant female rabbit called Millicent. Elmer will get $500 if he will guard the rabbit until his uncle arrives. Unfortunately Millicent gets lonely, and expresses that by wrecking things, so Elmer seeks a companion, which of course has to be Bugs Bunny. In the end of the cartoon Bugs gets rid of the all too loving Millicent by putting Elmer into a rabbit suit.

‘Rabbit Romeo’ is a rare combination of storyman Michael Maltese and director Robert McKimson. Maltese’s peppy story makes it one of McKimson’s better latter day shorts. The designs on Bugs and Elmer may be flat and uninspired,  the animation on Millicent is great. Moreover, McKimson’s timing is excellent, and he excels in some facial expressions on Bugs Bunny, which belong to the best in any Bugs Bunny short.

Watch ‘Rabbit Romeo’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 134
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Show Biz Bugs
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Hareless Wolf

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: July 20, 1957
Stars: Speedy Gonzales
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Tabasco Road © Warner BrothersIt was Robert McKimson, not Friz Freleng, who directed the first Speedy Gonzales film ‘Cat-Tails for Two’. But it took four years before McKimson revisited this character.

By then Friz Freleng had redesigned McKimson’s creation in ‘Speedy Gonzales’, which had won an Academy Award.

McKimson’s returns to Speedy Gonzales actually results in one of Speedy’s finest films. Here Speedy tries to protect two drunken mice called Pablo and Fernando from a large grey cat. ‘Tabasco Road’ is a very talkative cartoon, but it’s also inspired and charming, especially because of the characters of Pablo and Fernando, who are as intoxicating as they are intoxicated. The best gag, however, is when Speedy’s action appears too fast for the viewer, and Speedy replays it for us in slow motion.

Watch ‘Tabasco Road’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: July 7, 1956
Stars: Daffy Duck
Rating:  ★★★
Review:

Stupor Duck © Warner Brothers‘Stupor Duck’ is a spoof on the Fleischer’s Superman cartoons, a series that had ended 13 years before, and was earlier parodied by Chuck Jones in ‘Super Rabbit’ (1943), starring Bugs Bunny.

This time Daffy is “Stupor Duck”, who, overhearing a television program, seeks for the non-existent villain Aardvark Ratnick, seeing his deeds in everything. Daffy, for example, rescues a submarine from ‘sinking’. The best part of the cartoon is its opening sequence which perfectly parodies the Fleischer’s opening sequence. The rest of the cartoon is unfortunately hampered by mediocre timing.

Watch ‘Stupor Duck’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/82993447/

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: August 31, 1946
Stars: Henery Hawk, Foghorn Leghorn
Rating:  ★★★★★
Review:

Walky Talky Hawky © Warner BrothersAlready in his fourth film as a director McKimson introduces his most durable star, Foghorn Leghorn.

The loud-mouthed rooster is coupled with Henery Hawk, in his second appearance since the Chuck Jones cartoon ‘The Squawkin’ Hawk’ (1942). Also featured is the Foghorn Leghorn’s regular opponent, the barnyard dog, and their recurring feud is already laid out in this short. Foghorn Leghorn uses Henery in this feud, making him believe the dog, not he, is a chicken. In the end Henery catches both, and even a horse, exclaiming; “one of them got to be a chicken”.

‘Walky Talky Hawky’ is one of McKimson’s most inspired cartoons. Both Foghorn Leghorn and the barnyard dog are great characters, and the short is full of great, rather Clampettian animation.

Foghorn Leghorn’s vocal mannerisms were inspired by a 1930s radio character called ‘The Sheriff’. Later, mannerisms from another radio character, Senator Claghorn, crept into the rooster’s vocabulary. For a detailed account on the origins of Foghorn Leghorn, see Keith Scott’s excellent post on Cartoon Brew.

Watch ‘Walky Talky Hawky’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date:
May 5, 1951
Rating:
 ★★★½
Review:

Early to Bet © Warner Brothers‘Early to Bet’ introduces the ‘gambling bug’, a bug that makes people want to gamble.

The little insect infects a cat who then starts to play gin rummy for penalties with an over-confident bulldog. The bulldog wins several times, and the cat has to pay the elaborate and rather zany, yet painful penalties. In the end, however, he plays against the bug, and wins, making the bug pay a penalty.

Apart from the original and pretty funny penalties, this is a mediocre cartoon, which lacks stars or even appealing characters.

Watch ‘Early to Bet’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.supercartoons.net/cartoon/681/early-to-bet.html

‘Early to Bet’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date:
 December 12, 1951
Stars:
 Bugs Bunny
Rating:
 ★★★
Review:

Big Top Bunny © Warner BrothersFive years after his first Bugs Bunny cartoon, ‘Acrobatty Bunny‘ (1946), McKimson returns to the circus setting.

This time Bugs is the new acrobat partner of an egotistical star acrobat bear called Bruno. This “Slobokian bear” is not a good sport and tries to get rid of Bugs, but of course, the reverse happens.

‘Big Top Bunny’ is better than ‘Acrobatty Bunny’, but it still suffers: it’s worn down by the high amount of rather unfunny dialogue and its slow pace. Nevertheless, the cartoon builds up nicely, and its best gags come in last: first there’s a great cycling gag, then there’s a superb gag in which Bugs and Bruno compete in the most daring high diving act. This is quickly followed by the frantic finale in which Bugs disposes of the bear once and for all.

Watch ‘Big Top Bunny’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Big Top Bunny’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 86

To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Ballot Box Bunny
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Operation: Rabbit

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date:
 January 21, 1950
Stars:
 Bugs Bunny
Rating:
 ★★½
Review:

Hurdy-Gurdy Hare © Warner BrothersIn this cartoon Bugs Bunny apparently lives in Central Park, New York.

He buys a hurdy-gurdy with a monkey in order to become rich. But when the monkey betrays Bugs, Bugs fires him and goes fetching the money at the apartment block himself. The monkey then fetches his big brother (a gorilla) to fix Bugs. But in the end it’s the gorilla who collects money for Bugs.

‘Hurdy-gurdy Hare’ is an inconsistent and rather weak cartoon, which nevertheless contains a great ladder gag, in which Bugs quotes Groucho Marx. At the end, Bugs makes a reference to James Petrillo, leader of the American Federation of Musicians at the time.

Watch ‘Hurdy-gurdy Hare’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.ulozto.net/live/xPiUKTr/bugs-bunny-hurdy-gurdy-hare-1950-avi

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 68
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Rabbit Hood
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Mutiny on the Bunny

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date:
 August 6, 1949
Stars:
 Bugs Bunny
Rating:
 ★★★
Review:

The Grey Hounded Hare © Warner BrothersBugs Bunny is at the dog races , where he falls in love with the mechanical bunny leading the dogs.

Bugs disposes of the dogs, having a hard time on number seven. But when he can finally kiss his sweetheart, the results are electrifying!

‘The Greyhounded Hare’ shows some of the flaws that were creeping into the McKimson cartoons around this time: there is a lot of excess animation, especially on Bugs Bunny; but worse, there is a surplus of dialogue, even though Bugs Bunny is the only talking character. Unfortunately, this leads to a cartoon in which the idea is sillier than its execution, despite a short Tex Averyan doubletake and another surprisingly Tex Averyan dynamite gag.

Watch ‘The Grey Hounded Hare’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x19d399_the-grey-hounded-hare_fun

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 63
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Knights Must Fall
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: The Windblown Hare

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date:
 March 26, 1949
Stars:
 Daffy Duck, Porky Pig
Rating:
 ★★★★★
Review:

Daffy Duck Hunt © Warner BrothersWith ‘Daffy Duck Hunt’ Robert McKimson returned to the subject of Daffy’s very first cartoon, ‘Porky’s Duck Hunt’ (1937).

Like in the original cartoon Porky Pig is hunting ducks, and Daffy in particular, to no avail. He’s now accompanied by a dog (a typical McKimson design). To trick Daffy, the dog convinces Daffy that he will be tortured if he doesn’t retrieve a duck, so Daffy allows the Dog to take him to Porky. Porky takes Daffy back home and puts him into a particularly cold fridge. From now on almost all the action takes place around the fridge in a wonderfully loony cartoon (penned by Warren Foster) full of wild gags and zany animation.

‘Daffy Duck Hunt’ is one of those Warren Foster/Robert McKimson cartoons that celebrate Daffy’s looniness perfectly. Highlight is a gag in which Daffy jumps out of the fridge in a Santa suit making Porky and the dog believe it’s Christmas. This gag is a nice and equally hilarious variation on a classic gag from Freleng’s ‘The Wabbit Who Came to Supper’ from 1942, in which Bugs Bunny made Elmer believe it’s new year’s day.

Watch ‘Daffy Duck Hunt’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Daffy Duck Hunt’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

This is Porky Pig cartoon no. 124
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: Paying the Piper
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: Curtain Raizor

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date:
 August 12, 1950
Stars:
 Bugs Bunny
Rating:
 ★★★★★
Review:

Hillbilly Hare © Warner BrothersBugs Bunny is on holiday in the Ozarks, Arkansas, where he meets two dumb and bearded Hillbilly brothers with ridiculously long guns.

When they both chase him, Bugs dresses as a country girl and invites them into a square dance. Soon, Bugs takes the fiddle himself, making the two brothers hurting each other while dancing in a long, catchy and funny square dance sequence.

‘Hillbilly Hare’ is one of McKimson’ all-time best Bugs Bunny cartoons, and certainly his most musical one. Throughout the picture, the animation is delightfully silly and over-the-top.

Watch an excerpt from ‘Hillbilly Hare’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 74
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: 8 Ball Bunny
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Bunker Hill Bunny

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date:
 April 9, 1949
Stars:
 Bugs Bunny
Rating
:
★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Rebel Rabbit © Warner BrothersTo his nuisance Bugs Bunny discovers that rabbits (2 cts.) are less worth than foxes ($50) and bears ($75).

He mails himself to Washington, where the game commissioner (“I’m game”) explains to him that rabbits are harmless and therefore worthless for hunters. Bugs decides to be harmful to increase his value. And harmful indeed he gets!

A few of his hilarious actions include painting the obelisk at Washington like a barber’s pole, returning Manhattan to the Indians, cutting off Florida, and filling the grand canyon with sand. He manages to raise the prize on his head to a million dollars, but he ends in Alcatraz prison, too, wondering whether he has carried things too far…

‘Rebel Rabbit’ is full of the zany spirit of the early Warren Foster/Robert McKimson cartoons, and, together with ‘Easter Yeggs‘ (1947) and ‘Hillbilly Hare‘ from a year later, probably the best of all Robert McKimson Bugs Bunny cartoons.

This wonderfully zany cartoon features live army footage.

Watch an excerpt from ‘Rebel Rabbit’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 58
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Mississippi Hare
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: High Diving Hare

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date:
 October 9, 1948
Stars:
 Foghorn Leghorn, Henery Hawk
Rating:
 ★★★★
Review:

The Foghorn Leghorn © Warner BrothersHenery Hawk’s cowardly dad forbids his little son to chase chickens, but Henery does it anyway.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t know what a chicken looks like, and he repeatedly ends up catching the barnyard dog, while the Foghorn Leghorn makes feeble attempts in convincing the little chicken hawk, that he‘s a chicken.

This premise is a great twist on the stories of the first two Henery Hawk/Foghorn Leghorn cartoons (‘Walky Talky Hawky‘ from 1946 and ‘Crowing Pains‘ from 1947). It’s clear from the title that by now Foghorn Leghorn had become the real star of the Henery Hawk cartoons, and deservedly so, because in his third appearance, this broad gesturing and talkative rooster is stealing the show.

At the same time, this is a transitional cartoon, in which the original looniness of McKimson’s first cartoons gradually makes way for a more dialogue-driven approach, as is perfectly illustrated by Foghorn Leghorn’s endless jabbering.

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

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date:
 August 7, 1950
Stars:
 Porky Pig, Daffy Duck
Rating:
 ★★★★
Review:

Boobs in the Woods © Warner BrothersIn ‘Boobs in the Woods’ Porky wants to paint in a forest, but he’s bothered by a particularly loony Daffy.

This cartoon is a typical example of Warren Foster-penned zaniness. Daffy makes no mistake about his zany character, which is similar to the one in the Foster/McKimson outings, like ‘Daffy Doodles’ (1946), ‘Daffy Duck Slept Here‘ (1948) and ‘Daffy Duck Hunt‘ (1949): in the opening scene he introduces himself in a loony song.

Nevertheless, ‘Boobs in the Woods’ is one of the last cartoons featuring this loony version of Daffy. Two months later Jones would introduce a different type in ‘The Scarlet Pumpernickel‘.

Apart from the excellent gags, ‘Boobs in the Woods’ is noteworthy for its extremely stylized and surprisingly flat backgrounds by Cornett Wood and Richard H. Thomas.

Watch ‘Boobs in the Woods’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Boobs in the Woods’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

This is Porky Pig cartoon no. 129
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: Bye, Bye Bluebeard
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: The Scarlet Pumpernickel

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: May 27, 1950
Stars: Porky Pig
Rating: 
Review:

An Egg Scramble © Warner Brothers‘An Egg Scramble’ introduces the feeble hen Miss Prissy, who would star in several Foghorn Leghorn cartoons.

In this short, however, she’s owned by Porky, who scowls her for failing to lay eggs. Shes tricked by the other hens, who make her believe she’s laid an egg. But when Porky takes it from her to sell, she follows it into town, where she accidentally teams up with a huge gangster.

The story of ‘An Egg Scramble’ is rather odd and never really convinces. It features a dog-like criminal and a very lifelike human woman, for instance. It’s also hampered by way too much dialogue, something that would become sadly characteristic of the McKimson cartoons.

Watch ‘An Egg Scramble’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.b99.tv/video/egg-scramble/

This is Porky Pig cartoon no. 131
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: The Scarlet Pumpernickel
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: Golden Yeggs

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 782 other followers

Bookmark and Share

Follow TheGrob on Twitter

Categories