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Director: Walter Lantz or Bill Nolan
Release Date: June 2, 1930
Stars: Oswald the Rabbit, Peg Leg Pete
Rating: ★★★★

Hell's Heels © Walter LantzIn the spring of 1929 Universal announced that it had set up an animation studio to make sound cartoons of its own. Head of the studio was Walter Lantz. This was the beginning of the Walter Lantz studio, which lasted well into the 1970s, outliving all other contemporary cartoon studios.

With this contract Walter Lantz inherited Oswald the rabbit, a character originally conceived by Walt Disney in 1927, but whose copyright was owned by Universal. Universal demanded no less than 26 Oswald cartoons each year, and the results were consequently of variable quality.

‘Hell’s Heels’, Lantz’s 23th Oswald cartoon, is one of the better ones. It opens with Oswald, Peg Leg Pete and an anonymous grey dog being a gang of bandits wandering and singing through the desert. The three decide to rob a bank and Pete and the Dog send Oswald inside with dynamite. Oswald blows up the bank, killing Pete and the dog(!). Later, Oswald befriends the Sheriff’s little boy, which leads to some song-and-dance scenes, which surprisingly features a number of skeletons.

It’s strange to watch Oswald and Pete being buddies in this film, and the story is rather inconsistent, but the cartoon is fast and funny, and full of gags. Its lively jazzy score by James Dietrich is highly enjoyable, and the animation by Bill Nolan and Clyde Geronimi is joyful and of a fair quality. ‘Hell’s Heels’ shows that in 1930 other animation studios still could match the Walt Disney studio.

Watch ‘Hell’s Heels’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date:
 December 24, 1949
 Bugs Bunny, Errol Flynn

Rabbit Hood © Warner BrothersWe’re suddenly in medieval England, where Bugs Bunny tries to “poach” one of the king’s carrots and is arrested by the Sheriff of Nottingham.

This leads to several very funny encounters between Bugs and the Sheriff. The action is at times interrupted by a particularly dopey Little John who repeatedly announces the coming of Robin Hood. When Robin Hood finally does arrive, he appears to be Errol Flynn (live action footage from the 1938 feature ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ ).

The best gag however, is when Bugs sells the King’s Royal garden to the sheriff as the perfect site to build a house. The poor sheriff only discovers he’s fooled after he has built half the house. It’s gags like these which make ‘Rabbit Hood’ an unassuming and probably underrated highlight in the Bugs Bunny catalog.

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

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 67
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Which is Witch?
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Hurdy-gurdy Hare

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