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Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: January 10, 1941
Stars: Popeye, Poopdeck Pappy
Rating:  ★★★★★
Review:

Problem Pappy © Max FleischerIn ‘Problem Pappy’ story man Ted Pierce (of later Warner Bros. fame) reuses part of the story idea from ‘With Poopdeck Pappy‘: Popeye wants to wake his dad, only to find the bed empty.

When Popeye starts looking for his father, he finds his mischievous old dad juggling on a pole on top of a tall building. Popeye’s attempts to retrieve his pop account for some delightful comedy on dizzying heights. T

he film is simply stuffed with great gags and original images, like Popeye using lightning bolts as Tarzan would use lianas. The staging in this cartoon is absolutely wonderful, and the animators make great use of a shot of the staircase of the tall building. In all, ‘Problem Pappy’ is one of the all time best Popeye cartoons, and completely in tune with the faster comedy style of the chase cartoon era.

Watch ‘Problem Pappy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This Popeye film No. 91
To the previous Popeye film: Popeye Presents Eugene, the Jeep
To the next Popeye film: Quiet! Pleeze

‘Problem Pappy’ is available on the DVD set ‘Popeye the Sailor 1941-1943’

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Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: January 5, 1945
Stars: Pepe le Pew
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Odor-able Kitty © Warner Brothers ‘Odor-able Kitty’, marks the debut of that French-speaking, amorous skunk Pepe le Pew.

In his book ‘Chuck Amuck’ Jones reveals that this character was based on story man Tedd Pierce. In any case, Pierce wrote the story, but how much of himself he had put self-knowingly into this smelly Don Juan remains a mystery.

Oddly enough, in his first cartoon Pepe turns out to be a fraud, being married and having two children. Even his voice changes in the end of the cartoon. But before this surprising finale he’s genuinely Pepe, complete with quasi-French accent, strange hop (including Stalling’s typical theme music), and a love for cats that look like skunks.

Only, in ‘Odor-able Kitty’ this is a male cat, who deliberately disguises himself as a skunk to get a happier life. He has one, until Pepe hops along. In the end, the cat washes himself and returns to his former life as victim of maltreatment, exclaiming “this is the life!”.

Pepe le Pew’s character didn’t really develop after this film, and all his films have more or less the same story as his debut film. Nevertheless Pepe would be one of the most successful of the characters conceived by Chuck Jones, second to the Road Runner and the Coyote, only. He lasted until 1962, starring fourteen more cartoons.

Watch ‘Odor-able Kitty’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.220.ro/desene-animate/12-Odor-Able-Kitty/GcMYA69rME/

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: July 3, 1943
Stars: Bugs Bunny
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Wackiki Wabbit © Warner BrothersTwo castaways on a raft are so hungry they are ready to eat each other.

Then they land on a tropical, quasi-Hawaiian island, which strangely enough is inhabited by Bugs Bunny, and the two hungry men immediately try to catch and eat our hero. Of course they don’t manage to do so, and in a hilarious end scene, it’s Bugs, not they, who sails off on an ocean stormer into the distance.

The two castaways were modeled on the cartoon’s story men, Tedd Pierce (the tall one) and Michael Maltese (the short one), and the two men actually voiced their cartoon counterparts themselves.

The cartoon’s real stars however, are its outrageous backgrounds. Designed by Bernyce Polifka and painted by her husband, Gene Fleury, they are arguably the boldest backgrounds in any cartoon from the pre-UPA-era. The island is depicted in brassy, strangely colored, semi-abstract to abstract images, with no sense of three-dimensionality, whatsoever. Nevertheless, the clearly three-dimensional characters read surprisingly well against the outlandish backgrounds.

Polifka had replaced John McGrew, who had worked with Fleury on experimental backgrounds for Chuck Jones cartoons like ‘Conrad the Sailor‘ (1942) and ‘The Aristo-Cat‘ (1943), but who had joined the navy in 1942. The couple shared McGrew’s boldness, and worked with Jones on ‘Hell-Bent for Election’ (1944), one of UPA’s earliest films. But apparently they left Warner Bros. somewhere in 1943-1944. In 1949 they worked for Lou Bunin’s part live action part stop motion feature ‘Alice in Wonderland’, but after this job, they seemingly disappeared from the animation world. So, ‘Wackiki Wabbit’ remains their most famous and greatest legacy. The backgrounds themselves can be admired on the late Michael Sporn’s excellent blogpost on this cartoon.

Watch ‘Wackiki Wabbit’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 18
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Jack Rabbit and the Beanstalk
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: A Corny Concerto

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: April 30, 1949
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

High Diving Hare © Warner BrothersBugs is presenting a vaudeville show in some western town.

Yosemite Sam especially visits his show to see the high diving Fearless Freep. Unfortunately, Freep is delayed by a storm and can’t come to perform. The disappointed Sam urges Bugs to take Freep’s place.

What follows is a masterful series of gags, which all end with Sam falling from the ridiculously high platform. At one point Freleng doesn’t even bother to point out how Bugs makes Sam take the plunge once again. As if it’s a natural law, Sam will fall anyway. Bugs, on the other hand, defies the law of the gravity. But you know, he tells us at the end, he never studied law…

Penned by storyman Tedd Pierce, this wonderfully hilarious cartoon takes a single idea from Freleng’s earlier ‘Stage Door Cartoon‘ (1944) and milks it brilliantly to a superb finale. Freleng’s timing rarely was so effective as in this cartoon, and it must rank among his all time best.

Watch ‘High Diving Hare’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘High Diving Hare’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 59
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Rebel Rabbit
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Bowery Bugs

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