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Director: Mannie Davis
Release Date: March 10, 1933
Stars: Cubby the Bear, Honey
Rating:
Review:

Love's Labor Won © Van Beuren‘Love’s Labor Won’, Cubby the Bear’s second cartoon, is the most musical short featuring Van Beuren’s poor man’s Mickey Mouse.

The cartoon starts with Cubby riding a dachshund to his girlfriend’s house. This anonymous girl, only called Honey by Cubby, is yet another variation on Oswald’s Honey, Flip’s Honey, or Mickey’s Minnie and fails to be distinct in any sense. The two make music together. At one point Cubby takes his gloves off to play the piano four hands with them, incidentally revealing to have nails. Cubby’s and Honey’s duet causes a lot of singing and dancing by forest animals. It’s startling to watch the Van Beuren studio embracing the song-and-dance-routine so passionately in 1933, when other studios were already abandoning them. But then suddenly some kind of story resolves when the routine is disturbed by a mean old wolf. Cubby fights him, and the cartoon ends with his triumph.

Despite the joyful setting, there’s little to enjoy in ‘Love’s Labor Won’. The animation is sloppy, and Cubby is frustratingly bland, not even emulating Mickey’s persistent optimism. In this cartoon he has a ridiculous crooner voice, which would not return in subsequent cartoons.

Watch ‘Love’s Labor Won’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Love’s Labor Won’ is available on the DVD ‘The Complete Adventures of Cubby Bear’ and the Blu-Ray ‘The Complete Animated Adventures of Cubby Bear’

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Directors: Harry Bailey & John Foster
Release Date: January 18, 1931
Stars: Rita Mouse?
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Red Riding Hood © Van Beuren‘Red Riding Hood’ is one of those early 1930s cartoons that have to be seen to be believed.

In this spoof of Red Riding Hood, the ill grandma is visited by a doctor. The doctor’s “jazz tonic’ makes grandma young and handsome, and the wolf starts to fancy her. He plays for her on the harmonium, while ‘grandma’ dances. However, when Red Riding Hood (a Minnie Mouse-copy, see also ‘Circus Capers‘ and ‘The Office Boy‘) enters, the wolf and grandma both flee in the wolf’s car to get married.

Red Riding Hood, meanwhile, warns the wolf’s wife and kids, who hurry to the wedding chapel. They tear the wolf away, leaving grandma crying.

There’s some nice animation on the wolf’s car, but otherwise the animation on this cartoon is wildly inconsistent. However, its story is so weird, it becomes enjoyable.

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

‘Red Riding Hood’ is available on the DVD ‘Uncensored Animation from the Van Beuren Studio’

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: September 27, 1952
Stars: Droopy, The Wolf
Rating:
Review:

Caballero Droopy © MGMIn 1950 Tex Avery left MGM for a sabbatical, most probably due to overwork. Dick Lundy was hired to replace him, and the first cartoon he directed at MGM was ‘Caballero Droopy’.

This short’ is strangely reminiscent of the cartoons of Lundy’s former employer, Walter Lantz, with which it shares a lesser quality: both the designs and the animation are sub-par. It’s really as if this cartoon was made at Walter Lantz instead of at MGM.

For ‘Caballero Droopy’ Lundy revived the wolf, gave him a mustache and placed him into a Mexican setting, in which he tries to outdo Droopy in serenading the phlegmatic dog’s girl. The cartoon is full of Tex Averyanisms, but due to its low production quality it never takes off.

‘Caballero Droopy’ remained the only Droopy cartoon Lundy directed. He moved on to the ailing Barney Bear series, before he had to leave MGM on Tex Avery’s return in October 1951.

Watch ‘Caballero Droopy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/83899298/

Director: Mikhail Kamenetsky
Release Date: 1984
Rating: ★★
Review:

Wolf and Calf © SoyuzmultfilmMikhail Kamenetsky (1924-2006) was a director of numerous puppet films made between 1965 to 1995, almost all featuring animals.

In his ‘Wolf and Calf’ an old wolf steals a calf to eat, but he starts to like it and raises it like his own son. In the end, when a hungry bear, a vixen and a boar try to steal his loot, he is saved by the calf itself, which has turned into a strong bull.

‘Wolf and Calf’ is a fable-like children’s film with an old-fashioned look. The designs of the protagonists look like they have come from a 1950’s toy shop. Kamenetsky’s puppet animation is elaborate, and actually quite good, if erratic, but the film suffers from an excess of dialogue, which not always seems to correspond with the animated characters themselves.

Moreover, the film’s world is rather inconsistent, stretching its believability: the wolf, like all other animals, is highly anthropomorphic and even lives in a house, alongside humans, who are afraid of him nonetheless. The calf, on the other hand, remains on all fours, and stays an animal, even though it is able to speak.

Watch ‘Wolf and Calf’ yourself and tell me what you think:

 

Directors: Tex Avery
Release Date: August 3, 1946
Stars: Droopy, The Wolf
Rating:  ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Northwest Hounded Police © MGM

In ‘Northwest Hounded Police’ Avery revisited the material of ‘Dumb Hounded‘ (1943) to make a film that is faster, more concise, more extreme, more paranoid and funnier than the original.

The idea of Droopy being everywhere is quickly established, while the focus lies on the wolf’s double takes, which get more and more extreme during the film, including the famous jaw drop. The cool part is that Droopy (or ‘Sergeant McPoodle’ as he’s called here) only has to be there to scare the wits out of the wolf. He doesn’t do anything but being there.

In the wolf’s double takes Tex Avery explores the limits of cartoon exaggeration. These extreme takes make ‘Northwest Hounded Police the epitome of animated cartoon paranoia, displaying a world of fear that has not been seen on the animated screen since the Fleischer cartoon ‘Bimbo’s Initiation‘ (1931). If there should be only one classic Tex Avery cartoon, this must be it.

Watch ‘Northwest Hounded Police’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.veoh.com/watch/v202943sX3q26aT?h1=Northwest+Hounded+Police+-+Droopy

Directors: Tex Avery
Release Date: November 3, 1945
Stars: Droopy, Red, The Wolf
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Wild and Woolfy © MGMAfter the successful ‘The Shooting of Dan McGoo‘ Droopy from earlier that year, Red and the Wolf join forces again in ‘Wild and Woolfy’, a hilarious spoof on the classic western.

The cartoon has the simple plot of Droopy following the wolf, who has kidnapped Red after her performance of a nice country & western yodeling song. But Tex Avery once again packs the film with gags, including a wonderful and now classic empty road gag.

Film composer Scott Bradley reuses his twelve tone row he had introduced in the Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘Puttin’ on the Dog’ (1944) to accompany Droopy riding his little blue horse, with equally funny results.

Watch ‘Wild and Woolfy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Directors: Tex Avery
Release Date: April 14, 1945
Stars: Droopy, Red, The Wolf
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

The Shooting of Dan McGoo © MGMIn his second film Droopy enters the wolf’s world of sex, joining forces with the ever sexy Red as his lover Lou, while the wolf’s the villain entering the Alaskan saloon and Droopy is ‘dangerous Dan McGoo’ himself.

The cartoon is a hilarious re-telling of the poem ‘The Shooting of Dan McGrew’ by Robert Service. It is simply packed with self-conscious gags and puns. Red is absolutely stunning, when she sings a great army song, displaying her popularity with the armed forces. Her performance remains a tour of the force of animation, courtesy of animator Preston Blair.

‘The Shooting of Dan McGoo’ was Tex Avery’s second take on Service’s poem, the first being the Warner Brothers cartoon ‘Dangerous Dan McFoo’  from 1939.

Watch ‘The Shooting of Dan McGoo’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/83894809/

Directors: Tex Avery
Release Date: March 20, 1943
Stars: Droopy, The Wolf
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Dumb Hounded © MGM‘Dumb Hounded’ marks the debut of Droopy, the first of all cartoon heroes to be deliberately deadpan.

He is introduced as a very slow bloodhound used to catch the escaped convict, the wolf. He manages to do so by being everywhere the wolf flees to.

Droopy’s übercalm contrasts nicely with the wolf’s extreme double-takes. The best gag is when Droopy asks the wolf not to move, whereupon the wolf uses a multitude of vehicles to flee to a very remote log cabin, only to find Droopy there, exclaiming: “you moved, didn’t you?”. This sequence has a lightning fast montage, something that is lacking from the rest of the film, which suffers a little from an inconsistent story line. The result is a film that is not quite satisfying in the end.

Tex Avery may have felt the same, for he would remake ‘Dumb Hounded’ only three years later with ‘Northwest Hounded Police‘, which uses the same or similar gags to a much greater comic effect.

After Bugs Bunny, Droopy would be Tex Avery’s best effort in creating a cartoon star. The phlegmatic dog would last until 1958, starring 24 cartoons in total. The wolf would be his adversary until 1949, after which he was exchanged for the bulldog Spike. Nevertheless, the wolf would return in 1954, in two Western cartoons, ‘Drag-along Droopy’ and ‘Homesteader Droopy’. Unfortunately, Droopy’s popularity would never come near MGM’s superstars Tom and Jerry, let alone win Academy Awards, like the cat and mouse duo did.

Watch ‘Dumb Hounded’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Frank Tashlin
Release Date: November 3, 1944
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

I Got Plenty of Mutton © Warner Brothers‘I Got Plenty of Mutton’ opens with a hungry wolf reading in the newspaper that the sheepdog is drafted, leaving the sheep unprotected.

Unfortunately, Killer-Diller, “the wolf destroying ram” is now in charge, giving the wolf a hard time, especially when the wolf dresses up as a sexy female sheep tot lure the ram away. When to get rid of the horny ram, the wolf reveals himself as being a wolf, the ram simply replies “so am I!”.

This cartoon is full of zany silent comedy, with frequent looks into the camera by the poor wolf, anticipating similar looks by Chuck Jones’ Coyote in his Road Runner series.

Watch an excerpt from ‘I Got Plenty of Mutton’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Dmitry Babichenko
Release Date: 1950
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

The Stag and the Wolf © SoyuzmultfilmA wolf gets trapped under a tree. A stag helps him out, but as soon as he is free, the wolf tries to catch and eat his helper.

The stag claims this to be unjust, and the two animals ask a bear to be a referee. The bear restores the initial situation to be able to judge the argument, but then runs off with the deer, leaving the wolf under the tree again.

‘The Stag and the Wolf’ is a typical Russian animation film from the early fifties, this time based on an ancient tale (it’s even found among folk tales in Cameroon, albeit with different animals). Like contemporary Soviet films, it has the distinct flavor of Russified Disney. The film pushes the limits of Soviet naturalism, especially in the backgrounds. The bear, however, is very Disney-like, and a little at odds with the particularly realistically designed stag.

Watch ‘The Stag and the Wolf’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: January 3, 1953
Stars: Sam Sheepdog & Ralph Wolf
Rating:
 ★★★★★
Review:

Don't Give Up the Sheep © Warner Brothers‘Don’t Give up the Sheep’ is the first cartoon in a series of seven cartoons featuring the excellent duo Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf.

In their first entry Sam Sheepdog is called Ralph, while Ralph remains yet unnamed. Sam goes to work, relieving his colleague Fred in attending the sheep. He has to counter the attacks by Ralph the wolf, who looks like Wile E. Coyote’s scruffy cousin. The cartoon is full of excellent, Road Runner-like blackout cartoons. In his silliest attempt the wolf dresses up as the God Pan to lull the sheepdog to sleep. To no avail, of course.

In this cartoon the backgrounds (by Carlos Manriquez) are becoming more stylized, although they still look like real nature. Sam and Ralph would never become major characters, but their miniseries is a little delight within the Warner Brothers canon.

Watch ‘Don’t Give up the Sheep’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.wimp.com/hilariouscartoon/

‘Don’t Give up the Sheep’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: August 27, 1949
Stars: Bugs Bunny
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

The Windblown Hare © Warner BrothersThe three pigs sell their straw and wooden houses to Bugs Bunny, because they’ve read in a book what’s going to happen.

The wolf, who’s reading the same book, indeed blows both houses down, to much dismay of Bugs. Bugs revenges by dressing up like Red Riding Hood. This leads to hilarious sequences, including a perfectly executed light and staircase gag. In the end, Bugs helps the wolf blowing the pigs’ brick house down, by blowing it up.

‘The Windblown Hare’ is a nice example of a fairy tale mix-up cartoon, comparable to ‘The Big Bad Wolf‘ (1934),  ‘The Bear’s Tale’ (1940) and ‘Swing Shift Cinderella’ (1945). It is hampered a little by large amounts of dialogue, but it still has plenty of silliness to laugh at.

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

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 64
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: The Grey Hounded Hare
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Frigid Hare

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: December 18, 1943
Stars: Bugs Bunny
Rating:
 ★★★★★
Review:

Little Red Riding Rabbit © Warner BrothersIn this wacky take on the classic tale of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, Red Riding Hood is a bespectacled, loud-voiced teenager taking Bugs in her basket to her Grandma.

The wolf sends Red Riding Hood on a long and winding road across a mountain, while he takes a shortcut to grandma’s house, which appears to be just two meters away. The wolf doesn’t need to get rid of grandma, who’s “working swing shift at Lockheed’ (a typical war era reference), but oddly enough he has to get rid of some other wolves waiting in bed.

When Red Riding Hood arrives at grandma’s place, the wolf quickly disposes of the unappealing girl, and gets into a chase routine with Bugs, involving a marvelous door sequence, worked out perfectly in Friz Freleng’s typical timing.

However, at several points they’re interrupted by Red Riding Hood, who insists on asking her familiar questions. In the end, Bugs gets so annoyed that he punishes her instead of the wolf.

‘Little Red Riding Rabbit’ is one of the most successful of all fairytale-inspired cartoons. It’s loaded with funny gags and one of the early highlights in the Bugs Bunny catalog.

Watch ‘Little Red Riding Rabbit’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://ulozto.net/live/xRipWpf/bugs-bunny-little-red-riding-rabbit-1944-avi

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 21
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Falling Hare
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: What’s Cookin’, Doc?

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