Monday, 13 April 2015

375. Foney Fables (1942)

Warner cartoon no. 374.
Release date: August 1, 1942.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Various voices), Sara Berner (Mother), Frank Graham (Narrator / Wolf).
Story: Michael Maltese.
Animation: Richard Bickenbach.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: A series of gags focused on famous fables, with a recurring gag of a boy crying 'wolf'.

For an alternate concept in a spot-gag cartoon, nothing could be a better choice of selecting a topic by parodying fairy tales. For one, they are very familiar stories immortalised by society (like Jack and the Beanstalk and a lot of Aesop's fables which are in the public domain), so most of the gags would hardly be dated.

This allows the writer a good advantage of creating timeless gags towards timeless fables. The concept has been used similarly in Tex Avery's A Gander at Mother Goose, where the parody focused on children's nursery rhymes, and Maltese takes this concept onto fairy tales. With the wits of Michael Maltese, as well as Freleng's masterful direction - not much should go wrong in making the cartoon.

From the first sequence in the cartoon, Maltese already sets the short to a fresh start, in conceiving an unpredictable punchline. The scene centers on Sleeping Beauty. The scene is set in one of tale's most iconic moments of the prince arriving at her tower, awakening her with true love's first kiss. Just as the prince is about to kiss, he tugs her shoulders shouting: "Come on, wake up! Wake up, you lazy good-for-nothing! Come on, wake up!" A great gag because of its sheer spontaneity.


Another great gag which great unpredictability is shown in the sequence parodying Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp. This is a good collaboration of talent from both Maltese and Freleng. In this scene, Aladdin attempts to rub a magical lamp to awake a powerful genie. He sings Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair.

To no avail, he attempts to rub the lamp again but in a more furious tone. At this point, the genie appears with a picket sign pointing out from the lamp, reading Genie on Strike, as the picket sign paces around the lamp; protesting. Freleng's timing works in its subtle ways, as the sudden appearance of the picket sign adds to how unpredictable the punchline is.

Sequences which show good parody and gag sense is evident in satirising scenes or infamous features in fables, by contradicting them. Michael Maltese puts this into good use during the Tom Thumb scene. The narrator describes him as "no bigger than a man's thumb."

In a interior shot of the house, we find an elderly couple who care for Tom Thumb. The narrator then asks for his presence, and they point at a direction: leading the camera to pan at an oversized appearance of Tom Thumb. The narrator asks, dumbfounded: "How did you get so big?". Tom Thumb reveals this to be the effects of Thiamine (Vitamin B-1), which he guzzles. A rather obscure reference: thiamine helps fuel the body by converting blood sugar into energy, hence the enormous size from Thumb.


The following sequence is another is parody on the infamous Jack and the Beanstalk tale, but it doesn't work as well as the Tom Thumb sequence. The established scene shows Jack climbing down a beanstalk, narrowly escaping the giant's hand. At this point, the giant slows down and stops running.

The following scene reveals that the giant is bizarrely two-headed. One head is shown to be fatigued, and the other head leans over a roof, sulking. The narrator comments: "Say, you almost had him. Why did you quit?". the giant replies: "Aw, he's been sick." Although the gag is a little bizarre, its punchline lacks pay off as it is a little weak.

Other sequences show rather little or pay off in humour or execution. This is evident in the short parody of The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing. The wolf is described as being the "fifth columnist of his day." He puts on the disguise and begins to hop around masquerading as a sheep. As the wolf encounters a unsuspecting "sheep", the wolf quietly creeps towards it, anticipating an ambush pose.

Just then, the sheep is revealed to be another wolf in disguise who shouts: "Scram, bum! I'm working this side of the pasture." The wolf tosses his disguise to the ground, annoyed at his flawed plan. As a gag it's a little lame, as the climax of the joke doesn't pay off well.


On the other hand, the sequence with the baby really does pay off in terms of execution and spontaneity. The scene is a little out of place, as it isn't based on a fairy-tale, but a nursery rhyme. Nevertheless, the gag is passable so it works on its own.

The scene features a baby who is enjoying his toes getting pinched by his mother who playfully recites This Little Piggy with his toes. Sara Berner's Russian dialect adds to the charming touch of the sequence. As the mother reaches for the big toe, she pinches it roughly - causing the baby to leap in pain, and his giggling noise range into a masculine scream. The baby yells: "For crying out Pete's sake, mother! Be careful! My corn!". Blanc does a solid delivery which adds to the tone of the scene. I believe the accent is likely a Greek dialect, based from a character off the Fibber McGee and Molly show, Nick Depopoulous, who was known for the line: "For crying out Pete's sake!".

Being produced during WW2, this created an advantage for Mike Maltese to produce some war-related gags which would be satirised into infamous fables. However, they don't all hold up well. A striking example is seen in The Grasshopper and the Ants, with the established scenario showing a lazy grasshopper, humming while an ant paces back and forth harvesting.

After pacing back and forth, the ant complains: "You're gonna be sorry. I've worked all summer and put away plenty for the winter. But you, you lazy thing. You're gonna starve!" The grasshopper shakes his head in a "I don't think so" attitude, revealing a handful of bonds he's holding in his hand - exploiting his patriotism.

War-time references which don't hold up too well is seen during The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg parody. Once she ways a litter of eggs, she carries her nest and throws them away. The narrator comments, "Hey, wait a minute! You're supposed to lay golden eggs." Bearing the same voice as Daffy Duck, the goose replies: "Not anymore, brother. I'm doing my bit for national defense". A close-up reveals the egg to be identifies as "Never-Wear Aluminium", which is of course a take-off on "WearEver". Note how Carl Stalling appears to heavy rely on the song We Did it Before (and We Can Do it Again) on war-related gags as well as other themes. The goose dumps the aluminium eggs in a scrap pile, and proceeds to hatch more.


Another gag which is war-related, but works on its own is evident in the Mother Hubbard sequence (animation by Phil Monroe). When the U.S. entered the war, food hoarding occurred almost immediately, due to rations, so this would've been a beneficial gag for Maltese. The scenario shows the mother leading her enthusiastic dog towards a couple.

Like the nursery rhyme, she opens one side of cupboard - which is bare. The dog opens another cupboard - showing a pile of meat stacked inside. And so, the dog begins to back away from the mother, offended. He starts to accuse her: "Why you dirty, double-crossing..". He opens the window and begins to yell accusations to the mother: "Food hoarder! She's a food hoarder!".  A tad dated, it's a gag which still works on its own. Blanc's delivery on the dog is nicely executed as well as the gag itself.

 One of the short's recurring gags is one of the more entertaining ones, yet very predictable. The fable parodied is on The Boy Who Cried Wolf. The scene shows a boy who cries "Wolf, wolf! Help, help the wolf!". This leads to an alarmed hunter to run to the scene, only to be tricked by the boy, who laughs at him. The scene which reappears throughout the cartoon really has no gag, at least not until it's payoff in the final scene.

Most of the scenes were animated by Dick Bickenbach, who animates a convincing performance of the cocky shepherd. The narrator constantly warns the boy to not jinx his pranks. The boy ignores him, relying back cockily, "Go on, go on. Mind your own business. Mind your own business. Can't a guy have a little fun?"

Freleng's timing of the hunter chasing at the scene is clever and it matches Stalling's improvised cues. It pays off in the final scene, even though the gag is very predictable. We know the boy's fate is tied to the wolf, but how is it delivered? The boy cries wolf one last time, and the hunter still answers to these yells. This time, he skids and takes with astonishment. The final scene reveals a wolf leaning by the sign, mimicking the cocky boy's laughter from earlier in the short. The delivery of the wolf's laughter provided by Blanc is humorous, though it seems a waste of pay-off, as it hardly adds up to a funny gag.

As a whole, the theme for a spot-gag short set in fairy tales is a much better concept, for parodying fairy tales can be timeless depending on what context it's presented. Some of the gags work and are pulled off wonderfully, particularly the Genie scene and the Sleeping Beauty sequence. However, there are many gags which are dated due to wartime references which haven't aged very well. Freleng's timing isn't so theatrical in this short, as some of the gags didn't meet to the best of his abilities. However, Freleng times his scenes thoroughly well in order to match the sequences. Admittedly, the recurring gag is a little weak in pay off, as it could've been a little more satirical as some of the other scenes which were portrayed. Overall, it's a passable spot-gag short with some delightful sequences that feature great spontaneity, and others which aren't quite so. It's fair to say it's one of the better spot-gag shorts produced by the Studio.

Rating: 3/5.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

374. Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid (1942)

Warner cartoon no. 373.
Release date: July 11, 1942.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Vultures), Sara Berner (Mother Vulture), Kent Rogers (Beaky Buzzard - "Killer").
Story: Warren Foster.
Animation: Rod Scribner.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: A bashful buzzard is out in the desert looking for dinner, and chooses Bugs Bunny to be his would-be victim.

Being a fresh, innovative director: Bob Clampett was still open towards popular cultural references in this era, and to include them in his shorts, much like everyone else did at Warners. In this case, Clampett uses the bashful Mortimer Snerd, a famous puppet based on ventriloquist Edgar Bergen to be the personality for the buzzard.

According to Michael Barrier, the buzzard was originally known as the "Snerd Bird" based on production papers. According to a Clampett interview by Mike Barrier, Ernest Gee (Flash Gee), a former story artist at Schlesinger who supported Clampett with story issues by doing uncredited work on this cartoon, even though Foster has story credit. Clampett used the Mortimer Snerd reference which was immortalised in the buzzard, who later would become Beaky Buzzard. Only appearing in a couple of cartoons, Beaky Buzzard (known as "Killer" in the cartoon) was wonderfully characterised by Clampett and Warren Foster, that he belonged in the excellent Warner Bros. legacy.

Warren Foster (or Flash Gee, according to Barrier's interview with Clampett) sets the cartoon's opening to a fresh start. The establishing scene reveals a mother buzzard ordering her children to collect some food for dinner, and giving each of them selective choices. As three of the buzzards approve, ("Okay mama dear!"), there is bound to be subtle war-time references, such as when the buzzards take off like aircraft.


The mother vulture double-takes when she realises Beaky is the only buzzard who hasn't left, she exclaims: "Why, Killer, what you waiting for? Get a move on! Get going! Scram!"

At this point, Beaky is revealed to be a mamas boy who shies over to his mother, smothering his forehead at her chest, saying: "No, no no! Nope! I don't wanna." It's a neat little set-up, emphasising there is always one in every family: the vulture being too shy to leave its home.

So, the reference to Mortimer Snerd fits with the personality. Kent Rogers does a solid performance at voicing Beaky, as well as a decent impression of Snerd. The mother attempts to encourage Beaky, "Well, at least go out and get a little rabbit, or something." The part where the mother kicks Beaky's rear end away from the nest is cynical, and today it would be considered inappropriate.  Clampett's timing on the mother anticipating a kick as well as her attitude is hilarious.

Then, Beaky Buzzard is left in mid-air. His attempt to keep his flight steady by flapping his wings shows some nice overlapping action. It gets more entertaining when you listen to Beaky Buzzard humming Arkansas Traveller, as Kent Roger's vocals adds to his dim-witted personality. His characterisation works wonderfully in the scene, and the buzzard's dimly flapping his wings as he flies works right down to the frame.

Johnny Burton's camera department do a decent job in shooting a point of view shot of Beaky looking down at the almost uninhabited desert. At this point, Beaky double-takes when he catches a glimpse of Bugs Bunny in a typical introduction shot of the character: sitting of his rabbit hole, reading "Hare-Raising Stories" and chewing his carrot.


Preparing to dive at Bugs, he hides underneath a clouds, bragging: "I'm a-stalking a victim!" and then rapidly soars down. Bugs notices this, leading him to take and zip down his rabbit hole.

To give Bugs a rather brash start, he enters the scene disguised as a air-traffic controller commenting: "Come in, B-19. Come in, B-19. Ceiling: 500 feet. Visibility: seven yards. Now level off. Steady now. Easy dear. Easy does it." Of course, the B-19 is a reference to the infamous bomber aircraft during World War II. Clampett has a rare ability of turning a predictable gag into a suspenseful one, and allowing it to pay off. Bugs slowly records at the soaring buzzard, until Beaky suddenly crashes outside Bugs's hole. The spontaneity in Clampett's sharp timing as well as how sudden it was, makes a rather predictable gag pay off. Bugs proceeds to flick Beaky's rear end, causing hint to tilt back immediately. It makes sense to give the sequence to Rod Scribner, who does a first-rate job in animating Bugs in his exaggerated form, as well as creating Beaky's collision convincing.

In a brief sequence where they first meet each other, Foster cleverly creates some substitute lyrics from Blues in the Night as part of Beaky's dialogue: "My mama done told me, to bring home something to dinner." After realising Bugs is Beaky's target, he quickly sets up a strategy, asking Beaky to wait.

Clampett's juvenile sense of humour then begins to take its course. Beaky is seen waiting outside Bugs' hole, who is heard singing alternative lyrics to the same song Beaky sung. Beaky has an epiphany, "You know, I think he's a trickening me", and proceeds to drag Bugs Bunny away from his hole.

The gag revealed is favourite amongst the Warner directors: Bugs Bunny in drags. He rises from his hole: covering himself with a towel, wearing lipstick as well as wearing a bathing cap. Bugs flirtatiously prods Beaky's noise, "You naughty, naughty boy!". It's a great little gag where Clampett's subtle humour always has a charm of its own.

This results in a hilarious reaction from Beaky, who blushes and chortles. Bugs spinning the towel tighter to slap Beaky's rear end is solid in exaggeration, also animated wonderfully by Rod Scribner, who shows great weight and believability in animating pain. The following scene of Bugs fiddling with Beaky's adam's apple is a little favourite scene of mine.

Perhaps the wackiest and most celebrated sequence in the short is the scene of Bugs Bunny believing a part of his body is skeletal. The scene is lifted from Harold Lloyd's The Freshman, where Lloyd believes a part of his body is missing, which turned out to be a tackling dummy.

Bugs Bunny has fallen from a great height, and lands on top of a carcass, which leads Bugs to go in a dizzy spell and the skeletal parts drop in the right places. Bob McKimson does a beautifully convincing job in animating Bugs' belief he is partly skeletal. Mel's voice characterisations of Bugs are wonderfully versatile and human.

He touches the ribs of the remains like a xylophone, and then places his finger inside one of the ribs. This leads to Bugs wailing loudly over a horrific situation. Midway he interrupts the act commenting, "Gruesome, isn't it?" as he continues to wail. Bugs's feet arise from the ground, where Bugs slowly changes his emotions from wailing to laughter. At this point he scoffs, commenting: "I do it all the time". It's a nicely executed sequence, where Clampett is exploring the possibilities in approaching a classic gag to please audiences. This shows that digging inspiration from a comedy legend (being Harold Lloyd) works to its advantages.

Like in a lot of Clampett shorts, you'll find a lot of inventive, far-out pieces of animation. The scene may not be so far-out, but it has a great cycle by Bob McKimson. The buzzard carries Bugs by the ears, and he is seen skating in mid-air. At this point he takes, pulls out one of Beaky's feathers and tickles him - causing Bugs to fall. This then leads up towards Bugs' skeletal sequence.


One of the more inventive pieces of animation is in a Virgil Ross scene of Beaky attempting to assault Bugs. Bugs and Beaky have a scuffle, as they fight all over the scene. Bugs almost turns at a 360 degree in perspective during his fight.

Then, the scene transitions where both Bugs and Beaky spontaneously dance together. According to Mike Barrier's interview with Clampett, the gag appears to have been attributed to Flash Gee. As they both dance, this leads to a corny scene of Bugs poking fun of dancing scenes in romantic movies. Clampett's sneaky humour is evident in the lines where Bugs asks Beaky "Why don't we do this more often?", Beaky replies: "You mean just what we're doing tonight?" leading Beaky to blush furiously.

As the short reaches its ending, Bugs whirls Beaky into the carcass pit. Believing he is partly skeletal, Beaky cries out to his mother who immediately dives at the scene. The mother buzzard's take works well, as she spins her neck collar. She confronts Bugs, "Hey, what have you done to my poor little kid?". Bugs responds back, calming her: "Keep your shirt on, lady. The kid's okay", and drags Beaky up from the ground. In the final scene, Clampett takes the opportunity in making the final gag unpredictable. The mother buzzard confronts Bugs again, believing he is about to be threatened. She immediately changes emotion, and declares: "And you...you are my hero!", kissing him on the lips. Bugs's face morphs into a Mortimer Snerd caricature as he smothers his face towards the mother, bashful and furiously blushing: "No, no, no, etc."

Being one of Clampett's earliest Bugs Bunny cartoons, this is certainly one of his more memorable ones, being one of the stabling cartoons that led to Bugs's stardom. As well as one of the best Bugs shorts he's directed. Bugs is brash towards the buzzard, but his characterisation is in the right place. Being the first appearance of Beaky, he may not be a challenging opponent to Bugs or even the funniest antagonist, but as a character he's very loveable - which makes the short a perfect showcase. As a short, it's animation and timing is still fairly mild in Clampett's usual standards. It shows Clampett isn't yet ready to set himself loose and push the boundaries further. It's an enjoyable cartoon with some great sequences and dialogue, especially the skeleton sequence which is personally one of my favourite Bugs Bunny moments.

Rating: 3.5/5.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

374. Wacky Blackout (1942)

Warner cartoon no. 373.
Release date: July 11, 1942.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Misc. voices), Sara Berner (Cow / Mrs. Bird), Kent Rogers (Woodpecker, Baby bird), Thurl Ravenscroft (Carrier pigeon). (Informaiton provided by Keith Scott)
Story: Warren Foster.
Animation: Sid Sutherland.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Spot-gag cartoon set in a farm, showing various animals preparing for war.

If there is any part of the short that lives up to its title, I'd say the opening title cards, which as a gag is very subtle as far subtlety goes in Clampett cartoons go. The first shot reveals a civil defence worker watching a woman by her window undressing. In the second shot, everyone is checking her out, and bizarrely enough: including the pets (referenced from Tralfaz's entertaining post).

It's not the last spot-gag cartoon created at Warners, but it's the last from a long, exhaustive streak of three years' material of mundane, repetitive spot-gag cartoons. An occasional spot-gag would be produced once in a while, like Chuck Jones' The Weakly Reporter. Tex Avery would carry that trademark a couple more times at MGM, the spot-gag shorts being superior.


This is also the second time Clampett has based a spot-gag surrounding agriculture (see Farm Frolics), but the content is slightly different. Whereas Frolics mainly satirised animals, Clampett and Foster both poke fun at farm animals used for the war effort. Some key moments of Clampett and Foster's takeoff is seen in the sequence of the cow, as reported by the narrator gives "5000 quarts of milk a day. That seems like a lot of milk, but 5000 quarts is what she gives."

At this point, the cow contradicts the narrator, complaining and sobbing: "Gives, nothing! They come in and take it from me." The scene is less funny and more predictable, because the gag formula has been used a lot of times, making the gag more tiresome. Rod Scribner's animation of the cow wailing is a lot of fun, though.

Another sequence which isn't based on an animal participating in the war effort, but it merely another scene where the narrator's comments are deemed threatening. As the turkey continues to eat corn greedily, the narrator comments:

"When he reaches twenty pounds, he'll be ready for the oven." The turkey gasps with horror, "Twenty pounds? Oven?". He quickly spits the corn out and proceeds to go on an "18 Day Diet". He desperately attempts to work out on a machine to prevent his fate, which works well from Warren Foster's witty comedy.

Another sequence shows Clampett attempting to experiment with recurring gags by making it seem wild and inventive. This is seen in the sequence where the narrator introduces a very elderly cat named Old Tom. He comments: "Why, he's been around for the last three wars and he knows this one will turn out all right too."

After making the alarming statement, the scene is interrupted by a woodpecker pecking the bark of a tree. The narrator comments: "Now, I bet you I know what he's aiming to be when he grows up. I reckon he plans to be a riveter at Lockheed."

I suppose the take on the joke is the young woodpecker is supposedly an avid pecker, and is sorely tempted to jab the cat's tail. He comments, quoting a famous line from Red Skelton's character, Mean Widdle Kid: "If I do, I'll get a whipping. I dood it!" The cat screams from the pain, but lands on top of the woodpecker, crushing it.

Clampett's timing on the crush is effective. This recurs during the turtle-egg scene where the woodpecker interrupts the scene claiming, "I dood it", while running away from the cat. We see the cat one last time, having the last laugh: "I good it", as the woodpecker drills around his stomach - revealing he has been eaten. It's a more ambitious gag than how they're typically shown, but the way the gag was conceived seemed a little unfocused and out of sorts.

In some of Clampett's spot-gag shorts, he appears to have the knack of cutting corners. This is likely a strategy he uses to prevent going over-budget. His cutting corners strategy is evident in the opening sequence, where a farmer's trained dog helps put out the fire at a barn. Only the fire and the dog's head is animated as the dog spits the fire out, one-by-one. Clampett has the ability to make the gag effective, no matter how limited the animation is.


Other cases of Clampett's animation saving is seen during the firefly sequence. The sequence is established with a group of fireflies preparing a blackout. The scene cuts to a turtle, who is warned by the narrator to hide underneath its shell during a blackout.

Only the turtle's body is animated, whereas the shell is a part of the layout. It still works as a gag itself, as the shell doesn't really require movement at all, so it's a sensible decision made by Clampett. As the turtle reluctantly hides underneath the shell, the narrator asks: "Why in the world didn't you wanna go into your shell?". The turtle replies, to the point: "Well, uh, I'm afraid of the dark." While Clampett succeeded in cutting corners, the gag itself didn't succeed.

Like many spot-gag shorts, there are devoted sequence which is built-up slowly to create a wacky punchline. This is evident during the turtle egg sequence. The narrator remarks that the turtles were born "with a natural bombproof shelter on their backs." The first two turtles hatched are rather identical as they're sen cradling on top of the hatched egg. Stalling's cue of Rock-a-Bye Baby sets the mood of the scene. As the third egg hatches, the atmosphere changes as the hatching timing is rather frantic. The third turtle is seen driving in its shelter rapidly across the screen, confusing the narrator. Stalling's ability to change from one cue to the next (playing In My Merry Oldsmobile?) rapidly works well in this scene. The baby turtle identifies itself, commenting: "Beep, beep! I'm a jeep! Jeep, jeep", and continues to ride around the scenery chuckling wildly.

In a spot-gag, Clampett couldn't miss an opportunity of adding elements of his sneaky sense of humour. The narrator chuckles when the sequence centers on a farm dog "a-courting his sweetie." The scene dissolves to a dog couple in silhouette, with a bashful dog stammering to her: "Oh, Marie-Alana, um, uh, would you be my--uh, etc.".


The scene dissolves to the stammering dog and Marie-Alana, as the stammering dog comments, "Oh gosh. I wish there was a blackout". At that moment, the dog receives a warning and shouts "Blackout!". The lights blackout and turn on, leaving the dog excited with glee from a intimate moment.

Clampett's own wacky sense of humour is also evident during the firefly sequence. The scene features an establishing shot of the fireflies in a single-file, and can be identified by their lightbulbs. The narrator discovers that one lightbulb is missing, after creating a blackout. Dissolve to a close-up, one firefly is indeed missing one: the leader. He stops the line, and shouts: "Hey, who's the bulb-snatcher?". It's revealed the firefly next to him snatched the bulb as an immature prank. A bit of a corny scene, but Blanc's delivery adds the charm.

To finish off the review, here is a reflection of some bird-related gags that link decently to some of the war-related gags. The first scene shows a mother bird teaching her baby son to fly. She gives a demonstration by flapping her wings elegantly. The baby bird refuses to make an effort, in which he responds: "Aw, ma! I wanna be a dive-bomber!". The bird mimicking a plane engine is amusingly well delivered, particularly the groggy voice by Kent Rogers.


The last scene in the short reveals the final recurring gag of the cat and woodpecker, as I've spoken about earlier in the review. The scene trucks in to a birdhouse to reveal two elderly carrier pigeons with arthritis. They look proudly at their picture frame of their numerous sons serving in World War I, frame dated 1918.

Clampett enjoys changing the atmosphere and energy of a character, which is seen of the elderly male pigeon. He comments: "Well Ma", and then breaks out energetically, and marching very fluidly singing: We Did it Before (and We Can Do it Again). The final montage shot shows the pigeon couple watching the warplanes advance and a live-action shot of the American flag, ending the cartoon on a patriotic note.

As a short, this is still rather flat as a Clampett entry, even though it's clear he's attempting to break out of the spot-gag routine. A lot of gags intact are still a little vulgar in creating an all-round funny spot-gag short. Admittedly, the title card openings were probably the highlight of the short. The hidden gag is incredibly subtle and promising, that it makes the entire short a letdown - lacking the promises it could've had. Not to mention, Clampett's cartoons are becoming slightly more energised, even though it's not as innovative as what would become. Clampett and Foster make a few attempts in turning a cliched gag and making it look fresh, particularly the woodpecker and cat scene. Even though it didn't work as well, you've got to give both of them credit for trying. Not to mention, it's an interesting showcase for historians in satirising the infamous blackouts conducted by large cities which were a threat for bombing.

Rating: 2/5.