Wednesday, 19 November 2014

362. Saps in Chaps (1942)

Warner cartoon no. 361.
Release date: April 11, 1942.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Reid Kilpatrick (Narrator), Mel Blanc (Various Voices).
Story: Sgt. Dave Monahan.
Animation: Manny Perez.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: A spotgag parody on how the Wild West was first inhabited by civilisation.


Despite the departure of Tex Avery from the Studio, Warners still had some of his writers who were still writing out spot-gag cartoons, in the style the audience were used to seeing in the past four years. Spot gag cartoons at Warners didn't seem to die down until at least around 1944, when by that point they became less frequent, and everybody realised how unfunny they were. In this case, Freleng takes another shot at a spot-gag carton centring on the Wild West back in the pioneer days, with Dave Monahan being the writer, who is credited as "Sgt. Dave Monahan", for he became a sergeant during World War II.

The short begins with a long background displaying the journey of the pioneers going West, which is seen from the American map. An animated line coordinates the pioneer's journey. Although this shows two individual shots of each map, its a very complex job to stage and lay out, especially since the sequence will have to require visual gags.


The pioneers are travelling far, already through the Black Hills of South Dakota, in which the narrator describes: "In the ways when the west was young.."..the camera then pans to a visual gag in South Dakota of Mount Rushmore with the four presidents presented very youthful looking. The young Roosevelt caricature is very attractive.

Moving forward, the pioneers are seen travelling further (though this time wounding all the way down in Texas, crossing through Oklahoma) as they make their way through the Great Plains, then through the American Desert. More visual gags are presented along the way, such as the Rocky Mountains ('the backbone of the nation'), and so the Rockies are illustrated to look like backbones.

Some clever animation staging on the coordinate avoiding to cross the Painted Desert, Arizona as it's presented with Wet Paint signs, and the line dodges that territory. Despite a few inconsistencies with the map, it's still a well-planned sequence with some enlightening visual gags making it satisfying enough.

As for most of the cartoon, it doesn't give you much gags or wonderful sequences to offer. The rest of the short relies on a lot of uninspiring gags, which usually leads to the result of corniness and bad delivery.

One sequence focuses on a gag of a man who is seen struggling to survive in the desert as he is crawling on the ground, dehydrated and trying in vain to find water.

He even becomes a potential victim by a flying pair of vultures, with one vulture shouting out: "Hey Joe, come 'ere. I've got a bone to pick with you!". The dehydrated man then finds himself arriving at a water stand, where the water man arrives to give him a bucket of water.

He encourages him to drink steadily in order for him to survive his journey in the desert. After a guzzle from the bucket, assuming he has restored his energy, he continues his journey. Just as he continues, he immediately returns to his dehydrated state by crawling through the sand, pleading for water. This is an unfunny gag, leading to unfunny delivery, especially after all that build up it led to.

More corny sequences are released throughout the cartoon. Sequences that come in mind would be the roll-up cigarette scene. A cowboy is seen leaning beside the wagon, and is preparing to roll himself a piggy.

He takes out some rolling paper, then some tobacco; and attempts to create a rollup action by whirling his fingers. This, however, leads to no effect: except by leading his fingers in a "twisted" situation.

The hand whirl effect had a decent touch, though it's a gag that still works on its own. Then you encounter another sequence which is also trite. The scene takes us to a saloon, where a group of men are seen engaging a game of poker, and enjoying their beverages, until...A stereotypical 19th century villain walks in the saloon with two pistols pointing.

Everybody is intimidated by his appearance, except for a he-man seen leaning by the saloon. The villain fires pistols at him, only leading for the cowboy ticklish with laughter from the firing pistols. It's a incoherent gag, it's silly, but its the gist of the whole scene; to make the mucho man seem tougher than everyone's expectations. I suppose it passes as a gag.

There is some decent animated sequences which show Freleng taking his abilities to an advantage. The townsfolk scenes of the men walking down the streets in their chaps with an appealing pose as well as a decent piece of timing of their walk. The scene follows with a mouse also copying the walk, but finds however he is confronted by a cat who chases the mouse with a lasso.

Other fun sequences take place during the rodeo sequence, although in the scene I'm referring to, Friz could've exaggerated this further, to make the gag more fitting. One of the gags centers on a rodeo attempting to jump on top of his bull. His hands are holding its grip to the bull's horns, but he finds himself skidding on the ground continuous. After letting go of the bull, he finds his body has stretched out long, and his legs compressed. As a gag, the pose and exaggeration appears to be lacking, and to have him appear even more stretched would've worked better.

Dave Monahan's puns also come to great use in some sequences. Just as the pioneers have begun to settle in the Wild West, the narrator speaks metaphorically: "The towns sprang up like mushrooms". This is also another advantage to Freleng's timing as the towns plop up, indeed, like mushrooms. Treg Brown's effects also add to the appeal and wit behind the gag, adding emphasis on the growing effect. Great touch on the small gas service growing slightly.


Other great sequence in that matter, would be in the sequence featuring another rodeo performance. The cowboy is seen gripping tightly and wildly on the horse, as the narrator commentates: "He'll never throw this boy!".

Upon hearing the phrase, the horse questions his commentary by staring at the unseen narrator with doubt, and then tosses his rider from his back to the ground, before he sticks his tongue with cheekiness and walking away from the scene. The attitude the horse has is great as it gives a funnier setup to the gag as well as making the narrator appear foolish from saying those words.

More gags in the sequence that also tend to bare a lot of corny delivery and action would appear in the sequence of an Indian baby who is seen riding on top of his squaw pretending his Papoose is a saddle. The gag was thrown in the sequence showing little execution other than just plain corniness. I guess it fits in the sequence, as Injuns were still had civilisation in the Wild West.


Not to mention the scenes also show 'suspense-killers', too. In one scene a couple of cowboys are seen attempting to hold onto the gate of what appears to be a rough and intimidating horse attempting to break out and into the arena.

The narrator even uses superlatives to add to the horse's malice, as well as a word of caution: "You've got to be tough to ride this baby". As the horse jumps out of the arena with a tough attitude, he turns to the audience cheering, and feeling somewhat disturbed and intimidated himself. The horse reacts to this timidly, "Ooooh, people" and the horse shyly walks back into the stable, cancelling his performance at the arena. This is an amusing piece in satirising suspense, as the horse doesn't live to its superlatives.

Like many of the travelogue parodies in cartoons, you are always bound to find a recurring gag to carry on the entire cartoon. While this cartoon does feature a recurring gag, it doesn't really take much advantage of it, other than much a gag passing-by intended for possible laughs. The recurring gag features a cowboy who is attempting to hop on top of his horse and saddle, but his horse keeps on galloping, leaving for the cowboy to fail every time. The horse cycle as well as the cowboy's jump is nicely done and executed as a gag, but that's generally all you see as a recurring gag. It's mainly intended to interrupt opening and closing sequences. The ending gag is very much like that, though Friz adds a charming touch, with the cowboy and horse changing positions on galloping action, as the cartoon draws to a finish.

This short is evident that the spot-gag cartoons from Schlesinger were already growing very tiresome and uncreative. Not just because the gags were getting weaker, but because the cartoons lacked any inspiration for gag material as well as execution. Tex Avery's first few travelogue parodies were inventive at first because of some gags and satire which hadn't been explored before, but as more cartoons poured out, the gags grew tiring very fast. Despite this, Tex still maintained in creating an original gag every now and then. This cartoon features gags which are obviously outdated for Schlesinger humour, and that the Warner directors need to break out of the habit. Not to mention, the studio had already advanced with character personalities to the point where they could make more and more funny cartoons, whereas the spot-gag cartoons just get more dated in more wilder approach to humour that Warners was experimenting with.

Rating: 2/5.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

My first published work...

I know this post has virtually nothing to do with Warner Bros. or even a cartoon review; but I feel the need to share to you readers, on a recent piece of work I'm most proud of.

Some of you may be aware of the most recent release of Didier Ghez's fantastic book series, Walt's People, which is a compilation book filled with interviews and other aspects of Disney history. Earlier this week his latest volume (Volume 15) has been released. Some folks may raise their eyebrows.."another book about Disney history?". True, there have been a huge number of books containing about Disney history, and less from other studios; but the more the merrier I'd say, as Disney had saved a lot of its great history.

This is a book meaning a lot for me, as I have made my first contribution towards a book about not just Disney history, but animation history too. It's a good feeling to have a piece of work published and contributing a small piece of animation history. I spent a good three years of sporadic research on pioneering Disney effects animator: Cy Young; whose work is best known on the earliest Disney classics like Snow White, Fantasia and Dumbo. It was a real learning experience on writing my 12-page essay on the animator, with a lot of information which I don't believe has ever been revealed to any historian before. I'll let you guys find out when you buy the book.

I felt that I had to share it in this blog (as I have no intentions of updating my old blog anymore); but I hope you will read my work and feel enlightened by it. There is also a lot of really good material in the volume, to which I will list in order:

Foreword: Mindy Johnson

Dave Smith: Bob Cook
John Culhane: Grim Natwick
Michael Barrier: Clair Weeks
Bob Casino: Willis Pyle
Didier Ghez: Charlene Sundblad about Helen and Hugh Hennesy
Göran Broling: Preston Blair
Cartoonist PROfiles: Preston Blair
Steven Hartley: The Life and Times of Cy Young
Michael Barrier: Lynn Karp
Autobiography of Basil Reynolds
Alberto Becattini: The Life and Times of Riley Thomson
John Culhane: Ward Kimball
John Culhane: Wilfred Jackson
Jim Korkis: Ham Luske’s children
Michael Broggie: Stormy Palmer
EMC West: Guy Williams Jr.
EMC West: Buddy Van Horn
EMC West: Suzanne Lloyd
George Sherman: Roger Broggie
Jim Korkis: Karl Bacon & Ed Morgan
Dave Smith: Bill Martin
Jay Horan: Bill Evans
John Culhane: Card Walker
Didier Ghez: Mike Peraza

The latest volume is currently available through Amazon, and if you are keen to buy a copy; then go right ahead and enjoy! 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

361. The Wabbit Who Came to Supper (1942)

Warner cartoon no. 360.
Release date: March 28, 1942.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny / Various voices), Arthur Q. Bryan (Elmer Fudd).
Story: Michael Maltese.
Animation: Richard Bickenbach.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Bugs Bunny begins to take advantage of Elmer Fudd, once he learns about Elmer's $3 million inheritance, which he must agree on condition he harms no animals--especially rabbits.

It seemed clear in Bugs Bunny's earliest cartoons, that much of them were being produced by Tex Avery, and in those cartoons: that was the standard Bugs Bunny in wit and design that was established. While other directors like Friz or Chuck were beginning to direct some Bugs Bunny cartoons of their own, their interpretation on Chuck's designs was still a mass of contradictions of the Bob McKimson model.

In this cartoon, Bugs is evidently off-model compared to other cartoons. His quick wits are interpreted correctly thanks to writer Mike Maltese, but design-wise he is pretty far off. In scenes by animators Gil Turner or Cal Dalton, Bugs looks grotesque in design. Since it's a Freleng short, it's inevitable.

This shows how McKimson's model hadn't yet fully evolved around the other directors directing Bugs Bunny cartoons; and for a few years Bugs' design would be inconsistent in each cartoon. Bugs' design didn't fully evolve until around 1944 when Bob McKimson oversaw the entire animation department, in keeping the work on-model. Not to mention, notice how Elmer's fat design became standard temporarily, as not only does he keep the fat design for a few cartoons, but other directors like Friz adapted to the change.

 From a story standpoint, this is a typical cartoon formula which can be expanded into many innovative, fun ideas: especially for a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Mike Maltese is already of the relationship between Bugs and Elmer Fudd, and the idea of money manipulating Elmer to not harm any animals is a solid concept for a cartoon plot.

Setting up the cartoon; it starts with Bugs on the run by a group of hunting hounds. He pants and wheezes, "I'm trapped. Gotta get out of this. I gotta think fast. Trapped". After being spotted by Elmer, and his hounds, he attempts to disguise himself as a hound barking.

Spared from death, Mike Maltese uses a delivery boy travelling in the forest form out of nowhere as a plot device to set the cartoon. It's a fitting gag to just have the delivery boy to know where Elmer is located, especially in pivotal scenes.

Elmer opens up the telegram which reads he has inherited $3 million from his Uncle Louie. Not only is Elmer rich, but he will only inherit his fortune on condition he harms no animals..especially wabbits. In reaction to that, Elmer spares Bugs' life, letting him free: "You're fwee now, little wabbit, go and womb  and fwolic awound the fowest". As he continues to repeat: "Oh boy, I'm wich!". This is a great establishment in setting up the whole cartoon: Bugs can now test and manipulate Elmer Fudd without getting himself harmed. A unique turn for the relationship between Bugs and Elmer, for Bugs can still act and wind-up Elmer as he usually does, but Elmer naturally can't provoke, concerned he'll inherit nothing.

And so, Bugs' pestering and dominating manner starts from then on. He enters in Elmer's own home with the sense of entitlement that he lives there. It calls for some great sequences with conflict and character in Elmer's naive persona. Elmer walks into the house, and already listens to Bugs singing in the shower to An Angel in Disguise.

Bugs steps out of the shower covering himself with a towel as he plays some piano notes to catch the pitch in his singing voice. That little scene itself is just hilarious, adding emphasis to Bugs' irritating habits, and thus angering Elmer.

The bathroom scene is also great in controlling Elmer's motivations. Elmer brings out his shotgun, and prepares to fire at Bugs Bunny, threatening: "Come on out, or I'll blow your head off!".

Bugs responds by carrying a sign to Elmer reading: "What would Uncle Louie say?", forcing Elmer to retreat from his actions. The sign gag is also great as its the sort of communication that can intimidate or discourage anyone. Bugs then steps out of the shower, and proceeds over to the mirror. If I get any comments from fanboys saying 'Bugs Bunny's bollocks let slip from the towel' still believing such tosh, please don't bother reading further my review. The shaving scene is also fun to watch in how much of a slob Bugs can be presented. He starts out by shaving under normal areas such as his muzzle, but he becomes even more ill-mannered by shaving under his armpits.

The following sequences proceeding are scenes which now build up to an edge; making Bugs more dominant than previously. Elmer starts off begging Bugs to "go back to the fowest", and encourages him by patting him. Bugs considers the pat as a threat and acts provoked, "Hey, what are you tryin' to do, kill me? Hey, you'll fracture my skull. I'm gonna call Uncle Louie".


Another great dilemma for Elmer as not only is Bugs a blackmailer, but also deliberately obnoxious in these scenes, teasing Elmer's mind. He picks up the phone, demanding for the operator to place a call to Uncle Louie.

Note how Elmer gives Bugs the nickel when Bugs asks for one; its always fun watching poor Elmer being his naive self. Note the dated reference when Bugs breaks from dialogue into, "Oh, is dat you, Myrt?"; which was based on the popular radio show: Fibber McGee and Molly.

And so, after Bugs quits his phone call after Elmer's apology; he manipulates Bugs out of the house. This calls for another drastic measure for Bugs; in which he can entice Elmer into feeling guilt and shame, as well as the chance of losing his fortune. Bugs starts out by banging loudly at the door, demanding to be let in; until he realises his advantage and fakes his own death. Mel Blanc's delivery on Bugs' fake death is well interpreted, especially in Bugs' speech impediment on the line "I'll get pneumonia", which he mispronounces for comedic purposes. It's a scene that's been done several times in Bugs shorts, so its a predictable; knowing that Elmer will react and feel shame; which he does, but its a sequence that needs to be built up from the previous sequence.

With the creative liberties that the staff got at Schlesinger, the background artists didn't mind an occasional cheeky image that could go unnoticed on the screen. Note how unusual Elmer's house is: he has a women's powder room, and not to mention nude female portraits. I suppose its safe to say the nude portraits were painted sneakily so it would go unnoticed, which is my interpretation. According to Graham Webb's Animated Film Encyclopedia, the backgrounds were painted by a Lenard Kester, who appeared to have worked in Freleng's unit before Paul Julian. His use of backgrounds have an appealing dynamic look towards them.

The sequences surrounding from after Bugs' fake death sequence finally has the cartoon building up to a quicker pace. The first half of the cartoon was very much dominated by Mike Maltese's storytelling, whereas Freleng's timing and speed is more evident in the latter half of the cartoon.

After Elmer rocks Bugs' supposedly dead body, Elmer received another special delivery at his door. This is where Mike begins to stir up the cartoon a little. We already explored enough aspects of Bugs' blackmailing, and this time there needs to be a new edge in the plot, by being given bad news.

Instead, Elmer is informed from Uncle Louie's lawyer that he's died. The irony of that bad news is that the letter shows that after taxes and fees, that he hasn't enough money to spend or keep to himself. It declares that he owes $1.98 to Uncle Louie's attorney. This is another dilemma built up, as Elmer realises even if he fulfills the will, he won't receive any spending money anyway. Not only does Elmer fulfil the money, but feels he can restore himself to harming rabbits again.

Scenes which are up to Freleng's standards would be the urn scene seen following on. Elmer now has an excuse to get rid of Bugs for good, and this leads to a chase around the house. Bugs Bunny finds three urns sitting in a corner and hides in one. Elmer proceeds over, and climbs in the urn climbs in. This calls for Friz to exaggerate the scene as much as he could in making it perceptible and comical.

Both of Bugs' ears appear separately in each urn, with one of Bugs' ears communicating to one another, with one ear slapping Elmer inside the urn before he zips out. This is a complex scene to stage and animate, especially when it needs to be presented in a gag approach similar to Tex Avery. Friz was great in making such technically complex gags flow nicely.

The sequence following shows a lot of energy in the characters; especially on Bugs Bunny. His improvisation on the clock chiming midnight during a frantic night is really well executed, not just in animation but story too. The gag and improvisation comes out of nowhere, including the confetti. Mike Maltese creates a cleverly conceived gag where Bugs cons Elmer into believing it's New Years Day. After throwing confetti in the air, chanting "Happy New Year", and enticing Elmer into singing Auld Lang Syne, until he double-takes looking at the calendar realising it's only July. Not to mention it's a beautifully paced scene too, it lasts long enough for Elmer to realise he's been tricked and then the short proceeds to more fun action.

Perhaps one of the most bizarre gags to be ever created amongst Bugs Bunny would be Bugs Bunny dressed in drags. This sort of attitude and behaviour was unheard of with cartoon characters, and this shows how Warners were venturesome in making their characters feel almost human, like they don't always act like cartoons.

Not only is it a hilarious scene, but one would question why Elmer has a woman's powder room in his house. As the chase continues, Bugs finally exits the house where Elmer slams the door, wiping his hands with dignity: "Good widdance to bad wubbish!". Then the door buzzes which Elmer anticipates to open.

Another postman walks by and greets Elmer, "Easter Greetings" by handing him a giant Easter Egg. Ending as the final gag in the short, the Easter Egg opens and reveals a bunch of multiple, baby Bugs Bunnies who all cry in unison, "Eh, what's up doc?". Not only is it a funny scene on Elmer's burden, but it's quite possibly one of the most cutest, sentimental scenes in a Warner Bros. cartoon. The bunnies scrambling out of the Easter Egg, with one scrambling over Elmer's face, is every definition of the word 'cute'.

With design issues on Bugs Bunny aside, this is alone an entertaining Bugs Bunny to watch. Mike Maltese writes up a clever formula where Bugs and Elmer's relationship meet at a unlikely situation. This is one of the story formulas, which itself is cliched and overused, but this uses the formula well, as Mike is create in pacing his scenes smoothly; and knows when to add another edge to the plot in making the short more innovative along the way. Though it has some great scenes, some of Freleng's input feels its missing in the first half of the cartoon. I suppose because that with the story sequences constructed by Maltese, there wasn't much left for Freleng to create anything special timing-wise, and the first-half was paced like a Tex Avery short. The latter half on the other hand is a lot more appealing in pace and energy.

Rating: 3.5/5.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

360. Crazy Cruise (1942)

Warner cartoon no. 359.
Release date: March 14, 1942.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Bob Clampett, Tex Avery (uncredited).
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Robert C. Bruce (Narrator), Mel Blanc (Various voices / Bugs Bunny).
Story: Michael Maltese.
Animation: Rod Scribner.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: This travelogue parody takes us to a crazy journey from a cruise liner.

This is another cartoon which is missing a supervision credit, even though it's another short that Tex started, and supposedly finished by Clampett. Though both director's style clash in the short, this marks the end of Tex Avery's official tenure at Warners. The man who helped revolutionise the wit and humour into these cartoons, a very venturesome director.

Since his departure from the studio; this proved to not be a heavy loss for the Schlesinger Studio. Everyone else learnt from Tex, and managed to produce some brilliant input that is on par with Tex's work, and it only gets better from then on. Tex's last official Warners cartoon ends with another typical spot-gag cartoon, set in a cruise liner; complete with recycled formulas, and the liner takes the viewer to random scenic locations of the world; which sounds in perspective unfocused even as a travelogue parody. At first, you see the cruise liner in the Caribbean, then you see the liner across the Alps, the Sahara Desert, etc. This parody sure lives up to the cartoon's title.

I suppose the unfocused of where the cruise liner heads to sequence to sequence is satirised brilliantly in the navigational map sequence occurring around the beginning of the cartoon. Mike Maltese writes and plans a great sequence which not only creates great satire, but a great challenge to animate timing-wise. The ship, seen docked from the coast of Florida, sets sail to Havanna, Cuba.

The ship stops to the "world's famous Sloppy Joe's" bar which is based on the Florida bar, famous for regular customers like Ernest Hemingway. As portrayed on the map, its clear everyone (inc. the captain) went to the bar before embarking back on the ship.

The next part features the uncoordinated paths the cruise liner follows emphasising that the sea crew are drunk, such as sailing in swirls (before stopping with the cruise liner hiccuping). This is a beautifully executed and exaggerated gag that shows great dynamics in the crazy route they are travelling. Not to mention this would have required a lot of careful attention for an effects animator in handling the scene, as not only does it need to be laid out and planned precisely; but not to mention comical timing-wise. Stalling adds to the comedic touch as he plays How Dry I Am while the cruise drunkenly sails.

For aspects that feature a lot of Tex Avery's humour; it's scattered throughout the cartoon. Not to mention, it also looks like a Avery production, judging by the rich backgrounds created by Johnny Johnsen, as well as the use of tight, realistic drawing in some scenes that Tex strictly required from his unit.


The sequence in the Egyptian desert is a striking example of continuous humour elements that you'd expect in Tex Avery's cartoons. After a camera pan of the outback in the desert, the scene takes the viewer to the Sphinx. The stone rendition of the Trylon and Perisphere, (displayed in the 1939 New York World's Fair) is wonderfully referenced and parodied in that shot.

As the narrator describes it, the Sphinx has been standing for many centuries: "Year in, year out", as well as standing there "motionless, silent, quiet". The Sphinx kills the narrator's commentary by speaking: "Monotonous, isn't it?". This is a regular gag punchline which works well in that sequence, contradicting the narrator's commentary to a tee.

Other aspects of Tex's own humour appears in the camouflage sequence. As reported by the narrator, due to "unconditioned world conditions" (supposedly referencing World War II), all ships were to be camouflaged. The ship sailing past is S.S. Yehoodi, a direct reference to Jerry Colonna. The gag itself showing the camouflage, though   corny in perspective, but as a layout it looks painstaking to make the gag as realistic as it could go.

As for scenes that show some Clampett influence in humour and timing; it's possible some of the sequences could've been his own work. Scenes which come to mind is the opening sequence in the short. The short begins at a Southern plantation in Louisiana, and the narrator reports on the financial difficulties that tobacco farms earn because of the tobacco bug. In a close up scene, the tobacco bug is revealed; eating a tobacco leaf.

Whether it was Tex or Clampett who worked on both the scene, its uncertain; though the cutout hand holding the microphone has a unique and blessing touch to it. The microphone is described to be "super-sensitive" that viewers would be able to listen to the bugs for the first time.

Of course, the gag is that the bug responds by satirising the fast-speech patter of the tobacco auctioneer from the Lucky Strike cigarette commercials heard in Your Hit Parade.) Another great scene which appears to share some of the wackiness and spirit in animation is evident in the insect-eating plant sequence.

The 'victim', being a bumblebee, flies at the scene, and ends up caught in the trap from the plant. The bee flies over the plant causing it to spit out shouting "OUCH!" in agony. Such sharp delivery on voice as well as timing.

Other scenes which show some great aspects of delivery and gag punchline are also evident in some scenes. A scene that sticks to my mind fondly, with an unpredictable punchline would be during the oil field scene. In this scene, the narrator looks at the ground rumbling, and remarks with amazement: "Oh, here comes a gusher for them now".

Just as the ground rumbles, one would expect the oil to strike immensely, but the irony of the gag is that it doesn't. Instead only a small drop of oil falls out from the field, landing on a spittoon. This was a great gag which can pleasantly surprise you.

Another scene with a pleasant sendoff would occur during the Alps sequence, featuring the mountain goat. The narrator explains of how the goat enjoy the dangers of leaping peak-to-peak in the alps. During the leap scene, Stalling adds to the right touches: matching the timing precisely by playing London Bridge is Falling Down in the underscore. And then, the goat falls to the ground after leaping all the peaks. Nevertheless, the goat continues to leap in rhythm to the rhyme until at the last note, the goat falls off the cliff by continuous leaping. Another great scene which is entertaining gag-wise, as well as becoming a n advantage for Stalling to make the sequence work.

As for gags that I think don't hold up too well, it would be the some scenes centring on animals. Another scene featured in the Alps, is the group of St. Bernard dog who carry spirit drinks in aid of those who are lying unconscious in the snow. The leader of the pack is seen carrying a keg of scotch, next in line is another St. Bernard carrying a keg of soda. As for the puppy St. Bernard, he carries a small keg of 'Bromo'. Bromo, of course, is medicine which is mostly used for indigestion and heartburn.  I don't personally understand the perspective or purpose of that gag? Was the gag supposedly that each St Bernard in line are seen carrying small pieces of aid, going from strongest (spirits) to weakest (indigestion pills).

In the Africa sequence, another corny gag features a line of animals; which at first are seen lining up with alertness and patience. As it turns out, the camera pans to the right revealing a mother zebra aiding its child by a 'water hole'. As you know, its a rancid pun on 'water holes' which are popular for animals to bathe in the wild lands of Africa.

The next to last sequence in the film, is another satirical scene in creating suspense killers. The narrator gives some commentary to add depth and tension to the scene; a territory which is dominated by "ferocious giant cannibals". The territory is known as the "Brawla-Brawla Soo-it Region". For those who don't know, this is a parody name taken from the lyrics of then popular song: The Hut-Sut Song.

The next scene features a pair of famous, experienced hunters who are caricatures of Friz Freleng and Ted Perice, follow the pgymy into the deep canopy of the dangerous territory. As the narrator says, "They plan to capture a couple of these giants alive!".

After a clattering off-screen sound, the pygmy rushes out gibbering in his native language. In a close-up scene animated by Bob McKimson, he continues to speak in that gibberish tone; until he converts to English, "Look, they got them! They got them!". "They" is revealed in the next shot that the two giants have indeed caught hold of the hunters, but they are compressed between the giant's fingers, resembling rollup cigarettes, leading to the humorous "King Size" lineup from one of the giants.

The final sequence is almost certainly Clampett's own sequence. Note how the gag is the same conception seen from a previous Clampett spot-gag cartoon: Africa Squeaks. Instead of deers looking cute and helpless, we get a group of cute bunnies scampering around looking harmless and lacking self-defence.


At the height of World War II, it seemed the right way to stereotype the Japanese by caricaturing them as a vulture, a metaphor on the enemy. Just as the vulture dive-bombs towards the bunnies, they immediately respond by hiding behind some weeds, and reveal some aircraft artily they use to fire at the vulture.

Note however that during the gag, you will find one rabbit facing its back away from the camera, whilst the other two are facing front as they play. It's a difficult challenge to animate, in not revealing the rabbit's face before the gag can be revealed. Much of that sequence was given to Rod Scribner, who met the challenge greatly. And so, the bunny who was hiding behind this time was Bugs Bunny, seen wearing his Civil Defence helmet. He has the last line, "Eh, thumbs up, doc! Thumbs up!". Just at the iris-out, Bugs' ears form to a "V for Victory" sign, whilst the underscore heard is We Did It Before (And We Can Do It Again). Thus, this ends the cartoon on a patriotic note.

While it's a shame that the blog will no longer be reviewing shorts directed by Tex Avery, it is without doubt for the greater good. As a cartoon, this wasn't much of a great sendoff to a brilliant legacy Tex brought to Warner Bros., though this was unintentionally the last Warner short he worked on. Not to mention, Tex gets a fresh start, a better start once he hops over to MGM Studios, making himself an even bigger name. As a spot-gag cartoon, this was average at best. It had some charming, innovative moments like the navigation map sequence, which to say the least was original. Bugs Bunny's little cameo at the end was also a pleasant surprise to end the cartoon, for his popularity was only growing rapidly in the beginning of his career. In all, it was an average short; which doesn't have too many exciting moments but for the sequences I've given good comments about, I'd suggest you'd take a look.

Rating: 2.5/5.