Sunday, 30 August 2015

388. A Tale of Two Kitties (1942)

Warner cartoon no. 387.
Release date: November 21, 1942.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Tweety, Catstello), Ted Pierce (Babbit).
Story: Warren Foster.
Animation: Rod Scribner.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Two alley cats, a direct parody of comedy duo Abbott & Costello, spend an entire day trying to catch a baby bird, marking the first appearance of Tweety.

If Clampett's previous cartoons were about establishing certain abilities he hadn't considered, this is the short where he has finally hit his stride. With the creation of Tweety, (named 'Orson' in the original model sheets), Clampett creates a hilarious interpretation of the character whom from the outside looks cute and vulnerable, but is otherwise a sadistic, threatening bird.

What is little known amongst the public today is Tweety is based on a Red Skelton character, the "Mean Widdle Kid". Clampett also gave credit to the infamous line: "I tawt I taw a puddy tat" to animator Phil Monroe.

The cats are a direct caricature of the radio comic stars, Abbott and Costello, here they are named 'Babbit & Catstello'..a little genetic but it's fine just the same. The parody might be a tad dated, but the personalities are immortalised in Warren Foster's superb writing and characterisation.

Foster, and like many of the great writers of Warner Bros, have the unusual ability of stretching a thin storyline and taking advantage of it by providing the best and most far-out gags possible. The plot is kept simple and to the point: a pair of alley cats set their target on catching a baby bird.

Clampett's subtle ways of teasing the censors are evident in Tweety's design, as in Clampett's cartoons he bares a naked resemblance. In the infamous Clampett interview conducted by Mike Barrier - he gives an anecdote on why Tweety ended up being covered modestly with yellow feathers. Once Tweety became popular, the censors commented: "Say, this birds looks NAKED!", prompting Clampett to alter the design slightly. Although Friz Freleng took over the Tweety character, and becoming one of his primary characters - is it plausible Clampett adapted that change when he was originally slated to direct Tweetie Pie?

Animation by Bob McKimson
As I stated briefly, I really like Clampett's own interpretation of Tweety in the handful of cartoons he directed of the character. Clampett plays fun with the idea that he has a dark horse appearance. From the cat's perspective, they see him as a "poor little, teensy-weensy, itsy-bitsy, defenseless boid."

In an alternate plan to catch the bird, Catstello jumps on springs from a jack-in-a-box in an attempt to capture Tweety. As he hops, he watches Catstello bouncing in and out of scene, thus marking the birth of his catchphrase: "I tawt I taw a puddy tat."

Alerted, every time he sees the cat he attacks him, as well as the props covering the cat's head to defend himself. He turns sadistic when he plants a piece of dynamite in the cat's underwater helmet - creating an unseen explosion. Tweety returns to his innocent nature, as he comments: "Oh, the poor putty tat. He cwushed his witty head." and grinning with delight of the thought. It's a hilarious little scene where it reveals Tweety's inner and sinister side - and on the other hand it's been a running gag on Clampett's Tweety shorts.

Another great sequence that shows a sadistic Tweety is quite possibly one of the most iconic scenes from a Tweety cartoon. Catstello has failed to catch Tweety once more, in a dynamite explosion, causing him to crash on top of a roof and land dangling on a telephone wire.

Animation by Virgil Ross
Tweety lands on the wire, taking the chance at taking advantage of Catstello. He plays This Little Piggy by pulling off the cat's finger hanging on the railway line, one by one. By the time Tweety gets to "This little piggy had roast beef", he has disposed Catstello from the wire, causing him to fall.

Tweety's line "Well, what do you know? I ran out of piddies" as he disposes Catstello is a clever and subtle nod to four-fingered animated characters, and the thought of the nursery rhyme being played by a cartoon character is deliberately ironic.

Note the little Harry Langdon caricature in Tweety's smirk, which itself adds to the irony of Tweety's line. A perfectly executed sequence, as Clampett and Foster both add a sense of cruel irony into Tweety's persona, as he mercilessly intends to have him hurt. Catsello's cries for Babbit are hysterical.

The ladder sequence features some of the funniest dialogue ever conceived in a Clampett cartoon. One in particular is incredibly cheeky. While Catstello is up the ladder (listen for an Ed Wynn cry), Babbit cries "Give me the bird!". Catstello responds to his dialogue in his forth-wall line, "If the Hayes Office would only let me, I'd give him the boid alright!"

A popular quirk of Clampett is to feature adult humour jokes that the censors could overlook - yet Catstello's line directly references the Hayes Office, that the joke itself couldn't have been overlooked. Since "The bird" is euphemism for "the middle finger", and that the short itself is aware of the strict censorship, the joke remains intact.

The scene of Babbit attempting to push Catstello up the ladder shows some beautifully written dialogue that adds so much character. This is particular in Catstello references his fear of heights as he remarks, "I get heightrophobia" is ridiculously hilarious.

Catstello on stilts is also incredibly solid in Blanc's execution, who really creates a performance with the characters he portrays in the short. His repetitive yells, "Help! Babbit!" are brilliant and energetic in delivery. Balancing on one stilt, he cries out for Babbit, claiming: "I'm too young to die!". Perhaps he had used up most of his nine lives?

As far as Clampett's brisk energy and timing goes, Clampett goes into a lot of restraint here. While his previous cartoons featured elements of experimentation of wacky pieces of pacing and gags; Clampett pushes the boundaries completely unlike what was done beforehand. He achieves this to the point where he pulls off one of the "impossible things" of animation, and turn it convincingly.

A notable example is seen during the anvil sequence, animated by Rod Scribner. Around this time, he had been studying and observing the line work by American cartoonist George Litchy - which became pivotal in the style of Clampett's colour cartoons.

Catstello hits the floor and the anvil crushes him - causing a lot of plants and rocks to suck through, like a black hole. A difficult scene to animate and stage, the force and timing of the plants compiling together is phenomenal. It is such a gag that other directors wouldn't have dared to try pull off.

Whilst gardening for victory, Babbit pulls the anvil from the hole, and cries out for Catsello through the hole - without realising he's flattened underneath an anvil. He signals his presence by whistling a Abbott & Costello trademark. Babbit takes and releases him. Then he chastises him, "Come on, stop your clowning. What's the matter with you? Aren't you ashamed?" and beats him, "Why do you do these things?" The sequence concludes as Costello quotes from the parodied radio show, "I'm a baaaad pussy cat."

The structure for the cartoon is very unique as animation cartoons go. While many animated cartoons appear to have action occurring within a short amount of time, particularly in the Disney cartoons...Clampett takes a different approach. In other words, he uses a "real time" structure...where the cartoon occurs in an entire day, with each sequence happening at different parts of the day.

Richard Thomas' background and colour styling sets the distinction of having very distinctive sky colours for each sequence.The sequence of Babbit and Catsello setting up a dynamite trap indicates the action is occurring the evening, whereas the opening sequence has an early morning setting.

Despite the changes of the sky colour being obvious, notice how the lightning sometimes changes that adds a much more meticulous and glamorous effect in terms of lightning. The character's skin and colours alter slightly in some sequences.

The most striking example occurs in the night-time sequence, as the cats and Tweety are given a slightly darker tone in their flesh, whereas in brighter sequences the colour tone are saturated higher. It's an uncommon method used as far as the colour stylings in a Warner Bros. cartoon goes.

For the night time sequence, Clampett and Foster take the opportunity of inserting wartime reference gags which would've been fitting as far as historical context goes. The cats use one last method in hope of catching Tweety. Catstello is carrying a pair of planks on each arm - in a hopeless attempt to disguise himself as an aircraft.

As expected, there are references to the war such as the Spitfire, and the blackout. Clampett takes risks that is otherwise a controversial method to pull off in animation. For a forth wall gag, the action of Catstello dodging the machine guns firing at him (caused by Tweety, disguised as an air raid warden) freezes momentarily. 

With the action interrupted - Catstello lets the opportunity to break out his forth wall line, "Is there an insurance salesman in the house?", and the action continues. It's a big risk for such a method to be pulled off convincingly and comedically. If Clampett's timing or energy isn't subtle, at least his strategies are.

In their last chance of catching Tweety, the short has finally reaches it's suspenseful peak in the matter of seconds left of screening time. The cats quietly approach an unsuspecting Tweety, anticipating an eating action. Rod Scribner crafts a solidly dynamic and yet intimidating pose of the cat's menacing expression -  and yet making it look as exaggerated as possible. To immediately cut its peak to a final gag, Tweety turns behind them yelling: "Turn off those lights!". The only "lights" visible in the scene are the cat's eyes, the moon and a lamppost in the foreground. Each light, and eyeball, is turned off while comedically timed to 

Without doubt, this is Clampett's finest cartoon the blog has reviewed so far. After a string of directing forgettable Porky Pig cartoons for the last few years, Clampett had begun taking big liberties once he had inherited Tex Avery's unit. Every gag in the short is timed right down to the frame, and the results are astounding, such as "far out" gags like Catstello's exaggerated long fall until he gets struck by an anvil, its unanimous. As far as animation go, it gets slicker as Clampett cartoons go, and it's in incredible feat for top animators like Rod Scribner, Virgil Ross and Bob McKimson meet such expectations that hadn't been explored in animation. Not only does Clampett do a top notch job as directing, but his shorts have a superb sense of art direction. Clampett's interpretation of Tweety is quite sinister, and yet loveable. Later, he would get tamed a little by Friz Freleng in later years, when he inherited the character - bearing in mind that Friz still did a very capable performance. For a studio that lived on working on some of the smallest budgets in the Hollywood industry, it's incredible at how they achieved brilliant work, and A Tale of Two Kitties is definitely no exception. 

Rating: 5/5.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

387. The Hare-Brained Hypnotist (1942)

Superb title card design, by the way!
starring Bugs Bunny
Warner cartoon no. 386.
Release date: October 3S, 1942.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny), Arthur Q. Bryan (Elmer Fudd).
Story: Michael Maltese.
Animation: Phil Monroe.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Elmer Fudd attempts to hunt Bugs Bunny by using hypnotism, only until the experiment to flaw towards Elmer.

After two years of a handful of Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd cartoons, Friz Freleng and Michael Maltese collaborate together, and intend to take it to a different direction. The opening shot of Elmer reading a book indicates that Elmer has failed many times to capture Bugs Bunny, and this time he is going for a psychological approach.

Whilst reading and walking along the forest, he researches some in-depth information about self-hypnotism. He finds an opportune moment once he encounters an endangered bear. The bear traps Elmer to the ground with his foot, in which Elmer remarks: "Now's my chance to twy ouwt my psychowogical expewiment!".

Elmer uses the experiment and causes the bear to go into a trance. Elmer gains control as he commands the bear, "You are in my power. You are swowly going into a twance. You are gettin sweepy, sweepy, sweepy..", and hypnotises the bear.

Michael Maltese has the sequence start as an introduction to indicate that Elmer was successful at performing hypnosis, therefore creating a nail-biting moment as the practice could be seen as a potential threat to Bugs Bunny.

Elmer's command creates a hysterical moment. Of the power Elmer had with self-hypnosis, he commands the bear to act like a canary bird. The bear begins to fly and picks up the mannerisms of a canary. The scene itself is very surreal gag-wise - but it's otherwise a very creatively conceived gags that lives up to Maltese's reputation as a genius writer and gagman.

The timing of the bear going into a trance is incredibly unorthodox, and yet very attractive. Freleng's complex timing syncs perfectly to Treg Brown's trombone effect, and the bear going into a big spasm exaggerates the thought of going into a trance beautifully.
The effect also applies to Elmer Fudd, who was hypnotised later by Bugs Bunny himself, and reacts with the same spasms as the bear. If you compare both scenes to the GIFs shown, note how both scenes are timed identically. It's clear Friz only had to time the spasm effect once for each character, and perhaps make a few slight alterations as to how the characters should drop to the ground.

Dick Bickenbach, the animator on both scenes deserves a lot of credit for a lot of solid effort in the early 40s Freleng shorts. The analysis for both scenes are a brilliant example for aspiring animators; as the drop emphasises the contrast of size between those characters. The bear's drop is animated with a heavier weight, which is emphasis through squash and stretch, whereas Elmer's drop is more poised, and less heavy.

By the time Elmer encounters Bugs Bunny, the audience are reassured that nothing Elmer could possibly achieve would be a threat to Bugs Bunny. No matter if the experiment worked on the bear, Bugs won't succumb to the trance. Instead, Bugs cordially mocks Elmer's practice, commenting: "Heh, Dracula."

In an attempt to add suspense to the sequence, Elmer lowers his head towards the hole, where a sleepy Bugs slinks down. Bugs' pose makes his next antic or Elmer's feat unpredictable.

Elmer commands, "You are getting sweepy, you needn't twied to escape, I have you in my cwutches. So come outta there!". And so, Bugs' plan to outwit Elmer works when he raises a baloon with rabbit ears attached to them, leaving Elmer to float up in the sky. Perhaps the best double-take Mike Maltese could conceive for a situation like this, is when the bear appears out of the blue - still acting like a canary. It's a priceless bit of delivery, and the slow build up to the gag is incredible.

Some action scenes that follow make up for some excellent piece of comic timing and gags by the masters. Elmer falls from the sky, and Bugs carries out a basket for him to land safely. The weight and timing of Elmer's fall is incredibly rapid he shoots straight through the basket - creating a hole in the ground. It's a funny piece of exaggeration that makes the crash look physically pain.

Gerry Chiniquy, an animator who has a reputation of animating in a not-so fluid style but is very precise at capturing Freleng's timing to the best standard. The shot of Elmer attempting to pull the gun from the hole, but resulting in a tug of war battle with Bugs is a fine example.

Chiniquy found a clever method at achieving this. Elmer tugging the gun back and forth is mostly a cycle, and the motion itself is very jerky, especially when he hits the accents - but it is all for an animated effect. The sharp accents of Elmer being pulled creates a very convincing force which adds to the struggle.

The screen grab featuring Elmer in out of Bugs' hole at the same time, shows how crafty Chiniquy was in capturing Freleng's timing. Not only is it a sharp effect but it requires less inbetweens that way. The gag is carried out further to the point where they challenges the laws of physics. It's a popular trait of animated cartoons, but this one shows ambiguity. If Bugs and Elmer are both holding the gun - but who is pulling it back into the hole? Subtlety and incoherency is what makes such a gag like this outshine.

Midpoint through the cartoon, Bugs gives in from pranking Elmer and is willing to cooperate. This leads to Elmer's hypnosis experiment backfiring, and he goes into a trance. This creates another dilemma and golden opportunity for its climax. Bugs commands Elmer to act like a rabbit.

After only a handful of Bugs Bunny shorts for two years, both Freleng and Maltese are already poking fun at the Bugs/Elmer formula, by taking the short to a different turn which hadn't been done previously. The personalities of Bugs and Elmer are deliberately role-reversed for a comedic and golden sequence, and it exceeds expectations.

With the mannerisms of Bugs Bunny, Elmer begins to pester him by copying his moves such as kissing him on the lips...much to the annoyance of Bugs. He shouts, "Hey doc, come outta there! You can't do that! Who's the comedian of this picture of this picture anyway!".

The sequence of Bugs pulling the gun back and forth from the hole is a deliberate echo to an earlier sequence. It's a great reprise of a gag to show how Bugs Bunny has become vulnerable. Defying the laws of physics unintentionally, he continues to pull at the rifle while Elmer watches him as he eats a carrot, and using Bugs' catchphrase. It's an excellent climax constructed by Mike Maltese who explores and experiments further with the cartoon formula, and writing those scenes makes Bugs feel more human than what was done beforehand.

If there is a sequence that doesn't quite meet the expectations of Maltese's writing and Freleng's direction - it would be pointed towards the scene of Elmer hiding behind Bugs Bunny. From what was in Maltese's storyboards for the short, this would've led to a potentially hysterical moment in the cartoon. The results were somewhat baffling.

In a medium two shot of Bugs Bunny and Elmer, Bugs is eating his own carrot while he is still confused over Elmer's behaviour. Unknowingly, Elmer tricks him into eating more carrots, which he is carrying; and at one point Bugs is eating three.

It's a difficult gag to pull off in animation, and solid draftsmanship would've been required if the scene was to pull off convincingly. This is a case where Freleng gave the scene to the wrong hands of an animator.

Gil Turner, who animated that short, animates a very unattractive looking Bugs, and the acting is incredibly sloppy and awkward. You'll never find a more conservative and amateurishly drawn Elmer Fudd (unless you count the MUCH later generation - post-1964). It's possible that he was a victim of poor assistant work, but it's a pity as the gag could've worked so much better had it been assigned to a more solid animator, such as the likes of Dick Bickenbach.

While Elmer appears to be unable to defeat, he meets his downfall when he dives down the rabbit hole - confronting an angry Bugs Bunny. Freleng's economical ways of directing is put to great use, especially when an unseen hypnosis effect occurs - making the situation unpredictable and suspenseful.

All that appears is the sparkling effects appearing above the hole, making the action incredibly vague from the eyes of an audience. Once revealed, Elmer Fudd returns to his normal mind, and escapes from the forest in fear of Bugs.

Bugs exclaims, "Hows about that? Thinking he could hypnotise me? Huh!". Maltese deliberately creates a punchline to end the cartoon, which would contradict Bugs' statement. Bugs looks at the time and comments, "I'm due at the airport." Without realising, it turns out Bugs Bunny had been hypnotised into believing he was a Douglas XB-19 experimental aircraft bomber. His final line, "I'm the B-19!" sums up that Elmer finally had the last laugh, except since Bugs isn't aware he's hypnotised - it makes the gag look so subtle, that the gag could easily get overlooked.

In conclusion, The Hare Brained-Hypnotist is one of the finest and most enjoyable Warner Bros. cartoons produced under Leon Schlesinger's management. Since his first appearance in A Wild Hare, and up to this cartoon, it's clear that the Warner staff have become more comfortable in establishing Bugs Bunny's personality, and their confidence is growing with funnier and unique situations for Bugs. Michael Maltese breaks a few boundaries by taking liberties of the typical Bugs/Elmer formula, which after a handful of cartoons, had already become a cliche. Friz Freleng is no amateur when it comes to staging and planning out a sequence, and here he nails almost every gag right down to the frame. The Bugs-Elmer mimic gag is slightly flawed, but that can he ignored as the other sequence perform a lot better. The idea to parody it so soon leaves an amazing legacy of marvellous Bugs Bunny cartoons to come. It's fitting to see that Elmer has returned to his slimmer form, after a few shorts experimented Elmer with a heavier character design.

Rating: 5/5.

Monday, 24 August 2015

386. The Daffy Duckaroo (1942)

Warner cartoon no. 385.
Release date: October 24, 1942.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Norm McCabe.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Daffy Duck, Little Beefer), Sara Berner (Daisy June).
Story: Melvin Millar, Don Christensen (unc.).
Animation: Cal Dalton.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Daffy Duck falls for an Indian duck in the Wild West, but has to confront her meaner, older boyfriend: "Little Beefer".

The irony of the establishing scenes is that it identifies Daffy Duck as a movie star himself, especially when he has already established his own fame during the early 1940s. You could say reality within a cartoon. It's an unique way to open the cartoon, instead of a typical establishing shot of the American desert.

In this case, Daffy Duck has decided to give up his acting career to pursue a new life in the Wild West, hence the newspaper headlines at the opening. Note the little amusing headline, "I want to be a lone...ranger" quoted by Daffy, which is a direct parody of a famous Greta Garbo quote.

The opening scenes of Daffy singing My Little Buckaroo are also as enjoyable, with a lot of physical and broad activity of Daffy playing multiple instruments during his number, as well as Daffy pulling off a 10 gallon hat all the way to a half pint size.

McCabe's use of timing and staging is very enjoyable. The transition of Daffy playing from a piano, and tapping his acoustic guitar like a drum makes McCabe very underrated that way. Note how the animation of Daffy and the donkey are animated on separate levels...and it creates a comedic effect. The nag is animated as a cycle, showing no motivation of physical energy; whilst Daffy broadly sings and dances on top of him.

While on his travels he comes across a local Injun village. He shrieks, "Injuns? Lemme outta here", but comes across a Indian maiden Daisy June, who woos him. The transition to Daffy's petrified pose to him casually serenades with Daisy while singing Would You Like to Take a Walk? on his guitar is priceless, emphasising how flirtatious women poison the minds of men.

The following scene shows some unpredictable and yet a great followup thanks to the wits of Melvin Millar. Inside the teepee, Daffy lustfully embraces Daisy whilst speaking poetically, a popular cliche that the Warner writers mercilessly mock. Daisy's response, on the other hand, is unpredictable and yet hysterical.

Daffy's hilarious reaction to Daisy's
demeaning accent.
After hearing Daffy speak and express his feelings like a poet, it is deliberately unfitting for the maiden to have a trashy Brooklyn accent, voiced by the brilliant Sara Berner, who exceeds in Brooklyn accents for animated characters. Daisy responds, flattered: "Gee kid, you really think so? Honest Injun?".

A deliberately unmatched voice for the scenario, the gag exceeds greatly. Daffy's reaction to her accent is also priceless, as the punchline says it all. She responds, "I'm the quiet type, all right, and I could sure go for you. Only my boyfriend Little Beefer won't let me have no fella."

As for Little Beefer, McCabe deliberately gives the character a menacing and yet buffoonish personality. Through Daisy's exposition, it is revealed that Little Beefer is a wanted criminal for "ticket scalping", a subtle pun written in the poster.

Daffy's first encounter with Little Beefer features a funny piece of layout, particularly the obvious contrast of size between the two characters, revealing that his name is meant to be deliberately ironic since he's far from "little".

He enters the teepee where he intends to greet Daisy by carrying some posies. Daffy hiding underneath the quilt of Daisy's bed creates a rather amusing take. She giggles, and excuses the jump with "mice", attempting to act inconspicuous. Little Beefer suspects Daffy's movements underneath the carpet. Spontaneously, Daffy appears from the set of drawer disguised as a squaw. Little Beefer, gullible of the disguise, responds by lustfully whistling Costello's trademark whistle.

With Daisy out of the teepee, Daffy Duck attempts to improvise in order to entertain Little Beefer and keep him from seeing through his disguise. After avoiding a kiss from Daffy, he immediately goes into a rain dance action as he dances to the sound of the tom-toms. As you'd expect, you get an energetic little rain dance by Daffy, but it gets broader as he returns to the scene banging on a parade drum.

It's a great bit of subtlety in staging as McCabe is still true to Daffy Duck's character. McCabe's sharp timing kicks into gear as Daffy attempts to strike the entertained Little Beefer with a tomahawk, but narrowly misses him. The tomahawk strike is a great sharp effect - for it appears out of the blue, making the threat more predictable and vulnerable for Beefer.

Animators at Schlesinger's exceed in animating an unusual piece of character animation of Daffy playing the tom-toms with his butt cheeks, and animated so convincingly. Almost striking him again with the tomahawk, Little Beefer turns suspicious. Sheepishly, Daffy uses the tomahawks in his hands to break into finale in his rain dance.

McCabe and Millar, who are faithful in capturing Daffy Duck's personality, give the duck a slightly different approach. For the scenes of Daffy kissing Little Beefer, he goes for a Bugs Bunny persona. Another common trait of the early Daffy Duck cartoons, this trademark exceeds from what Clampett or Tashlin have portrayed him.

Since he is kissing Little Beefer as a diversity tactic to hide his disguise, one might get the idea Daffy is enjoying this a little too much. Daffy features a very camp-like posture when Beefer reacts with ecstasy over the kiss. Once Daffy's disguise has been crumbled, Daffy still continues to enjoy some of Beefy's advances.

This is seen in the shot of Daffy reuniting with Daisy June. Once Little Beefer advances forward to threaten Daffy, he comments "Oh well, you too" and kisses him on the nose. As entertaining the sequence is as a whole, you can't help but question his sexual behaviour, no matter if the gag was unintentional.

For the action chase sequence, McCabe intends to make the chase look like an extensive journey around the American desert, with the insertion of visual puns for iconic locations in the West. For a predictable gag sign like the "Los Angeles City Limits" sign, the word "Limits" is crossed off the sign, another sign reading: "Aw, you know!" for a desperate attempt for laughs.

Other visual puns are much more entertaining, and blend in perfectly for the chase scenes. Daffy and Little Beefer take their ride towards the Painted Desert in Arizona. The cactuses in the desert are all painted with stripes, as well as containing "Wet Paint" disclaimer signs.

Perhaps the best pun in the sequence is Daffy's entrance to the Petrified Forest. Once he reaches the territory, he immediately anticipates a petrified pose. The pose itself is incredibly solid and angular, as it portrays a petrified gesture in an exaggerated and yet convincing way. Little Beefer strikes Daffy with his tomahawk, where he breaks the hammer into fragments, but does no damage to Daffy.

Alas, a handful of the wartime references during the climax sequence is one of the prime reasons why Norm McCabe, as a director, is overshadowed by other the more prolific directors. The shot of Daffy making clicking noises on his pistol without firing is an amusing gag, but it hasn't aged well as years passed. This is particularly revealing in his comment: "We don't use any ammunition, folks. We save it all for the Army."

The final gag itself is a product of its time. Daffy Duck has been ambushed by an army of Injuns who invade the area. Daffy evades underneath a trailer parked in the middle of the desert. He goes against his patriotic comment, and fires at the Indians. What a laugh riot the gag must've been then.

The dust covers up Daffy Duck and the bottom part of the trailer, as it unveils, it is revealed that the tires from the trailer have been removed. An Injun walks into the scene, carrying the tires and dumps them on top of Daffy, complaining that they don't fit his vehicle ("Don't fit um, pup pup"). As he drives off in the horizon, a sign at the back reads: "Keep it under 40". For those unknown to the gag, it is a direct reference to the World War II rationing, and tires were amongst many items rationed for their rubber, which were used for the Jeeps in the military.

Although this is the last Daffy cartoon that bears McCabe's name as a director, he has certainly revolutionised the character from being just a screwball personality, which he does perfectly in this cartoon and Daffy's Southern Exposure. Daffy's personality in the short, particularly when he is dressed in drags, is a little overplayed, but its heart is still in the right place. Some of the gags do suffer a bit with some corny puns, but they're harmless at best. As usual, great characterisation for the one-shot characters, particularly Daisy June, who doesn't get much screen time appearance. Once the squaw exits the cartoon, the short gets a little side-tracked, as the new focus is on Daffy and Little Beefer, but the gags and sequences that follow definitely don't go to waste. As per usual, Norm McCabe's use of experimentation of modern design creates a beautiful picture for the short's scenery. It's a pity that McCabe's layout man (Dave Hilberman?) is hardly recognised for the modernised appeal in his cartoons, especially when they are ahead of its time.

Rating: 3.5/5.