Wednesday, 4 January 2012

83. Buddy's Bearcats (1934)

Warner cartoon no. 82.
Release date: June 23, 1934.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Jack King.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Cast: Jack Carr (Buddy), (Cookie) (?) Bernice Hansen? and Billy Bletcher (Mustached baseball player).
Animation: Ben Clopton.
Music: Norman Spencer.

Jack King's first cartoon where he directed - or supervised. Somehow in the title card only Ben Clopton's name appears, since the main title "Buddy's Bearcats" hogs up a lot of the screen credits. Anyhow, with watching all these Friz Freleng cartoons and Ben Hardaway's cartoons, let's see what Jack King brings here...

 Our cartoon begins with a poster that reads Baseball Today - Buddy's Bearcats vs. Battling Bruisers which is of course some pretty good names (I prefer the latter, though). It is in fact a flag as we zoom out, and we see a view of the baseball stadium as there are quite a number of people attending at Ball Park Stadium. All of the fans are waiting at the ticket box-office ready to pay for their ticket for the big game. One the ticket is bought, they go through the turnstile. There is a fat man who buys a ticket, the hand of the ticket-man then extends (I love the camera angle of that hand extending).

The ticket man then wants to measure him because of his weight for admission. The ticket man then declares "Two seats" that he needs, so the fat man pays for another ticket and then he walks through the turnstile moderated. There are then these two type of two gentlemen that have beards, and as they are about to reach the turnstile they both shrink to they go under it, and then they go back to their normal height so they don't have to pay their ticket. Surprising no-one has noticed really, they were quite visible to notice when they walked under.

We then see a young teenager who is peeping through a hole in the gate looking through the stadium and turns to us audience "It's Buddy!", we then see Buddy who appears to be the pitcher and is rubbing his baseball about to get ready for the game. The young teenager who is wiggling his bottom both sideways (with a dachshund walking into the scene) with the young teen wiping his bum on that dog - which is a pretty corny gag, but works. There are these two tough-looking lads who are peeping through these holes, with the other tough guy slipping the one that's two guy down to his height. But the other hole goes right at the top, and then they have a non-physical fight about it, by changing it's positions - one-by-one.

There is a guy who helps extend's the dachshund's body by using his tail. The young teenager manages to get through the stadium gates, and thanks the guy out for helping him. We then see these Scottish music players are are parading the streets outside the stadium with their bagpipes. The bagpipe then forms into a type of balloon, and ties it to the drum which forms into a hot-air balloon and they also manage to raid into the stadium without a ticket - amazing how they got away with it back then.

Inside the stadium we see these group of audiences who are all swinging side-to-side happily, and the girl at the audience woos at Buddy "Yoo-hoo, Buddy". Wait a minute? Is that Cookie? No, it can't be - let's keep watching this cartoon, and find the real Cookie. Buddy then replies "Hello, Cookie". Oh my god, that really IS Cookie, look in the later screen-grabs she has a completely new design - instead of the black hair she had and that she really looked like a young adult (a bit), instead the new design makes her look like a 8 year old - Urgh. Buddy goes into some rhythm pattern in which he bounces the baseball onto the bats that like a xylophone sound.

Meanwhile there is some hot dogs being sold by hungry customers and fans, and there appears to be some Italian speaking chef that sings a little song about how to make hot-dogs. Okay, I can totally see a style coming from Jack King - where it shows the Chef has some character. Then we see a drink vendor who is walking down the steps who is singing about his drinks. Mmm, looks like we have some whimsical songs coming.

Of course, there is "more" singing coming from the announcer who is standing in the middle of the pitch with his microphone and chants: "Ladies and gentlemen, (whatever he's seen, then points to the team), the Battling Bruisers." The Battling Bruisers are of course, the rival team and they show off. He then turns to his right, and declared "On my left, the greatest team I've ever seen - Buddy's Bearcats." In which they do a rather dancing pose as well to their fans.

We then see the commentator who I assume is meant to be a caricature of Joe E. Brown who did baseball commentaries back then. Buddy is the pitcher for the team against the rivals, and he throws a sing with the ball but the batter misses, which is a "Strike One" to him. The ball accidentally lands on the commentator's mouth and he swallows it. Hah, now THAT is a funny gag. He says "Shucks! It's a ball. I'm all balled up!" Now that is even a funny gag and pun. Jack King has so far made a short really worth watching from the horrors I've been watching over the past few shorts.

It seems that immediately, it's the "Bearcats" turn to bat, with Buddy being the first to bat. He wipes some of the dirt in his hands and onto the bat because (is that what baseball players do? I don't know baseball very well as it' not so big where I live in the UK). The pitcher then squirts oil in his armpits (an old fashioned way of deodrant??). He seems to be rather nasty looking. We see the backstop player who has a bird-cage on his helmet - which is a gag since their helmets have types of cages on them. The pitcher then does a loop-de-loop swing with the ball, but Buddy manages to smack the ball, in which he runs at the first base, but the ball is already caught before he could make out - with an embarrassed laugh. Buddy is out of the game, and appears to be a celebration for the fans of the Battling Bruisers.

It is the evil batsman's teams turn to bat, in which the mustached batsman laughs evily as though he's got a trick up his sleeve (I believe that's Billy Bletcher's laughter being heard). Buddy also has another trick as he is pitching, he seems to lock the ball with the key. As he throws the ball off his hand, and the ball goes all over the place. The batsman tries to whack the ball, but the ball goes in funny directions. He accidentally hits the backstop player by mistake, and he brings out a type of gas pumper and sprays it at the ball, in which it stops moving. He picks up the ball and whacks it. Okay, but that is some cheating going on there from that villain (and I admit, a little bit from Buddy).

One of the players fielding then sees the ball that's about to go through the audience (which would've meant a "home run"), but his arm extends, and manages to catch the ball in time. We see this really great, but bizarre camera shot of the commentator who shouts "OUT", and we got right inside to see his tonsils, and then another shot slides into the screen with him in his desk - a great shot but probably hard to film. The commentator announces the score which is "49" to Bruisers and "47" to Bearcats, and Buddy's team are down by one point.

All of the audience are chanting for "Buddy" to come back on them as they want him. Buddy is standing outside the "players" door, who was out of the game and is begging praying with his knees down to enter back into the game. Cookie opens the door and enters, she says to him that there is in encore for Buddy to come back in. Buddy enters the pitch, and is chosen as batsman, and blushes slightly. Well, I have to admit that Cookie's redesign does make her look cute, but also really makes her look really young - and I can't decide if it's a good design for her or not. Although I do prefer the original design first.

Buddy then shoots the ball high in the sky, from a swing by the evil batsman. We see a great shot of the baseball flying straight at the camera. Everyone is all cheering on Buddy, and Cookie is standing right at the last base, and he makes it. Buddy has completed a home-run. Everyone throws their hats with delight for Buddy and his girlfriend Cookie. They are then covered in hats. They both pop out, cuddle each other - and that's all folks.

Jack King's first cartoon he fully supervised, and already it looks pretty impressive compared to what we've seen in the early 1934 cartoons. Of course, Jack King was an underrated director and often his pictures weren't anything special - but this is something special to look at. He includes a caricatured commentator and a good gag of when he swallows that ball. There are some great camera shots too, and when the animation does zoom right into the camera, something that the directors like Earl Duvall, Tom Palmer or Friz Freleng didn't achieve. Of course, I'm not too settled with the redesign of Cookie because the audience just won't recognize it, but I think this is in fact a pretty decent cartoon. This is probably the best that I have seen so far in 1934. Of course, Jack King isn't really influencing the other directors, but he's done quite good - however; nothing shakes the studio until Golddiggers of 49.


  1. The best joke is an inside one. The hot dog seller is Willie King. That was the name of the guy who had the concession rights around the Warners lot. Bletcher sings what I guess is a Spencer original song as he sells the dogs.
    The spray-can is the kind used for pesticides.
    It'd be interesting to know who designed the caricature of Brown.

  2. Yea, cartoon look decent, but I just hate this redesign of Cookie - she looks even more blander than before!

    P.S. What's about King's label?

  3. This cartoon is a joy! I like the production number around the workers in the ballpark and the introduction to the teams.