Monday, 9 April 2012

147. Don't Look Now (1936)

Warner cartoons no. 146.
Release date: November 7, 1936.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Tex Avery.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Tex Avery (Egbert), Bernice Hansell (Cathleen), Martha Wentworth (Lady Woodpecker), Tommy Bond (Devil Boy) and Billy Bletcher (Devil Cuckoo).
Animation: Bob Clampett and Joe D'Igalo.
Musical Score: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: It's Valentine's Day and a Cupid is having fun arranging relationships while the Devil is trying to break them.

This is the first Warner Bros. cartoon in which Tex Avery uses his voice; although it isn't the FIRST time he's used his own voice for characters as he's done that  before at Walter Lantz. This is also another big cast featured here. So I'll be starting off my review of "Don't Look Now" and no..I'm not reviewing the 1973 movie even though it has the same name.

A picture pops up with a love heart with the writing inside the heart reading Will you be my Valentine? Yes it's Valentine's Day of course in the forest full of animals. The love heart on the card then dissolves into a heart-shaped house with butterflies flickering out.

The resident of that love-heart house belongs to Dan Cupid as his name is mentioned so in a heart shaped letter-box. Inside the house; the Cupid is seen inside  his bedroom snoozing with love-heart shapes in his duvet covers. Wow; lots of love-heart designs for the cupid in this cartoon. The cuckoo-clock then starts to pop up (love-heart cuckoo) as he shouts "Time's a wastin'" in a sweet voice. I like the fact about how almost everything the Cupid owns in this house at least shows love hearts on them - it makes him a true Cupid. The Cupid jumps out of bed as he gives himself a quick shower and at least the steam of the shower covers him (but he seems to wear his pants the whole time). The Cupid then starts to dry himself with a towel before beginning the day.

The Cupid then starts to move up to the calendar as the paper reads "Feb. 13" and rips off a page as it turns to "Feb. 14" which is evidently - Valentine's Day. The Cupid then remarks; "Valentine's Day my big day!" as it shows that he'll have a good day of arranging new couples and affairs. The Cupid appears to have a type of European accent here but the voice actor I don't know.

The Cupid then starts to dash outside as he starts to do some morning work in his garden mowing the lawn. He starts to mow the plants off his flower-bead the plants are just Cupid's arrows which is a good idea to use since they're similar to plants; and for what the Cupid is going to need while trying to bring in the romance for everyone. I like the animation timing on how that the Cupid mows the lawn and all of the arrows then land on the back of his quiver one at a time whilst mowing the arrows off the ground.

The Cupid then starts to place a packet of cards inside the toaster in which he waits for them to shoot straight out of the toaster in which the Cupid shoots with his arrows onto the "Heart" cards. As the Cupid shoots on all of the cards to the tree; they all form a love heart with an Ace heart card shooting straight to the middle. The Cupid then continues to do some practicing with shooting as he shoots his arrow; as it shoots from the burrow of the tree and out of a branch and through the apple placed on top of the Cupid's head.

The Cupid then starts to go over to the next corner where there is a shooting gallery in his garden as he pulls the switch with mechanical track ducks with love-hearts on them moving. The Cupid then starts to shoot straight at it with his arrows with such skill. An Avery gag then pops up with one of the mechanical duck tracks coming to life and scrams from the shooting arrows as well as the other ducks. The Cupid then begins his big day as he steps out of his gate (shaped of a love-heart) and walks out of the scene...

A black title card then pops up with the words "and Meanwhile". There is a Devil figure who is sleeping on his ironed-bed that is steaming up. A steaming cuckoo-clock that he has boils up with a Devil cuckoo popping out shouting "Time marches on!" The Devil boy then steps out his steaming iron bed as he turns off the switch for it to cool. Notice how he sleeps on a pillow made out of asbestos. The Devil runs out to have a shower but a very steaming one; as he steps onto a frying pan and showers himself by turning on the taps with flames coming out. 

I like the use of personality showing here like in the house that tells us that's certainly "cookin'" and the fact that he showers with flames. The Devil then starts to run out of the shower as he grabs out his bowler hat and rips off the calendar from what was previously "Feb. 13" and into "Feb 14" this is the same morning wake-up routine from the Cupid but the Devil is just different from him as well as his showers, beds, cuckoo clocks, etc.

"Well, say, Valentine's Day. My favourite day". The Devil then starts to walk out of his dark house which reminds me of hell - except it's not so fiery down there.

The Devil then walks out of the house in a negative attitude about Valentine's Day as he goes around kicking food cans out of his way from the path. He goes on complaining; "Arr this Valentine's Day gather's the bomb. "Love, kisses, sweetheart" - sissy stuff!" At least we see a good characteristic walk of the Devil walking around kicking the cans but I really dislike the voice there which I believe was by Tommy Bond; it's too kiddie for him which is annoying but Bond was already a child actor back in the mid 1930s. If Mel Blanc was already there doing the voices by 1936 and he was selected to voice the Devil here; then it would've been a bigger and better difference by comparison.

Meanwhile there is a turtle couple in the woods as the male turtle appears to be a caricature of Maurice Chevalier. He appears to be begging for the female turtle to be his Valentine - or even sweetheart. But the female turtle is too shy and coy to do so.

Meanwhile the Cupid from earlier on in the cartoon then turns up at the spot as he arranges the romance to start as he sings the title song for us; "Don't Look Now". The turtle is still begging for the female to be his until she does join in with him as a Cupid's arrow shoots straights at her in which she jumps straight out of her shell and joins in the Maurice Chevalier turtle's shell. "My, my - ain't we got fun?" the female turtle exclaims. They then sing "We're two put into together; cheaper than one. Regarding we're riding together; we two". I THINK that is what is being sung. I do quite like that bit of adult humour shown here such as the female turtle jumps into the shell which looks as though they're intimate together; but that's all I'm going to go into here.

The Cupid then starts to walk down the forest as he goes into song; "When your love first seems to thistle; they'll make a sizzle with my on arrow (?). Here's a love-case with a feeling - I have a feeling to the person along". We then see a bear couple together who look at each other timidly and shyly which is Egbert and Cathleen who both love each other. I've noticed an animator style of the Cupid walking down singing since it's much more polished and cartoonie eyes are drawn there if you've noticed while in most of the Cupid scenes they're plain looking.

The Devil Boy then walks into the scene singing his verse of 'Don't Look Now' - and he sings about how he will stop "sissies" and "lovebirds". I like that charisma that the Devil performs when in song. We then start to pan to Egbert and Cassie as Egbert is about to announce something:

Egbert: (shy chuckles) Uh-huh, Well...
Cathleen: Yes, go on Egbert...
Egbert: Well Cassie; uh; we uh...
Devil: (whispers to Cassie's ear) You go sit on a tack you old horse face.

This then becomes a surprise to Cathleen as she believed that this was Egbert saying the impolite words to her. There appears to be a cut scene in-between the "horse-face" line and when the Devil laughs at his prank trying to destroy the relationship since there's a bad cut with the music score and I wouldn't know how the Devil got a further away from the bear couple in the very next scene. It appears to be an inappropriate scene in-between that. The Devil laughs at the ruined couple as he tells the audience; "I've got somethin' here that'll fix these love-sick mugs. Take a gander at this". The Devil then grabs out his bowler hat that shows blonde hairs,"lip stick, hair pins and stockings. Oooh; that naughty Devil and Avery too. ;-D

Meanwhile up in a tree there is a male woodpecker that flies to his tree holding a briefcase (probably after a busy day of work) pecks on the door with a rhythm knock. The woodpecker wife then opens the door as the husband announces; "Hey; how'd you like to be my Valentine, kiddo?" as the wife reassures him "do you mean it?" and the husband replies; "Yes; I mean it!" and the next part the wife says I can't quite make out what it is - is it meant to be foreign or what?

The Devil then peeks behind the woodpecker's shoulder by placing a piece of blond hair over it to disguise the trick as though he's been two-timing with a blonde girl today. The woodpecker couple then hug each other until she notices a bit of hair on his shoulder. She then starts to beat him shouting "Why you two-timer, etc." Meanwhile the Cupid hears the fighting on the ground as he shoots an arrow inside the bark of the tree.  A Cupid's arrow then shoots to the mother woodpecker which she starts to act all lovely-dovely towards her husband admiring him; "Aww, sweetheart". Mendelssohn's Spring Song is heard in the background after the Cupid's arrow shoots the wife. The woodpecker then cuddle each other as they "peck" each other on the lips but they drill their mouths in which their beaks turn very wonky which is a very funny gag that is typical Avery.

Meanwhile there is a lonely skunk sitting on a tree stump looking rather glum and sad as she hasn't got a date for Valentine's Day (SPOILER ALERT: yes it's a female - she gets married to the Devil at the end). The Cupid then starts to shoot a Cupid's arrow towards the skunk's rear end as she acts rather bubbly and full of joy.

A group of humans are standing in the path of the forest with a Valentine's Day display up which is attracting a crowd. The lady skunk then walks up to the people trying to be flirtatious "Well, hello boys". All of the humans then start to banish as they found a skunk fearing that it's gonna cause a terrible odour; but get the wrong idea of course.

Egbert then starts to walk up to Cathleen to is walking away from him stormed. Egbert tries to assure Cathleen that he didn't say anything; "You've got it wrong, cross my heart, won't you listen?" The Cupid then starts to listen to the conversation of them arguing as he manages to sort it out easily - by the use of Cupid's arrows which will change them into loving-couples. As the arrows shoot at them; the bear couple then shout at the same time; "We'll get married!"

So, (as the title card says so) Egbert is all dresses in his fancy suit as he knocks on Cathleen's door as he
asks "Are you ready honey?" and she is still indoors saying; "Just a minute". Inbetween that time; the Devil then starts to put on some make-up disguise tricks on him to see the horror of Cathleen's face and she steps out in her wedding dress rather shocked at what Egbert is wearing.

Egbert is shown in his wedding suit which gave me the chuckles as he's got lip-stick marks all over his face; as well as girl hair-pins in his waistcoat pocket as well as what looks like a handkerchief  in his pocket; and a stocking sticking out of his waist coat which is funny since it's another use of adult humour that shows that Cathleen thinks he was two-timing her with a prostitute and consummating which would explain the stocking.

Cathleen is just about to whack Egbert but the Cupid's arrow saves Egbert as they both kiss each other passionately.

The Devil then walks into the scene and interrupting the Cupid; "Hey what's the game of ruining my fun? You sissy!" The Devil then starts to beat up the Cupid as they go into a fight. The Devil then picks up the Cupid as he spins the Cupid around in which it forms into a tornado speed-line effect until the Devil drops him to the ground.

The Devil then jumps on top of the Cupid as he's pinned to the ground and the Devil is wringing his leg  as the Cupid squirms and struggles to break free. The Cupid uses the Devil's tail as he shoots it with his bow and the Devil  is caught on the tree as he talks in a very fast language with frustration to get him back down. The Cupid picks himself up and leaves.

Meanwhile over at the church is the wedding day going on for Egbert and Cathleen, and it's strange since they've proposed on the same day and marrying on the same day. How did THAT work? Egbert and Cathleen enter the church as they're about to be married.

The Devil struggles to pull his tail off the tree but manages. During the wedding; the devil arrives at the church in 24/7 (as it appears to be) and tells the two bear cubs who are sucking their lollipops as he comes up with a plan. He tells them "Okay dokey, now here's your candy. All you've got to do is go in the choich (church) and say..."

Meanwhile the priest (is that also Tex Avery's voice?) as he shouts: If there be anyone present who can give just cause why this couple should not be joined in with (nog ?). Let him now speak or forever hold his peace". Egbert was already shaking during the speech as he's already nervous.

Just as Egbert and Cathleen were about to kiss each other on the lips the two-bear cubs then jump out shouting "Daddy" as they run into the church disguising themselves as Egbert's father. Cathleen then leaves the scene as she storms off indicating that Egbert has illegitimate sons or committing bigamy. A wonderful piece of subtle humour from Tex. Egbert then steps out of the church trying to chase after Cathleen . Cathleen then throws the flowers at Egbert's face as he's rather disappointed. The Devil then laughs at Egbert's misfortune.

Suddenly a Cupid's arrow then shoots at the Devil in which the Cupid managed to catch him. The Cupid then starts to shoot an arrow towards Cathleen in the distance as she dashes back kissing Egbert passionately which means they can enter the church and continue to wed.

Inside the wedding ceremony; the priest then gets to the point of them being married as he gets to the conclusion; "I now pronounce you - uh-oh". The priest then starts to dash out of the scene as well as the other wedding guests. The Devil and the Skunk walk into the scene which shows the Cupid has defeated the Devil with his one last rotten trick. The Devil is the groom while the Skunk is the bride - ha ha. Looks like that lonely skunk we saw from the beginning of the picture has finally found someone - a brute.

Overall comments: Was this cartoon a rather entertaining early Avery cartoon? - I'd say so. I think this is definitely one of his earliest cartoons where he's used some early adult humour; if not - the earliest. There appears to be a scene that was cut in my copy (from the original release) which was probably inappropriate for children today and even at the time. The scene of Egbert wearing the stocking was pretty amusing but rather naughty too. The whole story was a pretty good formula with a Cupid and Devil having fun on Valentine's Day - but both have a different attitudes of "fun". The Cupid and Devils certainly have some personality here such as the Cupid and I notice how he seems to have a European accent; although most of the animation of the Cupid looked rather bland probably because of a particular animator working on that; but some scenes it looked appealing with those big eyes which I know is a different animator. The Devil was a more interesting character but the choice of voice in my opinion was just terrible in my opinion; it really didn't sound right; even the lines for a child actor to say. This was a pretty enjoyable and interesting cartoon by Tex Avery for the 'Merrie Melodies' and his cartoons for the series has proved to be the best of this year and it's good to see he helped Freleng and made better cartoons.

1 comment:

  1. I think the "handkerchief" in Egbert's pocket is actually supposed to be a garter belt [!], to further the "adult" humor in the cartoon [Tex was full of ideas...].