Wednesday, 15 August 2012

190. My Little Buckaroo (1938)

Warner cartoon no. 189.
Release date: January 29, 1938.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (The Terror) and Ted Pierce (Pig Rider).
Story: Ted Pierce.
Animation: Bob McKimson.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: The bandit is very successful in his plans on escaping; until he encounters a pig sheriff.

The title card misspells 'My Little Buckaroo' as 'My Little Buckeroo'.

The cartoon begins as we find some montage shouts of the terror riding on his horse in which we hear the sounds of a police call in the one-horse town shout: Calling all sheriffs! Calling all sheriffs! Beyond the lookout for the terror. That is all". In the montage shots we find that the terror is entering the barn (whilst riding in other montage shot) but there are a gang of rustlers after the terror but the terror shoots back.

After some montage shots we fade out but then fade in to a wagon where the date reads March 1872. The narrator then tells us that the town takes place in the state of Texas. Notice that the backgrounds have been reused from Gold Diggers of 49 at least the same wagon and also the way that the backgrounds have been laid out. However that is still in fact a very long camera PAN of the one-horse town in the desert where we pan from the wagon where it reveals the date of the plot is taken and then pans through a building where it shows a 'WANTED' poster. We then get to have a close-up of the 'WANTED' poster as it reads: WANTED - DEAD or ALIVE BETTER MAKE IT DEAD. THE TERROR - 5,000,000 PESOS or $25 CASH TAX EMEMPT. I bet that the $25 prize compared to Mexican money: 5'000'000 Pesos is a joke to comparing the Mexican economy as though 5'000'000 pesos is worth 25 bucks in American money.

The background sign of the 'Wanted' poster then fades to where it is pinned to a cactus. The terror is in fact standing by the cactus with the poster posing by it. The terror then points his thumb by the poster as he poses, 'That's me. The great Jose (? unsure of next name) Santa Barbara La Cucaracha Smith" of course a gag name where he has so many names (even being places and 'La Cucaracha' meaning in Spanish - 'the cockroach'. I do believe that the terror here is voiced by Blanc (even though the often unreliable IMdB site couldn't give answers).

He find that the Terror is making a cigarette rollup. He pours some nicotine inside it; and it forms into a cigarette. There appears to be an in-joke that he talks about (mentioning 7.50 or 2.50 something but I accent understand with bad grammar and Mexican accent) whilst he is lighting his cigarette where he lights his match and smokes his cigarette. We then fade out after the Terror's introduction in which the narrator then narrates the next part taking place on March 2, 1872. We are viewing a building where it is called, Boiled Beef Savings Bank. In the long shot of the building you can find that there is a dog lying down on the front porch of it. We then find that the dog sleeping on the front porch is in fact the burglar alarm as it says so on a sign wrapped around his stomach; so the dog can watch out for any criminals or terrors trying to start a crime.

We then start to PAN back to the location as the narrator then mentions that the arrival of the terror is 'with the suddenness of a rattlesnake' of course that is describing the terror entering the scene. The terror arrives at the place with his horse in which he starts firing in the air with his pistols. The narrator then shouts, 'The terror STRIKES'. The dog then notices the terror walking inside the bank. The dog on the porch then wakes up in which he rings the bell as part of the alarm. Wouldn't he make a better burglar alarm if he'd just attack the guy?

The rustler then steps into the bank as he walks over to the telephone booth as he steals a coin there until he runs back out on his horse. Now that is particularly funny since we think that he is trying to threaten somebody's life by maybe wanting a bag of gold but instead just wants to steal that coin. The terror then leaves the scene as he fires his pistols. It turns out that everybody was at lunch at the scene (which is even funnier) then we start to realize that something serious had happened in which they start to leave and chase after the bandit. They then run over carrying a saddle or other horse equipment that they'll need when chasing after him. Of course; now I would realise that the dog sitting on the front porch was in fact only used to call bells but was probably too lazy to notice that everybody else was asleep; I guess.

It turns out that what they discover is that their horses are on strike which means that it will take them even longer for them to walk. The first horse holding the picket sign has the picket reading: WE'RE ON A SIT DOWN STRIKE. The second picket sign from another horse then reads WE BALK YOU WALK. Then the last picket sign held by the other horse reads: WE'RE SITTING BECAUSE WE CAN'T STAND FOR IT! Then we pan back to another picket sign from the same horse but the words are different that read; NO FEED NO STEED.

I do like how that gag was built up with the horses refusing to ride and just leaving the other men to walk it which will mean they have to suffer; and I think that it was a good gag build up.

After the sequence with the stubborn horses on strike, we then view to the background view as we find that the Narrator talks about how that the terror has escaped successfully, and 'flees over the border'. By over the border I imagine that he is over the American border considering that he has a distinctive Mexican accent. Inside the terror's hideout he is inside using a slot machine where he is placing several coins in as it looks like as though he's using it for gambling; which isn't very good. One of the funny gags that pops up is that when he's about to put a coin in the slot machines, one of the coins then read, 'SLUG' as which of course resembles the part of his own personality. The terror then throws the coin to the ground as he shouts, 'That dirty robber!' in which he throws his own sombrero to the ground and it looks like in the following action he is acting in rage in a Mexican language but it don't think it was in English at all.

Overnight we then start to see a carriage riding through the desert at nighttime and we see that the person riding the carriage is in silhouette. The narrator narrates the dramatic part of it; that the carriage driver is unaware of the danger of the terror lurking about.

The narrator then announces in the story, 'Then suddenly---' the dark figure of the terror then runs out from behind a rock (though we can see his eyes) in which he holds out his pistols and shouts 'Stick 'em up!' The carriage driver then halts the carriage in which a range of horses then starts to skid, but end up carrying one another which makes the scene timed comically and the gag overall funny. However it turns out that the folks from the town earlier are in their horses already after the bandit; and the scene with the folks charging is reused animation from Ride Him, Bosko! The terror then starts to ride back on his horse and rides off in an animation cycle. I do like the cycle of the horse and the terror escaping, as well as the music timing to it where it hits the beat and Freleng is showing his sense of timing which is already relevant here. The rider then starts to ride across the border as he is close to reaching it; and I thought he had already 'fled across the border' earlier on or unless I misheard. Of course; the terror had already outwitted the other folks chasing him since of course the Americans are very strict when people pass their border line. The terror then starts to blow a raspberry effect towards them to show that he won again.

However as morning approaches as then discover that there is another riding cowboy riding along the desert singing very loudly to the song, My Little Buckeroo. After the silhouette view from the camera; we then truck closer as we find that it is a pig cowboy who is riding on his horse but singing very badly to the song.

He sings so badly that even the horse has to cringe when listening to his horrible singing, and I think watching someone cringe over bad singing is always funny. The pig of this cartoon I believe is in fact Ted Pierce doing an impression here of the pig but I can guess who he might be impersonating; is it meant to be Andy Devine? We then start to hear the sounds of gunshots coming from the bandit as he is riding straight on. He is riding much more quicker as he is trying to cause trouble. The pig then starts to try and get his horse to ride towards him. They then make a start up but then zoom out of the scene as they try to catch up with him. Some funny gags that then show up features when the pig is riding he blasts his gun towards the bandit but he pulls back so much that his reins stretch so back but then he stretches back onto his horse. This was a type of gag I believe I've seen before in these cartoons (I think I remember in Sweet Sioux). Every time the pig fires; we find that he in fact is shooting for his sombrero in which it only falls off but he's able to pick it back up. The terror then starts to shoot back towards the pig.

The terror then starts to shoot with his pistol out and there is a tender 1930s typical gag (well I suppose similar gags to that have been used before, too) where we find he shoots his pistol but after firing it; there are slots on there (like on a fruity machine) in which when he hits something like two oranges and a plum; he won't be able to shoot up many bullets. However when he strikes all 3 bars, the pistol starts to shoot continuously with no stop. Man, I wish there was a gun that could exist like that. Sounds so cool.

As the cowboy still keeps firing, but being cartoon land - the pig cowboy is still going and the bullets just couldn't have missed him. However one of the bullets then start to shoot for his hat in which that flies off. The pig then finds the hat a replacement in which he uses a boater hat. Then he has another replacement which is a derby, but it already has a bullet mark through it unless that is supposed to be the gag. After the derby hat then gets shot; the pig then replaces the hat with his usual cowboy hat; and out of all the other replacement hats that he has brought - he just brought back his other one which makes it rather amusing. The terror then starts to read to the end of the road, as it's also shown in a sign too and of course; it's a very typical trademark in these western films where the villain would try to escape through the road but reach to the edge of the cliff.

The terror already has a solution for another route to escape to which is just very simple but also very humorous. There is an escalator next to the terror where he and his horse run up to. They jump onto the escalator and they stand there as the escalator ascends them. The sign at the bottom of the elevator then reads, 'Watch your step' which obviously shows it it's supposed to be an escalator. The terror then reaches to the top of the escalator and then starts to ride away.

Now the pig starts to jump onto the escalator as he is catching up with the bandit. The pig then pushes for the horse to continue riding as they continue the chase onwards. The terror and the pig rider then both reach to the top of the mountain as they start to continue their chase sequence. From a point of view shot of the pig; we find a very good animated scene where it focuses on the bandit riding the horse but in perspective. That must've been a challenge to animate by making the ground animated. It's even very good when we watch the rider make a turning point; and the background part is still animated and it's done in a very good effect. There is a cool layout scene where it involves the terror riding down the path of the mountain but there is a turning part in which the terror doesn't touch the path but rides on the side (like the wall) which was pretty cool and pretty decent. The pig rider also does the same thing too which is pretty fun, but I've seen that type of gag sort of reused (but also seen) where Beans is riding a car in Gold Diggers of '49.

We find that the bandit is still riding along pretty fast and pretty serious. The horse then starts to slide down a steep part of the mountain in which they slide down rather easily. The pig rider and the horse then do the same. They slide down the steep part but after sliding down the horse then starts to halt suddenly. Enjoying the ride down that steep hill, the horse then starts to slap gleefully wanting to ride back down again.

The way that the horse just slaps his hands and enjoys going down the steep hill just amuses me, I guess it's the nature of it. The horse then starts to run up the steep part of the hill in which he then starts to make a run up. He then starts to slide down the steep hill again where he enjoys it. Also the animation is in perspective too.

After sliding down that steep hill like a child, he starts to enjoy it in which the pig cowboy starts to turn serious as he asks; 'Aw come on'. The horse then starts to pantomime by crying, 'Gee, come on. I never get to have any fun. Other horses have fun, and I never get to do anything' as though he is acting like a child and the pig is the parent. The pantomime of that scene is even funny too. Friz is no longer the bland director he used to be; he even has a style of humour now and his own sense of timing; even though I can't stop saying that but it's true. The pig then starts to give in which he lets the horse go and play, 'Oh alright'. The horses jumps over in glee as he leaves the scene; and you'd think that it was just a random moment in the cartoon; and I have to say - Yeah, it really was. It completely made no sense, it came out of nowhere but hey - it's fun!

The pig then walks over to the edge of the cliff where he discovers the terror is still escaping. The pig then grabs out a gun where it has a fishing reel on it. The fishing-net gun was another gag that was even reused from the first Avery cartoon, Gold Diggers of '49 and I've noticed quite a couple of similarities of it in this cartoon. After the pig has shot from the fishing-gun; there is a rope that shoots out in which he manages to finally grab the terror successfully. There is a good deal of weight in this animation where the pig is just fishing him out of the horse as he has caught him in it. He has then caught the terror as he is caught on the rope and he starts to squirm and wobble like a fish which is a rather charming gag.

After the sequence then fades out, we then find that the pig sheriff is inside his office as he is sitting on his chair whistling happily. We then start to pan through the other animals in which there are a couple of carved head animals that are displayed on the wall. We then find that the terror is in fact stuck on one of them. We think for a moment that he has been decapitated but as we pan back we find he's still alive but in a prison cell and has to face another bad punishment by standing still with his head stuck. Of course; a Ted Pierce story idea.

Overall comments: One of my personal views of this cartoon; at least story-wise is that it feels like Ted Pierce or Freleng are trying to at least ape what Avery would be making back in his early days as though they've gone to that stage except there aren't enough Avery charms in it. In fact; some of the gags I feel are in fact a ripoff from the Tex cartoon Gold Diggers of '49 as there were certain parts where it felt like they were reusing his stuff. The background opening around the beginning of the cartoon was in fact a rather similar looking background with the wagon and calendar, as well as the fishing gun gag and when they slide down each hill and there are likely more if I can think of. Even the setting of the cartoons are the same except it's a different story.

Nevertheless this cartoon I felt at least had a couple of moments; except I felt as though the story of this cartoon pretty much felt like a long ending around the second half when it was a pretty long chase sequence with the terror and the pig and it added gags to not make the chase scenes boring but I find that the story didn't go too far from that point as though the conclusion has already reached here. I have to say that even when watching these cartoons just before Friz leaves for MGM; they're just something great to look at. Compare the cartoons that he made 2 years ago or longer - he was just making sweet-gentle musical cartoons where there wasn't really a plot going on whatsoever and he heavily focused on sweet-looking Disney-esque characters; but by around 1936 that would change when he started to focus much less on Disney-esque cartoons and more into the humour like what Avery did and by the time he left for MGM - he already achieved that.


  1. “The pig of this cartoon I believe is in fact Ted Pierce doing an impression here of the pig but I can guess who he might be impersonating; is it meant to be Andy Devine?”

    Yes, it is.

  2. "I put anyone on the spots for seven-fifty and a quarter a day.
    Mother-in-law, two-fifty."

    The slug refered to here is a metal disc used as a coin or token and are generally counterfeit, hence Terror's enragement.

  3. "I never get to doanything" is a Don Wilson ref-the chubby emcee of the Jack Benny show AND within a wyear Disney's "Ferdinand" narrator..."All the bulls enjoyed fighting..but not Ferdinand.
    THis got the first Blue Ribbon print, though THe County Mouse was the oldest to get one.Steve

    1. Thanks Steve for the info.

      About the Blue Ribbon print, I thought 'A Feud There Was' was the first to be reissued, THEN this cartoon. Right?

    2. Answering for Steve,

      Yes. The Tex Avery short, "A Feud There Was," originally released September 24, 1938 (and featuring the late legendary singing cowboy Roy Rogers's distinctive yodeling), was chosen as the inaugural Blue Ribbon release when Warner Bros. released it as the first of 13 in this series for the 1943-44 season, on September 11, 1943. This was also chosen as the first Blue Ribbon re-release for the 1952-53 release season (on September 13, 1952), with the infamous "THE END" closing title at guess where.

      The next cartoon to be reissued was another Tex Avery effort: 1940's "The Early Worm Gets the Bird" (a "semi-blaxploitation" short about a blackbird who is terrorized by a fox; one gag is when the little blackbird and his bee friend puts ketchup between two slices of bread and the fox mistakes it for his own blood, prompting him to run away like crazy after the bee stings him in the rear), re-released on October 2, 1943. As with the first Blue Ribbon release, it was re-released again in the 1952-53 season (as cartoon number 4 in that season's Blue Ribbon lineup, on November 29, 1952) and bearing the same "THE END" closing title card.

      This short, "My Little Buckaroo," was the third cartoon chosen for re-release... on November 6, 1943.

      Hope this answers your questions,

      Ben "Mario" Edge

  4. nice blog ! :) <-- check ?;)

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