Sunday, 24 February 2013
Warner cartoon no. 252.
Release date: August 5, 1939.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig/Daffy Duck/Eagle/Baby Duckling/Dog).
Story: Warren Foster.
Animation: Izzy Ellis.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Daffy's a new father, but ends up getting drunk. One of his ducklings is captured by an eagle, and its up to him to save the day.
As noticed in this cartoon; Clampett has already given Daffy Duck a new look. Notice how he appears to have shades that are spread around his eyes, and even the ring collar on his neck is still zig-zagged (though he used it already). He would only use that design twice; again in Porky's Last Stand. I can only assume the remake of Daffy wasn't popular amongst Clampett's peers and the audience that his usual design was brought back. Also the first cartoon where you see Daffy Duck is a married man, which of course -- has been used for story ideas from time to time.
Daffy Duck walks into the scene and his wife hides the shirt, and Daffy is already very suspicious of what she is hiding. She blushes, and doesn't want to show the finished shirt towards him.
Daffy gets his hand out and gestures 'Lemme look'. She then finally hands over the shirt which Daffy looks at with satisfaction. Afterwards, Daffy then jumps with excitement over the fact of having children. In the next sequence - a newspaper headlines reads in the local paper (Barnyard Bulletin): Mr. and Mrs. Daffy Duck Are Expecting a Blessed Event. At the bottom, the journalist is rather personal and remarks: isn't that ducky? Which is just one of Clampett's silly puns. Note the journalist of the Barnyard Bulletin is Jimmy Piddler (parody of columnist Jimmy Fiddler).
The next sequence we find a pacing Daffy Duck who is pacing up and down waiting impatiently for his ducklings to be hatched. While he paces up and down he takes a swig of corn juice (which is urbanly just liquor that has corn in it). He continues to pace up and down and still keep taking corn juice, which becomes his quirk.
The lack of lip-sync in his scene shows its Bobe Cannon's animation. The next sequence we find a really impatient and worried Mrs. Daffy Duck who is getting very paranoid because her ducklings should already have been hatched by now.
Love the little subtle animation where she breaks the forth wall and shrugs. She walks over to the fireplace to warm her behind, and just at that moment: the ducklings immediately and finally hatch: 'Don't do it! We'll come out' - the delivery and gag itself is very amusing. The ducklings then sweat with relief.
Porky walks over to pay a visit to see Daffy Duck's new ducklings. He stutters and sings: Rock-a-Bye Baby whilst on the way. Porky finds Daffy and congratulates him on the birth. He sees Daffy as intoxicated, and Daffy immediately hushes him as he's feeling weary.
Mrs. Daffy Duck and her ducklings all walk out of the barn as they show they're gratitude in their characteristic walk. However, one other egg hasn't yet been hatched and so Porky picks up the unhatched egg.
He stutters and gasps, 'Uh-oh - here's one that didn't hatch'. He holds the egg that sits on the palm of his hand, and the egg immediately hatches. The timing of the top part of the egg flipping continuously feels a little unreal whilst the cracking of the egg looked real. Porky looks at the duckling, and of course...Clampett makes the baby duck look all cutesy with the baby duck giggle and even character designs that we're supposed to feel awe. Porky stutters and giggles, 'I bet you think I'm your papa'. The duckling nods but then responds 'Uh-uh' which shows the jokes on Porky.
Meanwhile up in the sky is a passing-by eagle. The eagle looks down (in a bird's eye shot) and already the duckling is a victim. The eagle flies down and entices him: 'Hiya bud! Wanna go for a ride?'. The duckling nods but responds 'Yeah' and of course; it so appears the duckling's mind hasn't been developed.
I mean, how is that possible; does she have a super sensitive hearing aid stuck inside her ear or something?? Anyhow, she makes a take and ends up in a panic-attack because of her son in peril. She spreads the news towards Porky and Daffy.
Daffy gets up and shouts with courage, 'I'll save 'em!' He flies up but flies back to take a shot from his corn juice jug. Then he whoops with excitement and flies frantically after the eagle. Also some nice cycle animation of the eagle flying away.
Probably one of the highlights of the cartoon itself is where Daffy is just speeding continuously and effortlessly, but then he pauses and just puffs exhausted -- stopping the action. Then afterwards he continues the chase scenes. That is also a trademark that has been used in later cartoons which is an example of the wildness the Warner cartoons had.
The eagle whistles for the other eagles in their cave, where its a bunch of eagles all chasing after Daffy. Daffy takes the duckling out of the eagle's hand and then whoops out of the scene very excitedly.
The eagle in front is charging up towards him, and then rugby tackles him, with the duckling falling to his death. Rather wacky of Clampett to have him Daffy being rugby-tackled in mid-air and yet standing on air. The mother duck and Porky both watch the baby duckling falling, and yet she panics with fear. What is the real need of panicking, why can't she just contribute something and save the damn bird. But no, it turns out Porky has to do it as the mother is just too useless to do anything.
Porky runs at the scene and manages to catch the duckling which lands safely in his hands. Porky skids in the ground and then lands in the lake where the duckling is now absolutely safe. The duckling is already on top of Porky's head where water falls out of his ears, and the duckling titters.
Meanwhile Daffy is still running away frantically from the charging eagles, and makes a land back to the barn and tries to protect himself inside. He looks at the eagles charging towards him who all dash inside the barn, with one standing outside and flips a coin loitering.
Meanwhile at the scene - Mrs. Duck is seen still screaming at Porky in saving Daffy Duck as he is caught inside a barn full of massacre-eating eagles. Porky grabs out a club so he could save Daffy and bash the eagles. Porky enters the barn and asks Mrs. Duck 'Stop pushing me'.
As Daffy then sings his solo part of the song - he spots the shadow of his wife. Instead of hitting him on the head - she hits the bottle of corn juice which will prevent him from getting drunk anymore.
Nevertheless, the cartoon isn't one of the highlights of 1939 but I'll give credit for some of the funny gags in the cartoon as well as comic timing. The comic timing of Daffy panting whilst chasing the eagle is just top-notch, and no wonder it was used much later on in their funniest era. This is also a cartoon where Daffy isn't really much of a screwball than he was in 1938. Daffy was surely a screwball duck in his earliest cartoons made by Tex Avery and Clampett but in 1939 he appears to have toned down a bit, but the wackiness still remains. The idea for Daffy Duck to be married is also amusing, and the concept has still been used for many other cartoons, but I'd say The Stupid Cupid and His Bitter Half are the most superior.
Saturday, 23 February 2013
Release date: July 29, 1939.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Chuck Jones.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Pinto Colvig (Goofy Mountie) and Mel Blanc (Head Mountie / Dirty Pierre).
Story: Dave Monahan.
Animation: Ken Harris.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Goofie Mountie is out on a mission to find Dirty Pierre who was seen in the North Woods and manages to find him on his quest.
Here Chuck Jones tries out again for a different use of comedy. Here, it just feels like a combination of WB gags, and even Disney. Probably Chuck Jones' answer to Goofy. Cartoon release date: 29th July (my birthday as it happens to be).
The cartoon already begins with an off-screen chorus who sing Song of the Mounted Police - a popular song written by M.K. Jerome and lyrics by Jack Scholl. During the vertical pan of the North territories of Canada - we find the northwest police headquarters. The motto for their headquarters reads: We Always Get Our Man (Well - Nearly Always).
Okay, I'll say it is rather humorous; at least they're being honest. There is already the line of Mounted police standing in a straight line - they all look the same, minus the goofy mountie...who is already obviously the same lead.
The head mountie finishes writing and reports to his head: 'Gentlemen, we are confronted with a serious situation. The countryside is being terrorised by a vicious outlaw:
Dirty Pierre: the scourge of the north!' In a close up-shot he continues: 'Now here's his picture'. He pulls down a slideshow which turns out to be the picture of himself. I'll admit that is definitely funny as it delivers embarrassment quite well; even the line 'A perfect criminal type' says it all; and even the analysis of the criminal type that implies he has the look of one. Nice sheepish expression of the head mountie when he feels embarrassed. Definitely taken from one of Chuck Jones' character layouts, as well as his expression. Afterwards, he pulls down the blind and analyses the criminal Dirty Pierre. Afterwards, he asks for volunteers to find him.
He shakes his hand rather firmly that the Goofy mountie staggers which is some really funny personality animation. He then points him out the door, 'Get your man!'.
Also some nice timing where he tries to salute but ends up having his arm in a bit of a tangle around his body. He walks over to the door to exit. However, he slams straight to the door not realising he hasn't opened the upper half. He opens up the upper half but the lower-half closes and he trips outside. I can imagine Tex or even Clampett make the comic timing much better; but for this idea Chuck's timing is too syrupy, and it just reminds you of what you would expect in a 1930s Goofy cartoon. A local mountie officer walks over to him, and uses his foot to stilt him upwards. The Goofy mountie then regains conscious and chuckles like Goofy. Mmm, definitely Chuck following Disney's style - but at least their style of cartoon humour.
Afterwards - the mountie then pulls the choke nob when he tries to get the dogs to start moving. An extended hand then appears and chokes the dog to start moving. Gee, THAT is meant to be HUMOUR?? Jesus Christ, that is so cruel to do that to a dog!
The dogs in the sleigh then finally start to get moving and the Goofy Mountie starts to ride. Well, that took at least 30 seconds of film to get moving. There is then a fade-out but we fade back in as we find the Goofy Mountie singing the same song that we had already heard in the opening credits.
As we pan vertically - we find the suspect caught standing by a tree filing and fiddling with his nails. The Goofy Mountie then walks over which follows a really slow-paced sequence where he asks for Dirty Pierre - and obviously he's talking to him, and not taking notice of the poster.
He responds with a Mexican accent, 'Naw, I've not seen him'. The Goofy Mountie then tries to reassure, and test his patience, and its even testing my patience as the pacing isn't getting anywhere.
The Mountie then looks towards him, and tries to assure him if he looks like a criminal or not. The hand gestures and head-tilts pretty give away its McKimson's animation as he tilts and sways the head as well. The Goofy Mountie then reassures once more. Dirty Pierre screams in his ear: 'YES' and bashes him to the ground and walks back to his cabin. The Goofy Mountie steps out with a body of a snowman. He wriggles the snow off man and walks over. Man, that wriggling scene looks completely unrealistic.
The Goofy mountie is attempting to open up the door but struggles to open the door, and so asks Dirty Pierre to help him open up the door. Despite being slow-paced; you must agree its nice to see Chuck at least try out comedy, and I love his attempt for wackiness and incoherence in this scene which is rather charming.
He walks over to open the door, and Goofy Mountie walks in and remarks, 'Shucks; there's no-one in there'. Dirty Pierre then remarks, 'Better take another look' and kicks him in the behind. Afterwards; the Goofy Mountie then charges back up and runs straight towards the door. Dirty Pierre opens the door so he can trip once more.
The result is the giant snowball crashes the headquarters of the mountie station. The mountie header and the Goofy one both pop out of the snow and the Goofy mountie shouts out, 'Look I got him, I got him!' He pulls out Dirty Pierre alright but is covered up like a snowman.
The mountie header makes a take, afraid and ducks down. The Goofy mountie does the same and also ducks down. Dirty Pierre has the snow shaken off him and he vibrates with the cartoon ending.
But, I'll admit you've got to give Chuck credit for at least trying. Chuck appeared to still be trying out humour, and it's kind of similar towards Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur except its probably the least-Disney-esque cartoon he made in the early era, and the cartoon had much more appeal. I'll admit - watching the cartoon in its first showing; the character designs and even style of the cartoon real did not strike to me as a Chuck Jones cartoons. There were character layout drawings in some of the scenes that clearly indicate its Chuck's style but much of the time - it really feels like I'm watching a style. The only thing which is evident is Chuck's sense of slow timing with gave it away. My theory is the character designs were designed by Charlie Thorson (who likely did the designs) and Chuck followed his designs which were adapted towards his character layouts. Nevertheless, if this cartoon is really one of his earliest for trying out humour (and appeared to never got credit for it) then the cartoon obviously never got enough exposure of the time it was released.
Thursday, 21 February 2013
Release date: July 15, 1939.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Tex Avery.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (The Stranger), Arthur Q. Bryan (Dangerous Dan McFoo), Sara Berner (Sue) and Robert C. Bruce (Narrator).
Story: Rich Hogan.
Animation: Paul Smith.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Parody of The Shooting of Dan McGrew but cast as anthropomorphic dogs.
The first WB cartoon Arthur Q. Bryan voices a character; who would go on and notoriously voice Elmer Fudd until his death in 1959. Tex would have heard him from the Fibber McGee and Molly show where he played Dr. George Gamble.
They immediately jump out with excitement and then freeze back to being drunk again -- which is a little crazy, but funny. The timing of the drunks acting rather excited was certainly some amusing and quick comic timing.
Whilst Robert C. Bruce provides the narration of the poem - 'the kid that handles the music-boc was hitting a jag-time tune'. We find the pianist playing the piano but the piano moves like a typewriter, and the piano player moves it back like one which is a very funny and unique gag. Then we find a close-up of a chorus group in tuxedos singing When I Saw Sweet Nelly Home. The camera trucks back and they're wearing dungarees. Then they stop singing, and appear to dash out of the scene...which just felt like a random sequence to me...but then again, I guess it was supposed to build up suspense.
The narrator then narrates: 'Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McFoo' - of course parody of the character in the poem 'Dan McGrew'. The group of people unblock Dan McFoo who is then seen as a small, meek characters unlike the poem.
Now that is certainly amusing -- but for the time it was made its even more funny (or hilarious) when you hear Arthur Q. Bryan's voice who makes the perfect meek voice. McFoo is seen playing with the pinball machine.
Over in the corner is McFoo's girlfriend, who is called 'Lou' but in the original poem she's known as Sue - and is seen as a poodle in this cartoon. She looks towards the audience and comments with a Katherine Hepburn impression: 'I'm so happy to be here. Rarely I am'. Now that is also a very funny way of caricature Lou -- as being lustful. I must say I do appreciate her character designs here as she looks very appealing.
All the other hole make a complete move to the side which is amusing and wacky. Dan McFoo cries, 'I was wobbed! I was wobbed!'. He weeps and bangs his fist on the pinball machine continuously.
After the sequence fades out - we find outside a silhouetted stranger walks towards the saloon during the blizzard. The stranger bangs on the door in order to be let in but the door slams face to the ground. Afterwards; the stranger walks out as though he's just come out of the basement. If you really analyse and consider this -- that is a surprisingly wild gag for a Warners cartoon of the 1930s. But then again, it really does feel like the type of gag he would use for one of his MGM cartoons when he made much wilder stuff. Then again, Tex in his Warners tenure would turn out something exaggerated than he would usually go - every now and then...but even in this era when he moved completely on to spot-gag cartoons.
The stranger's heart pounds very wildly and he walks over and ends up grabbing her, and tries to gain her attention. 'Your eyes...your lips..Honey, I loooove you!". I love the way Mel Blanc delivers the stranger's voice like that.
Lou pushes the Stranger's hands off him and rejects him. She responds in her Hepburn voice: 'Please don't go any further, because my heart belongs to that man'. Dan McFoo looks over and notices the issue that is going on between his lover.
He walks over and taps the stranger on the shoulder. He walks over and attempts to ask meekly and politely to take his hands off Lou. 'Pardon me but that's my girl' he warns. The stranger acts aggressive towards McFoo and screams straight towards his face: 'Well..WHAT OF IT?!'. Dan McFoo covers his face - the stranger pulls his index finger which strikes McFoo in the face - man, the gong sound effect is amazingly effective and striking.
Lou is standing by the staircase supporting Dan McFoo and shouts towards the stranger: 'You big brute. I hope he (?) you do. Rarely I do'.
The round starts off when a streetcar enters through the saloon doors and rings. Now that is just an out-of-nowhere idea but its very funny. The fight then starts off where the stranger punches Dan McFoo in the fist in the rhythm of Poet and Peasant Overture. The first round of the fighting sequence is really an advantage of what Tex can really do with comic timing -- and for this cartoon, it's pretty overlooked as he engages with fast-pacing and even swish lines to make the action much more suitable. During the fight - both Dan McFoo and the stranger grab onto each other's hands and appear to climb up in mid-air which is pure exaggeration but very fun.
The streetcar pops over again where the first round finishes. Avery sure has a blast with comic timing where they are fighting in mid-air but freeze after the sound of the gong. They freeze in mid-air but walk down 'invisible steps'.
Afterwards the wolf sits on a chair there there is a barber who covers his mouth with foam for a shave, and also trims his hair - neat timing and pacing there. Meanwhile Lou walks over towards Dan McFoo who is slumped on the chair exhausted. She walks over with concerns, 'Oh my darling - are you hurt?' - Dan responds 'Uh-huh'. The second street-car arrives and the fight continues there.
McFoo's body crashes into a wall and for about a few seconds he is unconscious. His own soul steps out and he walks over to fetch a bucket of water, and splashes McFoo to wake him up. Now that is Avery, at the epitome of exaggeration during his Warners tenure.
Dan McFoo calls over for the referee and makes a complaint: 'I'm not the one to complain but he's got something in his glove'. The referee then walks over towards the stranger and asks him to empty the gloves. He pulls out his glove where a couple of horseshoes fall out..but all of a sudden: a horse flies out. Now, the thought and even exaggeration of the cartoon is just hilarious - except Avery pulled out the gag similarly enough in Lonesome Lenny but he had a much better sense of comic timing by that point. Afterwards, Lou confronts McFoo and asks to be brave: 'Have courage my sweet, have courage'. She pecks him on the lips.
During the chase scene - the film is then freeze-framed where an off-screen commentator (still Bruce) announces: 'For the benefit of the fight fans of the audience. We will stop our camera at intervals, and enable you to see the blows as they land'.
The stranger then rugby tackles Dan McFoo...and then the fight ends up with fast-pacing commentary. Woah, the speed of the fight scenes with the swish line is remarkable! The commentator continues to comments on the actions (through the tornadoe speed lines) of McFoo licking the stranger with his boot (and its freeze framed) and even does so towards every action. The freeze frames are a very to come up with silly and funny poses for the fight all for laughs and chortles. Poor barman when the stranger whacks him by accident.
The commentator continues to make the fast talking as well as freeze-framing. The toe-to-toe is certainly very wacky and humorous. All the commentating keeps going until an unidentified man hands over two pistols towards them and says: 'Hey you mugs - take these, let's get this thing over with'.
There is then a blackout, and the narrator announces: 'the woman screams!'. Lou is about to but only lets out a tiny 'eek'. The blackout fight begins as we see dozens of firing which produces some very neat and fine effects animation which is very effective.
Why the amount of bullets and even fireworks for the fight? Exaggeration, I guess. Afterwards - a victim ends up shot and groans. The lights flash back on and Dan McFoo is lying in the ground shot dead. His lover Lou runs over and cries trying to revive him. 'Oh Dan you're hurt - my darling speak to me. Dan say something. Dan speak to me, speak to me, SPEAK TO ME' and cries over his chest. Dan immediately regains his consciousness and responds, 'Hewwo'. Lou looks at him with surprise as Dan grins. Now that ending is a hilarious conclusion and great satire to the poem as it originally ended with Sue crying over Dan McGrew's body.
This is probably the first cartoon where Tex is supposedly making a melodrama cartoon that none of the audience is meant to take seriously - when before that; it felt like there were moments in a cartoon where it was suppose to be serious (e.g. Cinderella Meets Fella - with poor Cinderella trying to warm her hands by the fire). Being a satire towards the poem: this cartoon satirises the original Dan McGrew wonderfully. The voice for Arthur Q. Bryan to do the voice of Dan McFoo is absolutely well comically performed as well as being hilarious; and you could say it made his career as he would later become the voice for Elmer Fudd and even furthered his career at Warner Bros. Sara Berner's voice as Lou is very sophisticated and funny with her brilliant Hepburn impression, and Mel Blanc was, as usual, excellent. The fighting sequences were a real treat as each gag was unique...but probably the funniest part to me was the ending shot where she cries over Dan's body--believing he's dead. Really funny timing when he just wakes up with a 'Hello' voice, completely unharmed..which emphasises on cutting out the dramatic parts of the poem and the whole gag being a big build up. Of course, Tex Avery would make the cartoon again at MGM called The Shooting of Dan McGrew released in 1945; which is of course a superior cartoon when you compare Avery in 1945 than he was in 1939...a much more improved director.