Wednesday, 29 February 2012

120. The Fire Alarm (1935)

Title card courtesy of Dave Mackey.
featuring Ham and Ex. (plus Beans).

Warner cartoon no. 119.
Release date: December 23, 1935.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Jack King.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Bernice Hansen (Ham and Ex).
Musical Score: Norman Spencer.
Animation: Bob McKimson and Ben Clopton.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).

Well, I'm going to declare this as the last cartoon of 1935 at Warner Bros since the release date is later than Flowers for Madame. I believe this is also the first Warner Bros. cartoon to use the "That's all, folks" writing at the end. It's also 29th February - so let's not leap death... ;-)

 Beans is doing his job as a fireman inside the fire station called Fire Station No. 5 which suggests that there are different fire stations in the town or community Beans lives in. Beans is shown polishing the fire engine inside the station to make it all polished and shiny.

The two twin puppies; Ham and Ex are outside in the streets both on one scooter riding past several people standing on the street. They are on their scooter until they arrive at the fire station where Beans works. Ham and Ex then shout "Uncle Beans" to know that Ham and Ex have arrived. Beans then arrives at the scene in which Ham and Ex give him a note and Beans reads the note: Uncle Beans, Please take care of Ham and Ex. Have gone shopping. Lizzie. Lizzie appears to be the mother I imagine.

Beans has finished reading the note and is rather confused as he doesn't know what to do with both Ham and Ex about. Beans is really unsure until he finally gives in and takes both Ham and Ex inside the fire station. Ham and Ex prance around the room excitedly while Beans is rather confused as he scratches his head.

Ham and Ex then start to fight over a hat on the stool as though they both want to wear it. They have a tug-of-war game on the hat until Ham (I presume) has a boot stuck on his head. It's really hard to tell who's got the boot stuck on it's head first considering they are IDENTICAL. Ham then throws the hat away and throws it at (probably Ex; I'm just going by the order of their name and appearance). The boot stuck on Ex and then chucks it out of the way.

 After the boot is chucked out of the way; they are both dancing about as the fireman hat is basically torn apart with each of the twin having a share. They both then start to run to the next part where they encounter a fire engine. The twins then start to tug the axe off the engine but one of the twins (I'll say Ham since he's wearing the flat part of the hat) then slides out of the scene with the axe attached to a pole in the station.

Ex (who knows?) grabs out a hose from the fire truck and starts to position himself holding onto the hosepipe. Ex then starts to move the hosepipe around in which it eventually covers the entire fire truck. Ham (I presume) then lets go of the axe from the pole and follows Ex where he is busy with the fire truck.

 Ham then follows Ex as the fire station is completely tangled with hosepipes all over the place. mischievous twins. The twin then starts to turn on the hosepipe which leaves a crazy sequence that follows Ex being sucked behind the hosepipes as it starts to loosen and then he swirls around the hosepipe until he goes off flying.

That was a rather entertaining part with that sound effects that would later be used for the Tasmanian Devil. I imagine that the hosepipe sequence would've been difficult to animate. Ex then flies out of the hosepipe and lands on Uncle Beans who is busy cleaning the floors with a scrub. Ex (I'm only going to estimate with the hats they're wearing) then accidentally slips on a sponge which squirts Beans and Ham.

Beans then starts to get up from his behind as he grabs both Ham and Ex in the ears. He places the twin pups on a bench as a punishment for their behaviour. He is walking around to make sure that they don't even make a sound but does turn around and shouts "Queit!" when they do make a sound. He then walks out of the scene.

Ham and Ex then starts to blow raspberries at them with that funny sound effect gag and then start to fiddle again but with the fire alarm. I imagine that Treg Brown was probably with the studio by that time which I'm certain so I'll include him in the credits list for the remainder even though he has been uncredited for most of his career.

 The fire alarm goes off and there are firemen upstairs snoozing but wake up because they think that it's time for them to do a duty by jumping into the fire engine. They wake up already in their pyjamas and jump onto their dungarees. A gag turns up that shows a dog snoring and breathes out with his dungarees flying about. I like the animation of the fireman's snout getting larger as he is sleeping.

The dungarees then turn inanimate and tries to wake up the sleeping fireman and then eventually wakes up. The fireman realizes that there is a fire alarm going on until he finally wakes up to join the rest of the fireman when they jump into the fire truck and they then leave the station in a rush. There is weird animation of the fire truck as it's about to start up but then rushes out of the scene. Ham and Ex's prank worked well.

 Ham and Ex then start to go into song as they hold their hands and they run around in circles going into a melody singing Norman Spencer's song that is played during the entire score How We Like to Fool the Firemen. The singing of Ham and Ex and their dancing is really annoying to look at; and Bernice Hansen's singing adds the touch to it.

Ham and Ex then do one of 'em Jack King hat-takes as the fire engine returns as the firemen know there is no fire. Ham and Ex then run out of the scene as the fire truck returns to the room. Ham and Ex sit on the bench to act innocent.

 Beans approaches the bench where Ham and Ex are sitting and knows that they have played the prank on the firemen. Beans thinks about what to do with the mischievous twin pups but thinks of an idea of what to do with those twins.

Beans gives both Ham and Ex a sanction which is going to bed early. He tucks them into bed upstairs where the fireman sleep. He then shouts "Now GO TO SLEEP!" until he walks out of the scene. As Beans leaves the scene Ham and Ex both go jumping about on the beds bouncing from bed-to-bed.

They both continue to jump and almost cause accidents and then they slide down the poll where the firemen go for emergencies. They both jump onto the fire truck when Beans is busy sorting out the tools. The fire truck has already turned on once Beans turns around to find out Ham and Ex are driving the engine.

The fire truck drives into a wall in which Beans tries his best to chase after the truck. He almost gets run over by it as he is currently in front of the truck in the middle of the road. Beans is saves as he falls down an open manhole.

Ham and Ex are still driving the fire truck as the truck is moving from left to right crashing telephone poles and ruining most of the streets in the town. They start to mess up the shrubs in the street by cutting most of it off. They also mess up a statue in which the horse and man jump up but are not back into accurate positions.

They crash into a house where a man is already occupied on the telephone. A trolley in the tracks is already cycling past but the fire truck then starts to turn it looking all topsy-turvy. Blimey that truck is going all over the place. We see some pretty neat effects from a helicopter view of the city in which it's going all over the place through buildings of a town center. The fire truck then arrives back at the fire engine that as they walk up the stairs thinking Beans doesn't know anything about it.

 They rush up the stairs pretending that nothing happened but nobody is falling for the scene of course. They then run back into the fire station dormitory pretending to be asleep but Beans runs into the beds where Ham and Ex are sleeping knowing what shenanigans they had been up to.

Beans has already approached the scene in which he continuously looks at both of them and already knows they're faking their sleep. He comes up with a plan to sneakily hide in the dormitory where they won't be seen so Ham and Ex would no longer attempt to cause trouble.

 Beans hides behind a wall but Ham and Ex wake up thinking that he has gone but they notice that he is trying to play a trick on both Ham and Ex. Ex then throws a boot at Beans in which he starts to spin around at the same position over and over again. This is finally the last straw for Beans.

Ham and Ex both dance around in the bed cheering on what happened to Beans but then he returns to the bed and the sanction for both Ham and Ex is spanking. Beans seems to pull the noses of their backside pants upwards so that he can spank them.

Overall comments: Jack King and Tex Avery were clearly put in charge of the "Beans" group in 1935-1936 for the Looney Tunes but Avery focused on Porky Pig to potential the character's career while Jack King mainly focused on the other characters such as Beans, Ham and Ex, etc. and giving them a chance to appear in a cartoon at a time - and that's what King did in this cartoon for Ham and Ex. Ham and Ex's cartoon here so far is just kind of annoying to watch but I didn't really have much to complain except that the only part of their personality is that they're mischievous and nothing else. Beans plays a minor role in this cartoon and he very rarely speaks in this cartoon if you've noticed.

Well that's 1935 completed. This year I've proven on how that 1935 was certainly an improvement from 1934; and there have been some importance in this year. The first appearance of Porky Pig, Buddy is finally out of his cartoon career for good, and the arrival of Tex Avery. So it means that next year -  there will be some improvement but only gradually. It will take about a couple of years until the Looney Tunes have been perfected.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

119. Flowers for Madame (1935)

Warner cartoon no. 118.
Release date: November 30, 1935.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Elmer Vincent (Megaphone director).
Musical Score: Norman Spencer.
Animation: Paul Smith and Don Williams.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).

Well, you'd probably have expected for The Fire Alarm to have been the next cartoon if you were following Dave Mackey's site - but this cartoon has an EARLIER release date than 'The Fire Alarm' so - I'm reviewing them via release date order. It's also believed to be the first cartoon to go into 3-strip Technicolor.

 We fade in to see a beautiful background of lily pads and a pond with a bridge to go across. Beautiful background painting. We can hear an off-screen chorus that are singing the title song for us - Flowers for Madame presumably. Watching this cartoon for the first time isn't the type of cartoon that will appeal to a Warner fan - but a Silly Symphony fan? Maybe. This appears to be rather "wimpy" in the views as I'm watching them so far. Just my view; it might even improve - hopefully.

We see these bluebells that then start to use their bells to go into chorus rhythm to the title song. The next sequence then shows these group of flowers who are placing some petal over their stem bodies.
 The sequence of the flowers then begin as they're performing a type of ballerina dance. The whole concept of this introduction looks like the start of spring with all of the flowers coming to life - considering when red roses grow rapidly with two bumble bees snogging each other.

The bumble bee couple look at the audience as they are being watched and rush out of the scene. The ballerina dance by the petal flowers isn't very special animation in my opinion but I imagine that all the animators probably studied this by live-action; maybe but it's highly improbable that Schlesinger would EVEN hire actors to perform live-action footage; so they probably used some old film of dancing in the Warner Bros. library - perhaps.

The next part then focuses on a dandy lion that wipes it's petals backwards and turns into a caricature of Harpo Marx as it appears. The Harpo Marx flower is playing on a spider-web pretending it's a harp.

 The Harpo Marx flower (who is playing the harp) is doing the music for the group of lady flowers that are doing a walk-pose by holding plants as though it's their umbrellas. They walk in a sophisticated attitude which is pretty neat animation although it's really simplistic. It's not the most interesting piece of animation to look at but at least it's sophisticated movement - I have to say.

 With all of these dance sequences out of the way; these two slugs with shells then play them like trumpets to represent public display. The poster reads Announcing! Flower Pageant - Open to All Contestants. Prizes Will be Given Away. All of the flowers then crowd to peek at the poster.

All of the contestants are eager to take place in the competition. Microphones (flower type of course) then announced about the pageant about to begin and this is Elmore Vincent's voice in this cartoon. The voice speaks very quickly and I can't quite understand the exact words coming up but all I can assume is that it's just announcing the competition; what else could it be about - the announcer talking about what he had for breakfast? Nah-ah.

 The pageant competition begins with a parade with band leaders of flowers leading the parade that show two bumble bees that are sitting on the shells of turtles. The parade then continues with these carts of other plants, stages, etc. The crowd scenes of when they cheer are the exact same animation but hey you simply can't criticise that as it's a good method of keeping costs down.

There is also traffic in the parade that is controlled by the firefly that uses their behind to "STOP". The next part of the parade are these Scottish thistles that are doing the Highland fling.  Well, I can tell you that I am in fact half-Scottish but as for Scottish dancing. I've seen better!

Meanwhile there is a small cactus plant that is also clapping at the pageant going on. The cactus decides to join in the parade as he finds a toy locomotive on the ground.

The cactus decides to make it look fancy by adding some flower seeds to the ground; then covers the hole in the ground where the seeds are. The cactus sprays it with a water can in which there are roots that grow all over the train with lovely timing of flowers plopping up one at a time. The cactus then starts to unwind the train in which he jumps onto the train to join in the parade. The crowd all seem to appreciate him in the crowd but the judges however aren't impressed and disapprove of the cactus. The cactus' toy train then explodes into pieces leaving him falling flat. Due to his humiliation all of the flowers laugh at the poor cactus.

The next scene comes out of nowhere where it just gets involved into the story. There is a match stick lying outside a matchbox where there is a magnifying glass that flames the matchstick but then causes the whole grassy fields to go on fire.

The plants are still laughing at the cactus' humiliation until they notice the fire (so what was the point of the fade out sequence)? The fire is continuously spreading as all the flowers and plants start to run for their lives. The flowers keeps on being flamed numerous times.

Another flower then start to help by dumping its head inside a waterfall loading it with water. The flower then extinguishes the flame of the small baby fire but that's only a tiny part of the fire out. As the flames continue to spread it means that the snail is in peril.

The snail is trying to pace up away from the fire but also suffers a slight turn at it's end which causes the snail to speed up. The snail speeds up in a fast pace (although the animation doesn't seem to move for a while; only backgrounds are). The snail then ends up sitting on a lily pad where it will be safe since he's surrounded by water. See, I told you that the speed in Gold Diggers of '49 was impressive at Warners compared to what you're seeing - now that's definitely nothing special. Although it is fluid animation.

The cactus then notices that the crowd of flowers are struggling so the cactus then decides to help you and extinguish the fire so he can be "the hero of this picture". The cactus turns on the hose waiting for the fire to extinguish and he can pull faces.

The fire doesn't seem to be going out anytime soon in which there is a tiny flame that runs out of the scene and runs behind the cactus. The baby flame then starts to run through the cactus' legs causing him to scream in pain. The baby flame then turns off the hose in which he leads the other fires to come and chase after the cactus. The entire group of flowers are still leaving as the cactus hasn't shown any improvement in stopping the fire.

The cactus then arrives at a group of watermelons in which he grabs out a small spear to burst the water out to stop the flames. Another trick up his sleeve. As a matter of luck; the trick actually appears to work and the flames are extinguishing.

The flowers all cheer in which the cactus blushes since he is considered a hero for stopping the fire -  most of the fire. Except that the baby flame is the only one left and is hiding behind a soap box. Note that the box reads Pierce's Pine and Tar Soap and of course the background artist used Ted Pierce who would've mean a story writer back then for those cartoons.

Meanwhile there is a grasshopper who was standing behind the soap box and is chewing tobacco. The grasshopper spits out tobacco with a fine twist and extinguishes the very last flame - ahh; the grasshopper does the finishing touch. The grasshopper then winks at the audience for what he did and it looks like he is waving his hand or something.
and that's all folks.

Overall comments: This cartoon was better than the previous Warner cartoon that was most recently came out although the beginning of the cartoon was pretty soppy stuff to look at. The rest of the cartoon was just pretty bland. I couldn't criticize most of it. It was just a repeated formula (except; no villain chasing girlfriend rubbish). It wasn't a really great cartoon at all; and nothing surprised me about it. I personally didn't see a highlight in the cartoon at all - nothing special to see; it was just really boring. Watching flowers are boring to me. Well, that's the 1935 Merrie Melodies now polished and out of the way and the 1936 Merrie Melodies can hopefully be an improvement since Friz Freleng was still at a low position of the Merrie Melodies but we did get a chance to see him improve on his cartoons in terms of gags which mostly occurred in mid-1935.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

118. Billboard Frolics (1935)

Warner cartoon no. 117.
Release date: November 9, 1935.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Billy Bletcher (Dave Rub-Em-Off) and Cliff Nazarro (Eddie Camphor / Worm).
Musical Score: Bernard Brown.
Animation: Cal Dalton and Sandy Walker.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).

This is the first WB cartoon to use the song Merrily We Roll Along by Eddie Cantor; which would later become the anthem to the Looney Tunes.

 Our cartoon begins at some city street where it's full of billboard signs. We come across different billboard signs with these references such as It Floats - Soap. The billboard sign that the audience are to focus on is Eddie Camphor in Person and Rub-Em-Off and his Wioleen. See Them and Hear Them. Evidently; this is a spoof name of popular singer at the time Eddie Cantor and the other is a spoof of violinist David Rubinoff.

Eddie Cantor then starts to roll his eyes (it appears to be a personality trait of his; as I've seen it on Shuffle Off to Buffalo (1933). Eddie Cantor is going into song singing Merrily We Roll Along that we ALL know - of course. The impression was by Cliff Nazarro and it's not bad; I guess. The music and song is very good; that we get to hear it for the next 30 years of the Merrie Melodies. Billy Bletcher is doing the Russian voice of "Rubie" as he is singing a verse; and I do quite like that Russian accent. They both walk together to finish off that verse of the song.

 The next part appears to be an immediate cut in terms of the music timing (I could be wrong on that part) but The Coolest Drink poster with a kettle (look-a-like) is shaking to Mexican music. While Mexican music is being played in the background by a Cuban girl in a Visit Cuba poster. The music and dancing looks pretty good although the animation feels a little sloppy as well as the design on the girl. The 1930s cartoons will suffered with those bland,, huge round, ugly eyes on the characters that were used by Avery, Freleng, Tashlin etc.

These Mexican tamales then go into song as they are singing like barbershop singers. One of the tamales has a pitchfork to use to play the guitar. I don't know what the song is as IMDB doesn't provide information in the Soundtrack part of this cartoon.

The next sequence involves these Dutch ladies that belonged in a can. They step out of their cans to do clog dancing to the song Merrily We Roll Along. There are these two pieces of bread with the billboard sign reading Russian Rye. These Russian breads are also dancing the Hopak but are also dancing over to Merrily We Roll Along, too. The caption at the bottom reads Baked on the Five Year Plan which is referring to Stalin's  Five Year Plan in Russia back in the late 1920s. So, it appears to be that throughout this cartoon so far it's a bunch of billboard signs with illustrations coming to life; one of Friz's ideas back then where it would seem pointless to create today. I mean; who'd come up with the idea of ceramic figurines to life; laundry clothes, etc. - Friz was just making attempts to carry on the Merrie Melodies in the Harman-Ising formula so I can't blame him.

The pan sequence for the penguin is pretty good although you only focus on the dance and not the words that read Smoke Old Colds and it considers re-watching of the scene. The dance is pretty good although why do the penguins have mannequin feet. The caption at the bottom reads They Are Fit For Man. Of course this shows about how folks were unaware of bad health can be caused by smoking.

The mannequin feet on the penguins DON'T work on the penguins but at least their skating movement to the Sleeping Beauty musical piece has fine timing. But I don't see why mannequins. It would've worked better if it included mannequins I guess or ducks with roller skates. A lady in another billboard sign above shakes powder down to create a snow effect.

The next animated dance sequence comes out of nowhere; and it's in animated long pairs of underwear just near the billboard posters that are doing a dance. I know that it takes place in the streets; but since when should a pair of underwear should join in? They're not part of the billboard sequences. That's not all; I recognised that this sequence is reused animation from The Girl at the Ironing Board. The only difference is that it's done in color.

As this is basically the same dance; the sound effects and music are different - if I recall. They use their pants flap to play some fun drum sounds and Arabian music by using a barrel. which if some fine music but the problem is...if it's the same barrel then how come they're different sounds if they're tapping it?  A female clothesline then starts to come up to life which is evidently the same design from "Ironing Board" but this is new animation. There is a wobbly gelatin desert - is that he correct spelling? The animation isn't bad of the female clothesline who appears to be attempting belly dancing.

This is the ending of the belly-dancing sequence with the clotheslines that didn't need to be there. It was probably added to add more time to it; to keep at a minimum budget. There is a bird that steps out of a poster and into the real world. The tiny bird spots a worm inside an apple and attempts to bite the worm out of the apple but the worm spanks the bird's behind.

The bird does a chirpy yell and the worm's chuckle is also by Cliff Nazarro. The bird then starts to walk back to the scene to try and get revenge on the worm. The worm then starts to blow silly faces at the bird. The bird starts to tug at the worm's skin like a game of tug of war. The worm pulls the apple off in which the bird flies off being hit on the head by the apple.

There is a chase sequence which is the same animation that was from early Bosko cartoons where the worm forms into a loop. I'm sure the worm is reused - or the same animation but the bird is different animation. The bird then reaches the junk where the worm is hiding but is clinging onto a pumper.

The stick that is attached to a door then moves off with the bird all pumped up with helium and now looks like a balloon. That was some pretty neat timing on that. The gag reminds me of that goat in Hold Anything is the same concept.

Meanwhile there is a cat that approaches the scene in which the cat is on top of a billboard sign meowing. Okay, I noticed how that everything in this cartoon seems to go out of place. First, we saw billboard signs singing; and it moves onto a clothesline sequence - and NOW it's focusing on a cat and canary? It's like as though they've got earlier storyboard productions and placed it in there; and tried to fit it into the segment to "make it work".

The cat approaches the scene and notices the canary bird. The cat walks through the moon in which we see X-ray vision of him which is a gag reused from Sittin' on a Backyard Fence and I SWEAR that it's the same model cat from It's Got me Again! or just a coincidental design. The cat then closely approaches the canary in which the bird is frightened of the close-up but the canary tries to walk away innocently or sneakily. The canary is then frightened of the cat and the chase begins. Mmm, this reminds me of an early Sylvester & Tweety prototype - if you really think about it.

 A bellboy inside the billboard signs inside the Calling for Philmore cigarette billboard shouts "Calling all cars!" numerous times. I imagine that the animation of the bellboy is rotoscoped animation from the standards I'm looking at. The "Police Chief Gasoline" billboard sign then wake up and drive through their scenery inside the billboard and fire bullets out to shoot the cat.

So, now the cartoon is focusing on the billboards again - the story of this cartoon really doesn't make much sense and just adds random parts. An electric hand inside a billboard meets up with it's neighbour billboard which is a dog that resembles the His Master's Voice (HMV) logo. The dog is zapped by the electric hand and is ordered to go and stop the cat from chasing after the canary.

The 'His Master's Voice' dog is therefore chasing after the cat hiding behind a soup box but they then go through a type of pipe. The cat is cunning enough to enter inside the pipe and out. The cat turns the switches of the pipe upwards in which it blocks the billboard puppy from escaping and the dog is yelping inside yelping for help.

Now that is a type of scene that I really don't like looking at. Poor dog. That dog doesn't deserved to be trapped in there forever. This is kind of sadistic gags to me.
The canary then walks through the corner of the pipe but makes a 'take' when he sees the cat chasing after him. As they are being chased; the canary ends up being cornered by the wall. The cat is not doing anything but just blocking the canary out of the way and meowing quite a lot.

Luckily the canary is saved - by a billboard poster that comes to life. A billboard poster of a hand holding a mallet comes to life by whacking the cat on the head. The canary then jumps on top of the knocked out rather satisfied.
and that's all folks!

Overall comments: This cartoon was a rather bit of a mess in my opinion. Of course the choice of music did improve the cartoon with the famous Merrily We Roll Along song but the cartoon itself suffers apart from that. There were too many reused materials; and yes - the audience aren't going to know but for someone reviewing and reflecting the cartoons it's shown as a production that is rather flawed. I dislike how that the short seems to be all over the place at times with story points that hardly make sense. It was one of Friz's cartoons at the time to focus on "the impossible things" where it doesn't work too well in these concepts. I seem to notice that in this short; it starts off rather creative at first; but then it gets a little lazy with the reuses and rather bad. Of course, Avery arrived and gradually paced things up but Freleng and the other directors didn't immediately get influenced yet. 

Friday, 24 February 2012

117. Gold Diggers of '49 (1935)

Well folks, it's the review you've ALL been waiting for. This time it's not the usual directors of this era: Friz Freleng, Jack King or even Bugs Hardaway. This is the first short to be directed by a man whose humour changed the Looney Tunes forever and appealed to millions (or even billions) of people around the globe. This is the review that was directed by....(drumroll)...TEX AVERY! (Yay!)

Yep, everyone's been waiting and here he is; Fred "Tex" Avery. The man whose humour, timing and animation inspired the other directors that would change the Looney Tunes from the blandess of Buddy or Bosko and created hilarious and charming characters such as Porky, Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck; and the concepts of Elmer Fudd. Well, from the start of when Tom Palmer was in charge of production; you'd probably thought "what's TAKING him so long??"; or thought he would never arrive. Well, unfortunately - Tex heard the bad cartoons and left Oregon immediately to go to Schlesinger; but his route spanned months as he was in fact a bad navigator when it comes to driving. Here is his route to Sunst Boulevard, Hollywood where the Schlesinger Studios is located:

and yes, you could say he should've taken that left turn at Albuquerque. ;-). Okay, no-one get smart on me saying he was already at Lantz in 1933; or got married in Oregon in 1935 but I thought this was close-enoguh to make the joke (route) work.

So, here is the review:

featuring 'Beans' (and Porky).

Warner cartoon no. 117.
Release date: November 2, 1935.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Tex Avery.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Bernice Hansen (Little Kitty), Joe Dougherty (Porky Pig). Beans voice unknown.
Musical Score: Bernard Brown.
Animation: Bob Clampett and Charles "Chuck" Jones.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).

Our story begins in the West Coast in California as we see some great layout settings and camera closeups to the screen. Captions pop up in the screen that tells us where, when the story happened and who was in it. We see the captions The Time where we pan to a windwagon of a calendar that reads "July 1849" where the short takes place. We pan forwards with another caption The Place where it shows signs of the town reading "Goldsville" but there are cross marks on the word "Gold" probably because of a lack of gold in the town. It is a pretty quiet, shallow town where no-one does anything. The next caption reads The Girl where Little Kitty is dressed as a 19th century American lady of the time as she is walking out of the house to a "city bulge" where a crowd of people are reading a notice.

The whole captions sequence was a parody of what was used in Western films back then and was often shown with a small text but here it's only very few words that is shown very simplisticly - which is something what Avery would definitely do. Notice how that one continuous shot and it was one very long background and it would've been an achievement back then. I wonder if Avery used different backgrounds to make it look like one long background setting.

Little Kitty reads a sign on the newspaper headline YOUNG PROSPECTOR TO HUNT GOLD IN RED GULCH that shows a picture of Beans with a ground shovel. The bottom caption reads "Beans: Local boy to brave hazards for Red Gulch for Gold. Mmm, notice that there are newspaper clippings in the newspaper and what confuses me is that; the newspaper clippings would've been from the 1930's and yet it's already published in 1849? Is that meant to be a hidden-gag?

Little Kitty grabs the newspaper article and runs out excitedly bursting "Oh, that's my sweetie and I'll bet he'll find the gold. And he loves me and everything!" Bernice Hansen voices Little Kitty really quickly here but it works since she gave a speed of someone really excited.

Meanwhile we see Porky who looks much larger and older. He is eating a huge sandwich that includes chicken, sausages, cheese and fish. He eats it all up and shouts "Whoopee". Of course this isn't a great catchphrase for Porky but this was Avery's first picture and not everything can go perfect in the first time (as well as character appearances) but Avery's doing well in this short at the moment. Little Kitty runs into the scene showing the newspaper to Porky who is his father. She shouts that Beans is going to find the gold and will make the town happy, and also goes on about the romance side which she shouts she's going to marry him and all that. One problem I have in this part is that Porky's daughter is a CAT?! What the hell had happened - my guess is he PORKED a cat. ;-)

We view to the next part where Beans has already chopped off MUCH of the middle of the mountain (a background Avery gag that shows Beans was digging for ages). Beans is already digging up some soil and he seems to form a type of fruity machine slot. Beans then takes a button off his shirt and places it into the slot so he uses a branch for the fruity-machine.

All three pictures in the slots have the same picture and Beans wins "Gold! Gold!". Yep, but in the excitement of Yosemite Sam in 14 Carrot Rabbit  - but it's still fine. Beans then rides on his horse as he returns some gold and as he is riding giant words hog the screen screaming the word Gold! It's a really good way that makes the cartoon exciting and we're all glad to see Tex's presence. Beans rides back to the quiet town and enters saloons shouting "I've found gold in the gulch!". Everyone in the room all shouts with intrigued, "Gold?!", they rush out the saloon with the bartender shocked with his customers leaving.

All of the customers leave the saloon then jump into their horses that arrive one at a time - like an assembly line. A fat customer is about to land on his horse but the horse rides on the customer instead which is a funny gag.

What is also funny is that there are gags showing up every time Beans shouts "Gold". He disturbs a dog in the bathtub telling him about "gold in the gulch" with him running and holding onto the tub. Beans continues to shout out "gold" with some Chinese fellows running out excited. The next gag which is very funny (but also a pun) are these group of barbershop quartet singers standing outside a "barber shop" (that's the joke). Whilst they are singing Sweet Adeline Beans tells them about "gold" in which the barbershop singers start to dash off with Beans but return to the spot singing the rest of the song they were performing. That must've been fun for probably Clampett or Jones to animate considering they "didn't get along with the other directors".

Beans rushes into Little Kitty's house announcing "I've got gold". Porky Pig (from the kitchen ) hears the news and brings out a shovel and is off. Beans rushes out of the door trying not to let go of Little Kitty's hands. About a second later; Beans rushes into the scene to give Little Kitty a passionate snog. A nice sentiment gag that adds the right touch.

Porky and Beans jump into Porky's automobile and Porky excitedly shouts "Whoopee" which was meant to be his catchphrase evidently. The automobile then overtakes these two mad Chinese dogs but then the exhaust pipe explodes smoke onto them as they are seem with black faces which is another example of racist stereotyping. There appears to be a reference going on that is dated but I can't understand what it could be. Could anyone help? I know one of them is saying "Now brother, as I was saying about this year; who's the proposition?" with a rather groaning stereotypical sound heard in the background. I did a Google engine search on that but couldn't find the answer.

Porky and Beans have arrived at the gulch where Beans has found the gold. Porky (again) shouts his annoying "Whoopee!" sound in which is the only carton we'll hear it (as far as I know). Well, don't worry the characters all had to start off somewhere. Porky then starts to dig the ground with his shovel. Chinese dogs are then digging the ground. Beans is also digging the ground in a quick speed as desperation to find MORE GOLD.

Porky is still digging the ground until he finds a piece of gold on the ground and shouts "Gold!" Okay, the voice when he shouts "Gold!" is definitely makes me cringe and as bad as Dougherty's imitation on Porky Pig's stutter but of course this is Dougherty using his normal voice in this cartoon for Porky. This is the only time where Dougherty would use his only voice for Porky (and for Porky to sound completely different) but Dougherty used that same voice for Porky's father in the 1936 Avery Porky cartoons.

The gag that turns up with Porky collecting for gold is one of Avery's treasure gags that the other directors from that time at Warner's probably couldn't come up as clever - at the time; I mean.

Porky has already placed the piece of gold in his back pocket but since there are two holes dug; he reaches his hand for more gold but that gag is his arm comes out of the other hole and takes the coin out and places it back into the pocket a couple of times. At least it's one of the "impossible things" gag that works. Porky hears the screams of Beans as he shouts "Quick! I've found something, etc". Porky rushes into the scene to help out Beans the cat from underground to pull out a treasure chest that Beans has found.

Porky and Beans then open up the treasure chest in hope for more gold but all they find is a rusty old book. But, at least it's hope since the book is titled How to Find Gold. They open up the book for more information but the gag is the only information they found were three words: DIG FOR IT! 

Meanwhile higher up by the edge of the cliff there is a bandit bulldog who is the villain of this cartoon of course. The bandit grabs out a pair of binoculars that belong to him and he is looking for some gold; he skips past a confused Porky and Beans reading the book. The villain skips past the bag of gold but doesn't realize until he finds it properly with his binoculars as he plans to steal it - the thief.

The bandit grabs out his shotgun which he uses as a fishing rod and he blasts it for the rod to go down lower. It's a weird gag but it's fun too. The rope is then grabbed onto the sack of gold and places it onto a fishing net. Porky and Beans notice the bandit has stolen the bag of gold.

Porky then immediately makes a deal with Beans; "if you grab that bag for me then you can have my daughter". Which means Beans can get married to Little Kitty, presumably. Goodness the stutter sure is annoying but Dougherty can't help it. The bulldog bandit then starts to ride on his horse as he is taking off with his horse. Beans starts to ride inside the car that Porky was riding earlier when he was off to search for gold.

As the bulldog bandit is riding away through the mountain paths he thinks inside a bubble of what to do with all that bag of gold that he believes to have in his hand. He would consider on buying a big, red car and would be smoking cigars all day which I imagine was a dream for a poor person back then.

Beans has already caught up in the car as he is already firing guns at the bandit's hat that causes to spin. Avery is not only bringing in great gags; but at least a great use of speed - even though Frank Tashlin was more notable for using it in his cartoons. I like that spinning hat gag in which the bullets shoot the hat into tiny pieces until it is finally no longer useful. The bandit isn't doing anything about it but Beans is still shooting as much as he could which forms a type of patch onto the sheriff's behind but the patch is loose in which the sheriff has a pot to protect himself. Funny gags that shows Beans is almost doomed.

The sheriff then starts to fire back at Beans but in a much quicker speed. The sheriff starts to fire quicker and quicker until he is completely blocked with those swish lines. Beans dodges the row of bullets being fired with excellent timing but Beans fires his gun but his car takes him further backwards. However; every time he fires he always goes back further until he is finally out of gas.

This creates a problem for Beans but he immediately finds a replacement. Beans grabs out a bottle of moonshine to place onto the car's engine as part of petrol in which we hear the funny guzzling sounds that Treg Brown probably created. This ride sequence is in fact really fun to watch and the animation & speed is such a vast improvement than the earlier shorts.

Beans' car then starts to reload until it starts to ride at an incredible speed until we can only see the speed-lines of the car. The speed-lines and the movement of the car is just incredible animation. The car knocks the bulldog bandit out of his car; and the car then starts to turn back where Beans grabs the bulldog into the car.

I imagine that the animation of the car sequence with all those speed-lines would've been very difficult to animate because of all of those swoosh lines and I wish to know who that animator was; but I won't guess since animator IDs are frowned upon - often. I noticed how that at times the animation of the car's wheels seem to be up and down most of the time that doesn't look like it's touching the ground. It might have been an error in layout but I think it works really well since when we see a car going in that speed it really looks like it's flying on air.

Porky is running up and down in the middle of desert worrying about "the bag" that he wanted but as soon as the zooming car enters the scene Porky is dragged along into the scene with that great use of speed by Avery's timing and the animator's work themselves.

The car then starts to zoom into town and Beans even drives past Little Kitty who is sweeping her porch but spins around due the speedy car driving right past her. She spins and flies which is quite amusing to watch.
Little Kitty watches Beans and Porky in the car as the chase is over. She runs over to Porky and shouts "Oh hello, daddy". Porky tells Beans that he's all hers; "Well, here's my daughter". Notice in the background that the bandit bulldog is flat on the front part of the car. I can't tell if he's dead or unconscious. Dark.

Beans and Little Kitty embrace each other. Beans gives Porky the bag and shouts "and here's your gold!". Porky denies that it's gold; and shouts "That's my lunch". The gag ALL along in this cartoon was that Porky's lunch was stolen and it was thought to be gold in there. Heh-heh. See this is why this was an overall funny story that was not a bad start for Avery. Porky takes the sandwich out of his bag that had fish, sausages, cheese, chicken and he scoffs it all up rather peckish...

and that's all folks!

Overall comments: This was indeed Avery's first cartoon that he worked on and I have to say that this was actually a good start to Tex entering the studio. No, I'm not just liking this cartoon JUST because Avery arrived at the studio. I like this cartoon a lot due to the improvement and comparison of gags, animation and speed. The chase sequence was probably the highlight of this cartoon in my opinion; and also the use of captions at the beginning; with that long background shot. Avery really showed great techniques already in his first picture. The story was all set up pretty well with "the bag" turning out to be Porky's lunch the whole time which would definitely have made the audience laugh back then. 

Despite the great parts of this cartoons; I have some downers in this cartoon. I didn't like Avery's voice of how Porky should sound like (although I guess he was trying a different way). The "Whoopie!" sounds weren't very memorable or even charming so at least Avery stopped using it after this cartoon. Some incoherence in this cartoon such as Porky's daughter is a cat but this was overall a great cartoon to look at; and really fun to review. The best cartoon probably made at the studio so far (or compared to A Cartoonist's Nightmare - maybe better). Well; I'm sure you are all glad to see that Tex Avery has finally arrived at the studio and we'll expect many delights from him in the many shorts to come.