Saturday, 30 August 2014

352. Porky's Pooch (1941)

Warner cartoon no. 351.
Release date: December 27, 1941.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig / Rover / Scotty Dog).
Story: Warren Foster.
Animation: Izzy Ellis.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Rover, explains to a "down-on-his-luck" Scotty dog, on how he managed to successfully find a master, which happened to be by manipulating Porky Pig.

When you are thinking of a Warner Bros. character Chuck Jones is associated for...many people would associate Charlie Dog with Chuck. True, Chuck directed funnier cartoons of the character, and did a great interpretation: but not so many people realise that Clampett actually created the personality, but with a different one-shot character.

For a long time, at least in his later life, Chuck Jones would accuse Bob Clampett for stealing a lot of his material: as well as the other directors at Warner Bros.

The accusations which were somewhat meaningless--the cartoon itself contradicts Chuck's accusations. It's likely the personality was conceived by Warren Foster, but it has Clampett's fingerprints over the character. Bear in mind, the persona may be Charlie Dog, but its a different character under the name of Rover.

It seems somewhat baffling that Jones would later use that character into his own creation, despite despising Clampett as a person as well as the material he put out. The entire cartoon story, being conceived by Foster, is a great establishment for Porky Pig, and a plot which hadn't been done before: a homeless dog attempts to find a master and will stop at nothing to be granted one. Though, this started off by Clampett: Chuck Jones would later use the formula, and improve on it.

What makes the cartoon stand out, not only the character itself, would be the use of backgrounds Clampett uses for the cartoon. You can't ignore this when reviewing this short, for you all know it. Clampett uses a majority of the backgrounds of the short still photographs.

Whether this was used for budget purposes or if Clampett was attempting to try out something creative, it works well in the cartoon for the scenery for the short is set downtown, and henceforth: it seems somewhat logical to use still photographs for the scenes.

However, there are several photographic shots where the backgrounds are partly painted over a still photograph. You mostly see this in the exterior shots of the short, to try and give the cartoon a city atmosphere to it, and plus: for scenes that would require backgrounds like the opening scene of the baker flipping pancakes. Note in the screenshot at the top right, you'll find the name of Porky's apartment is "Termite Terrace" which itself is a decent little in-joke, but I'm speculating whether this was really an exterior view of what Termite Terrace looked like (and not the main animation studio on Sunset Boulevard). Who knows..

The opening scenes, which would later be reworked into Chuck Jones' Little Orphan Airedale is a great establishing opening for Porky's now-dog: Rover. The scene starts with a homeless Scotty dog, Sandy, who watches the baker flipping pancakes, and finds his stomach is almost empty (hence the belt gag).

Walking over to the cab, he spots his then-homeless friend, Rover, who is seen seated inside Porky's car. The Scotty dog, explains to Rover he is in a "hard bit of luck", and asks him what he's doing in the "grand car".

Rover explains about he lives a life under a master, and has moved on from the days of being homeless. This is a great establishing scene for the shot is set at its then present day, but as he explains his story: the entire cartoon is presented in its past tense. It's been used several times in cartoons, but the opening itself works well in that sense.

Mel Blanc does a great performance on the Scotty dog (as well as his other voices), who gives the character only such charm that no-one else could give it. Here, he makes the character trill his 'rs and 'ls', parallel to the von Hamburger character in Daffy Duck in Hollywood, but voiced by Rolfe Sedan.

Moving forward to Rover and Porky's first meeting in Porky's apartment, Warren Foster establishes the entire purpose of the short all through Rover's dialogue, and doesn't waste a moment with it. For a typical Warner Bros. fan, you will expect to hear familiar lines such as: "You ain't got no home, and I ain't got no master!".

The scenes that follow afterwards like Rover attempting to impress Porky with his tricks, are also parallel to the later Charlie Dog cartoons: such as the "And I'm loveable" scene. It's a great establishment, as the dog character really feels human in that sense, making him more worthy to have a master, even if a little obnoxious.

Scenes involving Rover making his tempts to win Porky over, such as the cliched "play dead" trick. Rover takes this a little further as he says, "Watch me make like rigor mortis?" and he stiffens into that pose. Some great timing on that scene, and also a funny line by Foster that has a taste of his wit.

It's an overall great scene that establishes not only the cartoon but also Rover's desire of choosing Porky as his new master. This doesn't impress Porky as much, and rejects Rover politely by pushing out of the door. But Rover doesn't give up, Porky later attempts to dispose him by throwing him off the balcony from his apartment. What a rather dark turn for Porky, don't you think? And so, this carries on through much of the cartoon.

For what would be a great way to introduce Rover and Porky, there is some comical elements which are missing in this cartoon, compared to how funnier it was in Chuck Jones' cartoons. That element would be Porky Pig himself. Though he does play a more prominent role than what Clampett would give him, he doesn't have much of an assertive personality compared to the Charlie Dog shorts.

Though he does stand up for himself in front of Rover, and tries to go through all his ways of disposing him: it doesn't seem as funny enough. For example, when Porky attempts to toss him off the apartment balcony, it isn't as funny, for it's more sadistic of Porky to do so.

What saved the character later on in the Charlie Dog shorts was how sardonic he would be, and thus his witty dialogue, which is lacking in this cartoon. He is presented as an even more vulnerable character with a less assertive persona. To be fair, Porky was still a developing character at this point, and it was only just about this time where Porky really began to improve upon his personality: becoming more cynical and assertive, saving the character.

Following up after Rover's performance as Carmen Miranda, Porky once again boots him out of his apartment room, rejecting him once more. This follows with another well executed sequence by Warren Foster, with some great dramatisation and satire from Clampett.

Rover acts to Porky in a melancholic, dramatised performance of how low his life is. Rover shouts to Porky, "I can take a hint. You don't want me!", and goes far to express his inner self: "Nobody wants me. I'm a dog without a country, that's what, I'm a refugee, etc."

Then, Rover walks over to the side of the window where he jumps on the window sill in a melodramatic pose, on wishing to end his own life. The window sill is also suspenseful and stagy in how its written and animated.

The way he jumps out the window appears to suggest so, even though it is mostly satire.

Porky, feeling empathy for Rover walks over to window expressing guilt and concern. This changes, however when Porky finds Rover is seated under the window of the feeling, tricking Porky once more. It's a sequence that works well in satire and execution, Jones would use it again for The Awful Orphan.

As for cases including Clampett's subtle humour: that is still over even if the story may be Foster all over. Notice how Clampett appears to be teasing the censors by having Porky nude with a towel covering him, all throughout the cartoon. Since the audience are used to associating Porky who usually only wears a waistcoat, and thus being a pig character: the idea of Porky wearing a towel all through the short would be more forgiving. Though it may be a useless analysis, but I can't imagine anyone other than Clampett who would feature Porky in a towel.

The sequence with Rover standing behind Porky's window closing up to the cartoon's closure is another cases of how subtle and yet edgy Clampett could get. Watch how Clampett appears to mouth at Porky through the window, but from Porky's perspective; you can't hear Rover. Watch carefully at the scene where he mouths "Goddamn son of a bitch!". Being used previously in Freleng's The Hardship of Miles Standish, the gag works a lot better in this cartoon: for the gag is well executed that way.

And so, as Rover begins to balance from the edge of the building, he starts to lose his balance. Resulting in some intriguing photography angles of Rover balancing: it helps capture the atmosphere of the scene, and the plea for help. Porky opens the window, in an attempt to keep Rover's balance, but it's too late. The suspense is killing as Rover falls from what would be his death.

Porky runs down the stairs from his apartment building in an attempt to catch the dog from falling. Though, to make the scenes lighthearted, Rover halts himself from falling and prays to himself before continuing his fall. Just as Porky rushes outside his apartment building to hopefully catch Rover, he fails finding that Rover has hit the ground hard.

From a pose that assures Rover is dead, Porky begins to express guilt upon himself and mourns Rover. After hugging and crying over Rover's body, he immediately perks back to life, cheerfully and remarks: "Gosh, I didn't know you cared", and much to Porky's surprise. The short ends with Rover kissing Porky all over, and quoting Abbott and Costello, "I'm a bad boy".

Though Clampett and Foster both created the obnoxious homeless dog persona, Chuck without doubt would master it later on. Anyhow, this is not a bad, overall cartoon and the conflict between Porky and Rover is delivered well. Despite the idea that Porky isn't assertive or as funny enough, at least he is given a more prominent role for the short, and a role which is best suited to him. This is a very artistic turn for Clampett for his artistic ego is evident in the cartoon. The use of still photographs for scenery is enough to suggest so, as Clampett shows he wants to be different compared to the other directors at Warners. Overall, it was a decent attempt with the persona, and this is one of Clampett's more fulfilling cartoons of the year.

With 1941 all wrapped up, it is an improvement upon 1940: and at least every director are showing signs of improvement. One major factor at the studio occurred is the departure of Tex Avery (with two more cartoons he did in 1942 that were finished up), but the other Warner directors (Freleng and Clampett especially) have caught up and carried on to the point where they no longer need to rely on him when making funny cartoons. Theirs no denying Tex Avery inspired them to refresh ideas and create humorous, inventive cartoons. Though this may be a little of an "off" year in terms of Warners outputs, it is certainly an improvement compared to the previous year. Clampett no longer has to direct black-and-white Looney Tunes, Chuck Jones  is gradually finding his own true style, Tex Avery isn't as reliant on spot-gag cartoons and Friz Freleng is producing more inventive and funnier shorts. The following year will be an even bigger improvement for everyone (Clampett and Jones especially), and 1942 will be a fulfilling year of reviews..

Rating: 3/5.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

351. Wabbit Twouble (1941)

Warner cartoon no. 350.
Release date: December 20, 1941.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Bob Clampett. (Tex Avery uncredited).
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny / Bear), Arthur Q. Bryan (Elmer Fudd).
Story: Dave Monahan.
Animation: Sid Sutherland.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Elmer Fudd goes off to Jellostone National Park for "peace and wewexation", but finds he'll finds he'll not get any, not when Bugs Bunny's on the loose.

A great Bugs Bunny cartoon directed by none other than Bob Clampett. Oooh, no, Tex, it was both, er..there's no easy answers. As the credits suggest, a lot of people would accept that the cartoon was directed by Clampett. Enthusiasts and historians would suggest otherwise. Based with some historical evidence, as well as the cartoon itself, you can't deny but believe that Tex Avery himself had some involvement in the cartoon.

According to Bob Clampett, as well as Tim Cohea (a.k.a. Sogturtle), it was Tex Avery himself who redesigned Elmer Fudd as fat to make him a more accurate caricature of his voice actor: Arthur Q. Bryan.

The animation and look of the cartoon LOOKS like it was directed by Tex Avery, but some sequences or scenes suggest that Clampett directed portions of that, and in some cases both of the directors' styles clash in the entire cartoon. How much Tex worked on the cartoon before his departure of the studio, as well as how much did Clampett direct the cartoon, and who was the overall director of the short: we'll never know. On the other side, I'd thought I'd take a look at the cartoon to decide which scenes appear to represent which director, as well as reflect on the cartoon itself, and not just debates on who was the director.

As for what would appear to be Clampett's direction, I can take a theory. Though Tex's style does appear in pieces throughout the cartoon: I can't help but theorise that Clampett directed his interpretation of Bugs Bunny's characteristics in the cartoon.

He doesn't act much different compared to his previous cartoons, but the opening scene of Bugs at least appears to suggest so. Elmer Fudd has arrived at "Jellostone National Park" (as you know, the "Yellowstone" pun predates Yogi Bear, though with a slightly different spelling).

As soon as Bugs catches his eye on Elmer, he immediately chooses him as a victim for pranks and chaos. This sort of characteristics was very much what Clampett used for later Bugs Bunny cartoons, making him an even more rebellious character.

Though, compared to how Clampett's treatment of the character, Bugs is less cynical in the cartoon. I suppose its an unfair observation. For one, this is still an early Bugs Bunny cartoon, and Tex Avery only directed four Bugs Bunny cartoons: making this a difficult theory to accept, for Tex could have likely experimented with a characteristic like that, he definitely explored different personalities for Bugs: like in Tortoise Beats Hare. Not to mention, Tex's typical line-ups are all over the cartoon too, and in the scene of Bugs tricking Elmer from walking off the canyon in a close-up saying "I do this kind of stuff to him all through the picture", is pure Tex.

This will be the last time I will reflect on a sequence or scene, that I feel was possibly directed in Clampett's style. Most of the scenes that surround around Elmer and the bear feel a lot like Clampett's work: not just timing-wise, but gag-wise, too. When Elmer confronts the bear, he pulls out his survival guide book on how to survive face-to-face with a bear.

Following the rules, he lies flat on the ground, "remaining absowutewy motionless". The bear sniffs Elmer's body, but as soon as he sniffs Elmer's groin, he cringes away from his body and mutters "Pee-ew", and walks away.

Only Clampett would use such a suggestive gag, and thus making the gag feel innocent at the same time. Following forward, Elmer confronts the bear once more leading him in mortal danger.

This results in a little comedic chase scene where they hide from tree-to-tree in sync to William Tell. The scene that follows afterwards, feels also a lot like Clampett. Both Elmer and the bear, unknowingly are hiding at a single tree. The gag shows Elmer and the bear sticking out from different body parts, and popping out at different poses bizarrely. The timing and animation, by Rod Scribner is pretty rapid and it's at Clampett's level. It gets so when Elmer finds the bear chewing on his hat and he rushes out with the bear sitting on Elmer's shoulders, but gets knocked out by a tree branch.

Looking at the cartoon technically, you'll notice that the camera department do an effective job at giving the cartoon a breath of fresh air: the feeling that the canyon looks believable. The opening establishing shot from the title credits to Elmer driving his car in rhythm to the Conga is all done by overlays. The backgrounds by Johnny Johnsen, for the opening scene was painted at three separate levels, so: during the pan each level moves each at a different pace to give the opening shot an environmental look. It goes to show how the camera department filming the shot at separate levels, were not reliant on the device used at Disney: such as the Multiplane camera. The following scene in a close-up of Elmer shows the camera shaking in rhythm to the Conga, is one of the nicest, and most subtle touches to this short.

Another scene of Elmer washing his face (from a prank schemed by Bugs) also features a decent camera pan to give the national park a rich sense of scenery. As for the gag, Elmer has washed his face from "waking up". He reaches for the towel but doesn't realise Bugs has it attached to a long pole. This reaches him further from the edge of the canyon, and stands in mid-air, unknowingly. He looks at the scenic view, admiringly: "What a gwand view of the canyon from up here..Up here?!", and he rushes back to land realising he was conned by Bugs.

 The opening scenes of Elmer and Bugs are a great piece of interaction as Bugs is immediately established as a trickster, and Elmer Fudd being a more vulnerable 'non-hunting' character...who is looking for a relaxing vacation. After Elmer begins to set up the tent and campsite, his tent happens to be planted on top of Bugs' home, after Bugs tricked Elmer with the "Camp here" sign.

This leads to a tug-of-war gag where Elmer attempts to tug his tent out of Bugs' hole, but after a struggle he pulls it out but finds Bugs tied the tent into knots. Bugs reaches out and puts on another persona by greeting him, "Welcome to Jellostone, doc...a restful retreat".

There is a great little subtle giveaway from Bugs who smirks to the audience, "Oh brother", which is a great way to establish what the entire cartoon will be (and plus the "all through the picture" line, too).

Then, Bugs compresses Elmer's bowler hat to his head. Elmer, seeking revenge, grabs his arms down the rabbit hole, but afterwards finds Bugs tied his hands in a knot, too, which is a great followup from the tent gag. And so, after fixing his hands, he blocks Bugs' door with a board and nails as he hammers it to the ground, "That'll hold him alright, (chuckles)". Bugs, opening the board open like an attic door steps out mocking Elmer's voice and transforming to his physical form. The gag of Bugs' transform to Elmer's body is very comical, surreal but somewhat very unsettling to watch, too.

For one of Bugs' schemes, and not so belonging to a specific directorial style, would be the sequence of Bugs' confusing Elmer's sense of time during his nap. As he is napping in his hammock, Bugs walks over to Elmer's hammock and begins to paint a pair of specs black. Virgil Ross animates some very decent axis movement on Bugs' heads in the scene. He places the glasses on Elmer, and sets the alarm clock to an earlier time.

As the alarm rings momentarily, Elmer looks up the sky and to his belief, "Night, alweady". Tex (or Bob) paces the scenes a little slower in order to build up the whole gag: e.g. we get a whole scene of Elmer undressing and getting ready to bed, and this is all paced slowly to make the next build-up unpredictable.

As soon as Elmer goes to sleep in his bed, Bugs removes the glasses off his face, and motions a morning rooster call. Elmer wakes up, once again fooled: "Well I'll be doggonned, morning alweady. How time fwies." As explained earlier, Elmer walks over to get ready for a morning wash, with Bugs tricking Elmer to almost fall off the canyon. Though this shows Bugs being a trickster to a vulnerable character, its a lot more tamer and innocent compared to the sadistic gags Bugs would pull, at least in cartoons directed by Clampett.

One of the highlights of the cartoon would be the scene of Bugs Bunny masquerading as the black bear Elmer previously encountered. As he is still lying down motionless, Bugs does his dirty work by pretending to be the bear bouncing on top of him. The sequence, animated mainly by Rod Scribner and Virgil Ross both show what character animation really is about, and its advantages.

The first half animated by Scribner, shows Bugs kissing Elmer on the lips, and Elmer blushes and grins. The animation and expression alone is perfectly well-executed in the foolishness of Elmer, and the expression alone is very human.

This leads to a piece of action of Bugs flicking Elmer's nose continuously like a speed ball. The scene afterwards, animated brilliantly by Virgil Ross, features Bugs Bunny's performance as a grizzly bear which is very well humanly animated, and the accents are spot on.

He impersonates the bear's mannerisms to a tee, and thus makes the gag enjoyable that way: such as chewing on Elmer's shoe, as well as his hand motions. In between his performance, he turns to the audience momentarily commentating: "Funny situation, ain't it?" which is a typical line-up of Tex Avery. This plan finishes when Elmer finds Bugs is the culprit, but at the wrong time slams his gun at the bear; off-screen: and hence more havoc for Elmer.

The last few scenes of the cartoon, Elmer begins to frantically pack his belongings from the camp site, and at one point accidentally taking a giant tree with him. He jumps back onto his car and rushes for his life, but just before he departs: he spots the sign to the national park, which he considers to be false advertising.

Elmer scoffs, "Bawoney!", and begins to damage the sign from the national park furiously, until he is caught by a sturdy, intimidating ranger who is tapping his foot looking at Elmer coldly. Just as Elmer begins to cool his temper, he realises he has been caught by the park's ranger and begins to realise his crime for damaging properly. He sheepishly responds, "Hewwo" and chuckles nervously.

The following scene after, Elmer ends up in prison, but looks on the brighter side: "Well, anyway: I've wid of that gwizzly bear and scwewy wabbit. West and wewaxation at wast!". That is, until the cartoon's last shot where Elmer discovers that isn't the case. For his cellmate happens to be Bugs Bunny who responds: "Ahh, pardon me but, uh, how long you in for doc?" and chews on his carrot. On top of the bunk is the same grizzly bear who responds in his dumb voice, "Uh, uh yeah yeah, pardon me doc, but uh, how long you in for doc?" and chews his carrot sloppily. A great conclusion for the cartoon, for this is a another dilemma for Elmer, but closes at the right moment.

Despite the controversy over who the real director of this cartoon was, Wabbit Twouble still holds up as an all-round entertaining cartoon. The carton wonderfully establishes the duelling duets of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, and thus it would make a prime example of what a Bugs/Elmer cartoon is. The title card credits which is meant to be spelt in representing Elmer's speech impediment is some really good satire on Elmer, and thus making it a rare gag on the title credits themselves. The Fat Elmer design is a little unsettling, especially if you're used to watching a thinner Elmer Fudd. Personally, I don't mind the redesign; as I still think Elmer Fudd when I watch the character: even if he put on a few pounds. Overall, the cartoon has a lot of entertaining, charming moments: the gags are inventive, and the characterisations of Bugs Bunny is still as insightful as ever, with the cartoons becoming funnier from each new cartoon.

Rating: 4/5.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

350. Rhapsody in Rivets (1941)

Warner cartoon no. 349.
Release date: December 6, 1941.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
No cast.
Story: Michael Maltese.
Animation: Gil Turner.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (sound).
Synopsis: Set at a construction site, the workers spend the entire day hard at work, whilst routinely working in synchronisation to Franz Lists's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.

As most cartoon fans know, Franz Liszt's popular Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, has become a popular association when combining classical music and animation together. Numerous cartoons have used the piece to carry out an entire short, as well as using parts of it. Friz Freleng, not to mention uses much of the key aspects of the piece into the cartoon, where for the first time in a Warners cartoon, they turned out an entire cartoon featuring the Listz rhapsody.

This is evidently not the first use of the music, despite being a popular association with the Warner cartoons. Walt Disney used it first, though only partly in the Mickey Mouse cartoon, The Opry House, and the first cartoon to feature the music in an entire cartoon would go to Fleischer's A Car-Tune Portrait, released in 1937.

Both cartoons were featured in its standard opera house setting, whereas this cartoon takes a different turn. Taking place at a construction site, the entire cartoon relies on the use of music for their gags, even though there is no musical instruments played by the characters.

Instead, Freleng tells a story of a foreman "conducting" the skyscrapers constructing large buildings, and all to be synchronised to the Listz number. Freleng recalled in an interview featured in Leonard Maltin's Of Mice and Magic: "I love music. I can't read it, but I can feel it. When I hear it, I see things in my mind. Music inspires my visual thinking. I time my cartoons to music, and I find it helps me. Everything is done rhythmically." Musical cartoons had been a long-time association with the Warner shorts, not to mention that was how the cartoons essentially started off, by promoting popular music. This cartoon, however, is a totally different interpretation: and all for comedic and timing purposes, with Freleng taking his timing to another level, and proving he can master it.

For a cartoon which relies on no dialogue, the opening scenario begins just how it should. The foreman walks towards the sight, with pride and dignity much like how a music conductor would walk through a stage.

The foreman opens up his blue print much like a music sheet, and therefore "conducts" his co-workers with the project, and all blending in beautifully with the start of Hungarian Rhapsody, which to a lot of the public, is also very recognisable and key throughout the entire number.

Thanks to Mike Maltese's establishment of the cartoon, and Freleng's masterful timing: they create a wonderfully imaginative connection between music conducting and construction conducting. In reality, the foreman at a construction site would generally be ordering his workers in a meticulous order to keep production on a skyscraper development on schedule. Here, Maltese metaphorically uses the "conducting" in a musical perspective, and thus vividly putting it altogether into animation.

After conducting the first notes of the rhapsody, the music and conducting synchronised go mostly as planned throughout the first half of the cartoon. There follows a string of gags that combine beautifully to the Listz number, and thus making the opening of the cartoon as vivid as well as entertaining as what Friz Freleng has to offer.

Most of the gags centered around the long opening number and sequence will be further analysed later in the cartoon, but the most part lets look at scenes where the entire cartoon feels almost human. We get delays from the conducting and musical synchronisation.

The music, in one scene, suggests a riveter's cue, who is snoozing and causing delays to the time and music the construction site has. The music repeats the notes to capture the riveter's alertness and attention, until the foreman tosses a brick to wake him up, and to get back on cue.

After the many string of gags that follow, (like the charming gag with a concrete mixer with the cork inside), the foreman notices a mistake in terms of production consistency as well as supposedly a piece of action combined in music. He holds out a "STOP" sign to permit any further production from his workers. Once a great, unpredictable gag to suggest that the schedule can't go as perfect. The foreman, starts the conducting the music from scratch, as well as once more, reminding the sleeping riveter from being hit with the brick again.

Areas where Freleng perfectly nails pieces of music from the rhapsody number and into animation are all over the entire cartoon, making it difficult to pick his true highlighted moments. Perhaps one that sticks to mind would be the construction scraper sequence.

If you listen to the piece of music carefully, watch how each piece of movement hits every beat and note animation wise: especially the anticipation on the extended foot pressing on the metal part of the spade. It's all timed and animated brilliantly, making the gag a success, as well as beautiful in integrity.

Another scene that works almost as well as most of the gags placed together, would be the hammer and mallet comparison of a trio hammering a stake further to the ground, but with not much effort. Two dog workers begin with a gentle tap from their hammers to hit the music beats, and a tiny mouse pounds at the stake with his mallet in tempo. This is a clever scenario by Friz and Maltese where both the dog and mouse are a contrast in terms of beat and tempo, and the contrast is perfect in delivery and combining different rhythm. Comparing both scenes, the scraper gag is a more sophisticated gag, whereas the mallet gag is more wacky.

Several characters are given leitmotifs or an instrumental to give the character a musical theme/identity. One that comes in mind is the small Droopy-like worker whose appearance is mostly seen during scenes that require a woodwind instrument. From the start of the scene, be appears almost late for work and begins right away hammering on the construction site while an elevator takes him up.

The character is used for comedic purposes, relating to a character who almost causes collisions such as a scene involving the dog almost being crushed by an elevator, but ends up spared bizarrely. In the concluding scene, the dog character actually does cause a collision. Though, his scenes will be further more discussed as he mostly appears under different gag situations.

Another sequence or character that is created as a leitmotif would be another small dog character, who distinctly has red sideburns on his face, and supposedly with an Irish stereotype, even if only hinted in design. From a notable key element from the rhapsody number combined to animation, the dog character is seen attempting to climb up a ladder to the next floor.

This proves to be a struggle for him, as a larger dog worker is seen crawling down the ladder, and preventing the smaller dog from climbing. This is also a great showcase for Friz's timing which is looped, but beautifully staged, as well as very complex.

It could easily have been flawed, music-wise and timing-wise--the sort of complexity that is only in Friz's meticulous instinct. The gag repeats a couple of times, so the audience feel sympathy as well as in on the gag of the small dog trying to climb the ladder.

After several more attempts, the frustrated dog becomes more assertive by forcing his way up the ladders knocking out anyone bigger than him attempting to climb down the ladder, blocking him. After making it to the top of the skyscraper site, he lands on top of an elevator which ultimately takes him back to the first floor. It's another gag that Freleng and Maltese planned through carefully and wonderfully: this could have easily been flawed hadn't it been for both their careful approach to timing and music scenario to fit the scenes.

Scenes which require a lot of thought and mechanical planning to make the gags functional and in the right place are also all over the entire cartoon. Watch the scene of a group of riveters who are not only hammering nails from different story levels in sync to the music, but watch how complex the layout is.

Each worker hammering a nail, are all positioned in the wrong spot, involving a nail in the position they're hammering to jab them easily, and after a series of hammering: they all feel the jab.

It's a subtle scene from layout and from a mainstream perspective, it's a pretty childish gag. Youthful? Maybe. But there's no denying that the gag alone was a lot of work, as it had to be animated on separate levels, and it was a very complex scene to time and stage.

Another scene which features mechanical planning, as well as expressing Friz's confidence in a ambitious cartoon would be the elevator gag centering on the Droopy-like character. The gag is the Droopy character is standing at a dangerous spot that could leave him seriously injured or killed by the elevator coming through. With a comedic touch, the elevator slides along the side, sparing the dog's fate.

What captures me the most relating to the scene, is an extreme down shot and an extreme up shot of the elevator lowering in perspective covering the camera. For a cartoon, that almost the entire time requires a lot of animation timing to the music, thus having to be very careful with what angles they use. Friz clearly shows he's not afraid to pull off such shots like this, but they appear quite rapidly, and thus the timing pays off. It's a very gutsy thing for Friz to do, especially in a climatic scene that requires the mood of the music to be combined appropriately.

Scenes which would require a lot of typical gags that could blend in perfectly to music occur in other cases, too. Another stake scene involving a big and smaller dog both hammering at the stake is a greatly interpreted to music. The bigger dog, unnoticeably slams the "stake" to the ground, but finds he has slammed the smaller man's bowler hat right down to his legs, leaving him moving his feet around. A popular Warner gag, which Friz used again in another musical short, Holiday for Shoestrings, and other uses of the gag appear offhand in shorts like Little Red Walking Hood.

Instances of the typical Warners humour blend in the scenes that build up to the climax. As the climax gets more frantic and build-up in the rhapsody, so does production on the construction work, from a bigger demand from the foreman's conducting. A scene shows a dog laying as much bricks as possible, but in between rows he would occasionally break out with a fatigued pant before proceeding with rapid development.

Just as the production and conducting is becoming more climatic, builders are beginning to lose control with the sculpture of the building, leading to a wacky, charming gag of a tall building being constructed, but turning at corners and not being built at a complete straight line.

And so, leading to the climax of the music and the cartoon: the foreman halts everyone working as he gets prepared, for he hopes to have the building completed before its deadline closes. After settling down all the workers, he begins to conduct rapidly combined to the rapid finale of the rhapsody number.

The builders then begins to complete its construction rapidly in synchronisation to the finale. As it finishes, one last builder jumps up to finish off the rest of the music by placing the flag on top. The foreman celebrates as the crowd cheer on the completed building. The Droopy-like character, standing on top closes the food violently to the point where the entire building rattles: ending in how a Warners cartoon would typically again, leaving the entire building in ruins. The foreman, discovering the small dog was the culprit turns sternly cold towards him, but three bricks fall on his, ending with the three last notes of the rhapsody number, as the cartoon ends.

Friz Freleng was without doubt ahead of his game directing this very ambitious cartoon. It's an entirely original concept, which hadn't dared been attempted by anybody at Warners, and while the technique had been experimented by other directors like Bob Clampett on A Corny Concerto, none it met to the brilliant standard and quality Friz Freleng could produce. It shows how a lot of effort is combined in this cartoon, and Friz knew how to get the best out of his unit in making it an all-round entertaining and successful cartoon gag-wise and music-wise. A lot of scenes blend in wonderfully from Friz's timing, and they're all in the right place. Perhaps what makes the cartoon astounding would be Friz and Maltese's collaboration with story and scenery, for they had the ability to tell a comedic, cartoon story all through the synchronisation of music, and the results meet greatly.

Not to mention, this is all without dialogue, and to pull it off in this cartoon is a toughie. This is the one of the first of Friz's several musical shorts he would go on to make, such as the likes of Pigs in a Polka, Holiday for Shoestrings. From a personal opinion, this cartoon is more worthy of an Academy Award, though in 1942 it was beaten by Disney's Lend A Paw. The Warner cartoons receiving Oscar nominations, is also a sign on how they're improving for the better. Overall, this was an all-round, ambitious entertaining cartoon that deserves the praise it has received, from all the hard work combined into it.

Rating: 4.5/5.