Friday, 24 July 2015

381. The Impatient Patient (1942)

Warner cartoon no. 380.
Release date: September 5, 1942.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Norm McCabe.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Daffy Duck / Various).
Story: Don Christensen. (Melvin Millar uncredited).
Animation: Vive Risto.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Telegram deliverer Daffy Duck being unable to control his hiccups, and delivers a message to the Dr. Jerkyl. To cure his condition, the doctor uses a transformation potion to help.

Many folks are familiar with the Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, especially if they've never read the story. It's been loosely adapted and parodied many times in motion pictures, like Jerry Lewis' The Nutty Professor, and most importantly: animated cartoons.

So, Daffy Duck's occupation in the short is shown as a delivery boy. The story is already established with Daffy Duck scurries along the swamp, looking in vain for a "Chloe". Like in many animated cartoons, Daffy represents "Western Onion".

The story is already established with Daffy Duck scurries along the swamp, shouting in vain for: "Chloe". The atmosphere change of a seemingly quiet establishing shot of the swamp to a frantic looking Daffy has a nice transition towards it. McCabe's timing is somewhat chaotic, but sustainable.

After a frantic search, Daffy Duck catches the hiccups badly; causing him to leap uncontrollably across the lake. He complains, "How do ya like that? Is them bleedin' hic-hic-ups again!". Looking for help he turns towards a nearby mansion, which is the residence of Dr. Jerkyl (get it?), whose name flashes in neon lights. The title "doctor" written in brackets under his name, adds to charm; especially as it directs to anyone who doesn't get the hint; like Daffy. He takes this as an opporunity to seek medical help. The Avery influence kicks in, where the neon sign responds to Daffy's request as though it has a personality of its own. The sign changes to a respond, reading: "Oh yes I can!",  which lures him to the house.

One of the greater parts of McCabe's cartoons which is overlooked is the beautiful layout work by Dave Hilberman. Although his tenure at Warners was brief, his remarkable layout work shan't be taken granted for. He designs a beautifully, yet gloomy atmosphere look of the swamp seen in an establishing shot. The black-and-white art direction adds to the right atmosphere. Hilberman's work was far from ostentatious.

The art direction has a rather surreal look towards it, then again so do many cartoons of the same vintage. Some shots of Daffy's entrance into the mad scientist's home really set the distinction that the house and its atmosphere is unlike any other.

The shot of Daffy reacting to the door closing itself features a remarkably complicated layout..especially when Daffy zips away with the camera pan revealing him hiding inside a suit of armour.

The silhouetted look of the main hallway is a great ode to the immortal cinematography experimented in many motion pictures of that time..similar the work of Gregg Tolland. Down in the scientist's laboratory, some ambitious effects animation is at hand. The scene is deliberately built up in suspense. The pan shot reveals a bubbling chemical inside several different test tubes. As the camera trucks back, it's revealed the "chemical" was actually tea; designed in an eccentric looking coffee kettle.

For Daffy's hiccups..McCabe takes advantage of creating some excellent comedy and energy. During Daffy's wander into the mysterious house, Daffy's hiccups are a safe way to execute some funny gags without the results looking forced. This also calls for some great broad gags attributed by Christensen and Millar. Daffy hiccuping violently in a knight suit is greatly executed animation-wise, giving it a fluidity feel that is forever associated with Warner Bros.

The scene of Daffy hiccuping inside knight armour is incredibly broad and energised, that not only do the pieces fall off together, but he even disturbs a cuckoo inside a cuckoo clock (who for some reason wears a bicorne).

Not only are the hiccups pulled off with timing, but McCabe's reputation as a director should be furthered for carrying out unique instructions to Johnny Burton's camera department. Once Daffy falls underneath the scientist's lair from an elevator tile, he is kept captive by Dr. Jerkyl. A bell is placed underneath his head with a mechanical hand hammering the bell, causing Daffy to hiccup violently which leads him to bang his head on the bell. In Daffy's POV shot, Daffy's violent hiccups are effective through the skilled cameraman who create a greatly executed bouncing effect as the doctor watches him.

And so, follows a parody of one of the most iconic moments in Stevenson's story. Stalling's dramatic underscore, perhaps a tad cliched, is suitable for the setting. Like in the story, the scientist adds mothballs as an ingredient to his potion, and bizarrely: adds some ink from a fountain pen.

After guzzling down the potion, the scientist explodes and is immediately transformed into an oversized hideous looking female. Taking on the name, "Chloe", the frightening figure scares Daffy; curing his hiccups...but her interest in Daffy grows, causing him to panic.

Ever notice the awkward looking cobwebs during the scene of Daffy appealing to Chloe? Without attempting to overanalyse, the short's narrative appear incoherent? Not that Warner shorts have any..but it seems incoherent in an awkward and complicating way.

It seems somewhat weird, that the short started with Daffy meeting an eccentric scientist to cure his hiccups, but after he's cured..the scientist in his ugly form goes on a chasing rampage. It seems a little out of nowhere, especially when he calls himself "Chloe", which was the name Daffy was delivering a telegram to early in the short. The short itself has a rather dreamlike quality to it, which might lead to the incoherence; but for an animated short the narrative feels complicated.

Despite what feels like a complicated narrative: Don Christensen and Melvin Millar are competent in creating wit for sequences. The dialogue is rather juicy for Dr. Jerkyll's introduction. Their use of play-on words works on the level of Mike Maltese's works.

An unidentified voice from his radio calls out to him, "Hey, jerk! Duck!" causing the doctor to literally duck underneath a cauldron, misinterpreting the voice's vague comment. Then, the radio uses Pig latin so the doctor could get the hint, as he alerts him: "Ixnay on uck-day with iccups-hay."

The mimic sequence though an old gag in animation, is still inventive and punchy. As an elevator tile raises Daffy vigorously, Daffy looks at himself in a reflection; threatening to his reflection with confusion: "Put her up, sock her right in the puss, etc!". Upon realising, he chuckles sheepishly: "It's me". The mirror opens, revealing Dr. Jerkyll. Together, they both mimic each other's movements, including Daffy's own hiccups. This leads to Daffy believing his own "reflection" is hiccuping. It's a hilarious moment when Daffy turns to the audience, unsure if he's mentally well.

As fun as some of the chase scenes are in the short, some of the scenes feel very much for it's expected as animated cartoons go. The sequence of Chloe listening to You Hit My Heart with a Bang and doing the jitterbug with Daffy is a striking example. The dance animation is vivacious and the lively movements for the goofy monster is priceless.

Daffy even references his later co-star, Bugs Bunny, though it's more contemporary..evident during the scene of Daffy pointing to the steam in the barrels: "What's cookin?" and socking his face.

Daffy's line during the cauldron gag is also a direct reference to radio broadcasts of its time. Daffy comments: "When you hear the tone, the time will be exactly ten to." Daffy releases the cauldron, creating a loud crash towards the monstrous figure. A fine collaborative job from McCabe's timing as well as Treg Brown's artistic sound effects.

In a desperate attempt to remove the scientist's "Chloe" form, Daffy frantically compiles an abundance of ingredients to create an alternate potion. He compiles them into a squirt gun. McCabe's unique pacing takes place as the scenes cut back and forth to the scientist slowly approaching him, and to a cornered Daffy nervously tempted to squirt at him.

Without further hesitation, Daffy squirts the potion at the scientist; transforming him into an infant form. Relived, Daffy comments: "Yeah, snoockie-woogums! Now I guess you'll behave" and he pulls him in his pram. So, the short finishes quoting iconic phrases for Red Skelton's character, Junior. 

The baby comments behind Daffy's back, "He don't know me very well, do he?". Unsuspectingly, he grabs a hammer from his desk. Pan to Daffy, hiding behind him a giant mallet, also quoting Junior's famous line. Then the cuckoo in the clock gets the final line, holding the sign "He dood it!", indicating Daffy has struck the baby scientist, who cries in pain.

For a fine director Norm McCabe has proven himself to be, it appears to be that he suffered from working on not the strongest material given to him, or maybe story wasn't his strongest suit. The cartoon narrative suffers a little bit from being a little episodic and complicated for its shorter running time. It could've worked at a passable rate if an entire cartoon devoted to Daffy's hiccup problem, even if it sounds like a thin narrative: strong gags could've supported that. Story problems asides, the short makes up for some beautiful artwork by Dave Hilberman, as well as daring pieces of direction by McCabe, like complicated camera angles. Daffy's personality continues to soar in each cartoon, and McCabe has proven to do a very capable job in handling the studio's stars, and keeping the Looney Tunes series alive and entertaining, when the colour Merrie Melodies series were seen as the bigger priority.

Rating: 3/5.

Monday, 20 July 2015

380. Fresh Hare (1942)

starring BUGS BUNNY
Warner cartoon no. 379.
Release date: August 22, 1942.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny), Arthur Q. Bryan (Elmer Fudd), Sportsmen Quartet (Dixie singers) - (Thanks Keith Scott).
Story: Michael Maltese.
Animation: Manuel Perez.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Elmer Fudd, playing a mountie, takes the opportunity to hunt down a wanted Bugs Bunny.

Like with a lot of Bugs Bunny cartoons, the writers take advantage of having Bugs being featured at different scenic locations for each, Bugs is based at the north, with Elmer Fudd playing a mountie. Seems a rather fitting combination.

From the opening short, it's identified that Bugs Bunny is a wanted criminal, hence the wanted poster. Elmer Fudd sees this as an advantage as his goal set for the entire cartoon is to hunt down Bugs. He comments: "At wast, the wong arm of the war is tweaching out and cwosing in on you. You screwy wabbit!"

The following shot is a real footage-eater, as for almost a solid thirty seconds, you see no animation footage: just sign gags. The camera pans as it follows Bugs' footsteps. The camera stops, pans up a tree featuring a wanted sign poster. This vaguely tells us Bugs had doodled over the wanted poster, to hide his identity: including a Hitler disguise.

A rather sneaky gag is inserted, where Bugs' footsteps stops as he looks at a poster of an attractive woman representing a fictional magazine, Mounted Police Gazette. Then the scene pans to a Hitler-disguised Bugs in the poster. It seems rather unfitting for Oh You Beautiful Doll to be heard in the underscore of the Hitler disguise. Perhaps because it's been hampered by the slow tempo in Carl Stalling's music.

The following sequence, on the other hand, suffers from sluggish pacing: which is uncommon for Freleng's tastes. The pace suffers from the start of the scene of Bugs' hands reaching for the carrot: a replica from earlier cartoons A Wild Hare and All This and Rabbit Stew.

Elmer plants a carrot, where Bugs' hands have an unusual sense. The scene of Bugs feeling the cold from the snow, and using miniature sized tennis racks to retrieve the carrot has a nice charm to it. The pacing seems slower when Elmer cuffs Bugs at the scene: causing Bugs to slowly identify Elmer's features before he takes.

After a brief scuffle, Bugs quickly replaces his arm on the cuff with a bomb. Afraid, Elmer frantically searches for his keys, screaming: "My keys! Where are my keys?" Notice there is an animator switch on the scene, considering that Bugs and Elmer are animated on two separate levels.

Gerry Chiniquy started the sequence up to Elmer's panic over the bomb, but as the camera pans to Bugs Bunny: the scene switches to Dick Bickenbach. It's revealed Bugs has the keys, and in no rush begins to search for the right key. He comments on Elmer's panicking behaviour, "Gee, he's an excitable type", and slowly looks over the different kinds of keys attached to a hook. Bugs' dialogue adds to the fun of the scene, as he carefully looks at each key: "the garage, the car, for the front door, etc". Note his little cheeky whistle when he sees another key, of course: the subtlety of the gag left to the audience's interpretation. As he finds the right key, it's too late: the bomb detonates. The effects animation of the explosion effects reflecting Bugs are very elegant.

As Bugs is about to walk away, Elmer holds him captive at gunpoint. Some of Michael Maltese's witty dialogue springs into action. When Elmer informs Bugs of his criminal charges, he grabs out a list that depicts his offences. Many of his offences include: "Traffic violation, going through a boulevard stop, jaywalking, etc." which of course, all comes underneath 'traffic violation'.

As much as I appreciate and respect Michael Maltese, admittedly the scenes of Bugs Bunny disguising himself as a ranger, feels somewhat forced in writing and delivery. Bugs' quick masquerade feels out of nowhere, but not in the kind that works as a gag.

Bugs inspects Elmer, and criticises his appearance. He berates: "Why, look at you! You call yourself a mountie! You're a disgrace to the regiment. I'm gonna drum you out of the soivace!" And so, Bugs proceeds to strip off all of Elmer's uniform, piece by piece.

It gets so where he goes too far and accidentally strips his underwear; which is thankfully censored in a close-up shot of Bugs. Fine direction from the man Freleng. As Elmer went through a fat phase, it appears that a potential running gag for the character floated around. Seen previously in The Wacky Wabbit, Elmer is once again seen wearing a corset. This time, Bugs tugs at Elmer's corset; causing his stomach to compress. Bugs runs off, leaving Elmer to almost leave his clothes as he chases after him.

However, there are many scenes that stay true to Bugs' personality. A striking example appears in the snowman sequence. Elmer is on the lookout for Bugs after an exhaustive chase sequence. He hears Bugs' cackling off-screen.

The camera pans to Bugs pretending to belittle a snowman figure of Elmer. He cackles, "You can't catch me. Why you couldn't even catch a cold. " Elmer slowly creeps up behind Bugs, but at the right moment Bugs socks Elmer from behind.

This leaves Elmer to crash at a wall of ice; with the crash from his rear end forming a love heart. Despite a slow start, Friz's professional timing pays off in the punch scene. The timing and delivery of the gag is so believable it speaks for itself. Other great sequences which pays off with Bugs' personality is him mimicking as Elmer's rifle. Blanc captures the delivery of the gun clicking noises right down to the frame. As Elmer responds, "No more bullets"; Bugs kisses Elmer on the cheek before he leaves.

Freleng takes some golden opportunities to explore with his timing during the chase sequences. Despite some great gags that fit the tone of the short, the action scenes feel a tad overdone in length. The animation of Bugs casually kicking snow into Elmer's face as he runs shows spirit and fluidity in the animation.

Then there is the kind of corny gags which are thrown into for laughs. One example being the Christmas tree gag. Bugs is almost completely covered in snow, and his ears separate as he approaches a tree. As Elmer follows, he crashes the tree, causing the snow to drop and revealing an Xmas tree.

Freleng's timing is really revealing during the scene of Bugs and Elmer frantically dashing through a hill of snow, and their figures align together like a paper chain. The sudden appearance of a womanly figure appearing is hysterically subtle, especially for its unpredictability and the nonsense of it. The gag ends when Elmer strikes at a rock...with Bugs painting the figures to trick him.

After a series of failed attempts, Elmer breaks to the ground, bawling out: "I'm a disgwace to the wegiment!". As he tries, Mike Maltese tries a tactic to fool the audience. Bugs Bunny steps in the scene, supposedly feeling sympathy for Elmer and is willing to give himself in to Elmer. The audience are aware Bugs has one last trick for Elmer, but the trick remains ambiguous until the last scene.

Bugs willingly lets his hands out for Elmer to arrest him, "No, go ahead, snap 'em on!" Elmer cuffs Bugs at that moment, with Bugs being so willing he marches to the mountie prison, with Elmer struggling to keep at his pace. The march gives Bugs some extra character, particularly his determination to fool Elmer once more.

The following scene establishes that Bugs is sentenced to be executed for his many crimes (and yes, especially for "jaywalking"). He is blindfolded, and the firing squad are ready. Elmer orders: "Before you die, you can make one wast wish!". Prolonging the execution, Bugs takes advantage of Elmer's words; where he throws away his carrot and wonders. He thinks, "Let me see now, um..I wish, um...I wish, um". At that moment, he breaks into song singing I Wish I Was in Dixie, leaving Elmer and the firing squad puzzled. Without doubt, the funniest sequence in the whole short; as if the short led up to that one gag. Mike's clever play-on with words, as well as the spontaneity of the scene makes it work out. As the scene fades to the final shot; Bugs is granted his wish...adding more hysteria into the gag. The scene depicts Bugs, Elmer, and supposedly the firing squad all dressed in blackface; in a Southern setting continuing their song. Bugs breaks into camera, "Fantastic, isn't it?" as they continue to sing the last note.

For a new Bugs Bunny installment to the Warner Bros. library, Fresh Hare has a combination of sluggish pacing, and yet, spiritual and great spontaneity. The first half of the short suffers a bit with padding, particularly for scenes which are given more length than necessary. Not to mention, a little bit of weak delivery on gags and dialogue; as seen in the bomb and ranger-disguised sequence. By the second half of the short, the pace and classic Warner style kick into gear, as Freleng's timing stays sharp. However, the chase sequences feel like it dominates a lot of the short's screen time. Admittedly, some of them do pay off: especially the scene of Bugs dashing into the show, creating a woman figure. Michael Maltese's wit and unique approach to gags only really kick in during the final sequence, whereas the unpredictable, free and easy approach to delivery appears to be lacking in the short. In all, the short is "so-so".

Rating: 2.5/5.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

379. Eatin' on the Cuff (1942)

or 'The Moth Who Came to Dinner'
Warner cartoon no. 378.
Release date: August 22, 1942.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Moth / Voice of Narrator / Various Voices), Leo White (Narrator), Sara Berner (Spider / Bee).
Story: Warren Foster.
Animation: Virgil Ross.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: A pianist reflects a story about a moth, ready to get married, but ends up held captive by a manipulative spider.

Bob Clampett is the kind of director who likes to experiment technically on a lot of different levels. Similar to Porky's Pooch, he tries to blend in live-action with animation to give his shorts a unique approach. With the former, it was live-action stills as backgrounds; whereas in this cartoon: a live-action pianist narrates the story.

The narrator is portrayed by English actor Leo White. However, the pianist is actually Dave Klatzkin, with White posing as one on-screen. For readers who are clueless of the man, he is perhaps best known for his "bit player" roles in Charlie Chaplin's immortal comedies from the teens. A photo on the left features White, pictured with the immortal Chaplin.

Appropriately, Blanc dubs White's live-action dialogue, which not only is likely because of budget constraints, but Blanc's voice is so appealing and versatile, it could be dubbed on everybody.

The narrator starts as he sings a story about a "moth and a flame", with music and lyrics written by Clampett himself. Clampett's tune is cheerful and sets the tone of the short nicely: featuring a courting moth and spider who happen to be engaged. The blend of live-action and animation, also creates an appealing effect.

Bob McKimson animates a remarkable cycle of the moth dangling on the flower bell which is wonderfully controlled. The scene fades to a snoozing moth sleeping in a breast pocket of a jacket. The narrator sings the last words: "Cos at 3 o'clock today, you're gettin' hitched!". The moth wakes up, and takes with joy exclaiming: "Oh, happy day!".

Clampett and Foster both take advantage of creating some innovative gags for the sequence of the moth nibbling and eating the pieces of clothing. Clampett's timing comes to good advantage when the moth nibbles the clothing in sync to Yankee Doodle.

Foster's gags are wonderfully creative, especially for the flowers in a flowered dress falling into a bundle, landing on a shoe. Sneakily, a Hitler-sight gag is added when a stuffed fox's fur gets clean shaved completely: revealing a Hitler face underneath fox skin. A great metaphorical gag.

 As the groom makes his way to the altar happily singing Here Comes the Groom, his sight of clothing from a bar saloon distracts his big event. He is lured inside the saloon, unable to resist eating more pairs of clothing.

Some excellent character animation of the moth ripping a piece of a man's trouser collar, with some added character to the moth as he sniffs and observes the piece before eating it, giving the moth a rather pompous manner.

He goes ahead and sheds all of the men's trousers, where the ladies in the saloon become sexually thrilled through their screams. If there's anyone who'd get away with a gag like that, it's Clampett. Blanc's delivery on the dark-skinned man screeching like Rochester, "My, oh, my!" works in delivery.

The following scene of the moth chewing the last remains of clothes, complete with a full and fat stomach. Only Rod Scribner could animate the moth removing the zip from his mouth so convingingly with his beautiful use of squash and stretch and his follow through and overlapping action. The moth comments, "Oh, darn those zippers!". The following scene of the clock ticking is unique, and yet appealing in its delivery. Blanc's vocals "Tick, tock, Tick tock - look what time is on the clock!" has tempo and rhythm, and Clampett's timing on the exaggerated pendulum swinging is glorifying.

Upon realising he has missed the wedding,  he cries: "Oh my gosh, it's half past three!", and attempts to make a move. Meanwhile, his bride is left at the steps of the altar; weeping with devastation. Foster's use of wit comes to use as the narrator's mention of "black widow spider" becomes a caricature itself.

On the other hand, this short really gives Scribner the opportunity to really shine with his tour-de-force character animation. The spider approaches the moth and cries: "Look, a man!", which itself is a nod to Cobina, a character on The Bob Hope Show.

The widow spider rushes back to her powder area, and disguises herself with a glamorous blonde wig and make up. Scribner's straight-ahead animation has a combination of subtle and outrageous drawings. The subtlety appears when the spider's multiple arms reach out as she does her makeup, which itself looks like a frantic piece of animation.

Once she reveals her disguise, it can't be hidden when her ugly nose slides out, ruining her image..and only Scribner's edgy timing could've been pulled off. As she arrives back, Clampett's cheekiness kicks in during another wild piece of follow through action by Scribner, where the widow spider arrives in her half naked form, and then her disguise follows. She attempts to manipulate him by seducing him. In a close-up, her disguise is ruined by the appearance of her ugly nose popping out: causing the moth to shout "Yipe" and leave. His leaves behind his spirit, who also screams "Yipe", before he zips out.

This follows with a wacky and energetic little chase sequence with the moth and spider. They chase each other around a man's hands who is seen playing poker. The cards reveal that he has the strongest hand (a royal flush), and the moth and spider run around his deck of cards. The spider rushes in and places his Jack card on the pot, "Play your Jack". The player's hands themselves are beautifully dyamic and realistic in drawing.

The hopping action of the moth and spider jumping through ice-cubes has a lot of beautiful energy and rhythm. Bob McKimson's animation of the hopping cycle of the spider is somewhat mechanical, but it has spirit. Clampett's timing begins to show a fast tempo and brisky pace to his cartoons, always willing to top one after the other.

The spider barks, and smirks at the audience, "Something like Uncle Tom's Cabin, ain't it?" which is a nod to a scene of Uncle Tom getting attacked by bloodhounds. Not focusing on her trail, she falls underneath a glass of water; ruining her disguise as her wig rises up from a bubble.

Desperate to find a new strategy to claim the moth to herself, she researches in a book, and discover's the moth's weakness: the flame. She exclaims whilst reading, "I don't want to set the world on fire, but it says 'A moth's attracted by a flame'", and she grimaces at the thought.

In an attempt to escape the widow spider, her hand reaches into the shot with a lighter. She lights a flame, which attracts the attention of the moth. The effects animation is visually fulfilling, and it becomes a visual metaphor of how alarming flames are to moths, as though they have a personality of their own.

The flame morphs into a hand and taps the moth on the shoulder. The moth is reluctant to glance at the moth, and turns his back on it. By force, the flame spins the moth into the other direction, hypnotising him. In a silhouetted shot, the spider grabs the moth and cheers boisterously. The spider claims the moth for herself and holds him captive in her home. She quickly nails out 'do not disturb' signs, including one that pokes fun at Greta Garbo's famous line, "Ve vant to be alone!"...and to add to the fun, her dialect is spelled out.

Trapped inside the widow spider's lair, he cries out for "Help!", loud enough that his bride can hear him. Walking away from the altar, dejected; she hears his cries and immediately arrives to the rescue. The female bee arrives at the spot, and immediately they go into a duel: using their stingers. This leads to a funny piece of animation wonderfully exected by Virgil Ross, where they duel with their stingers in the style of fencing.

The bee defeats the spider in the duel as she stings her rear end. She leap and howls, and then comments: "Confidentially, she stings!"--a line parodied from a Frank Capra film, You Can't Take it With You - where the original line (parodied in numerous Warner Bros shorts) reads: "Confidentially, it stinks."

Clampett's abrupt cuts are even more revealing in the following shots. After the spider's close-up shot, the scene quickly cuts to the bee and spider reconciling each other. The female bee is flattered, "My hero", and kisses the bashful moth in a cliched embracing pose. It seems to me that of all animation directors, Clampett has the most abrupt cuts, with scenes from Russian Rhapsody sticking to mind.

And so, as the narrator sings the happy ending on his piano: he takes the opportunity to give his cynical view of the story. White's competent acting adds to the spot as the narrator remarks to the audience: "But you know, folks, I never could understand what that cute little bee would see in that silly moth. Mm, what a dope!" The moth springs to life; hardly a figment to his imagination. The moth scoffs, "Oh yeah" and in retaliation, sheds his trousers. The final shot leads to a hysterical moment of the narrator attempting to leave the studio set, but crashes into all the chairs and props clumsily. To add to the comedic effect, the film is sped up to a rapid pace, very much like a silent two-reeler especially in Chaplin's Mutual comedies.

Eatin' on the Cuff feels very much like a Clampett colour cartoon, not only because of the unit he had but because of Clampett's frantic timing and energy which you wouldn't find in a black-and-white short by Clampett. In comparison, many of the B/W Clampetts and colour Clampetts are very different in tone and style. It's possible the short was shot in black and white as shooting the live-action scenes in Technicolor would've been too expensive, especially with the limited production values Schlesinger's had. Clampett's timing is definitely getting brisky and edgy, catching up to the wildness in his most celebrated cartoons like The Great Piggy Bank Robbery. Scribner's animation shines in the short, adding more humour into the eccentric widow spider, who steals the performance. Clampett's search for different unique approaches is always very encouraging, and it's a pity he didn't experiment much with live-action afterwards. Being his last B/W cartoons (excluding his Snafus and Mr. Hook shorts), it's a great sendoff and a new start for what is to come.

Rating: 3.5/5.