Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Looney Tunes Spotlight Collection 6

I don't know if I'm sub-consciously writing more about Warner Brothers cartoons or not. I may have touched upon this in a previous entry but I tend to not write as much about the Warner cartoons because there's so many people who do...I tend to spotlight the lesser-known or the made-for-TV programs from Hanna-Barbera simply because there's not a whole wide spectrum of sites that specialize in those cartoons whereas the programs from Warner Brothers are embedded into pop-culture so much what isn't there to know?

However, I wanted to spotlight one of the latest spotlight collections, number 6. It's a DVD collection of 30 cartoons on two disc's which comes to 15 cartoons on each. There are 8 more cartoons featured as bonuses: 4 on DVD #1 and 4 on DVD #2. I hadn't had the time to watch DVD #2 but i've watched DVD #1 a couple times. The theme of DVD #1 is "Cartoon Superstars". It features cartoons that star each of the main characters. The first, "Baby Buggy Bunny", centers around Bugs finding an orphan of sorts...actually, some money has been stolen from a bank that finds it's way to Bugs' hole in the ground. The thief, a midget, adopts the identity of a baby and arrives at Bugs' hole as an orphan. Bugs at first is unaware of the baby's true identity...the baby's name is Fenster. After repeated attempts from the baby to grab the money, Bugs excuses himself and later spies the baby shaving and smoking a cigar in the bathroom. Coincidentally, a news report flashes on the TV about a bank robber on the loose...Bugs gets that 'look' on his face that he's been tricked and then gets the devilish look that he's going to get his revenge. He strolls in and starts whipping the kid and throwing him up in the air and shaking him...it's quite a funny scene as guns and weapons start falling everywhere all the while Bugs is still spanking him "Oh Fenster! What a naughty, naughty, boy!!!". The anger in Bugs' voice as he's getting his revenge is quite satonic but that makes it all the more hilarious.

In the next short, "Broom-Stick Bunny", Bugs is out on Halloween dressed as a witch and he stumbles upon the castle of Witch Hazel. This cartoon's plot is Witch Hazel trying to get the "witch" {Bugs} into a pot of boiling water...periodically she stops at a magic mirror asking who's the ugliest one of all. She gets great delight in being declared ugly...she also gets delight in making jokes, causing her to go off into a fit of cackling laughter. Bugs reveals himself as a rabbit which causes Witch Hazel to grow even more determined to fulfill her magic potion. She is about to kill Bugs when he gives her the pouty-eyes routine and she starts crying, thinking about memories of Paul. Bugs turns the tables and offers the witch a drink. She drinks it and turns into a Cinderella-type...and then she goes to her magic mirror asking who's the ugliest one of all...the genie in the mirror doesn't even bother answering her...one look and he hops on his carpet in hot pursuit and flies out of the mirror chasing her.

"To Duck or Not to Duck" is a cartoon starring Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd. The cartoon is basically about a boxing match between the two of them...with a lot of duck's in attendence cheering on Daffy while only one in the stands cheers on Elmer, namely the hunting dog Ladamore. Each time he cheers on Elmer he gets pelted with fruit. The referee introduces Elmer amidst a series of laughter...and the audience boo's. The referee then turns his attention to Daffy...and in a scene that often becomes a subject of mockery, the referee brings on Daffy with some of the most sentimental words imaginable...going so far as to climb upon Daffy in an intimate way, blinking his eyes and wrapping an arm around Daffy's shoulder, becoming quite affectionate in the process. This, of course, is a spoof of boxing in general...how it often comes across that referee's have favorites and that the fighting is rigged...which is spoofed when the referee goes into his "I wanna clean fight" routine. Elmer, at cartoon's end, turns the tables on the scheming ducks. The cartoon fades out as Elmer's throwing the ducks all over the boxing ring.

"Birth of a Notion" is one of the more hilarious ones. In this, Daffy gets tangled up with an evil scientist wanting his wish bone. The scientist is a caricature of Peter Lorre. Daffy was brought to the castle by a dog named Leopold...Daffy, not wanting to fly south for the winter, befriended the dog and was soon in the castle. Daffy overhears the scientist's plans of needing a duck's wishbone and soon it's a battle of wits between him and Daffy. The action takes place between the two of them so much that in one segment it shows Leopold griping about his lack of screen-time. In one of the most singled-out moments in the cartoon, Daffy attempts to throw a baseball bat at the scientist only for Leopold to grab it in time. This, however, causes the scientist to think his own dog is out to kill him and the scientist breaks the bat into tiny pieces.
Daffy attempts to murder the scientist with a knife but the scientist is prepared...he lets out with a creepy, perverted giggle as he chases after Daffy, who, runs off hollering his trademark "hoo hoo hoo hoo".

The two Foghorn Leghorn cartoons appear on "Crowing Pains" and "Raw! Raw! Rooster". In the first cartoon, we see Henery Hawk on a quest for a chicken. The character has never really been written as a smart guy...more of a little tough guy instead...who can never recall what a chicken looks like since he's so easily fooled by Foghorn in all the cartoons. So, he usually listens to Foghorn's stories and claims about other animal's being chickens. In "Crowing Pains" the action revolves around Foghorn, the Barnyard Dog, and Sylvester the cat...although some cartoon purists would say it isn't Sylvester because the character doesn't have a patch of white fur on his tail...but the character design and speech pattern is definitely Sylvester. So, the three of them are consistently fighting amongst each other while Henery just wants to know which one of them is a chicken. This is one of the earlier Foghorn cartoons as Mel Blanc's vocal performance is more in step with bellowing and hollering his words instead of delivering them as the refined southern blow-hard the character became. 

Foghorn likes to play tricks on the dog...and Sylvester's presence causes the dog to be after the cat, natural instincts. Foghorn plants an egg under Sylvester at one point...further confusing Henery, who's actually inside the egg...a device Foghorn came up with. Henery finally decides to wait until sunrise to see which animal crows...Sylvester, prone to keeping his mouth open even when he isn't talking, has his mouth open a little as the sounds of a rooster is heard. The Dog looks over at Sylvester and gets a disgusted look because he knows Foghorn's tricks...and Henery drags Sylvester away.

"Raw! Raw! Rooster" is one of the later Foghorn cartoons...you'll notice the difference in Mel's delivery. The cartoon is about one of Foghorn's rivals coming for a visit...the rival is a big practical joker, which doesn't sit too well with Foghorn, who would rather play jokes on others instead of having them played on himself. The rival, known as Rhoad Island Red, mingles with Foghorn and has all the hen's love-struck, which causes further jealousy to mount. Rhoad Island Red was voiced by Daws Butler. Foghorn sends his rival away by the end of the cartoon and has a few going away prizes...filled with dynamite.

In "My Favorite Duck", Porky Pig attempts to have a relaxing time at a camp site only to be tormented by Daffy at each attempt. The joke of the cartoon is that the woods has a strict fine on hunting ducks...people aren't even allowed to harass or bother ducks. This, of course, allows Daffy to become over-bearing and do all sorts of things to Porky...who can't do anything because each time he attempts to strangle or hit Daffy, this would cause Daffy to whip out a sign that read "No Duck Hunting" or "No Harming Ducks". Later in the cartoon, the tables are turned, and Daffy finds himself as a most-wanted duck...each sign that he comes up with invites Porky to kill and shoot...one sign I think read "Open season on ducks...no limit". The cartoon ends rather Tex Avery-like with Porky and Daffy chasing one another around and around a tree...before long the cartoon's "film" starts to go haywire and it snaps into. Daffy pokes his head into the scene and goes about telling us how the film ended...only to be pulled off-camera by Porky, who finishes beating him up...with the cartoon ending as Porky drags Daffy across the screen.

"Jumpin' Jupiter" is a surreal cartoon...it involves Porky and Sylvester camping out in a dessert area. Later, aliens come down to Earth and literally lift the camp ground up and fly off with it into outer space. Sylvester awakens and reacts to all of this while Porky remains asleep. Even after the gravity pull is gone, Porky is clueless of what's going on...then the camp site appears on the planet Jupiter. Porky wakes up...Sylvester was up all-night experiencing everything. Sylvester spots one of the aliens...Porky meets the alien but mistakes him for some sort of Indian. Gags from this cartoon were re-used years later on the Daffy Duck film Daffy Duck's Quackbusters including the gag of Sylvester being so scared he turns stiff as a board around Porky's face and when thrown off, hits the ground with a hollow thud. Another re-used gag was the phrase "yellow dog of a cowardly cat", Porky's affectionate description of Sylvester.

In "Satan's Waitin", we see the story of Sylvester and his nine lives. The cartoon centers around a bulldog Devil wanting Sylvester to go through the last 8 lives rather quickly...often causing Sylvester to get into all kinds of predicaments, with his lives evaporating one by one. Each of his lives sit together on a rock couch down in the pits of fire...he soon decides to hide himself in a bank vault where no harm can come to him...since he only has one life left. Later, bank robbers blow up the vault and everyone's killed. The cartoon fades out with Sylvester and the bank robbers all taking a trip down to meet the devil.

The rest of the cartoons on DVD #1 are just as good as those that I mentioned. "Dog Gone South" is a laugh-out-loud cartoon about a dog's adventures on a plantation. In "Often an Orphan" we have the same dog being the victim of owner abandonment. At the start of the cartoon we see the dog purposely being left at a camp site by his master. The dog talks his way into Porky's life by trying to convince him he needs a dog. This goes back and fourth throughout much of the cartoon...near the end we see Porky and the dog in a very familiar scene at a camp site ready to have a picnic. Porky tells the dog to fetch a stick but being through that routine too many times the dog jumps into Porky's car instead and speeds off as the scene fades.

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