Author Topic: What's Up, Doc? - A Looney Tunes Group Marathon  (Read 2844 times)

pixote

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Re: What's Up, Doc? - A Looney Tunes Group Marathon
« Reply #80 on: October 21, 2017, 04:33:05 PM »










Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt  (Friz Freleng, 1941)

I agree with Antares' assessment of this one. A full eight minutes of Bugs reading from Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha could have been pretty great, though. Little Hiawatha himself isn't a very good adversary for the rabbit here. I was also weirdly bothered that a film this short could have problems with plotting and structure: The story opens with Bugs freaking out that Hiawatha is there to hunt him, but then in the next scene, he's surprised Hiawatha is there to hunt him. Come on, guys, you're better than that.

Grade: C

















Little Hiawatha  (David Hand, 1937)

Greater familiarity with this Silly Symphonies short from four years earlier would have increased my appreciation of the Looney Tunes take-off thereof. Little Hiwatha doesn't go for laughs, really; it's just an onslaught of cute. And in that regards, it succeeds, starting with the contrast with the young Hiawatha pictured here and the mighty warrior of Longfellow's poem. As in Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt, the film opens and closed with read quotations from The Song of Hiawatha and the first prey that the hunter spots is a rabbit. In the Disney version, though, the rabbit is an irresistibly cute creature that Hiawatha can't bring himself to kill, not even when Hiawatha offers the bunny a miniature bow and arrow to make it a fair fight.

By giving up the hunt, the young warrior earns the love of every animal in the forest, except for one angry bear protecting its young. The second sequence of the film (distinct from the Looney Tunes parody) is an extended chase sequence, as Hiawatha the hunter becomes the hunted, and his new animal friends (auditioning for roles in Hand's Bambi) work together to help him escape the angry bear (an inversion from Longfellow, where Hiwatha kills the Great Bear of the mountains). Again, it's all very appealing and cute, though perhaps minimally so, rarely rising about the level of pleasant. The film's only real gag involve Hiawatha's pants falling down, a joke the film repeats about five times, to the point where it becomes annoying.

Grade: B-

pixote
« Last Edit: October 23, 2017, 03:31:35 AM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

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Re: What's Up, Doc? - A Looney Tunes Group Marathon
« Reply #81 on: October 21, 2017, 05:11:33 PM »










Rhapsody in Rivets  (Friz Freleng, 1941)

I'm again in agreement with Antares. Rhapsody and Rivets just doesn't use its short running time well at all. It's almost like Freleng and company never even settled on a concept: whether the characters were making the music or just moving in time to the music. The film seems to go back in forth between the two. If the film had fully committed to the former, I probably wouldn't have even needed any gags; the inventiveness to make that happen would have been enough. As is, the best moment is probably when the little guy and big guy are both hammering on the same stake. The actions fit the music perfectly and, in turn, the music creates a strong tension that has a good comedic payoff. Too little of the short operates at that level. Also, the character designs here seemed uninspired, with no strong unifying elements. Hooray for angry Irishmen, though, right?

Grade: C

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I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

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Re: What's Up, Doc? - A Looney Tunes Group Marathon
« Reply #82 on: October 21, 2017, 05:49:27 PM »










Wabbit Twouble  (Bob Clampett, 1941)

The best part of Elmer's being fat is Bugs Bunny's impression of Elmer's being fat. He looks weirdly like Peter Griffin in that moment, which adds an extra bit of comedy to him. Elmer's new speech impediment adds a strong touch of endearment. Bugs is a pest here, torturing Elmer just for sport, but it's playful enough not to be off-putting. The sunglasses gag and Bug's imitation of a bear are both good, and I really liked the visual jokes with Elmer and the bear behind the same tree. Even at seven minutes, this short seemed a bit slackly paced, but it's still a nice effort overall. The bear in the jail cell makes for an excellent postscript.

Grade: B-

Up Next: Bob Clampett's Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid (1942). Feels good to finally be caught up! I watched the preceding films back in July and only just now got around to writing anything up about them.

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I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

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Re: What's Up, Doc? - A Looney Tunes Group Marathon
« Reply #83 on: October 21, 2017, 10:13:01 PM »
Hollywood Steps Out  (Tex Avery, 1941)

I found Hollywood Steps Out quite interesting as a pop cultural time capsule but not all that funny or amusing. Then again, I missed about half the references. Perhaps, having put together the above guide, I should watch the film again to see if I get more out of it. The one reference I really felt stupid about missing was Cary Grant's mention The Front Page. It didn't click with me that that was actually a reference to His Girl Friday. Peter Lorre has by far the best line: "I haven't seen such a beautiful bubble since I was a child." Hilarious and perfectly delivered.

Grade: C

pixote

Reading your review, I had to check this out for myself, since I'm likely to get all the references. I like the conceit that these actors screen personas are also their personal ones. Even if Greata Garbo is working the joint, she still works it in the manner of Greta Garbo. Problem is, the jokes are really sad.
"Who can Eddie be talking to?"
"I don't know, there's this one actress, what's her name? Ann Sheridan."
"The one they call the "Oomph Girl"?"
That's it. We'll have that be the only word she says. Barking it like a dog."

Then a few minutes later, they repeat the joke with J. Edgar Hoover. The one part I laughed at was Clark Gable returning to announce to the audience, "It's me again," and the one impression I found very impressive was James Stewart. Too bad he was up against a Dorothy Lamour voiced by someone who clearly has no idea what Dorothy Lamour sounds like. This short is about on the level of Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg where the mere mention of a celebrity lookalike is supposed to be worth a laugh.
RATING: * 1/2


Watching this short made me want to have a mini-marathon of films featuring Arthur Treacher and Ned Sparks, since I don't know them well enough to appreciate their caricatures. C. Aubrey Smith and Mischa Auer would somewhat fall into that category as well.
Only recently did I learn that Arthur Treacher was the template for the English butler. As a kid, I know of fast food restaurants named Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips. Thought it was a fictional character, like the KFC Colonel. Ned Sparks only has one expression, but I do love it. He's like the 1930s Walter Matthau. Some find Mischa Auer annoying and I understand, but I think he's usually hilarious. He was Oscar nominated for My Man Godfrey but his best work is You Can't Take it With You and Destry Rides Again. You don't particularly need to marathon C. Aubrey Smith. Just watch any 5 Hollywood films from the 30s and 40s and he'll appear in at least one of them.

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Re: What's Up, Doc? - A Looney Tunes Group Marathon
« Reply #84 on: October 21, 2017, 10:39:21 PM »
Ha, yeah, I've seen C. Aubrey Smith plenty of times, but I generally find him so nondescript. Maybe with a marathon he could succeed in making an impression on me.

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I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

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Re: What's Up, Doc? - A Looney Tunes Group Marathon
« Reply #85 on: November 11, 2017, 01:13:08 PM »


Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid  (Bob Clampett, 1942)

I can see myself liking this more on another day, but today I just wasn't quite in the mood for its sense of humor, which veers towards the childish. The bit with the skeleton is the one real highlight.

Grade: C+



Up Next: Chuck Jones' The Dover Boys at Pimento University or The Rivals of Roquefort Hall (1942).

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I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

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Re: What's Up, Doc? - A Looney Tunes Group Marathon
« Reply #86 on: November 11, 2017, 06:38:34 PM »








The Dover Boys at Pimento University or The Rivals of Roquefort Hall  (Chuck Jones, 1942)

I was resistant to this short at first — the satirizing of upper class rigidity seemed too easy — but Chuck Jones just gets me. The animation technique is so very different from the more Disney style that Jones exhibited in Elmer's Candid Camera, and to great effect. The use of limited animation and the smear technique mesh perfectly with the film's appealing fast pace and strong comic timing. It all feels very smart and dapper. I'd be curious to be one or two of the Rover Boys books, being something of a sucker for the Stratemeyer style, but I'm not positive whether that would add to my enjoyment of this take-off or subtract from it. The narrator here struck me as a forerunner to the one in Jones' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. My grade will probably climb slightly with another viewing.

Grade: B-

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« Last Edit: November 11, 2017, 06:40:54 PM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

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Re: What's Up, Doc? - A Looney Tunes Group Marathon
« Reply #87 on: November 12, 2017, 03:13:41 PM »












The Hep Cat  (Bob Clampett, 1942)

Damn, I really need to brush up on my Jerry Colonna references if I'm going to fully appreciate these shorts. The best moment in The Hep Cat is when the title character makes out with another cat, not realizing it's really the hand puppet controlled by the dog that out to get him. The cat gets frisky and lets his paws move down to what seems for a second to be the feline's shapely ass but is in fact the dog's nose. It's an enjoyably naughty moment, made even funnier by the hep cat's realization, "Something new has been added!" which was apparently a Colonna catchphrase in tobacco ads or something. The short as a whole is kind of a mess, with some really good individual moments seemingly slapped together without enough regard for overall shape and flow. I actually like the breezy zaniness of it all; it was just missing ... something. Perhaps if it had been from the dog's perspective instead of the cat's since, as well all know, dogs rule and cats drool.

Grade: C+

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I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

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Re: What's Up, Doc? - A Looney Tunes Group Marathon
« Reply #88 on: July 03, 2018, 12:29:45 AM »


A Tale of Two Kitties
Bob Clampett, 1942

First appearance of the seemingly innocent but secretly sadistic Tweety bird (not yet named as such) focuses more on the cats Babbit and Catstello, who annoyed me with their vocalizations. Catstello does have one great line, though, responding to Babbit's insistent demand that he get him the bird, "If the Hays Office would only let me, I'd give him the bird, all right!" The short really comes alive when Tweety is at the center. "I tawt I taw a puddy tat" is cute as heck here, and it's no wonder it became a catchphrase. I especially love the suddenness of Tweety's going from meek prey to cat-bashing assassin with a baseball bat. The air warden gags are a nice reminder of the time the short was made.

Grade: C



Pigs in a Polka
Friz Freleng, 1943

This Friz Freleng short combines the musical-based action of Rhapsody in Rivets with the Disney-jabbing of Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt (riffing here on Fantasia and The Three Little Pigs) with superior results. There aren't many gags here, just joy. Much of the delight comes from how Freleng and Carl Stalling use selections from Brahms' "Hungarian Dances" especially the transitions between dances but there are plenty of visual pleasures as well. I love the character design of the pigs, with their crisp, modern look (calling to mind Jones' The Dover Boys), especially when two of them dance together like a couple of Pans in forest glade. The switcheroo with the wolf's gypsy costume is also fantastic, as is the pathos of his poor, wandering musician disguise (to which the pigs' reaction is perfection). Definitely my favorite short in this marathon so far.

Grade: B+



Tortoise Wins by a Hare
Bob Clampett, 1943

Did I just see a group suicide in a film from the 40s? That dropped my jaw. The real highlight real might be the animation of Bugs, especially when he's ranting about the hare (Cecil) always beating him in races. The design is fantastic perhaps this is the film where Bugs finally finds his true, classic form and Mel Blanc's voice matches perfectly. I also like how the film works as a quasi-sequel to Tortoise Beats Hare, which gets incorporated into the prologue with some rewritten history. There's something strangely gratifying about that sense of continuity between these films that, despite their ephemeral silliness, they still manage to create their own little universe. Clampett's comedic pace here is very strong, though my favorite bit might be Cecil's slow, almost stoner-ish reply, "Clean living, friend." Oh, and speaking of suicide, I missed the headline in that paper announcing Hitler's (two years early).

Grade: B-



The Wise Quacking Duck
Bob Clampett, 1943

Clampett takes "looney" to the max here, resulting in a completely manic short. The duck of the title isn't just daffy; he's unhinged to the point where, at the end, when he's naked in a broiling pan and basting himself with gravy like he's excited by the prospect of being cooked, I'm like, "Yep, that makes sense." There's really too much to unpack here. The striptease in particular is just ... wow. I don't know how much I actually laughed (the 'red' palm pun got me, I have to admit), but I was definitely rapt with fascination.

Grade: B-

Porky Pig's Feat
Frank Tashlin, 1943

This blogger loves this short and considers it maybe Tashlin's best. I don't see it at all. The visual of Daffy's sticking his head into the hotel manager's face is grotesquely awesome (leading to a Dick Tracy reference for the second short in a row) and hearing Daffy and Porky talk reverentially about Bugs is delightful, but otherwise I didn't get much out of this one. Even the title seems completely arbitrary.

Grade: C



It's good to be back.

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.