January 10, 2019 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Favorite Character Moments in Animation

I’m taking a momentary break from thinking about Thunderbean the company since nearly all waking moments have been either teaching or dubbing and sending things.. so, today’s TB Thursday is about things I love in animation — and I’d love to hear what yours are too. There’s a lot of cartoons I really like, but when it comes right down to it, there’s often brilliant *moments* that are especially great. There’s *so many of these that it’s really impossible to make any kind of definitive or accurate list, so instead I thought I’d stick with a 10 that come to mind when thinking about cartoons.

From “The Helpful Genii” (Terrytoons, 1951)

So, in no particular order, some of mine are:

Tortoise Wins by a Hare (1943)
I really love this cartoon in general, but there’s a wonderful little moment near the beginning where Bugs quickly reveals himself to the audience to let us know it’s him in disguise. This never fails to brighten my day and make me laugh with it’s unusual timing and quick action.

(Appears at 2:03)

Pinocchio (1940)
I love this film for many reasons, but one of my favorite animation moments is a shot that holds an extra frame while Jiminy Cricket is falling into a pool pocket. The extra texture this adds in hilarious, and pretty unusual (I can’t think of another example of this technique to emphasize a fall in any other Disney animation).

(Appears at 1:22)

The Dog Snatcher (1931)
There’s plenty of stange moments in Scrappy cartoons, but several are so odd that they almost deserve an analysis of length to start to understand. In The Dog Snatcher (1931) Scrappy is responsible for killing one of the guard dogs, then pretending to be that dog by wearing its freshly skinned fur and skin as a costume. It’s a funny idea when viewed as cartoony, but it’s hard to find Scrappy lovable when he bears more a resemblance to a serial killer than a lovable little boy. One of my all time favorite cartoons.
(Appears at 3:02)

Betty Boop, MD (1932)
Bimbo breaking into Red Pepper Sam’s “You’re somebody’s Sweetheart Now” has been discussed on one of these Thursdays before, but I can’t help but think of this whole sequence as one of my favorite things in any cartoon, ever, especially the perspective shot of everyone contorting together.
(Appears at 5:05)

Dough Ray Meow (1948)

I love so many things about this cartoon, but I especially love the little mopey walk that Heathcliff does when told to go away in this scene

(Appears just after 1:18)

Going Home (1943)

Bob Cannon’s fun and unusual dance animation is always something I think about when thinking about the Snafu series:

(Appears at 2:57)

Gulliver’s Travels (1939)

The King turning into his most rubbery self seems super out of place in Gulliver, but perfectly appropriate in a Fleischer cartoon.

(At 43:05)

The Gorilla (1930)

Mickey and Minnie were maybe never more in love than in this cartoon (with possibly the exception of Building a Building). Mickey’s realization that the gorilla has Minnie is funny in ways that only this cartoon could be:

(At 3:34)

Busy Barber (1932)

I always thought this was one of the most inappropriate of the Lantz Oswald cartoons for lots of reasons, but my favorite moment is when Oswald beats a lion (or what is it?) with the tail he cut off the sleeping creature earlier in the film. As revenge, the tiger eats him, only to be turned inside out by the barber chair. This bad copy appears to be from a VHS transfer I did some 30 years ago— funny how these things still show up!

(Appears at 5:01)

The Helpful Genie (1951)

I especially love the especially mean bulldog’s attempts to scare the cat in this cartoon. Some really fun Jim Tyer scenes throughout the film:
(Appears at 1:51):

There are of course plenty more, but it’s time for me to get back to cleaning up some Noveltoons.

Now, what are some of yours?

Have a good week everyone!


  • Here’s some of my favorites:

    “The ABC Of Internal Combustion Engines” (1948), there are a number of scenes in this one with the antics of Air, Fuel, and Ignition however my favorite would have to be when Air and Fuel are trapped in the piston (5:31 on my print and the two throw up the most disgruntled look as they’re squeezed. The ending when they’re randomly blown up to end the fuel by Ignition is hilarious also.

    “Once Upon A Time” (1934), When we’re introduced to Discourtesy and Careless; Love the little dance they do after Pandora releases them for their box, accompanied by the over dramatic score.

    “Smoked Hams” (1947), this cartoon is full of memorable moments but the funniest is when the smoke from Woody’s brush pile turns Wally Walrus’ bed into a pipe organ.

    “Bathing Buddies” (1946), When Woody is casually just sticking dynamite down the pipe

    “Chew Chew Baby” (1945), another inappropriate Lantz cartoon but the “Naughty Boy” sequence with Woody calling Wally a naughty boy and Wally denying it is my favorite scene.

    “The Snowman” (1932), That musical sequence towards the end when following the Eskimo’s canoe journey, where he keeps landing on the pointy rocks.

    “Squatter’s Rights” (1946), that very grotesque, over dramatic ending involving Mickey finding the Ketchup on Pluto…

  • Oh, forgot to mention “Porky’s Party” (1938), the sequence with that Goose happily helping the penguin lose the top hat he just ate, with that giant smile…

  • Does Bugs, with the beard and glasses, bear a marked resemblance to the current David Letterman?! Hmmm…

  • One that comes to mind is the original ending of “Betty Boop and Grampy” . When Grampy kicks the clock which fans him it seems like it also seems like a device to iris out to the Paramount end title.

    With Fleischer in mind , Popeye’s “Can You Take It” has some bizarre shortcuts in animation that the Fleischers are known for (just look at the final scene of “Greedy Humpty Dumpty” for an example), and the Wham! final gag always is great too.

    And as always, I have to bring up some gags in “Old MacDonald” (audience groans). I just like the morbid disappearance of the duck after being “popped” by the goat’s flute inflated by a jar balloon. Old MacDonald himself bobbing himself back and forth as if it were hip-hop is great too right before the sing-along.

  • Always liked Jim Tyer’s animation in the Mighty Mouse cartoon MOTHER GOOSE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY (1950) when both the wolf and Mighty Mouse move fast towards the camera and goes in the birthday cake fight. Very funny and fluid animation.

  • In my opinion, the funniest visual gag in all of cartoondom takes place in the Popeye cartoon, “A Dream Walking”, when Olive steps in front of the moon and her stick body is silhouetted through her night dress. An absolutely unbelievable stunner!!!

  • The Great Piggybank Robbery – after the giant Mouse Man comes out of the hole, Daffy immediately shrinks, and turns to the audience with the zaniest I-am-screwed facial expression. For exactly one second.

    Popeye in Goonland – right after Popeye disguises himself (poorly) to look like a Goon, he cheerfully strolls through dangerous Goonland, and the whole tone of the cartoon changes. The music score melody is the same, but it abruptly shifts from dark and lumbering to bright and lighthearted. (Oh yeah, the Goons bought it.)

  • So many… where to begin? Well.. here is just ten:

    Bimbo’s Initiation (Fleischer/Paramount, 1931): “Wanna be a member?” Bimbo being chased by a knife licking its lips is particularly striking.

    Startos-Fear (Ub Iwerks/MGM, 1933): This Willie Whopper oddly resembles the previous film despite its out-in-space setting. Instead of “Wanna be a member?”, we get a quartet of spacey beasties singing “Hello, Willie, how are the sun? Come right in and join the fun. Hello Willie, now don’t run. Step right up, we’ve just begun”.

    Le Roman De Renard (Ladislas Starewicz, 1937, but completed mostly by 1931): The great puppetoon feature has many memorable moments, but I particularly like the ice fishing scene with the Fox tricking the Wolf into getting his tail stuck under a full moon. Much of this is done with both close-up puppets for face shots and smaller miniatures for fast motion at a distance. When the Wolf is bopped in the head by humans, we see snow fakes instead of stars. Particularly imaginative is the later bottom-of-the-well scene when the Fox describes heaven with its sausages and critter angels.

    Kitty Kornered (Warner, 1946): I am guessing that Rod Scribner did the sequence with one of the felines dressed as a “man from Mars” (pink with green nose and hair!) asking Porky “What did the man say, Mister? Huh? What did the man say? Huh?” Note how he just shrinks into oblivion once he is no longer needed in that scene! Then Porky’s attention is drawn to his trio of bed buddies, all eager to kiss him “goodnight butterball”.

    Mouse Warming (Warner, 1951): It is hardly Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese’s greatest short but it displays everything we love about that powerhouse team in just six minutes. Claude Cat takes advantage of teen mice romance and we are bombarded with so many Jones-isms: the trademark sparkle in the rodent’s eyes as he gets excited (which later got milked to the bank by the time of RIKKI TIKKI TAVY), the lit match inside the feline’s tummy that creates the unwanted explosion a.k.a. Wile E. Coyote style, the whole Canasta routine with the Butcher the Bulldog whose eyes predictably get tiny as he gets angry (like so many bulldogs in these cartoons) and Claude stumbling out and tossing cards all over like he is intoxicated (a bit like Daffy’s “no more for me thanks, I’m driving” in RABBIT SEASONING). While many previous cartoons like Robert Clampett’s THE HEP CAT and Friz Freleng’s MOUSE MAZURKA involved a stock hand puppet gag to fool a potential quarry, it is clear that Jones was tired of this joke and puts it to rest by showing the girl-mouse “fake” all rumpled on the floor behind the boy mouse’s bed as he sighs. He can’t maintain interest in it in the same way as the equally needy fellow in Bob Godfrey’s much later DREAM DOLL

    Willie The Kid (UPA/Columbia, 1952): It isn’t so much the animation itself but the backgrounds that stand out to me. I love how the very simple, child-like recreation of a “suburb” morphs in and out of a western movie that the children play-act in. Most important are the open garages full of clutter… rakes, hand tools, boxes and all sorts of things you would imagine in Fibber McGee’s closet. All of this on display as the boys ride their dogs down the sidewalk as if they are horses. You wonder how any car manages to get parked inside.

    Mars And Beyond (Disney, 1957): Ward Kimball’s crew must have been taking… something… at the time,. Or were just plain exhausted. One memorable moment among many is when the captured secretary of one-noted-scientist finally gathers strength against her alien abductors. There were not nearly enough female super heroes in sci fi animation at that time.

    Twinkle, Twinkle Little Pink (DePatie-Freleng, 1968): There are so many great reaction shots of our little observer at the Palomar observatory knock-off to the Pink Panther’s antics. Of course, much cartoon license is taken here. I mean… would any telescope show something that close in such focus? After seeing the bikini babes on the moon, the personality animation is particularly striking as he pantomimes his excitement over the telephone.

    Yozhik v Tumane (Hedgehog In The Fog) (Soyuzmultfilm, 1975): The cut-out animation of Yuriy Norshteyn is so sophisticated in this one, particularly in the scene when our prickly lead is discovered by a frisky spaniel who sniffs and breaths all over him, then yawns before bolting away.

    The Cat Came Back (National Film Board of Canada, 1988): Most memorable is our frustrated cat hater slamming open the door with a face full of woodland burs and twigs. When he yanks that last painful one off his tongue, we hear the feline shred the back curtain with a long scraaaaatch.

  • Where to begin, indeed. I vote for the nightmare sequence in “Fresh Airedale” (Chuck Jones, 1945), the dog’s search for his “girlfriend” in the munitions factory in “Ding Dog Daddy” (Fritz Freleng, 1942), Daffy Duck’s encounter with Neon Noodles and co. in “The Great Piggy Bank Robbery” (Bob Clampett, 1946), and Daffy Duck scat-singing in “Book Revue” (Bob Clampett, 1946).

  • Bluto punching out Popeye’s face from all the billboards to “Moonlight And Shadows” In “Morning, Noon And Nightclub”.

  • I would begin with the elephant being driven crazy by swarming fleas in MGM’s “CIRCUS DAZE”, one of the HAPPY HARMONIES cartoons, followed by the quick shots of all the animals similarly being driven buggy. In fact, the entire cartoon is something I distinctly remember being an utter feast for the eyes…

    I also like any images of Tom running after Jerry in cartoons like “KITTY FOILED” which is all about the chase and nothing more except for a canary also being drawn into the act…any of the Tex Avery “Red” cartoons, from “RED HOT RIDING HOOD” through “UNCLE TOM’S CABANA”…the climactic storm sequence in “A RAINY DAY”, the second of Hugh Harman’s THREE BEARS cartoons, almost surreal, and it lasts for a few seconds with Mama Bear heard still singing, as if everyone else in the house was unaware that the roof was actually completely torn off the place!!…

    Jerry Mouse’s transformation into a muscular and vengeful other creature in “DR. JEKYL AND MR. MOUSE” after drinking a saucer of milk laced with Tom’s chemical mixture that one assumes would have killed, outright! I also liked the scenes of Tom, with looming shadow, stirring up the mixture which kills a fly…the household chaos when defiant Cap claims that he can keep a house better than Mama in the CAPTAIN AND THE KIDS cartoon, “BLUE MONDAY”; is it possible that this cartoon might have been inspired by the antics of Laurel and Hardy in any of their domestic situations where they attempted to “clean house”?

    I like the household appliances, sometimes with evil human faces, like the vacuum cleaner run amuck that literally “brings down the house” in the end…the silent book worm’s reactions to anything Sniffles attempts in the cartoons in which the two of them are featured; I’m always sorry that Jones didn’t extend the Book Worm to his own short series of cartoons…the surreal excitement of the jazz frogs when they think that they might get a taste of the “Gramma’s cookies” that Bosko carries throughout the imfamous “Bosko trilogy” which just about ends the character’s career. I especially liked the scene in which the Pirate King, with grit teeth, takes two of his crew members’ heads and slams them together before throwing both guys offscreen twoard the left and the right, respectively, leading to various jazz-fueled frenzies so hot that they eventually blow the imagined pirate ship to bits…

    Just watching Casper the Friendly Ghost morph into anything, such beautiful animation as he pulls and tugs at himself as if he were actually made of clay…various attempts by the Fleischer animators to show life from the point of view of the insects in “MR. BUG GOES TO TOWN”; I’d love to see similar attempts if a “live action” version of this story were ever made…

    Daffy Duck being thrown from the house in “NASTY QUACKS”, with the camera following his every move, complete with dialogue of revenge…the dog struggling to keep his itchy irritations to himself throughout “AN ITCH IN TIME”, especially the multi-colored take as he rolls on the floor, even turning plaid!…the entire cartoon called “DANCE OF THE WEED” from MGM…the strange black and white look of original episodes of “ASTRO BOY” in the 1960’s…some of the interesting camera angles throughout “GOOFY GROCERIES”, especially the point of view shots of the approaching giant ape out of the comic book…the entire FLIP THE FROG cartoon, “SODA SQUIRTS”…and many more!

  • I thought you told me that Popeye walking off after getting crushed into an accordion by Brutus as if nothing happened in “Barbecue for Two” was the pinnacle of the art form. Oh, and happy birthdaze.

  • I’ve always noticed that Jiminy hold. A great drawing but so incongruous for a Disney feature that I thought it might be a shooting mistake. Why it couldn’t have been a moving hold as he stretches (Almost like what Chuck Jones used all the time for the Coyote falling) puzzled me. There is a thing I have done where something is dragging on twos before it snaps and I put the drawing before the snap on three and the snap on one. Very subtle and makes the snap snappier, but this sequence looks un-inbetweened. Maybe Walt Disney was tired, didn’t catch it, said it was great, and Ward Kimball happily did as he was told 😉 .

  • One of the great things about Bugs’ reveal to the audience in “Tortoise Wins By A Hare” is that it isn’t punctuated by any sound/music cues.

  • There are so many moments from the Betty Boop short “The Old Man of the Mountain”: The owl’s solo on the title song, Betty slipping out of her dress to escape and then the dress slapping the Hermit, and of course the matron pushing the baby carriage. And then there’s listening to Cab Calloway on the vocal tracks and his duet with Mae Questel.

  • How about sound effect moments? My all time fave is when Crusher hits the safe door in “Bunny Hugged”…

  • One of my favorite characters moments is when the bulldog Belvedere runs in “Dog Gone South” (1950) with his hindlegs up in the air.

  • My favorite animated dance? The shoemaker’s and his wife’s dance for joy in The Peachy Cobbler.

  • There’s a great moment in CANARY ROW where Granny calls down the desk clerk. The clerk races to the phone and struggles with it for a few moments, all with a look of murderous fury on his face…only to instantly revert to a polite, calm “yesss?” when he actually answers the phone. It’s all over in a few seconds, but is hilarious.

    Wile E.’s first speech to Bugs in OPERATION: RABBIT does a wonderful job of establishing the coyote’s personality in the Bugs vs. Wile E series. Bugs’ reactions are the icing on the cake.

    AIN’T THAT DUCKY- Daddy’s offended “Well! I must say!” in response to the obnoxious little duckling snapping at him is one of my favorite bits of Blanc voice work. Of course, the animation helps too!

  • A couple of favorites:
    FALLING HARE – The comic timing of the gremlin hitting Bugs over the head with the sledgehammer and his dopey “Which way did he go, George? Which way did he go?” It’s probably the goofiest Bugs moment and it makes me laugh every time I watch it.
    HOCKEY HOMICIDE – Bertino and Bertie going at it every time they leave the penalty box.
    NORTHWEST HOUNDED POLICE – I don’t think there’s any one animated short that gets as creative with how many wild takes it can squeeze in as much as this one. The pacing and expressions are excellent.
    MISSISSIPPI HARE – Bugs dancing to “Camptown Ladies,” mostly due to one great detail where Bugs’ hat falls and he picks it up and puts it back on his head without missing a beat, still singing and dancing. Great, fluid Ken Harris animation. But my favorite Bugs dancing scene is…
    SLICK HARE – Bugs’ samba dance is one of my favorite moments in any cartoon. Gerry Chiniquy did career-best work on that scene, beautifully capturing Bugs’ personality and love of the spotlight without a single word of dialogue.

  • “Dicky Moe”: Tom, covered with tar, pacing back and forth in front of the wall, in time with Ahab pacing back and forth, so he looks like Ahab’s shadow. A unique gag, which makes me laugh every time I see it.

  • When it comes to favorite moments in animated cartoons, I have so many, it’s extraordinarily difficult to select any few… Nevertheless, some of my all-time favorite animated scenes are as follows:
    • We Aim to Please (1934) — When Wimpy enters Popeye and Olive’s café and says: “I’d gladly pay ya’ Tuesday for a hamburger today.” And Popeye flips his pipe in response. That scene is iconic…
    • Hare Do (1949) — When Elmer sneaks back into the movie theater after having been thrown out, and repeatedly gets trampled by audience members running in and out of the auditorium (Intermission/Curtain/Intermission/Curtain), until he finds Bugs operating the notification lights. Hilarious.
    • Baby Puss (1943) — The scene in which Topsy (one of Tom’s three alley cat cohorts) dons a Carmen Miranda-esque outfit and does a samba dance.
    • The Dippy Diplomat (1945) — When Wally Walrus confronts Woody Woodpecker and says, “SOOOOO, THIS is your game!?” And Woody replies: “Sure! I always play for big steak!”

    • Somehow, the part of “We Aim to Please” that sticks with me is this lyric from the song:
      “We Aim to Please!
      Our hamburger steaks is a riot!
      We Aim to Please”
      Ya’d best have the liver instead!’

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