We resume from last week, as our trail veers into wartime romances, baby boomers, and beyond:
Dumbo (Disney, RKO, 10.23.41) provides the storks with their first feature length appearance (albeit in a supporting role). A choreographed flight opens the picture, accompanied by an announcer’s preface resembling the “must get through” motto of the post office, and the choral number, “Look Out For Mister Stork”. Aerial deliveries are made to the circus’s winter quarters – except for Mrs. Jumbo, who scans the skies hopelessly for the arrival that does not come. Being a heavy load, her baby, Jumbo Jr., is delayed in transit until the next day, delivered by a personable stork (voiced by Sterling Holloway, of later “Winnie the Pooh” fame) who consults his road maps and intercepts the circus train. Obtaining signature from Mrs. Jumbo on a receipt for one elephant, the stork sounds a pitch pipe and gives a rendition of “Happy Birthday” to the delivered bundle, ending as he perches in the partially open doorway of the car to reach a high-note finale, and is whisked away, caught on a station mail hook. (The same stork, still voiced by Holloway, would return in Lambert, the Sheepish Lion discussed below.)
The Marry-Go-Round (Paramount/Famous, Popeye, 12/31/43 – Seymour Kneitel, dir.) falls short of a wedding, but deserves honorable mention. A clever update on the “Miles Standish” theme. Shorty (Popeye’s spectacled “helpful” pal, voiced by Jack Mercer), like almost every sailor, collects pin up pictures of real actresses, including an autographed saronged photo of the studio’s “sweetheart”, Dorothy Lamour (from the famous “Road” pictures with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby). Popeye, on the other hand, only has photos of Olive, and has in hand a package containing an engagement ring, but can’t drum up the nerve to propose. Shorty becomes as usual overly enthused, sweeps Popeye up in a mock wedding rehearsal, and insists on dragging Popeye to Olive’s boarding house to “pop the question” (Popeye reacting to Shorty,“This is so sudden.”) Inside, Olive slaves away on endless chores for the boarding house, including washing and pressing clothes and doing dishes while still cooking breakfast with her toes through a hole in her shoe. Popeye finally makes an entrance, but Olive’s tasks have all her attention, and she ignores him. Popeye starts the proposal with a graceful bow – and gets his hand stuck in the wringer of a washing machine.
He is dragged into the machine, and in the next scene is hung out to dry on a clothesline by Olive without her even noticing. He then winds up in the stack of clothes ready for pressing, and again goes unnoticed by Olive, who steam presses and folds him into the size of a handkerchief. Shorty picks up what is left, weeping and bemoaning the “loss” of his friend, and blows his nose into the “handkerchief” – causing Popeye to instantly unfold, fighting mad. A second proposal attempt result in a surprise repeat of the same misstep, and another clothesline. A third attempt results in destruction of all of Olive’s dishes, save a metal tray, which she klunks him on the head with. As Popeye sits on the floor with a glue bottle, trying to reassemble the dishes like a jigsaw puzzle, a disgusted Shorty decides its time he shows Popeye “how its done”. Approaching Olive, he grabs her in his arms (by standing on a chair), breaks into a vocal impression of screen lover Charles Boyer – and gives her a passionate kiss. Olive’s eyes glaze over as limpid pools, and the bun of her hair stiffens to erect ridgidity behind her, clicking like the lever of a one-armed bandit, as her eyes roll in slot machine fashion and come up reading “Tilt”. Olive zips out of frame, returning a second later, dressed in a sarong and tropical fan, bracelets and earrings, with her face again overdone in makeup in grotesque fashion. She now has eyes for Shorty only! Realizing he’s created a monster, Shorty attempts to flee, while Popeye announces this is all he can stand. Instead of resorting to spinach, however, Popeye resorts to subterfuge.
Capturing Shorty and holding his hand over Shorty’s mouth to keep him quiet, Popeye disappears behind a curtain. Olive, who is still seeking Shorty, is lured to the curtained doorway by the beckoning of Popeye, imitating Shorty’s voice (easy since they’re both voiced by the same person). Olive reaches through the curtains – and is sucked up and disappears. Popeye emerges, carrying Shorty, and pulls back the curtains to reveal the washing machine, placed in just the spot where Olive had inserted her arm, leaving her presumably within its chambers as it chugs merrily away. The final scene again shows Shorty’s pinup photos, with the hand of Popeye entering with a pen and crossing out Shorty’s name from Lamour’s autograph, replacing it with “Popeye”. A full shot reveals that all the photos have been moved above Popeye’s hammock, while across the room, Shorty has been firmly hogtied into his hammock, with nothing to stare at except the collection of pictures of Olive – to which Shorty can only wince in disgust, sticking his tongue out with an audible “Eeuuwwww.” Though this breakup of the famous couple should have spelled the ending of the series, a short time heals all wounds, and Popeye was back courting again by their next episode, The Anvil Chorus Girl. As for Shorty, it was almost his swan song – being one of only three cartoons in which he appeared, and the last in which Mercer would voice the character (his last episode is voiced by Arnold Stang). A pity, as he offered a lively alternative to Bluto’s brute strength, and an unlikely foil actually capable of sabotaging the sailor’s happy endings (like Cecil Turtle to the otherwise victorious Bugs Bunny). While some dislike him, I think they should have continued him as a subseries in the Popeye universe.
Perhaps due to the shortage of available able-bodied males on the homefront (to quote a famous song from Warner’s feature Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943), “They’re Either Too Young Or Too Old”), marital cartoons seem to decline for a time during the war – however, the stork still makes a few appearances.
Pigs In a Polka (Warner, 2/2/43 – I. (Friz) Freleng, dir.) offers us only a brief glimpse of the idle stork during this fallow period. As with Clock Cleaners, reviewed last week, he is sleepy and having nothing to do with babies – but instead waits patiently in a tree while Freleng’s equivalent to Practical Pig of the Three Little Pigs puts finishing touches on a brick chimney. No sooner is the final brick in place than the stork plops down on Practical’s head a fully-built nest, to stuff up the chimney as his new home.
The Stork’s Holiday (MGM, 10/23/43 – George Gordon, dir.) attempts to explain the dramatic drop in the birth rate a new way – Doc Stork is holed up in his headquarters, refusing to go out. He begins to recount the perils of his last attempted delivery of three baby kittens (were these the “Fluff, Muff, and Puff” to be of Tom and Jerry’s Heavenly Puss?). An elaborate and nightmarish wartime world is revealed in flashback. Unlike many war epics, there is no villain Nation or army – the weapons of war (“listening” posts, machine gun turrets, searchlights, barrage balloons, fighter planes, and the humongous “Big Bertha” cannon) are all anthropomorphized and fight unmanned. Searchlight beams converge on the stork, tying themselves in knots around him like a braid. A shell fires from Big Bertha – so long the stork and kittens have to run a mile on top of it as it passes, just to stay in the same spot in the sky. A convergence of two smaller shells from opposite directions results in the stork warding off their head-on collision by bracing his long legs against the nose of each respective warhead (taking extreme pains to keep his knees from buckling), while he retrieves the kittens and sack to make a hasty exit upwards, the shells exploding below them. His encounter with a barrage balloon inflates him too, and he exhales, causing him to be blown backward the way he came. Returning to the present, back at headquarters, the stork announces he’s closed for the duration. But his reflection in a mirror talks back to him, announcing it’s ashamed of him, and reminds him of patriotic ancestors who kept their delivery schedule through WWI, Gettysburg, and the Revolutionary War. The stork, inspired, returns to the front lines – this time with a frying pan helmet and a pot bellied stove as a suit of body armor. Pursued by a trio of planes, he comes to a floating cloud, and looking down through it, finds himself directly over the gaping barrel of Big Bertha. Getting an idea, he flies upward, whistling to the three planes to hail them as to where he is. They pursue him in a power dive, but Doc dodges into the cloud and out of the way. The planes plummet through it – right into the barrel of Bertha. Bertha explodes, and when the smoke clears, we see a large gravestone at the head of a mile-long grave. The stork makes an exit in the now clearing sunlit skies, using a cigar to skywrite a large V and a dot-dot-dot-dash accompanied by the notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
Baby Bottleneck (Warner, Porky and Daffy, 3/16/46, Bob Clampett, dir.) brings us to the postwar world, as demand for babies has reached a new high. The overworked stork (voiced a la Jimmy Durante) is A.W.O.L., and is found at the Stork Club, having literally drunk himself under a table (predicting a subtrail to be followed by Friz Freleng in various later episodes described below). He complains, “I do all the work, and the fathers get all the credit.” Headlines announce the use of substitute help to make deliveries, among them in a nod to “Dumbo”, four crows struggling to carry a baby elephant. But the headlines also announce that of course this has resulted in “some slight mistakes”, such as a hippopotamus delivered to a Scotty dog (crushing him beneath its weight), and a baby alligator delivered to a suckling pig. (An abrupt cut in the negative denotes the absence of a scene removed by the censors – as the alligator pries apart the other little piglets to find a place to nurse on Mama, Mama stands up to raise a hand in protest. Her censored dialogue line comes from the catch phrase of the announcer of the then popular “Blondie” radio series, as she cautions the gator, “Ah Ah Ahh…Don’t touch that dial!”) Porky Pig volunteers to supervise the stork’s headquarters, accompanied by his “able”(?) assistant, Daffy Duck. Daffy handles incoming calls, including from Bing Crosby (who Daffy says has “used up” his quota), Eddie Cantor (still wanting a boy, Daffy tells him, “If at first you don’t succeed…”), and a long-distance call from Papa Dionne (see the Dionne quintuplets, discussed last week), who presumably wants more, prompting Daffy to reply, Mr. Dionne, Pl-eeeze!” Another stork assembly line, similar to “Shuffle Off To Buffalo” discussed last week, goes into effect, as new youngsters of all species roll off the presses (playing on another radio catch phrase discussed in the “Radio Roundup” articles on this website, a new arrival announces, “I’m only three and a half seconds old.”).
A talcum powdering machine turns babies on both sides with a spatula. Milk is dispensed from the hose of a service-station gasoline pump (in one instance mistakenly placed in the neck-hole of a turtle shell, flooding it and causing the turtle to emerge in underwear with a bailing pail). A mannequin top with robotic arms picks up each baby and burps them. And, in a repeat of the “Buffalo” gag, one baby is mistakenly doused with milk on the wrong end (his diaper), and sent back to start of the belt into a washing machine. Porky is seen sorting babies for delivery according to address labels affixed to them at the end of the assembly line – but an egg appears, lacking an address. Calling Daffy, Porky instructs him to sit on the egg and hatch it to see who it belongs to. While Daffy was willing to follow such instructions from his missus in “The Henpecked Duck”, discussed last week, he now develops a sense of humiliation at the prospect of becoming a “mother”, and states that “Sitting on eggs is out!” Possibly the entire remainder of the film appears to be animated by Clampett’s “wild man”, Rod Scribner, who receives top animator billing on the credits, as in wild and frenetic distortion (in some scenes without the use of any background painting at all), Porky insists, and engages in a fierce wrestling match with Daffy, trying to force his rear end onto the egg. Daffy flips Porky, who nearly lands on the egg himself, but saves himself from motherhood by bracing himself off the ground with his extended tongue. Porky chases the duck, catching hold of one of his feet. As Daffy protests and demands to be let go, he keeps running, and stretches his leg like a rubbery strand of spaghetti until it seems a mile long. Daffy jumps upon the conveyor belt, his ultra-long leg dragging, until he pulls upon a feather from the top of his head, miraculously pulling in the slack of his rubber-leg. But Porky and Daffy find themselves at the mercy of the machinery. A robotic arm hits Daffy over the head with a small hammer, and ties a baby bonnet on him. Porky is stripped, and tied up inside a diaper. The two are bundled together as if one baby, then fired off to their destination abouard a skyrocket. They arive in Africa, delivered to a mother gorilla. Daffy begins instantly crying, and when Mama thinks he needs a change finds in the diaper the second head of Porky, who meekly says, “boo.” In the final shot, she picks up a telephone, and calls into the receiver, “Mr. Anthony?…..I have a problem!” (Another radio reference, referring to radio marital problem-solver, John J. Anthony.)
The Baby Sitter (Paramount, Famous, Little Lulu, 11/28/47 – Seymour Kneitel, dir.), has nothing to do with marriage, but nevertheless offers us cameos of those feathered baby deliverers, serving in a dream sequence (to become the stock in trade of the later Little Audrey series) as waiters when Lulu’s charge Alvin runs away for a night on the town at the “Stork Club”, a junior-celebrity-studded nightclub for babies with baby bottles, high chairs, and even one baby (Bob Hope) proposing to another with an engagement 18 karat safety pin.
A Feather In His Hare (Warner, Bugs Bunny, 2/7/48, Charles M. (Chuck) Jones, dir.) Not much of this cartoon deals with matrimony, except its memorable finish. Seldom shown these days because of Bugs’s pursuer being an ineffectual milquetoast Indian brave, Bugs asks the audience just who this guy thinks he is trying to outsmart him. He suddenly finds an arrowpoint aimed directly at his temple – the Indian has recovered and sneaked up on him, bow drawn, answering, “Me? Me last Mohican.” Bugs takes this with his usual cool, responding, “Last of the Mohicans, huh? Well, look, Geronimo… just cast your eyes skyward.” Above them flies a stork, carrying a bundle with the Indian’s junior counterpart, followed by another, and yet another identical triplet. The Indian below collapses in a faint. Bugs breaks into one of his most sarcastic belly-laughs, doubling up with an unusual expression in place of his usual “maroon”: “Oh, prunella!” (reference to an herbal “heal-all” plant). But his laughter quickly disintegrates into guttural sounds of helplessness, as the sky is now veritably filled with a squadron of additional storks, all carrying bundles with baby rabbits lookalike to him, who call out in unison, “Eh, what’s up, Pop?” Bugs withers away into a puddle of his former self beside the Indian, as we iris out.
The Stork Market (Paramount/Famous, Screen Song – 4/8/49, Seymour Kneitel,, dir.) offers a few original gags, but as usual for Famous begins with a pun – the “Milky Way”, a road through the clouds paved with milk bottles. At its end, we again enter the stork’s mechanized factory. In the only cartoon to show the actual creation of the babies, one stork mixes ingredients from the rhyme, “What are little boys made of” (a la Professor Utonium in The Powerpuff Girls), producing a line of males who begin respectively crying as they reach the conveyor belt, but are met by a parallel belt of artificial gloved hands so they can each suck a thumb. A second stork mixes “What are little girls made of”, and each new arrival (all with full curly hairdo’s) instantly produces a powder puff and starts primping herself. The boys on the other line each abandon their thumb sucking to wolf-whistle in unison and shout, “Hubba, hubba!”. Other species are also under production. An incubator chute is opened, and out tumbles the transparent outline of a kitten – but wait. There’s a number meter on the side of the machine, set at “1″, and more and more transparent cats roll out of the chute, landing on the first, until the cat solidifies after receiving the full “9″ lives on the meter. Easter eggs in a toaster surprisingly hatch Easter bunnies, and ice cubes in a refrigerator are removed from a tray and open hatches to reveal baby penguins. Other gags devolve to usual Famous punny standards, including a chicken on a hot water bottle used as a steam press that fails to hatch out an egg after several tries, only to have the egg finally open to reveal a chick resembling Edward G. Robinson, announcing that he’s “hard boiled, get it?” The inevitable follow-the-bouncing-ball song is performed. A final delivery sequence solves the weight problem of delivering an elephant by substituting a DC airliner for a stork carrier. And the final gag is a direct steal from “Poor Papa”, reviewed last week, with a papa rabbit, seeing a mass delivery of bunnies coming carried by two storks on a blanket, boarding up and padlocking the chimney and arming the roof with shotgun and cannon.
His Bitter Half (Warner, Daffy Duck, 5/20/50 – I (Friz) Freleng, dir.) – Marriage for greed gets the resounding Warner Brothers treatment. As in “Wanted: No Master”, Daffy answers an object: matrimony want ad of a wealthy widow duck – who happens to be twice Daffy’s size, muscle bound, and speak in a voice huskier than Marjorie Main’s. But all Daffy sees is her ever-present bank book, used as a recurring weapon to keep Daffy in line. Daffy assumes the household chores a la Porky’s Romance, reviewed last week, but gets the added surprise, as in “The Merry Old Soul” and “Wanted: No Master” discussed in the previous article, of a instant family, meeting his bride’s precocious son Wentworth – a fun-loving youth, prone to leaving a trail of destruction and mayhem, as he plays fireman, cowboys and Indians, and even charges on a hobby horse, impersonating Teddy Roosevelt. The Indian game leaves Daffy scalped. A trip to an arcade shooting gallery leads to a gag Freleng would reuses later in Bugs Bunny’s Horse Hare (1960) – Daffy’s shots to impress Wentworth each miss their target, and Wentworth, to add injury to insult, uses a slingshot and pea timed with each shot to plunk the proprietor of the gallery on the back of the head as if hit by a ricochet. After several repeats of this, the owner warns Daffy, “Plunk me again and it’s your last plunk!” Catching on that Wentworth might be the cause, Daffy takes aim, but fakes it, not pulling the trigger, but verbalizing the sounds, “Click. Ding.” The owner is plunked nevertheless. Daffy brightens, and points an accusatory finger at Wentworth, but the owner ignores him entirely and socks him in the face anyway. Fourth of July turns highly explosive. Finally, Daffy draws the line when told to take Wentworth to the zoo. The missus threatens to pluck every feather off his fool carcass if he doesn’t, but Daffy’s resolve remains firm. In one of animation’s only instances of wife desertion (others, such as Betty Boop’s The Bum Bandit (1931) and the “Father, Dear Father” slide show in Mickey Mouse’s The Nifty Nineties (1941), usually resolved themselves), Daffy exits the front door, suitcases in hand, announcing “No one’s gonna tell this little black duck what to do!”. However, we are only seeing him from the chest up. In a surprise “tail away” shot, he marches down the front walkway, plucked pink as a baby on his lower half. Perhaps this is what the title was really referring to!
A Mouse Divided (Warner, Sylvester the Cat, 1/31/53 – I. (Friz) Freling, dir.) follows in the trail of stork epics, introducing what would become the most notable member of its ranks – the nameless Freleng stork who can’t hold his liquor, yet could drink Foster Brooks under the table. This character of course gave Mel Blanc bravura opportunities to utilize his famous “inebriated” voice that he would repeatedly attribute to landing him his first job with Warners as a drunken bull (actually as two anonymous chums of Porky in a bull suit, in Picador Porky (1937), and shortly thereafter used again in Porky’s Party (1938)). For another sterling example of its use, check out the Spike Jones and his City Slickers recording, “Clink, Clink, Another Drink” (Bluebird B-11466-A) (1942), on which he receives name billing, or its counterpart “Soundie” (film made for video jukebox) in which he appears on camera with handlebar moustache.
On his break from his appointed rounds, our delivery bird has been whooping it up at the Stork Club (perhaps carousing with the Schnozzola stork from Baby Bottleneck). As he attempts to deliver his latest bundle, the effects of his off-screen imbibing are apparent, as his flight is punctuated with hiccups. We next see the abode of Mr, and Mrs. (in her only onscreen appearance) Sylvester the Cat (did she at some point become the mother of Sylvester Jr.?). She is at her usual habit of tearfully pressing Sylvester as to why the stork has never brought them the “pitter patter of little feet” – Sylvester’s heard it all before, and sarcastically mimics her under his breath, matching her every word. Outside, the stork leans against a pole, admitting, “Let’s face it. I can’t fly any further.” Spotting Sylvester’s house, he concludes, “This place is as good as any. What’s the difference? A baby’s a baby. It’s the environment that molds ‘em.” Mrs. Sylvester receives the delivery, and even Sylvester becomes curious as to its contents. To their surprise, it’s a baby mouse! Mama reacts lovingly at how “cute” he his, Sylvester only sees him as “delicious”. Bringing in a meat cleaver and a butcher’s block, Sylvester asks the missus, “You’re a gambling woman. What’d’ya take, heads or tails?” Mrs. Sylvester screams and grabs up “junior”, reminding Sylvester s that no matter what, he’s still their son. Sylvester mutters, “A fine thing. I’ve become the father of a breakfast!”
The next day, Mrs. Sylvester chances leaving Sylvester in charge while she runs an errand. Sylvester reverts to form. He fashions a “diaper” out of a lettuce leaf, applies salad oil instead of baby oil, and pepper instead of talcum. Add two slices of bread – instant sandwich. But as he is about to bite, junior pops his head out and calls him “Daddy”. Even the heartless Sylvester melts, and the adoption is complete.
Now enthused about his “parenthood”, Sylvester takes junior in a carriage for his first walk. He returns into view a moment later, pursued by a pack of hungry cats. He darts back into the house and slams the door. Cats station themselves at every doorway, window and chimney of the house. One tries to sneak in a window, but Sylvester slams it shut, narrowly missing the cat’s tail, as the cats yells unheard expletives deleted outside. A fast-talking sales cat demonstrates a vacuum cleaner while sucking up junior in the process (a routine revisited by Freleng to suck up money from Sylvester’s inheritance in the economics short Heir-Conditioned (1955)). Another cat in wig and dress poses as a baby sitter (complete with “her” own record player to practice the jitterbug). A cat disguises as Santa Claus out-of-season for a chimney entrance (met by Sylvester tying a stick of TNT to a balloon) (another sequence reworked with a different ending for Sylvester and Tweety’s Tweet and Sour (1956)); and the whole gang of cats use a battering ram, but run right through the house and out an upper story window. Now, our drunken stork reappears on the roof, mumbling “What a fuss they made at the office. Now I gotta get the mouse to his real parents.” Armed with a fishing pole, he lowers a line into the chimney baited with cheese. Thinking the cats are at it again, Sylvester grabs the line, and is whisked up the chimney. The stork’s perception is still affected by his intoxication – seeing Sylvester, he can only say, “Boy! Did that mouse grow.” In our final scene, we see a mousehole in another home, out of which emerges a stroller much too big for the setting, bearing Sylvester in a baby bonnet, utterly disgusted, and pushed by Mr. and Mrs. Mouse. The Missus turns to her hubby and scolds, “Well! Nothing like this ever happened on my side of the family!”, leading papa to give us a perplexed stare as we iris out.
Freleng’s stork would become a recurring character to similar effect in several episodes to follow: “Goo Goo Goliath” (12/18/54), where the stork again makes his own substitution of destinations when he can’t fly a giant baby to the “top of the beanstalk”, then redelivers the normal baby to a zoo kangaroo; Pappy’s Puppy (Sylvester, 12/17/55) in which the stork appears in an ending cameo, surprisingly sober, to deliver a basket of new arrivals to pappy bulldog after one puppy has already caused Sylvester no end of trouble throughout the cartoon, leading Sylvester to grab a shotgun a la “Poor Papa” and fire shot after shot at the stork in the sky; Apes of Wrath (Bugs Bunny, 4/18/59), a reworking of Gorilla My Dreams (1948) in which stork loses a baby gorilla, then finds a “substitute” by clunking Bugs over the head – climaxed by a surprise payoff at the end when the stork makes another delivery to Bugs himself – of Daffy Duck dressed as a baby, with a head lump identical to Bugs’s when clunked; and the excellent Daffy Duck, Stork Naked (see further below), demonstrating a new way for the stork to get plastered – a toast from every happy couple at every destination -in French champagne, vintage wine, and even Indian “fire water”. The stork just can’t say no, out of politeness, and when asked at one location to “say when” as his glass is filled offscreen, the gurgling sound of effervescence continues for a seemingly endless time until the stork finally mumbles, “When”.
Fathers Are People (Disney, RKO, Goofy, 10/21/51 – Jack Kinney, dir.,) places the Goof (recently redesigned as of “Motor Mania” into an “everyman” and rechistened “George Geef”) into the new field of parenthood. This would of course lead to not only a series of parental adventures theatrically (including Father’s Lion (1952), Father’s Day Off (1953), Father’s Weekend (1953), and Aquamania (1961), but a newly-redesigned son Max for a television series (Goof Troop), a theatrical feature, A Goofy Movie (1995), and a direct-to-video sequel (An Extremely Goofy Movie (2000)). Mostly standard parental mishaps in this one (not holding a candle to Wentworth’s pranks in His Bitter Half), but an interesting, somewhat cautionary ending. Goof (or Geef) has reached his limit on parental disobedience, and appears ready to lay down some corporal punishment, but is surprised by a cheery goodnight kiss from his pajamaed offspring, as he jumps into bed. Goof’s anger melts away, as he observes his sleeping son. “Well whatta you know. Look at that”, he observes. Quietly leaving the bedroom, he talks to himself. “Kids. They’re wonderful. Ahhhh, wish I had a million of ‘em.” His wife (face never seen throughout this and the series) calls him, and asks, “How does this look?” She holds up knitting needles and a newly-crafted miniature sweater. Goofy, assuming the equivalent of baby booties, emits a panicked gasp. But the worries are imagined, as the wife places the creation upon the family dog (odd choice of pets, as Goofy’s a dog too!). Goof settles into an easy chair with a broad sigh of relief, and the camera slowly irises out. Old moral: Be careful what you wish for – you might get it. (Footnote: Goof’s dialog is not provided in the original by Pinto Colvig, but reputedly by a Bob Jackman, in a distinctly higher, more normal voice. Pinto was hired back in the television era to re-record most if not all of the dialog for this film for the Disneyland compilation, “Goofy’s Salute to Father”. If you can find it, the Colvig read is preferable.)
Hare Trimmed (Warner, 6/20/53 – I. (Friz) Freleng, dir.) , and Rabbit of Seville (12/16/50) and Bugs’ Bonnets (1/14/56) (both directed by Chuck Jones), each present Bugs Bunny in his favorite mode of foolery – dressing in drag – proving that not all cartoon marriages need be heterosexual. Hare Trimmed reprises the old “marriage for greed” theme from Wanted: No Master as Yosemite Sam reads from a community bulletin board of a local widow’s large inheritance (Granny), and decides to go a-courtin’. Bugs, in his “good deed for the day”, decides to intercept the proposal. While Yosemite attempts to woo, Bugs arrives disguised as a Charles Boyer-type French suitor also intent on Granny’s hand. In the best line of the script, Granny girlishly leads the two on a merry chase, asiding to the audience “Twenty years, nothing. And then it all piles up in one day!” Bugs challenges Yosemite to a pistol duel, but counts off an unusually large number of paces, leaving Yosemite in the middle of a street, to be run down by a crosstown bus. Bugs consults his watch and says “Yup. She’s right on time!” Changing gears, Bugs next disguises as Granny, announcing he (she?)’s willing to elope. Insisting on taking a few things, he clobbers Yosemite with item after heavy item thrown out the window.
Yosemite complains that she’s taking everything “but the kitchen sink” – and is promptly clobbered with that. They finally reach the altar, Bugs in bridal veil. But his tail protrudes from under the gown (a lift from similar gag in “Mississippi Hare” (2/26/49)), and a spooked Yosemite chickens out and runs from the chapel. Bugs feigns girlish weeping, stating “Always a bridesmaid but never a bride!” (reference to an old Listerine slogan), and we iris out. Rabbit of Seville and Bugs’ Bonnets feature the further unlikely wedlock of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. In “Seville”, amidst a performance of the famous “Barber” opera, Bugs interrupts a chase by presenting Elmer with flowers, candy, and an engagement ring. His feminine side kicking in, Elmer zips out for a costume change, and returns in a wedding veil. Bugs matches him with a tuxedo, and a minister appears from nowhere to perform a quick ceremony. For a honeymoon, Bugs runs up staircases to the highest rafters of the theater, finds a backdrop prop door, and carries Elmer across the threshold to drop him to the stage below, where a large cake waits for the next performance, marked in icing, “Marriage of Figaro”, into which he submerges. Bugs’ Bonnets, themed on the premise that clothes make the man – and the personality, has a truckful of hats strewn by accident over the countryside, landing at various intervals upon the duo’s heads and transforming their personalities. The last hat landing on Elmer is a wedding veil, causing him to propose to Bugs. A top hat lands on Bugs, causing him to accept the proposal. This time, it’s not a stage performance, as Bugs is next seen carrying the “bride” toward a honeymoon cottage. Bugs tells the audience (in similar fashion to a curtain line from Mississippi Hare), “You know, I always thinks it helps a picture to have a romantic ending.”
Foghorn Leghorn (often with the help of Miss (or is it Mrs.) Prissy) provides a quartet of titles to the mildly-cautionary side of this cartoon trail, all directed by Robert McKimson. Lovelorn Leghorn (9/6/51) demonstrates the husband-hunting techniques of Miss Prissy (after having read the book, “Live Alone and Hate It”), as she exits the henhouse armed with rolling pin to “clunk” her prospect on the head with. Barnyard Dawg ultimately gets into the act, providing guidelines for Prissy to build a husband-trap – an elaborate Rube Goldberg contraption ending with a bowling ball dropped through a barrel onto Foghorn’s head. Prissy returns home with a large picnic basket, as the hens ask her “What have you got in the basket, dearie – a husband?” Out pops the head of Foghorn, still dazed from the blow, who responds, “Yeh—I say, Yesssss!”
Of Rice and Hen (11/14/53) reprises Lovelorn Leghorn, with Prissy again on the prowl, using new techniques, including dancing the Fandango. Foggy describes her as reminding him of the “highway between Fort Worth and Dallas – no curves!” A feast for Foghorn is brushed off (although Foghorn still eats it) with his announcement that the way to his heart through his stomach “has a detour sign.” Barnyard Dawg again has to get into the act, a little more proactively. Donning a rooster suit, he plays a rival suitor, for which Prissy uncharacteristically passes Foghorn by. Driven by professional jealousy, Foghorn challenges his rival to fisticuffs, and Dawg (in unusual generosity) takes some socks and is K.O.’d by Foggy. Foggy drags off Prissy, announcing that no one is going to “beat his time”. An on-camera wedding ceremony pronounces them “rooster and hen”. Foggy shouts, “I won! I won!”. Prissy responds with her typical “Yeesss!” Finally, dawn breaks – one good look at her face, and Foggy confides in the audience, “Hey! There musta been some way I coulda lost!”, slapping his own face in disgust.
Little Boy Boo (6/5/54) demonstrates another instance of seeking marriage for the wrong reasons. Foghorn covets Prissy’s neat-as-a-pin henhouse, while his own dilapidated shack of a roost lets in all the winter air, Announcing that he needs her “love to keep him warm” (quote to a popular song standard of the day, then recently revived by Les Brown and his Band or Renown), he is ready to settle in, but Prissy announces that she must be sure he’ll get along with her son – first appearance or recurring braniac, Egghead Jr. (So if Prissy was having so much trouble bagging a husband in the last episode, who was the other lucky fellow?) As with all encounters between Foghorn and Egghead, Foggy is whipped both mentally and physically by the meeting – including when he meddles with junior’s chemical set, producing a massive explosion. The last scene has interior shot of Prissy’s coop as she answers a knock at the door. Foghorn is heard outside, and pushes in the door junior, announcing that the deal’s off. Prissy gently protests, “But you said you needed my love to keep you warm.” Outside, Foggy, wrapped head to toe in surgical gauze, replies, “Madam, I’ve got my bandages to keep me warm!”, and hobbles off.
Banty Raids (Warner, 6/29/63), presents Foghorn’s last theatrical from Termite Terrace. In an unusual situation for Foggy, a small but wiry rival rooster with a hip beatnik personality invades his barnyard and pursues all the womenfolk. Foghorn as usual gets the short end of every attempt to evict him. Barnyard Dawg again takes sides against Foggy, promising the new rooster a dream girl. With an elaborate Rube Goldberg style mechanized contraption, Dawg captures Foggy, binds his hands and beak, slips a dress, makeup and wig on him, and passes him off as a bride for the little beatnik (shades of Bugs Bunny!)- and also poses as a preacher to perform the ceremony himself! As he is being carried off (presumably to a honeymoon coop), Foggy manages to mumble through the ropes on his beak, “But I’m a rooster!” Lifting famous line from Joe E. Brown in Some Like It Hot (1959), the beatnik replies, “Like, we can’t all be perfect.”
Lambert, the Sheepish Lion (Disney, RKO, 2/6/52 – Jack Hannah, dir.) – Sterling Holloway returns as the stork from Dumbo – who joins the ranks of stork misdeliveries by a bookkeeping error, finding in a large bundle of baby sheep intended to satisfy a flock one odd stray – a baby lion, mixed into the delivery paperwork because his name is “Lambert”. The stork attempts in rhyme to fix the “slight bungle” by taking “that vicious little brute and drop him in the jungle”, but a mother sheep, who’s developed an attachment to the little guy as no real lamb was delivered to her, butts the stork squarely in the posterior. Holloway (who also serves as narrator for the remainder of the film), delivers in nicely flustered fashion his exit line: “All right. Let her have it. Let her have anything she wants, for goodness sake! I’m only a delivery service. That’s all.” The remainder of the story follows in similar fashion to “The Stork’s Mistake”, reviewed last week, as Lambert outgrows his misfit status to become guardian of the flock. Nominated for an Academy award.
Donald’s Diary (Disney, RKO, Donald Duck, 3/5/54 – Jack Kinney, dir,), offers further valuable lessons in spouse entrapment. Set for no apparent reason in picturesque San Francisco, Daisy Duck (with a new and unusually seductive voice), lays various man-traps for the nonchalant handsome Donald (oblivious to her efforts, and narrating in thought voice in the same Ronald Coleman impersonation (Leslie Denison) introduced years earlier in Donald’s Double Trouble (1946)). She pretends to be downing in a pond, only two inches deep. Faints in his pathway (and is merely stepped over). Well, enough of the subtlety. She catches his feet in a snare trap, and Donald finally takes notice. He is invited to meet the family (a mom who’s twin to Whistler’s mother, a nutty-eyed dad who cuts out paper dolls, and Huey, Dewey and Louie cameoing as her “brothers”). Mom wastes no time, inquiring as to his name, then looking him up in Dun and Bradstreet. Eventually, Donald buys a ring and arrives to propose. Daisy keeps him waiting downstairs as she showers, giving time for papa to set up a camera tripod behind a curtain, and mom to set in place a recording gramophone, so they have all the evidence tthey’ll need for any breach-of-promise lawsuit. Donald’s watch-hand goes round and round – until Donald falls asleep from the waiting. Returning to the “Mickey’s Nightmare” trope, Donald dreams their wedding ceremony.
At the church, as they run down the stairs to shoes and rice, half the local sailor fleet waves a sad, “Goodbye, Daisy” on one side. In the car, Daisy is observed as having a high sense of”value”, as she disapprovingly notes under a jeweler’s glass the “gold” of her wedding ring already turning green. Their married life includes Donald’s shrieks at first seeing Daisy in curlers in the morning, dinners burnt to a crisp, visits from the family that clean out the food as fast as “Wanted: No Master”, and Daisy ordering him to take out the garbage just as he tries to settle down. He is seen locked in stocks in the kitchen while scrubbing dishes. His narration states, “I was losing my identity. I was becoming – a robot!” On cue, a mechanical key sprouts from his back. A nightmare montage, following in the tradition of Der Fuehrer’s Face (1943) and Dumbo’s Pink Elephants: number follows, with Donald mechanically facing chore after chore, until the scene explodes. The camera liquidly dissolves to the real world, with Daisy coaxing him to wake up. Without a word of explanation to her, Donald lets out a panicked “WAAAAK!!!”, and crashes out the front door without opening it, leaving his silhouette for a hole. The last scene has Donald making a final entry in his diary at an undisclosed location: “Though I was born when I kissed her, I died when we parted.” A bugle call is heard offscreen, and Donald responds, concluding the thought, “But I live for a little while!” He assumes his post – as sentry of a Foreign Legion outpost!
A Fine-Feathered Frenzy (Univesal/Lantz, Woody Woodpecker, 10/25/54- Don Patterson, dir.) Woody’s not often known as the romantic kind in the theatrical days (and had only met (and lost) Winnie the preceding month), but follows in the shoes of Popeye’s “For Better or Worser”, reviewed last week, in seeking marriage for food, answering an “object: matrimony” want ad promising a “Gorgeous Gal, filthy rich, plenty of food”, and even providing a paper flap to house the pocket change to call her up. The advertised female of course turns out to be an oversized old crow. But Woody keeps getting lured in by trails of food aromas, and fried chickens dragged across the floor on a string. He gets hold of his senses just enough to lead the crow on a wild chase, climaxing in diving in the ocean (using the outline of the state of Florida for a diving board) and swimming to a desert island. But just as Woody settles in for a life of isolated peace, another passing chicken on a string is dragged across the sand, drawing Woody to the shoreline, where it disappears into the hatch of a submarine. Snapping out of his trance, Woody shouts, “Oh, no”, and is dragged by the crow’s hand into the submarine. A moment later, a justice of the peace emerges from the hatch, planting a “Just Married” sign on its bridge, and departs to the island. The submarine departs, with a trail of tin cans tied to its periscope. (As Woody didn’t seem the marrying kind, I often wished they’d kept the ending here enigmatic, cutting out the justice of the peace shot, and just having the submarine depart with the tin cans – hoping that Woody might somehow manage an escape – someday.)
Stork Naked (Warner, Daffy Duck, 2/26/55, Friz Freleng, dir.) The cycle of stork cartoons returns to its origins, mimicking the second half of Poor Papa. This time it’s Daffy on the verge of further prospective parenthood, as he finds yet another wife (“Daphne”) knitting a sweater which, when he tries it on, fits him like it was crushing him like a boa constrictor. As Daphne reveals it’s not for him, but for their new “little visitor”, Daffy vows to give the stork a reception he won’t forget. We next see the house, militarized to the teeth, complete with cannons and radar on the roof, bear traps in the bushes, trampoline in the fireplace, guillotine in a doorway, and crocodile pit in the basement. Somehow, through all of this, Freleng’s drunken stork has already penetrated the defenses, carrying an egg, and Daffy spends several minutes attempting to evict him, including shooting him out of a cannon, bouncing him out on the trampoline, catapulting him on a giant rubber band stretched over the back doorway, and the old “bum’s rush” (during which Daffy missteps on a throw rug he’s placed over a hole leading to the crocodile pit, with the expected results). The stork climbs up a telephone pole and out on a wire. Daffy climbs the pole, armed with an axe, and cuts the wire – only to find it was the only thing holding up the pole. The pole falls to earth, landing Daffy squarely through the exterior cellar door, and right back to the crocodiles. Two feet are meanwhile popping out of the egg, and the stork realizes the delivery must be completed. Leaving the egg standing on its own feet at the front door, the stork knocks on the door and then runs. As Daffy opens up, attempting to greet the stork with a rifle shot at point blank range, he finds no one but the egg, which runs into the house between his legs. Daffy gives chase, only to follow through the doorway where he had rigged the guillotine. It falls, removing all feathers from Daffy’s backside, which Daffy reveals as he turns to look back at the guillotine and remarks, “I forgot about that silly thing!” (This gag would be catalogued and reused again in Freleng’s Sylvester and Speedy Gonzales installment, Here Today, Gone Tamale (8/29/59) .) Daffy finally catches the egg, but it hatches. To both our and Daffy’s surprise, Freleng pulls a plot twist – it’s not a duck, but a baby version of the delivery stork, hat and all! Daffy spreads a sinister smile as he realizes he may be in the clear, and plots his revenge. In the final shot, Daffy is seen flying back in the direction the stork came from, carrying the baby stork in a bundle hanging from his beak. Daffy gloats aloud, “For once, that stork’s gonna get a dose of his own medicine!”
Rocket Bye Baby (Warner, 8/4/56 – Chuck Jones, dir.) – In a clever “space-age” variant on the themes above, another baby misdelivery takes place, not via stork, but by “cosmic disturbance” when Mars and Earth pass close in their orbits. A martian baby is delivered to earth parents, and (never seen on camera), vice-versa. Mishaps ensue, as a neighbor’s first view of the baby (green, with antennae) has her pause, blow a pitch pipe for key, and scream. Junior’s superior I.Q. demonstrates itself, as papa comes home to find baby doing his income tax, spelling the equation for the Einstein theory on his set of blocks, and drawing blueprints respectively titled “How to Build a Better Mousetrap” and “How to Build a Better Mouse”. As the parents decide to distract him with TV, the baby observes a prize offer on the “Captain Schmittio” (wordplay on real TV series, “Captain Video”) show of a toy spaceship. Grabbing ruler and measuring tools, baby takes down the dimensions of the ship from the screen, and commences building his own duplicate model. Meanwhile, a drone rocket rings the front doorbell and delivers a galactic telegram from Mars (from “Sir U. Tan” – wordplay on “Serutan”, a laxative), announcing that the couple’s real baby, named “Yob” (backwards for “Boy”) is on Mars, and that theirs is a Martian baby named “Mot” (“Tom” backwards). The message announces an exchange will be arranged, but to guard the Martian child carefully. At this moment, Mot completes his saucer project, which is a working model, and flies out the window. Papa gives chase. Baby flies into the city, and enters a tall building. Inside, a lecturer warns of foolish anxieties that cause people to dream up flying saucers and little green men. His sarcastic scoffs are interrupted by a fly-by of Mot in front of the podium, reducing the lecturer’s laughter to helpless wails. Mot flies out an upper story window, and dad just misses grabbing him, falling out the window toward the pavement. As he looks up, he sees a large spacecraft appear, and Mot flies to and joins the mother ship, which begins to fly away instead of offering assistance. Papa yells, “Yob! Yob! Where’s my Yob!” as he falls helplessly toward inevitable oblivion. The scene dissloves to the P.A. system of a hospital waiting room, announcing “Mr. Wilbur…You may see your baby now.” Papa awakes in a waiting room chair, and finds a science fiction magazine in his hands he was reading as he fell asleep. He runs to the delivery room window, and in total relief sees a perfectly normal baby. However, the camera closes in for a final shot upon the baby’s wrist bracelet, with beads reading “Yob”.
Blue Cat Blues (MGM, Tom and Jerry, 11/16/56 – William Hanna/Joseph Barbera, dir.), The cat and mouse had many a romantic encounter with the opposite gender (The Zoot Cat (1944), Springtime For Thomas (1946), Casanova Cat (1951), and Smitten Kitten (1952), to name a few). But this was the only episode to get marital. While Tom sits on a railroad track with bloodshot eyes and zoned-out cognizance, Jerry, in a “thought-narration” voice-over provided by Paul Frees, tells the tale of woe of Tom’s latest romance. The duo’s “friendship” is disrupted when a slinky but cold-dispositioned female cat walks into the neighborhood. Tom is drawn like a magnet to her – literally – and is mere “putty in her hands”, as she remolds his face to look like a donkey. Tom attempts to woo, but as Jerry narrates, has “a rival – Mr. Butch”, who, unlike the alley cat he usually is, watches from a penthouse and exhales smoke from a cigarette shaped in a dollar-sign cloud. Butch outdoes Tom at every turn, matching Tom’s handpicked bouquet of posies with a roomful of elaborate Florist-bought displays, outdoing the microscopic stone of Tom’s diamond ring with a massive jewel so bright they have to wear welder’s goggles to look at it (reworking of similar gag in Popeye’s “Aladdin” 2-reeler of 1939), countering Tom’s bottle of perfume with two petroleum tanker trucks full, and finally crushing a jalopy Model-T Tom signed over “One Arm” and “One Leg” for, with Butch’s own new “mile long” sports car (fresh from the Tex Avery auto shop that regularly provided transportation for Avery’s wolf). Tom loses all hope, starts “drinking” (his eyes morphing to fuel gages reading “Full”, in a lifted gag from T&J’s Part Time Pal (1947)), and the next step is “the gutter”, literally, as Jerry narrowly saves Tom from floating down a stork drain. The crowning blow arrives in the form of a gutter splash from a passing car, including Butch and the girlfriend with sign reading “Just Married”. We dissolve back to Tom on the railroad track, awaiting his fate. Jerry concludes that it’s better this way, and sympathizes that it’s too bad Tom didn’t have a girlfriend like Jerry’s, who only loves him with her “true blue, ever-loving heart”. Suddenly, Jerry is doused by a splash, as a wind-up mouse-sized auto passes, with his girlfriend, a new boyfriend, and a “Just Married” sign. In the finale, Jerry approaches Tom, bearing the same blood-shot and hopeless countenance as the cat, and Tom sympathetically moves over to make room for Jerry to sit beside him. The two just wait, as we hear the distant wail of a train whistle, and the camera slowly fades out. Apparent Moral: Money buys happiness.
Nearly-Weds (Paramount, Popeye, 2/8/57 – Seymour Kneitel, dir.), presents Popeye’s last theatrical matrimonial escapade. Again proposing to Olive, he is accepted. Bluto (who arrived too late), feigns graciously bowing out to the best man winning, but in fact lurks around Popeye’s house as he prepares for the wedding, sabotaging all of Popeye’s efforts to dress, shave, etc., until he looks a wreck. Arriving at Olive’s door the best he can, dressed in a barrel, Olive, upon seeing him, is totally humiliated, and announces she would never marry him. Bluto pops in at this crucial moment in a full dress tuxedo, and pops the question, catching Olive on the rebound. They proceed to the chapel – but Popeye still has a trick up his sleeve. At the chapel, a whiskered Justice of the Peace asks the usual question in an unusually lengthy way: “Do you promise you will…wash the windows, paint the house, mop the floor, obey your spouse, do the laundry, feed the cat, mow the lawn, and stuff like that, give up smokin’, never chew, pay your bills before they’re due, never argue, never roam, spend each single night at home?” Bluto cringes and has had enough. “NO! That’s not for me!”, and crashes out through the wall, Olive in pursuit, shouting, “Come back, you coward.” The Justice removes glasses and whiskers – it’s Popeye, who laughs a hearty laugh for the fade out.
Daddy’s Little Darling (Fox/Terrytoon, Dimwit, 4/1/57 – Connir Rasinski, dir,) – By now, Dimwit has spun-off from Heckle and Jeckle into a miniseries of episodes plagiarizing Goofy’s “How To” films, and in this one, his fatherhood episodes – but here focusing on the toddler stage (a period the Goofys quickly passed by). Standard parenting gags of feeding, diapering, etc., lead to the usual chaos. In another direct lift from Oswald’s Poor Papa, Dimwit’s last scene is on the roof, armed with shotgun, shooting at a row of storks overhead like a shooting gallery.
Stork Raving Mad (Paramount/Famous, Novetoon, 10/3/59, Seymour Kneitel, dir,) Spinning off loosely from the idea of a baby’s night-on-the-town from the earlier The Baby Sitter, discussed above, a baby scheduled for stork delivery, faced with the prospect of a life of unwelcome coddling, bath times, and castor oil, announces to the stork in mid-flight that he wants a chance to live it up first. He parachutes to earth with the stork’s bundle fabric, and raids a malt shop, takes in a World Series game, rides the “Dip of Death” roller coaster, and even pilots a speedboat, dragging the stork in tow as an unwilling water-skier. When a crash of the boat finally catapults the two to their intended delivery destination, the parents question, “Where’s the other one?”, stating that they ordered twins. The baby tells the stork that his brother is “just like me” – enough for the stork to lapse into fits.
The Plot Sickens (Paramount/Famous, Modern Madcap, 12/1/61 – Seymour Kneitel, dir., Irving Spector, story.) – Much has been written about this marital misadventure, both on Cartoon Brew blogs and the “Spectorphile” webpage devoted to Irv Spector’s work, so I won’t belabor it much – except for some plot summary as the video seems to have been pulled from the internet (but is available on DVD from Garage Sale page, this website). A seemingly mild-mannered, totally henpecked husband (voiced by Eddie Lawrence, using his “Shorty” voice from the concurrent “Swifty and Shorty” cartoons), named “Myron” – an obvious poke at mild-mannered Casper director Myron Waldman – washes the dishes each night while his large and ugly wife (somewhat similar in dimensions to Daffy’s spouse in “His Bitter Half”) laughs it up in front of the TV set (watching Westerns and waiting for someone to die) and drinks beer. After the dishes, he is permitted to sit in a chair behind her sofa and stare each night at the back of her head. He fantasizes to pass the time, hoping by magic to make her disappear. But as she gives him marching orders “get on the ball” to take out the trash, he knows magic isn’t the real answer – something stronger is needed. Claiming to the audience that he just wants to see if he has the nerve to buy the stuff, he obtains a box of bug poison from a nursery. The salesman (in Lawrence’s “Swifty” voice), warns him the stuff has enough arsenic to knock over an elephant.
Just to make sure (animal lovers, brace yourself), he tests it out on the real thing at the zoo, and the elephant instantly keels over. But a dose in the little woman’s beer produces nothing but a burp. Next, observing his wife’s affinity in summer to move the TV outside and watch it from a plastic wading pool, our little man ships in an alligator and releases it into the pool before she comes out – however, the wife sits down squarely on the alligator’s head – and drowns it (that’s two cases for the SPCA), leaving hubby to dispose of the limp remains in a garbage can. When the car develops engine trouble, hubby installs a hand grenade to give it a “quick start”. But wife insists he ride along too. The explosion leaves her virtually untouched, but sends a charred hubby flying “over Jersey”. He spends three months in traction in the hospital, and falls in love with a much prettier nurse. Deciding on his release from care that enough is enough, that night he produces in the living room from under a slipcover a machine gun. The wife finally catches on, and runs for the hills, out of his life forever – “She was yellow”, narrates Myron. Though legalities of obtaining divorce are never discussed, Myron somehow weds the nurse. However, on her arrival to his home, she reverts to true form – plants herself in front of the TV, demands a beer, and commands him to move “on the ball”. It’s the same old story again. The moral (this is a moral?) seems to be, be satisfied with what you’ve got – they’re all the same.
Honey’s Money (Warner, Yosemite Sam (solo), 9/1/62 – Friz Freleng, dir.). – In his only solo appearance, Yosemite Sam repeats his marrying for money theme from “Hare Trimmed”, even directly lifting dialog from the former film’s opening as he goes courting a rich widow. The remainder of the film also has Freleng lifting directly from himself, shifting to a full reworking of the script from His Bitter Half, substituting in place of Mama Duck and Wentworth two of the most grotesque humanoid characters Freleng ever created. The widow looks like she’s been into Freleng’s Jekyll and Hyde potion from Hyde and Hare (1955) and Hyde and Go Tweet (1960), and her son roughly resembles Frankenstein’s monster (though unnervingly voiced just like an average kid). The film doesn’t work nearly as well as its predecessors, particularly in that the monster son doesn’t seem genuinely chaotic or sadistic like Wentworth, but almost draws sympathy as Yosemite tries various evil plans to rid himself of him (including a downright awful-to-show-to-kids sequence of encouraging the kid to chase a ball into a heavily-trafficked street – only made funny in the previous, less realistic setting of a barnyard when Foghorn Leghorn used the same gag to rid himself of a newly-hatched rival rooster in “A Broken Leghorn” (1959)). Like His Bitter Half, Yosemite ends the picture by walking out with his baggage (this time not under the threat of being plucked), making it halfway up the street, but with a different ending. Borrowing loosely from a Woody Woodpecker line in Bedtime Bedlam (1955), Yosemite mutters that after all, is a million dollars really worth it? Answering his own question,“Yeeessss!”, he runs back to house, announcing that Sammy boy has come home. Freleng didn’t learn his lesson to leave this material alone in the original form, and had this cartoon remade again at his own studio for Roland and Ratfink as the only Ratfink solo, A Taste of Money (UA, 6/24/70, Art Davis, dir.)
Without going into detail, four late “matchmaker” cartoons deserve honorable mention: three one-shots from Paramount, L’Amour the Merrier (1957), La Petite Parade (1959), and Galaxia (1960) (with an outer-space client yet), and one from Terrytoons, Trapeze, Pleeze (1960), with Heckle and Jeckle trying to sign circus performer Dimwit to a matrimonial contract with an ugly hippo. As with their predecessor, For Better of Worser, discussed last week, the overall theme is that you don’t always get what you pay for.
While cautionary marriage tales have not remained in much vogue in recent years, the stork lives on. Two recent features have borrowed from our trail: Storks (Warner, 2016), where the usual production-line is temporarily shut down in favor of the more-lucrative business of running a FedEx style express delivery service, but ultimately, even modernization can’t stay our feathered heroes from their “appointed rounds”; and The Boss Baby (Dreamworks, 2017), utilizing a traditional conveyor-belt production line for babies, set to the tune of Fred Astaire’s “Cheek to Cheek”).
Now for the pop quiz I promised last week.
The question: How many of the classic animated stars of the theatrical cartoon shorts “tied the knot” in actual (not dreamed) wedlock at some point in their career?
My findings are as follows:
Mickey Mouse/Minnie Mouse (as Cratchit Family in “Mickey’s Christmas Carol”)
Donald Duck/Daisy Duck (“How to Have an Accident at Work”)
Porky Pig/Petunia Pig (also as Cratchit Family in “Bugs Bunny’s Christmas Carol”. Porky also appears with a daughter in both “Golddiggers of ‘49″ and “My Generation G…G…Gap”)
Popeye/Olive Oyl (Hanna-Barbera’s “Popeye & Son” TV series. Bluto was married here too.)
Betty Boop/Bimbo (“The Bum Bandit”)
Daffy Duck (Animation’s playboy. He’s been married since “Wise Quacks” (1939). Married roles followed with “The Henpecked Duck”, The Stupid Cupid”, “His Bitter Half”, Stork Naked”, and “Quackodile Tears” – all with different spouses! This in spite of the fact that Porky denied his divorce decree in “The Henpecked Duck”. And it still didn’t stop him from flirting with an Indian princess in “The Daffy Duckaroo”, a hen in “The Stupid Cupid”, the fair Melissa in “The Scarlet Pumpernickel”, a dizzy beach beauty in “Muscle Tussle”, a film noir femme fatale in “The Super Snooper”, a girl Friday in “Boston Quackie”, and a demon-possessed she-duck in “The Duxorcist”. Also guilty of wife desertion in “His Bitter Half.” Wow!)
Goofy (nearly every cartoon since “Fathers are People”)
Bugs Bunny (“Hold the Lion, Please” and “A Feather In His Hare”)
Foghorn Leghorn (“The Egg-Cited Rooster” and “Of Rice and Hen” (to Miss Prissy), plus suggestion of marriage to Prissy in “Lovelorn Leghorn”. He and Barnyard Dawg have also been married for a long time in “Feather Bluster”, where they both have grandsons!)
Woody Woodpecker (“A Fine Feathered Frenzy”. Also seen as his prehistoric ancestor married to Winnie in “International Woodpecker”.)
Sylvester the Cat (“A Mouse Divided”, “Goldimouse and the Three Cats”, “Cat’s Paw”, “Birds of a Father”, Claws In the Lease”, and innumerable episodes with Sylvester Jr. and Hippity Hopper.)
Elmer Fudd (“Don’t Axe Me”)
Droopy (“Homesteader Droopy”. Also possibly “One Droopy Knight”.)
Tex Avery’s Wolf (A secret ceremony, presided over only by Avery himself in caricature, in the original uncensored unissued version of “Red Hot Riding Hood”.)
Katnip (“Felineous Assault”)
Mighty Mouse (one episode of Ralph Bakshi’s “Mighty Mouse – The New Adventures” series, to Pearl Pureheart. Also suggestion of an impending wedding at end of “Aladdin’s Lamp” to a princess.)
Krazy Kat (“Sleepy Holler”, “Wedding Bells”, among those known)
Felix the Cat (Frequently……”Felix Woos Whoopee” and others too numerous to mention).
Cubby Bear (“Goode Knight”)
Farmer Al Falfa (“Farmer Al Falfa’s Ape Girl”)
Yippy (Scrappy’s Dog) (“Yelp Wanted”, where “she” has puppies!)
L’il Abner (only in the comics)
Count Screwloose (“Wanted: No Master”)
Charlie Horse (“It’s a Grand Old Nag”)
Willie Whopper (possibly married according to primitive law, in “The Caveman”)
Deputy Dawg (“Home Cookin’”)
Pluto (“Pluto’s Quin-Puplets”. This, of course, never stopped him from wooing Dinah in later years.)
Tasmanian Devil (“Bedeviled Rabbit” and “Devil May Hare” (as Bugs pronounces them “Devil and Devilish”))
Pepe Le Pew (“Odor-able Kitty”)
Yosemite Sam (“Honey’s Money”)
Sidney the Elephant (“Sidney’s Family Tree”)
Dimwit (“Daddy’s Little Darling”)
Butch (tough cat from Tom and Jerry – in “Blue Cat Blues”, above)
Egghead (“Johnny Smith and Poker-Huntas”)
Peg Leg Pete (aka Black Pete) (all episodes of “Goof Troop” TV series)
Road Runner (only in the comics, where he had four look-alike sons. Perhaps they had to keep the identity of his wife secret. Could she have been named, “Street Walker”?)
Pink Panther (“Pink Panther & Sons” tv series)
The Blue Racer (“Hiss and Hers”)
Crazy-Legs Crane (“Aches and Snakes” – with a verbal nod to planned parenthood!)
Ratfink (of Roland and Ratfink) (“A Taste of Money”)
Superman (various recent DVD incarnations)
Spike of Tom and Jerry (ever since the arrival of Tyke in “Love That Pup”)
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (“Poor Papa”, “Five and Dime”)
Not counting Andrew P. Panda (Andy’s Pop), The Captain and the Kids, Mutt and Jeff, The Little King, MGM’s and Warner’s Three Bears, the parents of the Terry Bears, and The Beary Family, who were all married in the first place.
Award for longest dating relationship without a proposal goes to Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar – they’ve been dating continuously since The Shindig (1930), but Horace still hasn’t popped the question. Of course, Bosko’s heart may still secretly belong to Honey, and Buddy’s to Cookie – but those relationships broke up long ago.
Take heart, ladies. This still leaves lots of eligible bachelors who have demonstrated their eye for women in the following titles: Heckle and Jeckle (“Rival Romeos”, “King Tut’s Tomb”), Barney Bear (“The Unwelcome Guest”), the Goofy Gophers (“The Goofy Gophers”), Quincy Magoo (“Magoo’s Young Manhood” and others), Tweetie Pie (“Bad Ol’ Putty Tat”), Screwy Squirrel (“Big Heel-Watha”), Herman the Mouse (“Of Mice and Magic”), Fox and Crow (“The Dream Kids”, “Ku-Ku Nuts”, “The Egg Yegg”, “Slay It With Flowers”), Little Roquefort (“Three Is a Crowd”), Ko-Ko the Clown (“Ko-Ko’s Courtship”), Chilly Willy (“Polar Pests”), Andy Panda (“Scrappy Birthday”), Oil Can Harry (every episode), Wiffle Piffle (“Whoops! I’m a Cowboy”), Filp the Frog (“Room Runners”, “The Office Boy”, and “Funny Face”, to name a few), Tom and Jerry (in “Springtime for Thomas” and many others), Spike/Butch (Droopy’s pal) (“Wags to Riches”, “Droopy’s Good Deed”, “The Chump Champ”, “Mutts About Racing”), Casper (“To Boo or Not To Boo”), Chip ‘n’ Dale (“Two Chips and a Miss”), Gandy Goose and Sourpuss (“Gandy’s Dream Girl” “The Frog and the Princess”, “It Must Be Love”, “The Owl and the Pussycat” “The Torrid Toreador”, among others), Clint Clobber (“Springtime for Clobber”), Flippy the canary (“Silent Tweetment”), Beaky Buzzard (“Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid”), Speedy Gonzales (a “chick inspector” in almost every cartoon), Henery Hawk (reads Esquire Magazine in “Walky Talky Hawky”), and Wile E. Coyote (almost married, until his “bride” exploded in “Operation: Rabbit”).
And for the boys? Well……Red Hot Riding Hood still isn’t spoken for!