April 25, 2024 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Homer Pigeon in “Pigeon Holed” (1956)

It’s the last week of classes here at the art college I teach, so things are a little short this week!

In quick Thunderbean news:

VERY briefly: Dave and Becky are continuing to work on getting the batch of special discs shipped, and I’m putting the finishing touches on Mid Century Modern 3. Luke is working on Felix and the Goose that Layed the Golden Egg on Friday and Devon is about to start on Bold King Cole. I’m incredibly excited to get Rainbow Parades 2 all the way though — and love the beautiful material.

I think the thing I like best about Lantz cartoons in the 50s is that people have often categorized them as one thing, and, in reality, if you really watch a bunch of them (and you really love cartoons), they are another – they are really pretty good.

I feel that Alex Lovy, as director of this film, is influenced by Tex Avery’s tenure at the studio, and it’s for the better in this entry, especially the timing near the end. The story and direction work never really reaches the level it needs to in order to make it a great cartoon, but you can see the attempt. It’s helped along nicely by animation by Verne Harding, Don Patterson and Ray Abrams.

Homer the Pigeon goes Mr. Magoo in this cartoon while looking for an eye doctor, leading him by accident to joining up for the air corps, with the expected series of gags to follow. Sadly, the gag timing and humor never really reach Avery levels, but the film’s overall direction and feel really attempt to go that direction. One especially gross gag involves Homer thinking the surgery doors at the hospital are a pair of glasses. He’s hauled back out, green, with a sign on him that says ‘Opened By Mistake’. The ending of the film is less developed, but you can see what Avery would have done with the same gag since some of his films have a similar sort of ending.

Here’s a scan of the film from a nice old 35mm IB Technicolor print. I’ve kept the soundtrack showing for your technical enjoyment :).

Have a great week everyone!


  • The most amusing thing about this cartoon is the Lantz studio in-joke at the beginning, with the pigeonholes labelled for “Alex”, “Homer”, and “Paul”. Otherwise, meh. But I agree that there are some very good Lantz cartoons from the 1950s, and this is certainly a beautiful-looking print, which always helps.

  • I theorize that most of Lovy’s 1950s cartoons, particularly the Sam and Maggie series, were originally developed for Avery and Lovy took them over after he left. Certainly, Avery’s brief stay influenced at least some Lantz employees, resulting in a brief jump in quality before sinking back to the mediocrity of Paul J. Smith.

    • There is some truth behind your theory. Three of Lovy’s Chilly Willy shorts – “Hot & Cold Penguin”, “Room & Wrath”, and “Hold That Rock” – were storyboarded by Avery before he walked out on Lantz.

      • particular reason Avery left Lantz?

        • 4/25/24.
          According to Leonard Maltin’s book “Of Mice & Magic”, Avery left Walter Lantz studio over a money dispute, and the fact that he was burned out from years of making great cartoons. “Shhh” was the last cartoon Avery did for Lantz, and it’s a divided result among animation fans over a highly unusual concept of a famous “laughing record” of the 1920’s issued by Okeh Records. From then on for the rest of his career until his 1980 death, Avery directed animated commercials (the ones for Raid Bug Spray in the 1970’s and the Kool Aid ads in the 1960’s with the Looney Tunes were particularly under his direction. Avery didn’t go back into the daily grind of theatrical cartoons after 1955.) Avery’s last positions were for Hanna -Barbera around 1978, with “Kwicky Koala’ being his last project issued posthumously.

  • Sure signs you’re watching a Fifties Lovy cartoon—Multiple uses of eye-blink takes and eyebrow wagging.

  • Wow, I’d never seen this one before. I thought Homer was a one-and-done character after 1942’s Pigeon Patrol (and just as well, if only for the awkward character design; where’s Art Heinemann when you need him?). This despite his persistent presence in 50s and 60s comic books.

    But here, Homer’s makeover looks great. And yes, this is a decent cartoon, as advertised. The Avery influence is rightly noted.

  • An excellent cartoon by any standards. I’ve been projecting shows for the local chapter of Sons of the Desert for close to 40 years now. Some years back we were doing a military-themed program, and we had two cartoons on the bill. The show started with Bugs Bunny in “Falling Hare,” and it did OK; respectable response but mild. “Pigeon Holed” was in the second half, really intended as more or less a filler. I didn’t have any great expectations for it. To this day, I don’t think any cartoon we’ve ever shown has gotten a bigger response. It was sensational! Our audience really raised the roof laughing. Luv it!!

  • I always love seeing the exposed soundtrack on these scans. It gives you an idea of what’s about to come next in the film and it’s just fun to see the waveform.

  • Alex Lovy did good work at Lantz. Not so much at Warner Bros.-Seven Arts in the late 60s.

    • I did wish he went back to Lantz at that time even with a lower budget. He still had a sense of direction unlike you know who.

  • Terrific point you make with “Pigeon Holed”, Steve: it’s a perfect example of the 50s Lantz style that’s too often underrated. And the brushwork on those Ray Jacobs paintings! Great to watch your scan of the print.

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