Animation Trails
September 30, 2020 posted by Charles Gardner

Toons Trip Out (Part 10)

It’s been an extended journey. Though toons on vacation continued through the years, the season for us has reached its end. If folks aren’t back from summer by now, they’re probably among the ranks of the virus-unemployed. So we’ll give our animated friends one more go-round (including a few real classics below), then let them get back to their “normal” destructive occupations and daily routines.

Claws For Alarm (Warner, Porky and Sylvester, 5/22/54 – Charles M. (”Chuck”) Jones, dir.) – In 1948, Chuck Jones recast Sylvester the Cat in his own fashion, in the film Scaredy Cat – minus his usual spittle-punctuated dialogue and bravado, and instead the paranoid pet of Porky Pig, prone to react in terror at the slightest provocation. While an unusual angle on the character, Jones’ film was a success, as Sylvester hilariously attempts to cope with an old house full of homicidal mice. Years afterward, Jones decides to revisit this theme in the film of our present discussion, altering the locate to a deserted hotel in a Western ghost town. Porky, a weary traveler, arrives in a jalopy of Granny’s vintage at the Hotel Dry Gulch, oblivious to the fact the town is deserted. “I l-love the way people go to bed so early in these country towns.” Sylvester is creeped out by the very shapes of the buildings, which blend with tree limbs to appear as long-armed monsters. He huddles close against Porky, shivering. “My, but you’re an affectionate pussy cat all of a sudden”, comments Porky.

As the two climb the hotel’s rickety stairs, small pairs of eyes peer from the darkness under the porch, and from every crack and cranny of the dilapidated hotel walls. Sylvester hides first in Porky’s hat, then inside Porky’s suitcase in one of his shirts, as Porky threatens, “I oughta c-clobber you.” Inside the lobby, no desk clerk can be located. Concluding that everyone’s asleep, Porky decides to sign the register anyway (covered in cobwebs) and look up a room himself. While he is penning his name, a noose drops near his neck out of the mouth of a moose head on the wall. Sylvester pushes Porky out of harm’s way, then attempts in pantomime to inform him of what just happened (similar to a sequence from the first film). As Sylvester illustrates by hanging himself from a noose. suspended in mid-air only by his own hand, Porky dismisses his play-acting. “What are you, a schizophre…schizophre…manic depressive or something?” Unseen by Porky, Sylvester now observes the moose head, detached from the wall and following Porky, with a gun muzzle protruding from its mouth. While Porky climbs the stairs, the moose head raises gun elevation to fire. Sylvester tackles the head in a whir of claws, deflecting the shot to barely miss Porky, and emerges having removed the rifle from the head. Porky sees no explanation except that Sulvester wants to wake up the whole house, and drags the tremulous cat upstairs to a room.
Porky settles down in a vacant suite (probably the first door he encountered along the hall), and wishes Sylvester good night, “psychopathic ol’ pussy cat you.” From the ceiling, a hatch opens, and another noose is dropped around Porky’s neck. Sylvester rummages through Porky’s suitcase, and retrieves a shaving razor, with which he cuts the rope just as the noose tightens. A strangling Porky awakens, to find the rope end in one of Sylvester’s hands, and the razor in the other – raising serious question as to Sylvester’s motivations. “Get out, out, out!” shouts Porky, booting the cat outside. As Sylvester cowers in a corner, a tall sheeted apparition rises up the staircase.

Sylvester literally leaps out of his white “socks”, leaving his feet fur behind, and crashes through the door back into the room. The “ghost” passes in front of a rear-lit doorway, revealing the momentary silhouette of a column of mice standing on each other’s shoulders inside. The figure enters the room, but stops near a window before Porky is alerted. When Porky lifts the sheet, it is merely covering a tall-backed chair. Sylvester is again left without a visible explanation. Porky decides the only way to quell the cat’s fear of the “bogey man” is to let him sleep beside him. As Porky nods off, the rifle barrel appears again out a hole inthe wall. Sylvester jams his finger in the barrel – and the bullet goes clear through him and out his tail, leaving a burn path along Porky’s sheets and pillowcase, and a hole in Porky’s hat. Sylvester yanks the gun out of the wall, then turns the barrel to fire repeatedly into the hole. Porky, now filly awake, can only comment, “Tell me, Sylvester. Is there any insanity in your family?” We fade to another shot, hours later, as Sylvester stands guard, marching back and forth at the foot of the bed with the gun at the ready, while Porky peacefully sleeps. Dawn eventually breaks, to find a bloodshot-eyed Sylvester wearily struggling to maintain his post. Porky, on the other hand, awakens fully rested, and resolves that this place is so peaceful, they should stay a week or ten days! The look on Sylvester’s face is one for the books. With no other viable alternative, Sylvester approaches Porky from behind, gun butt raised. Mid-verse in singing “Home on the Range”, Porky is struck off-camera, and dragged back to the car by the cat, the pig exhibiting a lump on his head and two black eyes, and still continuing to sing, stuck at and repeating the same line of lyric like a broken record. Sylvester takes the wheel and drives them off as fast as the jalopy’s speedometer will allow. But from inside the speedometer’s dial, the peering eyes of several of the mice are menacingly seen again, for the iris out.

Grin and Bear It (Disney/RKO, Donald Duck, 8/13/54 – Jack Hannah, dir.) – As mentioned last week, this second vehicle for Hannah’s new character, Humphrey Bear, and first appearance for Ranger J. Audubon Woodlore, while a clever and pleasant entry, is essentially an entire lift of the concept of Dick Lundy’s “Barney’s Hungry Cousin” for MGM – with fewer laughs and slower, more deliberate timing. Converting “Jellystone” to “Brownstone” National Park, tourist season opens, with Donald Duck driving a roadster nearly identical to Barney Bear’s except for color, and with an equally-large picnic basket in the rear compartment. Ranger Woodlore greets the tourists with a mile-long list of “Don’t” rules, read off at the speed of a railroad conductor, then despite them all, tells the tourists to have “Fun, fun, fun.” Behind the ranger station, he holds a briefing for another audience – the bears. He informs them that advertising for opening day has been heavy, and that there’s a tourist for each and every one of them. But before turning them loose to mingle, Woodlore reminds them that last year, there was one complaint of stealing. “Shame”, the bears say in unison to a sheepish Humphrey. “We won’t mention any names…”, Woodlore continues, nose to nose with Humphrey, “…but if it happens again, the supreme penalty!” He points to a beat-up bear rug hanging on the side of the ranger station, with sign reading “For Sale”, as the orchestra plays the opening musical sting from Jack Webb’s classic police drama series, “Dragnet”. The bears react with unison “Eeuuwwww!!”

The bears converge on the tourists. No “Do not feed the bears” rules here, as each bear pairs off with a tourist who seems to feed him to the full mark. But unlucky Humphrey pairs off with Donald Duck – who entirely ignores Humphrey’s gestures of friendship and song and dance entertainment, while munching away on his own food without offering Humphrey a morsel. Temptation causes Humphrey to try to slide the picnic basket away – until he spots Woodlore tidying up the bear rug on the wall, and thinks better of his theft attempt. Donald brings the basket to another picnic locale, and Humphrey obligingly spreads out a tablecloth for Donald (which Humphrey ties like a bib around his own neck on the other end), and offers assistive comments to help Donald construct two “Dagwood” sandwiches from the basket’s contents. As Humphrey applies slices of cheese for the finishing touch, Donald merely squeezes the two sandwiches into one – and starts eating everything himself. Humphrey attempts to protest, holding his mouth open, and Donald replies, “Quiet. Can’t you see I’m eating?” The frustrated bear is again lured by his baser instincts to help himself, and fishes with his foot in Donald’s basket for some tidbit to grab. He finds and consumes – a hot red pepper. The fiery reaction causes Donald to query, “What’s the matter with that guy?” We next see the flow of a nearby waterfall cut off entirely, the camera panning up to reveal Humphrey channeling the river’s entire flow of water into his own mouth. Below, Donald begins packing up his remaining food. Humphrey grabs a boulder, then climbs aboard the tip of a springy sapling, bending the tree down to the ground. He drops the boulder to grab a large ham from Donald’s tablecloth – only realizing his mistake as the tree trembles once the boulder is removed. Humphrey is flung smack into a canyon wall (nearly the same gag as Barney’s Cousin’s rope swing in the MGM cartoon). Humphrey slides off the rock face and bounces back to Donald’s picnic site, where Donald receives the ham from Humphrey’s paws with a “Thank you”, and returns the basket to his car.

As Donald drives off, Humphrey hatches another idea. Stealing a tire off a tourist’s trailer, he takes a short cut, reaching a bend in the park road before Donald does. Humphrey takes the tire and rolls it in mud, then applies a muddy wheel track along his waistline. As Donald’s car passes, Humphrey rolls a boulder under its rear wheel, causing the car to bump violently. Donald looks back to see what happened, and Humphrey substitutes himself lying in the roadway, appearing to be struck. Briefly inspecting this horrendous sight, Donald attempts to take the coward’s way out, creeping away to commit hit-and-run. But Humphrey won’t let Donald off that easily, and shouts as loudly as he can in feigned pain. Fearful, Donald covers Humphrey’s mouth – “You’ll wake up the whiole neighborhood” – and offers Humphrey a bribe, in the form of the entire picnic basket. Humphrey cheerfully accepts, dusting the tire track off his belly with a whisk broom, and trotting down the road. Donald smells a fake, and pulls out a whistle, calling for the rangers. “Help. Thief!” Humphrey fears the “penalty”, and pushes the picnic items back into Donald’s arms. Donald won’t accept them, and the two push the food at each other, until nearly all of it is spilled on the ground. Along comes Woodlore – armed with litter bags and pointed sticks – and accuses both of them of littering the park. The bear and duck each protest that it was the other that “done it”, but Woodlore merely directs them to pick up this, and this, and this – until he comes across Donald’s ham. Even rangers have an appetite, and Woodlore conceals the choice cut under his jacket and attempts to walk away. Spotting the nefarious deed, Donald and Humphrey raise their pointed sticks, and javelin-throw them into the ranger’s rear. Woodlore leaps painfully into the air and lands on the ground, as both Donald and Humphrey shame him. All that Woodlore can do is react with Humphrey’s own embarrassed grunting laugh, as the scene irises out.

Neapolitan Mouse (MGM, Tom and Jerry, 10/2/54 – William Hanna, Joseph Barbera, dir.) – An unusual series entry, alternating between traditional cartoon violence and a somewhat more gentle approach to charm, as the characters find themselves in a surprising truce. A cruise ship docks in Napoli. In a human-sized cabin, Tom. In an adjoining mouse-sized cabin, Jerry. The door to cabin 1 just happens to overlap the door to cabin 2, smashing Jerry flat as Tom emerges. Jerry reciprocates by flinging the door back in Tom’s face, and the usual chase is on. Jerry distracts Tom with a few bristles off an old broom, supplying him with “whiskers” for a flowing Italian moustache disguise. He also poses as part of a fountain in a city park, spurting water out of his mouth until his supply runs out – then spitting the last drops into Tom’s face. But Jerry is ultimately cornered against a building, where Tom finds a frying pan with which he tries to flatten Jerry again. The noisy clangs of the pan arouse a local – a small gray mouse in Italian striped sweater (for once, not Tuffy), who doesn’t take kindly to the cat picking on the mouse. Intervening in the fight, he slams Tom in the face with the pan, causing a typical shape-reversion of Tom’s head. In Italian, the mouse explains to Jerry that a big guy picking on a little guy makes him furious. To Tom’s surprise, he soon discovers that the mouse lives by a creed, and doesn’t play favorites. When a resident hound start picking on Tom (including causing Tom to crunch into a wall, folding into appropriate shape so that the dog can play Tom as a concertina), the little mouse again follows his golden rule, and defends Tom – judo-flipping the dog, and hogtying the dog’s feet with his own tail. The dog tiptoes out of the scene, but bides his time in watch.

The little mouse has a sudden flash of recognition. “Tom Cat? Jerry Mouse?” Our heroes nod in acknowledgment. The little mouse doubles over in laughter. “Funny cartoons!” Taking his new friends by the hand, he says “Come, I show you Napoli.” First stop, some eats. He fixes a mile-tall sandwich for Tom at a local market between two halves of a long Italian bread. Tom squeezes the sandwich shut so he can get it into his mouth – then the whole thing springs to original size inside him, making him appear in its silhouette. Jerry laughs – until the same thing happens to him, as the little mouse drops a whole pear-shaped Italian cheese into his open mouth. Then some local color, taking in the architectural sights, and the picturesque bay (giving the studio background department plenty of chance to shine – no UPA style shortcuts for this cartoon). The musical strains of “Oh Marie” reach them from the distance, and the little mouse breaks into song. But while Tom and Jerry enjoy the serenade, the dog seen earlier appears from behind a tree – and has rounded up a posse of two additional dogs to settle the score with our trio. They march forward. Tom and Jerry see them coming and flee. But the little mouse is still dancing around to his own song, and finishes the chorus to find the three dogs looming directly above him. He zips out of frame, up a steep and winding road leading back to the city. Above, Tom and Jerry whistle to him, and he rejoins them back in the marketplace, with the three dogs still in pursuit. Tom and Jerry return the mouse’s favor, by rounding up three large wheels of cheese, which the trio rolls off a counter onto the road. The dogs slam on the brakes and shift into reverse, as the huge cheese wheels roll like a set of steamrollers after them, pursuing them around fountains and back to the bay. At the end of the road, the dogs run out of room at the edge of a pier, where the cheeses arrive to knock each of them in for an unexpected swim. The cheeses neatly pause to see that their work is done, then turn and roll the other way as if under their own power, never to be seen again. The ship’s whistle of the cruise liner sounds that it’s time to go, and Tom and Jerry exchange a handshake and a hug with their new friend, and just make the ship’s departure. From the stern railing, they wave a fond goodbye to the little mouse and to Napoli. From the dock, the little mouse waves back, “Arrivederci!” In another surprise truce, the three dogs emerge dripping from the bay, and also peacefully wave, “Arrivederci!”.

In Rail Rodents (Paramount/Famous, Herman and Katnip, 11/26/54, Dave Tendlar, dir.), Herman and his cousins set their destination for the ex-Fleischer boys’ old digs – Florida. Their transportation method is by railroad box car. Herman’s brought along his uke again from “Mice Paradise”, and the mice re-lyric their theme song, as “Skiddle Diddle Dee, Skiddle Diddle Day. So long, North. We’re on our way.” But under the boxcar, riding the rods, is of course Katnip. The chase is long and winding, involving almost every conceivable railroad conveyance – mail car, baggage car, refrigerator car, and flatbed cars laden with equipment and exotic cargo. A few highlights include Katnip getting his head stuck in the pipe from a water tower, with Herman opening the vavle to fill him with the tank’s entire water supply. Then Katnip falls out, landing in an open tank car of the train, the water shooting out of his mouth to fill up the tank. A clever gag has Herman drive a nail into the center of the top plank of a car loaded with lumber. As Katnip runs onto the far end of the load, Herman rotates the plank he is running on at a right angle, extending Katnip over the side of the train and across the opposite track. He crashes through the boiler of another engine heading in the opposite direction, then appears in the smokestack, jetting steam out his ears. Finally, Herman leads Katnip on a game of follow the leader through several cars piled high with pipes. After slipping in and out of two car loads, Herman lines up a third “pipe” for Katnip – actually an anti-aircraft gun being transported on a flatbed. Herman hits the firing button as Katnip crawls in, launching the cat halfway around the planet to the North Pole, where he shivers and turns blue atop a frozen steam of water left from the splash of his cracking through the ice. The final shot shows our heroes at a fashionable beach hotel in Miami, as Herman basks in a cabana made of a salt water taffy box, and ensures that his cousins are evenly tanned by turning them over periodically with a spatula. A pristine print of this film has been recently struck and made available, presumably when the old Harveytoons 16mm dupe negative outlived its usefulness, featuring all original Paramount titles.

Grand Canyonscope (Disney/Buena Vista – Donald Duck, 12/23/54 – Charles Nichold, dir,) – Ranger J. Audubon Woodlore returns, in his only solo without Humphrey, having received the new assignment of chief ranger at the Grand Canyon instead of Brownstone. (His performance record in this film is likely what got him demoted back to his old position by the next cartoon.) In this, Disney’s first widescreen Donald cartoon, Woodlore lectures a number of tourists along the canyon edge, the members of which are all bunched together as a little group. “Spread out there, folks. This is Cinemascope”, says Woodlore – and the tourists dissolve into a wider single file line. (TV prints re-recorded the line as “This is a big canyon.”). Among the group is Donald Duck, who is impressed when he hears the canyon is over a mile deep. He decides to test it by dropping a rock over the cliff edge. Woodlore quickly catches the falling rock with a long-handled net. “If we all threw rocks into the canyon, pretty soon there wouldn’t be a canyon.” Donald continues to nose around, attempting to join a native Indian in creating a sand painting. “Please”, interrupts Woodlore. “Don’t bother the Americans.” Donald also performs a Charleston in an Indian rain dance outfit, and sneezes at Echo Point, resulting in a chorus of repeated sneezes and one “Gesundheit!” Woodlore begins to realize he has a pest on his hands.

“Spread out there, folks, this is CinemaScope!”

Descending into the canyon by burro, Woodlore pauses the group at Halfway Point. Donald asks the ranger to take his picture, and Woodlore pushes the camera button – lighting a flash right into the eyes of Donald’s burro. The burro’s irises contract to where he can’t see straight – and the nearsighted steed stumbles his way down the trail, and out over fragile rock formations and straddling precarious drops. “He’s sure sure footed”, says Donald, getting marvelous camera shots. When the burro’s eyes return to normal, the beast runs for his life, dropping Donald further into the canyon, where he catches up with Woodlore, landing in the ranger’s gand. “And where is your burro?”, Woodlore inquires. “He’s up there”, says Donald. Rules require a burro, so Woodlore asks the tour group to wait while he and Donald find the runaway mount. Above, Donald spots a long tail sticking out from behind a rock. “He’s hiding”, Donald thinks aloud. Woodlore takes charge, grabbing the tail and dragging the animal out – except that the dark brown “burro” now wears a shaggy coat of yellow – in reality, a mountain lion. In delayed reaction, Woodlore responds in shock. “A lion?? Why that’s impossible. The last lion seen in the canyon was during the Civil War. So that couldn’t be you – – or could it?” The lion produces a Johnny Reb cap from the Confederate army. Woodlore attempts pacification, by saluting and whistling “Dixie”. The lion is not impressed, and a madcap chase begins. “A lion”, yells Woodlore as he passes Donald. “Where?”, says Donald, aiming his camera – and taking a flash photo insude the lion’s gaping jaws. The lion pursues the duck down a curving canyon path. Woodlore appears alogside, slowly drifting down into the canton with a parachute, cautioning them, “Speed limit on the trail – rigidly enforced!” While the duck and lion briefly slow their pursuit, Woodlore passes the tour group below, saying “I’ll be delayed a little longer, folks.” The lion chases Donald back and forth over stepping stones in a canyon stream. Donald attempts to stop the lion’s progress by picking up the stones. “Put those rocks back!”, yells Woodlore, arriving on the canyon floor with his chute. The lion follows again, chasing Donald and Woodlore into a pueblo cliff dwelling. Donald reemerges and places a ladder in front of the doorway to trap the lion – but the beast bursts out – and suddenly lion, duck, and ranger are caught together in pivoting sections of the ladder, careening down the trail like a fire truck. “I should have stayed in the postal service”, Woodlore complains.

At every turn, one or the other of the characters knocks away some portion of the canyon walls. Passing the tour group again, Woodlore calls out, “Don’t wait any longer, folks. Run for your lives!” A few shots of animation are borrowed from Pluto’s “The Legend of Coyote Rock” (1945) (from which musical themes are also borrowed resembling the sound of Ferde Grofe’s “Grand Canyon Suite”) of tall rock towers falling over like dominoes – then, a shot of tourists and burros climbing out of the canyon seems to borrow an additional piece of animation from “Fantasia”’s “Rite of Spring”, mysteriously having a T-Rex climb out of the canyon. A cloud of dust envelops the scene.

In a final sequence, Woodlore addresses the repentent duck and lion, against a surprisingly flat background. “Well, I hope you’re satisfied. You two have in a matter of minutes, messed up what it took mother nature millions of years to create.” Pulling a book from his pocket, the ranger continues: “The National Park Rule Book states, and I quote, ‘When a natural object is marred or defaced, it must be restored to its original state.’ So…”. handing to the duck and lion a pair of shovels, “…START DIGGING!!!!!!” The camera pulls back to watch a tiny duck and lion digging away at the humongous filled hole that was once the canyon, not waiting around to see how long this will be going on.

Sahara Hare (Warner, Bugs Bunny, 3/26/55 – I. (Friz) Freleng. dir) – Our scenes opens on an endless panorama of sand dunes. A small sign appears in Arabic lettering, as a subtitle appears below it reading “The Sahara Desert”. A second such sign appears, with subtitle. “Keep Off the Grass.” A familiar-looking mole trail kicks up the desert sand, with interestimg special effects that make the kicked-up dirt appear realistically granular. Three shots of animation are completely lifted from the near-opposite Bugs episode to this cartoon: Frigid Hare (1949) (previously discussed in this series), as sunglasses, “Fun on the Beach” book, chair and beach umbrella are tossed out of the hole, and Bugs appears in bathing suit shouting “Mimi Beach at last!” This time, however, instead of leaping into a freezing ocean, Bugs keeps right on running, searching for the waves. A fade in denotes the passage of time, and Bugs, still attempting a weak cheer, trudges along in near–exhaustion. “Dig this crazy beach. Must be low tide.” Spotting a few palm trees at an oasis, he wonders if that’s where the water is. He finds a small pool barely larger than a puddle, and mutters, “So this is the big pond Big deal.” (And not even a wrong turn at Albuquerque!) He tries it on for size, and winds up face-deep in a muddy bottom.

Appearing over the dunes comes a camel, with a diminutive but ornery rider – Riff Raff Sam (the riffiest riff who ever riffed a raff). He is shocked to observe that someone has been getting “footyprints all over myt desert”, and follows the trail to the oasis. Bidding his camel to whoa (a command which only becomes effective with the added punctuation of a blow from the butt of Sam’s rifle, causing the camel’s hump to shrink and reappear as a lump upon his head), Sam encounters Bugs just coming out of his dip in the oasis. Seeking something to dry off with, Bugs tears the back off of Sam’s sheik hat as if a paper towel from a dispenser – and another piece of fabric automatically clicks into place. While Sam announces his identity. Bugs distracts him – “Your slip is showing.” An angry Sam takes aim with his rifle, but is a terrible shot. Bugs walks calmly away with his back to the little sheik, disappearing over a dune, as shot after shot misses him entirely. One last shot is so far off target, it burrows a bullet hole into a sand dune. Unfortunately for bugs, it’s the dune he’s standing behind – and the only shot that makes a blind direct hit. Bugs runs for it, and has the unusal fortune of finding a bright red antique sports car in the middle of the desert. He jumps in and guns the ignition – only to have the whole vehicle fade away as a mirage. So Bugs rakes refuge in an abandoned legion fort (a sign inside reads, “For Rent or Lease”). The remainder of the film consists of typical (but funny) Freleng-style castle-siege entry attempt gags (a theme Freleng had used and would revisit again and again, in such films as “Bunker Hill Bunny”, “Tom Tom Tomcat”, “Prince Violent”, and “Horse Hare”).

Sam pounds on the door to be let in, only to have it dropped on him like a drawbridge, leaving him begging for it to be closed again. A pole vault attempt ends it hitting solid rock. Prying a stone out of the wall reveals a cannon barrel in his face. Stilts fall backward when Sam fires his gun A charging elephant is neutralized by Bugs sending out a wind-up toy mouse, causing the elephant to grab Sam in his trunk to use as a swatter to crush the mouse. A rubber band strung between two palm trees catapults Sam into a third tree, and then a fourth after Sam goes through all the effort to chop the third tree down. A long board raised against the wall for Sam to climb is split down the middle by Bugs with an axe – also splitting Sam down the middle. Finally, Bugs constructs a doorway and a crudely painted sign reading “Secret entrance”. When the door won’t give, Sam yanks and tugs at it – until it whacks him in the face upon opening, only to reveal a second door behind it. Removing the second door reveals a third, and fourth, and so on, and so on. Inside, Bugs is still nailing new doors to the back of the old ones. At the end of the column, Bugs leaves a stockpile of TNT, with a triggering mechanism to ignite the works upon the pulling of the last door handle. Bugs emerges from another exit of the fort, and leaves Sam to his task, wondering if Sam is stubborn enough to open all those doors. A huge explosion tells him Sam is stubborn enough. In an unusual final coda, back at the mole hole, another set of sunglasses, beach chair, umbrella, etc., emerge from the tunnel, and who of all people (make that critters) should emerge, also in search of Miami Beach, but Daffy Duck. (This would mark the duck’s first intrusion into Bugs’ traveling tunnel – though Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese would cleverly adapt the concept to their own use in subsequent episodes, including one discussed below.) As Daffy runs past Bugs, in another futile search for te ocean briny, Bugs calls after him, “Hey, this isn’t……” But headstrong Daffy hears nothing, leaving Bugs to shrug his shoulders and say, “Eh, let him find out for himself.”

SH-H-H-H-H-H (Lantz/Universal, 6/6/55 – Tex Avery, dir.) – A noble, but commercially unsuccessful, experiment. A popular novelty recording of acoustic era 78’s was called in the U.S., “The Okeh Laughing Record”. It was issued anonymously, with no billing as to its performers. This was actually to cenceal that the recording was imported, originally issued ny Neka Records in Europe, recorded by operatic soprano Lucie Bernardo and baritone Otto Rathke, with the assistance of trombonist Felix silbers. Its contents – a male, a female, and a solo trombonist who sounds like he’s plying after having sucked a lemon – and three minutes of nearly non-stop hysterical laughter. Proving that laughter can be contagious, the record was a best-seller, and even spawned copycat recordings on several other labels. Avery had obviously heard or owned such record in his youth, and remained impressed with it. Despite being recorded acoustically (without the aid of electrically amplified microphones), the piece was reasonably well engineered for theatrical amplification, and Avery speculated that, if the routine could generate so much laughter with sound alone, think what it could do with the addition of visual gags. An interesting thought – yet hard to effectively execute, even for a director of the caliber of Avery. The final product, while a solid funny cartoon in its own right, seems to be best appreciated on one level or the other – either for its own sake as chock full of clever gags without real regard for the audio, or in attempting to listen to the audio alone, without too much regard for the gags. But trying to process both the gags and the full effect of the audio together appears too daunting a task for the comprehension of the human brain, and the visual and audio respectively appear to distract from the full appreciation of each other. I would surmise, although never having seen the film in a public screening (even Avery, in his public appearance during my student days at UCLA, did not bring the film along to recreate the experiment), that there were several moments in the production where laughter may have been routinely expected from bare listening to the record, but were instead greeted by lulls of silence from the viewing audience, due to this distractive effect. The film did not generate the anticipated booking revenues, and may have played a significant factor in Avery’s retiring from the business and move into television commercials instead. I thus recommend concentration on the parade of sight gags, and not so much on the audio, as my own personal way of best appreciating this quirky mini-classic. (One might even have fun imagining how the film might have alternatively played, if accompanied by the sort of lunatic-fringe musical stings Scott Bradley might have composed for it at MGM.)

At the Danceland night club, a little man named Mr. Twiddle (no relation to a certain pet shop proprietor whom the studio’s own Alex Lovy would later Christen with the same name at Hanna-Barbera) ekes out his living playing bongos in the middle of a brass-heavy bandstand. The blare of quartets of horns resounding in his ears every night sets Mr. Twiddle over the edge, and he leaves the bandstand in a fit of trembles, and with his tongue popping in and out. He is next seen at the office of Dr. I. M. Jittery, Psychiatrist (two couches, no waiting). The doctor (voiced by Daws Butler) and his wife, a nurse, inform Twiddle with concern that he is suffering from trombonosis (an interesting diagnosis, considering the instruments he encountered at the club were all trumpets and saxes) . Jittery informs Twiddle that he must get away from noisy horns, or his “entire nervous system will shatter. You will just blow up.” Travel folders are provided for recommended destinations.

Twiddle chooses a reservation at the Hush Hush Lodge in the Swiss Alps. He attempts to ask the desk manager for a nice quiet room, causing everyone in the lobby to react with aghast shock. The manager’s hand clamps over Twiddle’s mouth, and drags him into a soundproof booth. There the manager whispers that the place prides itself on maintaining silence, peace and quiet, and that he must act accordingly – in other words, “Sh-h-h-h-h.” The manager rings for a bellboy, on a bell with no clapper – only a sign which pops out reading “Ding.” The bellboy takes Twiddle’s bags to a room, them bids him adieu by holding up a three-sided sign – “Good night – – Sleep tight – – The Management.” Twiddle hands the bellboy a buffalo nickle. The bellboy tiptoes off, holding up a sign to us, reading “Cheap skate!” Twiddle’s room is a marvel of noise reduction. A pendulumn clock on the wall makes not a sound, but its pendulum alternates between the printed words “Tick” and “Tock”, while a wooden bird above holds up a sign reading “Coo Coo”. The bathroom faucets are strangled from dripping with knots tied around their muzzles. Even the lamp switch makes no sound, but pops up a sign reading “Click”. Twiddle has to blend with the room’s motif, stifling a scream as he stubs his toe, and replacing it with a held up sign reading “Ouch”, and a reverse side featuring stars and various typographical punctuation marks to indicate cartoon swear words.

After all the protocol Twiddle has been put through, the hotel obviously operates under a double standard – as an unseen V.I.P. is moved in next door by the bellboys. Among his possessions, a shiny trombone. In the middle of the night, sour notes begin to play from the horn, and the hysterical laughter of a woman reacts to the playing. Twiddle awakes in shock. Holding a pillow over his ears doesn’t help – nor does stuffing the pillow through his ears )a gag lifted from Avery’s “Doggone Tired”). Twiddle;s light knocks at the neighbor’s door are greeted bu louder pounds back at him from the other side – and a horn blast through the keyhole. Twiddle telephones next door, and meekly asks that they please stop blowing the horn. The bell of the trombone blasts another sour note into Twiddle’s ear out of the phone earpiece, and protrudes out of Twiddle’s opposite ear. A written note to the same effect passed under the door to the next room is simultaneously answered by a note pushed through in the opposite direction – “Aw, SHUT UP!” Attempts to douse the neighbor with a pail of water, a fire hose, hit him with a bat, and send in a cartoon bomb all fail. Two more gags are lifted from Avery’s old MGM bag of tricks. A cannon aimed at the door is flipped over by the neighbor’s hand through the keyhole, sending the shot into Twiddle’s nightshirt. Twiddle slips behind a dressing curtain, and changes clothes, hanging out the old nightshirt with an artillery shell protruding from its rear (a gag used in Droopy’s “Three Little Pups” (1953)). Also, Twiddle hauls a safe up to the ceiling by means of a pulley in front of the neighbor’s door, and draws an “X” on the spot where the safe will land, then knocks on the door. As Twiddle releases the rope, a hand emerges from under the door, moving the X to a position below Twiddle. The safe of course follows the X, and clobbers the wrong man (a gag lifted from “Bad Luck Blackie” (1949). Twiddle’s had it, and begs the manager to find him a doctor before his nerves crack up. The manager takes him, of all places, directly to the room where the horn was heard. There inside, having themselves a grand old time, ate Jittery and the nurse! Twiddle’s face expands and turns fiery red. “Mr. Twiddle! You? Here?”, says Jittery. (Well, didn’t you provide him with the travel folders?) “Now, remember your nerves. You’ll blow up”, he continues. A second later, Twiddle does just that – leaving no trace but char marks on the hotel floor. Jottery pauses, then provides us with the moral of the story: “People just won’t listen to their doctor’s advice.” And he and the nurse calmly resume their laughing jag and impromptu jam session.

Jumpin’ Jupiter (Warner, Porky Pig, 8/6/55, Chuck Jones, dir.), the third of Jones’ “Scaredy Cat” trilogy, has been previously discussed in my “Spacey Invaders” articles of last year. In brief, Porky and Sylvester are again found on vacation, this time camping in the desert rather than seeking a hotel. A flying saucer, bent on retrieving earth specimens for its master, J. Pluvius, Head Microcosm, burrows under Porky’s campsite, lifting an entire patch of earth with Porky and Sylvester aboard. In space, Porky awakens to get an extra blanket, and comments on the unusual view: “Golly, the stars are so bright tonight, you can almost touch ‘em”. The pilot of the ship (of the same design as Marvin Martian’s “instant martians” from the later “Hare Way To the Stars” (1958)), emerges to freak out Sylvester, and almost causes him to fall off the edge of the space ship. But Porky treats the visitor with casual dismissal, telling the alien to go back to his teepee and that he’ll look at his rugs and trinkets in the morning – concluding he’s merely a “Friendly Navajo”. The confused alien reads up on a book, “Denizens of the Earth and Their Behavior”. But the ship passes out of gravitational pull, placing our heroes in some funny feats of weightlessness, including trying to get a drink of water against gravity. Porky’s campsite separates from the ship, and lands on a strange pink world. Porky notes how different things look in the morning – and a funny-looking planet he’s never seen before (the Earth). As he put-puts down the road in a model T, he tells Sylvester they’ll reach Albuquerque by tonight. The camera pulls back, revealing that what appeared to be trees on the roadside are the legs of giant green birds, who smile to each other with raised eyebrows at their new visitors.

Miami Maniacs (Terrytoons/Fox, Heckle and Jeckle – 11/12/55 – Connie Rasinski, dir.) – Technically, this one may not belong here – as the season is actually winter, making this something of a “flying South” cartoon. But as all but the ending takes place in the hot Florida sun, and with it’s heavy dose of manic Jim Tyer animation, it’s irresistible for inclusion. At a swank Miami Beach resort hotel, a pair of unlikely visitors appear poolside – tramp hoboes Heckle and Jeckle. As they drink from tin cans and roast weenies on an open campfire, the smoke from their fire wafts into every window of the hotel. The bulldog manager and bellboy Dimwit are swamped with complaint calls to the hotel switchboard. Dimwit runs for a fire hose, getting completely entangled in it and coiled like a hose himself, and bashing the manager on the head with the nozzle. Tumbling outside, the two dogs locate the source of the problem. Now lounging in beach chairs, the birds comment at their satisfaction with the accommodations – and find the service good too, as Heckle holds out his tin can in the way of a pitcher of water Dimwit is pouring to try to douse their campfire, and converts the effort into a refreshing drink. Dimwit grabs them up by their ragged hobo shirts – but the birds merely slip out of costume, leaving Dimwit with nothing but the rags to present to his manager. The manager tries to jump the birds, but they hop on the lounge chairs and manipulate them to “run” on their chair legs, Heckle commenting, “I love these crazy chases!” They disappear into a pro shop on an adjoining golf course, then reappear in the guise of a self-animated walking golf bag (wearing a hat on top of its tallest club, with magpie feet protruding below), which clobbers the manager with the clubs when he looks inside. Next, back to the swimming pool, where the magpies play a sort of “whack-a-mole” game with Dimwit, as they bob in and out of the pool water, always sending the manager up every time Dimwit swings a golf club within striking range. The birds climb the high-diving tower, followed by the manager. Each of the magpies gracefully dives off the high board into a window of the hotel. When the manager tries to repeat the stunt, Jeckle moves the window, leaving him to crash into solid wall.

Inside a hotel room, the birds hear the pounding of the manager on the door outside. A good old gag from Laurel and Hardy is lifted, as the manager reaches for a pass key attached by a chain to his trousers – but the birds abruptly open the door just as he’s fitted the key into the lock, ripping off the manager’s pants to reveal typical cartoon polka dot boxer shorts. Dimwit follows the birds down a corridor. Approaching a first door, Dimwit is greeted by a sign held out the doorway – “We’re not in here.” He moves on to door number two – a sign emerges, reading “Try the next door.” At the end of the cooridor is a final door against the wall. Before Dimwit can open it, the manger reappears and yanks the door open himmself, and charges through. A crash is heard. Heckle and Jeckle appear from behind and pull the door away, revealing it wasn’t attached to the wall at all – but merely concealing a window, now broken through. Outside, the Manager finds himself falling from several stories up. He calls for Dimwit to do something. Dimwit races downstairs, beating the manager to ground level. Instead of attempting to catch the manager, Dimwit does something appropriately dim-witted – blowing a stream of air out of his mouth with all his might, to try to keep the heavy manager aloft. It seems to work for a few seconds – until Heckle and Jeckle each poke a finger into Dimwit’s extended cheeks, puffing out the last of his air. Bam! falls the manager on top of Dimwit. For a topper, Jeckle lights a cartoon black bomb, and rolls it at the dogs. They retreat to the pool, where the bomb bounces over them, and up onto a waterslide on the opposite side. The slope reverses the bomb’s progress, and it slides back down, past the dogs, and rolls back into the hotel. H&J are just entering the hotel elevator, when the bomb rolls in directly under the rising elevator car. BOOM!! In a shot from outer space, we see the elevator car blown into the statosphere, then watch the birds inside it contort as it comes crashing back to Earth. In the final scenes, our heroes are again seen lounging in beach chairs, as Jeckle comments, “I say, we’ve really gone South for the winter this time, old boy”. A camera pull back reveals their only source of sunshine is a large heat lamp – as they are surrounded by the ice and snow of the South Pole, with an audience of seals clapping their flippers in noisy approval.

Magoo Goes West (UPA.Columbia, Mister Magoo, 4/19/56 – Pete Burness, dir.) – Magoo sulks, looking out the picture window of his home, at a sheet of water pouring down the window glass. “Rain. Rain. Two weeks of constant downpour.” Yet outside, the sun is brightly shining, as we see the cause of the unusual “weather” – Magoo has left his lawn sprinkler on, facing the house. Having neither functioning sense of sight nor of weight, Magoo “bails” a series of pails he has placed under the hanging strands of a set of beaded door curtains, then calls for help out of his “back window” – a wall painting of a Venice gondola. Thinking the vessel is piloted by the Coast Guard, Magoo, despairs, “They never hear me.” He decides to try the phone “one more time”, speaking into and cranking the handle of a pepper grinder. A cloud of pepper makes him sneeze, and Magoo claims “Now I have influenza.” Donning full raincoat and packing a suitcase, Magoo determines to make a break for ”sunny California, lock stock, and barrel.” He bursts out of the garage with his car without bothering to open the door, and thinks he’s broken through into a patch of good weather.

But sunshine doesn’t prevail for long, as his windshield is doused by following too closely to a street cleaning water wagon. He catches a brief unobscured glimse of a statue in a park fountain shooting water out of its mouth, and believes the public is getting water-logged. He then hits a bump, reminding himself to watch the curves more carefully on these “treacherous mountain roads” – then spends the rest of the night traveling in circles under more “rain” from another park fountain. Believing he is covering miles and miles of wasteland, with not another car in sight, Magoo finally bounces out of the fountain the next morning. thinking he “just passed over the Rockies. My ears just popped.” To his dismay, he spots a park sanitation man picking up papers with a stick, confusing him for a cotton-picke, and thinks he made a wrong turn into the deep South. But his keen sense of direction is soon on the right beam again, as he spots a sign reading “California – 100 miles” (which actually says “Car Wash $1.00″).

Entering the “road”, Magoo suddenly finds himself again facing torrential downpours. A blast of steam is inerpreted by Magoo as “smog.” As the “storm” worsens, Magoo ducks under his dashboard to “wait it out.” Then soap suds flood the driver’s compartment. “A snowslide! They’ll never dig me out. What a way to go!” Just as suddenly, the bubbles dissipate. “Must have slid on past”, remarks a more-confused-than-average Magoo. Magoo vows to forge on ahead until he reaches the border, and returns to the wheel. As he accelerates, he also reaches the end of the car wash, and breaks out into sunshine. An attendant dries off his windshield, and asks, “Pretty wet coming through?”, causing Magoo to recount his impossible journey. When the attendant asks for “one dollar”, Magoo is again confused, and looking back sees the last line of “rain” inside the wash. “It’s the state line!” shouts a triumphant Magoo, and gladly pays his $1,00 to the “border” man as toll. He then proceeds ahead – landing with a crash into the side of a large billboard, depicting a neach and bathing girls, advertising “Visit Florida”. Magoo greets the trio of depicted beauties as his welcoming committee – “Lana “ (Turner), “Rita” (Haywarth), and “Marilyn” (Monroe), and shouts the praises of California sunshine, as we fade out.

Niagara Fools (Lantz/Universal, Woody Woodpecker, 10/22/56 – Paul J. Smith, dir.) Woody Woodpecker joins a tour group (I believe on the Canadian side of the landmark) at a destination of unusual choosing for the woodpecker. Not a tree in sight, and no bride in tow. (Is he advance-scouting the place, in hopes of popping the question to Winnie?) A ranger tells the group of the history of Niagara (while it seems everybody in the group except Woody isn’t listening to a word, all too busy locked in lovers’ embraces). The ranger gets to the part where foolhardy adventurers have attempted to go over the falls in a barrel. Woody’s mischievous face brightens, and a view inside Woody’s brain shows us gears beginning to click. Woody disappears from the group, while the ranger concludes that the stunt is now absolutely prohibited, and no one has gone over the falls since he’s been on the job. “Nobody?”, comments Woody, passing in front of the ranger with a newly-acquired barrel. “Nobody!”, responds the ranger with pride – until he realizes what is about to be perpetrated. He engages in a tug of war to grab the barrel away, and wins. Unfortunately, he is standing with his back to the water’s edge, and topples in, finding himself inside the barrel as he surfaces. “No, no, NOOO!!”, he shouts, as he nears the drop-off point. Woody offers no assistance, but merely complains from the banks, “Bring back my barrel.” The ranger takes a harrowing fall. A crowd of tourists in rain slickers down in the Cave of the Winds hollers “HOORAY!!!”.

Our next scene might earn an R-rating. The ranger is stripped bare, toweling off back at the upper bank, his clothes drip-drying on the railings near the water’s edge. Along comes another couple locked in embrace. Realizing he’s caught in a compromising position, the ranger jumps into the only available shelter – a trash barrel. (How convenient they don’t use tin cans around here like everywhere else.) And along comes Woody, looking for a replacement conveyance. He lifts the trash barrel, but the added weight of the ranger makes it unwieldy, and it topples off his shoulderts into the drink. The ranger finds himself in a case of deja-vu – but this time with no clothes. Over the falls he goes again, greeted by another “HOORAY!”

Theme and variation abound. Woody tries a Do-It-Yoursel Barrel Kit, while the ranger climbs back and retrieves his clothes. Seeing Woody entering the new barrel, the ranger dives in too, and battles it out in fisticuffs with Woody as the barrel rolls closer and closer to water’s edge. A swift kick – and Woody is booted out onto shore. Not so for the ranger, who bursts into tears at finding himself afloat again. He’s also fed up with his cheering fans, and yells as he passes them, “Aw, shut up!”

A rain barrel “For Fire Only” provides Woody’s next vehicle. He attempts to slip past the ranger by disguising the barrel in a frumpy old dress as his “sweetheart”. The ranger politely tips his cap to the “lady”, and after “she” passes, traces a shapely figure in dotted lines in the air – then pauses to shake his head “uh uh”, realizing it doesn’t match what he’s seen. Tracing the true image of a barrel chest, he gets the idea. Grabbing a two-by-four, the ranger runs in the direction Woody passed, and stops when he sees a familiar shape in a dress alongside the railing. “I know a barrel when I see one”, he boasts, and smacks the “barrel” powerfully with his board. But the figure turns, revealing a real lady as barrel-shaped as Woody’s, who smacks the ranger a powerful blow across the face, knocking him over the railing. Below at the river bank – who else but Woody and the barrel. The ranger lands as expected plunk into the barrel, and splash into the water again. He doesn’t even waste emotion this time, but just drums his fingertips along the barrel rim, waiting for the drop. You guessed it. “HOORAY!”

Eventually, Woody calls out for emergency supplies, returning to town in an old Mack truck full of empty beer barrels. The ranger spots him as the truck passes, and blows a whistle for his own reinforcements – the entire personnel of the park ranger station. All of them converge on the riverbank – as Woody pulls the “dump” lever of the truck. The truck bed titts, toppling all the barrels out onto the ground – right on top of the rangers. In a perfect 1 for 1 ratio, there are just enough barrels to float every ranger of the brigade out onto the river. The chief ranger, always conscientious, double-checks this before they reach the falls, inquiring, “Is there anyone here without a barrel?” A mass descent of the troops occurs, and the cheering fans below really get an eyeful.

Thinking himself safe, Woody retrieves one extra barrel he saved inside the truck’s cab. But he never makes it to water’s edge, as the dripping rangers gang up on him. A fight cloud erupts – and the rangers emerge with the barrel sealed, and a mailing label affixed to it reading “To North Pole”. They carry the barrel to the Post Office – not noticing that Woody is sitting on the ground below them, as free as a “bird”. Then who’s inside the barrel? A fade in to a new locale answers the burning question – in a chilling manner. Emerging from the barrel is the chief ranger, in the frozen North (or is it South?), as he inquires of a flock of penguins, “Which way to Niagara Falls?” The birds point to a convenient road sign, indicating distance of a mere 10,000 miles.

Our final sequence juxtaposes what have to be the slowest and fastest acts in history. At Niagara, Woody takes his own sweet time in preparing for his long-awaited voyage – painting “Over the falls or bust” on his barrel, packing a picnic lunch, taking navigational readings, checking a map, and testing the wind. In the same amount of time, the camera cuts to the ranger, using every possible means of travel, and the least direct route, to return to the scene of the crime – by dog sled, rickshaw, gondola, plane, and even hijacking a kid’s scooter with only one mile left to go. Both characters arrive at the dock at the same time, Woody jumping his barrel into the water a mere split second before the ranger can grab him. The ranger has one hope left, and runs for a control booth with a dam shut-off valve. He stops the flow of water to the falls, leavingWoody and barrel resting in a dry river bed. The ranger runs into the river bed, and dives into the barrel a split second after Woody’s topknot disappears inside. No explanation is provided, but Woody either has a system of subterranean tunnels or a magician’s license for disappearing acts – because a second later, Woody miraculously appears inside the dam control booth, turning on the water valve again. The ranger is hit hard by the returning water flow, and as usual goes over the side to another crowd cheer. As a final blow, he hears a siren, and Woody finally makes it over the falls, in another barrel marked “Niagara Police”. Impersonating an officer, he catches up to the ranger and issues him a ticket for breaking his own regulation. As the ranger continues to fall and crashes, Woody merely turns his barrel the other way, and goes back uphill to safety, with his signature laugh of victory.

Long before its TV debut, or videotape to record it on, this film was among the first cartoons I ever owned, being a popular title in the Castle Films home movie catalog. My mom and dad brought home the well-edited 50 foot “headline edition” with our first 8mm projector. It took 15 years for me, as an adult, to acquire the complete color sound version. Suffice it to say, I was not disappointed.

What better way to wrap up this year’s vacations than with a true perennial, and a happy ending – Chuck Jones’s Ali Baba Bunny (Warner, Bugs Bunny, 2/9/57). Our scene opens on the mythical cave of the fabled 40 thieves, as its chief seals it with the command, “Close, Sesame”. A huge lummox named Hassan (four times bigger than the chief), is left in charge. “Guard well this treasire, oh Hassan – or the jackals shall grow fat on thy carcass!” As the chief travels away on a small donkey, the familiar mole trail of Michael Maltese’s Bugs episodes heads in the opposite direction toward the cave. The trail pauses briefly, as Bugs yells “Ow” when intercepting the point of Hassan’s sword resting in the ground – then dodges around the sword straight under the rock door of the cave. A furious Hassan prepares to do battle with the strange intruder – but in bumbling fashion has forgotten the magic word to open the cave. He struggles to remember by process of elimination: “Open, Sarsaparilla? Open, Saskatchewan?” Inside, the mole trail ends, as Bugs pops out, again hell-bent on reaching another unlikely destination: “Well, here we are. Pismo Beach and all the clams we can eat!” In lift from “Sahara Hare”, Maltese adds the unexpected surprise of a second head popping out of the hole – none other than Daffy Duck. “What a way for a duck to travel – underground”, he complains, knocking dirt out of his ear canals. “Hey wait a minute”, he continues, “Since when is Pismo Beach inside a cave?” Bugs blames his usual misnavigation on not taking that left turn at Albuquerque – but opts that possibly the mistake was not taking a right turn at La Jolla (mispronouncing the name the way it is spelled). But Daffy’s anger has subsided in favor of another emotion – greed – as he spies vast treasures lying about the cave. His eyes glaze over – and then he glares evilly at Bugs. He jumps on top of Bugs, stomping on him with his webbed feet to drive him back into the hole. “It’s mine, ya understand. All Mine. Get back in there. Down down. Go, go. MIIIIINE!!” Diving into the riches as Scrooge McDuck would later do in his money bin, Daffy emerges bedecked in humongous jewels. “I’m comfortably well off!” All Bugs can say is, “Eh, What’s up, duck?”

Back outside, Hassan is still at it. “Open, septuagenarian? Open, saddle soap? Open sesame?” Hassan reacts in surprised shock as one of his words finally works, then changes to frustrated evil as he marches into the cave. Daffy has wasted no time, finding himself a mine car in which to load jewels, and sings a chorus of “The Gold Diggers’ Song (“I’m in the Money”)” as he pushes his heavy load. “Ah, redcap”, he calls in haughty fashion upon sighting Hassan. “Call me a cab, boy. And be quick about it. I’m a heavy tipper.” Hassan merely raises his sword, and brings it down upon Daffy’s miner’s hat – cutting it in half, and also slicing one of Daffy’s head feathers in two. After a delayed reaction, Daffy runs screaming into the cave for Bugs. Handing Bugs a diamond, Daffy pleads, “Save me and it’s yours. Gorgeous isn’t it? Don’t be afraid. Have it appraised anyplace.” Bugs, still wiping the dirt off himself from Daffy’s pounding, is not one to be bribed, and casually tosses the diamond away. “Proud punk!”, Daffy mutters. Racing into the cave comes Hassan, with the cry, “Hassan chop!” “Well chop the rabbit. He brought us here”, suggests helpful Daffy. As usual, Bugs is one step ahead of his moron companions – and has already donned the disguise of a genie, complete with transparent bottle, from which he chants, :”Me genie, the light brown hare”. Hassan bows in awe, as Bugs tells him “Release me, and I shall grant thee a rich reward.” Daffy, showing no favoritism for his friends, reacts, “He’s lyin’. Chop him, chop him!” But Hassan releases Bugs with a pop of the bottle’s cork, at which Bugs asks if Hassan would like to have all this treasure for his very own. Hassan nods appreciatively. Bugs then performs a truly remarkable magic dance (anyone know who animated this wonderful shot?), contorting his body into weird and impossible positions, and uttering the ad-libbed magic words, “Ickety Ackety Oop, eh eh, Ziggedy Zaggedy Zoop, ah ah, ooh ooh (spit), eh eh ehh. Flippety Flappity Floop!” And suddenly, the magic is over, Bugs simply declaring, “It’s yours.” An ecstatic Hassan, fully convinced that possession has magically changed hands, dives headfirst into a treasure pile. Daffy, realizing he’s been double crossed out of his wealth, disgustedly repeats “Ickety Ackety Oop!”, while Bugs remains confident and unphased. Daffy marches off, making up his own magic words; “Oh oh, squeak, ah ah, (raspberry)!”

The scene changes to the exterior desert, as Bugs, still in genie outfit, attempts to get his bearings. “I dunno. I have a feeling that Pismo Beach ain’t quite this wide.” A shout of “Help! Save me!” is heard behind him. Emerging from the cave runs Daffy, carrying a diamond nearly as big as he is. Behind him, the raised sword of Hassan, and the call, “Hassan chop!” Bugs calmly ushers Daffy behins a boulder. “What’s with you anyway?”, he inquires of the Duck’s deed. “I can’t help it”, Daffy replies, “I’m a greedy slob. It’s my hobby. Save me!” When Hassan rounds the boulder, Daffy is nowhere to be found – but Bugs sits before a rope leading straight up into a cloud. “Him go that way” says Bugs, pointing up the rope. Hassan climbs, disappearing into low cloud cover. Bugs gives a yank on the rope, and pulls it down from the sky – leaving Hassan to a fate unknown in the stratosphere. From inside Bugs’s turban comes the voice of Daffy: “Is he gone?” “Yeah, I got rid of him”, answers Bugs. With the competition gone, Daffy runs in glee back to the cave, not even bothering to come out of the turban, shouting “I’m rich! I’m wealthy!”, as Bugs, who’ll never understand the feathered wealth-seeker, shrugs his shoulders to the audience.

After a time, Daffy succeeds in finding a giant mine car, capable of carrying the entire holdings of the cave. “There, I think that’s the last of it”, he says, climbing a ladder to drop a last few jeweld is into the cart. Peering around the cave, he mutters, “Just a quick check to see if I missed anything.” He did overlook one small trinket – an old lamp. “Well, polished up it might bring a quick four bits on the open market.” A little rubbing produces – a real genie. But seeing another unfamiliar face, Daffy suspects someone wants to cut into his territory. “Oh no, you don’t. You want my treasure!” He repeats his stomping act, pounding the genie back into the lamp spout. Then a bolt of lightning emerges from the lamp, as the genie, in stronger transparent form, emerges anyway. “Duck, you have desecrated the spirit of the lamp!” One look at this sight, and Bugs knows when to make an appropriate exit, diving back into his subterranean tunnel. “Prepare to take the consequences!”, the genie continues. Completely nonchalant, Daffy replies, “Consequences, schmonsequences. As long as I’m rich.” Magic rays emit from the genie’s fingertips, and Daffy is left vibrating and bouncing electrically in their grip. The scene fades to the last place we’d expect to see in one of these cartoon – the real Pismo Beach! Yes, Bugs finally makes it to his intended destination! Lounging under a beach umbrella, Bugs attempts to open a clam, thinking aloud to himself, “I wonder how that crazy duck ever made out with that genie?” Confusing clams with oysters, Bugs makes an unexpected discovery inside the shell. “Hey, whadd’ya know? A Poil!” From the hole of his mole-tunnel, a very small figure emerges – Daffy, shrunken to the size of Tom Thumb, yelling in chipmunk-speeded voicing, “It’s mine, ya understand! All mine!” He climbs into the clam shell, possessively clinging to the pearl. “Oh, brudder”, says Bugs, and issues the command, “Close, sesame.” The clamshell closes on Daffy, still happily clinging to the pearl, who utters his curtain line. “I’m rich. I’m a happy miser!”

It looks like there’ll be plenty more trips on tap for the makings of another vacation series next season. Hang around until summertime returns again, and I promise we’ll pick up where we left off for next year’s recreation.


  • In the summer of 1951 my mother took a road trip out west with some of her friends, and I’ll never forget seeing her home movies of the bears in Yellowstone Park casually stopping cars and demanding food from tourists. Such scenes must have been staples of newsreels and travelogues at the time, and it’s interesting to see how they inspired the cartoonists at MGM, Disney and Hanna-Barbera.

    There’s a clever little musical in-joke in “Neapolitan Mouse”. One of the pieces of music in it (played while the blue dog is picking on Tom, and again at the end of the cartoon) is “La Danza” [The Dance], a song by Rossini from his salon music collection “Les Soirees Musicales”, composed after he had given up writing operas. At one point, while we the audience are looking out over the Bay of Naples, there’s a harmonic progression that prominently uses what’s called a Neapolitan sixth chord — that is, a flattened supertonic first inversion chord, or in this case a B-flat major chord over D preceding a perfect authentic cadence in A minor. Well, never mind all that. The point is, there’s a great big Neapolitan sixth chord in the ending of “Neapolitan Mouse”, and if you’ve studied music theory for any length of time, take it from me, it’s hilarious.

    “The last lion seen in the canyon was during the Civil War”: Mountain lions, as they’re known in the western states, have always been common in Grand Canyon National Park, though they’re rarely seen by humans because of their nocturnal habits. However, cougars were extirpated throughout most of eastern North America (except for southern Florida) by the late nineteenth century. Cougars are highly territorial, and as large apex predators the home range of an adult individual may extend for well over 100 square miles. Therefore young male cougars sometimes have to travel very long distances to find new territory. When they are sighted and reported to the authorities, the official response is typically just like Ranger Woodlore’s: “No cougar has been seen in these parts since the Civil War!” For decades the Michigan Department of Natural Resources dismissed dozens of sightings, photographs and video footage, footprint casts and DNA evidence, and wasn’t convinced of the cougar’s presence in the state until one of the animals was finally shot. A friend of mine there has been following the cougar controversy for years; I’ll have to tell him about “Grand Canyonscope”.

    I’ve been to Niagara Falls many times. Just as shown in the cartoon, there are two major falls, the American Falls on the left and the International or Horseshoe Falls on the right, separated by Goat Island, which is on the U.S. side of the border. The onlookers in the yellow raincoats would have been taking the Cave of the Winds tour on Goat Island. The railings along the river look like the old ones on Goat Island; on the Canadian side, the ironwork of the railings has a distinctive curlicue pattern. Also, at the end of the cartoon the Falls are turned off, which has actually been done to the American Falls (but not until 1969), by the Army Corps of Engineers. So it appears that the plunging barrels in “Niagara Fools” are going over the American Falls, as seen from Goat Island, not the Canadian side. Pity. All the really good tourist attractions, as well as the best restaurants, are over in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

    I was hoping you’d get around to covering the Flintstones’ vacation episodes. The Flintstones and Rubbles went on vacation a lot: camping, boating, flying to exotic locations, etc. The Slate Gravel Quarry must have had an excellent employee benefits plan. But good things are worth waiting for, and I look forward to next year’s vacation series as well as other trips down the Animation Trail in the meantime. As for today’s selection of cartoons, all I can say is…. “HASSAN LIKE!”

  • A few years after “Grand Canyonscope”, “Sleeping Beauty” — also full of distinctive Earle designs — was released with a live-action featurette: “Grand Canyon”.


  • I just noticed your transcription of the Genie’s line in “Ali Baba Bunny”: “Duck, you have desecrated the spirit of the lamp!” I always thought he said “dog”, not “duck”. Dogs are considered unclean animals in Middle Eastern culture, and the word is used as an expression of contempt — at least, as the culture has been interpreted in countless Hollywood productions. For example, in the Lost in Space episode “The Thief from Outer Space”, the first words spoken by Sheik Ali ben Bad (Malachi Throne) to Will Robinson and Doctor Smith are: “Dogs! Infidels! Prepare to die!”

    I watched the cartoon again — always a pleasure — and I still think it’s “dog”, but it could be “duck”. Mel Blanc’s assumed accent makes it somewhat anomalous. In any case, an all-powerful Genie should be able to tell the difference between a duck and a dog. I’m in no position to judge, because I was well into adulthood before I could make out what Daffy was saying in his sped-up voice at the very end of the cartoon. I’m a happy vitamin? I’m a happy frying pan? I’m a happy Weimaraner? Always made me feel like Hassan trying to open the door of the cave….

  • If I may mention a Disney short that was omitted from this series of posts: Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip from ’40

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