THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
March 12, 2015 posted by

What’s Your Favorite Cartoon Title?

Toy_Tinkers

What is your favorite cartoon title, and what makes a good one?

While hunting through things from my childhood at my Mothers, I discovered a few pieces of paper that had cartoon titles written on them. I noted that It struck me that as a child I really liked titles that rhymed or had a pun in them. Some of the titles included were ‘The Cat’s Me-Ouch’, ‘Of Thee I Sting‘, and ‘Daffy’s Diner‘.

Of_Thee_I_Sting240A catchy name for a cartoon seems like a good idea, and in looking through titles of cartoons from the 30s and 40s, there seem to be three types, with some intersection.

Sometimes titles are descriptive, especially in narratives and fairy-tale type cartoons. Some titles have either rhymes or alliteration as the main point of the title, only sometimes related to the subject at hand.

Then there are titles that seem to exist only as the joke. Funny enough, often I find that the later are almost always the titles that I forget the contents of, or confuse as another cartoon. How many times have you sat around and tried to remember a title of one of the odder titled films? Red Hot Riding Hood (43) remains super-easy to remember for sure, but how many others are?

Dough_Ray-Me-OwWarner’s Dough Ray Meow (49) is one of my favorite cartoons of all time; the pun- title is clever, but it’s hard to relate it to the characters in memory later. Warner’s Fiesta Fiasco (67) is a rhyming title, and I know it’s a Daffy and Speedy cartoon, but heck if I can remember what that cartoon is about, even though there’s an IB tech print of it sitting on my shelf! MGM’s Kitty Foiled (48), a Tom and Jerry cartoon, spoofs the novel ‘Kitty Foyle’ from the late 30s- something that would have been still fairly known then, but is almost totally lost to modern audiences. I remembered that cartoon for years without even coming close to guessing the title.

elmer-elephantThere’s a mention in Maltin’s Of Mice and Magic that Famous studios had many puny titles. I find this is true of ALL studios in the golden age, and especially true in the 40s and 50s. You can look through the lists of each studio, and it’s really surprising how often they resort to a pun or rhyme for the title.

Disney titles seem heaviest in alliteration. From Elmer Elephant (36) to Pueblo Pluto(49) to Toy Tinkers (49) to Boat Builders (38), this studio managed to find more appealing titles I think than most of the others. I like the pun and spoof titles at Disney’s especially, like Lion Down (51) or Tennis Racquet (49) or Duck Pimples (45). Perhaps the oddest title from Disney is Tomorrow We Diet (51) spoofing the Bible (from Corinthians “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die”).

constructores-de-barcosWe shouldn’t leave Terry out of the list – there’s lots of great alliterative titles, from Tall Tale Teller (54) to Clint Clobber’s Cat (57) to Big Bad Bobcat (68) to Dribble Drabble (also 68) to Tin can Tourist (37). Oddly enough, it seems that this studio did its best to steer away from titles with alliteration or puns most of the time, though Pick-Necking (33), Bully Beef (30) and Monkey Meat (30) seem to be the few early examples.

Early cartoon titles are often more descriptive than jokes. Look at the Alice Comedies from Disney or any of the early Fleischers to see what I mean. There are exceptions though, like Koko Gets Egg-Cited (26). My favorite Fleischer cartoon title is one I’ve never seen – The Dandy Lion (40), part of the Animated Antics series. Mommy Loves Puppy (40) is a close runner up.

For now, I’m staying away from Famous Studios… that said, that’s my short list of sort-of favorites. Now, what are yours?

tomorrow-we-kitty-foiled

60 Comments

  • I’ll always love that Friz Freleng named a Tweety and Sylvester cartoon MUZZLE TOUGH, a play on the hebrew expression Mazel Tov (“Good Luck”).
    mazel-tov

  • “A Hick, A Slick and a Chick” from Art Davis (1948, WB)

  • I liked the Donald Duck pun “The Inferior Decorator” when I was a kid. A sneaky one would be the Fleischer cartoon ‘The Bum Bandit’ – pretty sure they snuck a vulgar term right in the cartoon’s title there!

    Since you included a nice big pic of the title card for ‘Toy Tinkers’ in your post, have you ever seen the alternate alliterative title for it, ‘Christmas Capers’ (Guess it was retitled for 16mm home release, but can anyone confirm that?). What’s nice about it is the effort was made to faithfully recreate the original illustration, with the much longer title still being spelled out of building blocks and Chip an’ Dale repositioned and redrawn to fit, whilst retaining similar poses and the same attitude as in the original. (I’d post a pic, but not sure how)

    • I wonder if “The Bum Bandit” was retitled for UK release. The 1933 feature HALLELUJAH, I’M A BUM had to be retitled HALLELUJAH, I’M A TRAMP over there, with a slide whistle sound effect overdubbed to cover the offending word on the soundtrack when the title song was sung.

    • Martin: THE BUM BANDIT was retitled THE DANDY BANDIT for UK release.

  • My favorite was a Warner Bros. prison themed “Bars and Stripes Forever” from 1939.
    http://youtu.be/5R54Rrk7TzE

    • That’s one of my favorites, too. I wonder if they were trying to do a whole sub-series of the dog/robber idea. There was another cartoon released in ’39 called Thugs With Dirty Mugs which is funny as hell in my opinion.

  • I love that Clampett turned the audience into Elmer Fudd when reciting the title Wabbit Twouble. If you like alterations how about a triple one with Jones’ Baby Buggy Bunny. One of the greatest rhyming titles is also the greatest existential cartoon ever, Duck Amuck. This is a good forum, to get off my chest a terrible title, Tashlin’s Have You Got Any Castles?; it has nothing to do with castles except the song and it’s not even a good title for a song.

    I know you’re looking for Hollywood cartoons, but there is almost no joke in Marv Newland’s classic Bambi Meets Godzilla without the title.

  • Well, of course, “Toy Tinkers” is not mere alliteration. It would be also an obvious play on “Tinker-Toys,” the popular toy.

    Some of the WB cartoon titles were plays on then current films or musicals. “Mexican Joyride” (Davis, ca. 1948) would be a play on “Mexican Hayride,” the 1944 Fields-Porter musical. There’s also “The Fighting 69 1/2th” (Freleng, 1941), which was a play on the then-current WB film.

    In another class by itself would be the titles of the Fleischer Stone Age films, which were deliberately designed to be plays on words.

    • Going a little further on in the studio’s history while keeping with the Mexican theme, I kind of wish D-FE had kept the original title of “Road to Andalay”, their first Speedy-Sylvester short, as “Tequila Mocking Bird”.

  • Just to go back to a post from a couple of days ago, “Kicking the Conga ‘Round” from the end of the Fliescher’s era at Paramount was a pretty nice play on words as well as reflecting back on the studio’s past association with Cab Calloway (and — considering what Cab was referring to — a little bit of a triumph for sneaking that title past the Hays Office censors).

  • I always thought Warners had the corner on clever cartoon titles, from “All This and Rabbit Stew” to “Hold the Lion, Please” and on and on. One of my favorites is “I Got Plenty of Mutton” — you don’t have to be a Gershwin fan to appreciate that one. I’m a Disney man myself, but Disney had relatively few of this kind of titles — “Lighthouse Keeping” and “For Whom the Bulls Toil” being two nice exceptions.

  • Here’s a few of my favorite titles (from all over the pantheon):

    “Chips Ahoy,” “Father’s Lion,” “Crazy Over Daisy,” “Tea for Two Hundred,” “Canned Feud,” “A Tale of Two Kitties,” “Rebel Rabbit,” “Duck Amuck,” “One Froggy Night,” “When Magoo Flew,” “Trouble Indemnity,” “Captains Outrageous,” “Pantry Panic,” “Wet Blanket Policy,” “The Truth about Mother Goose,” “A Symposium of Popular Songs,” “Baffled Bear,” “Dynamite Fright,” “Knight School,” “Sagebrush Brush,” “Plutocrat Cat,” “Dizzy Desperado,” and “Legion Bound Hound.”

    As you can see, I love literary references, word play, alliteration, clever rhyming, and unexpected twists.

  • I know it’s just too obvious a choice, but in all honesty: “What’s Opera, Doc?”

  • Woody. Wood. Pecker. in BILLION DOLLAR BONER.

  • My favorites titles cards are as follow:
    Mexican Joyride
    Ant Paste
    The Mouse that Jack Built
    Blue Cat Blues
    The Tom & Jerry Cartoon Kit
    A-tom-ic Energy
    Jerry-Go-Round
    Mouse in Manhattan
    Penthouse Mouse
    Go Fly a Kit
    Mucho Mouse
    Matinee Mouse
    The Mouse from H.U.N.G.E.R.
    Tom & Jerry at The Hollywood Bowl
    Johan Mouse
    Wotta Nightmare
    Kicking the Conga Around
    Seeing Red, White and Blue
    The Ducktators
    Two Chips and a Miss
    8 Ball Bunny
    Cat Feud
    The Musical Mouse-tro
    Termites from Mars
    Wrestling Wrecks
    Alley to Bali
    The A-tom-able Snowman
    The Duck Doctor
    Downhearted Duckling
    Prepare and Be Mechanized
    Popeye The Ace of Space
    Popeye in Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp
    The Pink Phink
    A Herb Albert &The Tijuana Brass Double Feature
    &
    China Jones

  • And of course there’s “Cuckoo IQ” otherwise known (to Mindrot readers) as “8 minutes of color film!”

  • Don’t forget Popeye in “Onion Pacific” (1940), released around the same time Paramount released Union Pacific, as well as the notorious “Scrap The Japs” and “You’re A Sap, Mr. Jap”.

  • Advance And Be Mechanised (Tom & Jerry),

  • “Lo, The Poor Buffal”

    http://www.bcdb.com/cartoon-video/906-Lo-The-Poor-Buffal

  • Billion Dollar Boner
    Wabbit Twouble
    Cartoons Ain’t Human
    Duck Pimples
    A Tree is a Tree is a Tree?
    The Eyes Have It
    Roughly Squeaking
    Cirrhosis of the Louvre
    Frank Duck Brings ’em Back Alive
    Wideo Wabbit
    The Oily American
    French Rarebit
    Stage Door Cartoon
    Grand Canyonscope
    Cellbound
    Punch and Judo
    Lunch With a Punch
    Out to Punch
    Ancient Fistory

  • I love titles that are sly plays on then-current songs. They seem endemic to 1920s projects Hugh Harman worked on, even when the song in question wasn’t parodied in the cartoon.
    Bosko’s BIG MAN FROM THE NORTH is a play on “He’s A Big Big Man From The South (With A Big Cigar In His Mouth).”
    Oswald’s OH, WHAT A KNIGHT comes from “Oh, What a Night,” a 1926 song about a guy finding his wife with another man. And POOR PAPA comes from a same-named song about a harried husband.

  • GORILLA MY DREAMS (1944), d. by Robert McKimson
    BACK ALLEY OPROAR (1948), d. by I. Freleng
    BACALL TO ARMS (1946), d. Robert Clampett (uncredited)
    It’s horrible, but . . . BUGS BUNNY NIPS THE NIPS (1944), d. by I. Freleng

  • “The Male Man”

  • I like how some of the greatest Warner Bros. cartoons had some of the best titles: the aforementioned “What’s Opera, Doc?”, “One Froggy Evening” and “Duck Amuck”, which was responsible for me growing up unable to spell the word “amok”. (Later, I made the frequent joke that I had a college degree in Swamp Management, so I am fully qualified yo run a muck. I blame Daffy for that too)

  • My all-time WB favourite: Mutiny of the Bunny.

    • Whoops: Mutiny ON the Bunny….

    • As for an example of a cartoon whose title has very little to do with the cartoon itself, I rather like “NOTHING BUT THE TOOTH”. Let me just say this, it is totally unrelated to dentistry, save for the end gag in the cartoon.

  • Here are some of my favorite titles:

    Duck Amuck
    Tea for Two Hundred
    Ants in the Plants
    Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too
    All This and Rabbit Stew
    Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarfs
    The Stupidsticious Cat
    Two Chips and a Miss
    Cueball Cat
    Christmas Comes But Once a Year
    You Ought To Be in Pictures
    Wabbit Twouble

  • Steve, here is THE DANDY LION on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWBHqE4xUbc
    Hanna and Barbera even improved that title with one of their made-for-TV cartoons: HANDY DANDY LION (1964), starring Yippie, Yappie and Yahooey, a segment on the Peter Potamus Show.

  • I always loved how the Pink Panther cartoons would utilize “Pink” somewhere in the title. Kinda of a gimmick they had. Sometimes it was forced, but there were a few clever ones. On top of my head: “Pink Sphinx”, “Pickled Pink”, “Pink, Plunk, Plink”, “Pink-A-Boo”, “Pinknic”, “Pink of the Litter”, “Pinkadilly Circus”, “The Pink Package Plot”

  • By the way, thanks for the “Kitty Foiled” poster. I have a fascination with MGM’s ugly, off-model poster art.

  • For Better or Worser!!

  • As for Paramount’s punny titles, there was “Disguise the Limit” – I think it was used twice, first in a Noveltoon or Modern Madcap, and then in a Popeye TV cartoon.

    One of my favorite titles that riffed on a movie was not in a cartoon, but a Three Stooges short: “Violent is the Word for Curly,” which referenced a then-current film, “Valiant is the Word for Carrie.” (Violent could be the word for all the Stooges, with the possible exception of Joe Besser.)

    • The Popeye cartoon with that title was actually one of Gene Deitch’s.

  • A pun that never made it would be the Mickey cartoon “The Little Whirlwind” I believe it had the working title “Gone with the Whirlwind” (it was appearing in Boxoffice magazine with that title prior to it’s actual release).

  • And now here’s something I hope you really like – some titles from Rocky and His Friends/ The Bullwinkle Show

    AVALANCHE IS BETTER THAN NONE OR SNOWS YOUR OLD MAN
    AXE ME ANOTHER OR HEADS YOU LOSE!
    YOU’VE GOT ME IN STITCHES OR SUTURE SELF
    SEVERED RELATIONS OR HOW TO GET A HEAD
    MOOSE GETS THE JUICE OR MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA-CUTED
    TOO MUCH TOO MOON OR WHAT MAKES LUNATICK?
    THE MALADY LINGERS ON OR I BOUGHT YOU VIOLENCE FOR YOUR FURS
    FAST AND MOOSE OR CHARLEY’S ANTLERS
    BUZZARD BAIT OR THE CARRION CALL
    RAIN OF TERROR OR THE DESPERATE SHOWERS
    FAREWELL MY UGLY OR KNOTS TO YOU
    CLAUS AND EFFECT OR YULE BE SORRY
    HELLO MA BOOBY OR PLEASED TO BEAT YA
    THE CREPE HANGERS OR BRIGHTEN THE CORONER WHERE YOU ARE
    THEY DIDN’T PICK UP OUR OPTION OR SHOW DOWN

  • Here’s more title cards from both the animated shorts and from the animated tv shows
    Bill of Hare
    The Pied Piper of Guadalupe
    Mexican Shmoes
    Quakor the Fowl
    Rushmore Rumble
    A Stress in Time
    Noah’s Lark
    D&DD
    Armlocks and Hamhocks
    Stuffed Animal House
    No Toon is a Island
    Kon Ducki
    To Bleep or Not to Bleep
    Chess Mom
    So What and the Seven What Nots
    H.M.S. Yakko
    Icy You
    Eye Candy
    The Chump Champion
    Invasion of the Bunny Snatchera
    Bunny Hugged
    Dino-Sore Days
    Gumbasia
    Hockey Homicide
    Honduras Hurricane
    The Timid Toreador
    Forward, March Hare
    Gift Wrapped
    Lights Fantastic
    The Peachy Cobbler
    Pixie Picnic
    The Bandmaster
    Laundry Blues
    Music land
    Victory Vehicles
    Spook-a-Nanny
    Little TeleVillian
    The Case of the Maltese Chicken
    Deep Freeze Squeeze
    Teeny Weeny Meany
    Skinfolk
    Freeway Fracas
    Roof Top Razzle-Dazzle
    Ski-Napper
    Roamin’ Roman
    Guest Who?
    Canned Dog Feud
    Davey Cricket
    Sioux Me [both the Looney Toons and Woody Woodpecker versions)
    Foot Brawl
    Monster of Ceremonies
    Sissy Sheriff
    A Lad In Bagdad
    Go-Fer Spinach
    His Honor the Mare
    Ship A’Hoy Woody
    Prehistoric Super Salesman
    Coo Coo Nuts
    Indian Corn
    Helter Shelter
    Witch Crafty
    “Sh-h-h-h-h-h”
    Bunco Busters
    Pigeon Holed
    Plumber of Seville
    Long Hair Hare
    The Goofy Gardener
    Dopey Dick
    The Bongo Punch
    His Better Elf
    Yukon Have It
    Bee Bopped
    Case of the Red-Eyed Ruby
    Real Gone Woody
    &
    Heap Big Hepcat

  • The Hypo-chondri Cat
    Herr Meets Hare

  • A few faves…

    Niagara Fools
    Rabbit Transit
    For Whom The Bull Toils
    Bowling Alley Cat
    The Egg Cracker Suite
    The Leghorn Blows at Midnight
    A Sight For Squaw Eyes (ouch!)
    Plenty Below Zero
    Congratulations, It’s Pink!
    Prince Varmint (actually better than the original “Prince Violent,” considering Yosemite Sam was in it…)
    The Plumber of Seville
    Posse Cat

    (and as long as someone else already mentioned the 3 Stooges…Cactus Makes Perfect!)

    • How about a new category…Most Difficult Title To (Try To) Explain?

      The Bird On Nellie’s Hat
      Puss Cafe’
      Trees and Jamaica Daddy
      Dicky Moe
      Tweet Zoo
      The Day Silky Went Blozo (TV Popeye)

    • Love this new category.

      TREES AND JAMAICA DADDY refers to the two shorts within the film: “Trees” and “Jamaica Daddy”.

      DICKIE MOE is a play on Moby Dick.

      TWEET ZOO is (I think) a play on the term “Sweet Sue”

    • “The Bird on Nellie’s Hat” was the title of a popular song dating to the early 20th century.

    • “Puss Café” is a pun on “pousse-café,” which according to Dictionary.com is “an after-dinner drink of liqueurs of various colors and specific gravities, carefully poured into a glass so as to remain floating in separate layers.”

      “Tweet Zoo” does reference “Sweet Sue,” a song title (“Sweet Sue, just you…”).

  • Two of my favourite Popeye titles also offer practical advice: ‘Never Kick a Woman’ and ‘Never Sock a Baby’.

  • FAIR AND WORM-ER

  • “Lo, the Poor Buffal”.

  • It’s a bad cartoon, but Feud With a Dude is a pretty funny title.

    “Where were you?” “Oh, I just had a feud with some dude.”

  • More candidates for the “try to explain” list…

    Bootle Beetle
    Sliphorn King of Polaroo
    Quentin Quail
    Ratskin
    Fox Pop
    Unsure Runts

    • UNSURE RUNTS is a play on the word “Insurance”

      FOX POP is a play on VOX POP (short for “vox populi” a Latin phrase that literally means “voice of the people”)

    • There was also a popular, long-running radio series in the late 1930s-1940s titled VOX POP. Given the Warner gang’s fondness for pop culture, I imagine that was their direct inspiration for FOX POP.

    • Quentin Quail refers to the old phrase “San Quentin quail” meaning a women under the age of consent. San Quentin being a prison in California.

    • Rick is correct – “San Quentin Quail” is a synonym for “jail bait.” Groucho Marx played a character called S. Quentin Quayle in one of the Marx Brothers films (Go West or At the Circus, I forget which).

      “Sliphorn” was slang for a trombone; if I recall, that cartoon featured the music of trombonist Jack Teagarden.

      Another Warner cartoon whose title riffed on a radio show was “We the Animals – Squeak!” It spoofed NBC’s “We the People,” a public affairs show which began with an announcer intoning: “We the people – speak!”

    • While we are at it – one Warner Bros. cartoon title I can’t stand is FOX TERROR. It’s a play (I suspect) on the term “Fox Terrier” – but it sounds more like a horror film. Not clever at all, in my humble opinion.

  • Science Friction (I think Woody Woodpecker and the Ant and the Aardvark used this one)
    Woolen Under Where
    Knights Must Fall

    Any of The Roadrunner/Wile e coyote titles
    I.e. Fast and Furryous, Zoom and Bored, Going! Going! Gosh! Etc.

  • Steve, you didn’t miss anything by not seeing The Dandy Lion. I watched it for the first time just now. There’s nothing Fleischer about it. They seem to have gone from trying to copy Disney, to trying to copy Warner Brothers.

  • SANDY CLAWS

  • “Kama Sutra Rides Again” by Bob Godfrey (UK 1971)

  • Hocus Pocus Powwow
    Big Game Haunt
    Hippydrome Tiger
    Feud With a Dude
    3 Ring Wing Ding
    Fistic Mystic
    Shamrock and Roll
    Bugged By a Bee
    Injun Trouble

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