Tag Archives: Merrie Melodies

Cartoon of the Day: Ali Baba Bunny

Ali Baba Bunny

Ali Baba Bunny

A short so funny we could make it a cartoon of the week, Ali Baba Bunny released on this date in 1957. One of the classic Chuck Jones Bugs Bunny pairings, this one also included the running gag about “I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque…”

After a goofed up left turn at Albuquerque (on their way to Pismo Beach), Bugs and Daffy end up in Ali Baba’s treasure-filled cave. Hassan Chop!

The end is absolutely hilarious! If you haven’t seen this one in a while, it is worth a watch again today on BCDB!

Cartoon of the Day: Hurdy-Gurdy Hare

Hurdy-Gurdy Hare

Hurdy-Gurdy Hare

Robert McKimson paired Bugs Bunny with Gruesome Gorilla in 1950 for Hurdy-Gurdy Hare. Anytime Bugs got to play against the Gorilla it was fun, and this film was no exception. Seen it? Watch it today if it has been a while, or you need a good laugh or three!

Bugs buys a hurdy-gurdy and a monkey so that he can enter the music business, but the monkey rips him off.

Carton of the Day: Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarfs

Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarfs

Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarfs

Easily the most controversial of all Bob Clampett’s films, Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarfs was never intended to offend, but rather to entertain. What Clampett had intended as a celebration of Black music and culture of his time has turned into a touchstone of racist film making at Warner Bros. Additionally, being a War film, there are some very disparaging comments about the Japanese in the film. So what do you think- is this cartoon historically significant enough to rise above it’s racial overtones, or is this more of the man keeping prejudice alive?

A blackface parody of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with a strong swing backbeat… and no apologies!

Mammy (who resembles Aunt Jemima) tells her “Honey Child” the story of “So White” and the wicked Queen who “was as rich as she was mean.” “She had everything,” including sugar, coffee, auto tires, scrap metal, Chattanooga choo-choos, and a family coat of arms consisting of dice and switchblades. So White is a lascivious sexpot forced to wash miles and miles of laundry as she sings “Blues in the Night.” “Magic Mirror on the wall, send me a prince about six feet tall,” intones the Queen. When zoot-suited, thick-lipped hipster Prince Chawmin’ (who has dice for teeth!) finds So White “dynamite,” the Queen calls in Murder Inc. to “black out So White.” Prince Chawmin’ and the dwarfs are all miniature caricatures of Fats Waller, except for one who resembles Stepin Fetchit. The prince kisses and tries to revive the heroine.

According to Beck and Friedwald, Coal Black is a Bob Clampett masterpiece, and certainly one of the greatest Warner Bros. cartoons ever made. Sure to offend, but not to be ignored.

In 1968, United Artists (then owners of the A.A.P. library of pre-1948 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons) compiled the cartoons they considered too potentially offensive to be shown on television, and withheld those cartoons from distribution. AT that time, UA felt that these eleven cartoons should be withheld from broadcast because the depictions of black people in the cartoons were deemed too offensive for contemporary audiences.

This cartoon is one of those withheld from distribution, one of the so-called “Censored 11.” (The “Eleven” are: Hittin’ the Trail for Hallelujah Land (MM,1931), Sunday Go to Meetin’ Time (MM, 1936), Clean Pastures (MM, 1937), Uncle Tom’s Bungalow (MM, 1937), Jungle Jitters (1938), The Isle of Pingo Pongo (MM, 1938), All This and Rabbit Stew (MM, 1941), Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (MM, 1943), Tin Pan Alley Cats (MM, 1943), Angel Puss (LT, 1944), and Goldilocks and the Jivin’ Bears (MM, 1944)). More recently, when Ted Turner became owner of the library, he continued the ban, and refused to allow any of these cartoons to be shown or released on video. To date, these shorts have not been officially broadcast on television since 1968. However, according to a recent e-mail, a woman in Phoenix claims that she has seen this on television there recently.

Along with black stereotypes, this cartoon features savagely anti-Japanese jokes (the film was made a year after Pearl Harbor).

Vivian Dandridge (the voice of So White) and Ruby Dandridge (the voice of Queenie) were the sister and mother, respectively, of actress-singer Dorothy Dandridge.

Jimmy Durante is caricatured.

A unique “That’s All, Folks!” card features an animated shot of Mammy and a little girl rocking in an armchair.

Working title: “So White And De Sebben Dwarfs.” It was changed at the last minute because someone in film marketing at Warner Bros. pointed out that in those days the theaters sometimes included the name of the cartoon short on the marquee, and was concerned that some people would think that the Disney feature was being shown, and be angry about the “false advertising.” So the name was changed and became “Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs”.

Clampett wanted an all-black band to score the cartoon, much like how the Fleischers had Cab Calloway score the Betty Boop cartoons they were featured in. Producer and noted tight wad Schlesinger refused to fund the endeavor, and the black band Clampett had hired, Eddie Beals and His Orchestra, only recorded the music for the final kiss sequence. The rest of the film was scored, as was standard for Warner cartoons at the time, by Carl W. Stalling.

In the late seventies, Bob Clampett defended this cartoon. He said:

In 1942, during the height of anti-Japanese sentiment during World War II, I was approached in Hollywood by the cast of an all-black musical off-broadway production called Jump For Joy while they were doing some special performances in Los Angeles. They asked me why there weren’t any Warner’s cartoons with black characters and I didn’t have any good answer for that question. So we sat down together and came up with a parody of Disney’s “Snow White” and “Coal Black” was the result. They did all the voices for that cartoon, even though Mel Blanc’s contract with Warners gave him sole voice credit for all Warners cartoons by then. There was nothing racist or disrespectful toward blacks intended in that film at all, nor in Tin Pan Alley Cats which is just a parody of jazz piano great Fats Waller, who was always hamming into the camera during his musical films. Everybody, including blacks had a good time when these cartoons first came out. All the controversy about these two cartoons has developed in later years merely because of changing attitudes toward black civil rights that have happened since then.

Alternate Title: “So White And De Sebben Dwarfs” (Working Title).
 

Cartoon of the Day: Hare Do

Hare Do

Hare Do

From 1949, Hare Do is one of the great Bugs Bunny-Elmer Fudd meetings. Directed by Isadore Freleng, the short was animated by Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, Gerry Chiniquy and Manuel Perez, this short has a surprise character in addition to the two stars.

Another classic episode as Elmer chases Bugs into a theater and ends up being the main attraction and the main course for a lion.

A painting in the theater is apparently of a nude lady! (However, there’s not much detail.)

The last cartoon where Bugs is seen sitting on The Warner Bros. Shield and then he pulls it down.

Cartoon of the Day: Herr Meets Hare

Herr Meets Hare

Herr Meets Hare

Back to World War II with Herr Meets Hare, an Isadore Freleng propaganda film from 1945. And who wouldn’t want to see Adolf and Herman face off against…. Bugs Bunny!

Hermann Goering heads to the Black Forest for rest and relaxation; because of a wrong turn in Albuquerque, so does Bugs, who encounters “Fatso” while trying to get to Las Vegas. Bugs taunts the Nazi, who captures him and takes him to Adolf Hitler, but Bugs gets the last laugh- disguised as Stalin.

Great parodies of Goering and Hitler. Lew Lehr is also caricatured.

The first short in which Bugs takes that wrong turn at Albuquerque.

Cartoon of the Day: Rabbit Hood

Rabbit Hood

Rabbit Hood

The day before Christmas, and all through BCDB, not a creature was stirring because they were all watching Rabbit Hood. You wouldn’t think a whole lot of good cartoons were released on December 24th, but you would be wrong… Rabbit Hood is just one of them!

Sherwood Forest is studded with “No Poaching” signs- “Not even an egg!” Bunny tries to swipe a carrot from the king’s carrot patch, but is caught crimson-fisted by the Sheriff of Nottingham. Just then, a goofy Little John announces, “Don’t you worry, never fear, Robin Hood will soon be here!” Robin doesn’t appear (the film’s running gag), so Bugs announces, “Lo, the king approacheth!”

As the sheriff bows for the king, Bugs bops him and runs. The sheriff chases Bugs around the king’s Royal Ground, where the rabbit imitates a real estate salesman and sells the sheriff the land. The flim-flam works so well that the sheriff is building the second story of a house before he finally gets wise. The sheriff corners Bugs, who comically introduces Little John to him. Next, Bugs pretends that the king is coming; this time, he disguises himself as His Highness and bestows knighthood on the sheriff.

Bobbing him with his staff with each word, Bugs declares the sheriff “Sir Loin of Beef, Earl of Cloves, Baron of Munchausen, Milk of Magnesia, Quarter of Ten.” The groggy sheriff sings “London Bridge” as he falls into a freshly-baked layer cake. Little John finally introduces Robin Hood: a live-action shot of Errol Flynn, causing an astonished Bugs to shrug and say, “Eh, it couldn’t be him!”

Contains actual footage of Errol Flynn as Robin Hood from the 1938 film “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” Flynn’s price for using his image was reportedly only a copy of this cartoon for his collection.

Released exactly one day before retired WB cartoon producer Leon Schlesinger died of viral infection at the age of 65.

Songs include: “London Bridge is Falling Down” (Unknown-arr. Carl Stalling), Performed by the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Cartoon of the Day: Transylvania 6-5000

Transylvania 6-5000

Transylvania 6-5000

Released on this date in 1963, Transylvania 6-5000 was the last Bugs Bunny cartoon directed by Chuck Jones. And this cartoon is thoroughly Chuck. From the backgrounds to the character design to the timing, this short is a one-stop lesson in Jonsian cartoon directing.

After taking a wrong left turn, Bugs ends up in the castle of a bloodthirsty Count. Luckily, Bugs knows the secret work, and confounds the Count’s attempts to retrieve Bugs’ blood.

Note that when Bugs rings the castle doorbell, the chimes play the opening notes of the TV series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”

A fitting climax to Jones’ career at Warner Bros, or a cardboard epitaph- what do you think?

Cartoon Of The Day: Hittin’ The Trail For Hallelujah Land

Hittin' The Trail For Hallelujah Land

Hittin’ The Trail For Hallelujah Land

Released this day in 1931, Hittin’ The Trail For Hallelujah Land is a founding member of the infamous Censored Eleven is also one of the least seen… I guess that is the point of being censored.

A kindly old Uncle Tom brings Fluffy down to her sweetheart Captain Piggy’s riverboat. As he drives back in his horse and buggy, Uncle Tom ends up in a graveyard where various skeletons come to life singing the title song. Uncle Tom flees the graveyard but falls in the river where Piggy saves him. As Piggy comes to Uncle Tom’s rescue, a villain tries to make off with Fluffy.

In 1968, United Artists (then owners of the A.A.P. library of pre-1948 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons) compiled the cartoons they considered too potentially offensive to be shown on television, and withheld those cartoons from distribution. AT that time, UA felt that these eleven cartoons should be withheld from broadcast because the depictions of black people in the cartoons were deemed too offensive for contemporary audiences.

This cartoon is one of those withheld from distribution, one of the so-called “Censored 11.” (The “Eleven” are: Hittin’ the Trail for Hallelujah Land (MM,1931), Sunday Go to Meetin’ Time (MM, 1936), Clean Pastures (MM, 1937), Uncle Tom’s Bungalow (MM, 1937), Jungle Jitters (1938), The Isle of Pingo Pongo (MM, 1938), All This and Rabbit Stew (MM, 1941), Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (MM, 1943), Tin Pan Alley Cats (MM, 1943), Angel Puss (LT, 1944), and Goldilocks and the Jivin’ Bears (MM, 1944)). More recently, when Ted Turner became owner of the library, he continued the ban, and refused to allow any of these cartoons to be shown or released on video. To date, these shorts have not been officially broadcast on television since 1968.

Soundtrack:

  • Hittin’ the Trail for Hallalujah Land,” Music by Rube Bloom, Lyrics by Joe Young, Sung by Various Characters
  • De Camptown Races,” Music by Stephen Foster; “Mysterious Mose,” Music by Walter Doyle

So watch this one today, and let us know what you think- rightly suppressed or much ado about nothing???

Lucille Bliss, 96, Was Cartoon Voice of Crusader Rabbit, Smurfette

Lucille Bliss

Lucille Bliss

Voice actress Lucille Bliss, who portrayed the title character of the first made-for-TV cartoon series, Crusader Rabbit (1949-51), died Thursday night, animator Dave Nimitz said. She was 96.

She had been living in Mesa Verde Residential Care Center in Costa Mesa, California.

Bliss voiced Smurfette, the only female Smurf, from 1981 to 1989 in the Hanna-Barbera series Smurfs, as well as the 1987 TV special ‘Tis the Season to Be Smurfy. Other Smurfette appearances were in the TV-movies The Smurfs Christmas Special and The Smurfs Springtime Special (both 1982), My Smurfy Valentine (1983), and The Smurfic Games (1984).

For Disney, she portrayed stepsister Anastasia in Cinderella (1950), Sunflower and Turnip in Alice in Wonderland (1951), and the Kanine Krunchie Commercial Singer in 101 Dalmatians (1961). Other roles in cartoon films were Mrs. Fitzgibbons in Don Bluth Productions’ The Secret of NIMH (1982) and the Pigeon Lady in Blue Sky’s Robots (2005).

Also at Disney, she narrated “Story of Thumper,” “Story of the White Rabbit” and “Story of Grandpa Bunny,” three stories on the Disney album Peter Cottontail and Other Funny Bunnies.

Her other regular TV series roles included Snoopy in H-B’s The Space Kidettes (1966), Queen Slugga in Ewoks (1986-87), and Ms. Bitters in Invader ZIM (2001).

Over the 1950s, Bliss was heard in several theatrical Warner Bros. and MGM theatrical cartoon shorts. Though uncredited, she was Suzanne in Friz Freleng’s A Kiddies Kitty (1955), the Little Girl and Mama in A Waggily Tale (1958), Jerry’s little mouse friend Tuffy in 1958′s MGM cartoon Robin Hoodwinked, and the Leprechaun in another 1958 MGM release, Droopy Leprechaun.

On TV, she guested as Hugo and Scout in the 1961 The Flintstones episode “The Good Scout,” The Librarian in the 2005 Duck Dodgers episode “All in the Crime Family,” and Yagoda (aka Yugoda) in the 2005 Avatar: The Last Airbender episodes “The Waterbending Master” and “The Siege of the North Pt. 1.”

Bliss portrayed Bamm Bamm Rubble in the 1977 TV-movie A Flintstone Christmas and Dusty in the 1978 TV-movie The Flintstones Little Big League. Other TV-movie and TV special roles included Miss Witch in The Great Bear Scare (1983); and Lickety Page and other characters in the ABC Weekend Specials Cap’n O.G. Readmore’s Jack and the Beanstalk (1985), Cap’n O.G. Readmore Meets Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Cap’n O.G. Readmore’s Puss in Boots and Cap’n O.G. Readmore Meets Red Riding Hood (both 1988).

She was in the voice casts of the two-part 1972 special Oliver and the Artful Dodger, released as an installment of The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie; the 1975 TV-movie The Tiny Tree. Bliss was also in the 1979 TV-movie Casper the Friendly Ghost: He Ain’t Scary, He’s Our Brother (aka Casper Saves Halloween).

Bliss portrayed Quinby in the 2007 theatrical cartoon short Up-In-Down Town, and also was heard in the theatrical shorts Hug Me (1981) and Betty Boop’s Hollywood Mystery (1989)

In the 2005 video short Blue Harvest Days (retitled Who Saves the Village?), she voiced Bear Brat.

Born in New York City on March 31, 1916, Bliss moved to San Francisco in the 1950s. There, she hosted ABC affiliate KRON-TV’s The Happy Birthday To You Show, a live local kids’ program, from 1950 to 1957.

For her work in Cinderella, Bliss received the Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1999 Young Artist Awards. At the Annie Awards, she won the Winsor McCay award for lifetime achievement in 2000.

Looney Tunes Movie Back In Action

Looney Tunes Movie Back In Action

Looney Tunes Movie Back In Action

Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Yosemite Sam look to be back in action, or at least headed back to the big screen. Warner Bros. has announced that they plan to reboot the classic cartoon short characters into an as-yet untitled new hybrid live-action/CG film.

Former Saturday Night Live cast member Jenny Slate is already on board as writer for the new flick. Jeffrey Clifford, Harry Potter producer David Heyman and Dark Shadows writers David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith are slated to produce the film.

No casting has yet been announced.

The classic Warner Bros. Looney Tunes (and Merrie Melodies) characters appeared in shorts from the studio from 1930 through 1968. During their initial theatrical run, the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series became the most popular of all theatrical series, exceeding even Disney in audience draw. Various revivals of the shorts have occurred since, including some well regarded CGI shorts over the last few years.

The characters have also made their way into two previous live-action/CG films, Space Jamwhich featured Michael Jordan, and the Brendan Fraser/Jenna Elfman film Looney Tunes: Back In Action.

Space Jam grossed $90 million domestically and $230 million worldwide, while the second film only made only $20 million domestically and $68 million worldwide.