Red Hot Riding Hood (1943)
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This short has a nice story and the usual Tex Avery humor, including written messages. The short is not really suitable for children, it has some sexual references, but adults will like this very much. A very nice animated short.
This is Tex Avery's masterpiece in terms of the relation of his work to animation in general and the short form in specific. There are better cartoons (some even by Avery himself) and there are cartoons that I personally like better, but in terms of what Avery was attempting to do with the form, in terms of what animation was at the time and had been in the past and what its potential was for the future and the impact that Avery had and would have on his artform, this is the first truly successful Avery cartoon on all terms, both Avery's and animation. Avery blew out the valves, cranked up the engine and blew the doors off on this one for the first (but not last) time here. He turned everything up a few notches here, gang, and it works! It worked then, it works now and will work tomorrow, precisely because Avery had that most overworked and little understood word-genius. Remarkable cartoon and if you like animation and haven't seen this one, what are you reading me for? Go watch this. This is a great piece of work. Need I add, most highly recommended?
The story begins with the standard version of the Little Red Riding Hood story; until the characters suddenly rebel at this done-to-death staging and stated "every cartoon studio in Hollywood has done it this way", which is kind of the truth. So, they demand a fresh approach and the annoyed narrator accedes to their demands and starts the story again in a dramatically different arrangement. And now, the story is set in a contemporary urban setting where Red is a sexy adult nightclub entertainer. The Wolf is a debonair skirt chaser who is in love with Red but she wants nothing to do with him. Red escapes Wolf saying she's going to her Grandma's house, but when Wolf arrives Red is nowhere to be found. Grandma is an oversexed man-chaser who falls head over heels over Wolf, and locks him in her apartment, puts on a bright red shade of lipstick and tries to kiss him several times during his stay. He tries to escape but the lovelorn granny chases after him, and every door Wolf opens Grandma is there waiting with puckered lips.
In contrast to my favorite cartoon character Betty Boop, who was a character who exuded a sweetly innocent style, Red was pure sex, existing almost exclusively to whip the Wolf (a metaphor for males in general) into a carnal frenzy. With this short as her introduction, Red was the sexy distraction for the oversexed, lusting "Wolf" character that was introduced earlier in the 1942 short "Blitz Wolf." She drove the sex-crazed wolf do all the things that were to become trademarks of Avery's cartoons: the eye-popping, the jaw dropping, and the gravity defiying pratfalls. She was so popular that she was brought back for 3 more cartoons - "Swing Shift Cinderella," "Uncle Tom's Cabana" and "Little Rural Riding Hood." Her cartoons were originally made for the benefit of U.S. GI's, and were banned from television for years for being considered to racy.
That is, until I found it on YouTube.....
Tex Avery made me very, very happy that day, hence my comment title.
It starts off like a normal sugar coated fairy tail (the narrator even uses a sappy voice!) until the Wolf, Red and Grandma all start complaining that every studio in Hollywood has done this over and over again. And that's when "Little Red Riding Hood" turns into "RED HOT RIDING HOOD"!!! This is the low down on what happens: The Wolf is a wealthy playboy, Grandma is also filthy rich (and horny as hell) and Red is a flaming hot and sexy nightclub singer/dancer. The wolf goes to the nightclub, sees Red performing and goes ballistic over her. He then chases her to "Grandma's house" (which is really a giant apartment), Grandma sees the Wolf and starts chasing him! It ends with the Wolf at the nightclub muttering that he'll shoot himself if he sees another babe ever again. Red appears on the stage again and, true to the Wolf's words, he shoots himself and his ghost goes nuts over Red.
This is most definitely one of the greatest cartoons of all time. Anyone who hasn't seen it, must see it.
Ill mannered and mean spirited, although it probably has more laughs than an 'ordinary' cartoon from that time. Still, I can't imagine kids watching this stuff...
It's extremely likely I have seen this in my life before (and it inspiring parts of The Mask with Jim Carrey), but this was the first time I saw it on a big screen (via the Drafthouse pres-how). This work by Tex Avery seems so impossible to having been made in 1943, as its one of the most sophisticated and clever and downright meta things of its time. It says a lot when a gal in a cartoon clearly inspired Jessica Rabbit, and damn if this isn't just as innovative. Every shot there is something to look at, the sense of propulsive movement is delirious and the gags make one think that all totally bonkers slapstick comedy should have started here (when the wolf comes back to the apartment building for example anf the old lady is there waiting for him... Come to think of it, this IS the Toontown sequence in full, its dirty, balls to the wall grandfather). It didn't of course, but that's the impression it gives. A gas.
Also have much admiration for Tex Avery, an animation genius whose best cartoons are animated masterpieces and some of the best he ever did. 'Red Hot Riding Hood' is one of his most famous cartoons, a distinction that is so richly deserved because it is not one of Avery's very finest (in a filmography where a vast majority of his output was good to masterpiece standard) but to me and many others one of the best cartoons ever made. It was very ahead of its time, with the hottest and sexiest Red Riding Hood ever and characters in animation and its very racy humour, and to this day it's still the complete opposite of tame.
The story 'Little Red Riding Hood' is one of the most famous stories ever and has been parodied in countless cartoons, of which no other cartoon based on the story is this imaginative, daring or unique as 'Red Hot Riding Hood'. All the characters are great, especially the smoking hot Red and the hilarious wolf. 'Little Red Riding Hood' has never had a Grandma this feisty either.
Can't say anything bad about Avery's direction. He does a wonderful job directing, with his unique, unlike-any-other visual and characteristic and incredibly distinctive wacky humour style all over it as can be expected.
Once again there is nothing sadistic or repetitious, instead it's imaginative, wonderfully wild, deliciously deranged, violent but imaginatively so, shockingly racy, red hot sexy and hilarious throughout from start to finish. The sight gags throughout are an absolute joy and are immaculate in timing.
It is no surprise either that the animation is superb, being rich in colour and detail. The character designs are unique, Avery always did have creative character designs, and suitably fluid. The music, courtesy of Scott Bradley, is lushly and cleverly orchestrated, with lively and energetic rhythms and fits very well indeed.
'Red Hot Riding Hood' is a tour-De-force when it comes to the voice acting. Sara Berner and Daws Butler especially are at the top of their game.
Overall, simply amazing and one of my favourites. 10/10 Bethany Cox
I mean, is there a better illustration of Avery's legacy than the wolf continuous whistles and howling during Red's sexy song. But let's get back to the first three waves that somewhat predated the shock of hilarity "Red Hot Riding Hood" provided (spoilers ahead in the next paragraph)
Let's see, the first one, "Blitz Wolf" was a propaganda short based on "The Three Little Pigs" with a wolf embodying Hitler but not one of these ugly-looking caricatures from Warner Bros cartoons, he was evil but sympathetic enough to carry the film. The second short, "The Early Bird Dood It" ended with a bird finally eating the worm, supposedly the short's hero, only to be eaten by a cat: one of the cleverest Karma revenges in any cartoon. The third short, "Dumb-hounded" introduced Droopy as a police hound and the wolf as a prisoner who, wherever he escaped, found Droopy waiting for him quite a nightmare.
Avery's creativity was going all over the place but "Little Red Hot Riding Hood" combine the comedic core of all these elements, as many ingredients to a great sandwich we devour with appetite. But there's an extra sauce that gives it all its delicious favor: sex.
Avery dealt with violence, madness and death but there was still one forbidden theme pending over his inspiration, the real test. And what he accomplishes is even more impressive because he doesn't just make a cartoon with adult characters, he takes as a starting point a fairy tale, the epitome of childhood-oriented stories. I said Avery mastered the ending of his shorts, this is perhaps one of the few times where the beginning is the most memorable part, it even plays like a real epiphany for the world of animation, Avery's anti-Disney testimony, expressing his deepest belief that there's no reason fairy tales should be meant to please children, there was something strongly adult in them, and when we know what the metaphor of the 'big bad wolf" was intended to, we can hardly disagree.
The short opens with one of these Disney trademarks, a book opening, and the narrator starts with "Good evening kiddies", then using a very corny falsetto voice, as if dumbing down the tone was the best way to reach children, he shows good old riding hood going to her grandma's house, the brave old lady waiting and her bad and the sneaky wolf coming, but as the narrator speaks, the eyes of the animal break the fourth wall and he's finally fed up with always being the "big bad wolf", the girl joins him and then the three characters all in unison express their tiredness, they had enough with the same story being played over and over again. Watch "The Three Little Pigs" and its derivatives from Disney and you'll second, even third their opinion. Then the Averyan magic operates and the narrator announces a few changes will be made.
The rest is known by everybody, the wolf becomes the archetypal woman-chaser, red hot a cabaret dancer and the grandma is perhaps one of the most politically incorrect animated characters of all time. Of course, you can't really analyze the film without passing over the most iconic moment, featured in many movies such as "The Mask" or that striptease with Sophia Loren where Marcello Mastroianni starts howling, the wolf whistles, the frenetic way he hits his head, are perhaps the closest depiction to sexuality ever displayed in a cartoon. When Disney was always a matter of "love", this is pure libido. And the perfect metaphor for it, this moment is so important in the history of animation that viewers didn't even notice that even the content of the "Daddy" song was rather racy.
On a side note, the film had the fortune to be made in World War II when troops needed mature content to be kept in good spirit so the short passed the censor (except for a marriage that could have been seen as bestiality).
Still, the reversal of role we got with the grandma is another demonstration of Avery's genius. As shown in his previous cartoons, identities are interchangeable, the hunter can become the hunted, the lymphatic and silent one can become crazy, but this is not the chain food like in the "Early Bird", this is libido, and when the lusty wolf has a taste of his own medicine with the nymphomaniac grandma, this is a great twist on the chase theme. And Avery displays countless gags with the adult subtext, the film isn't just played for subversion but for laughs, and its subversive aspects make it all the more enjoyable. Finally, the conclusion is another classic of macabre quality, the wolf shoots himself because he can't stand women but his ghost takes his place. And we're on the road again.
Once again, Avery sacrifices his characters for laughs, but like the ghosts, the wolf will be back over and over again, with him and Red, and Droopy for the previous, Avery had already established himself as the King of comedy, "Red Hot Riding Hood" is the quintessential Avery cartoon, named one of the Top 50 greatest cartoons of all time. The formula will be declined in seven other shorts but the return of American puritanism would put a deathblow on it, proof once again that Avery was ahead of his time.
PACING WAS NEVER one of Avery's strong suits and consequently he probably used and recycled more gags per one reeler than anyone in animation. Although, to his credit, while borrowing from previous cartoons, he did manage to put a new spin on them; rendering in a sense, "new and improved."
TAKING AN AGE old and very well known story such as Little Red Riding Hood and "updating" it and giving the characters 20th Century "face lifts" the master Director just let his imagination run away with itself. His penchant for all that is fast paced and outrageous easily fills up the running time.
DURING THAT SAID running time, his innovations include: Red Riding Hood as a sexy vamp/singer, a playboy "Wolf" in the 1940s vernacular, Grandmother's place now being a penthouse and Granny's possessing the libido of a much younger woman!
TEX MANAGES TO top it all off the festivities with having this Wolf swearing off of women altogether, then doing the "Dutch Act" (suicide) with two pistols. That is followed by the Wolf's white as a sheet shade's stomping, whistling and hooting for Red Riding Hood, whom has once again taken center stage.
However, for those of us who have surpassed that particular checkpoint, 'Red Hot Riding Hood' is very funny. The sheer audacity of a children's cartoon about sex particularly given the typically innocent and wholesome image of Little Red Riding Hood is something to be applauded. When Red first appears on stage, tossing aside her outfit to reveal a decidedly immodest red costume, I was genuinely taken aback, and then felt somewhat ashamed of myself. No doubt the animators in 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)' used Red as a template for the similarly alluring Jessica Rabbit. Also worth noting is that 'The Mask (1994)' directly referenced 'Red Hot Riding Hood' in the scene where Jim Carrey wolf-whistles (in the full sense of the word) Cameron Diaz during her nightclub performance I'd never realised this. The interaction between Wolf and Grandma is more conventional than the rest of the film, but still enjoyable. For fans of Tex Avery and MGM cartoons, this one is essential viewing.
Overall, this is a great cartoon. While it isn't quite as funny as SWINGSHIFT, it is the first of its kind and because of that it still is one of the best of the era. My advice? See them both--though similar, you just can't get enough of these crazy cartoons and they abound with great humor and animation throughout. A true classic.