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This was my second look at the "Screwy Squirrel" character of the mid
1940s, a character invented by the great Tex Avery and writer Heck
Allen. Only five cartoons featuring this squirrel were made. That's too
bad, because this humor is just pure genius.
The sight gags almost from the start are absolutely fantastic. The dumb dog I saw in the first Screwy cartoon is now the "villain," as truant officers are always the bad guys, aren't they? Of course, the squirrel's attitude is pure juvenile delinquent. The opening scene has Screwy outside the school house and telling us, the audience, "Can you imagine those chumps going to school on a nice day like this?"
Screwy may not be Avery's super-nice little "Droopy," but he is just as fascinating to watch and a great vehicle for laughs and because he's different, I appreciated the character. It's almost refreshing to see a wise-guy "good guy," just for variety sake. His violent nature, however, is sometimes shocking. This squirrel is a killer!
I don't know if all the Screwy cartoons as good as this one, but it is the best of the three I've seen, just squeaking out "Lonesome Lenny," which also was outstanding. Reviewers here mainly think this is the best of the SS cartoons, and I wouldn't argue with that.
I also have to believe that audiences back in 1945 had never quite seen the inventive tricks that Avery and Heck played in here. This is a wild, outrageous cartoon and I can't rate it high enough! Great stuff!
Apparently Tex Avery hated the Screwy Squirrel character, and judging by the comments here, the little lunatic continues to divide public opinions. Myself, I was never keen on the Three Stooges, but a lot of people love 'em, so why bother arguing? The whole point of Screwy was that there WAS no point; he was just a vehicle for a battery of surreal gags, violent slapstick and insane comedy routines. Like all Avery's best work, the gags here come thick and fast and arrive completely out of nowhere - no trace, no explanation, true virgin births. This cartoon doesn't only play with the audience's preconceptions (right at the start, we see The Little Red Schoolhouse, painted blue, because "Technicolor red has gone to war") but also subverts the whole medium of animation. Seeing this priceless short is like being present at the creation of a whole new style of cartooning. There are many bits to choose from, but my favourites are Screwy's trunk full of swell things to hit the dog on the head with, his imaginative use of white paint, the pond that he pulls away like a throw rug and the truant officer explaining his family heritage. Cartoons don't come much better than this.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't really care for the character of Screwy Squirrel. Of all of Tex Avery's wonderful cartoon creations, he is the one I could really do without. That being said, The Screwy Truant has to be one of, if not the best cartoon featuring this extremely annoying character. In this one Screwy is chased by a truant officer dog. The result is some very funny gags that remain fresh due to the fact that they have not been over used in other cartoons. My favorite bit involves Red Riding Hood and the Wolf getting lost in the wrong cartoon.
The Screwy Truant (1945) follows the further exploits of one Screwball
Squirel! This time his out playing hooky from school. Whilst he's
enjoying himself, a real stupid Truant officer spends the whole day
trying to catch the wayward Squirrel and drag him back to school. But
the wacky Squirrel has other plans and does everything within his power
to try and stop the dopey officer and enjoy his day out in the forest.
Will Screwy get the day off or will the moronic Truant Officer drag him
back into the classroom? Check it out!
Tex Avery has created another classic short. That's what I like about Screwball Squirrel. He left everyone wanting more. At
the right time (before it got stale) he decided to end the lifeline of the character. It was fun while it lasted however. Long live Screwball Squirrel!
This is the best of the Screwy Squirrel shorts. I am convinced that Tex Avery wanted to design the prototypical Avery character, did so, then revved it up about 180 RPM faster and Screwy was born! Screwy's motto seems to be,"Let's not push the limits-destroy them instead!" To say he is outside the rules is to mistakenly believe that he admits the rules even exist! Sight gags come fast and furious with Screwy and even the form and nature of conventional cartooning isn't safe! Tex Avery was a mad genius! Actually, that last is a redundancy or there is no such thing! The final frame and it's a strike! A perfect game! Most recommended.
When I was a kid watching the Tom and Jerry show on weekday afternoons in the late '70s and early '80s, I watched most of the cartoons they aired that was from the '40s including those starring Droopy or Barney Bear. For some reason, however, they never either showed or I never saw any Screwy Squirrel cartoons made during the same time. So The Screwy Truant is the very first one starring this admittedly unappealing, both visually and personality-wise, character I've ever seen. Despite that, I loved the "everything but the kitchen sink" (actually, don't think too much about that one) humor of the entire premise of the title character playing hooky and getting chased by the truant officer with all the fast-paced wackiness you can only expect from the one and only Tex Avery. Absolutely nothing is sacred, certainly not "Little Red Riding Hood" or jokes related to WWII air raid uniforms. So to anyone who loves great animation and great laughs, The Screwy Truant is for you!
The Screwball Squirrel cartoons are never favored for the annoying character. Rather, Screwball cartoons use some of Tex Avery's best gags. "The Screwy Truant" is a good example. In the course of the seven-minute short, Screwball spends time running away from the Truant Officer who is trying to get him into school. Along the way, there are characters lost in the wrong cartoon, the greatest of the sequences where the characters go in and out of doors in a hallway, and my personal favorite, the character finding a box simply labeled "Things to Hit (insert name of antagonist) With" followed by everything but the kitchen sink (well... never mind.)
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