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Don't Give Up the Sheep (1953)

A sheepdog thwarts the efforts of a thieving wolf whose tricks include altering the time clock, hiding in a bush, imitating Pan, digging a tunnel, unleashing a wildcat and disguising himself as the dog's coworker.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Ralph Sheepdog / Ralph Wolf / Fred Sheepdog / Wildcat (voice)
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Storyline

In this matchup of wolf and sheepdog, the sheepdog is identified as Ralph, and the wolf isn't named and doesn't punch the clock. The sheepdog is also not as good at anticipating the wolf's moves. But the wolf is, ultimately, no more successful; his Acme wildcat turns on him; his Tarzan-like vine swinging gets him only the sheepdog, no sheep, and the subsequent war of cutting down tree limbs, the tree, and ultimately the cliff where the tree grows, is done in by cartoon physics. Ultimately, he tries posing as Fred, the night shift dog, with no success. Written by Jon Reeves <jreeves@imdb.com>

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Plot Keywords:

wolf | sheepdog | tree | clock | sheep | See All (78) »


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Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

3 January 1953 (USA)  »

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(Technicolor)

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1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was the first of two Looney Tunes shorts to feature the Acme Wildcat. (The second was A Mutt in a Rut (1959).) In both, the perpetrator places the box containing the cat near intended target, then throws a long rope over a tree limb, and walks far away before pulling the rope, which opens the box, thus freeing the cat, who, almost immediately upon realization of its freedom, is whipped into a foreseen savage frenzy, then goes off and attacks the wrong person. See more »

Connections

Featured in Så er der tegnefilm: Episode #1.2 (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

William Tell Overture
Music by Gioachino Rossini
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A classic first cartoon in a short-lived but brilliant series
18 August 2008 | by (Lincoln, England) – See all my reviews

Chuck Jones's 'Don't Give Up the Sheep' is the first of six cartoons Jones made with the lesser known characters of Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf (although in this early entry to the series it is the Sheepdog who is called Ralph and the Wolf is unnamed). The first thing cartoon buffs will notice is that, but for his red nose, the Wolf is basically Wile E Coyote. What provoked this design decision is uncertain and it may have just been down to laziness but Jones later turned it into a brilliant comment on both the similarity and difference between the Sheepdog and Wolf shorts and the Road Runner series. The Wolf's attempts to capture the sheep in a series of blackout gags could and have been likened to the style of storytelling in the Road Runner cartoons but there's a key difference that tells us that Ralph Wolf is completely different from Wile E Coyote. The Coyote is an insanely obsessive creature driven by his one track mind to catch and devour the Road Runner. The highly unusual opening scenes of the Sheepdog and Wolf cartoons, however, reveal that Ralph is simply fulfilling his duties as he punches in on a timecard like any other workaday stiff. His duties are presumably determined by either nature or the all powerful cartoonists. The fact that only the Sheepdog punches in at the beginning of 'Don't Give Up the Sheep' suggests that maybe Jones extension of this gag to the Wolf as well may have been a sly joke at the expense of those who accused him of repeating himself.

In my opinion, those who claim that the Sheepdog and Wolf cartoons are just a retread of Road Runner are absolutely wrong. This is a quite different setup in which the antagonist has the added inconvenience of having to remain covert. The brutal, threatening presence of Sam the Sheepdog is a quite different proposition from the falling boulders and malfunctioning gadgets that scupper Wile E Coyote's plans. The implication here is that Ralph is extremely good at catching sheep and would undoubtedly be a success were Sam just not that tiny bit better at his job. Ralph is not the self-sabotaging dupe that the Coyote is, he's merely the victim of a superior co-worker.

All of which tells you nothing specific about 'Don't Give Up the Sheep', for which I apologise. To finally set aside all the prevarication, 'Don't Give Up the Sheep' is a superb cartoon. The jokes, courtesy of Michael Maltese, are brilliantly inventive and unpredictable. The funniest gags are often the simplest, such as the panpipe sequence or the wildcat joke. There's also a hilarious extended piece involving the sawing of branches which leads up to the only already well-used punchline in the cartoon. I always enjoyed the later episodes in which the Wolf punched in alongside the Sheepdog and it was implied that they were casual friends outside the working hours of a job that demanded they be enemies but 'Don't Give Up the Sheep' makes up for this omission by sheer quality of the gags and their impeccable execution. They may live in the shadow of the more popular Road Runner cartoons but I've always greatly preferred the extraordinarily witty Sheepdog and Wolf series and 'Don't Give Up the Sheep' gets it off to a riotously


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