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Nominated for an Oscar, this cartoon is a takeoff on Walter Mity, with a small boy named Ralph Phillips surpassing Mitty in inventiveness. Thoroughly engaging and extremely hilarious, the situations Ralph imagines are wonderful and so off-beat (particularly his bout with mathematics!) that the cartoon can be watched again and again without getting old or growing flat. Most highly recommended.
Looney Tunes cartoons are mainly known for their stock characters, Bugs
Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, etc., but now and again there was a
single cartoon, or one or two, featuring a character who didn't appear
anywhere else. One of these characters was the daydreaming little boy,
In 'From A to ZZZZ', Ralph daydreams during class - he's underwater, he's a general, the usual boyish kind of dreams. Cutely drawn and influenced just a touch by Gerald McBoing-Boing, UPA's award-winning creation who only speaks in sound, Ralph and this cartoon are an irresistible combination.
While Chuck Jones has been given his just desserts as an animator he is
awfully underrated as a filmmaker and should be considered as one of the
directors of all-time regardless of medium. Not only have his works
the likes of Steven Spielberg, Chris Columbus and Joe Dante but his
characters were always human.
In this short we get the most rounded character Chuck Jones ever created not only because he was "Flesh and Blood" but because he (Ralph Phillips) went through a range of emotions (boredom, whimsy, regret, anger, self-indulgence, loneliness) than most of his characters ever did. This film is a testament to Jones's art. In just 21 minutes Chuck Jones created a character who doesn't shine as brightly but is just as memorable as Bugs Bunny.
This Oscar-nominated short directed by Chuck Jones is one I can relate with. In school while I'm usually the talkative/class clown type. There are times when I doze off and daydream about fantastic adventures and places and people. So in a way I can relate to this short and it's leading character. And this short is based on Chuck Jones' childhood daydreams. So I guess we have something in common.
'From A to Z-Z-Z-Z' is a clever, charming and imaginative cartoon that
is deserving of more attention. Despite being Oscar-nominated, a high
IMDb rating and reviews expressing extreme fondness and adoration,
compared to other Chuck Jones cartoons it's not particularly well-known
and it's a shame.
It's very well-animated, the drawing of course is sketchier than previous Jones cartoons and the backgrounds more stylised but they don't look cheap or ugly at all. There is some lovely lush use of colour, the backgrounds even when stylised look as though a lot of careful detail went into them and the sketchy drawing style is of the elegant rather than scrappy kind.
Carl Stalling has long been my personal favourite of the regular Looney Tunes composers, his music always elevates cartoons to a greater level and this reviewer has yet to hear a bad score from him. Here in 'From A to Z-Z-Z-Z', fits beautifully and not just adds to the cartoon but enhances it. It's lushly and cleverly orchestrated as always, has a delicious wit, a dream-like whimsy and the rhythms are high in energy and character.
The writing is sharp, whimsical and never misfires, often being hilarious. Ralph's day-dreaming is very imaginatively rendered and never less than highly amusing, especially with the maths. The story is energetically paced and one, particularly anybody known to day-dream or wanting to go on more exciting adventures, will find themselves relating to the story and to Ralph, who is a very charming title character who conveys a surprising wide range of emotions instead of just being adorable.
Voice acting is very good, Mel Blanc and Bea Benaderet are always great and Dick Beals more than holds his own.
All in all, a real charmer from Chuck Jones. 10/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
. . . like a simple cartoon about a young boy merely guilty of being a serial day-dreamer at school. But when a Warnologist digs a little beneath the surface of FROM A TO Z-Z-Z-Z, a more sinister undertone emerges. Z-Z-Z-Z contemporaries would have noticed immediately that Master Ralph L. Phillips has morphed into General Douglas MacArthur at the end of this Looney Tune, when he threatens his Math Teacher Missy Wallace with MacArthur's most famous quote, "I shall return!" Since a chalkboard's worth of numbers literally attack Ralphie during this short, numerologists will quickly note that "Master Ralph L. Phillips" and "General Douglas MacArthur" BOTH count out at 244, along with "Math Teacher Missy Wallace" (also 244, with 24 divided by 4 times 3--for this fated trio--being expressed as Satan's Number, 666!). Warnology indicates that this was Warner Bros.' way of warning America against a renewed military coup effort on the part of MacArthur, who'd all but rolled up to the White House in a tank a few months earlier. This subliminal message obviously worked, since MacArthur just faded away until he died in the wake of this animated caution.
This is an adorable cartoon featuring Ralph Phillips--the child who is
perpetually daydreaming. There were two such cartoons in all, but this
is the first and the best. I have noticed as I review Warner Brothers
cartoons that my favorites all are ones that do not star the
traditional favorites, like Bugs and Daffy, but lesser characters such
as Ralph, Bertie and Hubie, Mark Anthony the dog, etc.
Ralph is an adorable kid who spends his school day imagining he is a hero in a wide variety of day dreams. Through the course of the day, he imagines he's a skin diver battling sharks, a boxer and ultimately General MacArthur! The dreams are cute and very endearing. About the only negative is that all the Ralph Phillips cartoons are animated in a sketchier style with stylized backgrounds--not exactly the best quality Warners had to offer.
I would have given "From A to Z-Z-Z-Z" a higher grade had it not
contained a scene stereotyping Native Americans. But other than that,
it's a good look at school life. I mean, how many of us didn't daydream
in class like Ralph Phillips does here? Especially with the rote
learning portrayed in the cartoon. Yes, he may be self-indulgent, but
he has his reasons. And it probably would be fun to do some of what he
So, although I prefer Chuck Jones's cartoons portraying Bugs Bunny and that crowd, this one has its merits. Worth seeing.
Did Gen. MacArthur ever say that?
This cartoon is about a boy with Attention Deficit Disorder, done at a
time when the affliction was not well understood at all (that only
happened after 1980). I relate to it, as I'm sure anybody with ADD
does. This also points up how widespread the disorder is: either Jones
had it, or he knew someone who did. I'm sure that if I told my old high
school classmates that there are an estimated fifteen million of us in
the United States alone, they'd day "You mean there's fifteen million
like YOU, Joe? God save the country!
Then again, that teacher's teaching methods are so boring that it's a wonder she holds the attention of any of those kids for any length of time at all!
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