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Olivier Jean Marie
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Exit stage left again and again during three TV episodes
Having struck gold with the Smurfs, and after running out of variations on Scooby Doo, The Flintstones and real life TV properties, Hanna Barbara studios decided to gobble up the rights to more European comic books. They obtained those to Morris' cowboy strip 'Lucky Luke' and proceeded to adapt his stories for television. This "feature presentation" (the third cinematic outing for Lucky Luke) is nothing more than three episodes strung together. The patented H/B animation has everybody moving from left to right or right to left all the Do-Dah day and Lucky Luke has quit smoking and started chewing on a straw (just like he would in the comics around this time).
The first Episode in this compilation is based on 1963s "Les Dalton dans le blizzard". The Dalton brothers (Joe, Jack, William and Averell) escape from jail and head for Canada. On the way they decide to pose as the Jones brothers: Frank, Louis, Robert and Stupid. Luckily, Luke is continually on their trail, with some help from the dumbest dog in the West, Rataplan, his nagging horse Jolly Jumper and a rather useless character called Col Pentegras (of the Royal Canadian mounties). Before you know it, the Daltons are robbing Canadian banks like there is no tomorrow. This is strange, since their sole reason to migrate was to find a place where they weren't wanted for any crimes. They also forget to use their aliases as soon as they get there. No wonder double L finds them so easily.
Before you know it, we're in the middle of the Ma Dalton episode (based on the 1971 album). The Hanna Barbara version somehow manages to include a Roadunner homage/rip off. The animation is repetitive and the Mis-en-scene a bit of a bore compared to the previous two Lucky Luke films ('Daisy Town' and 'La Ballade des Dalton'). Also, the perspective appears to be all over the place. There is a not so very funny running gag that consists of different characters repeating lines from Lucky Luke's narration. This happens about every ten minutes. Of course Joe ends up disguising himself as his own mum and lands the entire family all back in jail before the start of the third episode.
Naturally it's another Dalton-centric story, Les Dalton se rachètent (originally published in 1963). By this time you can actually see the animation degrading in front of your eyes. The Luckster visits Washintgton D.C. where a cookie senator instructs him to take four criminals (no prices for guessing who) on a rehabilitation trip. If they can keep out of trouble for a month, they will be set free. So, the Daltons start a bank (ha ha!) in Tortuila Gulch and as their only willing client, Lucky deposits 10 bucks. Soon the brothers four are framed by one-off baddie Frank (while out fishing). To their disgust they are promoted to deputies to track down the imposter's, but because Averell reads the calender wrong they end up in jail anyway.
I remember quite enjoying the TV series from which this film is comprised when I was but a young cowboy, but as a feature presentation, it disappoints. Seek out the two earlier cinematic outings (produced in Europe) instead.
3 out of 10 - one for each original comic book
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