The last Road Runner cartoon directed by Chuck Jones - hence the last real Road Runner cartoon - was "To Beep or Not to Beep", released in 1963. This one is now truly the last. It's really just more of the same. But that's the wonder of it: that after thirty-one years, the old studio crew long since dissolved, managed to create a Road Runner cartoon that neatly fits in with the rest of the series and is just as good - in fact, superior to most (the very best one, if you ask me, was "Lickety-Splat", released 1961).
Two things stand out. One is the music. Lacking Carl Stalling and his ability to dart unobtrusively from one half-familiar tune to the next, Jones has leaned heavily on one piece: the jesters' dance from Bedrich Smetana's opera, "The Bartered Bride", which is mostly unedited and entirely apt. What I didn't realise until I took another look at some of the older Road Runners recently is that Stalling had used Smetana's music all the time in the Road Runner series, whenever he wanted to convey speed and had no particular reason to convey anything else. I'm glad this music was allowed for once to dominate the cartoon. (There are, you'll notice, almost no sound effects.)
Secondly, there's an absence of what I'd call conceptual Road Runner humour. Here's an example (from another cartoon, I forget which): We see a long, elaborate, winding wooden gutter down the side of a small mountain. The camera starts at the bottom and slowly pans up. At the top is the Coyote, with one of those black spherical bombs. He lights the fuse. BANG. The bomb explodes. The gag is over. The whole rickety gutter apparatus was irrelevant. This is probably the funniest joke of its kind, and even so it's a bit of a cheat; you can get away with only so many gags like this, and no more, and they'd BETTER be this good to be worthy of being included at all (and sometimes, they weren't). The best Road Runner jokes take place WITHIN the world of the cartoon, and involve the Coyote being defeated by the very energy he was attempting to harness. "Chariots of Fur" is more classical than most other Road Runner cartoons, hence better.
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