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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A desert canine tries to catch fast-footed potential prey, and we're
not talking about Warner Bros. cartoon star Wile E. Coyote versus Bugs
Bunny or Road Runner. "Loco Lobo" starts well, with a clever
rod-and-reel gag. Soon, however, story man Cal Howard (who would later
work at the Warner's and Lantz studios during their final, waning
years) and director Howard Swift let the film's wit succumb to erratic
violence. After some guilty laughs when the wolf spanks himself with a
cactus, there's not much humor either. A sequence at a deserted Native
American village is a lesson in "how" to keep an audience silent
(except for the footfalls of people walking out). The final, murderous
gag with dueling pistols would have been better if the rabbit's pistol
The animation is competent, but not original; the wolf and rabbit look like mediocre Disney imitations. Some good may have come out of this if, as one suspects, the film induced Warner's artists at the Chuck Jones unit to put more thought into their design of Wile E. and the gags they would put him through.
In the waning days of Screen Gems' cartoon production -- Columbia has
been trying to establish a stable cartoon unit since Charles Mintz'
death in 1939 -- director Howard Swift and writer Cal Howard came up
with this funny cartoon of a wolf pursuing a rabbit in the American
It's done very nicely, with a fine assortment of gags -- although it does run out of steam at the end. The problem is that the latest producers Columbia had hired for the unit were unsure of where they were going with the work. Their credentials were they had been book keepers for Schlesinger, and while they seem to have done a good job, no one seems to have any idea beyond whatever cartoon they had in hand. The only continuing characters they had were the Fox and the Crow, derived from the period five years earlier, when Frank Tashlin had been briefly in charge of the cartoon. Otherwise, every cartoon was a one-off, like this one.
It's a pity, because a couple of years later, Chuck Jones would come up with the Roadrunner & Coyote, same setting, same predator-and-prey tropes. No one would put it together at Columbia.
Within a couple of year, so would the cartoonists at Screen Gems. UPA would do the job cheaper and with less supervision. They would also win a couple of Oscars.
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