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1 June 1970 (USA)  »

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The title refers to the Western lawman Wild Bill Hickock who was murdered in Deadwood, South Dakota during a poker game while holding the "deadman's" hand - a pair of aces and a pair of eights. See more »

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Not so wild
23 October 2017 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Was very fond of Woody Woodpecker and his cartoons as a child. Still get much enjoyment out of them now as a young adult, even if there are more interesting in personality cartoon characters and better overall cartoons.

That is in no way knocking Woody, because many of his cartoons are a lot of fun to watch (almost all of them being in his prime era of the 1940s through to the mid-50s) and more and also still like him a lot as a character. This is going to be a reiteration of a lot of my reviews for the later Woody Woodpecker cartoons, but mainly because the later Paul J. Smith-directed cartoons have pretty much the same strengths and faults. Not all Smith's efforts are average or less, 'Niagara Fools' is one of the not many very good and more Woody Woodpecker cartoons of his (excellent in that cartoon's case despite the lacking animation).

Are there worse Paul J. Smith-directed and overall Woody Woodpecker cartoons? Yes there are. But as far as Smith-directed Woody Woodpecker cartoons go 'Wild Bill Hiccup' is a lesser effort, or at least to me it is. Most of the Woody Woodpeckers in the 60s, especially the mid to late ones were average or less with a few exceptions. 'Wild Bill Hiccup' is closer to being one of the lacklustre cartoons than one of the exceptions.

If there was a best asset, it would have to be the music score. It is bouncy, energetic and very lushly orchestrated, not only synchronising and fitting with the action very well but enhancing it.

Voice acting is solid. Grace Stafford continues to prove why she was the best voice actor for the character and the one that understood him the most. Dal McKennon does his best with weak material. There are a couple of decent amusing moments and the haunted house setting is fun and sometimes atmospheric.

However, Woody compared to his original manic personality is just too subdued and his material is too obvious and safe, one misses the manic energy and the risk taking. Wild Bill is too derivative of similar and more interesting foils, and the horse serves little point and useless.

Other than a couple of decent gags, most of 'Wild Bill Hiccup' is not funny, being sloppy in timing and most of the gags being too obvious and dumb. The pace is dull and the story completely lacks freshness, is heavy in repetition (especially the chases that fill most of the running time) and has a who cares vibe that makes it impossible to root for anybody here, including Woody.

The animation quality continues to be not great, or even good, actually a lot of it is quite bad. Time and budget constraints shows in a lot of the animation, which is very rushed looking in the drawing and detail wise it's on the simplistic and careless side like many of Woody's cartoons from this period continuing through to the 60s. The ending is a rather strange one and didn't gel with the rest of the cartoon.

In conclusion, not unwatchable but not so wild. 4/10 Bethany Cox


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