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Woody Woodpecker spends his day singing loudly and pecking holes in trees. He infuriates the other woodland creatures - when he isn't baffling them with his bizarre behavior. Woody overhears a squirrel and a group of birds gossiping about him. Even though he just sang a song proclaiming his craziness, he denies their whispered accusations that he's nuts. But after they trick him into knocking his head on a statue, the poor bird hears voices in his head and decides the animals might be right. He decides to see a doctor. But leave it to Woody to choose Dr. Horace N. Buggy, a Scottish-brogue-burring fox, who is, if it's impossible, even madder than he is. Written by
Everybody Thinks He's Crazy- And I'm Crazy About Him!
When Woody Woodpecker debuted as an antagonist for star Andy Panda in KNOCK KNOCK in 1940, his zany antics immediately captivated audiences. Shrewdly aware of the woodpecker's star potential, producer Walter Lantz cast him in his first solo cartoon, WOODY WOODPECKER. Under Lantz's uncredited direction, this cartoon discharges an authentically wacky and convulsive energy that's reminiscent of the contemporary Warner Brothers cartoons. Indeed one of the writers, Ben "Bugs" Hardaway had worked at Warner's before Lantz hired him.
Most of the energy comes from Woody himself. He represents the uninhibited id as he darts all over the screen, pulls prankish stunts, sasses his antagonists, and employs his trademark laugh. And what an appropriately outrageous design for an outrageous character with his extremely long bill, buck teeth, goofy eyes, stumpy legs, and a garish mixture of blue, red, yellow and green all over his body. The brilliant Mel Blanc provides an appropriately loony voice that is as oddly endearing as it is funny. Thank to Blanc's work and the skillful animation, Woody Woodpecker never seems obnoxious; just a lovable nut. One senses his comic aggressiveness is not derived from malice but from a naturally manic temperament.
Undoubtedly the highlight is in the beginning when Woody sings "Everybody Thinks I'm Crazy." The lyrics aren't sensationally funny, but Darrel Calker's jaunty music, Blanc's hilarious singing, and the comical animation of Woody's strutting make this a showstopper. In fact, this song would be Woody's theme in his early cartoons. Some one ought to do a cover of this song.
Mel Blanc would've undoubtedly remained the voice of Woody Woodpecker until his death if Warner Brothers hadn't given him an exclusive contract. (However, he did later did Woody's voice on some children's records.) It's a pity because of all the actors I've heard do the woodpecker (I never heard Billy West's work on THE NEW WOODY WOODPECKER SHOW, Blanc was the most impressive. He conveyed a charismatic craziness that none of the other actors I've heard could capture. Although Lantz continued to produce fine Woody Woodpecker cartoons for some time, I feel the woodpecker lost a little pizazz when Blanc was replaced.
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