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Markc65

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32 reviews in total 
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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Satirical Cartoon with an Adult Sensibility, 12 November 2008
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This Chuck Jones directed masterpiece is sometimes misunderstood by people who don't get the satirical message. It's about the relationship of a pet owner and his dog and cat. To his master Shep the dog appears loyal and kind, but in reality is completely amoral and conniving. He frames his crimes on the unnamed cat in the cartoon, who is actually the kind and loving pet, so that the poor cat gets the blame from their master.

This is one of the darker Jones cartoons from the 40's. Jones made a series of them, when he was teamed with the writer Mike Maltese, and it is likely that Maltese provided the caustic flavor for these.

***SPOILER ARLERT***

Like in the cartoon CHOW HOUND (1950), FRESH AIREDALE is about wanting to get revenge on those who are responsible for suffering, but unlike the former film, the latter has a downbeat ending. There is no justice at the end of AIREDALE, unlike the darkly satisfying revenge enacted in CHOW HOUND. This makes the cartoon a rarity in the history of American animation -- a truly ironic ending where evil triumphs. Shep gets away with it because he is able to charm and deceive people, like a consummate politician. In a way, AIREDALE reminds me of the darker films of the 70's, so it's ahead of it's time in a way. It's obvious that the cartoon was meant for adults, rather than the small tykes. It's a little too sophisticated for the wee ones.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Lackluster Looney Tune, 12 October 2008
2/10

I love the Looney Tunes cartoons, but this isn't one of the good ones. The pacing and humor are subpar, which for a Warner Bros. cartoon is a great disappointment.

There were some problems that plagued the production of this cartoon; maybe that's why it didn't come out so good. The first problem you'll notice is that canned music is used from John Seely Assc. instead of a full orchestrated score. The music used is rather tepid, and doesn't sync to the action on screen like the best of Carl Stalling's scores did for the Looney Tunes.

The second really noticeable problem is when Elmer Fudd speaks. The original voice of Elmer Fudd, Arthur Q. Bryan, didn't work on this cartoon, probably because he was ill. (He died the year after this cartoon was released.) Dave Barry took over the job of providing Fudd's voice, and he doesn't sound anything like the character should.

Another problem adding to the overall mediocrity is the fact that the animators in director Robert McKimson's unit, at the time of this cartoon, had little experience animating. Combine that with the tighter budgets the crews had to work during the late 50's and the animation really suffers. It's limited and very dull -- the characters mainly stand around and talk. There's very little slapstick like in the better cartoons from the 40's and early 50's.

I say avoid this one, unless you're curious to see how low a once great cartoon series could sink.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Possibly the worst cartoon of the Golden Age..., 27 November 2007
1/10

I've never seen a cartoon from the 40's as bad as this one. Usually, cartoons from that era had a high standard of quality, but it's as if the artists who made this cartoon didn't even bother to try.

A parody of travelogues, it is filled with nothing but bad puns one can see coming a mile away. (Travels? Mile? There's a bad pun there somewhere. If I could figure it out, I could write for Columbia.) The pacing is slow and dull, and there is actually very little in the way of character animation. Most of the cartoon consists of some object animated over live action photographs for backgrounds, to illustrate yet another excruciating pun. One starts to feel that the people responsible for this cartoon were somnambulists or at least addicted to morphine at the time.

Columbia/ Screen Gems had a poor track record in terms of producing good cartoons, and this is their worst effort by far. In fact, it's the worst cartoon from that era, period.

Watch it only if you are interested in the history of Hollywood cartoons from the golden age, and how some animators could go so very far astray. Otherwise, avoid.

Bob Clampett's last theatrical cartoon, 25 November 2007
8/10

I've only seen a worn 16mm print of It's a Grand Old Nag, but even with that handicap the cartoon still shines. It's a very funny satire on Hollywood, about a horse named Charlie who dreams of meeting his dream girl (horse), Heddy La Mare.

One can't help but compare this cartoon, which was produced for Republic Pictures, with the great work Clampett did while at Warner Brothers. (Clampett used a pseudonym instead of his real name in the credits; he is listed as Kilroy.) Surprisingly, the Republic cartoon is on par, in terms of pacing, timing, humor and quality of animation, with most of Clampett's Looney Tunes cartoons. While not quite up to masterpieces like The Great Piggy Bank Robbery or Baby Bottleneck, it is nevertheless still a very good cartoon. I was surprised at how good the animation was since Clampett did not have his great team of animators from Warners. Deprived of the excellent talents of Rod Scribner, Manny Gould and Robert McKimson, Clampett still managed to turn out animation that was strong and exaggerated.

The cartoon is not in circulation on television or on home video, so it is difficult to see. However, if a rare opportunity does arise to view the cartoon, I recommend it highly.

Flora (1948)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Fawn-a over Flora, 25 November 2007
7/10

One of the few good cartoons to come from the Screen Gems/Columbia Studio. The studio had a spotty track record in regards to producing funny theatrical animated shorts in the 40's -- in contrast to Warner Bros. and MGM, which made some of the greatest. In fact, this cartoon was written by two veterans of the Warner Bros. cartoon studio, Dave Monahan and Cal Howard. (It was also produced by two ex-employees from WB, Ray Katz and Henry Binder.)

The cartoon is a witty and clever parody of the "film noir" crime melodramas. The dog narrates the cartoon about his infatuation with a Siamese cat named Flora and how it lead to his downfall. The narration alone would lead one to believe the infatuation is about love, but the actual action in the cartoon contradicts this -- the dog is really trying to harm the cat (ala Tom & Jerry style) in typical cartoon fashion (with Flora always outsmarting the dog). It is the incongruent aspect of these two elements that produces most of the humor in the cartoon. A difficult conceit to pull off, but it works marvelously here.

The director was Alex Lovy, who also had a spotty track record for most of his career. He was a director at Lantz studios in the early 40's, and most of those cartoons, while containing some of the anarchic spirit of the Warner Looney Tunes, were rather crude and ugly in design and animation. Flora contains some of Lovy's faults as a director, too. The character design of the dog is uninspired and a little clunky (especially his round ears which make him look almost like a bear in some shots) and the animation is routine and pedestrian. Not that the animation is bad (especially compared with cartoons today) but it's surprising how literal it is at times, considering the heights the other Hollywood animation studios were reaching at the same time. However these problems don't distract from the good qualities of the cartoon, like it's novelty and humor.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Lackluster comeback for the Road Runner and Coyote, 10 May 2004
2/10

This film was one of several new cartoons that Warner Bros. was going to release to theaters along with their live action features. While most of the finished shorts have not seen the light of day, this particular title was included on the DVD release of Looney Tunes: Back in Action.

It is a tepid and banal cartoon without much laughs, slightly better than the awful Rudy Larriva Road Runner theatrical shorts of the late sixties (produced by Seven Arts). It begins with an unnecessary set up in which a dueling wizard loses his book of spells. Wile E. Coyote then finds the book and decides to use magic to capture the Road Runner. Why waste time with such a long and unfunny prologue? Wile E. simply could have ordered the book from the reliable Acme Co. instead. This would have wasted less time and gotten right to the chase.

The rest of the cartoon is comprised of gags that misfire because of poor staging, or slow timing. There are some occasional funny gags here and there (I honestly can't remember them at the moment, though) but they are too few and far between.

The animation on only a few occasions rises above the type of fare we are used to seeing on television. In fact, the animation for the Ren & Stimpy Show is far superior to that of this theatrical short. And the former was produced on a television budget!

The filmmakers also break one of Chuck Jones and Mike Maltese's cardinal rules about the Road Runner series, and that is that the Road Runner never willfully causes the Coyote any harm.

Save yourself the trouble of seeing a once fine series corrupted by sitcom writers and television animators, and watch the original cartoons directed by Chuck Jones instead.

Chow Hound (1951)
11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Gluttony, Greed and Gravy, 13 February 2003
10/10

Not only is this a great cartoon, but it represents a change in Chuck Jones' style while at Warners. In the late 30's and early 40's Jones made cartoons in the Disney mode, or rather he tried to. Most of those cartoons were rather dull and humorless. By mid-forties, though, Jones had seen the light and started to make funny cartoons like his contemporaries Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, Friz Freleng and Frank Tashlin. But it was when he was teamed up with writer Mike Maltese in the late 40's that Jones' cartoons really started to gel; they became funnier and more polished as well as being stylistically unique, especially when compared to the cartoons Freleng and McKimson were turning out during the same period at Warners.

Maltese's writing was much darker and more cynical than anything Jones had worked with before. (Jones tended to make rather sweet and sentimental cartoons when left to his own devices.) "Chow Hound" shows how well Jones and Maltese complimented one another's styles. It is Jones' strong sense of design, superior draftsmanship, funny expressive characters, and expert timing that keeps the cartoon from getting too dark or grotesque.

The plot involves a bully of a dog (who looks like a beefier version of Charlie Dog) who uses a cat and mouse to run several scams on some unsuspecting pet owners in order to get himself a running supply of meat. However, the dog's own gluttonly and greed drive him to think up the ultimate plan to get a bigger score. The cartoon moves at a brisk pace, and scenes build on top of each other, leading nicely to the next until the final surprise ending. And it is a great ending!

In one scene, featuring a close up of a newspaper want ad, several of the animators' name are printed as an injoke.

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Disasters of the Universe, 17 September 2002
1/10

This movie was universally panned by the critics when it was first released theatrically in 1990. Although it may not be as horrible as the critics believed it was, it is still a poorly made movie. The many problems include: the general miscasting of just about every lead and costarring role -- Tom Hanks as a WASP, Melanie Griffith as a southern-belle, Bruce Willis as himself, basically; all the actors overact and mug shamelessly, as if this is the key to comedy; and the cinematography and direction are handled in a very showy and self-conscious manner.

But worst of all is the writing. It wasn't so much a problem with a book that was difficult to adapt to the screen, but the fact that the screenwriter contradicted what the book was all about. The satire and irony in the novel was gutted in favor of a broad, farcical type of comedy. The producers showed their cowardice by politically correcting certain characters (the judge played by Morgan Freeman), and changing the original downbeat ending of the book into a typical Hollywood happy ending. The reporter that Willis was cast to play was changed from a venal and unlikable character to one more in line with the ingratiating Willis persona. Most embarrassing of all, Freeman's character gives an idiotic, simple-minded "uplifting" speech near the end of the film (suddenly, "Bonfire" becomes a Frank Capra film). It's as if the filmmakers were frightened of the "controversial" book they decided to adapt that they turned it into a lighter and more inconsequential movie. One that audiences stayed away from in droves.

6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Best of the Bugs vs. Cecil trilogy, 31 March 2002
10/10

A hilarious sequel to Tex Avery's Tortoise Beats Hare (1941), the cartoon even starts out with Bugs watching selected film footage of the former cartoon. Bugs is very aggressive here and is determined to do everything in his power to win the race this time. If in the Avery cartoon the roles of Bugs and Cecil were reversed, so that Bugs was the loser and Cecil the heckler, here they literally switch identities. Bugs is dressed like a turtle in a mistaken belief that his "streamlined" shell will make him faster (If you're going to miscast Bugs Bunny as the loser you might as well go all the way with it), while Cecil is dressed like a rabbit because he knows the rabbit underworld has bet heavily on the hare to win and will use whatever means necessary to ensure a rabbit victory. Mel Blanc's acting is especially good here, probably one of his best performances. One standout scene is the passion in Bugs' voice as he draws nearer to the finish line. In an interesting side note, the newspaper that announces the rematch also contains an article in the lower right hand corner labeled "Adolf Hitler Commits Suicide." (Remember, this was 1943.) Were the animators at Warner Bros. clairvoyant? Unfortunately, the ending is censored on most television prints today, so try to see this cartoon uncut on videotape instead.

9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Patriotic Peril for Draftdodging Duck, 31 March 2002
9/10

Daffy changes his tune from patriotic flag-waver to craven draftdodger when he learns that the little man from the draft board is coming to pay him a visit. Daffy's reaction when he learns of his induction status is the highlight of the cartoon; the implication slowly dawns on him. He spends the rest of the cartoon trying to avoid the little man, even resorting to attempted murder. (And to think, only a few years before Daffy fought the Nazis in such cartoons as Daffy the Commando [1943] and Plane Daffy [1944].) Only Daffy could get away with such brazenly unpatriotic behavior during World War II, and only a director like Bob Clampett could pull it off and still keep the duck an appealing character. This also marks the beginning of the craven, self-preserving Daffy that Chuck Jones would later develop in such cartoons as Duck, Rabbit, Duck and Rabbit Fire. Another very funny and energetic Clampett cartoon.


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