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Cross Country Detours (1940)

A wacky travelogue takes us to the forests of Yosemite, the rocks of Brice Canyon, the frozen wastes of Alaska, the desert wastes of New Mexico, the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River and the giant redwoods of California.


(as Fred Avery)




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Uncredited cast:
... Deer / Little Girl / Phone Operator (voice) (uncredited)
... Various (voice) (uncredited)
... Bear / Scoutmaster / Polar Bear / Bobcat / Grand Canyon Tourist / Gila Monster / Husky (voice) (uncredited)
Karlton Kadell ... Narrator (voice) (uncredited)


A series of travelogue gags, focusing on national parks and wildlife. In Yosemite, we meet a bear and a deer; the bear enforces his own "do not feed" sign; the deer greets us with "hello, big boy." A desperate scoutmaster asks to use a gas station washroom, then calls his troop of hundreds. A fire ranger spots a discarded cigar and races to pick it up - and smoke it. Alaska: A husky dog reads a mileage sign and sets off for California (beginning a running gag). A ferocious bobcat stalks a cute defenseless baby quail. The desert: we see our dog again; a lizard sheds its skin like a stripper. Because the next scene is scary, the screen is split: for the grownups, a scary gila monster; for the children, a little girl reciting "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and snarling at the reptile when she finishes. The Grand Canyon: A tourist testing the echo hears an operator: "I'm sorry, they do not answer" (and the dog, again). Beavers build the Hoover Dam. The dog reaches California, where he makes for... Written by Jon Reeves <jreeves@imdb.com>

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Release Date:

16 March 1940 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The sequence where the lizard sheds its skin was rotoscoped from a film of a striptease artist that studio manager Henry Binder had hired at the request of Tex Avery. Both men waited until after the film was completed to admit to Leon Schlesinger that they had hired her and filmed her at the studio for that purpose. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: Animal life and scenic wonders of our country. First, in California, we find one of the most beautiful of national parks: Yosemite, known to many a traveler. Tourists are often tempted to feed the tame bears in the park.
Bear: [hits a tourist over the head and shows him a sign that says, "Please do not feed the bears"] Listen, stupid! Can't you read?
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Featured in Looney Tunes 50th Anniversary (1986) See more »


There's a Long, Long Trail
Music by Zo Elliott
[Plays over the title cards.]
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User Reviews

Amusing Tex Avery travelogue parody
14 June 2010 | by See all my reviews

The Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies cartoon, "Cross Country Detours" (1940), is one of a number of Tex Avery-directed animated parodies of the kind of all-encompassing travelogue and documentary short that the studios used to turn out for theaters to show with their movies back in the golden age of Hollywood. These cartoons use a narrator who sounds exactly like the kind of narrator such films used (and may indeed have been one of them). This cartoon focuses on sights and sounds in America's national parks in the west and up north (Alaska). There are 13 gag sequences in all. (The segments involving the dog headed from Alaska to California and leading up to the Redwoods finale all count as one gag.) One of the gag segments involves a frog "croaking" (figure it out) and has been cut from TV prints of this. (Beware of TV prints of Warner Bros. cartoons, especially the older ones, pre-1947.)

The gags tend to be more clever than funny. They often involve interaction between the syrupy narrator and the animals being observed, who speak up to counter the narrator's invariably smug assumptions. (E.g., the polar bear stuck on a floating slab of ice taking issue with the narrator's insistence on how "warm" the bear is.) The animals are very realistically drawn and animated, even when they behave out of character, e.g. the bobcat having a meltdown or, most famously, the lizard "shedding its skin" by doing a striptease, to the tune of "It Had to Be You." In one of the documentaries I've seen on the Warner Bros. animation unit, there was black-and-white live-action footage of a woman executing the movements of a striptease filmed expressly for use in rotoscoping the drawings for this segment. As a masterpiece of rotoscoped animation (in which the drawings are traced over live-action movements), this sequence should be celebrated, never mind that it's also funny and pretty risqué for the era. Also, the cartoon boasts remarkably detailed background paintings of such landmarks as Yosemite Park, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon and, in one sequence showing beavers at work, Hoover Dam.

In the Grand Canyon "echo" sequence, I believe the tourist is a caricature of Tex Avery himself and that Avery supplies the voice for the character. (He occasionally supplied a big booming laugh to characters in his cartoons, like the hippo in the audience in "Hamateur Night," 1939.) Other Avery films like this, filled with spot gags, include "Detouring America," "Land of the Midnight Fun," "Screwball Football," "Holiday Highlights," and "Wacky Wildlife."

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