Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Rip, Sew and Stitch (1953)
"Rip, Sew & Stitch" is a good Three Stooges short starring Moe, Larry, and Shemp as proprietors of the Pip Boys Cleaners. Featuring stock footage from "Sing a Song of Six Pants" (1947), this remake has the boys searching their tailor shop for safecracker Terry Hargen (Harold Brauer), and they eventually capture him.
My favorite scenes from "Rip, Sew & Stitch": Larry is hilarious as he shouts "You stupid Stooge!" after getting his foot nailed to the floor (new footage). The Stooges dispose of Hargen and his henchmen with the help of a pants presser and a revolving coatrack (stock footage). Moe cooks pancakes using the pants presser and is interrupted by Shemp's loud, infectious laugh at the funny papers (stock footage). Shemp is also hilarious as he falls off the ironing board (stock footage).
I've heard it said that "Rip, Sew & Stitch" is practically the same film as "Sing a Song of Six Pants", but I don't think this is so. There seems to be a fair amount of new footage in the middle of this remake as the Stooges shred a pair of pants and search their shop for Hargen, with a lot of gags, of course.
Knutzy Knights (1954)
You're better off watching the original.
"Knutzy Knights" is not a bad Three Stooges short, but being a stock-footage remake, it could have been better, especially with the new, weak ending. The original "Squareheads of the Round Table" (1948) is one of the best in the Stooge series and contains much better direction. Still Moe, Larry, and Shemp do their best with the new material, being very helpful men as director Jules White once described them. Two highlights from "Knutzy Knights", both in stock footage, involve the Stooges serenading Princess Elaine (Christine McIntyre) on her balcony and being chased by a pair of guards in the castle corridors.
Shot in the Frontier (1954)
"We're leavin' you, chicken!"
"Shot in the Frontier" is a clever Three Stooges comedy Western in which Larry, Shemp, and Moe do battle with a trio of outlaws, dressed in black, known as the Noonans. The showdown features fine musical accompaniment uncommon in Stooge shorts, and I like the guitar-playing cowpoke played by Emmett Lynn: "You're the flame within my heart that keeps a-burnin'..."
There are a few moments during the showdown that I especially like. In a nice long shot, the Stooges and the Noonans unknowingly pass by each other on the deserted street. The Noonan brother played by Joe Palma proves especially hard to pin down as Larry tosses a rifle at his head and Shemp does his hilarious fighter's dance, only to receive the first punch.
In the 1950s, the Three Stooges were forced to make shorts that used stock footage from their previous shorts in order to save money, and I'm sure it was not fun. "Shot in the Frontier", however, is a complete original, making it refreshing.
"Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales" is a very nice television special featuring a fair number of familiar Warner Bros. cartoon characters, beginning with that "wascawwy wabbit"! The film appears to have been made long after the golden age of the theatrical cartoon shorts that Warner Bros. was grinding out, so the quality of this particular special is good but not outstanding. Some of the characters (Elmer Fudd, Tweety, Foghorn Leghorn, Pepe Le Pew) have virtually nothing to do, and the music score is definitely not of the top-notch quality of Carl W. Stalling but still palatable, even throwing in a little cheesy disco. In short, not the best Looney Tunes cartoon ever made, just a pleasant bit of Christmas amusement. Yosemite Sam makes a perfect Scrooge, Porky Pig makes a suitable Cratchit, and the Tasmanian Devil provides an interesting "twist" on Santa Claus. (If I were in Bugs Bunny's shoes, I'd be pretty sore at Taz for wrecking my house!)
Want me to share my favorite scenes? When Bugs conducts the small choir singing "Jingle Bells", he has the singers holding the word "sleigh" so long their faces turn blue! Wile E. Coyote repeatedly gets buried by a snow-cloud maker. Porky stops the camera's iris-out so as to get in the last word: "Happy Holidays". Taz turns green and burps loudly after eating a green tree bulb. Bugs is hilarious in his ghost disguise when he introduces himself to the petrified Sam Scrooge. Sam is likewise funny when he shouts, "You rackin-frackin carolers! I'll deck your heads with Christmas lumps!" (Incidentally, when Sam bounces down the staircase and mutters his odd curses, I could "swear" I hear an "f".)
Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones directed this nice little Christmas special, and Mel Blanc supplied most of the vocal talent, with a little help from June Foray. What a wonderful team! Find "Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales" on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 5, and add some looney humor to your Christmas.
Sappy Bull Fighters (1959)
One of the weakest of them all
"Sappy Bull Fighters" is one of the worst Three Stooges shorts starring Larry, Moe, and Joe. It culminates into Joe battling a real bull who interferes with the Stooges' comedy bullfight act, featuring a fair amount of bullring stock footage that is too unrealistic for us to believe that Joe is in any danger. In addition to that, after Moe gives Joe a trademark eye poke, Joe does a poor imitation of former popular Stooge Curly, thus proving that Joe was always better doing his own whiny overgrown child characterization rather than imitating someone else.
In spite of all that, there are still a few moments in "Sappy Bull Fighters" that I do find amusing. In the beginning, the Stooges harmonize their boo-hoos pretty well, reminiscent of their famous "Hello, hello, hello!" A little later, Joe brains Moe in the face with a suitcase as Joe does his "Bullring, here we come, gosh" dance. Finally, as Larry hides underneath a couch from a jealous husband (George Lewis), a little dog named Pepe barks at him; the husband then reaches down and pets whom he thinks is Pepe but is actually Larry. "Pepe, what has happened to your hair?! It is bald-headed on the top!"
Quiz Whizz (1958)
"I don't wike toys! I wike MONEY!"
"Quiz Whizz" is a latter-day Three Stooges short starring Joe Besser, Moe Howard, and Larry Fine, and while it might be a lot of fun to watch, it just doesn't provide much laughter. The convoluted plot has the boys in search of a swindler (Milton Frome), and for reasons that are not clear, the Stooges end up masquerading as children to be adopted by a villainous millionaire (Gene Roth). I've heard it said that the sissyish Joe Besser is hilarious during his lengthy cigar-eating scene, and I wish I could agree. The only moment in this film that I find amusing is Moe's loud reaction to Joe's smog bag investment, but it then leads into a very inappropriate sequence in which Moe actually attempts to murder Joe with a gun! In addition, the knife-throwing climax is very unrealistic. Anyhow, the Stooges appear to be doing their best with what they are given to do, and in spite of their ages, they effectively behave like children. Also, do not ignore the small but colorful list of supporting players who appear in "Quiz Whizz".
Flying Saucer Daffy (1958)
The Two Stooges, Plus Joe Besser
If I'm not mistaken, "Flying Saucer Daffy" was the final Three Stooges short that was filmed before Columbia Pictures shut down its two-reeler department. The Stooges must have known they did a darn good job after all those years, but this particular short, while at least entertaining, is quite lacking in providing us with laughs. This is a Cinderella-type story, with Moe, Larry, and Joe essentially playing separate characters, and all of our sympathy extends toward the often-abused Joe. Joe's cousins Larry & Moe, and even Joe's aunt (Gail Bonney), treat him like manure. (By the way, it is interesting to watch how stiff Bonney is in administering the slapstick onto Joe; no one was better at this task than Moe.) Fortunately, justice prevails for Joe at the very end. The only moments in the film I find amusing are during the Stooges' camping trip: Larry accidentally topples a crate full of tin cans onto himself and Moe; Moe lights his nose instead of his cigar; and Larry remarks that Joe couldn't win ten thousand jelly beans, much less dollars.
I don't know if Joe Besser ever revealed why "Flying Saucer Daffy" was his favorite Three Stooges film, but I have an idea. As much as he loved working with Larry Fine and Moe Howard, slapstick was not his forte. Stooge fans grumble that Joe did not fit into the act, and as much as I really like Joe and appreciate his comedic talents, I tend to feel that he is funnier as a soloist. "Flying Saucer Daffy" simply gave him a chance to shine as he goes it alone for a good portion of the film, but unfortunately he doesn't have much to work with.
Kook's Tour (1970)
The Three Ex-Stooges
The Stooging careers of Moe, Larry, and Curly-Joe are finally behind them, and they can now take time to relax and go sightseeing around the country. In this regard, "Kook's Tour" is an interesting Three Stooges vehicle, but remember that interesting does not necessarily mean funny. To that end, we Stooge fans might ask ourselves what in God's name producer/director Norman Maurer could have been thinking. This film, which apparently was never released to theaters (although finally released on home video in the late 1990s), is certainly not typical Three Stooges fare; the boys virtually eliminated their classic slapstick gags by the late 1960s, presumably because they were really feeling their years, hence they do look a little burned out, but they at least take time to actually poke fun at some of their old jokes! Their dog Moose (actually Maurer's dog) has a lot of life in him and may be a dog lover's treat as he manages to steal the show from the Stooges, but I personally find Moose a little annoying. The film's music score is good and witty but repetitive.
Here are a few sequences that I find to be the mild highlights of this not-too-amusing film. The prologue contains scenes from a few of the Stooges' considerably better feature films of the earlier 1960s: "The Three Stooges Meet Hercules" (1962), "The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze" (1963), and "The Outlaws Is Coming" (1965). Curly-Joe falls off of his vacuum-motorcycle when colliding with a pitched tent (although this scene would have been funnier had it not been sped up). Larry sounds funny when he says the word "Stooge", as in this case: "We're ex-Stooges and we ought to start acting like ex-Stooges." Similarly, following Moe's paddleboat mishap, Moe's voice somehow sounds funny when he shouts to Joe, "Look out, you fat idiot!", and Joe's facial expression is amusing when he addresses Moe as "Okay, Chef Moe, if you please." A littering lady slaps Joe with her handbag. Moose spots an actual moose (or caribou) defecating on camera! Joe bumps his head on the boat's windshield.
A few final thoughts on "Kook's Tour". I think it is a bit far-fetched for Moe to admit at the beginning of the film that the Stooges never got to see the outsides of their dressing rooms; surely all the various Stooges had to have SOME time to themselves, travelling around with their families. Similarly, the prologue makes it appear as if Curly-Joe was the 3rd Stooge all along, but we Stooge fans know that this is not true. It seems that most fans do not like Curly-Joe, but I do like him; he never attempted to be the original Curly, but he brought out his own little childlike innocence to his Stooge characterization. Watching "Kook's Tour", I really feel sorry for Larry, because he sure does take it hard! To begin with, most Stooge fans who know the history are aware of the stroke he had on the set. And then, as though the stroke wasn't bad enough, I really feel that in the film Moe and Joe treat Larry unfairly with their ruling about fishing: "If you don't hook 'em, you don't eat 'em", especially since Larry DOES hook a few fish with his hat! It seems that in real life, Moe would often verbally harass Larry on the sets of their many, many Stooge films, and I'm sure that by the time "Kook's Tour" was made, Larry felt that he had had enough of it; considering his stroke, the old adage "You don't know what you've got until it's gone" can easily apply to the Stooges as they suffered tragedies throughout their careers.
At the Circus (1939)
Roll Out the Barrel of Fun, Chico!
The Marx Brothers themselves are a maniacal circus, so it is only fitting that they would be the stars of the MGM feature "At the Circus", and for a latter-day Marx Bros. film, this one is very good, in my opinion. Groucho as usual is uninhibited with wordplay, sexual innuendo, and insults for his consistent foil Margaret Dumont (but try not to be distracted by Groucho's awful hairpiece). Bearing the snazzy name of J. Cheever Loophole, Groucho supposedly portrays an attorney hired to help a traveling circus recover its stolen income. As circus employees, Harpo and Chico are allotted plenty of opportunities to apply their unique brands of comedy. And the two romantic leads, played by Kenny Baker (as Jeff Wilson, circus owner) and Florence Rice (as Julie Randall, performer) are very likable, except for that really corny musical number called "Two Blind Loves" that they sing together ("Step Up and Take a Bow" is considerably better). The rest of the cast, like the circus itself, is quite colorful.
Probably the greatest highlight of "At the Circus" is Groucho's vocalizing one of his most beloved standbys for the remainder of his career: "Lydia the Tattooed Lady"! As you listen to Groucho (as Mr. Loophole) sing the tune, notice how everyone else around him (particularly Harpo) joins in the barrel of fun. Other highlights: Did I just say "barrel"? Well, Chico (as Antonio "Tony" Ferrelli) provides his one-of-a-kind ivory-tickling rendition of the Beer Belly, er, the Beer Barrel Polka, complete with his hard-to-resist smile and wink to the camera. (It amazes me that Chico was able to smile at all, what with the enormous wads of cash he blew away with his compulsive gambling.) Punchy (Harpo) plays checkers while a friendly seal "coaches" him. Loophole and Antonio go through a badge bit at the train station, during which the puns & horseplay never stop. While Loophole is trying to trap a cigar-smoking little person into a confession, Antonio is too dimwitted to realize that he is bungling Loophole's plan. The wild rope/trapeze chase at the end (to the musical accompaniment of "Tiger Rag") is hilarious, particularly with Gibraltar the gorilla starting the whole commotion. And although African-Americans today would be outraged seeing people of their race degrading themselves in this film, I must admit that "Swingali" is not a bad jazz number.
A few gags in "At the Circus" don't really work, particularly the lengthy sequence of Tony and Punchy searching a bedroom belonging to an arrogant muscle man, but not to worry. For anybody who enjoys a good circus, this Marx Bros. film is a special treat, as sweet as the lemonade we might sip with all the popcorn.
Go West (1940)
The Old West can be a lot of fun.
As a Marx Brothers comedy, "Go West" is in my opinion great, considerably better than the critics make it out to be. Although a period film, it is quite surprising to find Harpo and Chico (pronounced "Chicko") wearing their traditional contemporary costumes about midway through. Anyhow, right from the get-go, Groucho is up to his usual wisecracking, and the other two maniacs are up to their customary con-artist shenanigans. AND the two romantic leads (John Carroll and Diana Lewis) are quite appealing to me and hardly dull, contrary to what other critics have stated. Throw in a couple of heavies (every Western film needs them) like Walter Woolf King and Robert Barrat as a pair of money-hungry land grabbers, and you have the foundation for a remarkable Marx Bros. action/comedy/romance.
Here are my personal favorite scenes from "Go West" (DO NOT read any further if you have not yet seen the film). The fabulous extended locomotive sequence at the end of the picture boasts a fair number of clever gags, among them being the train taking out a house while a carpenter works on the roof; the Marx Bros. chopping up the train cars and "borrowing" baggage for kindling; and Rusty Panello (Harpo) stretching himself to rejoin two cars that have separated. For a much less intense offering, Terry Turner (Carroll) and the Marx Bros. sing "Ridin' the Range" with Rusty accompanying on harmonica and S. Quentin Quale (Groucho) on guitar, because what would a Marx Bros. film be without music? Speaking of music, Chico (as Rusty's brother Joseph Panello) does well as always with his unique ivory-tickling technique, but I've never seen anybody play the piano with an orange! Quale offers a necklace to a beautiful Native American girl, but she bluntly replies, "No like. Want Cadillac Sedan," thus forcing Quale to conclude that she has not spent much time on a reservation; he then introduces Rusty as the tribe's new totem pole, to which Harpo incorporates his ever famous Gookie face. Speaking of Native Americans, "Go West" is in my opinion most offensive in its treatment of them, but Harpo thankfully makes up for this when his character Rusty wins the chief's respect by allowing him to play flute with Rusty's jazzy harp. During the rollicking stagecoach ride, a woman complains about "the jerks in the coach", prompting the Panello brothers to react accordingly. Quale and Joe Panello are hilarious during their off-camera drunken banter while Rusty cracks a safe. Rusty performs a hilarious showdown with Red Baxter (Barrat). And finally, "Nine dollars change, please."
Whew! I wrote a lot of details about "Go West", didn't I? Maybe I shouldn't have been so specific, but I just wanted to convey my love of this film and my conviction that it is not the big letdown that others claim it to be. See it for yourself and catch a lot of laughs.
The Milky Way (1940)
"The Milky Way" is an enjoyable, but not hilarious, MGM cartoon with good visual jokes, a narrative female singing trio, and some cute little speaking voices for a trio of young felines (all voiced by Bernice Hansen, apparently). Not to be confused with the Harold Lloyd talkie of the same name from the mid-1930s, this cartoon boasts having Rudolf Ising as its producer. (Ising, among other things, helped to create Bosko, a Warner Bros. offshoot of Mickey Mouse from the late twenties/early thirties.)
Here are my few favorite moments from "The Milky Way": The kitty in light blue pajamas (having the funniest voice) grumbles about being too skinny while trying to fit his fat belly in his pj's. Another kitten emerges from a slot machine almost totally encased in a pat of butter.
I forgot to mention the plot for "The Milky Way", but there is really no need. You can predict the ending, too.
Home Movies (1940)
"Uh, in making pictures, it's not a bad idea to introduce a little comedy now and then."
Robert Benchley, one of America's great humorists, stars in the MGM short-within-a-short "Home Movies", in which he demonstrates for us the art of making motion pictures in our own homes. And once a filming chore has been completed, the resulting home movie can be shown to other friends for their enjoyment. Sure.
"Home Movies" is (to me) very entertaining and to the point. My favorite moments from this short are: the opening shot of Benchley's home movie, in which he and his family are somehow walking backwards; a silhouette of one of Benchley's house guests leaving the room as the home movie is being shown; and Benchley & his wife discussing a friend of theirs and suddenly spotting a horse's rear end on the screen.
Interesting events can indeed take place in one's household, but it appears as if the well-meaning Robert Benchley needs to do a little better job of how he presents the subjects of his home movies.
Knick Knack (1989)
"Nome Sweet Nome, Alaska"
"Knick Knack" is a fun little three-and-a-half-minute film made at Pixar Animation Studios, which I think was then in its earliest stages. Boasting great gags and sound effects, this film is about a poor little snowman trapped inside a snow dome and trying his darnedest to get out. After about a minute, you really feel for the guy.
My favorite things about this short are A.) the opening shots of the summer figurines wearing shades, tapping their feet, and bopping their heads to the musical accompaniment; and B.) the music itself, produced entirely by the astonishing vocal capabilities of Bobby McFerrin, complete with funny "blah-blah-blahs" during the end credits.
I first saw "Knick Knack" as one of the bonuses for the DVD of the 2003 Pixar feature film "Finding Nemo". I guess the only real complaint I have about "Knick Knack" is that I wish it were longer.
The Fatal Glass of Beer (1933)
Not too good
Directed by Clyde Bruckman, "The Fatal Glass of Beer" is a W.C. Fields short that is overall very weak. Fields plays Mr. Snavely, a married man who lives in a log cabin in the country during a ferocious blizzard. The most memorable, but not necessarily funny, running gag in the film involves Snavely opening the cabin door and saying, "And it ain't a fit night out for man or beast!", before getting pelted in the face with snow. Even the dulcimer tune he sings about his estranged city-boy son Chester is lame, and I'm a big music lover! The only scene in this short that I think is funny is Mr. & Mrs. Snavely's sudden physical abuse of Chester at the very end. And that's just about all I have to say regarding "The Fatal Glass of Beer".
The Golf Specialist (1930)
Just hit the ball!
W.C. Fields stars in "The Golf Specialist", a short that is overall slow and weak. The best thing about it is the trademark pompous personality of Mr. Fields himself, and there are a few moments of true levity, but that's not enough to save the picture. Fields plays a cheap chiseler named J. Effingham Bellweather, a man wanted for a series of ridiculous crimes, one of which is not realizing that the house dick at the golf resort where he stays is an insanely jealous husband.
Here are those few funny moments I had mentioned: Mr. Bellweather thinks a stuffed toy dog urinated on him; a golf club whacks Mr. Bellweather in the ass; and although I cannot explain why, there is just something funny about how Bellweather removes his hat as he inspects a golf club that a woman accidentally stepped on and broke.
"The Golf Specialist" can be slow and boring, particularly with the protracted golfing scene, but I somehow never get tired of hearing Mr. Bellweather reminding everyone to stand clear and keep their eyes on the ball.
Raw! Raw! Rooster! (1956)
Look out, Foggy!
Directed by Robert McKimson, "Raw! Raw! Rooster!" is a very good Foghorn Leghorn cartoon. This time around, instead of allowing a child to make a big ass out of Foggy, Foggy lets his old college chum, the obnoxious Rhode Island Red, get the best of him. It turns out to be an amusing escapade.
Two scenes in this cartoon that I find hilarious. First, in order to impress the "chicks", Red plays ukulele and dances and sings "Freddy the Freshman". And second, after an exploding casaba melon blows off Foggy's beak, he exclaims, "I goofed!"
Let's not overlook the vocal talent in "Raw! Raw! Rooster!" Mel Blanc supplies the voice for Foggy, and Daws Butler does Red's voice. You couldn't ask for anything better.
A Ham in a Role (1949)
"I shall not allow gophers to impede my progress."
"A Ham in a Role" is a very clever Warner Bros. cartoon directed by Robert McKimson. A dog grows weary of lowbrow comedy and vows to brush up his Shakespeare, all the while the overly polite Goofy Gophers pull a series of pranks on him that relate to his recitations.
Highlights: In the beginning, after the dog gets "creamed" with a pie, a stagehand pulling a billboard of chorus ladies' torsos makes an ever bigger ass out of the dog, thanks to some expert timing. When the canine dons a suit of medieval armor, the Gophers have fun with some horseshoe magnets. The Gophers drop a glop of Limburger onto the dog's face during his "rose by any other name" speech.
"A Ham in a Role" is indeed very funny, but after awhile, I begin to feel for the dog. After all, he is diligently trying to study something quite worthwhile, but the Goofy Gophers apparently tell him to stick with what he already knows.
One rehearsal for a round-robin of laughs.
Seemingly more of a television production than a theatrical feature, the well-named "The Misadventures of Buster Keaton" is an enjoyable hour-long film with lots of great slapstick gags and jokes. Playing himself, Buster Keaton divides his time between running a sporting goods store and overseeing every facet of a theatrical enterprise. The "Great Stone Face", as Keaton was nicknamed, does a great performance in this film as he gets into all kinds of trouble, but the actor who really steals the show-within-a-show is the burly, hilarious Dick Wessel as an insanely jealous husband named Harry, who mistakenly believes that his actress wife, the unglamorously screechy Imogene La Rue, is carrying on with Buster.
Any favorite scenes? Yes, indeed. (Don't read any further if you have not yet seen this film.) Buster tears up a wall in order to retrieve a piggy bank. While Buster and his assistant Hank are pasting up a poster, the signboard tips over, causing their ladders to do the same and the two gents come a-tumbling down. Two crooks (one of them played by Ben Welden) and a cop invade the theatre stage during a performance, and when the two thugs are finally captured and Buster is congratulated, he remarks that he only had one rehearsal. I love how Harry overreacts to Imogene's possible philandering by destroying a golf club, a pillow, a lamp, and a vase. Also, watch his funny reaction when Buster hands him a large blade at the sporting goods store. Harry and Buster engage in a hilarious slapstick chase all over the theatre stage, thus interrupting a scene. The actress playing Juliet is funny as she unromantically calls to Romeo (played by Buster) as he tries unsuccessfully to negotiate a "brick wall". (By the way, Buster could sure handle those falls, couldn't he?)
Some of the gags in "The Misadventures of Buster Keaton" run a little too long, such as the taffy-pulling bit, but don't let that prevent you from being entertained by this otherwise very funny film. I imagine that Mr. Keaton's acting career was flagging around the time this picture was made, considering his success with his earlier silent pictures, but I'm sure he did what he had to do to stay afloat as best he could. Anyhow, enjoy the film.
Bacall to Arms (1946)
She Was an Acrobat's Bacall
"Bacall to Arms" is a decent Warner Bros. cartoon that centers around going to the movies. The "meat and potatoes" of this film-within-a-film is a beautifully-done takeoff of the classic Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall picture "To Have and Have Not" (1944). The black-and-white caricatures of these two screen giants are great, and a movie-going wolf can't contain himself upon spotting Bacall on the big screen.
My favorite moments from "Bacall to Arms" include the following. Bacall asks Bogie for a light, and Bogie obliges by throwing a rather unglamorous blowtorch. He also admonishes a hippo in the theatre audience who is late in seating himself. I also dig the clever stereotyped mother-in-law joke!
"Bacall to Arms" makes use of stock footage of a theatre audience from an earlier cartoon titled "She Was an Acrobat's Daughter" (1937), which parodies another Bogart film - "The Petrified Forest" (1936).
The Return of Mr. Hook (1945)
"The Return of Mr. Hook" is a delightful Warner Bros. wartime cartoon starring the lovable, bumbling sailor Mr. Hook. A quartet of big burly sailors makes a mockery of Hook, demanding to know his postwar plans. Confidently, Hook offers his answer.
My favorite scenes? I love the facial expression on Hook's girlfriend Choo Choo (!) after he throws a stone to the train station. I also enjoy the singing of "Any Bonds Today?", in the beginning by Hook, and in the end by the four mocking sailors, who do a damn fine job of harmonizing!
Speaking of music, "The Return of Mr. Hook" is alive with the sound of it! "My Blue Heaven" can be heard as kids run around the Hooks' home (just Molly and me / and her mother makes three.....). "Happy Days are Here Again" is played as the war ends and the submarines cross the Pacific Ocean back to the U.S.A. And "When My Dreamboat Comes Home" is heard as Hook pays his first postwar visit to Choo Choo.
A Tale of Two Kitties (1942)
Hey, Babbott, weren't WE supposed to be the stars in this picture?
"A Tale of Two Kitties" is a very good and very wild Warner Bros. cartoon directed by Bob Clampett. It attempted to cash in on the popularity of Abbott & Costello (caricatured by felines), but when a certain little devil of a baby bird uttered the phrase "I tawt I taw a putty tat!", guess what happened!
My favorite scenes from "A Tale of Two Kitties": Babbott (voiced by writer Tedd Pierce) tells Catstello (voiced by the "Man of a Thousand Voices" Mel Blanc) to give him the bird; a close-up on Catstello allows him to take the audience into his confidence in regards to censorship. Tweety (Blanc again) does his famous bit about running out of pitties. And Carl W. Stalling did a great job composing & arranging the music score for this film: "Rock-a-Bye Baby" is heard as Catstello slides down a stilt into Babbott's arms; "Someone's Rocking My Dream Boat" as Catstello literally springs into the air, to be attacked by the mischievously smiling Tweety; "I'll Pray for You" in the beginning of the film as Catstello asks about the itsy-bitsy bird; and "California, Here I Come" as Catstello flies upward eating an apple, following an explosion of TNT.
There's only one piece of criticism I have for "A Tale of Two Kitties", and it is an unusually rare piece of criticism for the outstanding vocal talent of Mel Blanc. As much as I love hearing all his vocal characterizations in the Warner Bros. cartoons, I believe he overacts his role as Catstello in this film.
Wagon Heels (1945)
"Is this trip REALLY necessary?"
"Wagon Heels" is a jolly Warner Bros. Western cartoon starring Porky Pig and directed by the wacky Bob Clampett. Plenty of great gags abound in this midforites caper, in which Porky, always the reliable hero, protects a wagon "train" (whose "engineer" has a voice similar to that of Sylvester the cat) from the clutches of the highly-stereotyped Injun Joe, the Superchief.
My favorite scenes from "Wagon Heels" are: the closing ticklish gag, made even funnier by Carl Stalling's music score; the presence of Injun Joe splitting apart a mountain, putting a growling bear in its place, and taking care of a snare trap; and Injun Joe saying "Him screwball" in regards to the daffy Sloppy Moe, who is enthusiastic about a secret he won't tell.
Don't forget to enjoy Carl Stalling's musical accompaniment for "Wagon Heels", particularly his version of the Stephen Foster classic "Oh, Susannah".
The Good Egg (1945)
Scrape up the most you can!
"The Good Egg" is a fairly decent Warner Bros. World War II cartoon starring a bumbling navy private named Mr. Hook, and this ultra-quickie attempts, in its own wacky way, to answer a big question: What good is a war bond?
My one favorite sequence in this film involves Hook's good & evil consciences; the former beats the hell out of the latter!
And what about the musical accompaniment? Carl Stalling did his usually masterful job with this cartoon; it just saddens me, as a professional musician myself, that the maestro never received the credit he deserved. Among the popular songs I recognize in "The Good Egg" are "Yankee Doodle" during the aforementioned fight scene, "Any Bonds Today?" when Hook's good conscience tells him to keep saving, and "We're in the Money" when the good conscience shows Hook a pile of spending money for his nest egg.
The Hole Idea (1955)
Swallow it hole!
"The Hole Idea" is a really clever Warner Bros. cartoon that doesn't star any of the familiar characters but is rather a one-shot production, meaning that the story and the characters came into play for just this one cartoon. Professor Calvin Q. Calculus (voiced by Mel Blanc) invents, of all things, a portable hole than can provide an opening wherever it is placed. Silly, huh? But a nice idea......until this hole falls into the wrong hands. My favorite gag in this picture is the very ending before the fade-out, and I won't say what it is.
"The Hole Idea" was directed by Robert McKimson, who also animated the cartoon all by himself, apparently. In addition, listen for the voices of Robert C. Bruce as the narrator and Bea Benaderet as the professor's unlovable wife.
Smile, Darn Ya, Smile! (1931)
These cartoons taught people to smile!
"Smile, Darn Ya, Smile!" is the perfect song/cartoon title for downtrodden Americans during the Great Depression. The USA needed a fair amount of cheering up in the early 1930s, and Warner Bros. cartoons came to the rescue! In this film, the character Foxy is a trolley car operator who instigates some amusing adventures.
My two favorite moments from this cartoon: An advertisement for Sniff Brothers Cough Drops shows two bearded dogs who are quite funny, and a quartet of hobos sings the title song.
"Smile, Darn Ya, Smile!" is a cartoon that bursts with energy and great musical accompaniment, like so many other cartoons of the time. The voice acting in this cartoon is not so great, but I can overlook that; it wouldn't be too long before our friend Mel Blanc would come into the fold.