Monday, 29 April 2013

1939 leftover...

I forgot to mention so of my overall views of the director's output of 1939.

I'd usually write so, in every year I have reviewed and completed, but considering I didn't write it at the end of my Curious Puppy review...I feel the need to write a very quick post here:

As you can see, 1939 was a very bad year for the directors, and this was their deteoriating point. Friz Freleng had gone to MGM, and Frank Tashlin headed over to Disney. All of the other directors ended up turning out effortless entries which were much inferior to what they made a year or two back.

Bob Clampett, in my honest opinion, has ranked at the bottom of this year. You can tell he was no longer motivated in his Porky cartoons, his sense of timing and comedy weakened, and he practically almost destroyed Porky's charm. I found he turned out more weak cartoons than any director: (examples: Naughty Neighbours, Porky's Movie Mystery, Jeepers Creepers, Chicken Jitters, just to name a few).
I may be sounding too harsh on Clampett (I'll give Porky's Tire Trouble an exception), but Hardaway-Dalton were almost as weak, though personally, I find their entries at least have a tad bit more effort than Clampett does, even though they're cartoons may have been unoriginal.

Chuck Jones, on the other hand, is an interesting one to argue. Nor was he very weak this year, or was he very strong. His cartoons were certainly the most unique, and you can tell his ego was already there. He experimented from the very beginning with non-dialogue speaking cartoons. His cartoons had beautiful animation and designs, but the pacing of his stories were slow and his cartoons get a little tiresome from watching.

Last but not least at all, Tex Avery. He really did move one step further with his cartoons. For the past three years, Tex was really focusing on making funny, childish humour. Here, he has moved straight to spotgag parodies. The non-spotgag cartoons he created, were of course, excellent (Thugs With Dirty Mugs, Hamateur Night, and Dangerous Dan McFoo meaning)...though his parodies did kind of run down together. But there is no doubt he was still the strongest director this year. Let's see what 1940 brings us: it can always change.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

The March of Time - 1939

Having completed reviewing the entire year of 1939; a year with the biggest input of cartoon released: 44 shorts! Also for completing the entire 1930s; I feel I'd like to mark this post as an occasion to post a little bloodspot; where I view the Termite Terrace Gag Reels of 1939; which were gag reels, and according to Martha Sigall, were shown every year at the Schlesinger Christmas Parties.

I won't, however, post the 1938 Xmas Reel--(although, I should've done so) but I'm posting the '39 gag reels for my celebration of completing a difficult year--for me. The title itself, The March of Time - was a very well-known American newsreel programme which ran for 14 years from 1931 to 1945, and were shown in theatres. For those who are completely unaware of the reel's existence: go purchase the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 6 if you haven't got a copy. They're a real treat for the public to see life back in the Termite Terrace days, and I'm very grateful for Jerry Beck for putting this together back in 2008, and of course, Martha Sigall for identifying almost all of the artists.

Watching the opening sequence; the opening was a complete parody of what life goes on at the Schlesinger Studio. Dated, but, wacky for the time this was filmed. I wish I'd know who did these solid caricatures of Ray Katz, Henry Binger and Tex Avery--as well as background titles.

As it would've started off--Mel Blanc, here, performs the opening intro for the 1939 Christmas Reel. He uses his hilarious and infamous 'rubber band' noise. According to Martha Sigall, he created that effect from under his armpit. What genius of Blanc! Mel makes the noise in theme of Jingle Bells and the background titles show Father Christmas enjoying his booze.

Great little title card which even parodies the 'disclaimer' opening. Then the music fades to (I think) this is The Old Folks at Home, and it's the exact same music cue Stalling played in the opening of The Early Worm Gets the Bird.

The first gag reel featured; a supposedly reel of the executives working hard on production issues. However, it turns out only Henry Binder, shows grave concerns from his face. I love the fact that his caricature is displayed on the wall right behind him.

The camera pans, where Ray Katz gives the hotfoot to Binder, and Leon Schlesinger, himself, gives Ray the hotfoot. Ray's laugh is no doubt, Tex's laugh, but I wonder whether this was already recorded from a production (A Bear's Tale - maybe?). It's great to see Leon Schlesinger already having fun, and now that's what I'd call 'boss'. If you still believe in Chuck Jones' view of Leon (which is pure B.S.), this shows a great example of how Leon loved his studio, and is willing to make a fool out of himself, much like everyone else.

The next gag reel: we find a staff member walking through the corridors. Martha Sigall identifies her as Sue Dalton. No relation to Cal Dalton, I suppose? Anyway, we find assistant animator Alex Ignatiev, who was Russian, who is carrying a bomb with him and is portrayed as a Russian terrorist. Then Bugs Hardaway walks into the reel, picking his nose.

Sure wonder whether this was a habit of his, but I suppose we'll never know. The picking-nose sound effect is absolutely great.

The next gag reel, shows Johnny Burton, who has been a long-time production supervisor for many years at Warners, is seen having problems with cartoon production. Knowing it's going to be a great gag, we find him struggling in his desk. With three cel-washers: Charlie Jones (no, not the Chuck), John Marks (the black cel-washer) and Eddie Swift--who all walk in to place bets on the 'football pool'. I'll admit, funny as it may seem back then, but Blanc's stereotypical voice for John Marks isn't very fitting. Revealing, the struggles he's having on paper: he still can't figure out "2+2".

Another short gag features an ambitious inbetweener who aspires to become a motion picture executive. The reel then shows his frustration with Blanc's hilarious delivery, of Lee Halpern shouting and complaining incoherently, and mussing up his hair.

The next sequence features, what I consider, a treat: we get to see a brief studio recording of Carl W. Stalling conducting for a new cartoon.

The only known-recording of a cartoon score to exist is Putty Tat-Trouble, but here you get to see a brief sample of Carl Stalling recording for Chuck's cartoon: Mighty Hunters. What's great and intriguing to see is they used indians for the drumming that would be used for the cartoon. Carl has his moment of foolishness when he bows in rhythm of the drums bouncing.

After a brief moment at the Ink & Painting Department: which shows Treg Brown, teasing the ink and paints with his chicken clucking effects.

The next reel, is another great treat...we get to see stock footage of a stripper which was a live-action reference used for the lizard striptease gag in Cross Country Detours. I believe the stripper there is Marcia Eloise, who was cast to do some live-action for the animator working on that cartoon (source from Yowp, written in Los Angeles Times, Aug 27. 1939).

Obviously, the shots of Henry Binder watching the stripper were filmed separately. For the time this was made, where crude humour had to be subtle, this would've got the whole studio hyped up. After the stripper has stripped off much of her clothing and revealing much of her body; save the bra, Henry Binder already turns aroused and has his very long tongue sticking out, panting like a dog. Goes to show how even the studio executives were willing to have fun.

The next sequence takes place at 3 o'clock where everyone takes a break from working. The first three guys play a game with a ball (though Sigall could only identify Phil Monroe and Ray Young in that shot). Then we follow into a great sequence of fencing, and the screaming is hysterical...including the part where the guy in the white shirt is stabbed, though still alive. The music cue is Ain't We Got Fun which is the same cue heard in Early Worm Gets the Bird.

The next sequence is pretty cheesy, corny, but in other words: that's Termite Terrace for ya. According to Martha Sigall, most of these couples making out--would later get married. The couples include: Virgil Ross and Francis Ewing, Paul Smith and Dixie Smith. The last couple: Mae Verlandes (spelling?) and Herman Cohen cracks me up, and its completely the opposite of subtle, when Herman Cohen is given a 'hand job', for lack of better word. And of course, You Must've Been a Beautiful Baby is played.

The last gag of break-time: where the title card reads: '--while here is one employee that actually relaxes'. We find cameraman Smokey Garner who is reading The Einstein Theory and comments (with Blanc's voice dubbed): 'Great stung, great stuff'. According to Sigall, Smokey is illiterate, which is a real shame to hear.

The next reel features a few members of staff who, apparently, 'were too stingy to write Christmas cards' then extend their Christmas wishes. The reel itself is also very amusing, with Blanc's least the male voices. I love how they all just act like cretins, then again, of the period this was made...their humour are wackier than the 1939 cartoons they made.

Not going to go through all the staff, but a few noticeable ones to mention, such as Sid Sutherland: who acts a complete dope and his facial expressions are priceless. It's great to see Bobe Cannon also pay his greetings...although I wouldn't imagine the word 'stingy' would associate with Cannon.

Ken Harris, does an impersonation of Elmer Blurt from Al Pearce Show--and watching his face...he certainly can pull off the character's characteristics quite well. Great to see Friz Freleng's return, and looking completely settled from his short tenure at MGM. From what we learn about from Cal Dalton, he is a Republican supporter...unless it was just intended as a gag. Ray's Katz ill-mannered moment is also priceless.

Then the dance room reel takes over and we find many of the Schlesinger employees with a female to dance with. The song, That's My Cue was written by Martha herself. A great sequence which is really dirty towards the end, but when Treg Brown clicks on Ginger Morgan's back--those sounds are hilarious, especially the fart sound.

Great to see Clampett having fun, and dressed as a drag queen with Ray Katz. Of course, its no surprise to see them dancing since Ray Katz headed Clampett's unit at the time, which was at a totally separate studio. Very typical gag setup for Friz Freleng dancing with Ads Renella (sp?). Obviously, the difference is the height; which was all set up.

Another great moment is where, Ted Pierce, dancing with Martha Sigall, just kills the dance room with his trousers dropping. Being a womaniser that Ted was, fun to see the joke's on him. However, being this was taken at the 1939 Xmas Party, Pierce was all the way over at the Fleischer Studios in Florida. Perhaps he came over to spend Christmas and was invited to the Schlesinger Christmas Party?? We then find a flirtatious Gladys Halberg who tries to tag Tex along to her home...however, Tex already uses a gag of one of his own cartoons where he bangs and bellows: 'I can't do it, I can't go through it!', although this is stock footage to be used for Cross Country Detours and also Circus Today.

The 1939 gag reel then comes to its own conclusion where Leon Schlesinger, wishes to extend his Christmas wishes and a Happy New Year. However, as he turns to look at his watch; he comments: 'Say, I'm going to the bowl'. No, no, not the 'bowl' as in football...he then rushes over towards the toilet and closes the door. Love the gag where he flips the sign to read: 'Danger! Man at work!'.

That's all, folks. This was little a little commentary about the 1939 blooper reel. Nothing too special, but if you haven't seen it. Check it out.

Friday, 19 April 2013

271. The Curious Puppy (1939)

Warner cartoon no. 270.
Release date: December 30, 1939.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Chuck Jones.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
No cast.
Story: Rich Hogan.
Animation: Phil Monroe.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Two curious dogs go inside an amusement night late at night after it is closed, and encounter a strange experience inside.

Last WB cartoon released from 1939; as well as the entire 1930s decade....which means I've completely finished reviewing the 1930s cartoons and will now be moving onto the 1940s...where WB will see a bigger and brighter light.

The scenario takes place late at night, at an amusement park, which is close for the season...the winter season. An abandoned and homeless dog walks past the gates of the closed amusement park. The city at night looks really quiet and crowdless (depending what time at night it takes place).

The puppy walks back and looks at the closed amusement park, with curiosity, hence the title of the cartoon. The puppy then crawls under the bars of the gate. The puppy manages to walk inside the gate and looks at the amusement park, startled and interested.

At first, his mind  is trickened as we believe he is barking at a cat off-screen. It turns out that this 'cat' comes from a cardboard design from a building called 'Black Cat Cafe'. Chuck uses a strong sense of silhouette, which shows some mood of how quiet and isolated it is at night.

The dog climbs on top of the building in an attempt to chase after the 'cat'. Turns out that the dog is on top of a powerhouse. Yay, Raymond Scott. He climbs back down, and accidentally turns on the switch of the powerhouse. The cause...the entire amusement park beams with lights as it would appear in warmer seasons at night. We hear Johann Strauss' infamous Blue Danube in the background which is a fine choice for the music cue as it gives a good range of joy and brightness which Strauss' musical score gives.

The curious puppy is seen hiding inside a dustbin after the take from the powerhouse being turned on. The puppy steps out of the dustbin, and we pan towards a kennel which reads 'Watch dog'. With no humans sighted at the amusement park: we find the sleepy watchdog stepping out of his kennel, awakened and disturbed. Some great personality animation of the dog stretching himself to keep awake.

Meanwhile, the curious puppy is seen at a 'Giant Swing' display watching the giant swing move sideways. In a close-up shot, the puppy watches the giant swing with his pupils, which swing sideways. A rather Disney-esque animated shot, which isn't particularly special, but its cute.

As the curious puppy is watching the giant swing; the camera pans to the watchdog who makes a turning point and watches the curious puppy who has trespassed inside the amusement park and turned on all the lights and displays into motion. The watchdog growls at the puppy. The curious puppy follows inside a typical display in amusement parks: the 'House of Mirrors', and the watchdog follows on.

The watchdog rushes inside the House of Mirrors, looking out for for the curious puppy. Chuck also attempts to make his animation look rich with the floor animation animated in perspective. Despite how it's described outside: 'amazing, baffling, etc.'. Unfortunately here, it's nothing spectacular.

The 'House of Mirrors' sequence turns into a lengthy, syrupy-paced sequence where the watchdog ends up watching his own reflection in the mirror. Evidently, the dog has never seen a mirror in his own life; he can't help but look at his own reflection.

Just like what you'd expect in a Disney cartoon featuring Pluto, except twice as slow as the pacing of Pluto and Pluto would probably not look at a mirror with such curiosity. As the watchdog continues to walk around in the House of Mirrors; a particular reflection (not a mirror).

The curious puppy on the other side copying the exact same motion in this sequence. Be prepared, folks, for a Disney-esque that Pluto would laugh at. With some pretty pointless Pluto thinking animation; the dog sticks his head out a few times, and then copy their movements with really goofy facial features which really lacks form with Chuck's conservative drawing style of this period. Afterwards; the dog watches the puppy use his own movement (without the watchdog moving). Knowing, he is caught--the puppy then rushes outside the Houses of Mirrors and the watchdog still chases after him.

After the sequence at the Houses of Mirrors, it appears to be that the curious puppy is climbing some sort of novelty staircase. The watchdog also climbs the stairs, but due to his weight, and the lack of weight on those stairs-it collapses. The puppy also slides down, next to the watchdog.

There's a great close-up by McKimson, and character poses, no doubt, by Jones--where the watchdog glares at the puppy. The puppy smiles sheepishly and timidly but dashes out of the scene. The watchdog runs inside a photograph shop where you can pose in front of dummy cardboard figures.

The puppy is seen posing as a beautiful woman holding an umbrella. Unfunny, although Chuck intended it to be cute. The watchdog walks around, but finds the puppy standing up on top of the figure. He jumps towards him, and the puppy flies out of the window. The force of the puppy being thrown out of the water, isn't very believable and lacks gravity. The puppy ends up dumped inside an automatic popcorn machine.

The puppy's head pops out of popcorn lying inside the machine. The puppy makes a sniff of the popcorn. There is a very expressive and charming which is definitely a Chuck Jones pose. The puppy smiles with glee as there is food inside the machine. This clearly indicates, how Chuck may have been ahead of his other rivalling directors, but just wasn't as good a cartoon director before he found that route.

Though this is a slow-paced sequence; the animation and facial expressions on the puppy are priceless. The timing on the puppy slowly chewing up the popcorn is very solid, as it gives a great feel of fear. After gulping a large amount of popcorn in his mouth.

The puppy attempts to dig his way out of the popcorn machine. The watchdog, turns curious of the popcorn machine. He finds an on-and-off switch button on the machine. He then switches it to 'on'. There is a technically-well animated scene where the machinery picks up the puppy inside the popcorn machine and places him inside a popcorn bag. A machinery is carrying a saltshaker and shakes salt at the puppy's behind. The other hand then shakes the bag so the salt can mix. Then the hand then butters the popcorn and the bag exits the machinery.

The dog then carries off the popcorn bag with him as he plans on kicking the puppy out of the amusement park. However, the bag then rips open and the puppy wonders off. The dog hears the puppy bark off-screen at a stall with novelty kittens set out in display. The puppy then makes sure if the puppy is in the bag by even ripping the whole bag open and through his head.

Knowing he is gone, he pulls the bag out of his head and runs towards the puppy. The puppy turns and watches the watchdog chasing after him. The chase then leads to inside a really tall sculpture.

The puppy looks down, and has a fear of heights, as it turns out he is about to slide down a very steep slide. The watchdog bumps into the puppy and they both slide down the slide and land into a pool.

The watchdog slides under the water, and ends up swimming out of the lake with the puppy. The puppy is seen sitting on top of the watchdog's back as the watchdog steps out of the pool, exhausted from the slide (great personality animation, once again). The puppy then slides down the watchdog's spine. They both look at one another, and then the puppy makes a rush out of the scene away from the watchdog.

The watchdog runs, and makes another turning point, but ends up being tricked by the puppy again. He comes across a box where there are toy puppies. However, it turns out by complete coincidence, that the toy puppies on display just happen to look just as identically as the curious puppy.

The watchdog, knowing he is being tricked, then barks at the puppy to see if the curious puppy whinces or makes any movement. After the watchdog growls, nothing happens.

So, he ends up jumping on top of the box with toy puppies for sale and it all breaks. The curious puppy watches the watchdog, in which the watchdog jumps on top of him and there is a cloud of puff that covers up the violence. As the violence is happening, the curious puppy makes a bark off-screen. The watchdog listens to the puppy and we pan to find the curious puppy is already outside the gates. Then the watchdog's anger starts to rise and burn. At the peak of his anger, he just breaks down sobbing. Why? I guess because he really wants to beat the crap out of that pup.

Overall comments: Another of the very 'many' cartoons where Chuck was just seeking out for some Disney-esque sequences as well as having the entire cartoon performed through pantomime. For the umpteenth time, Chuck Jones was a complete master of animated pantomime. Look at his Road Runner cartoons, Frisky Puppy shorts or even his Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog cartoons for Warner Bros. Just to clarify this is still early days for Chuck, he obviously had the thought of animated cartoons performed silently from the very beginning, but still needed much more practice at the concept. Despite his earliest attempts, the Two Curious Dogs--are a pain to watch. The fact that the sequences just run on longer than they should be, and that the cartoon has no gags. More or less, the curious dogs were just Chuck's take on 'Pluto' except he'd just add two of them and make them twice as slow as Pluto. I'll admit I quite like the fact that literally not one person has noticed the bright lights of an amusement park or even approached to it, since compared to the dark city (where everyone would be asleep); it wouldn't be hard to notice. I will say that Chuck Jones' facial expressions on this cartoon are a great example as to much potential he had as a cartoon director, although his expressions were only the tip of the iceberg into being a exceptional director. Throughout the cartoon score: Carl Stalling uses Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone? which would be a typical Stalling cue, but it works cleverly since the watchdog is on the hunt for the puppy.

On a side note, the entire 1930s library have now been reviewed and watched in chronological order. From watching the very first cartoons in 1930...and all the way to the last cartoons of 1939. You could say they're pretty bad and mediocre cartoons. But in-between those years: the WB cartoons have years of progressive improvement. All the pre-1935 are almost unworthy to watch. For me, the Harman-Ising era are only worth watching for me prior 1932...the 1930-31 shorts. Almost every cartoon they made afterwards (I find) is just about as bland and as terrible as the 'Buddy' era where the cartoons were incredibly below-standard, due to less creativity freedom they had, with the popular songs that had to be sung in the cartoons.

It's hard to imagine how the WB cartoons started off as mere ripoffs to the early Silly Symhponies or the early Mickey Mouse cartoons by Disney, and yet by 1939: they already had a special style of humour to themself. There is no doubt, Tex Avery definitely helped reform the humour and appeal which the Warner cartoon would eventually had, but the popular song system really still stayed on with some of the cartoon directors, and in some aspects, has never died away. You can even see in some 40s and 50s cartoons, but just in the wacky, hilarious Warner style. The end of the 30s have already brought to us memorable characters like Porky; who has dominated that decade. He had a great streak from 1937 to the end of 1938; though he is seen as 'tired' by the directors by the end of the 1930s. Moving on to the 1940s, better changes are made at everything: the directors, Tex's departure in 1941, as well the entire humour and timing which everyone has come to admire. After 44 cartoons of almost-painful reviews of the 1939 cartoons, I now am relieved to see the great side of the 1940s.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

270. Screwball Football (1939)

Warner cartoon no. 269.
Release date: December 16, 1939.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Tex Avery.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Coach/Football Players/Cheerleader/Movitator).
Story: Melvin Millar.
Animation: Virgil Ross.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Spot-gag cartoon taking place in a football field; though on a side-gag...a baby in the stadium can't enjoy his ice-cream in piece.

During the title credits, Tex already creates a unique animated shot of American football players tackling, which overlaps the credits. Of course, it wouldn't be an Avery gag when a silhouetted player whacks the other with a mallet for tackling.

An off-screen commentator who is to commentate on today's American football game. The event is the 'Chilliball Football Classic'.

The commentator's comment on the weather is decried as 'perfect'. He also adds, that 'there's only one small cloud floating in the sky'. Of course, the gag is it's not a small cloud--it's a dark one with thunder striking. Avery has already satirised the obvious things which the narrator ignorantly comments as a tiny fraction. Inside the stadium, the commentator describes the attendance of the crowd as 'colourful'. However, Avery uses the metaphor as a gag; where each row is presented in different colours. The gag then results of the stadium over-crowding where the people are displayed as blobs, and all fly out of the stadium. Anyone here reading this review, have a clue who the narrator of this short is? Guessing will not be helpful.

Inside the stadium we find many people inside the stadium who are watching the football game. Many in attendance, and both young and old. Then the commentator turns his eyes on a youngster paying attention to the ice-cream cone he is reading. A rather elderly man (well, from watching the crowd--this is dog world) looks at the ice-cream with temptation.

He then turns around and licks the young boy's ice cream without him noticing. Avery gag: obviously, and its meaning is far less complex..but I suppose the man hasn't grown out of avoiding temptation.

The next sequence, we find the American football team warming up for the big game. One particular gag there is a lazy player only using his legs to kick an incoming football (as I'd prefer to call it: rugby ball)...towards the players. There are three players standing on top of the pitch; with one kicking a ball out of the scene. As they just happened to be holding onto each other's shoulders; Avery and his gagmen turn silly as they perform a softy dance. Another particular scene which is wild in terms of mainstream is where a referee flips a coin for which team to kick the ball first. As soon as the coin hits the floor--everyone tackles each other over the coin like a child.

The match is about to start, and then the referee blows his whistle. I love the fact has a bird whistle, and it produces a tweeting sound of a bird. Anyway, after the whistle--then the game begins. The game starts and then a really doofus-like player makes a run up and kicks the player at the behind at kick-off, and forgets the ball.

Anyway, the commentator makes a remark that any commentator would say: 'The crowd roared!'. Of course, another famous metaphor for commentaries: Avery really gives it a very funny delivery with an actual sound of a lion roaring.

The next sequence is just pure corniness: an American football player is holding another American football player like a baseball bat. He has the American football placed on the field and then swings his bat (the player) at the ball. The commentator then makes a remark as one of the opponent players makes an attempt to catch the ball: 'It looks like he's gonna get it in the end zone'. He ends up being booted by a player--for being in the wrong zone I guess, which the commentator comments 'He did'. Then it gets to the point where the player is on the run but gets piled on top of the players on the opposing team. Afterwards, he's out-cold.  The medical team then walk over with the injury bed. Instead of the knocked-out player, they place the football in the medical bag. Doesn't make sense, completely over-the-top..but hey, it's fun.

In the next sequence: we find the coach for the opposite team 'black team' or whichever you prefer to call it. The coach then gives the bench player a big opportunity. 'All right, Gregory. You've been on this bench for 12 years. Here's your big chance. Now get in there and fight!'.

Afterwards; the mini player then runs out of his bench and charges in there. But in a mere matter of seconds, he's already injured, and covered up in bandages. The coach responds, 'Great game, Gregory'. I like how the coach moves his cheeks as well as when he trills with his speech.

After a small sequence; where we return to the baby and the grown man ice-scream situation; the team are about to resume playing. There appears to be a particular gag that I'm not particularly getting, or I just know very little with how American football works; as I've not grown up with that sport. There is a particular player at the back who keeps on shouting 'Hike!'. I can only interpret the word is a common term for backward passing...but anyway, the player bounces continuously. Eventually, in a long-shot--the whole red team 'hike'.

Then, the 'hike' player grabs the ball and more puns and metaphors from Avery: 'he's fading...fading...fading'. Now that is another gag I'll give credit for its execution. Then it turns to another player on the black team who catches the ball. At this point, I find the execution a little weak. The ball then ends up squealing like a ball like a pig and wonders off. Okay,

I understand that it may be amusing and appealing to some people. No need to call me barmy, but at that point, I think Tex killed the gag there...from the 'fading' gag to a bizarre scene of the ball squealing away.

As the ball makes an escape, a whole group of football players pile on top. Concerned if it ends up as a touchdown, etc. a football player crawls out and comments, 'Hmm, could be'..a line borrowed from Mr. Kitzel from The Al Pearce Show. The next scene, which has been controversial with the censors then begins with the referee about to blast his gun when half-time is ready. However, the ticking of his clock is in sync to the pistol he's holding in his hand. As he accidentally fires at his head; it blasts and his head briefly disappears. His head then pops out--believing he'd lost his head, but makes a take from realising he lost the gun. A very funny gag which was timed and executed really solidly.

As half-time is about to begin, Avery swaps a gag differently to what usually happens in reality. During half-time, players (in English football, or rugby, and American football, of course) would swap in different sides of the stadium. However, here--he makes the whole audience swap opposite seating positions.

That recurring gag with the elderly man eating the child's ice-cream. I'm sorry, but I really hate this recurring gag. The worst recurring Avery gag I've seen. I do mean to put this bluntly, but, that grown up is so border-lined from eating a children's ice-cream. I don't care if its wacky or gross, its just an eyesore to watch. Yeah, sure, borderline gags are funny, but doing that to a baby? No!

Anyway, the game resumes where a guard of the stadium pulls out a trumpet (and randomly, so many other trumpets are packed inside one). There is a particularly funny shot where the band leader is swinging his drum stick. As he tosses it in the air, and it spins, he ends up in spins himself. Avery manages to execute a gag wonderfully with a great sense of staging and perspective. We believe, from our perspective, he is carrying a big drum to bang, but oddly enough, the drum is seen inside of him.

In another sequence; we find that an over-enthusiastic cheerleader is seen speaking to an off-screen group of 'cheerleaders' to chant really enthusiastically towards the American football game. He even ends up shouting at the top of his voice: 'Give it all you got! YELL!' Then the camera pans and only one, unenthusiastic cheerleader lets out a very tepid: 'Ra, ra, ra'. The execution appears dated these days, but I can imagine the rave it got for a 1939 audience. I really can.

The commentator then takes a move towards the locker room where he speaks: 'The players and coach get together for a pep talk'. Inside it turns out that the football players are seen ranting and lambasting at a targeted, meek player for the wrong conducts at a football game.

Now, that gag certainly has an impact on me, and kind of stands out more than the other gags, in a subtle form. I would say so, as its a very realistic gags all the time--you'll always find a bad sport--and its exaggerated very humorously. The same recurring gag then occurs again with the borderline grown up just tricking the baby and licking the poor baby's ice-cream. Somebody shoot that man.

The second half of the game then begins. Another Tex corny gag appears where 'the whistle is about to blow' and the whistle literally blows off the referee's mouth. One of the players boots the ball, but with a red football player still attached to the ball. As he flies in mid-air, we find he ends up being held onto by the opposing team.

However, a really corny but funny moment appears when the red player has a really weird but silly affection towards, as he's being 'embraced'...and then kisses him on the cheek. The black football player then drops him to the floor and runs off with the ball.

During the scene where he charges; he then immediately drops to the floor and poses like some homosexual, as there appears to be an advertisement reference where it appears to refer to 'softness' or some such and the football player is meant to stand out as a sissy.

He reaches over to the line and makes a touchdown. An overly excited guy has his head decapitate and bounce as he cheers; 'We made it, woo-woo!'. In the next shot follows a mini montage sequence of of the football game continuing. I must say, the montage effects certainly isn't common of Tex to use that, isn't it? After the montage; we are seconds prior to the game's finish--and again the grown man licks the baby's ice cream. A few seconds later, a gun blasts, we believe the game has finished. However, it turns out that the gun shot was from a baby who shot the man who's been licking his ice-cream. The timing on the gun-blast was funny, but the whole concept of the recurring gag is extremely dark and creepy. Surely, it could be more light-hearted..or maybe I have weak guts.

Overall comments: My overall impression when I see a typical Tex Avery cartoon is: gag to gag, and in-between: recurring gags. Most of the time, the gags in his spot-gags were particularly weak, but his recurring gags were the highlight. Here, in this cartoon--I find it is pretty much the opposite. I thought this cartoon had a mixture of very funny and very corny gags, but here, I really disliked the recurring gag here. I just thought the overall concept and even the idea of a grown man licking a baby's ice-cream to be disturbing. I know, most wouldn't think so that way, and I suppose the character got his just-desserts...but maybe in a harsh way...but maybe it was the only wacky solution to end the baby's problem.

Not too much to say about the overall comments, but I did particularly like the gag after gag sequences; as there were many gags which I would call a highlight: such as the way Avery has analysed the metaphors commentators use all the time and combined them into gags wonderfully. Perhaps this is one of the stronger spot-gag cartoons he made over at Warners, if I minus the recurring gag sequence. Now, this is Avery's last cartoon he directed of the 1930s, before we move onto the 1940s where he remained at Warner Bros until 1941; but would become an even better director in terms of timing and better gags. With this cartoon reviewed, one more cartoon to; that's 1939 finished and the entire 1930s of Warner cartoons completed.