David H. DePatie

Now Hear This (1962, Chuck Jones and Maurice Noble)

Now Hear This is a fairly amazing cartoon. It’s even more amazing when one considers it’s a Warner Bros. cartoon under the “Looney Tunes” banner. Jones and co-director Noble play with the idea of sound as it relates to movies. I suppose cartoons specifically, but it’s really just moving images.

They strip away the background, the superfluous details and just leave their protagonist, a British guy with bad hearing, practically two dimensional in the void.

There’s a narrative–the British guy confuses the Devil’s ear for a hearing trumpet–but it’s really just about the crazy things Noble and Jones come up with. The images constantly change, transitioning via the sound. It’s a great exercise, but they also create an excellent cartoon.

The pacing’s also important–since nothing happens–the gentle gags move it along and they work beautifully.

I wish Now Hear This ran three times as long.

3/3Highly Recommended


Directed by Chuck Jones and Maurice Noble; written by John W. Dunn and Jones; animated by Bob Bransford and Ben Washam; edited by Treg Brown; music by William Lava; produced by David H. DePatie; released by Warner Bros.

A-Haunting We Will Go (1966, Robert McKimson)

Expository dialogue in a cartoon? I’ve never heard anything so silly before… in A-Haunting We Will Go, the witch introduces Speedy Gonzales. Unfortunately, she does not cook him.

Strangely (and sadly since the character dynamic is amusing), Daffy’s nephew doesn’t get an introduction.

The stuff with Daffy and his nephew isn’t bad–and the animation on the exterior scenes is quite good–but June Foray’s witch is exceedingly annoying. Except when she turns Speedy Gonzales into her physical clone, then Haunting becomes some weird gag about a Mexican drag queen. You’d think an anti-defamation league would have complained.

Bill Lava’s music is bad and McKimson’s approach seems more informed by “The Jetsons” than anything else.

It’s unfortunate, as the opening with Daffy and his nephew is quite good. It’s probably the best twenty or thirty seconds I’ve ever seen from McKimson.

But then Haunting plummets fast and far.

1/3Not Recommended


Directed by Robert McKimson; animated by Warren Batchelder, George GrandprΓ©, Bob Matz and Manuel Perez; edited by Al Wahrman; music by William Lava; produced by David H. DePatie and Friz Freleng; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Daffy Duck / Speedy Gonzales / Daffy’s Nephew) and June Foray (Witch Hazel).

Chili Weather (1963, Friz Freleng)

I’m missing why Speedy Gonzales is the good guy in Chili Weather. He’s trying to steal food (the theory being the factory has food so it should give food to his friends) and he tortures the guard cat.

If one got really creative, he or she could interpret Weather as commentary on the Mexican government starving its citizens while producing cheap goods for the United States. I’d love to read that interpretation, actually.

Speedy’s a bunch of stereotypes and whatnot, but he’s also an annoying jerk. Sylvester, as the guard cat, isn’t even a bad guy in Weather. He’s literally just doing his job.

It doesn’t help the animation is boring and Freleng’s one okay gag–Sylvester hopping on an ice block and melting it after soaking in Tabasco sauce–isn’t even original.

The plot doesn’t arc either, making Weather an abbreviated chase cartoon.

It’s fairly awful, except Blanc’s Sylvester.

1/3Not Recommended


Directed by Friz Freleng; written by John W. Dunn; animated by Gerry Chiniquy, Lee Halpern, Art Leonardi, Bob Matz and Virgil Ross; edited by Lee Gunther; music by William Lava; produced by David H. DePatie; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Speedy Gonzales / Sylvester / Mice).

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