Daws Butler

Mouse and Garden (1960, Friz Freleng)

Mouse and Garden has some bad animation… shockingly bad. The cartoon’s about Sylvester and his sidekick, Sam, fighting over a mouse. The animation on Sam (an orange cat) and the mouse is awful. Freleng apparently didn’t care about appearing three dimensional.

Actually, a lot of the gags work in two dimensions, as does most of Freleng’s composition. Garden is a bore to watch.

Sylvester looks a little better, like the animators had good reference materials. Not so for the annoying Sam–the character’s weak and a terrible pair for Sylvester.

Maybe if the mouse had any personality the cartoon might work better, but Freleng sort of ignores it until the final gag. Gag might be too strong a word to describe it. Final attempt at humor.

Mel Blanc’s characterization of Sylvester is so strong it’s hard to dislike Garden entirely, but there’s nothing else good about the cartoon at all.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Friz Freleng; animated by Gerry Chiniquy, Arthur Davis and Virgil Ross; music by Milt Franklyn; edited by Treg Brown; produced by John W. Burton; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Sylvester) and Daws Butler (Sam).


Magical Maestro (1952, Tex Avery)

I had read Magical Maestro was controversial and it took me quite a while, watching it, to release why it had that reputation.

There’s a montage of an irate magician turning an opera singing bulldog into various singing stereotypes. There’s a cowboy, there’s a redneck, there’s a baby… then an angry audience member squirts ink on the bulldog’s face and it’s blackface.

And at that point, I realized the earlier Chinese transformation would offend too (but that transformation is the only one where the bulldog is singing the opera as opposed to a stereotype appropriate one).

It’s a lovely little cartoon. There aren’t a lot of shots, not a lot of action, but it’s a hilarious cartoon set to good music.

The redneck caricature is probably the most shocking one. Maybe because it’s the only accurate one of them.

Regardless of any “controversy,” Tex Avery does absolutely brilliant work here.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Tex Avery; written by Rich Hogan; animated by Walt Clinton, Michael Lah and Grant Simmons; music by Scott Bradley; produced by Fred Quimby; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Daws Butler (Mysto the Magician) and Carlos Ramírez (The Great Poochini).


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