Dick Nelson

Hare Conditioned (1945, Chuck Jones)

Embarrassingly, I didn’t understand Hare Conditioned‘s title until I looked it up online. No, I won’t tell you.

The cartoon is an enthusiastic chase through a department store, with star window attraction Bugs Bunny about to be shipped off the to taxidermy department. Bugs is likable here, partially because he’s opposite a heinous villain, the store manager (voiced by Dick Nelson).

Jones and writer Tedd Pierce manage to get both characters in drag, with Bugs’s feminine persona wooing the manager. There’s just got to be a scholarly work about the use of cross-dressing as a seduction device in Warner Bros. cartoons. There’s just got to be….

Jones has some fun ideas and a lot of good gags. Occasionally his animators can’t realize them but, on a whole, Hare Conditioned is a lot more successful than not.

It’s pleasant and consistently amusing, but there’s nothing particularly distinctive about it overall.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Chuck Jones; written by Tedd Pierce; animated by Basil Davidovich, Ken Harris, Lloyd Vaughan, Ben Washam and Robert Cannon; edited by Treg Brown; music by Carl W. Stalling; produced by Edward Selzer; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny) and Dick Nelson (Store manager).


Screwball Squirrel (1944, Tex Avery)

Screwball Squirrel opens with the protagonist mocking a Disney-like cartoon squirrel and sending him packing. The Disney-like squirrel sounds and looks enough like Thumper from Bambi I forgot Thumper was a rabbit. This moment establishes the cartoon—because the protagonist, the never named Screwy Squirrel, is mocking the cute squirrel to the audience.

Avery doesn’t do a whole lot with breaking the fourth wall—I think there are three or four big gags with it, not including the opening—but doing it immediately sets the cartoon up in that vein.

The majority of the cartoon is Screwy Squirrel tormenting a bird dog. One of the frequent jokes is how stupid the dog behaves. Screwy Squirrel’s not likable, he’s just not an idiot.

The cartoon ends on a reveal; it’s a pointless one… but leads to a funny moment.

Avery understands what he’s playing with and it all works.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Tex Avery; written by Heck Allen; animated by Preston Blair, Ed Love and Ray Abrams; music by Scott Bradley; produced by Fred Quimby; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Wally Maher (Screwy Squirrel) and Dick Nelson (Meathead)


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