Mel Blanc

Knighty Knight Bugs (1958, Friz Freleng)

Besides Mel Blanc’s voice work, there’s nothing to recommend Knighty Knight Bugs. Actually, even with his voice work, there’s nothing to recommend it. It’s just the only good thing about the cartoon.

Bugs, as a medieval jester, has to go get a sword. Yosemite Sam has the sword. Bugs gets it. The cartoon’s act structure is broken. I doubt it’s intentional, just Freleng and writer Warren Foster didn’t have any ideas. The story’s completely uninspired, but not as uninspired as Freleng’s gags. His animators don’t do a terrible job (the background artist is another matter) but there’s nothing interesting for them to animate.

The cartoon’s single saving grace is its length. At six minutes, by the time the viewer realizes nothing else is going to happen, it only has two minutes left.

So, while it’s not quite painless, its brevity reduces how painful it might get otherwise.

Knighty Knight indeed.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

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

Starring Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny / Yosemite Sam / King Arthur / Sir Osis of Liver / Sir Loin of Beef / The Dragon).


Birds Anonymous (1957, Friz Freleng)

Birds Anonymous should be really good. Its failings so how tied animation technique and writing are when it comes to a cartoon. The narrative, down to the scenic plotting, is fine. But the animation is bad so Birds flops.

The most startling problem is the backgrounds. A more generous person might call them stylishly spare. I’ll call them cheap and lacking. Sylvester never looks like he’s interacting in a setting. It’s painfully obvious he’s not.

Worse is the supporting cast. Both Sylvester and Tweety look fine, but all the rest of the cats look terrible. The plot involves Sylvester joining a twelve-step program to overcome his craving for birds. Like I said… Birds should work.

Every time Sylvester’s sponsor shows up to save him, the bad animation undoes what should be a great scene.

Mel Blanc’s voice work is fabulous. It’s too bad Freleng didn’t take Birds as seriously.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Friz Freleng; written by Warren Foster; animated by Gerry Chiniquy, Arthur Davis and Virgil Ross; edited by Treg Brown; music by Milt Franklyn; produced by Edward Selzer; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Sylvester / Tweety / Clarence / B.A. Cats).


Fresh Airedale (1945, Chuck Jones)

Fresh Airedale opens without titles and I’m a little surprised to see it’s Chuck Jones. The animation is rather weak for the most part and, while there’s inventiveness, it’s chaste.

The cartoon has either a mixed message or just a depressing one. It’s all about a sociopathic, Machiavellian airedale who does whatever he can to get all the attention in the world. Meanwhile, a nice cat suffers.

So it’s either about how people stupidly like dogs over cats or about how this particular dog is the Mussolini of terriers.

Sadly, there’s no point in deciding which one. Michael Maltese is all over the place with the plotting and it sort of kills any expectation for the cartoon.

Mel Blanc doesn’t have much to do with most the voices, but Frank Graham is excellent in his role as the dog’s stupid owner.

Knowing it’s Jones, I expected a whole lot more.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Chuck Jones; written by Michael Maltese; animated by Ken Harris, Lloyd Vaughan and Ben Washam; edited by Treg Brown; music by Carl W. Stalling; produced by Edward Selzer; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Cat / Prowler / Nightmare Voices / Shep) and Frank Graham (Narrator / Shep’s Master).


Duck Amuck (1953, Chuck Jones)

Duck Amuck is either very memorable or very predictable. If I have ever seen it, it was fifteen plus years ago. Yet I could guess a bunch of the plot twists, including the final one.

That final reveal, which might make Amuck memorable, also undoes a lot of the neat stuff the cartoon does otherwise.

The premise is simple–Daffy Duck battles a mischievous animator, losing his voice, his body, the backgrounds, the foregrounds and so on. The cartoon’s best when Jones is playing with how sound works in animation and it puts Amuck ahead.

There’s also the secondary thread–how cartoons abuse their characters. Here, Daffy gets to voice (to the animator and the audience) some of that outrage and indignity.

But then the final reveal comes along and undoes all that work. It’s just a gag, think about.

Blanc does great voice work here.

It should’ve been better.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Chuck Jones; written by Michael Maltese; animated by Ken Harris, Lloyd Vaughan and Ben Washam; edited by Treg Brown; music by Carl W. Stalling; produced by Edward Selzer; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Daffy Duck / The Animator).


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).


By Word of Mouse (1954, Friz Freleng)

I feel like By Word of Mouse should be better. It turns out it’s a Sylvester cartoon–not without good gags–but the concept deserves more.

A German mouse heads to the U.S. to visit a relation; free market capitalism–well, American consumerism, wows him and the two cousins find a professor (also a mouse) to explain it all. The explanations for the viewer too, of course.

But this cartoon takes place in the fifties and it’s unclear if the German mouse is from the West or East (presumably West). German just doesn’t seem the right nationality for the concept to work.

Freleng’s direction is good, the style is charming, and the economics lesson is just right for a younger audience.

Still, Word doesn’t really have an ending… Sylvester ruins the mouse’s trip and he heads back. Or maybe has other adventures, it’s unclear.

It’s likable, but completely doldrum.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Friz Freleng; written by Warren Foster; animated by Ted Bonnicksen, Gerry Chiniquy, Arthur Davis and Ben Washam; edited by Treg Brown; music by Milt Franklyn; produced by Edward Selzer; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Sylvester / Hans / Uncle / Aunt / Elevator Operator / Mice Children).


Feed the Kitty (1952, Chuck Jones)

A tough bulldog adopts an adorable kitten in Feed the Kitty; a story Jones liked so much he remade it. This one, the original, manages to be charming without saccharine, maybe because of the really strange objectification of the dog’s lady owner.

She kicks up her skirt at one point, revealing her legs, and it seems highly inappropriate.

The cartoon mostly concerns the dog not being allowed new toys–or, he assumes, a new kitten–and having to hide the kitten from the owner.

All the various gags to hide the kitten are good. There’s even the sequence where the dog thinks the kitten’s been baked. Jones handles the despondence quite well.

The only weak moment is during a chase sequence when the perspective gets messed up. Otherwise, everything–story, direction, animation–is wonderful.

Kitty‘s a fine fifties visual time capsule, but it’s also an excellent bit of cartooning.

3/3Highly Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Chuck Jones; written by Michael Maltese; animated by Ken Harris, Phil Monroe, Lloyd Vaughan and Ben Washam; edited by Treg Brown; music by Carl W. Stalling; produced by Edward Selzer; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Marc Anthony / Pussyfoot) and Bea Benaderet (Marc Anthony’s Mistress).


Golden Yeggs (1950, Friz Freleng)

Once again, the boys at Warner Bros. have some problems with basic gender realities. Not only does Daffy Duck lay eggs (something he strongly infers in Golden Yeggs without getting graphic), neither do ganders.

That incredible plot problem aside, Yeggs is a lot of fun. It starts on Porky Pig’s farm with a gander laying a golden egg. The gander blames it on Daffy, who ends up kidnapped by the mob.

What’s so fun about Yeggs is the lack of gags. There’s a lot of story with a relatively long present action as Daffy gets kidnapped and barters with the mobsters. Then the finish, with the chases and the gags, takes place over five minutes.

The animation is fluid and enthusiastic, even if it’s a little lazy in terms of detail. Actually, Porky and the farm are weak, the mob and the city are strong.

Freleng does a great job.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Friz Freleng; written by Tedd Pierce; animated by Ken Champin, Gerry Chiniquy, Arthur Davis, Emery Hawkins and Virgil Ross; edited by Treg Brown; music by Carl W. Stalling; produced by Edward Selzer; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Daffy Duck / Porky Pig / Rocky / Nick / Hotel Employee / Chickens).


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

CREDITS

Directed by Robert McKimson; animated by Warren Batchelder, George Grandpré, 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).


Rabbit Hood (1949, Chuck Jones)

Rabbit Hood features some great voice work from Mel Blanc. Some of the responsibility falls on Jones and writer Michael Maltese, of course, since they put Bugs Bunny in Sherwood Forest with the Sheriff of Nottingham as an antagonist… but Blanc makes the cartoon memorable. Bugs has some great dialogue and Blanc nails it.

That success even makes up for his lesser work on the Sheriff, who’s a problematic antagonist. Jones and Maltese can’t make him actually threatening, so they play him like a buffoon. He’s not just an unworthy adversary for Bugs, he’s a boring one.

But the cartoon excels anyway. The gags are all strong, as is the pacing. Jones holds the gags in their aftermaths, waiting until the perfect moment to release the tension.

The animation’s quite good and Jones composes some excellent frames.

Hilarious tights on the Sheriff too.

And the final gag is utterly fantastic.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Chuck Jones; written by Michael Maltese; animated by Ken Harris, Phil Monroe, Lloyd Vaughan and Ben Washam; edited by Treg Brown; music by Carl W. Stalling; produced by Edward Selzer; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny / Sheriff of Nottingham / Little John).


Scroll to Top