Warren Foster

A Broken Leghorn (1959, Robert McKimson)

A Broken Leghorn never confronts its bleakness or meanness.

It opens with Foghorn Leghorn doing a good thing, tricking a presumably barren hen into thinking she laid an egg. But then it turns out to be a baby rooster, so Foghorn spends the rest of the cartoon trying to kill the adorable little rooster.

Mel Blanc’s voice characterization of the baby rooster sounds a little too much like Bugs Bunny, but it’s likable enough… and Foghorn’s a monster. Strangely, he does get his comeuppance. The cartoon ends with him caged and off, one would assume, to be slaughtered.

McKimson doesn’t seem to understand the bleakness or the meanness, which is no surprise. If he did, the cartoon might be better.

The animation’s pretty weak too. There’s no inventiveness. I suppose Broken‘s not bad, just boring.

I haven’t seen a Foghorn Leghorn cartoon since I was a kid. They haven’t improved.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Robert McKimson; written by Warren Foster; animated by Warren Batchelder, Ted Bonnicksen, George Grandpré and Tom Ray; edited by Treg Brown; music by Milt Franklyn; produced by John W. Burton; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Foghorn Leghorn / Junior Rooster) and June Foray (Miss Prissy / Hens).


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).


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).


The Windblown Hare (1949, Robert McKimson)

The Windblown Hare is fairly intolerable. Even if the animation wasn’t lazy–maybe Warner slashed the budget after finding out what McKimson wanted to do–there are still two and a half major problems.

First, and most surprisingly, Mel Blanc’s Three Little Pigs voices are terrible. He’s doing them as Cagney toughs and it flops. Next, the half point, is Blanc’s Big Bad Wolf. Also bad.

His Bugs Bunny is fine, though the animation on Bugs is particularly bad.

The other big problem is the writing. McKimson doesn’t realize the Wolf doesn’t even acknowledge Bugs’s presence until it becomes a plot point. It’s incredibly lazy writing.

As far as the gags go, maybe the Wolf kicking grandma out of her house (without eating her) is the best. The final gag is terrible and the cartoon doesn’t even end properly; it stops instead.

At least Bugs isn’t annoying here. Just dumb.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Robert McKimson; written by Warren Foster; animated by John Carey, Phil DeLara, Manny Gould and Charles McKimson; edited by Treg Brown; music by Carl W. Stalling; produced by Edward Selzer; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny / The Three Little Pigs / The Big Bad Wolf).


The Great Piggy Bank Robbery (1946, Robert Clampett)

Is that Porky Pig cameoing in The Great Piggy Bank Robbery? I kept expecting him to be revealed as the big villain.

The story concerns Daffy Duck getting clomped on the head and imagining himself in a Dick Tracy adventure. Now, for Tracy fans, there’s a lot to see, including some inventive takes on the villains. But it’s actually pretty tame for everyone else.

Some of the problem is the animation. Piggy looks like it was done, for the most part, on the cheap. For the first half, it’s mostly just Daffy by himself, acting wacky. In this wackiness, his body contorts to extraordinary proportions. There’s little point to it… unless Clampett was just trying to keep the cartoon active.

Since it’s clearly a dream, the payoff has to be in the dream sequence—and there are a couple decent gags—but overall, it fails.

Piggy is way too loose.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Robert Clampett; written by Warren Foster; animated by Rob Scribner, Bill Melendez, Manny Gould and Izzy Ellis; edited by Treg Brown; music by Carl W. Stalling; produced by Edward Selzer; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Daffy Duck).


Daffy Duck Slept Here (1948, Robert McKimson)

So all you need to make Daffy Duck an incredibly sympathetic character is Porky Pig.

In Daffy Duck Slept Here, Porky’s a traveler in search of a hotel room. He ends up lodging with Daffy, only they haven’t met yet. Once they do, the majority of the hilarity ensues.

And it is hilarity. Slept Here is an excellent cartoon, making great use of a Harvey reference, for example.

Daffy’s a fun loving guy and Porky’s somewhere between a square and a jerk. The animation on Porky is peculiar, actually. It’s almost like one’s supposed to be predisposed to dislike him. Even Mel Blanc’s voice for Porky is unenthusiastic, not just compared to his work on Daffy’s, but on the supporting characters too.

Treg Brown’s editing is particularly sublime here; the whole cartoon’s a technical achievement.

Well, except the final gag. It’s flat. But Slept Here still leaves a fine impression.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Robert McKimson; written by Warren Foster; animated by Manny Gould, Charles McKimson and Izzy Ellis; edited by Treg Brown; music by Carl W. Stalling; produced by Edward Selzer; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Daffy Duck / Porky Pig / Hotel Clerks / Manager).


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The Hep Cat (1942, Robert Clampett)

In the last minute and a half of The Hep Cat, Clampett finally comes up with some really interesting shots. The short’s a cat and dog one. It follows the standard. Dumb dog versus a mean, vain and not much smarter cat.

The titular hep cat breaks out into a song routine, but it’s not enough to separate him too much from all the rest.

They chase each other around (the dog’s smart enough to put on a pussycat puppet and tempt the cat) but at the end they end up on the city rooftops. All the animation is solid, but once they’re on the rooftops, it all of a sudden gets a lot more visually compelling.

Otherwise, there’s nothing to recommend it. The cat isn’t much of a character, even with singing and various voices, and the dog’s even less of one.

It feels long too (at six minutes).

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Robert Clampett; written by Warren Foster; animated by Robert McKimson; edited by Treg Brown; music by Carl W. Stalling; produced by Leon Schlesinger; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (The Hep Cat / Rosebud) and Bea Benaderet (Bird).


Easter Yeggs (1947, Robert McKimson)

I’m sorry, I think I missed something… did Bugs Bunny just kill the Easter Bunny?

Or did he just maim him?

Easter Yeggs ought to be a lot better. It’s got an Easter Bunny who conspires to get out of his duties on an annual basis by acting emo, it’s got Elmer Fudd and it’s got a psychotic infant who uses a revolver as a pacifier.

So what’s wrong with it?

Oddly, a combination of weak animation and director McKimson’s reliance on live action directorial mores. McKimson actually uses an over-the-shoulder shot in Yeggs, which makes no sense. Especially since he’s going over Elmer Fudd’s shoulder when he’s not the protagonist….

McKimson’s strange approach aside, there’s some really awful animation too. At times, Bugs appears to have a potbelly. And to be about twelve feet tall.

The last two gags are really great though; they save the cartoon.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Robert McKimson; written by Warren Foster; animated by McKimson, Richard Bickenbach and Izzy Ellis; edited by Treg Brown; music by Milt Franklyn and Carl W. Stalling; produced by Edward Selzer; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny / Easter Bunny / Bratty Kid) and Arthur Q. Bryan (Elmer Fudd).


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