A scene from SCREWBALL SQUIRREL, directed by Tex Avery for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

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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One thought on “Screwball Squirrel (1944, Tex Avery)”

  1. It’s hard to tell if Avery is satirizing the chaser-chasee cartoon formula (still a new idea at the time) or simply expressing love for its cruelty compared to Disney’s ethos. There’s only 3 Screwball Squirrel cartoons and each one of them seems designed to rub the gratuitousness in your face. Avery helped create Bugs Bunny at Warners and most of his gag-driven cartoons at MGM had very original stories – except Screwy.

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