Uncle Tom's Bungalow manages to be both appallingly racist and a little progressive. Director Avery turning the slave trader into the devil, poking a little fun at the angelic white girl, general mocking of Southern cultural all around….
But Bungalow just isn't a good cartoon. Ben Harrison's script–with Tedd Pierce obnoxiously narrating–doesn't even include a bungalow. It's just for the title. The first two or three minutes is setting up the characters and setting up the characters is the cartoon being both racist (with the black characters) and condescending (of the Southerners). The wrap-up even has the cartoon taking inexplicable pot shots at social security, which make it more significant historically than anything else about it.
The gags are trite and predictable. The slave trader turning into a snake and getting electrocuted felt way too familiar.
I kept expecting it to be worse, but it could never be any better.
Directed by Tex Avery; written by Ben Harrison; animated by Virgil Ross and Sidney Sutherland; edited by Treg Brown; music by Carl W. Stalling; produced by Leon Schlesinger; released by Warner Bros.
Starring Tex Avery (Uncle Tom), Mel Blanc (Hound), Billy Bletcher (Simon Simon Legree), Bernice Hansen (Little Eva) and Lillian Randolph (Topsy / Eliza); narrated by Tedd Pierce.
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.
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).
Wild Wife is easily McKimson’s best cartoon (of those I’ve seen, anyway). I was going to start by talking about McKimson as an unlikely feminist, since Wife mostly concerns a housewife whose male chauvinist pig husband berates her for not getting enough done.
The cartoon then flashes back to show exactly how full her day has been, mostly with his little tasks. Then it sadly diverts to her being a shopaholic and a gossip, which is more what I expected.
But the ending recovers somewhat and McKimson and writer Tedd Pierce never make judgements. It’s a shocking cartoon coming from McKimson.
He’s even ambitious in his direction; though the character design lifts a lot from Blondie and the animation’s fairly bad. It also lifts a Blondie gag.
But it’s a good cartoon. Bea Benaderet (who’s uncredited as the lead, showing sexism wasn’t dead in the title card department) is great.
Directed by Robert McKimson; written by Tedd Pierce; animated by Herman Cohen, Phil DeLara, Charles McKimson and Rod Scribner; edited by Treg Brown; music by Carl W. Stalling; produced by Edward Selzer; released by Warner Bros.
Starring Bea Benaderet (Marsha / Daughter / Old Women with pennies / Beautician) and Mel Blanc (John / Son / Mailman / Bank Teller / Red Cross Nurse / Casper J. Fragile / Soda Jerk / Pedestrian / Officer).
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.
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).