I hadn’t seen Here Today, Gone Tamale before, but I’ve seen Freleng’s subsequent Chili Weather. The setup is the same–these starving, but lazy, Mexican mice can’t steal any cheese from Sylvester the cat, so one of them whores out his sister to Speedy Gonzales. In Tamale, Sylvester is guarding a boat. In Chili, it’s a warehouse. But it’s the same… down to the awkward sympathy for the characters the cartoon is being racist against.
Freleng’s direction is terrible in Tamale. Some of the fault is the animators, who are alternately lazy and bad. Sylvester looks different sometimes in the same shot. There isn’t even continuity between frames.
There are a couple good gags–the best is Sylvester getting locked in a limburger cheese compartment–and the ending isn’t bad. Mel Blanc does a great job with Sylvester. He’s likable while still being dangerous.
But, otherwise, Tamale‘s pretty rotten.
Directed by Friz Freleng; written by Michael Maltese; 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 (Speedy Gonzales / Sylvester / Mice).
I wonder if anyone involved in making The Last Hungry Cat ever owned a cat. The premise is (for a Freleng cartoon) quite good. Sylvester is haunted–by an Alfred Hitchcock-like narrator–after he “eats” Tweetie. There are a couple big logic problems. The major one involves cats. They don’t have remorse. It’s absurd Sylvester would feel guilty.
The second problem is Sylvester’s apartment. He has his own pad, a cat living among people. It’s strange.
Otherwise, if one forgives the lazy Freleng backgrounds, it’s not bad. Mel Blanc has a field day with Sylvester’s guilty ramblings. Ben Frommer’s good as the interfering narrator too.
It’s a simple story and Freleng tells it precisely. Hungry never goes on too long. It’s a tightly paced narrative with a great noir feel.
I’m a little surprised Freleng directed such a strong cartoon. Hungry is the best work of his I’ve seen.
Directed by Hawley Pratt and Friz Freleng; written by David Detiege and John W. Dunn; animated by Gerry Chiniquy, Lee Halpern, Art Leonardi, Bob Matz and Virgil Ross; edited by Treg Brown; music by Milt Franklyn; produced by John W. Burton; released by Warner Bros.
Starring Mel Blanc (Sylvester / Tweety) and June Foray (Granny); narrated by Ben Frommer.
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.
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 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.
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).