Archive for Chuck Jones

Rushin’ with Concussion

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2020 by dcairns

This is a nice documentary on Robert McKimson, who I always thought of us around about the number four man at Termite Terrace, home of the Looney Tunes, dwarfed by Jones, Clampett, Freleng (and Avery, though he did his best work at MGM). (Oh, and Tashlin, though he did his best work in features.) Probably my-ish low opinion of McKimson is due to seeing his name mainly on late-period toons, when Warners animation was in decline.

The startling bit in the doc is where we learn that McKimson, who would handle Speedy Gonzalez, suffered a traumatic brain injury after which he found he could drawn and animate better and faster. That’s remarkable and unlikely. What was damaged? Some inner critical voice that had been holding him back? How many brain cells would he have had to lose to overtake Freleng?

You Are Elmer Fudd

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on September 26, 2019 by dcairns

First person shooter — from RABBIT FIRE (1951).

A brilliant, one-joke cartoon on the same theme as RABBIT SEASONING (1952) and DUCK, RABBIT! DUCK! (1953): Elmer Fudd gets be-fudd-led about whether it’s duck season or rabbit season.

Interesting early example of direct cutting, before the nouvelle vague: Daffy accuses Bugs: “You’re dethpicable.”

Jump-cut to the pair walking along, Daffy elaborating on his theme. Continuity is sacrificed on the altar of forward momentum.

Most baffling bit is when Bugs opens a cook book of duck recipes to make Elmer want t kill, cook and eat Daffy. Daffy retaliates by snatching up a rival cook book devoted to rabbit-based cuisine. But he produces the volume from Bugs’ rabbit-hole. Why does Bugs own this book? Is there a long-suppressed cartoon dedicated to our grey-furred hero’s cannibalistic lifestyle? If so, is it called DONNER PARTY ANIMAL or BUNNY BOILER?


Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on September 25, 2019 by dcairns

You don’t often see these two together. Sylvester the cat is more of a Friz Freleng favourite, and this is a Chuck Jones cartoon. Sylvester practically has his own distinct wing of the Loony Tuniverse, chasing canaries and kangaroos, rarely meeting anyone better known than himself.

But THE SCARLET PUMPERNICKEL is one of Jones’ occasional epics — Daffy Duck is pitching a dramatic screenplay, thousands of pages long, to studio boss “J.L.” a thinly-not-veiled but never seen Warner Brother. Just about everyone turns up in the swashbuckling romp, as if they were contract players, with Daffy in Errol Flynn mode and a feline Basil Rathbone, who would be hissable if anyone around here could pronounce the letter “s”.

“A lot of our characters had speech defects, for some reason,” said Jones, appearing at Edinburgh Filmhouse in the mid-eighties. Well, it’s easy to see that such vocal quirks help differentiate characters, especially if one guy (the great Mel Blanc) is doing all the voices. Comparing cat and duck is interesting, because he subtly distinguishes their “s” troubles, making the cruelly-named Sylvester (how does he managed to introduce himself?) blow a full raspberry on each sibilant, while the daffy one merely mispronounces.

Of course, those were the days when nobody thought anything of having a character with a stutter for comic effect (Porky) or rendering a diminutive bald hunter more of a milquetoast by giving him a babyish impediment on the letter R. The WB cartoons are emissaries from a harsher but more robust era. The afflicted are expected to just suck it up.

Jones also claimed that Daffy’s voice was patterned on that of producer Leon Schlesinger, hated head of the cartoon department. Everyone thought they were going to get fired when he heard the voice for the first time, but he stood up from his throne in the screening room and declared, “That’th the funnietht voithe I’ve ever heard! Where’d you get it?”

Probably never happened, I know. But of course it should’ve.