Friday, September 26, 2014

The Cat Concerto, or Rhapsody Rabbit: Which Kicks More Ass?

For all the purists out there... ah, they're not out there.  And if they are, they don't care about this little blog of mine.  Screw it.  But it is how to teach the controversy, isn't it?  Pitting two forces of nature like Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry against each other?  After all, even Chuck Jones went over to the dark side and started making some Tom and Jerries.  Apparently, Warner Brothers shutting down their cartoon department in the 1960s was too much of a blow for him, personally and professionally.  Still, there are some similarities betwixt Cat Concerto and Rhapsody Rabbit.  It can't be denied.  For one thing, they both use the same music!  ...hold on, gotta look it up on the innertubes.  How sad that is... Hungarian Rhapsody #2 in C-sharp major!  Go figure.  And second, both piano players get interrupted by a mouse.  Of course, according to the IMDb, Rhapsody came out on November 9th, 1946, while Cat Concerto came out FIVE MONTHS AFTER!!!  Busted!  Apparently, MGM could not allow an animated-character-at-Carnegie-Hall gap.  Well, they got an Oscar out of it, so they must've done something right.  Or maybe it was a weak year in general.  Disney didn't spread enough samolians around to ensure a victory for... Squatter's Rights?  Seriously?  He didn't seem to give much of a damn about the rights of his employees!  Oh well.  Let's get into the heat of the controversy here.  Spoiler alert: I gotta side with Bugs on this one.................


Arguably, the intro of The Cat Concerto is a bit more lush.  Better backgrounds, two layers of them, moving at different speeds.  The well-dressed cat emerges and polite but enthusiastic applause erupts from the audience.  Tom prepares by rubbing his hands with a rag.  Now he's ready to play... but his fake cummerbund has other plans in mind.
The animation may be better here, but somehow the sound quality wasn't given the George Lucas treatment for the DVD, unlike Rhapsody Rabbit.  And so, the playing begins, and it's all quite lovely and regal.  No room for laughs?  So it would seem... until the mouse is introduced.  As with Solid Serenade, Jerry the mouse thinks he can just set up shop any old place to get some much needed beauty rest.  The internal workings of a piano being played, however, have other things in mind.  Another check mark in Concerto's favor: they seem to get the piano's internals right.  The hammers have a little more freedom in Rabbit.  Of course, maybe it's a different kind of piano!  I don't know!
And so, Jerry is rudely awoken by the piano hammers and, at 2:19 in the proceedings... is he getting hit in the crotch?  Brutal!  But he recovers quickly and taunts Tom by pretending to conduct him.  Well, a primadonna player like Tom can't handle that, so under the piano keys with Jerry, where his head gets smooshed.
Jerry interrupts again at a specific moment in the song, by manipulating the piano hammers himself.  Tom looks surprised, looks inside the piano, and grabs the Allen wrench conveniently next to Jerry, bonking him on the head with it.  Jerry has to step up his game at this point.  First up: a giant pair of scissors.  Jerry tries to cut off one of Tom's fingers.  Terrific.  Real good example for the kids to emulate.  Why not run with them while you're at it?  Next up: Jerry removes two of the piano's white keys and puts a mousetrap in their place.  Tom manages to avoid the trap for a little while, but apparently he wasn't looking and... yup.  Bam!  Into the trap his "finger" goes.  He's got human hands now.  Well, a cat would need human hands to play a piano, wouldn't it?  I like how Tom's finger swells up to cantaloupe size because of the mousetrap.  Oh, someone on the staff based that on real life!  Reminds me of... never mind.  Anyway, as in Rabbit, there's a connection between mice and jazz, if only because jazz is a rebellion compared to the old guard of the 18th century and earlier classics.  I kinda like Jerry's jazz lick better than the jazz in Rhapsody, but really, why pit the music against each other?
For the third act, such as it is, Tom regains control of the piano, and the piano hammers give Jerry mouse a pretty thorough bashing, even after Tom stuffs Jerry into the hammers and bending a handful of them out of shape.  But Tom can't win these things, right?  After Jerry finds comfort on a piano ledge, it's time for him to take control.  He rips out two of the hammers and starts hammering away the finale of the song.  Tom struggles to keep up, and I mean really struggles to keep up.  For some reason, he's working himself up into an awful lather of a sweat, and his clothes start ripping to pieces.  Jerry, on the other hand, seems to be drawing strength from this, and plays the finale three times total, until Tom is completely passed out on the piano.  So basically, Jerry goes Long-Haired Hare on Tom's ass, just not quite to that extent.
Basking in his clear victory, Jerry of course puts on a tiny tuxedo and gets into a tiny spotlight, and the audience applauds him.  I dunno.  A long time ago I actually thought this was better than Rhapsody Rabbit, but perhaps it's unfair to compare.  Still, this isn't their best Oscar winning short IMHO.

good double bill with: Holiday in Mexico


Now we're talking!  Sure, it's not a Bob Clampett Bugs Bunny, but it makes up for it with more jokes than a Dave Barry paragraph.  Bugs emerges from Stage Left to thunderous applause, of course.  He's dressed in his finest tux with way-too-long tails, looking every bit the part for Carnegie Hall.  That is, until he starts removing his gloves.  The audience seems a bit confused, but eventually they settle down and prepare to enjoy some sweet, shweet music.  That is, except that one guy who can't stop caughing.  Bugs takes care of him, though.  Lol.
I never realized Bugs was such a terrific piano player.  Why... even his two front teeth are piano keys!  However, even the best of experts can get carried away at times.  Why, Bugs' fingers get all tangled up together during one challenging section of the piece.  But he's nothing if not an iconoclast.  Why, he starts skipping up and down the length of the piano as he plays!  Bugs gets into the music, even if we don't to the same degree.  Why... no, gotta break this bad writing pattern I'm getting into.  Phew.  There's a clever part with a phone, although some of you will probably find it too cute or "precious."  Bugs is playing two notes quickly and the phone rings.  "Who?  Franz Lizst?  Never hoid of him," answers Bugs.  Well, all the people who contributed to Warner Brothers cartoons didn't always get credit, like the in-betweeners and such.  AND Franz Lizst.  AND the voice of Elmer Fudd.
Act Two: even with a character as dynamic as Bugs Bunny, he still needs a foil.  Enter the piano-playing mouse.  This is why the Hungarian Rhapsody is perfect for this cartoon.  Bugs quickly lays down a mousetrap, plays a little more of the song, then turns around and waits for the telltale snap.  I hate to spoil it, so I won't, except to say that the mouse doesn't end up in the trap.  Bugs makes one more desperate attempt to catch the mouse, but the mouse evades capture in this three second-or-so sequence.  Nice sequence, but Bob Clampett would've definitely made it more elastic, somehow.  Bugs finally nails the hole in the piano shut.
After seeing a pinup in the sheet music, we quickly move on to Bugs finishing up a somber portion of the music, and getting thunderous applause for it... okay, let's just dwell on the pinup for a second or two longer.  Some wiseguy in the audience whistles like a wolf!  Bugs grins nervously and turns the pages.  You know, there's probably a... I gotta hear the commentary now... drat.  I think it's Friz's voice talking about directing the piano player.  Oh well.  The next part is the mouse trying to look at Bugs' hands or.. something.  Not exactly over Bugs's shoulder, mind you.  Not literally, just metaphorically.  Bugs starts playing the piano like a prisoner guarding his lunch at lunchtime.  Lol.  The mouse makes an exit, and then Bugs wraps up the somber portion of the music, and enjoys a little bout of applause for his efforts.
After that, the mouse is playing the piano.  Everyone wants to be in showbiz.  I don't think technically that the mouse is playing the same notes that the mouse is hitting on the keyboard, but oh well.  We can't expect an animated mouse to be that fast, can we?  Bugs plays along, then takes the fight to the mouse.  I hate to spoil how the battle turns out, but let's just say that the top of Bugs's head is a piano key as well as his teeth.
On to the joyous half of the Hungarian Rhapsody.  Happy gags, and lots of them!  Bugs using his ears to play the piano!  Bugs scooping up the keys and throwing them back!  The piano acting like a typewriter... see, kids, in the last century we used typewriters instead of word processors and... ah, skip it.  As for the poor mouse, well, the mouse seems to be trapped in the piano's guts, and here come the hammers!  The mouse runs like hell from the hammers.  The hammers recede.  The mouse catches his breath.  And... here come the hammers AGAIN!!!!!!!!  The mouse runs like hell from the hammers.  The hammers recede.  The mouse catches his breath... this could go on for years!  I gotta stop saying that.  I'm alienating my best friends...
Sorry, Jerry Seinfeld, but I gotta ask... where was I?  Oh, right.  The big finish.  Bugs turns to a particularly daunting page of sheet music.  We get a brief glimpse of it, but I did manage to grab a still-frame of it.  It's got comedy notations on it, like "Spaghetti" and "Dom DeLuise-isimo"... oh, wait, he's a bit early for that.  Bugs gives a brief prayer, oils his hands with a tiny, loud oil can, and starts to play... but wait!  What's this?  The mouse has his own tiny piano!!!  The little pipsqueak... literally!  He's got a suit and everything!  Little bastard.  Well, he did more work than Jerry did, that's for sure.  The mouse gets the big finish, but Bugs gets the last three notes, as he mutters something under his breath... obscene, I hope.  Well, Tom and Jerry got the Oscar, but it's the Bugs cartoon that will endure, if only for me.  Well worth the DVD revisit.

good double bill with Friz's Rhapsody in Rivets
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

I'll Die with the Jimmy Durante Fly Picking My Bones

Well, with all the running around poor Popeye had to do catching that sweepstakes ticket, and trying to help Pappy sleep, it's time for Popeye himself to get some damn sleep.  Popeye's been reduced to a One-Act play now: he's no longer roommates with Pappy, and Olive and Bluto and Wimpy and Swee'pea and the Jeep are nowhere to be found.  Nor the Sea Hag!  What do the Fleischers have against the Sea Hag?  Anyway, I think it can be safely called... the long dark Popeye of the soul.
But nature abhors a vacuum, and she's got a million ways to fill it, creating biological opportunities for a whole host of creatures to get in on the ground floor of.  In this instant case, Flies Ain't Human, we narrow our focus to flies.  I guess Popeye hasn't washed the top of his head lately, because for some reason a large pride of flies has taken a keen interest in it!  And for one rare instance, Popeye shows a little finesse.  Popeye quietly and carefully takes a deep breath, he quietly and carefully aims his corn cob pipe, he quietly and carefully opens the window closest to him, and he blows a small jet stream of air, pushing all the flies out the window.  He closes the window and all is well, and he's prepared for a reskfull bit of sleep.
That's the introductory episode.  Enter the fly that will challenge Popeye for the rest of this flick.  This fly's a little more advanced, a little more devious and has other plans in mind than finding a nice fresh dog turd to crawl on... thought I finished this review!  Shame on me.  Anyway, gotta keep it short; double shame on me.  Okay, so Popeye defeats the fly, then flicks the fly over to the empty can of spinach.  As it happens... yup, there's a little left.  Gulp goes the fly, and it's equanimity time!  The fly's kicking Popeye's ass, and Popeye gets frustrated... I mean, en-fluster-cated.  So much so that he takes to his shotgun and blows holes in the entire house.  Problem solved... except when all the fly's friends show up and sing and dance on Popeye's head.  Why does this remind me of the ending of Helpmates a little bit?


p.s. Finally found this on the web!  Some film critic I am!  I hate to outsmart the esteemed panel of To Tell the Truth, but if you've watched even a few Popeye cartoons, it's kinda easy to guess who's who.

Auteur Watch - Duana C. Butler

Well, from the looks of this person's IMDb résumé, they're a Mark Burnett in the making.  Look out, reality TV!  There's a new kid in town.  But if you really wanna make it big, first you gotta try to break in to the tight-lipped gates of Amblin Entertainment.  Take some tips from the team that worked for that girl with the dragon tattoo!  Maybe plug a super modem hacker a couple blocks away or something and monitor the communications.  Try and deliver a package they're expecting, except it's just a box with your old screenplays in it.  They might appreciate your ingenuity!  Or, if you're still good friends with Idris Elba, stick with him!  I think he's practically got Spielberg's right ear.  Let's see, Idris Elba was in Prometheus which was directed by Ridley Scott and... well, the trail grows cold from there.  Is there no way to connect Ridley with Spielberg?  One cast or crew member they had in common?  My software's letting me down, that's for sure.

The "The"'s Have It

Two debuts this week: The Boxtrolls at #3... I still don't get it... and The Equalizer at #1.  Yes, there may be no good roles for Denzel in Hollywood, but at least there are still profitable ones.  It's a reboot of the classic 80s TV series, The Equalizer, but alas, Ed Woodward has already passed on, so it's not going to be like Leonard Nimoy in the new Star Trek movies.  Why, it's Carbon Copy all over again!  Hey, there's your good Hollywood role for ya, Denzel!  What better way to bookend your career?  Redo Carbon Copy but with you in the George Segal role and... I don't know.  Get the next reincarnation of Jamie Kennedy for your role in the original.  Criss cross!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Big Fish

Well, school's starting anew, so alas, dear reader, I've decided not to devote my full attention to my movie case load.  But who knows?  Maybe this will improve my writing.  Besides, when you've got a classic like Cat Fishin', sometimes less is more after all.  Story fundamentals!  Lush painting-like backgrounds!  This was before Hanna and Barbara put all their money into sprawling estates in the Valley, and less work into crappy direct-to-TV cartoons.  More profitable that way.  It's just good accounting and/or economics.  Take your local pizza place, for another example.......
Where was I?  Oh, right.  Yes, even though I was a WB loyalist when it came to cartoons in my adolescence, the occasional Tom and Jerry like Cat Fishin' just warmed the cockles of my heart.  Also, to help me inform my thinking about Itchy and Scratchy.  Alas, Tom and Jerry's not as influential these days as Itchy and Scratchy, go figure.  Anyway, here once again Tom proves himself to be a symbol for the middle-class weekend warrior, rallying against the big power structures in society that prevent people and animated cats from having fun.  And as he took up golf in Tee for Two, his new hobby here is the art of fishing.  First step in fishing: finding a nice spot.  Of course, all the really nice spots full of fish just dying to be caught are fenced off and guarded by bulldogs, the animated cat's natural enemy.  Tom mistakenly wakes up the dog, after the dog takes a big bite out of the cat's leg.  And this is while the dog's sleeping and thinking it's a nice juicy soup bone!  Are bones really that good?  Do dogs really need that much calcium?
I still remembered the music when the dog's looking around, and Tom frantically moves to keep out of the dog's line of sight, clutching all his gear at the same time.  And once again, I'm haunted by those words of advice that old Gypsy woman gave to me after I hit her with my car one rainy night.  I rushed over and, as she lay dying, she whispered to me " know, dogs can't look up!"  This factoid serves Tom well when he... well, I hate to spoil it, so I won't.  It's just that good.
A quick getaway won't pad the film out to one reel, so Tom drags the dog a little bit accidentally with his fishing rod, when the hook gets caught on the dog's collar.  What Tom does to prevent the dog from falling... why, he's pretty much asking to get found out.  But in a way, it's the act of a movie hero, is it not?
And so, Tom begins the fishing.  Of course, with a fishing spot this fine, no mere lure will do.  Enter the mouse, sitting in the "Live Bait" section of Tom's toolkit.  The mouse was asleep, but wakes up and looks disgusted to see Tom.  Ah, animators.  God bless the good ones.  The mouse helpfully hands the cat a colorful lure as an alternative, but no.  Tom's made up his mind.  It's go mouse or go mome... sumpthin' like that.
ACT TWO... I thought I was going to keep these briefer!  Go figure.  Anyway, it's time for a new character.  Enter the Nelson Muntz fish, a big mean looking thing that's got fangs like a vampire, and an attitude worse than the character on the albums of Ugly Kid Joe.  Oh, I'm just an old feebe.  To cut to the chase, this bad-ass fish starts chasing Jerry around the lake.  Tom grabs an oar off the pier and waits til these two get close enough, and WHAM!  The waters of the lake are a little less exciting now.  Apparently, as decreed by cartoon physics, Tom completely missed the fish, but Jerry's got an angry red bump on his head.  Jerry knocks Tom into the water, then puts a lure on Tom's tail.  The fish looks at Tom's tail with the lure on it, and Jerry Mouse helpfully shakes Tom's tail around.  The fish doesn't seem to react to this at first, but then it grabs onto Tom's tail and really really won't let go.  Tom lets out a different yell... oh, that can't be good... and a mighty, epic struggle begins.  As for the struggle being iconic or game-changing, it's hard to say, so I'll leave that for others to decide.  To cut to the chase, Tom eventually wins the tug-of-war, but the fish ends up flying towards the dog.  Tom is powerless to stop it.  It's like a train wreck waiting to happen.  The dog yawns, and the fish ends up inside the dog's body, but eventually bounces back out.  The fish slaps the dog and exits Stage Left back to the lake.  The dog eventually sees Tom and is not happy.  Tom eventually gets away from the dog, and tries to catch that big fish once again.  Well, aim for the stars, shoot for the moon, right?  It's why Stallone's protegé wins at the end of Driven, ...because he has to.  He just does.  So nyaah to the rest of the world.

Time for Jerry's latest act of arbitrage.  As a bait master, Tom gives Jerry way too much freedom.  Jerry swims all the way over to the dog, and ties the line around the dog's leg.  An epic struggle ensues.  The cat eventually overpowers the dog, go figure.  All hail the power of fishing!  And, of course, what Tom and Jerry cartoon would be complete without some senseless violence?  The dog going between those two rocks that are a little too close together, am I right?  Ah, I may never forget that now.  Jerry cheerfully hands a club to Tom, so he can beat his catch senseless.  That is, until he realizes it's actually the dog.  Ah, comedy.
There's a brief bit of diplomacy between the cat and the dog's angry red head lumps, but then it's time for the role reversal.  Now it's the mouse who's got the fishing rod!  Jerry's in a tall tree, and he's dangling the cat for the dog to bite at.  Why, the irony of it even surprises Jerry, apparently!  Reminds me of the part in the original The In-Laws where, just before Peter Falk shoots the banana truck, he says "Sometimes I'm so smart, I scare myself." ...something like that.  I don't know why, but the cat always underestimates the strength of that mouse!  For our benefit, apparently.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Gone With The Wing

Our next Popeye short is called Olive's $weep$take Ticket.  That's right... there's dollar signs in the title!  Epic.  And at long last, Olive has returned to the Popeye cartoons.  She's been gone for a while!  So not only is the cartoon about her, even if only tangentially, she even gets the introductory scene!  She's knitting quietly, when suddenly... the phone rings.  Ooh!  Good plotting.  She gets the news that her sweepstakes ticket is the winning one.  She does a rather massive double take in response.  I hate to spoil it.  Anyway, she starts looking for the ticket.  Where did she place it?  It seemed so unimportant at the time.
Enter Popeye.  Popeye has to let himself in, which normally would be totally rude and all, but Olive's pretty engrossed in the task at hand, so she's cool with it.  Olive tells Popeye the good news, and Popeye begins to dream of riches beyond compare.  Burning money with his new crystallized corn cob pipe, walking around in New York in fur coats, stepping around dog poo, what have you.  Now, maybe I'm just jaded, but somehow I just knew that that wasn't gonna happen!  Don't movie stars realize they have something better than wealth?  Being in show business?  Somehow it's still not enough.
Eventually, the ticket is found.  I hate to spoil the gag, but it's a bit like the handcuff gag in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, spoiler alert.  Now, as in Jumanji, the filmmakers somehow instinctively knew that they'd have to stretch things out to feature length.  Hence the constant interruptions!  And weren't they wonderful?  And weren't the CGI creatures so weird looking?  Well, the 90s was a rather experimental time.  And so, the ticket goes flying out the window.  Popeye must go get it.  To the Adventure-Mobile!
I hate to spoil the fun of the chase, but there's a brief stint where the ticket gets water-logged in the sea, and taken by a fish, of course.  Reminded me a bit of Females is Fickle.  Alas, we get back to land, where Popeye must negotiate his way through everything from speeding trains to speeding cars.  Ultimately, he gets the ticket back... just after it flies into a gymnasium.  "Hey, look!  A sweepstakes ticket!" says a rather butch voice.  Spinach time?  ...SPOILER ALERT!  No spinach time!  What a ripoff.
Act Three - Popeye returns to Olive's place, a lot worse for the wear... is that the right expression?  Olive rushes to the theater to cash in that damn ticket!  Popeye's running along behind, trying to catch up, but his shoes are no longer covering his feet very well.  I hate to spoil the surprise, but let me just say they don't end with a cheap "Gimme the bird!" joke... like SOME cartoons I won't mention... okay, it was in A Tale of Two Kitties.  Love that cartoon.  Way better than the actual Abbott & Costello!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - LeVar Burton

Kunta Kinte?  Mr. La Forge?  The Reading Rainbow guy?  Yes, that's right.  Everybody still wants to direct... and after being directed by Riker, who can blame him.  The Librarians and the Fables of Doom, indeed!  How original.  Well, when you've got a star as big as LeVar, he probably has no problem getting a meeting with Spielberg, but surely there's some kind of shaky-at-best and criminally-negligent-at-worst path of Hollywood connections to get to him?  My special software's choking on that prospect right now, but I think I already have my favourite one in mind.  Here goes...

LeVar was in a little movie called The Hunter with Steve McQueen.  Perhaps you remember it!  McQueen spends the whole movie going "I am a bounty hunter!  Bounty huntering is what I do."

Anyway, one of the five wordsmiths to work on The Hunter was Hollywood auteur Peter Hyams.  What's his Spielberg connection?  Well, he directed a little something called The Amazing Falsworth, and if you're like me, you remember that it's one of the more, rather dramatic episodes of Spielberg's short-lived TV venture, Amazing Stories.  Did I do it again or what?  ...then again, Hyams is kinda picky, so tread carefully.  All those who aren't Don Calfa need not apply!

The Maze-r Games

Oh, the regular news is so depressing.  NFL this, NFL that.  Personally, I thought there was a big problem with the NFL with the arrest of double murderer and self-professed neo-John Gotti in the making, Aaron Hernandez.  There are calls for Roger Godell and Ray Rice to leave their respective professions, but no!  This is the era of fighting back!  I mean, have you seen the job market?  It's terrible!  No one's hiring!  No, they're going to stand their ground... and without using guns for now.  To be fair, Ray Rice eventually moved his fiancée's legs out of the way of the elevator.  I mean, was he supposed to do more?  Dude was upset!  The bitch was mouthing off again!  He had to hit her.  No other choice, no other choice.  He'll do it again with cameras on him if he has to.  He'll post the video to his own YouTube account himself.  It'll make the Kick-Ass 1 video look like Child's Play.  Just look to Richard Sherman, Ray.  Richard's on the path to redemption... the commercial path to redemption.  Endorsement deals, what have you.  As for Roger Godell, well... want to run for Senator in Kansas?
...oh, right.  The box office.  Well, there's a lot of movies on that damn horizon, and it couldn't come at a worse time, what with school starting and all.  Why do TV shows still compete with homework?  Are the TV networks and the teachers unions colluding against me?  Yes, they are.  Plus, I gotta get my backpack out of storage.
And so, The Maze Runner is #1 at the box office.  Well, tis only a handful of parents of hardcore video gamers out there who can be truly proud of their successful progeny who spent their formative years fiddling around with mazes.  Is this an ode to them?  Or is it basically Hunger Games with the genders reversed?  Meanwhile, at #2 it's Liam Neeson's latest, A Walk Among the Tombstones, a slight variation on The Grey and the Taken series.  Probably more depressing.  In other movie news, someone other than Howard Stern dared to question Tina Fey's stardom.  I won't even dignifiy it with a hyperlink, but some dude was trying to give her career advice about being more successful in movies.  Dude!  She slaved away in the comedy gold mines for eight years!  Give a girl a chance to breathe and try new things!  She needs some spontaneity in her life again!  What better way to get that than with a couple of big Hollywood bombs?  Besides, the weight of This Is Where I Leave You is on Jason Bateman's shoulders, or director Shawn Levy.  Yeah, that's it.  Still, Shawn Levy's doing all right.  He's doing more silver screen outings than his closest competitor, Adam Shankman.  I forgot the guy's name, so I had to go back into my own archives to remember it.  God bless the Memory Hole!  Okay, here's my impression of Adam Shankman's agent on the phone brokering the deal to direct Bedtime Stories... "Okay, so Dennis Dugan's out as director.  I got just the guy.  He's lean and hungry, got a couple hits under his arm.  Who?  Adam Shankman... Shankman!... Not Sandler.  SHANKMAN!!!"
Anyway, those are the newbies who are pushing everyone else down a few notches.  Let's Be Cops was hanging tough just barely in the Top 5 but is now at #7, Guardians slips to #6, Turtles to #8, and If I Stay is at #10.  My dreams are turning into a showbiz phony.  Oh, Hit Girl, I dreampt about you last night.  I didn't want to push our friendship too far, but I just had to get my script to you.  It'd be the perfect part!  It's basically Kubrick's The Shining, but from the point of view of the twin girls that get murdered.  You'd be PERFECT for the part!  Dual roles, British accent?  I believe in you!  Also, this is the second night in a row that I dreamed about getting attacked by zoo animals!  The big cats, basically.  I was trying to protect our cat from a mountain lion that was outside, but she's a fierce girl cat and she can take on the best of them... or so she thinks.  I also dreamed that I was going through a flooded parking lot on a... well, it was either a Radio Flyer wagon or a luge sled.  Probably the ladder.  Incidentally, who came up with the notion that we dream in black and white?  I distinctly remember some colors... don't I?  Maybe everything was brown like Barton Fink or yellow like The Royal Tenenbaums.  Yeoman forgot to remove the filter, you see........

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Next Tom and Jerry: Solid Serenade... not brought to you by Ensure

You know, a wise man once said, "Jazz is a beautiful woman whose older brother is a policeman!"  Which sort of brings us to our next Tom and Jerry cartoon, Solid Serenade.  I arguably don't know much about the great Tom and Jerry cartoons, but this is certainly one where clips of it have been incorporated into future Tom and Jerry cartoons... incidentally, someone seems to have gone nuts with Solid Serenade's IMDb "Connections" page.  They seem to have listed all the Tom and Jerry cartoons, but way at the bottom, they have Jerry's Diary, Smitten Kitten and Smarty Cat, three cartoons that have used clips of Solid Serenade in them.  Jerry's Diary, that seems obvious enough.  I've never actually seen Solid Serenade, but I did once see Smarty Cat, which is a slightly less lame excuse for a highlight reel.  Tom invites some of his alley cat friends in to watch some "home movies."  Jerry Mouse messes that up, of course.  Well, he just hates noise is all, especially when it comes from cats.


A perfect comedic situation is set up here... just as long as you don't over-analyze it too much.  A pretty girl cat lives in a semi-luxurious suburban house protected by... wait for it... a mean bulldog.  We start with the bulldog.  Tom crawls up from behind the fence, and gives the bulldog an evil smile.  Then he sees his target... I mean, the girl cat.  She's busy plucking eyebrow hairs.  Well!  The Hays Code has no problem with that!  Yet Robert Picardo can't pluck his nosehairs in Gremlins 2: The New Batch.  The hypocrisy!  The double standards!... anyway, back to business.  Tom's not usually this devious-looking or this prepared to deal with the bulldog.  Take The Bodyguard, for example... not the Tony Bill film, the Tom and Jerry cartoon from earlier.  As he's being beaten up by the bulldog, Tom kinda doesn't seem to be aware somehow!  Here, not only is he aware, but he's come prepared with... SPOILER ALERT... an orange mallet and a length of rope.  Well, first, he lifts his base cello over the fence.  Then he wakes the sleeping dog up.  Then he taunts the dog.  The dog comes out of the doghouse, looking around.  Now I've heard that dogs can't look up... this comes into play in our next Tom and Jerry cartoon, Cat Fishin', but alas, maybe the dog should've looked behind himself at least.  Tom easily defeats the dog by bashing it on the head with the orange mallet.  The dog's body stiffens and floats there in the air for a couple seconds, and why?  So the cat can tie it up with the length of rope, that's why!  It's a plot device, I tells ya.  The audience should have to earn the forthcoming musical number, but to no avail.  The dog's tied up and awake, only able to move its eyes as Tom does his victory dance: hopping along on his cello as though it were a pogo stick.  Tom flicks the dog in the nose just before exiting Stage Left, just for good measure.
And so, with cello in place, Tom starts picking out a tune.  The tune?  I believe it's that classic called Is you Is, or Is You Ain't My Baby?  I guess MGM owned it or something.  Those WB cartoons were rife with songs from the WB song library, some of them even being named for the songs they featured!  Tom's voice is voiced by Buck Woods, in case you were wondering.  I kinda was.  I hate to question the veracity of the IMDb's bio section, but somehow I think Ethel G. Jackson and Ethel Jackson ARE THE SAME LADY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anyway, the girl cat hears the sweet music, looks out from behind her curtain, and hurries up with her makeup.  She rushes out so she can sit on the bannister and look pretty for Tom.  With Tom's choice of song, however, he seems to be questioning her feelings!  Maybe it's just me.
And so we have a perfect situation: the dog's all tied up and love is in the air.  How to bring Jerry into this mess?  Well, we pan down to the mail slot.  So far, so good.  I just have one problem with this... what kind of house has a mail slot in the backyard where the dog can get at the mailman?  We look inside the mailbox to find that Jerry the Mouse has made himself quite at home inside the house's mailbox.  Anyone else have a problem with that?  Anyone at all?  I guess even the animators got tired of the same old hole in the wall.
And so, Jerry Mouse is awoken from his slumber by Tom's singin' and a'pluckin', and Jerry starts moving around to the music in his little one-bedroom mail slot.  I can see why he wouldn't be a fan of music, being too small to properly enjoy it, but still.  Why, you must be some kind of racist not to like jazz!


And so, Jerry wakes up and decides to put a stop to all that racket by those noisy kids.  Oh these kids today with their jazz music and their pizza pie.  Well, up first, Jerry sneaks a large iron into a custard pie, pushing the bounds of cartoon trickery and good taste, frankly.  I mean, if you want to chuck an iron at the cat, that I can understand.  You're a mouse!  A mouse will do that to a cat, if it could, which it can in a cartoon.  But hiding it in a pie?  That's just cruel and unusual.  After Tom gets hit by it, he takes a slight pause, then continues singing.  It's the second pie that does it, however, but there seems to be no heavy metallic objects in that one.  And so, the mood is ruined, and the cat takes up chase against the mouse.  Oh, boys and their toys, right, girls?
And so, there's a delightful romp through the kitchen.  Jerry Mouse pulls another very sneaky move against the cat: Jerry quickly drains the sink to reveal that it's full of dirty dishes.  Tom falls into the dishes, which shatter into about fifty pieces.  Still, from that angle, the sink's shallow enough so that we can see that Tom has hit his head on the bottom of the sink.  Cruel and unusual.  After the mouse drops a window on the cat's neck, the cat's tongue sticks out like a party favor, making a party favor noise.  A slightly questionable moment for the Tom and Jerry highlight reel, but it's in there nonetheless.
And then, for the worst trick of all, Jerry's managed to find himself next to the dog, and next to the bit of string holding the knot that's keeping the dog trapped.  Just to be mean, Jerry pulls the string and, just as quickly as the rope went round the dog in the first place, said rope unravels just about as quickly.  Apparently, it's easier on the animators that way.
The dog lets out a sound that seems more suited to an angry bull in one of those toreador pics and starts to chase after the cat... but doubles back to get his good dentures.  The dog wants to get this right, apparently.  And so it goes from there, until Tom hides behind a fence with a brick.  The dog sneaks up on Tom, but Tom hits Killer (the dog, obviously) with the brick anyway.  The dog's not too bright, is he?  Tom likes that in a dog!  Time to get that mouse now!
The only move the mouse has left is to go and try waking up the dog.  Pathetic.  But there's a good setup for a gag here.  The mouse hits the dog in the ass with a stick hard enough so that the dog flies up very very high into the air.  Tom comes up and looks at the mouse.  The mouse hands the cat the same stick and takes off.  Down comes the dog.  The dog looks at the stick in the cat's hands and puts two and two together.  At this point, the cat decides to play fetch with the dog.  The dog gives out a happy bark and goes after the stick.  But just before the dog picks it up... the dog's inner mental state is considered.  The dog envisions himself as a jackass... oh, these things are so not for kids.  First the violence, now this.  "Mommy!  Daddy!  I'm a jackass!"  Be prepared to hear that for the next few months, parents.


I guess we're overdue for it.  The girl comes back into the pic.  I think this was the part from Smarty Cat.  Oh, what's a girl to do?  In brief pauses while running from Killer the dog, Tom plants a couple of kisses on the girl cat's arm, then one big one on her cheek.  The dog figures out what's going on, however, and on Tom's third pass, the dog waits where the girl cat was.  Tom doesn't look at what he's doing, however, and, using his best French guy's voice, he ends up laying kisses on the dog!  Wait a second... holy Crap!  It is the same dialogue from The Zoot Cat.  The IMDb connections page is right!  However, the dialogue from The Zoot Cat is trimmed down considerably, and all the talk about hep cats is cut out; somehow it didn't make as much sense here in Solid Serenade as the serenading part is far, far behind us.  Alas, Tom eventually opens his eyes to find the girl cat staring at him quizzically.  Tom puts two and two together, and ever so gingerly prepares to give the dog some more head trauma.  One more and the dog will get drafted by the NFL!
Now, if you're a bigger fan of these things than I am, and you probably are, you might be asking yourself at this juncture, but The Movie Hooligan!  What happened to that little brown mouse?  Well, don't worry, dear reader, for your prayers are about to be answered.  Next scene: Tom hides around a corner, and a couple seconds after, the dog goes rocket-shipping right by.  Positively rocket-shipping.  The speed of fury, I tells ya!  The mouse follows after and waves goodbye to the dog.  I guess Jerry thinks the dog's got a good bead on the cat.  Jerry runs right into the cat, gets scared, and takes off.
Next scene: must be time for a quick ending.  We see Killer's doghouse.  Jerry runs inside, and the way too confident Tom follows in after, laughing like the diminutive William Bletcher... it is him!  Spoiler Alert: as it happens, Killer's already inside the doghouse, because he and the mouse emerge, shake hands, and the dog goes back inside to kick Tom's ass.  Poor old Tom.  I think he broke the cardinal rule... or maybe it's an ordinal rule, I don't know, and I'm too lazy to look it up.  Anyway, the rule is: beat up the mouse on your own turf, never in the dog's house.  Still, are the cat's crimes that unforgivable?  After all, he's one of the stars of this damn picture!  Dogs have a harder time being the star, at least in cartoons.  Sure, you've got your Rin Tin Tins and your Benjis and Lassies... Old Yeller?  Plenty of dogs in the forgotten middle ground!


I think that was a dude sighing like a girl!  YEcch.  And so, with Tom's ass beaten to submission, we find that Tom himself has been strapped to his own cello, and the dog and the mouse are plucking Tom to make sweet music.  Worse yet, the girl cat likes it!  That's just mean.  Makes me wonder why she was rushing to finish her makeup at the beginning.  Go figure.  Well, that's what Tom gets for going for the purty chicks.  Why couldn't he find himself a nice Christian cat, or one of those bookstore cats that never goes anywhere?  How about a nice cat that lives in a Christian Science reading room?

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

...Pappy AGAIN?!!!!

Our next Popeye cartoon features Poopdeck Pappy once again, and it's called Quiet! Pleeze.  I was so close.  If I had only started my Tom and Jerry reviewing two weeks earlier I'd be reviewing this and Tom and Jerry's Quiet Please! in the same week.  Oh well.


We start a little bit like Laurel and Hardy's classic, Helpmates.  Pappy's room is not as much of a mess, arguably.  He did come home with a street sign, however.  Lol.  One way!!! Love it.  And then... Pappy proper emerges from the roiling mass of sheets.  His brain is clearly angry and trying to escape.  The orchestra has fun at Pappy's expense during this passage.
Well, if nothing else, these Popeye cartoons are certainly ed-ja-ma-case-shunal!  When you've got a hangover, all the world's a jackhammer.  This here next part clearly informed the thinking behind the 1945 Stooge short, Idiots Deluxe... and, of course, its subsequent remakes.  Just to add insult to injury, the camera pulls back to reveal the city at large, in all its glorious noisiness.  Pappy seems to have a place like Elwood Blues in the first Blues Brothers movie, right next to the elevated train line.  Popeye's pipe can be heard in the background as well.
And then, noisiest of all... it's Popeye at Pappy's door!  I'm with Pappy.  I don't like relatives either.  Pappy 2016!  ...maybe it's just me, but the incidental music here reminds me of that last one with Eugene the Jeep.  Better visit these links now, folks.  They'll be gone in a couple days.  "I just wanted to wake you to see if you was up yet, Pappy" says Popeye.  Ah, that's the stuff.  Pappy quickly puts everything under the bed and invites Popeye in.


Pappy does his best Ferris Bueller in bed sick performance.  Of course, with Popeye, you gotta be able to back up the claim.  Popeye puts his hand on Pappy's forehead... and almost doesn't get it back!  Popeye's hand literally gets burned up on Pappy's head!  He must've tried some of his homemade hooch last night or something.  And even though Pappy clearly has a temperature, Popeye says "Wait 'til I get the thermomo-meter."  Ah, that's the stuff.  Also, thermometer jokes are kind of a tradition in cartoons, aren't they?... if only a blogger out there who kept track of this kind of stuff.  The only one I can think of is An Ache in Every Stake, but that's a Stooge film and it was just a regular old outdoor thermometer.  There's also a Laurel and Hardy where Stan takes Ollie's temperature.  Stan says "Wet and windy."  "That's a barometer!!!" exclaims a frustrated, and late for his golf game, Ollie.  But the neo-Fleischers do what they can.  Popeye puts the thermometer in between Pappy's toes by mistake first.  Well, he was covered up by the sheets, and flipped himself around at some point.  Eventually, the thermometer ends up under Pappy's tongue, and... yup, the mercury breaks through the glass, and it makes a little firework in the sky above Pappy's bed, in keeping with the theme of New Year's celebration.
Next feat of strength: the ice bag.  Once placed upon Pappy's head, it melts and begins to emit steam.  Popeye removes the bag and... hmm!  It kinda looks like a... never mind.  The outside noise starts to pick up: your car horns, your police whistles, what have you.  Popeye's diagnosis: "What you need is resk and quiet," Popeye tells Pappy.  Pappy complains about the racquet outside, and rightly so, frankly.  The Fleischer Orchestra's kind of overdoing it.  Popeye goes to the window and sends forth his decree to the land: "QUIET!!!"  And wouldn't ya know it?  It was quiet! ...well, second time's the charm.  Pleased with his handiwork, Popeye closes Pappy's shade... but not the window!  Go figure.  Popeye tiptoes out of the room, making more noise than the cat earlier.
Next scene: Popeye exits Pappy's room and closes the door.  "AND KEEP IT QUIET!" yells Pappy from within his room.  Lol.  And so, like Superman's effect on crime, Popeye gets to sit back and enjoy his handiwork, confident in the knowledge that all is quiet for now, and probably always will be, forever and ever amen.  Perhaps a rocking chair will provide some comfort during Pappy's slumber!  But then... the first Barbarian at the gate.  A crying infink!  Where's that baby's parents at, anyway?  It's up to Popeye to find a solution and fast.  Fortunately, with the help of one of those... those things that phones used to rest on.  Needles to say, Popeye shows the same level of ingenuity as Betty Boop's grandpa, and without a thinking cap, no less!
Next exception to Popeye's decree: the much hated milkman, with his clinking empty bottles and his noisy, smelly horse.  Didn't he get the memo?  Who does he think he is, anyway?  The milkman?  At least the baby's got an excuse.  We see Popeye looking from his window, then running away.  The noise stops.  Lol.  Good editing or direction, whatever.  Next scene: the milk wagon's got pillows on the wheels, and Popeye's gingerly tiptoeing along with the horse on his back.  What a good son! (sniff, wipe away tear.)
Next: the much hated factory whistle.  Popeye makes quick work of that, though.  Hmm!  Sounds like an oil can or something.  Next scene after that: Popeye runs afoul of a radio on the street.  Popeye's a regular old Luddite in this one!  An electric punch flies back to the radio station and hits the singer right in the chops.  Well, you gotta hand it to the background department; they must've worked a lot of overtime on that section.
Next challenge: Popeye stops two trucks from crashing into each other.  Oh, the insurance industry's not going to like this.  The elasticity of the animation reminds me of the Famous Studios '50s era Popeye, yet somehow I don't think they'd put that much work into them.
Next challenge: the construction sector.  We begin with one falling girder, which Popeye catches.  Second, he takes on a whole noisy construction site and... I should of known!  Popeye seemed a bit younger and scrappier.  This part's been imported from Sock-a-Bye Baby!!!  How do you like that?  I don't.  But maybe I'll get over it.  It's a Stooge trick, damn it!  Always check the "Connections" section at the IMDb.  Always... unless you're not me, of course.


Fortunately for the filmmakers, they were able to use updated audio for Popeye with the old aminations... I mean, animation.  I've been reviewing too many of these things.  I'm starting to spell words like Popeye!  Popeye's far away, so he has to stretch his arms out, and you can see big reaction lines from far away.  They look like reaction lines for ants!  Anyway, it's time for Popeye's final challenge.  There's about to be a big planned explosion.  We'll save the debate for later on how lazy this writing is, but it'll definitely be on the docket.  Notice the bottom of the sign, and how it says in the teentsiest of letters, "Sparber Destruction Company."  Oh, filmmakers and their in-jokes!  It never ends.  See you next Wednesday!  Anyway, Popeye runs afoul of, I can only assume he's the explosion foreman.  Well, these Popeye cartoons are nothing if not educational.  Popeye uses the foreman to pretend to play basketball.  "Basket!" yells Popeye as he throws the poor guy into the mouth of a giant digging machine... I didn't describe that right.  The guy's okay, though, as he falls through the crane mechanism.  The point being, even though the NBA's not going through any moral crisis right now, unlike the NFL, maybe NBA players should start yelling "Basket!" before they throw the ball.  Yeah, that's a good idea.
And so... the Sparber Destruction Company's going to blow up a mountain.  Of course, maybe it's small enough to just be a hill.  I'll leave that debate for the finest effete British minds to figure out.  Poor Hugh Grant... he doesn't get to do movie posters like that anymore.  Anyway, to piggyback on Chico Marx, the guy who's going to detonate the mountain has a bad Italian accent.  "At's a one... At's a two..." he says, as Popeye rushes to stop the explosion.  Welp, despite his mighty feats of strength just a moment or two ago (knocking down a whole four or five stories of naked iron girders, throwing a guy up into the air to land in the be-trap-door'd mouth of a giant metallic crane) Popeye knows it's spinach time.  Not just because there's only about a minute left, mind you.  And so, spinach quickly digested, Popeye once again morphs his body into half-Popeye, half-lightning bolt... oh, wait.  I guess he's just riding a lightning bolt.  The truce between Popeye and lightning held over from the previous Popeye short, Problem Pappy... I think Jack Mercer did the voice of the Italian guy, too!
Anyway, Popeye clings to the top of the mountain, as he barely contains the explosion.  The spinach wasn't powerful enough to stop the explosion entire, but I guess it's enough to keep Pappy from waking up.  Reminds me of the crucial moment from that Daffy Duck / Elmer Fudd cartoon, A Pest in the House.  It's right before Daffy's tirade that wakes the guy up, but that's YouTube for you.  It's apparently a violation of TimeWarner's voracious copyright laws to have the whole cartoon on YouTube for free, but it's okay to have several snippets of the cartoon scattered about like autumn leaves.  They don't appear to have the moment where Elmer muffles the guy's radiator with a bunch of pillows... but they do have the part where the guy's eyes turn to spirals... and now I can't even cut and paste the time that it happens at.  That's perfect.
Okay, back to Popeye.  This is one of the few times Popeye seems to get PTSD from his exploits.  Dang!  He's getting older than James Bond in Skyfall or A View to a Kill!  I guess it's happening because Popeye's doing these things all for his Pappy.  The mountain deflates as Popeye shakily walks away.  Lol.  Was I the only one who thought of The Shining soundtrack?  I hope not.  There's a lousy economics lesson here someplace: the demolition company's happy because the mountain's been destroyed, and Popeye's happy because Pappy's still asleep... as far as he knows.  Okay, bad econ example.  Let's try a pizza place instead...........


O joyous joy!  Popeye hears silence and gives his trademark laugh.  Looks like his Pappy-induced PTSD is gone, which is good for everyone.  Popeye quietly creaks open the door and tiptoes inside, when suddenly... loud jazz music!  Plaster falling from the ceiling!  Time to kick some ass.  Popeye rushes to the floor above and skids to a stop.  Ah, that's the stuff.  A little fake 3D to keep the animators busy.  Never enough of it.  Now it's all Pixar or Zemeckis mo-cap stuff.  Animation's been sanitized to death these days.  Where's the fun moments like this one?  Where, I asks ya?  Actually, that kinda looks like it was rotoscoped, so what can you do.  Popeye goes into the noisy room and... wha?  Pappy dancing and scatting?  Pappy helpfully explains to Popeye: "I'm okay now!  All I needed was a little rest and quiet!"  Now, you'd think Popeye would be happy about that... wouldn't you?  Not quite the case.  Popeye falls backwards, as Bert often does in response to Ernie's shenanigans.  Here, however, Popeye falls through the floor, landing in the bed in his apartment below.  The ice bag and thermomo-meter fall into place, and Popeye gets his own mercury fireworks from the thermometer.  This is worse than sibling rivalry!  Is there a Greek term for this, like Elektra or Geffen Records?

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Aaron Burns

...oh, puh-leeeeze.  I don't think Spielberg wants Robert Rodriguez's sloppy seconds.

The Ides of September

I guess no one cares about defending the galaxy anymore.  Guardians finally slips to #3, ousted by two newcomers.  First, Dolphin Tale 2 at #2 and, unlike the cast of Atlas Shrugged Part II, most of the cast of Dolphin Tale 1 seems to have returned for the second installment.  Oh, Harry Connick Jr. and Ashley Judd... how they have fallen.  And second, at #1, it's No Good Deed, not to be confused with Tyler Perry's Good Deeds or, to a lesser extent, Adam Sandler's 2002 pic Mr. Deeds.  Boy, it must be frustrating sometimes for some people who never watch Turner Classic Movies.  First of all, everyone in those movies is dead.  Second, where's the fart jokes?  Third, where's the bawdy old people?
Anyway, I guess I hate to admit it once again, but where did the ad campaign for No Good Deed come from?  Not The Daily Show or Colbert Report, that's all I know.  The other debut this week is The Drop.  I think this is Tony Soprano's final last movie, but who knows.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Land of Milk and Hammers

...I haven't written anything on this one yet?  Geez!  I'm so un-ready for school in two weeks.


Our next Tom and Jerry is called The Milky Waif.  We start with an exterior shot.  Jerry Mouse is apparently moving up in the world!  He's got his own door on the outside of a suburban house.  A bit of a demotion from his pad in The Million Dollar Cat, but the rent's probably more reasonable.
In a slight twist, we start with Jerry asleep, dreaming about being chased by the cat.  Jerry eventually kicks off the covers, and we can see him mimicking running from the cat.  Dream Tom grabs Dream Jerry and starts hitting Dream Jerry on his dream head.  In a genius of synchronicity, we hear a knock on the door with the same rhythm as the rhythm of Dream Jerry's beats to his dream head.
Jerry wakes up and sighs a sigh of relief.  There's a second round of knocks.  Jerry looks afraid.  Oh, I hope it's not Jerry's country cousin with the guitar and the moustache and cowboy hat.  Hate that guy.  Switch to outside shot.  Nope, it's a bundle of joy being left for someone else to enjoy.  Jerry almost misses it!  Well, that's what Jerry gets for living in such a nice neighborhood... of course, the bundle of joy's a little passive aggressive, too.  Why, it just barges its way in, going around Jerry, no less!
You know, a great writer once wrote a note to himself, and it read "Orphan?  Dame?"  In this film's case, it's orphan.  It's the path of orphan that we'll be taking this time, or so it appears.  Time to DQ something different.  Well, parenthood happens to the best of cartoon characters.  Their careers don't always recover, like Betty Boop or Beany and Cecil, but that's the risk they take.
And so, as with Olive leaving instructions with the Jeep, we find that this little grey mouse is named Nibbles... and he's always hungry!  P.S., feed him lots of milk.  Guess they should've named it Anorexia, but that cartoon probably wouldn't have been as fun.
After we and Jerry read the note, Nibbles helpfully illustrates by licking his chops and pointing to his open mouth.  Jerry thinks on it a minute, tiptoes over to his entrance to the house proper, and spies Tom sitting next to his bowl of milk.  Jerry makes the mistake of showing the bowl to little Nibbles.  Nibbles looks, puts two and two together, revs up his little legs, then slowly heads out to the kitchen to get that damn milk!  Jerry just tries to stop Nibbles, as Nibbles is too young to appreciate the rules and the decorum of the house environment.  It's just the one rule, really: fear the cat.  But rules are meant to be broken, and oh, how that rule will be broken by the end of this film.
Jerry ends up hanging Nibbles from a small post by his diaper.  Yup, he's basically giving Nibbles a wedgie.  But you can't argue with results, so Jerry tries once again to quietly tiptoe up to Tom's bowl of milk.
Next scene: the kitchen floor proper.  Jerry continues to tiptoe... hmm!  Interesting composition.  I wonder what they're.... HAH!  Always with the jokes.  This Little Nibbles is a single-minded chow hound.  Apparently, Jerry Mouse is still too busy trying to tiptoe up to the bowl of milk to freak out.  It happens!  But when little Nibbles is using sleeping Tom's nose as a diving board to jump into the bowl of milk... oh, it's Freak Out Time.
Ah, kids.  The baby mouse ends up waking up Tom.  Thinking quickly, Jerry grabs the baby mouse and they both jump into the bowl of milk.  Fully alert now, Tom looks around to see just wha-happan!  Hey, wha happan?  Tom takes a good squint at that bowl of milk... oh, well.  At least he's got that sweet bowl of milk.  Better get to work on it.  It's quite deep!  Won't keep forever!
Next scene: inside the bowl.  Alas, Jerry and the little mouse have to hold their breath at the bottom of the milk bowl.  It's too early in the pic for Nibbles to quickly engulf the entire bowl.  We can see Tom's tongue lapping away and... yup.  I must've been in a good mood when I first saw this scene, as it caught me by surprise.  It's the old rule of threes.  On the third underwater lick, Nibbles gets swept up by the giant tongue.  Now I've heard that cat's tongues are engineered like Velcro, and that if they start to swallow something, their tongues help to keep things going down their throat instead of the other way.  Good for juicy moles and voles, bad for fur and fleas.  Jerry subverts the natural order of things as he usually does, and leaps out of the milk bowl, pries open Tom's mouth, reaches in and grabs Nibbles.  And off they go!  Tom takes off after the devious duo.
Next scene: some old school scrolling.  Hanna and Barbera had a bit of a budget on this one, so the drawings are a bit nicer here, but they never forgot to use some good old fashioned horizontal scrolling in all their subsequent work directly for TV.  I don't know why these cartoon mice are afraid of these cartoon cats, anyway.  The mice can always outrun the cats, as is the case here.  Nibbles gets an eyeful of the cat, picks up the running Jerry and takes off for the hole in the wall.  Jerry seems surprised.  Nibbles can get out and run faster than him!  Just one last detail, however... Nibbles is holding Jerry up too high, and Jerry hits the wall just above the hole.  Nibbles drags Jerry inside, and ... BAM!  The cat knocks himself out cold on the wall... that's odd!  Tom's head looks like it could fit inside the mouse hole!


The entrance to Jerry's mouse cave is small again.  The stragedy continues.  Jerry decides to try a slightly different approach, and he quickly builds a superstraw out of many straws... hmm!  I wonder if there are any rebels out there amongst the straw manufacturers who ever tried to make a straw that could easily plug into another straw like Legos.  Maybe they have 'em in the Big Gulps at 7-11, I don't know.  That's just how elitist and out of touch I am with the common folk.  And of course, the engineering nerds out there will scoff at how small Jerry's pile of straws is.  Oh, it's laughable at best and criminally negligent at worst, I tells ya!  But that's cartoons for you, just a rainbow of deception and logical inconsistencies.  Most people focus on the fun part of that rainbow, like those guys who did the whole Wile E. Coyote Cartoon Physics treatise.  Anyway, we find Tom asleep with his paws around the milk bowl.  Lol.  Oh, Tom.  Poor beleaguered Tom.  If there's one thing he gets to do a lot, it's have an angry look on his face, and usually with one eye squinted... but I might be wrong about that.  Maybe it's that his head is perpendicular to the screen, so you can only see one half of his face.
And so, we get a shot of success, as Nibbles happily slurps away at milk from the superstraw.  Next scene: Tom gets a very devilish idea, judging from his expression.  And it is indeed.  He turns the mouse's straw against the mouse, and Tom sucks Nibbles into the straw, and Nibbles begins the long journey towards Tom's stomach.  Why, that cat could suck a golf ball through a garden hose!  Good Lourdes.  Time for Jerry to once again spring into action.  Naturally, Jerry gets there in time before Tom can eat up poor little Nibbles, and is strong enough to do so as usual.  Jerry unhooks the length of straw with Nibbles in it, and blows on the straw, shooting Nibbles back into the mouse pad... I mean, mouse hole... in the wall!  Mouse hole in the wall.  Mouse cave, what have you.
And so, having saved Nibbles a second time, Jerry makes the run back to his hole in the wall... but Tom actually beats him to it!  How could this be?  Here's why... Tom knows the studio won't let him ever really catch Jerry, so might as well have a little fun with the little bastard.  Tom does a downright mean trick, breaking the 3.5th wall and pulls the hole over a little bit, so that Jerry runs into the wall instead of through the wall to safety.  Boy, English is hard!  Anyway, at last.  Tom has Jerry in the clutches of his paw-hands.  Fortunately, Nibbles has found a giant hammer.  Nibbles comes out of the wall with it and hits Tom on the tail with the giant hammer.  The hammer is easily about ten to the eighth power times heavier than the mouse wielding it, but no matter.  Can't argue with a great gag, right?  A great hitting-a-cat's-tail-with-a-hammer gag... note to kids.  Do NOT hit your cat's tail with a hammer!
And so, the cat goes flying up into the air... I swear there was one Tom and Jerry cartoon where they use a hammer bash one time to illustrate the inner workings of the central nervous system, where a pain bubble slowly works its way up to the brain, and the brain processes the message, and an "OW!" is sent to the cat's mouth.  This isn't that one, unfortunately for us.  Now, you might be thinking to yourself, but Movie Hooligan!  The hole in the wall's right there!  Why didn't the two mice go back into the hole and be safe from the cat?  I was thinking that as well at first, but there could be any number of reasons.  Number one: manners.  Somehow it just wouldn't have been polite.  The cat might also start bashing in the whole wall to get at the mice, perhaps with that hammer if the mice didn't already hide it!  Number two: kinesthetics.  All that looking up made them tired, and they'd have to carefully step backwards into the hole in order to do it.  But most likely of all, it'd be boring!  Der!!  Duh!!!
Anyway, the chase is on again.  Jerry's holding Nibbles aloft as he runs, and Tom can't seem to catch up to them.  Another sad day indeed.  And then comes a moment I've been overthinking a little too much over the last few days here.  The trio stops at the milk bowl.  Jerry holds Nibbles over the milk, and Nibbles takes a sip.  Jerry then holds Nibbles in front of Tom's face, and Nibbles spits all the milk into Tom's face.  I mean, sure, Nibbles is hungry and all, but you just never know how you're going to behave in the heat of the chase.  The chase continues.
Next scene: the two fugitive mice run into one of them ironing board closets!  Oh, how many more cartoon characters have to run afoul of the old ironing board?  Even Roger Rabbit couldn't avoid it in his very first short, Somethin's Cookin' at the beginning of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.  Anyway, it's time for a tasteless blackface joke.  Jerry takes on the voice of the black girl that seems to occasionally appear in some of these Tom and Jerry shorts as the house servant that beats the cat up before it can catch the mouse.  The point being, it's a good thing they put on a disguise, otherwise Tom would've bashed them with a frying pan.  Nibbles exposes his cover when his white diapers fall down, exposing his grey glute area amidst the rest of his body covered in black shoe polish.  The chase is on again.
Inspired by Tom's frying pan, Jerry now has a frying pan standing up in the doorway... at mouse level, of course.  Boy, the screenwriter really did their homework!  Nibbles runs by, and Jerry pulls back on the frying pan and lets it go right in Tom's face.  Frying pans back then must have had elastic handles or something.  And then, a truly sadistic action by Jerry: Jerry grabs Tom's tongue, stretches it out, then hits Tom on the top of his head so Tom bites his own tongue.  "OW!" says Tom.  Jerome and Thomas continue their part of the chase, with Tom grabbing furiously at the ground to get some quick velocity.


Should this be Act Three?  Probably.  Well, just like Bugs Bunny helped to mentor the next generation in pulling fast ones on the bad guys, like Pete Puma in Rabbit's Kin, so it goes with Jerry.  Of course, he might not realize it, but Nibbles can already handle a hammer.  Let's try his luck with a frying pan!  Not as good somehow.  Of course, these are moving targets we're dealing with now.  With the hammer, Tom's tail was sitting quietly as it often does.  So Nibbles has to get the timing just right, as Jerry and Tom go whizzing by, in that order.  Nibbles of course flattens Jerry twice, but Jerry's so far ahead of Tom that he's able to unflatten himself and take off running again.  A third time would be sending the wrong message, so Jerry calls a time out.  Tom stops and looks.  Jerry angrily points to Tom's face, and Nibbles does his thing.  Well, like Anthony Stabile said to Tommy DeVito, "You can't miss at this distance!"  Nibbles aims the frying pan tried and true and flattens Tom's face, leaving a frying pan-shaped ring around it, so Tom's face looks like it's at the bottom of a crater or something.  I'm not sure which racial caricature this is supposed to be, if any... Swedish?  Dutch?
Next scene: Jerry and Nibbles crawl under a rug.  Tom grabs an empty milk bottle and sits at the other end of the rug, waiting for one of the mice to emerge.  Well, at least they broke up the monotony of the chase!  And so, as decreed by the needs of the plot, Jerry is caught in the empty milk bottle, with Tom's paw over the open end of it.  But before Jerry Mouse can prestidigitate a pin to stab Tom's paw with (like that Sylvester and Tweety cartoon), there's still the matter of little Nibbles, who waves at Tom in a manner just like Jerry sometimes does!  Nibbles takes off back under the rug.  Tom places a bunch of books on top of the milk bottle and dives under the rug after Nibbles.  It's the number one rule in animated shorts: always respect the sanctity of the rug under which thee crawleth.
Nibbles gets out from under the rug, and has enough time to get a custard pie to hit Tom in the face with once Tom emerges from under the rug.  It's the number two rule in animated shorts: never crawl under the rug if you're the bad guy.  Never!  It's this kind of underhanded thing that will happen to you!  I mean, are you nuts?
And so, Nibbles is left relatively defenseless.  Look at how Tom's able to catch up to him, for God's sake!  Thank God they cut to a shot of the milk bowl.  Nibbles runs around the milk bowl as Tom goes by.  It's one of the fundamental things that apply!  Not seeing Tom around, Nibbles gets back to drinking the rest of that milk.  I wonder if the milk is a metaphor for something.  As it happens, Tom's sitting there with a smug expression on his face.  Tom grabs Nibbles in his paws.  How sweet it is.  Now to look at Nibbles... whuh?  Where'd he go?  And then... now Tom's the rug that Nibbles is crawling under!  MAGIC!  But Tom's smart, and he knows that Nibbles is heading for Tom's tail.  So, Tom holds his own tail aloft, points a gun at it and, once Nibbles emerges... what could possibly go wrong?  Wait a minute... did I miss something?  Well, it is near the end of the film, which is usually when the gun comes out.  Hey, it works in all those Jim Wynorski movies on Cinemax!  Nine sex scenes, then a gun at the end.  It's called Shakespeare.
Oh well.  At least Tom's scream was a different one.  And now, time for the fly swatter.  I don't know why they even bother anymore.  The aardvark tried hitting the ant with a fly swatter in ... I believe it was Hasty but Tasty.  The cat's actually landing blows on the mouse with said swatter, but to no avail!  The mouse's velocity is unchanged!  Next scene: the kitchen proper, where Tom can't hit Nibbles to save his life.  But at least their trajectories are a little more chaotic.  That's kinda neat!
And then... Nibbles is in the proverbial corner, as the close-up suggests.  Nibbles hides his head but leaves his tiny grey glutes exposed, but covered by the white diaper.  Tom delivers another blow with the fly swatter.  Well, needles to say, it's the last straw.  Kinda like the spanking scene in True Grit, and in this case I refer to the John Wayne original, where he tells Glen Campbell "You're enjoying it too much!"  Well, Tom's a cat, and it's just what cats do.  They can't help that.  They're like any other species that's too big.  Just looking for a little excitement in life.  A tiny vole that comes along?  Excitement.  And even though they've just batted it to death, or bitten into it too deep and some cat saliva has already killed them, they just have to bat it around a little bit more, or bring it into the house out of a sense of accomplishment.  In this situation, however, Jerry morphs into Mighty Mouse.  Maybe Minute Mouse to a lesser extent.  Breaking through the bottle, Jerry runs over to check on something... yup, the red buttocks of discipline.  Well, that tears it right there.  You can chase Jerry's friends, try to kill them, and keep them from enjoying a little milk, but a spanking?  That is indeed the last straw.  After engulfing the spinach of outrage, Jerry delivers a superbeating to Tom, and then we cross-fade to the proverbial Marshall Plan aftermath.


...didn't the last Tom and Jerry end like this?  Tom in bandages, caring for Jerry's friend?

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

I Never Sang For Me Pappy


...all right.  I've resisted long enough.  Time to do the full play-by-play of our next Popeye short, Problem Pappy.  First of all, we start with Popeye knocking on a door.  Popeye does a slighter version of the old "Fleischer shake"... I guess I better explain what that is to the uninitiated.  It's not necessarily a Fleischer invention, but a guy attributed it to them on one of the Popeye DVD commentaries.  Instead of having an animated character stand still, they go through a short little loop of motion, usually to the jazzy music on the soundtrack.  For me, the one that comes to mind is this one from Axe Me Another.  Ah, cutbacks!
Anyway, as you can probably guess from the title, Popeye's checking up on his ornery roommate, Poopdeck Pappy.  After politely knocking and calling out to him, Popeye enters Pappy's quarters to find... GASP!... Pappy's not there.  However, Pappy did leave an hilariously misspelled note that sort of hints that something's gone awry.  Popeye must yet again venture out into the world to find his Pappy, but he might not have to go as far as Goon Island this time.  I think Popeye's having second thoughts about that particular adventure!  "Me pappy's second childhood is making an old man outta me!" says Popeye as he heads out the door.
Next scene: ...I hate to keep being disappointed like this, but I tell you darling, the Fleischers are tightening the belts way too much.  Popeye's looking for his Pappy, and he's maximizing this one scene to do it.  It's done well, of course, but it's just not rich enough for my blood... okay, there's at least a close-up on the manhole, but that's about it.  Love that Grill place!
Next next scene: oh, this has got to be Pappy.  There's a crowd of people looking up.  Popeye lightly muscles his way through it to get to the forefront.  Oh, that was a giveaway, innit?  What does he think he is, the star of this pic or sumpthing?  We eventually see what the crowd was looking at, and it looks like a tiny ant on top of a high building, further on top of a flagpole, juggling a couple pebbles that must be about 100,000 times its own weight, of course.  Any more and it couldn't handle it... wait a tic!  It's PAPPY!!!!  And so, Popeye's gotta play child of the man once again.  "Come down this instinct!" says Popeye.  Bad direction.  Sounds like Jack Mercer was going to crack up, lol.  Pappy tries to reassure Popeye.  "I'm just taking this job to balance me budget!"  A sad commentary on society, indeed, as we've come a long way from the carefree days of Safety Last!  Now it's a salaried job!


And so, it's the start of Act Two, so Popeye's not yet ready to eat some spinach.  He's going to use the more diplomatic, non-spinach approach.  And so... we're really going to do this?  Okay.  See, this is just plain wrong when the Fleischer cartoons start emulating the Stooge comedy philosophy.  Time to stretch out the time!  We see Popeye as he's running up the stairs of Pappy's building, and we get the full floor-by-floor treatment.  Then again, there's one quick cut to Pappy doing his thing on top of the flagpole.  Take heed, students of fine editing.  Is Pappy not the Devil looking down from Heaven, watching as his handiwork bears ripe fruit?  Or is he merely Nero fiddling while all of Rome burns... I mean, New York or Philadelphia or... wherever Popeye makes his home in the Fleischer cartoons.  Famous Studios moved Popeye to the suburbs... and did you know that, while the original RoboCop takes place in Detroit, not one drop of it was filmed there?  Sorry, my adolescence.
And so, Popeye gets to the roof of the building.  He has to catch the pins that Pappy was juggling and nearly falls off the building his own damn self!  So much for diplomacy.  Time for a more direct approach.  Popeye says "If you're not comin' down, I'm comin' up!"  And up he goes... so what does Pappy do?  Time for a little chemical warfare.  Out from his pocket comes a small can of oil, where you squirt out the oil by pressing the bottom of the hemispherical container.  Well, they got that sound right, anyhow!  Lol.  This is akin to sibling rivalry, but there's just no simple phrase for it, is there?
And so... down slides Popeye.  Somehow the teentsy amounts of oil from Pappy's can becomes like the snowball at the top of the hill, and Popeye finds himself in a veritable waterfall of oil... an oil-fall?  Why, it's as though the pole has become a geyser!  Strange.  But, alas, the profits... I mean, the residue quickly evaporates.  Oh, dude, Popeye's pretty pissed off right now.  He hits the pole a couple times with his fist.  The pole shakes back and forth, but Pappy manages to cling to it, albeit uncomfortably so.  He sounds like the spaceship from Super 8 or the helicycles from The Island, perhaps.  You know, those staccato noises.  Is that still the hot audio trend?  Ah, this is more like it.  Pappy sounds like a good ol' fashioned auctioneer at this juncture.
Now Pappy's the pissed-off one.  "That's the LAST straw!" says Pappy.  Pappy then takes a sign out of his deep pants pockets and places it at his post on top of the pole.  "Back in 2 Minutes" reads the sign.  Oh, something bad's going to happen, I just know it.  "Now take it easy, Pappy!" says Popeye as he hears Pappy descending the pole.  It sounds like a plane, which can't be good.  Pappy gets to the bottom of the pole and donkey kicks Popeye in the chin.  Both feet!  Popeye starts rolling down the long staircase we saw him running up... are we really going to do this?  Time to stretch out time!  Well, I guess it's only fair when you pit two forces of nature against each other like this.  Kinda like one of them stupid Marvel movies the theater seems to be plagued with these days!  Epic figures, epic fights.  That's how it goes.  This is just a scaled down, black-and-white version of that.  Another cut to Pappy in Popeye's downward journey.  Pappy climbs back to the top of his pole, looks down at Popeye (... I don't know how Pappy can see Popeye from way up there...), and he points and laughs!!!!!  Stone cold, baby.
Whew.  All that hard work can make an old fella hungry.  So the ol' mountain goat takes out a banana and starts eating it.  Meanwhile, Popeye tries to sneak up on Pappy from another building.  I almost hate to spoil it, but I've come this far, so I might as well keep going.  Popeye's got one of the world's five or six longest ropes, and lasso's Pappy's pole from ... let's say about a half a mile away.  Popeye ties it to the chimney of the building he's on, and starts to climb up to Pappy.  "I'm a'warnin' ya!" says Pappy as he takes out a knife.  Will this campaign of tough love never end?  "Too bad!  He was a good boy..." says Pappy as he slowly starts to cut the rope.  I guess that answers that!
And so, as decreed in the Book of Popeye, the rope is cut and starts to fall.  Now, personally, I think Popeye took the wrong way out in attempting to make it back to the building.  Why couldn't he do like Tarzan or Spider Man and try swinging on the rope instead?  In a word... legal liability.  Popeye must suffer the consequences of his actions like any human in a similar situation, and hopefully we'll have no more damn maniac copycats trying to go between buildings with a rope and avoiding the doormen who are just trying to do their job, no matter what that one episode of Seinfeld with Larry Miller may have taught you!
But don't be fooled, of course.  Popeye's still just a cartoon character and he does plummet several stories, and he does get stopped by a clothesline as many animated characters before and since have done.  Therefore, he only suffers half of the consequences of his silly, ill-conceived stunt to thwart his pappy.  He doesn't make it back to the building, but he doesn't fall to his death, either.  No, he ends up looking like a fool in his new outfit that was hanging on the clothesline!  A damn fool!!!  Good luck showing your face anywhere now!


And so, Pappy wins the battle, and Popeye begrudgingly gives Pappy his permission to stay on top of that pole like a fool.  A DAMN FOOL!!!! ...sorry, I forgot to take my anti-histrionics... ah, there they go.  So, Pappy won the battle...
...but the war's just beginning.  Here's a wrinkle that even Harold Lloyd never had to deal with, unless it was in the not-as-good follow up to Safety Last!  I think it was called Feet First, but I don't know if it had an exclamation point in it... apparently not.  Time for a little thunder and lightning, and a rainstorm to boot!  Pappy's attacked right away by quite a large number of seemingly angry bolts of lightning.  Pappy's hat flies off, and two lightning bolts put the hat back on Pappy's head.  Soon after that happens, Pappy declares "I QUIT!" and starts climbing down the pole.  Pappy's almost at the bottom, but Pappy sits on a loose board that sinks down, raising up the other end like a teeter-totter.  There's a lightning bolt standing by, holding another lightning bolt shaped like a hammer.  The lightning bolt hammer hits the exposed piece of wood and... yup, you guessed it.  Didn't occur to me for some reason, but once upon a time this gag seemed to be in every other Popeye cartoon.  Here it is in A Dream Walking.  Here it is in Customers Wanted... that's all I can think of right now.  Okay, here it is in the very first one!!!, here's Buster Keaton doing the gag in Coney Island... alas, it's not all of it.  That's just before he became The Great Stone Face.  I think what I'm trying to say is... damn!  Pappy's in a tight spot.
Yes, even though Popeye defeated nearly every force of nature at the end of Shiver Me Timbers!, you just can't keep thunder and lightning down for long.  They get lonely, too, and they don't want Pappy to go just yet.  But Popeye's heard the call, and damn it, he's still going to save Pappy.  And yes... time to run up those damn stairs again.  Somehow it didn't seem as blatant in Cops Is Always Right.
And so, Popeye makes it back to the roof of the building a second time.  He merely grabs onto the pole and gets badly shocked by the lightning, then harassed by it a few times for good measure.  Well, Popeye knows what he likes, and lightning sure ain't one of those things.  It's spinach time before you can read that lightning the Riot Act.  But the lightning is apparently a good sport, as it even opens the can for Popeye.  What's that all about, anyway?  Anyway, ... maybe it's a metaphor for our modern age, fueled by electricity.  The lightning is shaped like a can opener as it slowly chews its way around the can's perimeter.
And Popeye's off!  He's running up the pole, not climbing... well, it was a powerful batch of spinach, harvested by contented union farmers, and on top of that, he's punching the lightning bolts into submission!  For once, the lightning never knew what hit it.
And so, at the top, Popeye scoops up his pappy, but the lightning won't give him up without a fight... or will it?  A bolt of lightning persists and turns into a saw, and it starts sawing into the flagpole!  Is the end of Popeye's line as we know it?  Will he end up like that crazy dude in The Return of the King, crying "My line has ENDED!" just before he gets an eyeful of the Orc army at his doorstep way down below?  Well, you gotta have an army that big if you want Minas Tirith's upper brass to pay attention to you.
Sidetracked again.  Sorry about that.  Now who's the one stretching for time?  Anyway, ... is this the end of Popeye and Pappy as we know it?  Is it Goon Island all over again?  Will the Fourth Wall have to be broken to save these sorry two?  ...nope, Popeye uses the lightning like trapezes to get down to ground level.  Actually, it's more like Tarzan and the vines, but they don't use that music.  They use the trapeze song instead.  I like how every time Popeye grabs a lightning bolt, it makes the thunder noise.  Lol.
And so, Popeye gallops Pappy's sorry ass home.  Popeye tucks Pappy in to his cot bed, but Popeye seems happy.  He's singing Pappy's theme song, but with his own lyrics!  What a good son... (sniff, wipe away tear)  Meanwhile, Pappy's in Slumberland, unaware of all the trouble he caused.  I guess he's aware of enough of it, but he ain't gonna lose sleep over it.


Almost forgot to have one!  And so, Popeye's either heating some water or some milk on the stove for Pappy.  He goes back to the room and says the following foregrounding line: "Well, I guess Pappy's learned his lesson!"  Popeye opens the door and... WHOA!  Pappy's not in his hammock!  I hate to spoil the ending, but let's just say Pappy's still tired, so he only half protests, as in our earlier excursion called... better get the DVD box...With Poopdeck Pappy.  That's the one.  Alas, Problem Pappy doesn't have the panache of With Poopdeck Pappy.  Frankly, they should switch titles.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan