Wednesday, December 31, 2014

All Hail the Tom and Jerry Ants!!!

Boy, I missed those guys.  And yet, here they are in Cat Napping, marching along at four beats a second, one beat every six frames.  Keep in mind, these were the old days of filmmaking when film used to run at 24 frames a second.  These days, who knows what it is anymore?  Twenty-four?  Twenty-five?  Thirty?  Forty-eight?  Sixty?  The choices seem endless.
Alas, my time isn't anymore, so gotta focus on the fundamentals now.  This Tom and Jerry's a little different, in that it takes place outside.  Seems like they're cooped up indoors a lot, in the house.  But even if they're not, they seem to get in the same shenanigans over and over... I know, I know, a little late to complain about that.
Anyway, instead of fighting over something in the fridge, this time it's a turf war: a fight over a hammock.  Jerry's already claimed the space, and here comes Tom with drink in hand, a pillow and a blanket.  Jerry sleepily helps himself to that pillow, but Tom quickly takes care of that.  I remember this one because the drink that Tom has ends up making an outline of its shape in the top of Tom's head, with a little careful maneuvering by the seemingly infinitely strong Jerry Mouse.
Jerry ends up back in the hammock, and Tom gives the hammock a good strong thwack, sending Jerry high into the air.  Jerry matches this move on Tom later on with the help of a winch.  Asleep the whole time he's flying around, Jerry ends up back on the hammock.  Tom's got the sleeping Jerry on a spatula, but no skillet is handy to fry him up.
CUE THE ANTS!!!  Love those annoying little pests.  With a fiendish smile upon his feline face, Tom places Jerry on the back of the ants.  Jerry wakes up and hits his head on the back of the sprinkler.  Now, in any other cartoon, you'd think that Jerry would turn on that sprinkler and give Tom the hose-soaking of his life, leaving Jerry relatively dry... I mean, there's bound to be some splashback.  But this is not a normal Tom and Jerry, and only the ants will suffice.  Mostly because they're here now, mostly because they can be aimed at a target which is shown no mercy.  Jerry redirects the course of the ants, and the ants end up marching down one of the hammock strings.  As the ants march, you will notice that the hammock starts to shake.  And the further down the hammock string the ants advance, the harder the shaking of the hammock... why, it's almost downright sexual, in a way!  Must be why I have such a strong love hate relationship with those damn ants.  Alas, the hammock ultimately yields to the ants' collective strength.  I'm surprised those ants weren't used to win WWII onscreen!  Think of what it could've meant to American audiences if Tom and Jerry somehow took their bickering to the doorstep of the Axis powers.
Anyway, that's kind of the high point of the cartoon for me.  But don't worry, for Jerry's thirst for revenge doesn't go unslaked.  Jerry pulls out all the stops.  Using his Mighty Mouse-like strength, he uses the hammock to send Tom damn near out of the stratosphere.  Listen to Tom's shriek before he plummets back to earth, landing in the ocean.  I was tempted to do a screen capture of the aftermath, but only the ants will do.  Only the ants will do.
Jerry also gets the bulldog involved in the hammock game... but somehow it's just not the same.  The dog doesn't have any lines, for one thing.  What is it, a piece of meat licking a bone?  The bulldog's gotta say "LISTEN, PUSSYCAT!!!!!"  It's like a David Puddy episode of Seinfeld in which he doesn't at some point say "Yeah, that's right."  I think it's the one with the Jesus fish... Elaine says it in Puddy's stead, if memory serves.  Why, it's probably on TBS right now!
One of the keys of comedy, be it Laurel and Hardy, the Stooges, or Tom and Jerry, is that a character has to act in haste, not knowing what they're attacking or doing.  The character's not watching what they're doing, and they'll end up sucking a frog through a straw, or bash the crap out of a bulldog in a hammock with a baseball bat.  Well, Tom was just that pissed off, mind you.  I mention Laurel and Hardy because there's a funny sequence in their short film, Dirty Work, where they're attempting to clean up after their chimney debacle.  Ollie's holding a sack, and Stan's filling the sack with ashes.  Stan admires a picture on the wall while he works, and drops a brick into the bag.  These two elements together allow Stan to dump ashes down Ollie's pants instead.  Genius.  Jack Brown Genius.
Anyway, the angry dog with ugly red lumps on its cranium chases the cat off screen Stage Left.  And much like Quiet Please! before or after it, there's loud crashing noises, there's stuff flying from that direction, and there's glorious aftermath where an ailing Tom has to care for the dog and mouse.  Well, it's still less cruel than Two Gophers from Texas.  My only hope is that this 2 DVD collection also contains the Tom and Jerry cartoon featuring the ants sabotaging Tom's barbecue.  Unfortunately, judging from the titles, this doesn't appear to be the case.  I'll tell you all about it anyway.  I think it's right at the end of the cartoon.  The ants have Tom trapped on the diving board of a typical Hollywood backyard swimming pool.  The ants start their voluptuous, determined march down the diving board.  Same twanging noises, same cadence, similar results.  They don't destroy the diving board, but Tom ends up in the pool.  I think Tom was desperately clinging to his last barbecue food, so naturally that gets destroyed as well.  I'm assumpting that the ants stop their death march after that.  All hail the Tom and Jerry ants!

***1/2
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

The Diaper Elite

Welp, school season starts anew for me, so once again I won't be able to devote the kind of quality time to my... homework that it deserves.  Kinduva shame, really, as we're getting into the really juicy Popeye cartoons now, ones whose titles I won't fully type out.  But for now, we're stuck with a boring old one with Popeye and Olive and the triumphant return of Li'l Swee'pea.  Why, I can't even remember the last time he was in a Popeye short!  If only there was a blog................................

ACT ONE

As you can probably divine from the title, Baby Wants a Bottleship, we're still stuck in the naval shipyards with Popeye guarding the coast once again, and the enemies aren't generic anymore, not like in The Mighty NaVy.  Oh, they're all too real now, and turned into inhuman caricatures.  Why, Hitler is even mentioned by name in this one! ... sorry, I watched ahead again.  And now the hard part of picking up the pieces begins.  On a side note, we're binge-watching Homeland right now.  We're up to season 3 already!  It'll be interesting to see how it all gets pieced together by the time we get to Season 4... which we've watched already.  Well, that's how it works sometimes.  And this time.  Anyway, we get an opening segment with a display of Popeye's non-spinach prowess.  Using only his mighty pocketknife, he takes a big cube of wood and whittles it down into a tiny toy ship for Swee'pea... thereby wasting about 99.5% of the rest of the wooden block.  Ancient cartoon tradition.  You know, like that time the Warner Brothers Chip and Dale equivalents went into a factory, and we got a demonstration of how the toothpick machine creates a toothpick out of a whole sequoia.  Olive thanks Popeye for the gift, then immediately sets off to go shopping, leaving Popeye to care for Swee'pea all by his stony lonesome.  The parents' nightmare scenario comes back to life.  Like George Romero's zombies, it never really dies; it just goes behind the barn and lays eggs... oh, wait, that was Critters 1.  Hard to believe that Stephen Herek used to have panache!

ACT TWO

And so, as all kids know, the world's one big gyp.  I mean, a toy ship will only take you so far in this life.  And there he is!  In the naval yards, with a giant ship in front of him!  Swee'pea puts two and two together, and realizes the giant boat is nothing but a large version of his lame toy boat.  He'd rather have the big one!  Kinda like how a slug will pick the pile of sugar over the pile of salt every time, as long as the slug hasn't ingested too much of the salt.
...sorry, gotta cut this short.  But one thing's clear: somehow these episodes seem stretched a little thin to me.  Maybe they've always been that way, but the Fleischer imagination used to be able to mask that.  But Swee'pea does manage to eventually get aboard that battleship, and almost instantly atop the tallest mast.  Notice that the music is the Jeep's new theme!  Popeye runs up the mast to save Swee'pea, but only makes things worse, of course.  Swee'pea ends up falling through the air, and Popeye's shoe gets caught on a wire.  Every parents' nightmare made celluloid.  There's one shot of Swee'pea flying in a parabolic path that should be especially troubling to parents.
Swee'pea ends up on one of the ship's larger guns.  Popeye tries to help, but seems to end up worse than Swee'pea.  Popeye ends up getting bounced around like a pinball, with the gun acting as flipper.  Then Popeye ends up getting caught in the uncovered gears of the guns, ending up worse than Chaplin in Modern Times by far.  Much time and treasure is expended afterward getting excess gun parts out of Popeye's full head.  The spinach gulping sound is made when Popeye coughs up a very very wide gear.  But isn't that the joy of cartoons?  So much for Kliban's old maxim of never eating anything larger than your own head!  In cartoons, all is possible!
There's a sequence with the ship's anchor ("This should only happen to Hitler!" quips Popeye), and then Popeye falls into the ship's largest steam pipe.  But the big sequence is where Popeye runs afoul of the ship's gun again, but circumstances have arranged themselves so that he gets fired out of the gun and into one of the ship's topmost vents.  The sequence thereafter clearly spared the animators some heartache, but taxed the sound effects department, the background department and... most noticeably, the camera department.  All those readjustments of the camera must've been a big pain in the ass.

ACT THREE

That last big fall through the ship was so great, in a bad way, that it ends up dislodging Popeye's spinach can.  Meanwhile, Olive returns from shopping and is horrified to find that Popeye failed at the modest task that was his charge.  Olive runs aboard the ship.  Meanwhile, Swee'pea managed to find himself a torpedo on wheels, which he promptly fires up and rides around the ship... thereby inspiring the finale of Conrad the Sailor... or did Conrad come first?  According to the IMDb, Conrad beat Bottleship by five months!  RIPOFF!!  Oh well.  Not as blatant as Rhapsody Rabbit / The Cat Concerto.
Olive tries to stop Swee'pea, but eventually ends up at Popeye's unconscious side.  Olive force feeds Popeye the spinach, and Popeye slowly wakes up.  When Popeye puts two and two together, and sees that Swee'pea's heading straight for a room marked "Explosives"... where would cartoons be without those?  Popeye's parenting instincts kick in and he wolfs down the spinach much faster.  Popeye turns into a freak and saves the day... or does he?  He gets Swee'pea and the room of explosives out of harm's way, but the torpedo on wheels ends up exploding anyway!  And so, Popeye eats several cans of spinach, flies into the stratosphere and spins the world backwards, thereby reversing the flow of time...

EPILOGUE

And so, after the court martial and trial for the premature usage of one torpedo on wheels, we find the principals all back at square one again.  Popeye tries to appease the angry Swee'pea with more mere toy boats.  He gets one larger boat after another, but to no use.  Eventually, once again we're all swallowed whole by the angry crying maw of Swee'pea.  When we come out the other side, so to speak, we find a content Swee'pea happily steering a ship's wheel.  Dream coming true!  He's commanding the Pennsyltucky after all!  However, we find that Popeye's just pulling it along the ground.  Somehow this just doesn't feel right.  I mean, is this not the punishment of Bluto in Be Kind to Aminals and at the end of Popeye Meets Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves?  And isn't Popeye going to slip a disc or two?  Oh, the things we do for kids.

***
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Greg Carter

...from Mars?
Nah, he seems all too earthbound, actually.  Well, while my software grinds away, probably printing out a bunch of some kind of exceptions, I'll tell you one thing... no.  Make that two.  First of all, the IMDb is spoiling me with this feature they have called a person's Top Four.  Now, I'm looking at the three posters for his top movies they currently have there and, well... there's just something about them.  They look like B-grade productions, semi-professional posters... what can I say?  I'm a snob.  But if he did indeed go to school with someone who now works at Troublemaker Studios, I'd say take advantage of that.  Now.  Screw my software!  You get to Troublemaker Studios, you get to Robert Rodriguez.  And when you get the Robert Rodriguez, you get the Quentin Tarantino.  And when you get the Tarantino, well... can Spielberg be far behind?  It might work!  You never know.  But anyway, I'll wait for my software to spit out something.
...yup.  Turned up empty again.  Gotta do everything myself.  Well, I say do this the fun way:

Greg Carter wrote, directed, produced, edited, filmed and catered the 2014 classic Lap Dance which starred...
Carmen Electra, who also had a small part in the Starsky & Hutch movie from 2004, which starred...
Ben Stiller!  The dude did seven movies in 2004, if I recall correctly.  He and Jude Law.  Boy, those were the days.  Anyway, I think he did a movie with Spielberg, but damned if I know what it was.

The Battle of the Ten Sequels

...damn.  Just wrote 2014 on a check.  And so, the march of the Hollywood sequels continues unimpeded.  But there's at least two new ones this week: The Woman in Black 2 and Big Hero 6... oh, wait, that Hero one's from last year.  But it's back!  No Indian imports at the bottom of the Top 10 for us this week.  Otherwise, it's all sequels, remakes, reboots... meanwhile, Unbroken and Into the Woods are duking it out for second and third places.  Into the Woods has finally won.  But that's one check mark in Unbroken's column: it's not a remake or a sequel.  The only thing I can think is that it's a dramatic, nonfiction version of Seven Beauties but that's probably going too far.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Jerry Mouse Has a Cousin in the Bronx

Variations on a theme.  Well, that's how it goes when you've got a small family like Tom and Jerry.  The Simpsons, on the other hand... how many characters do they have now?  About as many as there are episodes!  And yet, the Simpsons manage to stick to fundamentals, as have Tom and Jerry in their own way.  And so, once again, Tom doesn't know exactly what new character is attacking him this month, but he tries in vain to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances in our next Tom and Jerry short, called Jerry's Cousin.

ACT ONE

Who is beating up the cats of "Hogan's Alley"?  That's a play on something I don't even feel like looking up right now.  All I know is the music sounds a bit like this section in Have You Got Any Castles?  Boy, there's a lot more of the racist stuff in there than I thought.  Anyway, as you can guess from the title, we eventually pan over to the center of the carnage hurricane and... yup.  It's a teentsy weentsy mouse doing all the ass-kicking on the cats.  He's got the motivation and the skills, so why not use the gifts the screenwriters gave you?  You'd think the cats on his home turf would have learned by now, but I suppose this is for the benefit of the audience by way of introducing the character.
And then, soon after, we get the episode that will consume the time of the rest of the feature.  This be-muscled mouse just happens to be related to Jerry.  "Muscles" Mouse is his name, and he gets a letter from Jerry, which he reads in his mind.  Now... I love Paul Frees as much as the next film buff, but... I know, I know.  What can I say?  I'm picky!  He just doesn't feel like this character, not the way Mel Blanc would have, for example.  There must be others!  But it is what it is.  Frees definitely made his mark as Narrator Extreme and as Boris Badenov, his trademark character from the Rocky and Bullwinkle TV show (not the 2000 movie.)  Why, I've got a crappy 16mm print of a Bozo the Clown cartoon with his voice on it, for God's sake!  How do I end up with this stuff?  Something about my face, I suppose.
And so, the extra-strong mouse leaves town for a while, as we watch the cats still awake and alive scramble to get out of his way.  Welp, so much for that old saw about the country mouse heading to the big city!  Besides, Jerry already tried that once... the title escapes me.  But he ends up running back into Tom's hateful paws, showering him with kisses.  And for once, the cat shrugs at the audience, thinking WTF... could someone else look that up for me?  Huh?

ACT TWO

It's probably a little premature to start Act Two, but here goes anyway.  Scene: the home of Tom and Jerry and, yes indeed, things are as bad as Jerry said in his letter.  Why, look at how Tom throws the lit firecrackers into Jerry's hole in the wall!  I should be ashamed at myself for finding that amusing.  It's The Yankee Doodle Mouse all over again... I tells ya.
But don't worry.  The filmmakers won't let the mouse suffer too much.  Jerry's got a nice sturdy piece of wood to hide behind as the firecrackers explode.  And then, when the third firecracker we've seen clatters on the ground and prepares to explode... in comes the fixer.  Why, it's almost as if "Muscles" Mouse were in Special Forces or something!  Without missing a beat, "Muscles" scoops up that firecracker and marches it right back outside, as though it's just another day.  Well, Lord help the cat in Hogan's Alley that tries something like that.
And then, the mouse sticks that firecracker in the cat's mouth and... well, it's moments like these that are what Instagram is for.  I'm no good at clever words to match images, however.  ..."And you thought YOUR day was bad"?  Something like that.  See, you kids today don't know how good you have it!  Why, if we wanted to take a still frame of something twenty years ago, why, we'd need to use some sort of film camera or something!  And even if the picture turned out, we'd still have to take it around one by one to show to people!  Of course, the richer kids had online bulletin boards and stuff, but those were mostly for video games and hookups... or was the phone still used for that?
Anyway, moving on.  "Listen, pussycat," says the mouse.  Boy, if I had a nickel for every time an animated character said that to Tom Cat.  I'd be as rich as that Megauploads bastard... but I probably wouldn't have as many assault rifles.  And so, the ultimatum is issued, and the cat gets tossed across the room for good measure.  The cat lands in a vase, and the fortified mouse spits at it, cracking the vase.  I just can't believe the Hays Code let this pass through its filter.  Reminds me of the spitting character from Thundering Taxis.  ...I guess I won't try too hard to think of others.  That's what Vines are for... ooh!  Dylan Baker in Planes, Trains and Automobiles!  Okay, but THAT'S it!... damn.  The Program, The Waterboy, Strange Brew...
Next scene: as you might expect, the ultimatum didn't take.  Tom's gotta protect his home turf from usurpers and intruders... you know, kinda like Hank Kingsley on The Larry Sanders Show!  We see Tom lifting some weights and stuff.  And then, after a few seconds... boom.  Giant muscles.  If only it were that easy in real life.  Tom must be juicing or something.  And so, after that brief workout, Tom is ready.  Ready to take on anything, even a roided-up mouse.  Why, what else would he need?  He's got the outfit!  A red sweater with a giant "T" on it!  Isn't that enough?
And Tom's transformation couldn't come at a better time, or worse, depending on your view of things.  Why, look at those two rodents, helping themselves to crackers.  Ayn Rand's worst nightmare!  Socialism!  Our bags of grain under attack!... oops.  Better quit while I'm ahead.  Anyway, Jerry Mouse is apparently a little unsure about his cousin, because he's about to eat a cracker, when he gets an eyeful of Tom on his way over.  Jerry hightails it out of there, and "Muscles" just stands there, looking confused.  Well, it's kinda nice to see him without his trademark scowl, I suppose.  Not as unusual as Charlie Sheen smiling, arguably.  Anyway, and so, "Muscles" turns around, perchance to see what Jerry was fussing about.  "Muscles" sees Tom.  Tom begins the conversation by bringing his fist down upon "Muscles"'s head.  "Muscles"'s hat has become stuck over his eyes, so "Muscles" fixes that, first of all.  Now, in addition to his strength, and obvious hatred of cats, "Muscles" also has a few tricks up his sleeve... mainly, his inflatable fist.  And so, because Tom struck with his fist, "Muscles" responds in kind... sending Tom flying across the room again.  This time, Tom destroys a whole wall clock.  And as you know, I'm always looking for great audio to sample, and my new favourite sound clip in the whole wide world is the sound of Tom falling to the floor.  Good orchestration by... whomever.  Scott Bradley.  I knew that!  I totally knew that.  And I won't even call him the Carl Stalling of MGM... whoops!  Too late.
Next episode: since brute force is failing him, it's time for a little strategy.  And it couldn't come at a better time, seeing as how our two rodent friends have captured Tom's home base: his basket for sleeping.  I thought everyone put the cats out at night back in those days!  Anyway, Tom's going to use our old friend, potential energy, to help him out this time.  Tom cuts a hole in the ceiling right above the strong mouse, but the strong mouse is so sure of himself that he doesn't even notice the sawdust falling from above like little angels of warning.  I guess it's a common phenomenon in Hogan's Alley, and the sawdust there's probably a lot tougher, too.  More asbestos and what not.
And so, Tom prepares his projectile: the good old reliable bowling ball.  Why, Tom rarely even uses one on Jerry!  As far as I know.  Oh, this whole situation is making Tom far more violent than he normally is.  Next scene: Tom's bed proper, where Jerry's cousin doesn't know what is about to hit him.  But you gotta admire the comic timing... am I the only one?  I thought so.  Welp, this is why I'll never be hired as a comedy writer for either Saturday Night Live or The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  I guess it's all about guest appearances these days, the modern comedy.  And so, somewhere far below Jerry's level, Jerry's cousin has plummeted, much like Beetlejuice after him at the end of Beetlejuice, when the sand worm thwarts B's plans for marriage.  Tom quickly runs down the spiral staircase to fix Jerry's wagon.  Oh, I've just never seen Jerry quite like this either!  Normally in this type of deal, Jerry at least holds up his tiny hand, giving Tom the universal signal for 'halt', and ever the sucker, Tom usually obeys it.  No, Jerry just stands there in the middle of the rug, looking scared, and Tom stands there, poised to strike.
And then... up from the basement, comes Jerry's cousin, holding aloft the bowling ball.  Muscles rolls the bowling ball and hits a strike... damn, I'm good!  Brought it almost full circle.  Also, it's all Jerry can do to run out of the bowling ball's way at the last second.  In a way, Jerry's a victim, too.  But once again, I've seen ahead, and Jerry's anguish, if any, is only temporary.  The two opposite mice will find their equilibrium.
And so, the ten pins of Tom pull themselves together and out of their stunned state when they see the strong mouse approaching.  Tom runs into the kitchen and out of our view... hmm!  He seems to do that a lot.  Muscles runs around the corner and catches up to Tom.
Next conflict: Muscles finds Tom, all right; that's the good news.  The bad news is Tom's got a two-barrel shotgun.  I know this is the wrong blog and all, but man, that's the one bad thing about playing Doom I.  You only have a single-barrel shotgun in that one!  Okay, back to the cartoon.  I seem to recall another instance of Tom wielding a shotgun... wonder if I blogged about it as extensively as I have here... nah, too many instances.  I use the word 'shotgun' too much, apparently.  (a little later) Okay, I found what I was thinking of.  I was thinking of Texas Tom... oh, right.  Anyway, the strong mouse thwarts Tom's plans to shoot him with the shotgun.  Much like he inflated his fist earlier, Muscles blows into the barrel end of the gun, and the two shells pop right into Tom's eyeballs.  Just for good measure, the strong mouse walks up the body of Tom, carrying a hammer, and... yup, a hard smack right in the back of the head, causing the shells to fire, leaving Tom with a pair of shrapnel contact lenses, so to speak.

ACT THREE

Even though Tom didn't appear to be hurt by the shotgun shells earlier, after the iris wipe we find Tom at the telephone, wearing a pair of sunglasses.  Well, that must've gotten a laugh or two!  Kinda like the time Jerry sawed him in half and... ah, memories.  Well, still less cruel than Two Gophers from Texas.  Anyway, in Texas Tom, Tom was about to shoot Jerry at point blank range with a six-shooter, when Jerry blows on the barrel, putting all the bullets in Tom's mouth.  Jerry ends up with the gun and hits Tom in the back of the head with it... exploding all six bullets at once.  I wrote it then and I write it now... DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!!
And so, it seems that Tom has had enough... at least, on his own.  Time to fight fire with fire.  In some ways, the phone is more powerful than the pen.  Anyway, it's faster to text than write stuff down, so it seems!  The Newton was just too slow, otherwise we might be enjoying a Cursive Renaissance right now.  Anyway, we see that Tom is calling a corporation called "Dirty Work Inc."  I'm guessing their storefront isn't as nice as the one in the 1998 film Dirty Work.  After the work order is placed, the receptionist and his two buddies march off to get that durned mouse.  There's a weird sproinging sound in their step for some reason; I guess that means they're extra tough or something, like a big guy named 'Tiny.'  I hate to think ahead, but my money is still on Muscles Mouse.
Tom's nervously pacing to and fro by the front door, when the telltale screech of a car coming to a halt is heard.  Tom perks up and opens the door.  In come the three tough cats.  Tom points in the direction of the offending mouse and, with that sproing in their step, off they go to meet their doom.  I mean... how many cats did Muscles beat up at the top of this pic?
We get some scuffling and what not, explosions, breaking furniture... and then, Muscles' trademark hat flies into view.  Muscles climbs out of the hat, puts it back on, and marches back.  It's his turn now.  We get more scuffling and what not, even more broken furniture and... was that a lightning strike?  This bout of off-screen carnage seemed a little more fierce.  And then... we see Muscles getting a broom and a dustpan.  Tom hides out of the mouse's sight, but he still wants to see for himself... my God!  The tales of the Chosen Mouse are true!  True, true and horribly true!  After Muscles has taken out the garbage, Muscles whistles for Tom.  Tom runs over and supplicates himself as best he can, but I don't know if Muscles finds it truthful.

EPILOGUE

Muscles has to get back to his home turf.  Things have gone straight to hell in the five minutes he's been gone.  But Muscles actually uses a bit of brain for once, as the Stooges so often say.  One last parting gift for Cousin Jerry: it's a matching Muscles Mouse outfit!  "All ya hafta do is whistle," says Muscles before he departs.  Ginius!  Jack Brown Guneis!  Jerry, of course, has to try it out.  He puts on a sufficiently tough expression as he marches out of the mouse hole, then he whistles.  Tom runs up, like Biff at the end of Back to the Future 1, and supplicates himself once again, kissing Jerry's foot.  Jerry switches feet, and Tom kisses the other one.  Somehow I don't think this is going to last, because Jerry looks at the camera with a happy expression on his face.  Tom is eventually going to notice that.

****
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

The Sailor and The Pauper

Our next Popeye short takes another brief break from the Navy and the war effort, and addresses soldiers issues in a slightly more family friendly way than, say, Warner Brothers' Private Snafu series.  It's called Many Tanks... ugh.  I know, I know, but there was a war on, and there was a shortage of good puns as well.

ACT ONE

...oh yeah, almost forgot.  Did you see the "K" in the title card?  Boy!  The influence of the S.S. was widespread already!  Anyway, we see our old friend Bluto just positively languishing away in boot camp.  I tell you, all this service for your country can really cut into a guy's social life!  I seem to recall that he was a sailor too, but never mind.  It is what it is now.  Bluto's switched sides and is a landlubber now.  There's just no two ways about it.
Anyway, he tries sneaking out through the open gates and... no dice.  He gets caught.  His punishment this time is a simple "HEY!!!"  Not bad!  Most guys would get thrown in stockade for that!  And so... time for a second attempt, a bit more clever than the first... but arguably, not by much.  He tries taking the whole guard shack with him this time and... yup, still gets caught.  Go figure.  But he pretends to use the phone anyway.  Honesty in all dealings, that's his motto.  And why look!  We get a real sound of a coin clinking when he hangs up the fake phone!  Bluto must be missing out on something.  Well, he should of studied his Bible a little harder, I suppose.  New Testament, of course.
Speaking of which, after standing there by the fence, angrily looking out at the world going on about its business without him, Bluto's prayers are answered.  A rube to do the old switcheroo with!  I mean, his old pal Popeye!  Popeye wants to stop in and say hi, but he's got a date with Olive.  Bluto escorts Popeye to what appears to be a tent and states his case to Popeye, getting all emotional and stuff.  And then... time for Plan B, or the brute force approach.  Alas, it's early in the pic, so Popeye can't beat up on Bluto yet.  Bluto eventually makes the switch, and emerges from the tent, wearing Popeye's sailor outfit.  For some reason, Bluto was able to make it fit, even though the pant legs are of course way way too short.  Looks like Bluto's wearing shorts!  Lol.  Frankly, he's just one giant lolly away from looking like Baby Huey.
Meanwhile, Popeye emerges from the tent in Bluto's oversized soldier outfit, looking like Munro.  Popeye tries to run up to the confidently strutting Bluto to rectify the situation, but fate intervenes... in the form of a bunch of soldiers running the other way.  And so, the switcheroo is complete.  Popeye's now a square peg in the round Army.  Well, that's a little different, right?

ACT TWO

Boy, Bluto was right!  The army really puts a crimp in the old social life.  See, Popeye and Bluto don't realize that they're about to make some real, lifelong friends!  Army buddies!  Who's chummier than that?  Oh no.  It's Olive or nothin', so it would seem.  Anyway, and so... Popeye's standing there at attention, in Bluto's giant soldier uniform, trying to follow orders.  Unfortunately, Popeye has joined a tank regimen, and he doesn't know the first thing about these oversized "cement mixers."  Kinda strange, really, when you think about it.  You'd think that Bluto would love being in a tank regimen!  Tanks are cool, right?  I guess he never played with toy tanks as a lad.  Oh well.  Toy horse-drawn carriages for him, probably.
Is it just me, or do I think of everything in terms of Full Metal Jacket?  Well, the Drill Sergeant here's a little less salty, I give him that, but he's got similar attitude.  And so, he orders his men to board their tanks, which they do.  Popeye, of course, is still thinking about Olive, but the Army will soon beat that notion out of his head.  Into the tank he jumps.  But before the war games begin, it's time to test the combat readiness of our boys.  Are they able to stick their heads up out of the tanks okay?  Apparently, that's the crucial test.  Of course, Popeye, ever the square peg, zigs when the rest of them zag.  Same thing happened to the Stooges in Boobs in Arms / Dizzy Pilots.  And, like the Stooges, this Popeye short is apparently going to rely on a lot of time fillers.  Could be worse, I guess.
Will no one stand up for Popeye?  After the flip top tank shenanigans are over, it's time for the tanks to take off.  Popeye's left in the lurch, of course.  Maybe he's got a bum tank, because it has a little bit of trouble getting started.  Didja notice?  More time killers.  I just love that kinda stuff.  Sounds like Elmer's car in Wabbit Twouble a little bit... love it!  This YouTuber's as nutty as I am!  And so, after the explosion heard so often on Rocky and Bullwinkle... the TV show, not the 2000 movie... Popeye's off to the races... or is he?  He tries to escape, but the treads of the tank conspire against him... hmm!  That's a little odd.  Well, these things didn't have to make much sense back then, in the era before we became swamped in all this highly portable technology.  Plus, it's just a kid's cartoon, for God's sake!  Still... did you notice the direction Popeye was running in?  He should've been practically kicked off of that tank!  Now, if he was running in the direction that the tank is going in, then sure!  He'd be like a gerbil on a hamster wheel... anyway, Popeye's back in the tank again.  That's the main thing.
Next time stretcher: Popeye's tank crashes into a house.  The house shakes around like it's made of Jell-O.  And yet, it's sturdy enough so that the tank just doesn't drive through it!  Popeye finds himself going to all the various windows of said house, if only for our benefit... I think he does it just for our benefit.  Take that, Tati!  That being said, the tank does eventually wear down the foundation of the house and... spoiler alert... I know, too late for that, right?  The house crumbles down behind him, leaving just the door, of course, possibly inspiring a similar scene in Spielberg's 1941.  Popeye ends up in the tank once again, and we see a couple of out-of-focus trees pass by.  Why do filmmakers like to put trees between the camera and their subjects so much?  If only there was a blog dedicated to that...
Next scene: here's kind of a strange part.  A rare lack of professionalism on the Fleischers' part, I'm afraid.  The tank is so far down below the bottom of the screen that we can barely see it.  The freakin' land also isn't visible, but as you can see from the splash, Popeye tries to go through some water.  He's about to make it out of the water and start climbing back up the hill when he gets run over by all the other tanks coming the other way.  And then... FINALLY!  We pan down to find Popeye in a small but deep lake, so deep in fact that his tank is no longer visible, save for the trap door on the top.  The tanks start coming from the other direction now, and Popeye quickly puts up a "Men at Work" type deal to try and keep from getting his ass runneth over.  Surprisingly, the idea works.  Then the Drill Sergeant's whistle blows again, and a single tank runs over the top of Popeye's tank.  Popeye's "Men at Woik" dealybopper is gone, and the trap door to his tank is now shut.  Time to fire up the tank again!  Bubbles start to rise from the teensy weensy lake.  One large creaky bubble takes four seconds to rise from the lake and pop.  Longest four seconds ever... sorry, I mean Longest.  Four.  Seconds.  Ever.  Boy, K-12 English teachers must be shaking their heads at the culture at large.  Just what is going on with that English out there?  Are we all this nice?
But it ain't over til the black explosion bubble pops.  There we go.  And once again, Popeye is playing catch-up!  At least this time, he's got a little extra water to show for it.  Popeye dries himself off like a cartoon dog, or like Wimpy in Bridge Ahoy! and catches up to a couple of the other tanks.  Popeye challenges the tanks to a little old-fashioned fisticuffs.  Somewhere out there, Daniel Goleman is holding his head in his hands.
And in that grand tradition of masculinity, the other two tanks turn around when they hear a whistle... as though Popeye didn't even exist!  Cold-blooded, I tells ya.  Popeye keeps going straight, he knows not where, but his comic timing couldn't be better.  "You ain't seen the last of me!" Popeye sez.  You'll never guess what happens next.  Never in a million years.  Go on!  Guess... give up?  Well, Popeye falls off a very high cliff, that's what happens.  A crow watches and waits for the impact.  More blatant stretching of time.  The crow has a jolly laugh on impact, but Popeye is hurled up to the crow's level.  "Lovely flying weather, isn't it?" Popeye asks the crow.  The crow is stunned, apparently because it won't be able to eat some nice, freshly killed Popeye meat.  Oh well.  C'est la vie, as someone says.

ACT THREE

Popeye's earlier reference to his tank as a "cement mixer" now comes to fruition once he falls back inside it at the bottom of the cliff.  Boy!  He's very very good at falling back inside that tank!  Maybe he missed his calling in life.  I guess the tradition of sailors is deeper and more interesting than the shorter history of tank operators.  And so, after Popeye lands back inside the tank, the body of the tank starts spinning around like some kind of lottery ball cage, or some weird-looking drink shaker... hmm.  Gotta think about that one.  And so, to the tune of "You're In the Army Now," the tank spins around, then spits out Popeye and a bunch of gears 'n stuff.  Oh, it's spinach time, no question.
But just as Popeye's raising the spinach can aloft, boom!  He gets run over by his own tank!  Well, this isn't The Beast (of War) we're talking about here.  Popeye and his spinach can get flattened, but they pull themselves together soon enough.  It's a lot cleaner than, say, the big finale of Ants in the Pantry, for example.  Still, I haven't seen Popeye this depressed in a long while.  It's an unusual sight and ... I'll admit it!  It makes me uncomfortable.  Why, his flattened can of spinach is a mere shell of its former self.  Look at the veritable pile of spinach dust that Popeye pours into his hand.  WILL IT STILL DO THE TRICK????  Spoiler alert...
And so, with Hollywood and American audiences in general still in its lusty grip, the conga is now the beat to which spinach dances.  Rather than gazing into the crystal ball of his spinach-heightened arm muscles, we get the proverbial cartoon comedy X-ray view into all of Popeye's internals... well, above the waist, anyway, thank God.  And I'm happy to report that it's a Swiss ... a Swiss watch, as the Dude once quipped... is that a steel pipe ribcage?  Niiiiiiice.  And so, into the tank with Popeye... voluntarily this time, not falling in by accident like all the others.  The tank starts doing the conga now too!  Oh, the mojo is back, and it's all thanks to that dark, leafy vegetable of supernatural powers.  Popeye was once trapped in this narrow valley, boxed in as any two dimensional cartoon character would be, but he and his tank are about to climb back up, kinda like Michael Douglas in Romancing the Stone.
And so, Popeye's headed back towards the tank squadron he so desperately wants to either get away from, or be the lieutenant of... oh, geez, I totally forgot to mention.  When Popeye gulps his spinach, IT'S THE SAME DAMN GULPING SOUND!!!!  I didn't sign on for this!
Anyway, Popeye makes the C.O. of the tank squadron spin round like a top as Popeye zings past.  His date with Olive's the thing now.  But, Movie Hooligan, you're probably asking yourself.  Sure, Olive's the primary goal... but what about revenge against the hated Bluto?  You know, amid all the excitement, I damn near forgot about that my own damn self.  But I've seen ahead and already know the answer.  Sucks 2 B U!!!  So back to the current scene at hand.  "GET THAT GUY!!!" orders the Head Tank Dude.  Boy, the Army's got it pretty soft in comparison to the Navy in these things.  Don't they get to attack crude racial stereotypes of Nazis and/or the Japanese, too?
Next scene: Popeye circles round the giant water tank before leaving, and the other tanks follow in hot pursuit.  Then again, how hot can it be when it's only in 12 fps instead of 24?  I guess it's more dramatic that way.  Also, it makes the animation look smoother.  If it's in 24, the characters all look like they're in the desert or something.
Next scene: a hapless motorist is slowly tooling along the road.  Audio buffs, take note of the sound of the car, as every rickety car in the Famous Studios Popeye cartoons sound exactly the same as this.  Sigh.  No more creativity in the audio department.  When suddenly, the driver's world is rocked as he sees Popeye's tank approaching.  The driver stops on a bridge.  Screenwriters take note: Popeye's still the movie hero and, thanks to that old Fleischer ingenuity, Popeye's tank rides over the top of the bridge, thereby avoiding the motorist.  The motorist breathes a sigh of relief... then turns around to see another tank coming.  Surely this one will also ride over the top of the bridge, right?
...right?  Anyway, next scene: a rather ordinary shot of the countryside with the tanks going by.  If you look quickly, you can see Popeye's head sticking out of the top of his tank.  A few seconds go by, and we see the other tanks in hot pursuit.  Next scene after that: the city proper, where Popeye's taking the streets by storm... actually, there's no one around to witness this one-tank rampage.  Let's hope he doesn't get court martialed.  But he does get boxed in by a semicircle of tanks.  Popeye makes a quick left and takes a tank-sized service elevator to the top of a building.  Parking garage, perhaps?  Who knows?  All I know is the landlords are going to get a visit from Truman and his committee on corruption amongst defense contractors.  Boy!  Even back then, huh?  Anyway, Popeye's spinach mojo is still going strong, and he and his tank jump off the roof and land onto a smokestack two buildings over.  Audiophiles take note, as the bashing sound... I'm pretty sure that that's reused a lot, at least in the Famous Studios Popeye shorts.
Next scene: FINALLY!!!!  It's Bluto and Olive.  Bluto's about to take Olive out in his car and... at long last.  Revenge is complete.  Apparently, the tank develops a magical side door for a brief second, in order to match where Bluto's car door used to be, but it self-seals back up again, and a mighty beating ensues.  Popeye pulls Bluto through the tank's gun at one point, and it sounds like someone's hocking a loogie.  Ewwwww!!!

EPILOGUE

I've never thought of Popeye as a strategist before, as he usually lets the spinach do the thinking for him, but screenwriters take note as Popeye sets the world back in its place.  After the beating, Popeye gets his sailor uniform back and leaves Bluto in the tank for the M.P.'s to find.  GINIUS!!!!  Unabashed ginius.
Come to think of it, even Olive seems a little freaked out by this move by Popeye.  I mean, she's rowing the boat and all, but she doesn't seem to be happy!  Actually, why should she be happy about that?  Isn't Popeye supposed to row?  What a douche!  No, he's sitting there, all big as ya please, with his arms behind his head.  Why, even the lyrics for his ending song are just as lazy.  Check this out: "Although I am late with me goil for a date, I'm still Popeye the Sailor Man."  Ugh.  Terrible.  The twosome's boat goes behind a very dark set of bushes.  James Foley must've directed that.  I wonder if there are any more of these tank battles to look forward to.  If not, I guess this is the best one.

***
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - John Carstarphen

I like this guy's résumé!  What can I say?  I must be pining for my lost adolescence.  I mean, how can you not like the titles?  Weekend of Our Discontent.  A comedic variation on a timeless classic.  Sure, there's not a lot of titles here, but that's how it goes when you want to be Peter Hyams.  Delegation!  Even he doesn't do everything!  Just directing and filming.  It kinda turns off his actors, but ... can't argue with results, right?  The Presidio.  End of Days.  I could go on... gotta focus here, Movie Hooligan.
Well, once again, my Spielberg-connecting software's proving to be untrustworthy, so I've got to do everything myself as usuelle.  I was going to go with the Summer Selby path, but John's probably burned that bridge a long time ago.  No, best to go with your current stock.  And... once again, I'm going with my actor theory.  If the actor has a thumbnail, that's your best bet.  And so....

Carstarphen's directing a show called "Off Her Meds" featuring...
Lisa Hassler as Shannon, who also starred in..... Silent Red, which also features.......
Heather Renee Sims, who starred in "Nashville," created by .......
Callie Khouri who...

...and the trail runs cold.  Well, that's a start anyway.  Good luck with that!

The Holiday Bottleneck

Welp, another year draws to a close.  We saw at least two movies about Hercules: there was The Legend of Hercules, and Brett Ratner's Hercules, which did slightly better at the box office... not that he's too concerned about that.  Rat's got his F.U. money!  Yeah, no doubt about it, it takes a big ego to direct a movie about Hercules.  The rise of the superhero movie continues unabated, but God's sneaking in a little bit, what with films like God's Not Dead, Son of God and Heaven is for Real.  There were sequels and PG sports movies galore.  And so it goes.
As for this week, well, the big story is still, of course, The Interview and how it's sweeping YouTube.  And yet, where did The Dictator from 2012 go wrong?  I guess they shouldn't have made it about a fictional dictator.  We'll see if Hollywood at large responds and decides to get Golan and Globus to do a cheap knock-off of The Interview or something.  Meanwhile, all the big-time studio execs complaining about Angelina Jolie's directorial debut can probably breathe a sigh of relief this weekend, as Unbroken comes in at #2, just behind the last Hobbit movie.  At #3, it's dramatic Shrek.  At #7, it's Mark Wahlberg's latest, The Gambler.  Alas, Marky Mark wanted to just try out a Christmas release.  You know, just to see what it was like.  For those of you who cared, this is a remake or a 'reboot' of the 1974 film written by James Toback.  And ladies, even though Toback is 70 years old, there's nothing preventing him from popping a couple Viagra just for you!
And last but not least, our last debut this week at #8 is the latest telling of the downbeat story of Alan Turing called The Imitation Game.  Maybe it's just me, but I think this film lost the title game.  But even though Turing is a staple of computer science courses everywhere, he's just starting to grab a toehold in films.  There's the Derek Jacobi film Breaking the Code from 1996, and there's 2011's The Turing Enigma... well, that's about it.  Lots of documentaries, though!  But that's how gratitude works sometimes.  You help defeat the Nazis, and you end up getting pumped full of estrogen by your fellow countrymen.  And Churchill lost his seat right after the war ended.  How quickly people become relics sometimes.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sing Us a Song, You're the Cameraman

Been a while since I've actually sat down to watch a whole movie.  This time, it was the Buster Keaton classic, The Cameraman.  Of course, it's not The General or The Navigator, but it's got some good stuff in it.  The story's quite simple, really.  A "portrait" photographer wants to win the love of a girl, but she works at the MGM News Reel Department... I should probably point out that this was Buster's first feature at MGM, and that he apparently said that signing on with MGM was the worst mistake of his life.  Also, William Randolph Hearst had a little bit riding on the outcome of this feature, so that's two strikes against it.  But Buster's vision manages to creep through, as well as some rather noticeable tinges of Malthusian ennui!  Well, that's what he gets for filming partly in New York.  Apparently, those two or three scenes were enough to inspire several other scenes where Buster has to hack his way through a thicket of aggressive people trying to get on the bus, into a taxi, what have you.
At its core, it's a love story with even less complexity than The General, but frankly, Buster's getting a little too old to play these strictly lovesick cases.  He trades in his old still camera for an old motion picture camera and hangs around the girl's workplace... and breaking the glass in the door a lot.  Kinda like in that Three Stooges film, Men in Black!  (that came five years later)  As with Stooge films, there seem to be a lot of scenes here that are stretched out to make the movie more feature length-y.  Take that scene where Buster and the other fella are using the same dressing room to switch into their swimming clothes... thereby inspiring the film Berth Marks.  Also, look fast for a young, but still quite rotund, Vernon Dent, who would of course become a staple of Stooge films.
My favourite setpiece, of course, is the one where with the cutaway shot of the building with its five flights of stairs.  That must've been a trip to work on.  It inspired similar scenes in, among other things, a part of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and the mistitled Popeye cartoon Cops Is Always Right.
At some point during the proceedings, Buster acquires a pet monkey.  Screenwriters take note of this, as how this plot device is ultimately used is nothing short of genius... if a bit hokey.  Buster also takes a nice satirical swipe at power boats.  So all in all, still worth a look.

***1/2
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dear Little Pup........

ACT ONE

Our next Tom and Jerry short is called Slicked-Up Pup, and it would seem that it's all about the pride of parenthood... but more specifically, fatherhood.  Now I don't recall the cat ever having sired a child for one of these pics... which isn't too surprising, given the kinds of injuries he sustains throughout these things.  No, the duties of fatherhood go to Butch/Spike, the bulldog.  We don't know who he's voiced by this time, and it doesn't sound like Billy Bletcher, because I don't think he ever did a James Durante impression.  And I'm pretty sure it's not Durante himself, as he'd insist on billing, probably top, and he'd probably want to do at least two piano numbers.
Now I'm going to warn my more squeamish readers up front here.  No Mrs. Bulldog is shown in this picture... come to think of it, has there ever been one in any of these?  That's right, folks... Butch / Spike is a SINGLE FATHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Alternative lifestyle!!!  Mao-Mao Indoctrination!!  So if you're susceptible to that kind of thing, turn away from this review now and gather your religious artifacts near.  As for the rest of us... let's press on!
Of course, Slicked-Up Pup is an equal opportunity offender.  After dad bulldog finishes giving junior bulldog a bath, he tells junior that he's going to the big city to get a couple of "chops."  And I don't think he means the kind made of pressed lentils and barley.  Anyway, off goes papa bulldog.  That is until...
Enter the mouse and cat.  The mouse instinctively heads towards the plot, and dives into a teeny mouse-sized hole in the porch.  The cat just misses the mouse, but slides into the bulldog pup, eventually pushing the poor little pup into a big pool of mud at the end of the porch, which of course makes a loud raspberry sound.  Well, what do you expect?  After all, these things can't burp, can they?
Papa bulldog comes over to assess the damage.  His once clean pup is now a muddy mess.  "CLEAN HIM UP!" orders the bulldog.  Oh, and the papa bulldog uses the long reach to grab the cat from off camera... much like in Quiet Please!  Tom instantly returns with a completely clean pup.  No, the reverse side of the pup has no dirt on it, which is kind of a shame because that would have been a funny gag.  Once the pup is returned and passes the smell test, the edict is issued, much like in Quiet Please!  It is simply this: the pup is now clean, and it better stay clean while papa bulldog is gone for a bintel brief.  "UNDERSTAND?" the dog asks the cat.  The cat nods.  The mouse also nods, much like in Quiet Please!  I'm not saying there are parallels here, but... oh, and the dog growls before leaving, just for good measure.  Nice touch!

ACT TWO

And so, Jerry's typical game of arbitrage begins.  But before that happens, Tom has a little trouble managing the pup all by himself.  He ends up making another mud raspberry, but the cat bears the brunt of this one.  Here's something all you screenwriters should take note of: the still muddy Tom sets down the pup, then makes the "Whew!" gesture... and gets a little mud on the pup's face.  Tom springs into action and cleans it off quick.  Ah, the era before all these surveillance devices.  Jerry finds all this terribly amusing and starts laughing, but it sounds a bit like a violin.  You know, like the sequence in Duck Soup with Harpo's various horns.  You know, I'd be lost without a telephone.
And so, time for Jerry's first trick.  Jerry calls Tom to a halt, which of course Tom obeys.  Why, you ask?  Uh, because they're gentlemen!  I mean, they're animals, of course, but they're not animals, after all!  Animals don't tell each other to halt!  If you're a wildebeest, do you ask the lion to not eat you?  You run!  That's what you do!  Because you're a freakin' WILDEBEEST!
...as you can see, I'm still just trying to figure out a lot of this stuff myself.  And so, Jerry gets Tom to halt, and challenges Tom to a game of tic tac toe.  Tom wins the round, then takes off after the mouse... only to realize he's lost the game of life once again.  Yup, the game of tic tac toe has been etched upon the pup's skin in pencil.  Tom quickly removes the stain from the pup, but the stain on Tom and Jerry's tenuous peace remains.
Jerry's next deviant act: chucking a Victory Garden tomato at Tom.  Tom of course ducks out of the tomato's way, then realizes what Jerry's actually up to.  Tom is fortunately able to outrun the tomato, which ends up hitting Tom in the face, making a tomato raspberry... boy, I don't know about you, but when was the last time you've seen a tomato that gooey?  Must've been spoiled or something.  I mean, when they're ripe, the various fleshy pockets holding in the gooey collections of seeds have a certain degree of structural integrity... ah, skip it.  On to the next outrage.
...did they just reuse the chase footage from earlier?  Oh, dude... talk about outrage!!!  Well, they had better make up for it somehow.

ACT THREE

It's a bit premature for the Third Act, but I'll justify my reasoning in this way: it's the beginning of the end.  Ever have a nightmare where you're running from the police, and you wake up relieved?  You know, kinda like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day at one point?  Well, unfortunately for our cat friend, whom we've shared so many adventures with, this particular film will provide him with little comfort from here on in.
It all starts with the threat from a bottle of ink.  Jerry now holds a bottle of ink over the poor sleeping pup.  Any time a cartoon character wields the ingredients of their making, well... one can't help but take a breath and a step back.  As in Quiet Please... sorry, but they're very simular!... Tom knows that he's beat and retreats with such a fake smile it's not even funny.  Soooooo fake.
And so, Tom ends up cutting off Jerry at the pass, so to speak, and gets the bottle of ink under his control.  With the mouse now gone, Tom places the bottle of ink in a safe so that it can never be unleashed again on this pup or any pup ever again, without some serious safecracking first... ah, just messing with ya.  Tom throws the bottle up into the air without even looking.  Why, Tom's so cool, he doesn't even hear all the strange rattling and rolling noises!
And then... the nightmare unleashed from the inkwell.  Yup, the ink's all over the pup.  Somehow no amount of soap or water will wash it off.  Tom tries to carefully blot the ink up, but this solution doesn't provide a rapid enough pace for Tom's tastes.  Are we in fact dealing with a crisis of tampering with the pup's genetic structure?  Is Jerry going to find an eraser as we speak?  Frantic beyond the norm, Tom turns to a series of paint buckets, and starts painting the pup the right color.  But Tom isn't watching where his brush is going, and the ever-strong, ever-devious Jerry slowly pushes the paint bucket bench so that the pup becomes a tie-dye masterpiece, thereby creating the 60s.  Of course, when people say the 60s, they mean 1966 to 1969... oh, shorter than even that, apparently.  Never mind.  Yeah, that election of '68 was as big a bummer as it gets, no question about it.
Jerry's next sneaky act: exasperated, Tom finally goes for the water hose.  So what does Jerry do?  Why, he hooks up the hose to the spigot on the giant barrel of tar, of course!  What home in post-WWII was complete without it?  You know, for all your roof-related emergencies!  Really keeps the ol' rainwater out.  And so, the pup ends up with nine plops of tar upon its body.  Its eyes are okay, of course, as it opens its eyes after the barrage is over.  Tom ends up with only one plop of tar on his face.  Cue the dad bulldog!
Acting quickly, Tom quickly feathers the tarred pup, puts a glove on its head and a clothespin on its nose and pretends that it's a baby chicken.  "WHERE'S MY BOY?" Butch / Spike asks Tom.  Tom plays dumb.  The ruse works... except that the disguised pup makes some teeny tiny barking noises.  Tom is forced to double down on the ruse and makes the clucking noises himself, and moves the tarred and feathered pup around as though it were pecking at corn on the ground.  The chopless bulldog dad walks away satisfied.  Alas, it's a temporary reprieve, as the bulldog pup removes its clothespin and takes a nice big bite on the cat's tail.  I don't know why Tom would scream at that, after all the times that Jerry has tied Tom's tail to things, usually trucks that are about to take off.
Needles to say, that's all the proof the bulldog dad needs, and off the chase goes.

EPILOGUE

Tom makes his way over to the washing machine and prepares to put the inked and painted and tarred and feathered and generally be-chickened bulldog pup within to clean it up... but alas, it's too late.  Bulldog dad's already there, watching what's going on.  Tom hands over the pup, but it's a Brest-Litovsk type move.  There will be World War II anyway.  The inked, painted, tarred, feathered, generally be-chickened pup sneezes, and all bets are off.  Bulldog dad puts the cat into the washing machine with extra soap, and we're all treated to a little glimpse of the real Cat Hell: being trapped in a washing machine, bumping around, soap and water everywhere.  And this is one of those special deluxe models for the homemaker with a glass front, so you can see your clothes getting washed!  You know, for all those "show-me" types in Missouri.  State motto, after all!  The mouse joins in on the fun, of course.  These dogs never seem to get mad at that little bastard of a mouse.

***
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Citron Tide

Our next Popeye short takes us back to the shipyard after the stopover at the corner of Four Brats and Spinach.  We haven't seen Olive in a while, but I seem to recall four weeks ago seeing her Bolivian counterpart, Olivita... something like that.  Too lazy to look it up.  Anyway, the promise of Olive is inherent in the slightly misogynist title, Olive Oyl and Water Don't Mix.  Why, she's an excellent swimmer!... isn't she?

ACT ONE

Oh, and I failed to notice that Jack Mercer, the voice of Popeye for about some 40 odd years, also gets story credit for this... whew!  Just his second credit.  ...Eggs Don't Bounce!  Love it!  Title par excellence.  Anyway, he gets story credit for eight total of the shorts I'm going to look at.  That's all I need to know.
Anyway, Bluto tries a new tactic on Popeye... or does he?  Bluto's complaining about dames in general, and about not being able to stand on streetcorners smoking cigars in particular... oh, wait, he's not.  I was just having a flashback to Wotta Nitemare.  See, he doesn't realize that he's nothing but trouble.  But you know how it is.  It's all the dame's fault.  From Eve on.  Still, no mention of Olive in this conversation!  What male whores!  And so, in this moment of fraternity and weakness, Bluto and Popeye agree to "never have nuttin' to do with dames no more"... something like that.  Hands are shaked.  But just before that, Olive comes aboard the ship.  How instantly do you think all that goes out the window?  ...about five seconds?  LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!  I must be in a good mood tonight.
Well, the official Olive Oyl and Water Don't Mix page got that right, but we still don't know who the voice of Bluto is this time.  Why, he sounds like a cornfed hick, for God's sake!  The Fleischers seemed to have trouble retaining vocal talent... probably because they never get any CREDIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Oh well.  Live and learn, as Alanis Morrisette taught us all.  And... yup!  Handshake at 1:17, and then about 1:22, the two spot Olive... I mean, the gruesome twosome notice that Olive's talking to them.  She asks "Which one of you boys wants to show me around the ship?"  "Why, at your soivice, lady!" coos Bluto.  I guess these anti-women pledges are easier to form in the absence of women.
This is probably a good place to go to Act Two, but there's still the initial dispute to settle.  Only one of these alpha males ... sorry, I mean α males is going to escort the lady around the big ol' battleship.  For a brief moment, Bluto and Popeye have their faces and hats mashed together, and their hats look like one hat.  Lol.  Eventually, Bluto decides to spin Olive like a bottle on the main deck... you know, in a "gentlemanly" manner.  That oughta eat up a little time!  To Bluto's dismay, however, she ends up pointing at Popeye.  Bluto fixes that, though... I hate to spoil it, but I must admit that I like the way the result was animated.  Must've been rotoscoped.

ACT TWO

And so, Bluto starts the process of showing Olive around the ship.  But before that happens, the difference between the sexes already creates a conflict.  Olive assumes that the ship caters to her interests, and mistakes the door labeled "Powder Room" for where she can do a couple lines of... I mean, adjust her makeup.  Alas, Bluto quickly stops her from going in.  We're saving the big explosion for the Third Act.  Bluto demonstrates the spotlight with giant Venetian blinds in front of it for signaling... screw the actual term for that.  It's either "giant Venetian blinds" or it's a cucaloris.  I don't care what the Navy calls it... okay, Bluto calls it the "signal light blinker."  Left the closed-captioning on; too lazy to turn it off.
Meanwhile, Popeye views all this action from afar.  He must intervene before Bluto gets to second base.  Welp, all Popeye's "training" from the previous navy-themed films must have paid off, because Popeye lets himself into the gun room, and he starts moving the cannons in a way that brings Olive up to his level on one of the upper decks.  Bluto looks around and, even though he didn't see what happened, he knows right away that "that shiftless little runt" Popeye is behind this turn of events... sorry, that's "chiseling", not "shiftless".  Double-checked the closed captioning.  Take that, YouTube!
Next scene: ...you know, it's not often that Bluto is able to turn Popeye's superhuman strength against him, especially during the big fight at the end, so here's something a little different.  Popeye shows the ship's propellors to Olive... by lifting the front of the ship up and bending it in half.  And by God, there they are.  Two propellors.  A sight to behold.  Popeye blows on the propellors and they spin round.  And then... after Bluto has climbed into the engine room up near the crow's nest, Bluto turns them on.  A mighty gust of wind pins Popeye to the wall (...the closed captioning doesn't even try to decipher Popeye's mumblings this time... lol), but is less harsh on Olive.  Olive ends up by Bluto's side once again... lucky guy... and it's time for another demonstration.
And so, Bluto ends up pointing a gun right at Olive's head.  What could possibly go wrong?  Funny story... well, even though the gun's not loaded, it can still wreak some havoc.  And wreak it does!  For you see, Olive's head gets stuck in it.  The barrel's just barely larger than Olive's head, but stuck she is, ne'theless.  Panicked, Bluto grabs a giant tamping wand and hits Olive's head in a desperate attempt to get her out.  Popeye finally extricates himself from under the angry wind of the ship's propellers and is now by Olive's side.  Unfortunately for Olive, Popeye's philosophy is that Olive needs to go all the way through the gun to get her head out.  Bluto and Popeye struggle on in this vein until... had to double check how it came out.  Popeye prevailed, pushing Olive through the gun, and with such force that Bluto is knocked quite backwards.  "Why, dat one-eyed Casanova!" exclaims Bluto, picking himself up.
Apparently the inside of the gun has giant screw threads in it.  Seems a little strange to me, but I'm no sailor.  I've never seen a torpedo or a shell in person, but I've never seen one with screw threads.  But never mind; Olive is now shaped like the tail part of the screw... I'm no engineer either, so I'm unfamiliar with the technical names for the three parts of a screw.  I'll stop saying 'screw' after I point out that Popeye "unscrews" Olive, making her Olive-shaped once again.  The closed captioning informs me that Popeye mumbled "She looks like a shell looking for an assault!"  Uck uck uck indeed.
And so, with Olive returned to normal physical form, thinner than even Keira Knightley, and trust me, girls, you don't want to be much thinner than that... Popeye and Olive put their heads together and find themselves smitten.  See, these three get a clean mental slate with every new Popeye short, so it would seem.  And how do I know they were meant for each other?  Well, Popeye tells Olive "Gee, you're awful pretty" and Olive responds with "Oh, you're pretty awful yourself!"  Then again, Olive is a little flirty, as she ends up head to head with Bluto in the next instant!
But it's not the end of the pic yet, and these animated one-reelers typically aren't romances anyway.  They're comedies, damn it, and it's time to laugh again!  Still swooning, Olive heads down an inappropriately placed staircase, leaving Bluto and Popeye holding hands... thereby informing that one scene from Planes, Trains and Automobiles... as well as a similar scene in Cabin Boy, a mere seven years later.  One double take later, Bluto punches Popeye, sending him flying into ... a giant horn?  I'm not even going to try anymore.  You know, Indiana Jones hid in one briefly in Raiders.  Here on the battle cruiser, they're not terribly deep.

ACT THREE

It must be time for Act Three.  It's about the two thirds mark in the proceedings!  Bluto catches up to Olive again and... yes!!!  Recurring gag time!  There's that darned powder room again.  All Olive wants to do is tidy up a bit!  Is that so much to ask?  Well, Bluto's not much for explaining things, and he just hustles Olive along to the ship's next "gadget."  This time, a demonstration of... the airplane catapult.  Ah, the early days of aviation.  Now, here's an example of where that famous Donald Rumsfeld line might actually work, because during WWII, we went to war with the airplane technology that we had, and not the jet planes that we might have liked to have had!  Of course, the economics of jet technology put an end to the brief kamikaze age... but I'll save that for my doctoral work.
And so, Olive stands on the platform that launches the planes, while Bluto shows her how the levers work that launch the planes... what could possibly go wrong?  And so, one boing sound later, Olive's flying around in the sky, the way William Goldman envisioned children flying around in the air as an opening for The Great Waldo Pepper.  It would have been a fine opening for the film where Susan Sarandon ends up falling off of a plane, and where Robert Redford punches out Edward Herrmann so that he'll stop screaming as he's burned alive from his fiery plane crash.  Sorry, back to this cartoon.  And so, Olive flies around and around, and comes down close to the "camera," thereby inspiring the leftmost of the five images on the inside sleeve of the DVD package... that's odd!  The third and fourth ones I don't remember!  Maybe they're on Disc Two or sumpthing.
And so, Olive ends up dangling from two wires high above the deck by her giant feet.  The twanging noise will be used in all future Popeye cartoons.  Bluto and Popeye try to climb up the same pole at the same time, but they're all too aware of each other, unlike the cats in A Gruesome Twosome when they make their first ascent to get the teentsy weentsy bird that would later come to be known as Tweety.  Bluto and Popeye throw some rather elastic punches at one another.  Bluto ultimately prevails and keeps climbing to save Olive... man, he must have a lot of muscles.  Look at that fat boy climb!  There isn't even a ladder on that thing!
Popeye falls into a rowboat and quickly and furiously rows around to the other side of the ship.  You know, where there's a ladder.  What a wuss.  Steven Seagal could climb up the side of that boat ALL BY HIMSELF!  And he's just a cook!  Anyway, Bluto must not be climbing very fast, because after all that, Popeye is already back at Bluto's side... yada yada yada.  And a bunch of other stuff happens.
This finale is downright action-packed!!!!  And it appears that there's not even going to be any spinach!  I feel robbed somehow.  Well, sailors are probably not allowed to bring their own rations aboard, especially when it's visitors day.  Anyway, unlike A Dream Walking, where the efforts of Popeye and Bluto ultimately did no harm to Olive, their shenanigans end up doing harm to Olive, as she ends up falling into the ship's largest steam pipe.

EPILOGUE

Olive's all covered with soot and... naughty naughty!  We're getting into a little blackface territory here.  Anyway, Olive ends up next to that darned old Powder Room.  "Oh, I simply must tidy up a bit!"  Unfortunately, this particular powder room has no lights.  Fortunately... or unfortunately, depending on your POV, Olive has a match and... yup, the second largest explosion I've ever seen in a Popeye cartoon.  The first being in The Mighty NaVy.  Well, I just examined both of them carefully.  They appear to be slightly different!  I guess it's a little bit easier to animate explosions, I guess.  The one in Mighty Navy lasts a lot longer and the billowing grey clouds come at us more ferociously somehow.  With Don't Mix, it doesn't last as long, and we get a shot of Olive's clothes flying into the air.  A few seconds later, Olive joins them, and don't worry, it's tastefully done.  Hays Code approved, what not.
As for the boys?  Well... we miss the part where the M.P.s escort them to the brig.  But in the brig they end up.  They needed a better lawyer.  Or higher ranks or something.  "As I was sayin'..." begins Bluto... you can guess the rest pretty much, except that Popeye uses his foot this time to shake hands.  Well, thank God this cartoon wasn't written by Norm MacDonald, because there would definitely be a mention of prison rape.

***
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Marlies Carruth

Alas, this seems to be one person no auteur-wannabe will want to emulate.  Still, this Marlies Carruth can hold their head up higher than that Joe Queenan, that's for sure!  Making a film out of spite usually doesn't turn out well.
But how to get to Spielberg?  I mean, anyone can make one film, then call it quits forever.  Is there a path to Amblin, even in this shallow backwater we call the cast and crew of Girlfriends?  Well, I'd suggest Jeff Pacocha, but he's having his own struggles as it is.  No, this seems to be the first and last film of most everyone who worked on it.  Also, my software's being all douchey tonight.  Well, one trick I figured out is to look at the actors list.  If they've got a thumbnail photo, they're the ones to go to.  In this case, there's Jaqueline Fleming, and she's the only one who seems to have survived the Girlfriends experience, deciding that yes, Hollywood is the place for her.  Oh, Jaqueline Fleming... star of Malibooty! and Bad Ass 3, wilt thou return Marlies Carruth's phone calls?

So, in conclusion, we've got Marlies Carruth directing Girlfriends starring
Jaqueline Fleming who was in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, produced by
Tim Burton who... well, I think Spielberg's heard of him anyway.  Try that, Carruth!

This Just In: Sony Hackers Appointed New CEO of MGM

There's a giant bottleneck of movies headed our way, the likes of which I haven't seen in a long time.  Or maybe it's just business as usual.  But somehow I have a feeling the last episode of The Colbert Report is going to be "trending" for quite some time.  The sad thing is, it's only a little under exactly half of the stars that Bill O'Reilly has on his show every night!  And on his radio show every day!  Close second, Stephen... close second.
Of course, the big story this week is the removal from theaters of The Interview.  Oh, how some filmmakers would kill for that kind of publicity.  Welp, it's definitely a higher profile for Rogen and Franco, compared to their previous and usual efforts.
(Sunday proper) Assessing the damage... well, the latest installment of The Hobbit has still got it... for now, anyway.  It's probably not going to do a clean sweep at the Oscars, and frankly, the new, more organic quality of the picture is making me start to question why The Return of the King got so many Oscars!  I guess Peter Jackson finally decided to enable anti-aliasing.  He just wasn't ready to do that on the first trilogy.  And oh, don't tell me where Stephen Colbert is in the movie!  I want to find out for myself.
In other sad news, the final installment of Night at the Museum debuted this week.  Well, now that that's over, I guess Ben Stiller can get back to his first love: a sketch show on Fox.  Let's see them cancel him now, bitch!
I guess Christmas is a time of a lot of debuts.  It's a more generous time at the box office, unlike say in the summer, when a giant blockbuster can come along and crowd out all others from getting any sunlight.  The other debuts this week is the new Annie and something called P.K., or the first movie of that guy who appeared on The Colbert Report every once in a while, P.K. Winsome.  Hmm!  Wonder if Tyler Perry got a piece of the action.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Color of Pain

...oh, now we're talking.  I was never a big fan of these Tom and Jerry shorts at first (...and I'm kinda still not), but after seeing Cue Ball Cat, it finally clicked that, yes, this is where Itchy and Scratchy come from.  Of course, Tom and Jerry aren't as violent... at least, physically, but psychologically?  Perhaps more so!  I suppose because the Tom and Jerry aren't a parody of anything, and of course represent well the MGM brand, and what it's really all about.

ACT ONE

Ah, the pool hall.  Is there any more suitable location for a movie?  I mean, besides a bar?  Which, incidentally, often feature such tables... the dramatic possibilities.  Virtually endless.  One thing I like about this cartoon is that they get out of the house for a change.  How many of these things take place inside a house?  If only there were a blog that kept track of such things.  After all, I'm only planning on doing just the 40 on the DVD collection I have... okay, sure, there's I'm Just Wild About Jerry that takes place in and around a department store, but I don't think that one's on the collection.
Anyway, that's the location.  Now to re-introduce our recurring character.  We start with the cat, as usual, as is typical.  This time, however, all the cat wants to do is shoot a little pool!  Usually he's tormenting the mouse in some new, unique way.  Not this time.  The cat wants to grow up to be a pool shark... but the way he's going, he'll never make the tournament circuit, especially if you lift up the table so that the ball will go in.  Good Lourdes.  Amateur night all the way.  The second ball gets trapped in some sort of endless loop.  Ah, reminds me of good ol' Arkanoid... the second one, not the virtually featureless first one.  The cat pulls the middle hole over so the ball will go in.  That's your old fashioned animation right there, as David Letterman might quip.  This was long before Adobe Flash!  Long before it was even Macromedia!!
And then... third ball's the charm.  We go into the proverbial rabbit hole, but it doesn't go that deep and reveal the truth about our government, and that it's a little bit greedy.  Okay, a lot.  No, we find that, once again, surprise surprise, the little rat picks another inconvenient place to sleep.  Why?  How?  Der?  Does the mouse want to be woken up?  Does it WANT to?  The mouse wakes up just before the ball hits the bed.  The ball pushes the little rat down to the bottom of the table where all the pool balls reconvene.  The mouse gets mashed into a kind of capital 'I' shape, and to the sound of... bowling pins, that's right.  Well, pool balls don't sound quite as dynamic.... damn, they don't have it.  I'm reminded of the time Homer destroyed Flanders' pool table.  That sounded like real pool balls!  High-larious.
Anyway, back to this crap.  Okay, the mouse has a point.  Those kids oughta cut out that loud racquet and let him get some sleep.  Still... no other place to sleep in the entire pool hall?  Maybe right by the fire exit?  Or in the extra-comfy ball return tunnel?  And so, Jerry marches up to the roof level of the pool table... oh, that's where that music is from!  I remembered those eight notes at 1:32 in the proceedings.  Simple, memorable.  Sure, it's no Blue Rondo a la Turk, but it's good enough for this kid's matinee!

ACT TWO

And so, Jerry emerges to politely ask Tom to please play at another table, and quietly.  There's about thirty tables in the place!  Jerry looks around but doesn't see the cat or... whoever it was that disturbed his slumber.  Might have been a person, he doesn't know.  Only the audience knows for sure.  And then... the nightmare begins.  There's Tom, giving the same dirty look to Jerry that Jerry was given to pool players unseen.  Frightened, Jerry takes off in a linear fashion down the diagonal length of the pool table.  Now the fun begins.  Tom gets the cue ball and sends it Jerry's way.  He's turning into a pool shark already!  He put some serious spin on the ball so that it catches up to the mouse, yet has enough spin left to return to the cat like some kind of spherical boomerang, buzzing like a bee all the way.  We get an awesome, epic, semi-game-changing "shot" of the mouse sliding up Tom's pool cue.  The mouse is now close enough for the cat to eat, but it's still early in the pic, so the cat blows on the mouse with a rather anthropomorphic gust of wind, and it's time for more mischief at the mouse's expense.
Now, here's where the logic completely breaks down.  Tom's got a line of about seven or eight pool balls all lined up in a straight line, ready to go.  He hits the balls, and off they go.  Surprisingly, the mouse doesn't get out of the way!  It's Popeye all over again: Popeye has to endure pain and suffering for five minutes, then gets to inflict it himself in his spinach-induced furies for about a minute.  With the cat and mouse, it's about equal throughout.
And so, the mouse gets run over by about twenty pool balls.  We see twelve bounce off the end of the pool table and come back after poor old little Jerry.  Jerry manages to outrun the balls this time, but when he gets to the end of the table, he stops, and the pool balls stack up under him, lifting him up to Tom's eye level.  And how many pool balls are there in this stack?  Only six!!  Busted.
Alas, Tom's standards aren't so high.  After all, you go to pool with the balls you have, not the balls you would like to have, or the balls that your neighbor has.  I mean, that's just math.  And Communism, frankly... okay, we've got actual numbers now.  Tom starts off with a queue of seven pool balls.  After a flurry of stars and one of those white pointy explosion shapes dissipates, as often happens in these proceedings, the mouse gets run over by EIGHTEEN pool balls!!!!!  Eleven balls bounce off the corner of the table, and as we follow Jerry, we can only see five balls in the shot.  This isn't one of their Cinemascope shorts, so five's probably about right for a shot that tight.
And then we come to the stack of six pool balls.  Boy, I must be hungry.  Remember when ice cream cones used to be that tall in cartoons?  Nummy numb.  And so, Tom hits the six balls, then one extra hit for the mouse proper... but, what's this?  The mouse is hanging on to the end of the pool cue in an act of non-violent resistance.  But this proverbial British Empire of a cat's got the perfect pool-based torture for that, and the cat rubs one of those blue chalks on top of the mouse's head.  Reminds me of a funnier scene from Laurel and Hardy's classic short, Brats.  Enjoy it now, 'cuz it probably ain't going to be up too long after posting the link.
And so, the mouse sticks to its guns and clings to the pool cue, even though the cat is obviously about to hit the ball.  But I guess it's all part of the larger strategy: the more pain and humiliation the mouse is forced to endure, the more pain and humiliation he can give back to the cat.  And how!  But for now, the forces of gravity are on the cat's side, and the eight ball is the cat's all-too-willing participant.  The mouse runs along the top of the eight ball as it spins in circles.  The cat uses the ball triangle as a hoop for the mouse to jump through.  The cat lights the triangle on fire and makes the mouse jump through it!  And yet, the lion and the cat were enemies in the previous cartoon.  Well, lions have no sense of irony, so it would seem.  Even the forces of thermodynamics are colluding with Tom!  There's a little patch of unburnt wood so the cat can hold the burning triangle in comfort.  In the final insult, Tom hits the eight ball out from under Jerry with such great force, that the ball bounces off the far end of the pool table, onto the mouse's ass.  It bounces back, and yet, the mouse goes hungry!  Where's the justice?
And so, the mouse ends up with an eight on its ass.  Well, needles to say, that is indeed the last straw.  Jerry needs to get his own justice, and take the law into his own tiny mouse hands.  For an opening salvo, he pulls back Tom's pool cue, then lets it go right in Tom's face.  The tables have now officially turned.  And yet, Jerry runs away like a coward.

ACT TWO AND A HALF

Tom picks up the eight ball and chucks it at the mouse harder than Randy Johnson... who's the famous pitcher?  Stengel?  Koufax?  Anyway, surely the eight ball will hit the mouse tried and true again?  After the great partnership that the cat and said eight ball have had up til now?  Alas, it wasn't meant to last.  The ball bounces back and hits Tom in the face.  Tom's face caves in, of course.  I haven't seen an impact that hard since the finale of Wagon Heels... I mean, A Tale of Two Kitties.  A slightly more politically correct choice, but not by much, arguably.  And evidently, Tom's head has engulfed the eight ball.  Tom's face reappears, but it's so small!!!  Is this the end of Tom as we know it?... oh, apparently not.  Back to normal.  Tom now chucks two balls at the mouse.  How's the mouse going to react to this?  Maybe duck out of the way?  No, see, that's the sensible option.  The super-strong mouse instead gets its own pool cue and hits the two balls with the cue as though it were a giant baseball bat.  These balls hit Tom in the eyeballs.  After reemerging from behind the pool table, we see that Tom's giant eyelids have accommodated a new set of eyes.  But tis a mere summer romance.  The filmmakers wait long enough for that odd mix of laughs and groans, and then the cat shakes its head, making a weird percussive noise, and gets those pool balls out of its eyes.  I tell you darlings, the older I get, the more I feel that cat's pain.
The cat winks at the audience before throwing the next ball.  I don't know why; we know he's not really going to beat that mouse.  Well, the cat's now caught the pool balls with its eyes and its head, but surely he can catch it with a baseball glove over one paw, right?  ...spoiler alert: nope.  The cat's got a cannonball wound on its hand.  Anyone got a tube of cannonball wound ointment?  The nice touch, of course ,is that you can see the blue-grey of what's left of the cat's paw on the edges of the hole in the glove.  And yet, Oliver Stone tries to do the same gag in Natural Born Killers and the lily livers over at the W.B. threaten the dreaded NC-17.
Well, that tears it.  The tear in the glove and paw tears it.  Tom chucks the one ball at Jerry as hard as he can.  No wink to the audience this time; that time has passed.  Jerry hits the ball so hard with his pool cue that the cue snaps in half.  And so, Tom has to try and catch it, of course.  Well, at least the baseball glove is intact once again, even if the logic of this cartoon isn't.  I mean, how high is the ceiling in that place?  A mile?  Two miles?  If we tried shenanigans like that, the ball would just bounce around like in that Tron sequel that I only saw part of.  So high-tech, so yawn.  Man, I'm getting tired just thinking about it.  Anyway, Tom weaves his way through the labyrinth of pool tables and sure enough, after the pool ball comes back through the atmosphere after going around the moon, Tom catches it, only now it's the size of a grapefruit, but at least its velocity is such that the baseball glove is not disintegrated.  Tom lands in an old timey sodey pop dispenser.  The machine burps him out, bottle cap and all.  Alas, the Hays Code didn't protect us from all burps.  Then again, it's a rather strange-sounding burp.  I can only imagine its aroma.
After waiting for the laugh, Tom heads over to Jerry's table again.  Jerry dives into the pocket, and gets an accompanying musical flourish: note A, up one note to note B, then back down to note A... man, did I lose all my crucial musical education.  Tom gets the same flourish, but an octave lower.  Boy!  This one's memorable for the music for me!  How narrow I've gotten... thanks, Internet!  Anyway, this next gag I remember.  Tom reaches down into the pocket for the little rat, but the rat's playing chess to the cat's checkers, as always.  The mouse gets the cat's tail, pulls it into the hole behind the one the cat's exploring... perhaps I didn't phrase that right.  Anyway, the mouse gives the cat his own tail, which of course the cat all too gleefully confuses for the mouse.  The cat pulls and... a Mobius strip?  We almost get an endless loop here!  Fortunately for the cat, it stops after about four iterations.  Doubly fortunately, the cat's able to get out of the pocket of the pool table.  Now, Ted Danson in Creepshow?  Can't get out of the sand!  Get on that, MythBusters.

ACT THREE

Things take a turn for the worse after Tom's last failure at the pool table.  Time to get modern industrial inventions into the act.  These were the old days, of course, with more government regulations about keeping fire hoses in pool halls.  No wonder they all went out of business!  This hall's got an industrial-strength, firefighter-strength hose in the place!  Tom unhooks the hose, turns it on, gets next to the pool table, and unleashes the water.  Then he puts the nozzle into the pocket and watches as fountains rise from all the other pockets.  Process of elimination, folks.  And then... SUCCESS!  Jerry is flushed out at the other corner of the table.  Of course, Tom's not ready to just grab and eat the mouse just yet.  Why not try to hit it with that thing... you know, the thing amateurs use to help them aim at the ball?  A sticky wicket!  That's it!  And then... time for the callback gag.  Tom swishes at Jerry... but where did Jerry go?  Why, he's hanging on to the end of the thing!  Jerry reaches for the wire scoreboard, then takes the sticky wicket away from Tom.  Alpha mouse time.  Also, I like how the filmmakers are using every part of the pool hall to maximum comedic advantage.  In further Alpha mouse action, Jerry is now using the sticky wicket to walk across the scoreboard wire.
The cat's obviously impressed and jealous, and his first reaction is to throw a pool cue at the mouse, javelin style... oh, and the hose water has stopped flowing.  It's either a plot device, laziness on the animator's part, or the cat just wasted all the water in the place.  Nice going, Tom... nice going.  Just try and wait for the Fire Department before you cause your next inevitable fire, okay?
And now... the part that will haunt your nightmares forever.  Tom pitches his first javelin slash pool cue at the little rat... I mean, Jerry, the poor, long-suffering mouse narrator.  The wire the mouse is balancing on acts like a table saw, and sounds like a table saw as the pool cue is split in half.  Let me just see if the YouTubes has that Laurel and Hardy where their car gets cut in half... oh, wait, that's the part where Hardy gets hit in the face with a giant sink.  Close enough.  Man, do I have a love hate relationship with that sink hit.
The next pool cue just barely misses the mouse, but it does leave the mouse with a glowing red ass like a tiny baboon or something.  Well, if there's one thing Jerry Mouse hates, it's when anything happens to his ass: the eight-ball incident, this, what have you.  Well, instead of pulling back on Tom's pool cue, Jerry pulls back on the scoreboard wire and launches the sticky wicket right at Tom... how did the mouse do that, exactly?  The mouse can fly now?  Or hover?  That'd be much worse.  Now, in case you didn't think of it yourself, the end of that sticky wicket looks exactly like giant 'duh' buck teeth.  Which is what the cat ends up saying once the sticky wicket is completely inside the cat, mostly in its tail.  Tom once again rises up above the level of the pool table to show us his latest injury.  Oh, I'll just never look at pool tables the same way ever ever again.
Alas, that last move cost Jerry his superior aerial position above the cat, and is now running down the length of the pool table again.  And once again, Tom calls on the Spirit of Minnesota Fats, and summons his minions in a straight line once again to chase after Jerry Mouse.  Tom smites the end of the queue of pool balls, and off the chase goes once again.  Reminds me of a similar situation in The Yankee Doodle Mouse, when Tom sent a line of glittering Roman candles after Jerry Mouse, except that this time the pool balls sound like an oncoming train.  Jerry and the pool balls do their version of the hallway gag.  I made a link collage of that previously... but where?  Where oh where could that thang be?  I'm thinking my review of Loose Loot... nope!  Figures.  My empire lies in ruins.  My ancestors rise from their graves, only to have me have to bury them anew... actually, they want to switch spots.  How weird is that?
For a brief moment, Jerry thinks he's in the clear... but the pool-ball-ipede sneaks up in front of him... Jerry's looking behind himself.  The eleven ball is the head of the pool-ball-ipede... and it frowns at Jerry!  GINIUS!!!  Four stars.  Jerry takes off towards Tom with the angry pool balls close behind.  Which leads us to the next part that will haunt your nightmares forever.  Jerry jumps on Tom's mouth, briefly giving him a dog-like muzzle, and the whole act emits a crashing sound with a slight crunch of glass at the end.  Jerry pries open Tom's mouth, and in go the pool balls!  There's seven of them total this time... and I guess the cat's lucky that that's all he used, because they all enter the cat's throat, each one somehow causing a gulping noise.  And just like the sound of a glass filling up with water from the tap slowly increases in pitch, each successive gulp noise gets slightly higher in pitch... you know, now that I think about it, the time that Tom had to swallow an apple is probably worse.
Not having learnt his lesson from pulling himself through the pool table and back out, Tom is reduced to poking one of the pool table's pockets with a pool cue.  Tom starts trying to shove the pool cue into the pocket... you know, just to see how far in it will go!  Well it only goes in a couple of feet, so he gets one of those...
...meat thermometers?
Yeah!... am I the only one who remembers that?  Anyway, Jerry notices that the pool cue is now headed rather directly for the cat's... um... posterior.  What's a mouse to do?  Well, any other mouse would probably do nothing, but Jerry, ever the Sadist, ties a pin cushion pin to the end of the cue.  You know, just to give the pool cue that little extra zing.  And zing it does.  Tom's face turns red... well, before that happens, the pin gleams in the light.  You know, like knives often do in the movies.  And ever the Sadist, Jerry tugs on the pool cue a couple of times.  You know, as though the cat were fishing or something.  But there's no reeling in the fish this time.  No, this is a push type deal here, not pull.  And push Tom does.  Now, any ordinary cartoon would just have the cat squeal in pain, but this is near the end, and we do need a big finish, so rather than wait for the laugh, Tom sits there with the red face a few seconds so the audience all get uncomfortable at the same time.  And then... skyward he goes, screaming like a man in pain.  Jerry gets into the shot and looks skyward to admire his handiwork, then exits Stage Left as the cat plummets back to earth.  The long-suffering cat falls into the pocket, right on top of the part of the pool cue still sticking out, but because the cat landed with such force... I assume his arms and legs are broken... the cat is unable to lift itself out of the pocket.

EPILOGUE

With the cat stuck in a tight spot, Jerry decides to play a proper game of pool... not that dinking around that the cat was doing with two or three balls earlier like a thief in the night.  No, Jerry's got the triangle out, all fifteen balls in place.  Note the smug satisfaction on the little rat's face.  The mouse confidently tosses the triangle aside, then puts a little of the powder blue chalk on the tip of the pool cue, then confidently tosses that aside.
And so, the mouse smites the cue ball and off the fifteen balls go.  In a slight show of respect, none of them hit the cat, but it does seem to be shaping up to an all-consuming hole in one, the kind even Tom Cruise's character in The Color of Money couldn't pull off.  But wait!  Surely there's one last act of cruelty the mouse can heap upon the cat?  Well, don't worry, all you Sadists out there, for your prayers are about to be answered.  One last ball is heading towards the cat.  The cat looks on depressingly as he anticipates a gentle tap on the chin or something.  But before that happens, the mouse runs up and hits the cat on the head with the pool cue... and hard.  The cat is yelling in pain with its mouth wide open... allowing the pool ball to fall right in.  The cat gets the ball stuck in its throat for a second, then swallows it.  So is that his eighth pool ball ingested today?  Or did he throw up the other seven earlier?  So many questions unanswered.  I guess that's what makes this a classic... still, I can't help but feel a little dirty.

***
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan