Sunday, March 15, 2015

Tommy Catter and the Wicked Pisser of a Broom

Can you believe I've only got two Tom and Jerries left?  How did they go so fast?  I don't get it.  ...incidentally, does anyone have any requests?  I'm trying to decide which cartoons to profile next: Pink Panther, Looney Tunes, Ant and Aardvark, or Monty Python?... THERE'S CARTOONS IN IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

But the DVD compilers have saved the best for last, and by best, I mean the ones in widescreen.  This one, called The Flying Sorceress, is of a TV-safe thematic nature.  I'm told that Blue Cat Blues is not.  But I say let the kids handle the tough stuff, and early.  What kind of a world are we leaving our kids where AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" is censored at the gym?  The Gym, for f... goodness sake!  They gotta learn the truth about the classics someday, and when they learn that they've been neutered, stripped of all reckless spirit, well... I'll probably get blamed for it.
Well, far be it from me to speak for the jaded sophisticates out there, but it seems to me that The Flying Sorceress must have something that you might like!  Spoiler alert: it all turns out to be a dream, much like Heavenly Puss was, but I think the jaded sophisticates will probably like Heavenly better.
As for me, let's just dig into the plot.  Unlike the girl that Elvis sings to in that one song of his called You're So Square, I do like crazy music.  And once the credits of Sorceress are over, it's crazy music time!  Love it.  I gotta hear it again right now... ah, that's the stuff.  I don't want to hear it too much, lest it lose its craziness... damn it, too late.  Welp, it's all part of that drug we film enthusiasts call video.  Once the surface charms have worn off, it's time to mainline all the DVD commentary and documentaries you can about your favourite cinematic moments... not that I would know anything about that, mind you.  Yes, it's that ancient battle between the animal kingdom and domestic bliss.  Those durn animals just refuse to stay domesticized, and you wake up in the morning to find your cat sitting on the kitchen table, its porthole on the butter dish.  In Sorceress, it's a white lady doing the admonishing of Tom about the mess he's made.  The nice colored lady seems to be missing from this Tom and Jerry collection of mine.  They probably redubbed her voice and everything, too.  Oh well.  C'est la correctness politique.
And so, there's Tom with broom and dustpan, cleaning up the mess he made.  This guy needs a distraction, and fast.  Enter the newspaper want-ads.  And there, buried amongst the numberous real ads for clerk typists is the big fake one that sets our film in motion.  Ah, ambiguous language... is there any more tried and true comedy companion?  I'm suddenly reminded of The Big Snooze where Elmer has finally had enough of Bugs' antics, and decides to go fishing.  I was just about to call Bugs a drama queen, but I remembered that Elmer tore up his contract with Mr. Warner!!!!!  Ten-alarm fire, indeed.  Well, the situation's similar here, because Tom takes the whole newspaper and does the Lindy Hop right out of that house... okay, whatever it is... the Charleston, maybe?  Nobody corrects me anymore, waah.
And so, Tom goes to 13 Sunnydale Road and... ah, tempests in teapots.  Love 'em all... well, they used to be fun until CGI ruined everything.  I mean, the Men in Black series is full of tempests in teapots, but meh.  Who cares?  Anyway, even though Tom can read, he still hasn't learned about metaphors or similes, or even irony.  Alas, not interesting enough of an irony for the Jaded Sophisticates (TM).  But Tom will do anything to avoid a little housework, so to the porch of the haunted house he goes.  It's The 'Burbs all over again, I tells ya.
Tom rings the doorbell, which sounds like a big church bell.  Love it.  Take that, Barton Fink's bell gag!
And so, we finally meet the flying sorceress of the title.  And boy, does she fly!  Witches may be as old as colonial America, but in cartoons everyone keeps up with the times, so for this cartoon from the 1950s, she stays current with a jet-propelled broom.  The witch takes Tom for a test flight.  Tom ends up parachuting back down to earth with the witch's own hat, but he still gets the job.  Well, that was the problem back then: too few cats competing for too few sh... jobs.  Nowadays, it's too many too.  Now, there's a screenwriter's tip here someplace: sure, this flying sequence may seem too long in this, the era of the Internet and fast cuts, but some storytelling fundamentals never change.  I mean, I've seen Salt 1 and Unknown, but for the life of me I don't know what happened.  The taser sequence from Salt, that's all I remember.  Oh, and Salt blows up a floor and pretends to shoot somebody, something like that.  It comes up later.  Sorry... spoiler alert.  A little simplicity goes a long way.  Take Aesop's Fables, for one!  Simple!  Elemental!  Universal!  Game-changing... well, three out of four, anyhow.  But in the instant case, I think the storytelling fundamentals are this: if you have a witch, well, that witch gotta fly.  And fly she does.  The FAA will soon hear of this!  Alas, the witch's flight is fast and furious, and cut a little bit short, so there.  Fast cutting achieved.  Besides, there's still some plot to be had.
And so, Tom gets the job of witch's cat, with free room and board and everything.  Is Tom grateful?  Of course not!  Ooh, the bed's too creepy.  Next thing you know he'll be wanting to unionize, and billionaires tell me that that's a bad thing.  Well, not me personally... it's shouted through their megaphone at me, but same thing.  But like Ehrmantraut said, everyone wants to go home.  And so, with his toxic mix of boredom and fear, Tom quickly puts two and two together.  The witch left her broom out!  Can a cat fly a broom?  Well, surely a cat of Tom's stature can!  And fly he does.  Now, much like when he took flight in that one a few weeks ago, Tom faced the same dilemma.  You've got wings, and you can fly to anywhere in the world... so where do you go?  To harass your mortal enemy, of course!  Tom takes that broom and flies back to screw with Jerry's mind.  Jerry doesn't exactly rub his eyes, but mission accomplished.  Tom blew Jerry's mind before Train did with that song they play all the time at the gym that I now hate.  Well, I probably would of hated it before that.  This YouTube video purports to be the official music video for the song in question.  Well, it's not a documentary about churches in Seattle, so on the YouTube it must stay.  If they play a Mr. Mister song other than "Broken Wings" on the radio anymore, I'd be very very surprised.
Needles to say, witches don't care for it when you borrow their brooms.  Same thing happened to Bugs Bunny and that fat hairpin-losing witch he got paired with for a while... probably.  (also voiced by June Foray, incidentally)  One of Chuck Jones' less celebrated cartoon cereals.  And so, is a parade awaiting Tom's return to the witch house?  Short answer: no.  In fact, quite the opposite.  The witch turns the broom against Tom, and the witch risks significant damage to her very house to punish Tom.  And yet, nothing she does sends Tom to that grave especially dug just for him.  Maybe Tom's a warlock!
And so, much like in Heavenly Puss, Tom awakens from his dream, but unlike Heavenly Puss, the reality Tom awakens to in Flying Sorceress leaves something to be desired.  He certainly doesn't end up thanking Jerry to be alive, that's for sure!  No, it's time for a retreat from reality back into that world of fantasy.  In case you don't watch it, Tom was clinging to the broom at home in his sleep, with that nice angry lady shaking it up and down.  Tom goes back to sweeping... but he's just got to test out that broom to make sure it can't fly.  Whew!  It doesn't work.  Thank goodness... or does it?  Tom takes off flying, and he seems to be headed for the full moon.  Jerry watches from the door, as does the embittered housewife.  "Now what's that cat up to?" says the housewife as she watches the cat flying towards the moon on a broom... does anyone see the irony there?  Anyone at all?  No sense of whimsy?  The fantastical?  No sense of something beyond our five senses?  Boy!  And this was the 50s!  All was not well in the suburbs back then, or so it seems!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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