Tweety's S.O.S. ...and as soon as I get the blog formatting right here, let's get right into it. I should probably point out the lack of fade between the title card and the credits. Well, even the camera guys get tired once in a while. Sometimes high paying union jobs can't fulfill all your dreams. Just ask Frank Tashlin!
Scene: Sylvester the Vagabond Feline is down on his luck... but that doesn't mean he can't strive for the Trump lifestyle! Sorry... I'm trying to cut back on that, I really am. But it is going to be a long four to eight years, and soon I just might be joining you in the bread line, Sly. Sly's going good for a while. Garbage can buffets are always plentiful in the movies, and Sly is the lucky beneficiary of their bounty... he's got the lump of potato, a blue fish skeleton with the head on it, all on a nice trash can platter and... YECCH! Spoiled. No good. Didn't pass the ol' Smell Test. Speaking of which, what's the deal with his snout? Very oddly shaped, IMHO. Hadn't been cute-ified yet by the nervous, proverbial "City Fathers" of the studio, as it were.
Sylvester chucks it all away in disgust. And so it's come to this. He'll have to wait for that land bridge to open up between Alaska and Russia again when the ocean waters recede... yup, I too saw that "Nature" documentary about all cats great and small. Are those not worthy of their own reviews? Anyway, Sylvester wanders around on the pier a little, trying to find his happy place with the giant ocean cruiser in the background. One can't help but feel small and insignificant in the shadow of such a man-made behemoth, unlike, say, the comfort and promise of the glittering night sky. The depressing background score doesn't help either. I thought all these cartoonie things for the tiddly-winkies were all yuk-yuks and violence! What gives?
Next scene: Sly sits there on the edge of the pier, next to the giant ship and... man! The older I get, the more things like that make me seasick. The ship bobs up and down in the water, and we see Tweety bird in the gilded cage next to the window. Oh why oh why oh why does Granny always insist on giving Tweety the windows' view of the world? Clearly for our storytelling benefit, for one. Sly eventually perks up when he realizes that nourishment is so nearby... he was looking pretty damn depressed, even I must confess.
And then... here we go again. Tweety's trademark line about putty tats. Reminds me of this recent shout-out to Yakoff Smirnoff that I saw online. Beware the rest of the video, of course, I hate to tell ya... anyway, back to Tweety and his constant surprise that there's a whole wide world out there just full of putty tats. AND YET... he always seems to be chased by the same one! He's got a NAME, you know... it's Sylvester, Tweety. I guess teeny weeny birds like him aren't big on names. Plus, they're trying to put on a show here. This isn't Baby Herman between takes, after all.
Okay, back to the actual plot. Too many diversions, The Movie Hooligan... too many diversions. Sly's apparently no stranger to ships big and small, as he's already worked his way through the... you know, the spherical windows that ships like these used to have. Well, that was the engineering of the time. Square windows lost that coin toss. Sly's halfway into the ship, and he very affectionately says to Tweety, "Hello, breakfast!" in that saliva-making way of his. Panicking, Tweety suddenly summons the strength that Jerry Mouse often had to call upon in his constant battles with that blue cat of note named Tom... even I kinda can't believe I sat through 40 of those! Where did all that time go?
And so, Tweety slams the window on Sylvester, and down goes the cat into the filthy ocean water near the ship. Oh, there must be all kinds of bad stuff in that water: motor oil, hydraulic fluid, any number of things that leak from a ship in need of repairs. Not enough in there to actually set the ocean on fire, of course, but... Next scene: instead of climbing up the side of a building, Sylvester now finds himself climbing up the barnacle-encrusted pier post. The passenger clinging to his tail is just the icing on the cake, and so far is probably the biggest laugh in this affair.
SECOND ATTEMPT: Sylvester has managed to breach the ship's security, and he now finds himself at Tweety's very (cabin) door... that's not grammatically correct, is it? Anyway, we hear Tweety just singing away like a regular bird. No anthropomorphized song with lyrics by Sammy Timberg for us this time, pal? No, it's just random whistles for now... sorry, I'm no bird expert.
But now I'm starting to think that that's part of the joke here. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but Sylvester just walks right in and tiptoes right on up to Tweety. Tweety's still whistling at this point. AND THEN... this all happens off camera, by the way. Sylvester gets bird in hand and starts his escape. That's when the whistling stops. So, to recap: whistling while Tweety's not in Sylvester's paws, no whistling when Tweety's in Sly's clutches.
Oh, but Sylvester's no degenerate foodie here! He's got to get to his special place first in order to properly eat a morsel like Tweety. You know, stop by the communal garden, grab a couple potatoes, some spices, get the good China... fortunately for Tweety, however, fate intervenes, this time in the form of Granny. And I think you know how she feels about cats that try to take her little birdie. Oh, it's umbrella whoopin' time.
Sylvester tries to stall for time, being as supplicant as he can, and petting Tweety on the head. This happens at 1:42. NEXT SCENE: a close-up on Tweety and... wait a second! Is that the SAME background from the very previous scene? I think so!!!!!!!!! Busted. Disney would never something like that happen, now, would he? Seriously, I don't know. Haven't seen Disney's old stuff in years... of course, I'm still smarting from that piece of cr... cinema history about the king of the sea, and his harem of mermaids of the evening. It's the cinema equivalent of a root canal for me now.
Anyway, Granny ain't buying it. And sure enough, at about 1:49 in the proceedings... yup, it's umbrella time. Granny swings at Sylvester like people swinging baseball bats at aliens in Signs. "Attagirl, Granny!" says Tweety. Boy, that's very patronizing for such a small bird! Oh well... I guess he's allowed. Next scene: Sylvester grabs a pillow to protect himself, and Granny hits Sylvester's pillow as hard as she can with the umbrella. Maybe this is a good place to put a link to that Hollies' song I like called "Bus Stop." You know, what with the umbrella in it and what not. Ah, the many uses of an umbrella, the strong passions that it can enhance.
Paradigm shift time. Just when it looks like Sly's about to be beaten to within an inch of his life... I thought cartoon characters were more or less immortal. Go figure... now, mind you, I've seen most of the WB cartoons involving Granny, as they were mostly shown on Saturday mornings and what not. The one thing I don't seem to recall ever happening was Granny fumbling around for her glasses. Welp, never fear, for even the writers of Looney Tunes... and yes, even these cartoons for the tiddly-winkies did have screenwriters. Sure, mostly the same two or three guys, but still. They had professional pride, too, and they too tried to find new angles for the same old plot geometry.
Anyway, Sly notices that the beating with the umbrella has come to a halt, and we find that Granny has lost her glasses. Yes, much like Chris Farley's wigs would come off in dress rehearsals... watch the SNL DVD outtakes... so too did Granny's glasses fall off in the frenzy of action. Now we find her fumbling around on the floor for the things, thereby influencing that one famous episode of "Twilight Zone" with Burgess Meredith that everyone just loves to death now. I think it's the one where the guy becomes the race of person that he was just slurring in the first scene... oh wait, that was young Dean Stockwell. Never mind.
And so, the hunted has become the hunter, and Sly strolls confidently up to Granny as she fumbles around on the floor for her "cheaters." Just as she's about to reach them, boom! Sly gives them a kick and under the sofa they go. Dayamn, but that is cold-freakin' blooded, Sylvester. Time for the little bird to spring into action. Tweety and his hot-dog-bun feet start running as fast as they can. Surprisingly, the same speed as the giant cat! Go figure. First they run to Stage Left, then to Stage Right. And then, Tweety finds his way to the glasses, and Sylvester foolishly wastes time trying to squib under the couch after Tweety. But Tweety's got just enough lead time to get to Granny and put her glasses back on.
"EEK!" says Granny as Sylvester screeches to a stop right in front of her. Her glasses are back in place and, after about a second and a half, her eyes focus again and she can see that bad ol' putty tat. I feel your pain, Grandma. As my optometrist informs me, one's eyes focus more slowly as the years progress. Why, if I held up a penny to my eye in the old days, it'd focus right away. But now, after all these years, and all this time staring at buzzing computer screens, well... anyway, Grandma goes right back into battle mode. Sylvester tries to make a break for it. Next scene: Sylvester's gone so far as to run back down off the ship's... you know, the tilted walkway you have to walk up to get onto, or down to get off of, the ship. Granny throws the umbrella and WHAM! It hits Sly in the back of the head with damn near smart bomb certainty. Boy, but that umbrella led Sylvester to a vow! To get that bird by any means necessary, now more than ever. Even if it means a stay in the feline hoose gow.
Next scene: just as the Marx Brothers before him, in both Monkey Business and A Night at the Opera, Sly is joining the ranks of stowaways, not the Shanghai'd. And what better time to do it than during the semi-official launching of the ship. Granny and Tweety wave goodbye to the gathered crowd, cheering and confetti-ing the place all to hell... hmm! I didn't realize what big celebrities they were. Oh well. Sly, meantime, is forced to give a teeny goodbye from under the lifeboat tarp. That the boat has a '13' on it, well, that's just more icing on the irony cake, so to speak. Even lampreys have their pride. Fade to black.
Next scene: Granny AND Tweety are asleep on the sun deck, as evidenced from the attached photo I've included in my evil email... I mean, regularly occurring blog post. Seriously, though, is that you in this teeny group photo? Love that scam. Incidentally, to slightly change the subject, what was the name of the street you grew up on? My heart broke a little bit when one of my Facebook "friends" asked me the name of my first grade teacher. Hmm! Is that even my security question? Am I that obvious? There is a value to email addresses like Thor69.com and what not after all... well, maybe that one's a little obvious.
Anyway, I think I'm taking this detour because, well, Sylvester clearly isn't heading headlong into battle anymore. It's just not working. Even though his quarry and its human protector are now sound asleep. It's the Second Act, and it's time for some fiendish trickery. Just like Ben Mankiewicz mused with Richard Fleischer's son, if Popeye ate the spinach right away, the pic would be over too soon, wouldn't it? And so, Sly engages in a little pettyfoggery and duggery of skulls. He snatches Granny's glasses and paints a crude Tweety on them... thereby creating Google glasses. Probably.
And so, with the paint dry, time to put the plan into action. Sly slips Granny's glasses back into place on the table, then sneaks over to Tweety's cage. Tweety wakes up when Sly grabs him and is behind the cat's back, spreading yellow feathers all over the place. Seems like Tweety can't afford to lose too many of those! "HELP!" cries Tweety, as he starts flying just above Sylvester's head, and just below the top of the screen. It's a balancing act, to be sure. Panicking, Sylvester does everything he can to retake Tweety, and gets the hell out of there before Granny gets those darned glasses on.
Next scene: welp, you've got to hand it to them... the Republicans... I mean, Sylvester's scheme worked. Granny looks over, sees "Tweety" in the cage, and relaxes. And besides, I hate to break the fourth wall here and everything, but Tweety's pretty resourceful. Granny doesn't realize. It's like with Temple of Doom. It takes place in 1935, one year before Raiders of the Lost Ark... so you just know Indy's not going to die, right? Sorry, SPOILER ALERT.
Next scene: Tweety, either consciously or un, decides to fight Sylvester on his turf, so to speak. Taking to wing... second time he's done that in this pic!... he lands on the highest part of the ship, and his wings turn to little bird arms with human hands. It's all Sylvester can do now at this point, but to follow Tweety wherever Tweety may take him. And so, where Tweety zips across the thin rope, Sylvester has to step very delicately and gingerly... which reminds me! Snack time. Well, I got way too many gingerbread houses this year for the holidays.
Fortunately for Sylvester, these wires aren't electrified. But Tweety manages to send a jolt of sorts, vibrating slowly along the length of rope. Tweety gives the rope a good strong pluck, much like Jerry Mouse would if Tom and Jerry found themselves in the similar situation. It's all Sylvester can do to look on in horror as this thing approaches.
Next scene: it's seasick time, gently implying that Sylvester's throwing up. The waves are rocking that ol' steamer ship somethin' awful. At that time in American cinema, and even more so on television, such as it was at the time, the act of vomiting could only be implied, typically in the seasickness context. And thank God, because Lord knows how far the Three Stooges would've gone with it. Anyway, we also have to imagine Sylvester's epic struggle to even get back onto the ship; he splashed into the ocean a mere scene ago! Seems like forever.
Next, Tweety ambles on up to Sylvester, with much the same confidence level that ol' Sly had when he walked up to glasses-less Grandma, crawling around on the ship cabin's floor. "Oh, THERE you are! Didja lose somethin', Putty?" asks Tweety. Sly looks up from the ship's railing, very very seasick. Tweety doesn't seem to understand seasickness. One of the benefits of being a bird. Let's say he half knows exactly what he's doing. Tweety offers Sly a teeny morsel of food, saying "Aw, you need something on your stomach!" Needles to say, it's the straw that broke the camel's stomach... something like that. Sly's off to the races to find the ship's infirmary.
Next scene: hmm! Reminds me from a bit from Conrad the Sailor. Ah, what a love-hate relationship I've had with that one. There's a stirring chase through the bowels of the ship, so to speak. I hate to spoil the surprise...
Next scene: we see Sylvester crawling out of the sea once again, and back on to the ship, dripping wet. One eyeful of Tweety and it's back to Square One for him. "Now I gotcha!" declares Sylvester. But Tweety's at least one step ahead, maybe two or three. Tweety's got his picture of a boat handy, and he starts moving it around and telling Sylvester a story of a ship at sea... I think you get the idea. Welp, can't argue with results! Sylvester does pay attention to this diversion, and... hey, that's not actually going to work, is it? Phooey. Well, same thing happened in Screwball Squirrel, if memory serves. I'd link to it on YouTube, but, you know... they seem to bring the ol' Copyright Strike hammer down on those links. Sorry, 69789Darius. We'll just have to pay for the privilege of bashing Gymkata from now on.
Next scene: Tweety says "Wocking, wocking, eh... aw, the putty tat's tunin' dween adain!" Something like that. I tell you darlings, the older I get, the more I love those "eh"s that get left in by the wiser directors. The more, the merrier. Of course, Vernon Dent was the king, the unmatched master of throwing those in in Stooge shorts. Well, the Stooges do make a lot of bad jokes, so it's understandable. Now, I don't know if Tweety was aware of Sylvester's treachery earlier with Granny's glasses, but he's about to match ol' Sly, treachery for treachery. Tweety rushes off to the infirmary to tamper with Sylvester's bottle of seasick remedy. Stinking and treacherous, I tells ya. Meanwhile, Sylvester's green ass runs over to said infirmary, one finger to his mouth, cheeks puffed, unvoluptuous saxophones providing the musical accompaniment.
A little late for Act III, but it's too late for me to turn back now anyway. Several reasons, about twenty now! Got some catching up to do, do I. And so, Tweety sets up the big explosion that these cartoons usually end with, by dumping a bottle of nitroglycerine into Sly's seasick remedy bottle. And I just noticed this! When we see Sly's arm reach for the bottle of seasick remedy, it's his usual black and white color! No green tint! Sloppy work, filmmakers. Sloppy. Say what you will about that tyrant Disney... he'd never let an egregious filmmaking flub like that pass by his ever watchful eye. Not for a final project bearing his important name. Never.
And so, Sylvester grabs the bottle and gulps it all down. So greedy. Not thinking of anyone else on the ship who might need some of that. Also, clearly the gulping sounds this time lack the interesting texture of the first group of gulping sounds.
At this point, Tweety says "That's a nice putty tat! Dwink it all down!" He's as bad as Fudd! Anyway, the main point here is this: inner sanctum violated. Sylvester's, that is. Is there no privacy anymore? The only privacy that's left is the privacy in your head, and maybe that's enough. Well, the psychics of the land will make short work of that. Anyway, somehow Sylvester quickly puts two and two together. For one thing, can't argue with results! You'd think that nitroglycerine would only make his seasickness worse, but quite the opposite! He's well, undrugged and unhypnotized, full mental focus and clarity. But since Tweety's there, and patronizing him, then it must be some kind of a trick. Sylvester spits a little bit of the stuff back out... we'll leave aside the complete grossness of that for now. Well, the extremely uptight public at the time would let cartoon characters get away with murder... sometimes literally, if only in the context of their little shows for the tiddly-winkies!
And so, that little bit of Sly's spittle explodes. Sly is startled, but he quickly gets back to his usual angry-ass self, and chases Tweety anew. But first, he knocks a bunch of glass bottles around. More work for the foley guys. Love it.
And so, the chase begins anew, but this time Sylvester tries out his exploding spit. He comes damn close to hitting Tweety! Of course, the bad guy's aim will always be a little off in cartoons, but it's all Tweety can do to keep from getting his little tailfeathers burned.
Next scene: around the corner, and in front of Granny again. She's just as mad, and she's armed with an umbrella again. Her campaign begins anew after Sylvester screeches to a halt in front of her... it takes him a little bit to come to a full stop. I tell you, the Coens couldn't have plotted this much better. Whereas before Tweety was calling on Granny to give Sylvester "a hit on the head," now he pleads as loudly as he can for Granny to not hit Sylvester, even going so far as to say "You'll be SOWWY!!!!" in that Fudd-esque lisp of his.
But his plaintiff cries are not to be heard above the din of low-grade anger on board that cruise ship. There's an explosion, and we cut to a lightly singed Grandma, lightly dazed and wondering what the hell just happened. Meanwhile, Sylvester's been launched skyward, where he turns into a display of fireworks worthy of a July 4 celebration... or at least, an opening volley thereof. I should mention that Stalling used the same music in What's Brewin', Bruin? for the Act Three fireworks in that show.
"Goosefraba" in Adam Sandler's 2003 project Anger Management, sometimes it's up to others to really get a catch phrase to take off into the Iconosphere that seems to surround us and inform all our thinking these days. And so we get the captain of the ship, looking up in the sky with a pair of binoculars. He's voiced by Mel Blanc, who does the best white guy voice he can. The captain says "I tot I taw a putty tat!" Must be a Connecticut accent or something.
Granny and Tweety together, now steering this crazy ship of fools, both say in unison... the usual response. Could this very well be Friz's masterpiece? At least, masterpiece involving Tweety and Sylvester? I dare say so!
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan