Sunday, September 18, 2016

I Don't Want Nobody Messing with my Chicken Leg

Time for our next Looney Tunes adventure and... hoh boy.  Well, maybe I should tell you right up front.  That way, you can skip the rest of the review, as you can tell what's coming.  This time it's about the destination and not the journey.  Now, some may blame the UPA style or the Hanna-Barbera style, but really, it was the television that led to the big drop in quality.  That black hole called television that needed to be filled.  A 24 hour cinema right in the home.  No need to dress up and go out.  And, of course, even the cinema had to close once in a while, if only for repairs or remodels.  Sure, the cartoon characters looked goofy in the 20s and 30s, but the backgrounds were still nice!  Now, here in the late 40s early 50s... not so much.  In the television game, it's all about speed.  That's why classics like "Tom Terrific" won the game early... but are all but forgotten now.  In order to last the test of time, it's about quality.  The quality of the ideas, the quality of the performances.  And when you have a character like Foghorn Leghorn, demands get placed on it.  Demands to stay within its well-defined boundaries.  In our next Looney Tunes, called A Broken Leghorn, the boundaries are redrawn, and the price gets paid.  Sure, the title's funny and all... but does it live up to said title?  Now, it's not just me saying that... but the very crafters of this CD, for a second opinion.  I mean, look at the attached photos.  LOOK AT THEM!!!!  Did you catch it?  That's right!  Even the DVD menu disses this cartoon.  Broken Leghorn is NOT A Broken Leghorn.  Two very, very different beasts, the former holding the promise of an epic physical and psychological struggle, the latter giving away the ending, perhaps yearning for pretensions of a Broadway tragedy along the lines of Tennessee Williams or Robert Anderson... maybe a little Leon Uris thrown in for scale.  Okay, let's just get on into it.


Scene: Old McDonald's Farm, and alas... all is not well at Old McDonald's Farm.  For on this farm he had an old chicken named Prissy.  Ay yay yay... with a Prissy here and a Prissy there and what not.  Of course, when you have a character like Prissy, you tend not to think of how many Prissy cartoons there were.  Now, the Tasmanian Devil?  Five or six... I watched ahead.  See, once I get through this review, I get to do Devil May Hare next.  Another one of the little tragedies of the running tapestry that is my life.  Anyway, for more information about Miss Prissy, there is indeed a Wikipedia page devoted to her.  However, as of this writing, the page is incorrect, because it says that our current instant case has Henery Hawk in it.  Good Heavens, sir!  The South shall come again, ah say!  It most certainly does not have Henery Hawk in it!  It certainly would've benefitted tremendously from his presence... and I actually don't like the little sh... oe leather.  Funny how that works.
And so, Prissy is introduced to the audience.  Her reputation precedes her in the form of a few other hens gossiping about her before she arrives.  You see, Miss Prissy is an underdog, because she doesn't fit in with the other chickens.  On the other hand, the older I get, the more I believe that, if you're an underdog in a given social situation, it's usually best to just get the hell out of there.  I mean, sure, who wouldn't want to volunteer at the co-op forever and get those discount cards?  The only problem is, I needed a job to crawl my way out of debt!!!!  Can't do that with food cards alone, guys!  Sorry... another tangent.  Incidentally, now that I have a job, I'm taking on debt anew!  Ain't that always the way, folks?
...where was I?  Oh yes.  This old blue-eyed white-feathered hen is intent on defying her age and wants to lay just one more egg.  Apparently, she's a bit of a broken record about it, as one of the more voluptuous looking hens comes over and says "I bet she's going to give it another try!"  Oh, that's so June Foray.  Apparently, none of the actresses who played Prissy liked to do it for too long.  Too depressing of a part, not to mention the typecasting it would lead to.  And so, Prissy endures the taunting of her co-workers, saying "Uh-yeeessssss!!!!" and walking around the corner.  Incidentally, that's what the homeless dude who comes up to my vehicle does.  He asks for money, and once he gets my handout, he power-walks away and heads for the nearest street intersection, and takes it... well, dime bags wait for no man!  And so, we find Prissy, ears burning in her old age, enduring the taunts of her younger, sexier co-workers, and the tears start to drop.  Arguably, those three hens aren't exactly the cream of the crop themselves.  But whatev'z.
Next scene: enter Foghorn, the lone rooster lording over this garden of "fair barnyard flowers," as he once called them during a previous celluloid outing.  Alas, the threat's not coming from without this time.  Ever the Southern gentleman, Foghorn takes pity upon the long suffering Miss Prissy and... now, see, again, the boundaries are redrawn.  Blanc's performance lacks some of the oomph that it had in The Foghorn Leghorn a mere one or two soiree ago.  Anyway, acting as something short of a meddling God, he intervenes on behalf of Miss Prissy.  Again, the older you get, the more you tend to err on the side of "no good deed goes un-punished."  When you're young, you're just trying to get through the day without pissing your pants.
And so, using his strangely human hand wings, Foghorn takes an egg from one hole in the wall and moves it to the hole in the wall behind where Miss Prissy will be sitting... seriously, it's all not as lurid as my description... perverts.  And so, because sittin' space in the hen house is limited, Prissy tries to make her stay in the house of hen as professional as possible.  Time is money!  Oh, and again, I must part ways with the Miss Prissy Wikipedia page, as it's Foghorn himself who refers to Prissy as "old square britches" and NOT one of the hens.  Harumph and double harumph!  Also, he didn't used to laugh like that... did he?  I don't belong in this world... (wipes away tear)
Next scene: Prissy notices the egg now under her, and is startled.  My friend who likes a good reaction would surely like Prissy's reaction.  Me myself, I can't help but be the Pessimist (TM) and think, wow.  That's how long it's been since she laid an egg.  She forgot how it's done!  Prissy sees the egg and starts cackling joyously about it.  In your face, haters!  I yearn for the pre-Instagram days.  "Check out the egg, pullets" would be the caption.
Foghorn listens in on Prissy's day in the sun from behind the henhouse.  However, his sarcasm-tinged joy is soon to turn to sour grapes because..............

ACT TWO cut to the chase, (I know, I know... the nerve I have to ever claim that again) Foghorn's transplanted egg is hatched!  And it's a baby rooster!  Which, incidentally, looks nothing like Prissy, but whatev'z.  The hens are buying it.  Foghorn, however, suddenly feels his own shaky position at Old McDonald's Farm being threatened.  If there's one thing he can't abide, it's another rooster.  It's kinda like how, for a while there, when Seinfeld returned to stand-up, he mused about how children are here to "replace us."  It might be a little less scary proposition to him now, and after all, he did leave the next generation with a whole show filled with great advice, and maybe a few examples of how not to behave.
Anyway, back to ol' Senator Foghorn, whose first thought, in this neo-Rooster Age, is to lay down the law, just shy of spilling the beans on his little prank.  Using a command-and-control approach, he angrily storms in on the celebrating hens.  The hens' reaction, to say the least, isn't what he was expecting.
...sorry, that's actually a still from Hot Cross Bunny... had to go to YouTube to get that like a damn sneak thief!  Why isn't it on my Looney Tunes DVDs?  Why, Video Gods?  WHY?!!!  Also, for once, Prissy is in the other bitchy hens' good graces.  They may not get along, but their being so very tired of men unites them.
Anyway, Leghorn, ever the politician, does a quick 180, starting with "Uh, as I was sayin'... "  Damn, he's good.
And so, Foghorn goes over to see this hatched rooster.  Now, we've either skipped ahead, past where a freshly hatched baby chick dries itself out and has matured enough to be able to walk around, or animated baby roosters just grow up that quickly.  Whatever the case may be, I'm actually feeling Foghorn's pain, because the young rooster gets one look at Foghorn and says "Oh, hello!  You must be the rooster who's job I'll be taking over!"  Almost makes me pine for Henery Hawk.  Actually, it does make me pine for the days of Henery Hawk, and I'm sure Foghorn would too if they didn't hit the reset button with each new celluloid outing on these here cartoon characters.
And when the baby rooster also crows about as well as an adult rooster?  Well, that cinches it.  Foghorn has to just walk away right then and there, saying "Hoh boy," and quickly come up with Plan B.  Actually, he seems to skip right ahead to Plan M.  That's M for murder.  Murder with a capital 'M'.  A side of Foghorn Leghorn I'm not used to seeing, let alone the possibility that Foghorn himself is the father.  I mean, he's the only rooster we've seen at this Old McDonald's Farm so far, right?
Next scene: Prissy and Junior (Rooster) are playing ball with a red and white ball.  The ball rolls out of the frame when Foghorn shows up... you know, to make it easier on the camera layout guys.  One less detail to worry about.  "As senior rooster round here," starts Fog.  He explains that one of his duties on Old McDonald's Farm is to pass on all his knowledge of what being a rooster is all about on to the next generation.  "Don't worry, that won't take long," said Homer Simpson in a similar situation.  Sorry, I guess I'm not having fun right now.  The mind wanders.  Oh why oh why couldn't I be watching that instead?
Now, it wouldn't be a Foghorn Leghorn joint if he didn't stop and say something along the lines of "The boy doesn't pay attention!"  This time he gets a good, long eyeful of Prissy and says "Eh, any of this getting through that little old blue bonnet of yours?"  Prissy says "Yes!" and the Milt Franklyn Orchestra provides accompaniment.  "Well, woman, BLINK YOUR EYES or somethin'!  YEESH!!!!" says Foghorn.  Foghorn formally asks for Prissy's permission to "train the lad."  Prissy says "Yes!" and the Milt Franklyn Orchestra provides accompaniment... much like the same accompaniment provided earlier-like.
And so, the fun begins.  Foghorn picks up Junior Rooster and holds him in his strangely-human hand-wing.  In response, the angry-looking Junior bites Foghorn's strangely human pointer finger.  "EEEYOWWWW!!!" says Foghorn, then gives a little "Why, I oughta..." before restraining himself.  Prissy's got a worried look on her face, but it soon passes when Foghorn compliments Junior.  "He's a little doll! (yecch)" says Foghorn.  Fade to black.
This is probably where the Third Act should go, but I'm going to save it til 4:15 in the proceedings.  And so, the groundwork is laid for Foghorn to try and kill Junior Rooster.  But as creepy old Keith Morrison might say, in that smarmy way of his, there was one thing that Foghorn didn't count on!  After the detectives finally took the psychic's advice and checked under the victim's fingernails, they found little bits of the killer's skin and did the DNA test... oops, wrong movie.  See, Keith Morrison provides a valuable sociological service: he's smarmy on behalf of the victims who no longer have that luxury.  And besides, he was getting a little tired of confronting would-be child molesters.
And so, back we go to the cartoon.  Scene: the side of a busy road.  As Foghorn informs us, one of the most important duties of being a rooster is knowing the answer to that old question, why does a chicken cross the road?  After all, some old jokes are kind of like bacteria and viruses that you spend a lifetime building up an immunity to.  A chicken crossing the road, and someone literally sitting around the house, are two of the big ones that you get very, very early.  Of course, chickens in urban and suburban setting cross the road just to get some new food, and to find nice clean patches of ground that aren't all crapped up by the other chickens.  So like people.
However, Foghorn's found a way to try and get rid of this young rooster, and it doesn't even involve explosives!  I looked ahead and, spoiler alert, all the other methods seem to.  Of course, running out into busy traffic is kind of an explosive situation in its own right, if only metaphorically.  Take that scene from Bowfinger, for example!  Anyway, Foghorn's got a toy red ball, which he rolls across the busy two-lane highway next to Old McDonald's farm, and asks Junior Rooster to fetch it.  Just goes to show what a big city boy like me knows about chickens on the farm.  I didn't know it was their job to fetch things!  Anyway, you might want to skip this part of the review and watch the DVD yourself.  I'll give you a minute...
...okay, welcome back.  And so, Junior Rooster uses his super strength and agility, like all teeny cartoon characters before him and since, to run across that suddenly very busy street and retrieve the red ball.  He scoops it up right away and runs just as quickly back.  And as Keith Morrison would add, there's one other thing that Foghorn didn't count on!  Like all roosters, this young Junior's already a master of psychological torture, just as young baby rattlesnakes are already as poisonous as their adult counterparts, even if they only have little tiny poison sacs to fuel their tiny fangs.  Junior says to Foghorn "I don't think I did that right."  Junior invites Foghorn to demonstrate the ball retrieval exercise for him.  Alas, Junior's as prone as anybody to take things a little too far, adding "...unless you're SCARED!"  Same thing happened to Marty McFly.  Foghorn doesn't realize he's being played, so he takes the bait and does the Crossing of the Road exercise himself.  You can probably guess how it turns out... but I will note that it's that second car that really gets you.  Personally, I think Tex Avery did it a little bit better in one of those Droopy Westerns... I think it was Wild and Woolfy.  And darn it, the YouTube community seems to bear me out.  Out of respect to that one, A Broken Leghorn does a variation on the theme.  Fade to black... oh, I forgot to mention.  One time I was driving around on my route, and I noticed these two rabbits.  One rabbit suddenly started chasing the other rabbit, and the other rabbit almost ran out into the road... and I couldn't help but think to myself, dayamn!  Was the chaser rabbit really trying to get the other rabbit to run out into traffic, perchance to get flattened by an automobile?  Do animals hate each other that much?  I've seen the grey squirrels in my front and back yard sometimes chase each other feverishly up trees, then back down, but never out into traffic.  Must be rabbit and higher or something.
Next scene: standing next to the rain spout.  Is there any more beloved setting in cartoons?  How many characters have ever tried crawling through a rain spout?  I alas don't have the exact figures in front of me, but I'm sure it's a lot, and it's always a hoot... maybe not so much here.  Here, Foghorn explains that it's time for a lesson in patience, a virtue that Foghorn seems to lack quite a lot.  And so, Foghorn's diabolical plan is to have Junior wait at the bottom of the rain spout, while Foghorn drops a stick of dynamite into the top of the rain spout.  Flawless, right?
Foghorn climbs up a ladder next to the barn, lights the gurgling stick of dynamite and drops it.  Strange!  Every time I try to do that, it always gets stuck in the middle of the rain spout.  So many charred spots on the side of the house... well, that's Redneck house paint for ya.  The stick of dynamite hits Junior in the back of the head.  Junior picks up a stick on the ground next to him, just out of the frame, and wallops that dynamite stick right back.  Dang!  This kid probably knows more about roostering than even Foghorn!
Next scene: Foghorn's post at the top of the ladder, up on the roof.  We find Foghorn confidently counting down to detonation time.  He calls zero "oh" and gets to say that again when he opens his eyes to find that the dynamite stick he once loved but set free had somehow returned to him!  Before he can even finish saying the complete "oh" of bewilderment and dread, BOOM!  Off it goes.  Well, the WB editors gotta have fun once in a while, you know.  "One of those days, ah guess," says Foghorn, as he sits there, with his suit of feathers being a little torn and tattered now.


And so, we're past the Third Act mark, but we're still in the process of Foghorn finding the right way to kill... er, peaceably remove this upstart young rooster named Junior from Old McDonald's Farm relatively free-range pecking yards once and for all.  We've moved on from the cleverness of having a passing motorist try and do the job, and we're on to a more direct method involving firearms.  And so, Foghorn has jerry-rigged... that is spelled right, right?  Foghorn was watching the DIY channel or something and saw the Bob Vila episode about how to kill someone using a shotgun, and some bait tied to said shotgun with a string.  Sure, it would probably only work on someone like Paul Krendler with the top of his head removed, but surely Junior Rooster will fall for it?  The bait: corn on the cob, which Foghorn has to point out to the little tyke is the quintessential chicken food... even though I've heard that chickens shouldn't eat too much corn.  Maybe they mean the hard kernels usually used for popcorn, I don't know.
And so, Junior runs off to try and get that ear of corn, and Foghorn tries to look away, awaiting the sound of the shotgun going off.  Foghorn makes a joke about the difference between "border" and "boarder" that will probably get cut from future viewings on cable, and then he goes over to micromanage Junior, who's still tugging away at that corn cob.  Apparently, the cob weighs more than Junior.  Foghorn's Southern accent seems to vanish when he's shouting "HARDER!!! HARDER!!!!"  Happens to the best of thespians, I guess.  But the pint-sized rooster's got a lot of pluck, or gumption, or maybe the word "quit" isn't in his dictionary, because God bless him, he keeps trying.  Unfortunately for Foghorn, the young rooster yanks on the cob so hard that the shotgun swings up and is now resting snugly against Foghorn's giant beak.  Foghorn says "harder" a little less loudly, and indeed, seems to switch to saying "Har-de-har" instead before the gun goes off.
After the gun goes off, Foghorn ends up picking up his beak off the ground, much like Daffy Duck putting his beak back into place after getting shot by Elmer on more than about twenty occasions across several different short features.  However, when Foghorn picks up his beak, he seems to be drowning in water, because he's making these disconcerting gurgling noises!  Makes me long for the quiet dignity of Daffy.  I'm telling you!  They tinkered with the Foghorn formula, and they paid the price.  But that's how it is, folks.  You gotta take those kind of risks, otherwise you risk outright stagnation.  Fade to black.
Fourth attempt... you know, the older I get, the less funny land mines become.  Bridges crumble, steel rusts, iron oxidizes, buildings and houses get old, and really bad houses get this funky black mold on it... somehow, time is kind to all those land mines out there!  Must be because they're underground or something.  But don't worry, because we live in the modern world, and someday someone will devise that low-cost yet reusable method of disposing of those explosive little darlings.  I'm thinking a concrete cylinder so big that a single land mine couldn't hurt it so bad.  Four or five mines, sure, it starts to break up, but it can handle the first three just fine.  Maybe a giant cylinder made of steel.  Well, we gotta test the building materials of tomorrow somehow!  Acts of terrorism don't seem to be on the decline.
And so, we see Foghorn taking the top mine out of a giant wooden crate marked "Land Mines."  I guess they're old army surplus mines or something.  Well, that was the era when the Acme corporation was into more household-type goods... okay, bad example.  Wile E. Coyote got his share of explosives and miles of railroad track from Acme.  And so, Foghorn buries one mine in the ground, disguised as a gopher mound.  He's got a length of thin black string and he decides that it would make a suitable substitute for a worm.  And so, the ruse is that he'll pull the string, call it a worm, and tell Junior to go digging after it.  Let's see how it plays out.
So far so good.  I don't know why Junior would trust Foghorn any more, but Junior runs over to the string, thinking it's a worm.  Foghorn pulls the string and it disappears.  "He dot away!" says Junior.  "Well, DIG for him, son!" says Foghorn, throwing a teeny weeny pickax over to Junior.  Look how that pickax glistens in the sunlight and... dude!  What if Prissy saw that?  Throwing a big-ass pickax to a pint-sized rooster.
And so, Junior starts to dig for that darned old worm... to show you how my mind works, I thought Foghorn said "that sensitive mind."  I had to check the Closed Captioning on that one.  Why, duh!  Mine with an 'e'.  Guess I was overthinking it.  Anyway, and so, Foghorn once again turns away, holding his ears, fearing yet eagerly awaiting the largeness of the resultant explosion.  Um... spoiler alert.  Remember all those times one of the Looney Tunes / Merrie Melodies characters plays a piano that has a bomb attached to a very specific piano key?  Remember how those usually turn out?  Same thing here.  Spoiler alert #2: Junior is gently pushed off screen by the resulting explosion.


"MAKEUP!!!!" screams Daffy... sorry, I was thinking of A Star is Bored.  Gotta wait for Volume Five for that one, alas.
And so, having exhausted his supply of explosives, Foghorn decides to take his case directly to the management of Old McDonald's Farm.  "It's either that kid or me!  One of us has gotta go!" says Foghorn loudly to himself on his way into the office... sorry, probably should've had that quote in all-caps.  Now, for those of you who say that government is too inefficient, well... let's try to leave the current (sorry excuse for an) administration aside for the moment.  And sure, business could probably be more efficient for some in the business sector, so they will probably admire the speed at which the management of Old McDonald's Farm processes Foghorn's grievance.  As for me, well, I can't help but think of that old line in A Serious Man and in Bridge of Spies... something about that the boss isn't always right, but he's still the boss.  And again, departing from the formula.  These things are supposed to end with Henery Hawk getting his first chicken after all, even if it's not a chicken.  One time it was Sylvester.  Another time it was Foghorn, the dog and a horse.  In The Foghorn Leghorn it was a loud-mouthed shnook.  Here, the Acme Poultry Co. drives slowly away with just Foghorn in its truck with the giant man-sized cage in the back.  I'm thinking Foghorn will be a little too gamey, but whatever.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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