#9 -- High Note

Title - High Note
Director - Chuck Jones
Released - 1960

Interesting Fact -- Nominated for Academy Award for Best Short Subject, Cartoons

Reason for Placement --

This goes down as one of the most creative ideas ever put to pen and paper. A group of music notes come to life and create sheet music for the classic waltz, "The Blue Danube". However, one of the notes has stumbled into Joseph Winner's song "Little Brown Jug", has become intoxicated, and proceeds to run amok throughout the waltz, causing the conducting note to chase after him and get him back where he belongs in the song.

I've got to confess that, as an artist, this was probably the most inspirational cartoon I've ever seen; the idea of giving life to music notes and the way Jones and his team were able to create every-day objects out of musical symbols really helped jump-start my creativity and open my eyes to what could be done with art and animation.

I should also point out that when I got to junior high and joined the school band, I couldn't look at my sheet music without thinking of this cartoon. Some people might have just seen music notes, but for me, whole notes will always be eggs, sharps will always be tic-tac-toe boards, and quarter rests will always be dogs.

High Note, a classic cartoon that is, quite literally, music to everyone's eyes.

#10 -- Knighty Knight Bugs

Title - Knighty Knight Bugs
Director - Friz Freleng
Released - 1958

Interesting Fact -- May I have the envelope, please? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the only Bugs Bunny cartoon to ever win an Oscar.

Reason for Placement --

Using Freleng's usual method of placing our characters in historic locations, Bugs finds himself the court jester of King Arthur himself, who is looking for someone to retrieve his mystical Singing Sword from the Black Knight (played by everyone's favorite hot-tempered villain, Yosemite Sam). Bugs tells the King that, "Only a fool would go after the singing sword!" King Arthur's response: "A good idea... Fool!!" And so Bugs is sent to retrieve the sword from the Black Knight and his fire-breathing dragon.

Freleng and writer Warren Foster really outdid themselves with this masterpiece, it's probably one of the most well-written toons to come out of Warner Bros. The visual gags here are plenty, but the one-liners that Bugs and Sam throw back at one another give this short a real life that most other cartoons never got close to touching. It really all goes back to Freleng's remarkable sense of timing: it wasn't just with music and sound effects, it applied to the character's lines as well.

It's also probably worth mentioning that the Oscar for this short was a major plot-point in an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, titled, "Who Bopped Bugs Bunny?" In the episode, Bugs is kidnapped by a jealous rival, Slap-Happy Stanley the Elephant, whose cartoon he beat out for the Academy Award. While Stanley was never seen outside this short, it does parody another cartoon, Terrytoon's Sidney's Family Tree (staring Sidney the Elephant), which was indeed nominated the same year as Knighty Knight Bugs.

#11 -- Show Biz Bugs

Title - Show Biz Bugs
Director - Friz Freleng
Released - 1957

Reason for Placement --

It's well known that of all the great pairings/rivalries in Looney Tunes history, none stick out so much like the classic combination of Bugs vs. Daffy. The pair worked so well together on the screen, it's no surprise that the two are still considered the mascots of Warner Bros. animation. Show Biz Bugs was a great short that really put the rivalry between the two characters into the spotlight and showed us just why Daffy hates the long-eared rabbit so much.

The toon starts with our main characters preparing to do a show together at a theatre. Daffy is determined to prove that he's the star of the show, but no matter what he does, he just can't get any respect (or applause for that matter) from the audience. This is the start of one of the longest gags in this pairing: all Bugs has to do is show up on stage, smile, and the audience goes nuts; Daffy pulls out all the stops in his singing and dancing, but all we hear are crickets. But this is what really fuels Daffy's jealousy: he's not just arrogant and competitive, he really wants to get his due on the stage, and we can all identify with that. It's not just about wanting to be on top... it's about wanting to be noticed in the first place.

Personally, I don't think I'll ever fully understand why Daffy never gets a hint of applause from the audience, but in reality, I don't really want to know. Part of the fun is knowing that no matter what Daffy does, no matter how hard he tries, he's always going to come in second place... that is, until the last gag in the show.

Daffy decides to whip out his biggest act, dresses in a devil costume, and literally drinks a number of flamable liquids, swallows a match, and EXPLODES! (And yes, this scene has been edited countless times for broadcast, Lord knows parents can't have their kids thinking it's cool to drink gasoline and nitro glycerin). Well, the act is a success and Daffy finally gets the applause he wanted so badly... it's too bad that he can only do the act once.