#14 -- Gee Whiz-z-z-z-z-z-z


Title - Gee Whiz-z-z-z-z-z-z
Director - Chuck Jones
Released - 1956

Interesting Fact -- Last cartoon where Jones credited himself as "Charles M. Jones".

Reason for Placement --

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you what is probably one of the quintessential Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner cartoons. This was the 8th toon featuring this classic pair, but it contains some of the most memorable visual gags ever featured in the Looney Tunes.

So, let's get right down to it and look at the gags that help make this such a great cartoon. For me, there are two moments that help Gee Whiz-z-z-z-z-z-z really stand out. In the first one, Wile E. orders a Bat-Man suit that will allow him to fly after the Road Runner (no, not DC's Batman, this is a green suit with bat wings [see above photo], no Christian Bale jokes necessary). He spreads his wings all menacing-like, dives off the cliff... and starts plummeting to the ground. But instead of splatting as usual, Wile E. actually gains control at the last minute and start soaring! We see Wile E. flying, smiling proudly (no music in the background, just great sound effects provided by Treg Brown), it looks like he's really got the hang of the suit, and... WHAM! Right into the cliffside! And NOW we get the scene of him falling and splatting on the ground. Great build-up with even better pay-off, this is easily one of the greatest moments ever in WEC/RR history.

The second is the last gag: Wile E. straps a pair of handlebars on a jet engine and uses it to zoom after the Road Runner (accompanied by everyone's favorite Raymond Scott selection, "Powerhouse"). However, as the Road Runner nears the edge of a cliff, he does a U-turn, and Wile E. zips right past him, off the cliff! But he doesn't fall, and the engine keeps going with the coyote onboard, completely unaware that he's gone off the road. Disgruntled at having lost his dinner, Wile E. turns off the engine to think, still in mid-air, just inches away from the other cliffside. The Road Runner (who made it to the other end of the cliff), beeps to alert his foe of what is going on. Wile E. then violates the #1 cartoon law of physics: when defying the law of gravity... NEVER LOOK DOWN!

As he falls to his doom (yet again), Wile E. hold up a sign asking the director to end the cartoon before he hits. Jones is apparently willing to grant the coyote his last wish and irises out, but not before Wile E. can hold up another sign, thanking the animators.

#15 -- The Scarlet Pumpernickel


Title - The Scarlet Pumpernickel
Director - Chuck Jones
Released - 1950

Interesting Fact -- Voted #31 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field in 1994

Reason for Placement --

Who would have thought even cartoon characters get tired of being comedians? In this short, Daffy begs his boss to let him do a dramatic part, and reads to him a script that he wrote, "The Scarlet Pumpernickel". This was a major change for Daffy, as we see him in this new role as a masked bandit, channeling his own version of Errol Flynn as he saves his lady love, Melissa from the tyranny of... Sylvester and Porky. Yep, they're the villains in this one.

The Scarlet Pumpernickel is one of those cartoons that is not only fun to watch, but has so many interesting little details. First of all, this short has one of the biggest casts of Looney Tunes stars: you have Daffy, Sylvester, Porky, and even Elmer Fudd and Henery Hawk make cameo appearances. Second, this was only one of a few shorts that had numerous references to its birthplace, Warner Bros. Studios (Daffy even holds a conversation with co-founder Jack Warner, who remains off-screen and is referred to as J.L.). Also, there's the fun fact that as Mel Blanc used the same voice for Daffy and Sylvester (Daffy's voice was sped-up to give him a higher pitch), so the scenes of them together is essentially Blanc talking to himself... in the same voice!

And finally, you have what is probably the most controversial ending ever in a Looney Tunes short: after he finished plugging his script to J.L., Daffy pulls himself up, completely exhausted, and says, "...there was nothing left for the Scarlet Pumpernickel to do, but blow his brains out... which he did."

BANG!

"It's getting so you have to kill yourself to sell a story around here!"

#16 -- Rabbit of Seville


Title - Rabbit of Seville
Director - Chuck Jones
Released - 1950

Interesting Fact -- Voted #20 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field in 1994

Reason for Placement --

It's Rabbit Season again, and Bugs is on the run from Elmer, hiding out backstage at a large theater. However, as Elmer accidentally runs onstage looking for his prey, the curtain goes up, and Bugs and Elmer find themselves the stars of a new twist on the classic opera, The Barber of Seville.

While it goes without saying that Friz Freleng was the master of timing to music in Looney Tunes, the few music-based shorts that Jones directed truly stand out amongst some of the most memorable cartoons ever created. Carl Starling outdoes himself with this short, combining Rossini's brilliant opera with his own arraignments to help give the short an amazing musical score, punctuated with Elmer and Bugs' singing (interestingly enough, the two only sing through the first half, the rest is done without dialogue). The animation matches perfectly with each note; in fact, during the scene where Bugs "plays piano" on Elmer's head, Jones gives us the only animated sequence where Bugs is featured with five fingers to help match up with the hand of a piano player.

#17 -- Baby Bottleneck


Title - Baby Bottleneck
Director - Bob Clampett
Released - 1946

Reason for Placement --

Each of the Termite Terrace directors were known for having one particular trait that helped their toons to stand out: Friz Freleng was known for his timing, Bob McKimson had personality, and Chuck Jones was known for his style. Clampett, however, was known for his squash-and-stretch animation techniques which helped Warner Bros. to take the leap needed to disassociate themselves with Disney's animation department.

Baby Bottleneck is probably the best example of Clampett's animation. The Baby Boom had started, couples were all ready to start families, and Clampett played off of this by featuring what is literally a "baby factory": a facility designed to help get newborns to their expecting parents. Porky and Daffy are managing the factory, but run into some serious difficulty when they come across an unhatched egg with no address or name.

If you go frame by frame in this cartoon, you will actually see dozens of poses in each shot; the characters literally stretch themselves all over the screen, nothing is done in a simple blur shot. In one scene, Porky tries to force Daffy to sit on the unhatched egg, constantly pushing the duck across the screen and towards the egg. Just take a look at the screen shots and you'll see how much detail Clampett put into the animation.

It's also worth noting that the factory scenes include probably the most well-known use of "Powerhouse" by Raymond Scott, playing off the "assembly line"-style of the music with the babies as they are rolled out in the factory.

#18 -- Chow Hound


Title - Chow Hound
Director - Chuck Jones
Released - 1951

Reason for Placement --

If any of the Looney Tunes shorts developed a "cult following", it would have to be Chow Hound. This is one of those unique cartoons that doesn't have any recurring Looney Tunes stars and never really got any kind of recognition when it was released, but virtually everyone knows it.

Part of what makes it stand out is that it goes against the normal cat vs. dog formula that multiple cartoons had done in the past: instead of the cat being the villain against the noble dog, the dog in Chow Hound is a merciless bully, who puts the cat through various scams to earn him more food.

The other part that helps this toon to stay so popular is the ending, which shows the cat (and a mouse also used for a few of the scams) finally getting their revenge on the dog. I'll go ahead and admit that for a cartoon, this was a pretty dark ending, with the cat and mouse torturing the dog as he lies helpless on a vet's table after eating too much food. Ever heard of water-boarding? Well, this cartoon introduces us to "gravy-boarding"!

#19 -- Bully for Bugs


Title - Bully for Bugs
Director - Chuck Jones
Released - 1953

Reason for Placement --

There are actually two reasons I'm putting this toon on the countdown. First of all, there is the simple fact that this is a fun toon with one of the most famous moments in Looney Tunes history: the Slap Dance, set to the tune of "Las Chiapanecas".

The second reason is the story behind why Jones and Michael Maltese decided to make this short: while working at Termite Terrace one day, Eddie Selzer, who took over the position of studio head after Leon Schlesinger in 1944, burst in and announced (for apparently no reason whatsoever) that bull fights were not funny and they were not to make a cartoon about one. So what do Jones and Maltese do? Yep, make a bull-fighting cartoon. According to Jones' biography Chuck Amuck, they felt they had to as Selzer had proven time and time again to be wrong about virtually anything. And of course, he was easily wrong about this.

#20 -- Robin Hood Daffy


Title - Robin Hood Daffy
Director - Chuck Jones
Released - 1958

Interesting Fact -- According to the commentary on Looney Tunes Golden Collection #3, this is the favorite short of Linda Jones Clough, the director's daughter

Reason for Placement --

Let's face it: if you ran into this guy in the woods and he claimed to be Robin Hood, you probably wouldn't believe him. And neither does Porky, setting up one of Jones' best shorts, Robin Hood Daffy. Porky is on his way to join up with Robin Hood, but refuses to believe that the little black duck in front of him is the hero he searches for. In an attempt to prove himself, Daffy sees a rich traveler in the woods, and decides to steal his gold.

I'll go ahead and admit that this is one of my all-time favorite shorts, and I could watch it a million times over again. But more than that, it's a prime example of why Jones remains one of the top animation directors in history. First, the writing of Michael Maltese is great, with classic one-liners that virtually any animation fan knows. All one has to do is say, "YOIKS... AND AWAY!", and we all know what you're talking about.

Second, the animation in this short balances perfectly. On one end, you have heavy cartoon slapstick, such as the scene over the bridge, where Daffy challenges Porky to a duel with his "trusty quarterstaff" ("Actually, it's a buck-and-a-quarter-quarterstaff, but I'm not telling him that!"). Then you have a great piece of subtle animation when Daffy fails yet again to catch the rich traveller in the woods: all we see is Daffy's disappointed face, and in the distance we can see Porky with his sarcastic grin, waving to Daffy. It's not over the top, nor does it need to be.

I could probably go on for hours about how beautiful the animation in this short really is. The background shows us yellow skies with blue trees, which sounds weird but actually works well. Then you have great little bits like the rich traveller riding through the woods (gotta love how he never actually moves besides the mule's skipping), the recurring gag of Daffy's bill getting bent as a sign of frustration, and even something as simple as Porky's heaving belly as he laughs at Daffy. It's these little details that pull the entire short together and help Robin Hood Daffy leave such a memorable impression.

#21 -- Hyde and Go Tweet


Title - Hyde and Go Tweet
Director - Friz Freleng
Released - 1960

Reason for Placement --

After taking a nap on a window ledge (outside the office of one Dr. Jekyll), Sylvester starts doing what he does best and goes after Tweety. In an attempt to lose the puddy-tat, Tweety ducks into the doctor's office and hides in a bottle... too bad he didn't see the label that said "Hyde Formula". Meanwhile, Sylvester starts going through the doctor's office, only to confront a huge monstrous Tweety Bird!

This was the third cartoon Freleng made that parodied the classic story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the first two being 1954's Dr. Jekyll's Hide and 1955's Hyde and Hare, but this one is easily the best, if for no other reason that the chase scenes. Throughout the toon, Tweety repeatedly changes back into his monstrous form, quickly turning Sylvester from predator to prey and back again. The whole thing is made even funnier with the fact that Sylvester fails to put 2 and 2 together and see that the little canary he's been chasing is actually the monster that keeps coming after him!

#22 -- Hare-Way To The Stars


Title - Hare-Way To The Stars
Director - Chuck Jones
Released - 1958

Reason for Placement --

This is going down as probably one of the toughest decisions I've had to make in a long time: which Bugs Bunny/Marvin the Martian toon most belongs on the countdown? These are some of Jones' best shorts, and I love all of them, but sadly, there is only room for one.

Marvin had appeared in two other shorts which stared Bugs Bunny. In the first one, Haredevil Hare, Bugs runs into Marvin on the moon and must stop him from blowing up the Earth. This was a great short, but Marvin really didn't make much of an impression on audiences. In the second short, The Hasty Hare, Marvin and K-9 (his Martian dog) come to Earth to find and capture an Earth creature for study... and I'll give you three guesses who they find. This one was definitely funnier; plus, Marvin's voice was changed from the nasally high-pitched one to the deeper, but still soft-spoken voice we all know and love.

So that leads us to Hare-Way To The Stars, in which Bugs is accidentally sent to Mars (via a rocket that was placed over his hole), and runs into Marvin, once again trying to destory the Earth with his Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator. This time, however, they do give us a reason for his desire to get rid of the Earth: it obstructs his view of Venus.

There are actually a couple of reasons this particular toon gets the coveted spot. First of all, the Space Race had just started when this toon aired, and you can really feel the excitement behind the world's fascination with outer space (especially since the satellite that hits Bugs is modeled to look exactly like Sputnik). Second, Jones re-uses a previous creation of his from Jumpin' Jupiter: the dehydrated Martians, which actually give us one of the best chase sequences outside of a Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner toon. Finally, the background designs are incredible; Maurice Noble really outdid himself with the look of Mars, showcasing a one-of-a-kind abstract style that I honestly cannot get enough of.

#23 -- The Dover Boys at Pimento University or The Rivals of Roquefort Hall


Title - The Dover Boys at Pimento University or The Rivals of Roquefort Hall
Director - Chuck Jones
Released - 1942

Reason for Placement --

While this toon doesn't contain any Looney Tunes stars, and the humor is more subtle than usual, most consider this short to be the first real classic piece that Chuck Jones churned out while at Termite Terrace.

This was the first short that Jones really experimented with stylized animation (using shape-heavy designs with minimal movement), and he would later say that this was the first toon he made that he actually found funny.

What always intrigued me about The Dover Boys was its ability to remain so classic. After all, the story parodies a juvenile book series from the early nineteenth century, so it's not like anyone today remembers where the original source material comes from. Plus, the humor manages to stay away from some of the stronger visual gags that Jones would later make part of his signature style.

If I had to pick why I love this short, I'd have to go with the scene in Dan Backslide's cabin, as "dainty" Dora Standpipe cries for the heros to come and rescue her... all while giving Backslide a savage beating that would make Anderson Silva shed a few tears! In the end, you really can't blame him for crying out for help as well!

#24 -- Mexican Boarders


Title - Mexican Boarders
Director - Friz Freleng
Released - 1962

Reason for Placement --

Slowpoke Rodriguez is one of those characters that only appeared in a few cartoons (in this case, two), but everyone knows who he is.  The much slower cousin of Speedy Gonzazles, Slowpoke made his debut in 1959's Mexicali Shmoes, but it was in Mexican Boarders that he finally got his starring role.

Slowpoke shows up at Speedy's door for a visit, much to the surprise (and joy) of Sylvester, who's flat-out exhausted from chasing the fastest mouse in all of Mexico.  Speedy warns his cousin that he can't leave the mouse hole because of Sylvester, so Speedy ends up running back and forth for Slowpoke.  It's probably worth pointing out that this is actually the only time where Sylvester does indeed catch Speedy, but thanks to the bottle of tabasco sauce the mouse is carrying, he manages to escape.

What we all remember is what happens when Sylvester does manage to get his paws on Slowpoke, only to find out that the slow mouse isn't all that helpless.  In his first appearance, Slowpoke surprises the other two cats by pulling out a gun, but in this short, I guess Termite Terrace decided to make him a little less violent by having him hypnotize Sylvester into becoming his slave!   Slowpoke says it best: "Maybe Slowpoke is slow downstairs in the feet, but he's pretty fast upstairs in la cabeza."  

#25 -- Ali Baba Bunny


Title - Ali Baba Bunny
Director - Chuck Jones
Released - 1957

Interesting Fact -- Voted #35 of the Top 50 Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field.

Reason for Placement --

This was always one of my top favorite cartoons growing up, I must have watched it countless times.  Bugs is once again on vacation, and as usual, misses that right turn at Albuquerque, but this time, Daffy is tagging a long ("What a way for a duck to travel, underground.").  The two end up in a sealed cavern filled with treasure, so of course, while Bugs is only concerned with getting to Pismo Beach, Daffy becomes obsessed with the treasure, leading to some of the duck's greatest dialogue:

"IT'S MINE, YOU UNDERSTAND?!?  MINE, ALL MINE!  GET BACK IN THERE!  DOWN!  DOWN!  DOWN!  GO!  GO!  GO!  MINE!  MINE!  MINE!"

"I can't help it, I'm a greedy slob... it's my hobby.  Save me!"

Jones definitely perfected the calm Bugs vs. greedy Daffy formula, and this short is a perfect example of the characters' relationship with one another.  Now I do have to point out that there are several other cartoons that Jones made using this same principle, including The Abominable Snow Rabbit & Beanstalk Bunny, which I love just as much, but sadly, do not have room for on the countdown.  So while I highly recommend checking out those shorts as well, I've got to give the spot to Ali Baba Bunny.

Besides, if nothing else, the line "HASSAN CHOP!" remains one of my fiancĂ©e's favorite Looney Tunes moments.  

#26 -- Often an Orphan


Title - Often an Orphan
Director - Chuck Jones
Released - 1949

Reason for Placement --

I can actually remember getting upset as a kid during the first moments of Often an Orphan: a man sets up a picnic with his dog, but when the dog runs after a stick to play fetch, the owner actually grabs his stuff and drives off, essentially leaving the dog on the side of the road. Being the die-hard animal lover, that moment made me pretty uneasy... until I figured out that the owner wasn't so much abandoning the animal, as escaping from Charlie Dog!

This short earns its spot on the countdown if for no reason than the speech Charlie gives Porky so he can stay on his farm, detailing how many breeds of dogs he comes from:

"I'm 50% Pointer (There it is! There it is), 50% Boxer, 50% Setter... Irish Setter, 50% Watchdog, 50% Spitz, 50% Doberman Pincher, but mostly, I'm all Labrador Retriever."

And remember, if you doubt his word, just go get a Labrador and he'll retrieve it!

#27 -- Really Scent


Title - Really Scent
Director - Abe Levitow
Released - 1959

Reason for Placement --

While taking the usual formula for a Pepe Le Pew short, Really Scent takes it upon itself to give us a few significant changes that help it to stand out.  First of all, the action takes place in the US, specifically New Orleans, rather than France.  Second, the victim of Pepe's chase, a black cat named Fabrette, is not a normal black cat with a stripe painted down her back; instead, she was born with the stripes, making her look exactly like a skunk.  

And finally, as the narrator explains to both us and Fabrette, the cat actually wants to be with Pepe!  While she does run away from his stench, all Fabrette wants is a boyfriend, and she's willing to do anything possible to be with Pepe (since regular cats run away when they see her stripe), even going so far as to hold her breath as long as possible.  

I'm sure there's a lot of people who probably think that last element is probably a bit sexist and outdated, but to me, Really Scent will always be one of my favorite Pepe Le Pew toons.  

#28 -- Falling Hare


Title - Falling Hare
Director - Bob Clampett
Released - 1943

Reason for Placement --

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you one of only a handful of creatures to ever get the better of Bugs Bunny... the Gremlin.  

We open the short with Bugs reading a book titled, "Victory through Hare Power" (nice pun), which says that gremlins are a constant threat to pilots, often sabotaging their planes and instruments.  Of course, Bugs laughs this off... until he comes face-to-face with an actual gremlin, trying to detonate the blockbuster bomb Bugs is sitting on! 

This is probably Clampett's best Bugs cartoon, showcasing some of his signature squash-and-stretch style, though it goes without showing that the gremlin gives Bugs probably the biggest beating of the rabbit's life!  Seriously, I have watched maybe a couple hundred Looney Tunes cartoons, and I don't think that there has been another one made where Bugs gets as thrown around as much as this one.  The gremlin hits him with a mallet (twice), throws him out of a plane (again, twice), and then sends the plane with them in it hurtling to the ground!  It's not like there haven't been any other shorts where Bugs was the victim in the end or ending up losing, but this.. this is too much!  I challenge you to find a toon where Bugs gets beaten up so badly.

Falling Hare, the Termite Terrace creation that really gave parents a reason to worry about violence in cartoons.

#29 -- Satan's Waitin'


Title - Satan's Waitin'
Director - Friz Freleng
Released - 1954

Reason for Placement --

There's always been a long-standing belief that when it came to cartoon characters, they couldn't be hurt and they couldn't die.  Well, next time someone tells you that, show them Satan's Waitin'.  Sylvester, while chasing Tweety, falls off of a building and actually dies and goes to Hell!  Geez, I knew Sylvester was more of a villain than hero in the Looney Tunes, but did he really deserve to go to Hell? 

Well, as it turns out, Sylvester isn't completely dead, as cats have nine lives.  So he goes back up to Earth, but a Satanic bulldog is there to goad him to continue chasing Tweety, and in doing so, use up his remaining 8 lives.  I give a lot of credit to Freleng and Warren Foster for coming up with the elaborate ways Sylvester uses up the lives.  

It's probably worth mentioning that the general idea behind this short was re-used by Freleng in a clip-show-style short titled Devil's Feud Cake, where Yosemite Sam goes to Hell and tries to win his freedom by bringing back Bugs Bunny.  However, because it uses scenes from other shorts, I'm not putting it on the countdown.  

Satan's Waitin', while a bit on the creepy side, is still fun, clever, and shows us that cartoon characters could, in fact, kick the bucket.  

#30 -- My Little Duckaroo


Title - My Little Duckaroo
Director - Chuck Jones
Released - 1954

Reason for Placement --

I'm probably going to get roasted alive for including this short and not its predecessor, Drip Along Daffy, but honestly, I've always liked this short a bit more.  There's more action, the animation is brighter, and the jokes are a lot funnier.

Daffy plays the Masked Avenger (Porky reprises his role as the Comedy Relief), and sets out to arrest and turn in Nasty Canasta for the $10,000 reward.  However, once he gets to Canasta's hide-out, he finds out that trying to get the upper hand on Canasta is easier said than done.  When the villain doesn't respond to his Masked Avenger costume, Daffy changes into the Freesco Kid (a scene often edited out of broadcasts), and then as Super Guy (a rather blatant Superman parody), but still doesn't get Canasta's attention.

The toon goes on with Daffy trying to find some way to take Canasta down, but failing miserably.  You just have to love the duck's determination to turn him in and claim the reward, even though it's common knowledge he doesn't stand a chance.  Even when he handcuffs him and tries to take him away, Canasta still doesn't move (even breaking the handcuffs like they were made out of paper).  

So like I said, this short always stuck with me a bit more than Drip Along Daffy (please don't get me wrong, I love that cartoon as well).  Plus, let's face it: it's Daffy being the greedy duck we all know and love so well.  He's not interested in justice, he just wants the reward.  

"After all, it's not the principle of the thing... it's the money."  

#31 -- By Word of Mouse


Title - By Word of Mouse
Director - Friz Freleng
Released - 1954
Italic
Reason for Placement --

In the mid 1950s, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation underwrote three Looney Tunes cartoons to educate viewers about consumerism and business, all directed by Freleng.  

In the first one, By Word of Mouse, a German mouse named Hans comes to visit his cousin Willie in America, but doesn't understand the idea behind mass-consumption and mass-production.  When Willie fails to explain it to him, they go to see a professor mouse who gives them a brief lesson on how economics work.  However, the mice must go over the lecture while being chased around the classroom by Sylvester!

The other two toons follow similar paths: in Heir Conditioned, Sylvester inherits a fortune, but his financial advisor, Elmer Fudd shows him why he should invest the money.  And in the last one, Yankee Dood It, Freleng takes the classic story The Shoemaker and the Elves and demonstrates how a business runs.  

Sure, sounds boring, but I give these shorts high marks because I learned more from these three cartoons than I ever did about business in high school or college (it's often been my opinion that schools need to start offering a personal finance course for people like me who never had much of a chance to learn about basic economics and such).  Truth be told, you could probably put any of these three cartoons in this spot on the countdown, but I'm going to give the extra point to By Word of Mouse; it's just as educational as the others, but the chase during the lesson plan is what does it for me.

#32 -- A Witch's Tangled Hare


Title - A Witch's Tangled Hare
Director - Abe Levitow 
Released - 1959

As before in Broom-stick Bunny, Bugs finds himself as the last ingredient in Witch Hazel's potion, but this time, he manages to run off to a nearby castle, with Hazel close behind.  All while doing this, a man in Renaissance-era clothes is following them and taking notes... gee, who could this be?  

One element about this toon to help it stand out is the location: in the other toons Witch Hazel starred in, the setting was her house (complete with the abstract style of Maurice Noble), but in A Witch's Tangled Hare, we're actually in the Scotland Moors.  This isn't a crack at Noble, he remains one of my favorite artists, but for this short, the new background really works.

Another part of what makes this short so fun is the subtle nods to Shakespeare that Levitow and Michael Maltese throw in: the castle has a mailbox with the name 'Macbeth' on it, Hazel performs part of the Witch's Spell from the same play, and in an attempt to confuse her, Bugs puts on a performance of Romeo & Juliet.   

This wasn't the first toon to star Witch Hazel, nor the last, but in my opinion, it's probably the best.  

#33 -- The Three Little Bops


Title - The Three Little Bops
Director - Friz Freleng
Released - 1957

Interesting Fact -- This was the only time another voice actor (Stan Freberg) was given solo screen credit other than Mel Blanc.

Reason for Placement --

The directors at Termite Terrace were famous for putting their own spins on classic stories and fables, but this is probably the most unique and famous of them all. Freleng's The Three Little Bops takes the story of the Three Little Pigs and updates them to jazz musicians. The pigs are now in a band, and the Big Bad Wolf actually just wants to join them... except that he is probably the worst trumpet-player in the history of music! So that's where we get the original story pulled in: each time the Wolf is kicked out of the club the pigs are in, he huffs and puffs and- you know what, you all know the story, you know what happens.

Freleng really gives us a brilliant short, with all of the sound (including the sound effects) provided by an actual jazz combo. Freburg also proves himself as one of the most talented voice actors ever to work at Termite Terrace by providing the voices of every character in the short, including the singning narrator (Blanc had a contractual agreement that only his name would appear in the shorts, but Freleng gave this one to Freburg as Blanc did not provide any of the voice work).

Great music, clever twist on a classic story, terrific voice work, impressive style... it's easy to see why The Three Little Bops remains one of Freleng's best pieces of all time, and more than earns it's spot on the countdown.

#34 -- Devil May Hare


Title - Devil May Hare
Director - Bob McKimson
Released - 1954

Interesting Fact -- First appearance of the Tasmanian Devil

Reason for Placement --

When it came to antagonists for Bugs Bunny, you really couldn't get a whole lot better than the Tasmanian Devil. Elmer and Yosemite have their guns, Wile E. has his wits, but Taz... he's just hungry! I mean, he's essentially a stomach with legs, he has no motivation and no desire but to eat; he doesn't set traps like the others, he just comes in, spinning through the boulder, then the tree, then the ground, then another tree, and there he is. Bugs was the master at outwitting his opponents and escaping their traps, but McKimson gave us a new type of character, one that relied on strength and bite alone.

Making his Looney Tunes debut, the Tasmanian Devil decides to add Bugs to his menu, but the rabbit offers to give Taz a gourmet feast instead. I always loved that Taz, while easily the dumbest villain Bugs ever faced, was also probably the hardest to get rid of. In one scene, Bugs offers to cook up some groundhogs, so he and Taz start digging for them... only for Bugs to completely bury him! He thinks he's gotten rid of the menace, when Taz appears behind him and asks, "What for you bury me in the cold, cold ground?" I loved that line when I was younger, but when I watched this short again as a teen (with all of my friends), this was the moment we all started laughing.

#35 -- Pizzicato Pussycat


Title - Pizzicato Pussycat
Director - Friz Freleng
Released - 1955

Reason for Placement --

When I was a kid, one of my teachers told us a story about how her cat would get on the piano and walk across the keys in the middle of the night. So when I first saw Pizzicato Pussycat, all I could think of was how she'd react if instead of hearing the random notes of the cat walking on the ivories, she actually heard music!

A cat discovers that a mouse can play the piano (and really well actually, the music in this short is pretty impressive). However, instead of letting the mouse get the credit, the cat hides him in the family's grand piano and lets his owners think he is the one making the beautiful music. When the owners call the press, the cat agrees to spare the life of the mouse, if he helps him keep up the charade.

I think that one of the reasons this toon stands out was Freleng's decision to not include any major stars. While he could have easily put Sylvester in the short, Pizzicato Pussycat works best with these one-note characters (pun intended, get over it). And like I said before, the music in this short is great, especially the jazzed-up version of Chopin's Waltz the mouse performs.

#36 -- Martian Through Georgia


Title - Martian Through Georgia
Director - Chuck Jones
Released - 1962

Reason for Placement --

I think we can all identify with the alien in this short; he lives in what is essentially a utopia, has a girl who's crazy about him, but he's bored, plain & simple. How often have we felt that, just fed up with everything in our lives and seeking something... anything, that can take that boredom away?

Though Jones get a big chunk of the credit for this episode, I give a lot of points to Maurice Noble for his eye-catching abstract background. The design in Martian Through Georgia is beyond cool, not only giving us a killer design for the alien world, but even the design on Earth, showing us why Jones would would credit Noble as a co-director in a lot of his later shorts (this one included).

#37 -- Scrap Happy Daffy


Title - Scrap Happy Daffy
Director - Frank Tashlin
Released - 1943

Reason for Placement --

Of all the WWII-themed toons to come out of Termite Terrace, Scrap Happy Daffy is probably my all-time favorite. Daffy is helping collect a massive amount of scrap metal for the warfront, but the Nazis decide to send a hungry billy goat to eat away the metal before it can be put to good use.

After getting his feathered behind kicked by the goat, Daffy is about ready to throw in the towel (he actually asks for a can of spinach, nice little nod to Popeye cartoons), but images of his ancestors (who all took part in historic moments in American history) call on Daffy to keep fighting, because, "Americans Don't Give Up!" This is probably one of the most patriotic moments every to come out of the Looney Tunes, and while a line like this can probably raise a few eyebrows nowadays, you can just imagine how empowering a scene like that was to people during WWII. Corny, sure, but this is a toon that can really give us a sense of pride about our country.

#38 -- Compressed Hare


Title - Compressed Hare
Director - Chuck Jones
Released - 1961

Reason for Placement --

While taking a shower, Bugs gets a phone call from his new neighbor, asking for a cup of carrots to add to a stew. Bugs, being the good neighbor, is more than happy to bring over the carrots, but that's when he sees the name on the mailbox: "Wile E. Coyote -- Genius". A twitch of the whiskers, Bugs looks over his shoulder, raises his eyebrow, and that's all we need to see: we now know exactly what is coming.

While probably not Jones' best work, Compressed Hare is still a lot of fun, especially when we come to the last trap: Wile E. builds an extra-powerful electro-magnet, and gives Bugs an iron carrot (personally, I never understood why Wile E. thought Bugs would go for the faux carrot, he obviously can't bite into it, did he think he'd just swallow it whole?). Bugs, wise to the plan, pretends to eat the carrot and let's Wile E. turn on the magnet, sending not only the carrot, but also every single metal item in the rabbit's hole at him! Bugs turns to the audience to give his closing line... only to turn and see that pretty much every single metallic object on the planet is now heading straight towards them! You gotta love the idea of Jones' putting in one last joke, one that apparently, Bugs didn't even see coming!