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The Pink Phink
A classic short of the 1960s, "The Pink Phink" is a wondrous cartoon with a gorgeous simplistic style taken from the drawings of writer John W. Dunn, Friz Freleng's great directing and timing, and DePatie-Freleng's greatest strength: simplisity. This cartoon came about after the enormous success of the animated title sequences of Blake Edwards' comedy, "The Pink Panther", done by Freleng and his newly founded animation studio. Because of that fame, David H. DePatie (co-founder of DFE Films) approached Mirisch Films about the possibility of producing a theatrical cartoon series. United Artists and Mirisch jumped at that chance and the three signed a contract to produce 124 theatrical Pink Panther cartoons. Winner of the 1964 Academy Award for Best Short Subject, "The Pink Phink" is one of the best shorts I've ever seen and one of Friz's best directorial efforts. It spawned a series of enjoyable animated comedies and helped create DePatie-Freleng's other funny theatrical series such as The Inspector, Roland and Rattfink, and The Ant and the Aardvark.
Hawks and Doves
A hilarious introduction to a humorous, experimental series, "Hawks and Doves" is one of DePatie-Freleng's finest shorts. Directed by the very underrated Hawley Pratt, it is the start of the intentionally inconsistant Roland and Rattfink series. Hawley Pratt was an excellent draftsman, and the designs and animation are fun to watch and artistic. Pratt's direction and his great team of animators put out an excellent short and further details the strengths of DePatie-Freleng. Plus, I just can't get enough of the title characters Roland and Rattfink.
Gerald McBoing Boing
I LOVE this short. I could go into detail into my love for UPA and everyone involved, but I rather just go rewatch this short again and again. In fact, I'm just gonna grab my Jolly Frolics set and go watch it again. You should too
The Ant and the Aardvark
A groovy short made by the hottest cats in town. In one of Friz Freleng's last directed animated shorts, "The Ant and the Aardvark" is a tightly written, humorously performed, and gorgeously simplistic cartoon. Sure, like most DFE shorts, it's reminiscent of Warner Bros cartoons and can be a bit hit and miss in terms of comedy. However, look at this in terms of its own merits and you'll have a grand ol' time.
"Madeline" is one of the most adorable shorts I've seen. UPA does it again and brings a charming little story by Ludwig Bemelmans to the screen with elegance and grace. This cartoon oozes France (it's so French, Pepé le Pew should be jealous). The gorgeous watercolor backgrounds create a dream like interpretation of the country of love. And the narration provided by the lovely Gladys Holland seals the deal in this excellent short by one of animation's best studios.
The Tell-Tale Heart
For all those who perceive animation to be nothing but funny animals and children's entertainment, I bring you this. From UPA, a top-notch adaptation of one of literature's finest writers, "The Tell Tale Heart". This cartoon has a marvelous atmosphere with eerie backdrops with basically tell the entire story by themselves. The narration by James Mason is almost the entire reason to watch this as he gives a disturbing performance and hooks you in 'till the very end. Horror and animation fans who have not seen this NEED to watch this under appreciated masterpiece.
One of the best entries in the series and also (surprisingly) one of the few theatrical cartoons to actually embrace the psychedelia of the 1960s. Hawley Pratt was not just one of the best directors at DePatie-Freleng but he wa sprobably the best director on the Pink Panther series. This entry is my personal favorite of his and I view it to be the best thing he's ever directed. The background art is sublime, using minimal design, simple colors, and that psychedelic flare to give it life and personality. I also love how they made The Little White Man a book nerd hippie operating this bizzare book store. It's simple attention to details like this that make "Psychedelic Pink" on of the best Pink Panther cartoons ever made (also one of the best 60's theatrical shorts ever produced).
The Great DeGaulle Stone Operation
One of DePatie-Freleng's greatest animated shorts. The first entry in their Inspector short series, and interestingly enough, this short premiered before the james Bond film Thunderball. "The Great DeGaulle Stone Operation" is a hilarious, well-written, stylish cartoon standing out on its own both today and during it's original release. Friz Freleng wasn't much of a director at the studio, only directing about a dozen cartoons between their three best series. But of the cartoons he directed, this is his second best (first, obviously being The Pink Phink). There's a common misconception that The Inspector series is an adaptation of the Peter Sellers Pink Panther comedies. While it is true that they took some inspirations from Seller's and Commissioner Dreyfus' costume and attitude, it's more of an original creation. The series (and this short) take advantage of the limitless capabilities of animation and offer some pretty crazy situations and capers for our dimwitted Inspector to solve. So back on this cartoon. First off, we need to mention Tom Yakutis' brilliant background design. It gives so much personality to the entire series. His work looks like something you'd see in a museum and I get so hypnotized every time I rewatch this cartoon. I also dig these character designs. It's very obviously a product of the 1960s, but unlike studios like Walter Lantz the designs don't look lazy. The Inspector and his zanny villains are funny to look at and don't ape off some other studio's trademark style. The music by William Lava has a catchy beat. His rendition of Henry Mancini's super addictive theme to A Shot of the Dark works so well I can't imagine watching this short without hearing the music. Friz's direction is spot on and every joke (no matter who cliche) works so well based off its execution. I'm sorry if this post seems rambley, but I just really love this cartoon. Go off and buy The Inspector Blu-ray set if you are in the slightest bit interested. I believe this to be one of Friz Freleng's greatest directoral efforts and is truly worth your time.
Support Your Local Serpent
I'm gonna be blunt, this is my least favorite era of DePatie-Freleng theatricals. Every cartoon series produced after Tijuana Toads felt tired and soulless. It was as if the writers couldn't think of any good ideas and just shoved out anything to fit a six minute time for theaters or drive-ins (be it half baked or not). This series being no exception. The Blue Racer isn't funny. Of the 17 entries in this series, this is the only tolerable one. That doesn't make it good by any means, but at least John Dunn and the animators here tried just a little bit. The production design (like most DFE shorts) is surprisingly good with nice watercolors and a pretty decent recreation of ancient Japanese art. Bob Holt is pretty fun to listen to (except his racist performance of the beetle character) and some of the Racer's quips made me chuckle. Bob Thompson and the rest of the animators do a good job not making this feeling like a TV cartoon and do pull off some expressive dialogue scenes and nice squash-and-stretch. It's a damn shame the rest of the series wasn't as good as this one and DePatie-Freleng lost their touch in the theatrical market.
Sicque! Sicque! Sicque!
Most Inspector cartoons felt like TV cartoons with more inbetweens, but I'd say this is one of the better entries in the series. Tom Yakutis' designs help breathe life into this short, and the writing and timing are legitimately good this time. Sure, it's a glorified reskin of Freleng's "Hyde and Go Tweet" (not the first time a DFE short is a rehash of Warner short), but it takes the idea and makes it feel appropriate and not out of place. It's barely 6 minutes without credits, so you don't have much to lose.
Sweet and Sourdough
Roland and Rattfink gets pretty boring the more it went on. The timing felt off, the drawings got worse, and something about the writing felt exhausted and tired. Yet, with all this being said, I really enjoy Roland and Rattfink....all of it. The main characters are fun, there's a sense of disdain for the Hollywood system, and every sense of child-friendly good will established in the industry was lovingly destroyed (though not nearly on the level as what Tex Avery did). This entry is one of my favorites in the series due to it's satire of Canadian film stereotypes, actual well written jokes, and fun corny music by Doug Goodwin. If you must watch one R&R cartoon, at least let it be this one.
TV animation was never the same when The Ren & Stimpy show premiered. An important first season of television ended with one of the best episodes to ever grace the airwaves, "Stimpy's Invention". To say this cartoon is good is an understatement. Masterful storyboarding on top of wonderful writing breathe back live into the zombified animation industry. This also showcases how great of characters Ren Hoek and Stimpson J. Cat are, giving them three dimensional depth and showing how human they really are. Stimpy's an idiot, but he just wants to make Ren happy. To those who think this show is only fart jokes and gross out, give this episode a try. If "Happy Happy, Joy Joy" gets stuck in your head, you can thank me later.
The racist gags in this short aren't really funny (they're kinda despicable). But this cartoon is so wonderful, that I can look past the outdated racial stereotypes. Chuck's great posing and his brilliant team of animators elevate this into a Bugs classic. The passing is impeccable, each gag never overstays its welcome (even the racy ones). If you can't tell, I think this cartoon is a gem. A gem with a bit of dirt, but still a gem.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
It should run forever.
I love DePatie-Freleng. I mention this upfront because this cartoon doesn't feel like anything they use to release up to this point. This cartoon comes off as a Hanna-Barbera knockoff or something Filmation would've done. The Crazylegs Crane series is yet another mediocre jab at the classic Warner Bros formula by 70s DFE. I guess they figured his original design wouldn't work for TV, so Crazylegs was redesigned with a collared neck and simpler features. And I guess they also decided that the Crane wouldn't work as a solo character so they gave him a dragonfly (voiced by the legendary Frank Welker, for some reason) to chase after and, in this short, a son (also voiced by Frank). The jokes are so one-dimensional and flat, nothing's timed properly, and I get the impression that everyone at the studio was tired and worn out. The surreal comedy style, psychedelic character designs, and sense of fun was lost at DePatie-Freleng by the mid-to-late 70s, and this was what they churned out instead. Do yourself a favor and avoid the Crazylegs Crane TV series (or for that matter, anything from The All New Pink Panther Show).
Duck! Rabbit! Duck!
A true masterpiece of animated cartoon comedy. The Chuck Jones "Hunter Twilogy" is already a marvelous group of Warner Bros cartoons, but the conclusion to this great series is, in my opinion, the cream of the crop. Chuck Jones and Mike Maltese were the greatest paring in animated comedy, and this short shows off their skills considerably. I love how desperate Daffy is to make sure that he's not the one who gets hunted after. He'll remove signs, try to confuse Elmer, and trick Bugs all so he can preserve himself. The greedy, egotistical Daffy Duck is my favorite interpretation as it gives off the most personality and allows him to be more human. He's not just a gimmick or a staple of 30s animation, he's a true character. Bugs and Daffy were born to star together. They share a natural chemistry in every short they're pair in. And in this cartoon (and the Hunter Twilogy in general), the way they play off each other is entertaining. But the highlight of the short is the hilarious gag to when Bugs Bunny changes the hunting season and Elmer still shoots Daffy regardless of what season it is. As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the best comedy cartoons ever created. I can't get enough, and I'm gonna go watch it again.
This short is rather infamous among cartoon fanatics and aficionados. I hear nothing but furious negativity surrounding this entry, and I must say...I don't agree with all the hate. Let me get this outta the way: is it a great cartoon? No, not really. Is it Chuck Jones' best cartoon or his best Coyote or Bugs short? Are you kiddin'?! It is neither of those two things, but it is an fun cartoon with an interesting premise. See, it's a standard Roadrunner cartoon, except this time Bugs Bunny steps in as a backup actor of sorts. So because it's in the Roadrunner universe, the Coyote must obey the rules of the land and still wants to pursue Bugs for his meal. This is what I enjoy about the early 1960s Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies. You could get the sense that the directors were tired of making standard cartoons and would try any new idea possible. And with new writers and a new producer who let the artists do as they pleased, Jones, Freleng, and McKimson were able to do whatever the h** they felt like. If I were to be critical, while I am a fan of John Dunn's writing talents (before the 70s), I would say there's a tad too much dialogue and some of the jokes don't hit as well. Even though Jones was great at working with smaller budgets and making his shorts appear grander and more lively than you'd expect, the animation is a bit limited and there's a bit too much "talking head" scenes. Not the bets cartoon around, but there's fun to be had. A guilt pleasure for me indeed.
Mad as a Mars Hare
There are two sides to John Dunn's writing: the good side is his pension for surrealist humor, and bad side is he can write WAY too much dialogue. I guess Dunn, Chuck Jones and the rest of the staff didn't particularly care about this short, because it's a very boring and mind-numbing time. The cartoon drags along with no real plot or goals, it's just a bunch of talking heads trying to eat up 6 minutes of time so they can get their paychecks. And the problem is not that there's a lot of dialogue. Good TV cartoons have proven that well written, intelligent, and/or hilarious dialogue can make up for poor animation or direction. Sadly, the writing is beyond lackluster and makes me think nothing out of John Dunn's storyboards were cut out (including the first draft lines). Chuck Jones' direction is way too flat, making viewing this train wreck all the more painful. And as hearing the dialogue didn't already wanna make me tear my ears out, Bill Lava's ear grating music makes me wish I could never hear in the first place. If I may say one positive, the backgrounds aren't too bad and the animators did what they could to salvage this. Otherwise, this is about as bottom of the barrel as you can get. No contest, one of the absolute worst cartoons of the Warner Bros Golden Age and a terrible sign of things to come in the future.
Dial 'P' For Pink
This is one of my personal favorite entries in the Pink Panther series. Filled with so many hilarious spot gags, a catchy main melody from Henry Mancini's main theme to "A Shot in the Dark", and the cool night time setting make this a high ranking cartoon in the theatrical series. I love how this robber has so much personality without having to speak a word of dialogue, and Don William's animation breaths a lot of energy into his actions. Also enjoy how the Pink Panther acts so smug and reserved throughout the run time, as if he takes pleasure in the humiliation of the robber. DePatie-Freleng at their finest with this short.
The Three Bears
It's sad when the meme is better than the actual cartoon. Terrytoon's 1939 rendition of The Three Bears is a waste of time as it slowly meanders around to constitute as a short film. The animation is amateurish, the jokes (if even wanna call them that) are poorly timed out and fall flat on their face, and the voice acting sounds like one employee drunkenly spitting out lines with no real direction. You could do much better things with you than watch this trash. A perfect example that the Golden Age of Animation wasn't safe from garbage like this.
This cartoon is so good, it's driving me NUTS! The Tom & Jerry theatricals took a while to migrate from the slower paced early entries to the faster more violent shorts we know associate with the series. In my personal opinion, this is when the series started to feel like what we know it as today and is up their with best in the series. My favorite thing about the MGM cartoons were how they were able to elevate simple premises into energetic works of art. What is this cartoon about? A cat and a mouse chase each other while the cat tries to keep a bulldog asleep. Oscar worthy? Well, yes. The excellent timing and the addictive fast paced animation are the reasons this is a classic. Simple doesn't mean bad. Simple plots can be boosted by great animators like Irv Spence and Ken Muse and a great team of directors. Not to mention Scott Bradley's cartoony musical score, which always helped to elevate this and most every MGM cartoon. Tom's desperation to chase Jerry and keep Spike asleep is fun to watch. Just when Tom's got it figured out, Jerry right there to ruin his plan. You can never go wrong with watching a good Tom & Jerry cartoon (this being no exception).
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