Monday, July 21, 2008

Yosemite Sam Goes to Hell, Part 1

I am still working on recording my many VHS tapes of classic warner cartoons to DVD, and I decided to do Bugs Bunny as a separate series, because I taped the entire "June Bugs" marathon the Cartoon Network ran for a weekend in 2001, and since it was chronological, I have been using it as a guide and replacing the TV versions of cartoons with better copies if I have them.

Having gotten through the last of the last in the Bugs series, (and that includes TV cartoons and 90's theatrical specials), I have to say that from 1959-1964, if you watch the films chronologically, it is possible to watch Bugs Bunny die. First came the real-life deaths of Elmer Fudd actor Arthur Q. Bryan. Then came the death of music composer Milt Franklyn. Then came a car wreck that reduced Mel Blanc to a body cast. From late 1959 to 1964, these factors combined to spell death for Bugs Bunny, and it's apparent on-screen.

Franklyn's death was worst of all for Friz Freleng and his signature character, Yosemite Sam. Freleng was a master of timing because he timed his cartoons to music, and when the music was no longer a factor thanks to Franklyn's incompetent successor, Bill Lava, Friz (and Sam) were sunk.

In this first of a series of posts, let's take a look at what I consider Yosemite Sam's last hurrah...(aside from one other cartoon I'll get to next.) It's Friz's 1960 "Horse Hare". Franklyn was still in the game, a good story by Michael Maltese helps, and the gags and dialogue are excellent. Sadly, Native American stereotypes have kept this film off TV and video for several years. But enjoy it anyway, it only gets worse from here, as we examine: YOSEMITE SAM'S JOURNEY TO HELL!

7 comments:

Brandon said...

Speaking as someone who is part Native American, I can definetly say, that I don't mind the caricatures of Natives in this (or any other cartoon).
I've always wanted to see this cartoon in its entirety. When CN aired it in the morning once, they rigged their schedule so it'd air a lot earlier than planned, and I only got the last two minutes of it on tape.

Nick said...

One of the few WB cartoons I've actually never seen! Surprising since here in the UK, they never really had a problem showing Indian caricatures in cartoons, so I got to see stuff like "Tom Tom Cat", "A Feather In His Hare", "Slightly Daffy", "Wagon Heels", etc. Which I suppose didn't air as often in the US.

I generally think Freleng did direct a couple of great WB cartoons in the early 60's such as "From Hare to Heir", "Mouse and Garden", "Goldimouse and the Three Cats", "Hyde and Go Tweet", "D'Fightin' Ones" and "The Last Hungry Cat". Despite the more limited animation these all have pretty funny gags/concepts, and Hawley Pratt and Tom O'Loughlin created some nice backgrounds (I've posted a few on my blog). As for some of the bad ones, I'd rather not mention those in case I spoil your next post.

Jon Cooke said...

Why do I have this feeling we'll be served a slice of devil's feud cake soon? ;)

Glowworm said...

I haven't seen this cartoon in so long! I'm only 20, but I use to see this short a lot as a little kid on Nickelodeon before it finally disappeared from sight.

When I get back to college I'll be sure to watch this little gem.


Yes-I agree about the music-Bill Lava's music was usually unacceptable for Looney TUnes-with the exception of a sparse few.

Bartman said...

I really don't understand why all these PC people get so bent outta shape about stereotypes - I think it's one of the last funny Bugs Bunny theatricals...

Then again, Matthew - where's "Lighter Than Hare"? Is it because of the "outer space" stereotypes?? =)

Speedy Boris said...

Y'know, I'm actually not too fond of "Horse Hare", outside of a couple jokes like the shot tally. And Franklyn's score is uncharacteristically pretty weak, sometimes being drowned out by the Indian war cries and gunfire.

I liked the previous year's Bugs/Sam outing "Wild and Woolly Hare" much more.

Glowworm said...

Yay! This short is just as wonderful as I remember it! Thanks so much!I've been wanting to resee it for years.

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