Saturday, October 31, 2015

Countdown to Halloween: Heavenly Puss (1949)

Heavenly Puss (1949)
Dir: William Hanna and Joseph Barbera
Animators: Irv Spence, Ed Barge, Kenneth Muse, and Ray Patterson
TC4P Rating: 8/9

In preparations for attending a special event in Little Tokyo a few days before Halloween last week -- a screening of John Carpenter's 1987 horror epic, Prince of Darkness, at the historic church in which many of the scenes were filmed -- I took it upon myself to watch the film first on the Blu-ray disc I had purchased recently. Being a big fan of Carpenter's films in general, but not being exactly over-acquainted with Prince of Darkness (I had seen it in theatres on its original release, but not very much since), I wanted to be up on the film in case the Q-and-A sessions with people who had worked on the film happened before the movie was screened.

This being maybe the fifth time I was watching the film overall, the extra sits through it were helpful in both establishing where I stood with the film in Carpenter's filmography (I now like it more than I once did; good, but not great) and being able to discuss it with my writing partner at length. In revisiting the film, though, I was reminded of a quick scene that is not of any large consequence to the film at all, but occurs as a nice in-joke for Carpenter and his audience. Much in the way that he included scenes from Forbidden Planet and The Thing from Another World playing in the background on a television set in his bonafide classic, Halloween, Carpenter saw to it to pay for the rights to show a clip from MGM's Heavenly Puss, a fairly morbid Tom and Jerry heaven-and-hell romp from 1949, in the middle of Prince of Darkness. The inclusion is apt, seeing as how the Carpenter film is loaded with talk of Satan and his never-ending quest to subsume humanity and battle the church.

Directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, Heavenly Puss may not be one of their Oscar-winners (or even nominated ones), but it definitely ranks near the top of being one of Tom and Jerry's more memorable outings. This film goes out of the bounds of the normal, heavily violent cat vs. mouse theme and wraps it up in a theme of spiritual consideration, at least in the simple terms of having Tom trying to change his grim, fiery fate to that of a more angelic afterlife.

It looks like Jerry might be making an attempt to get in the first shot of this cartoon, as we see Tom having a cozy catnap in front of a lovely fireplace setting. Jerry sneaks out of his whole and tiptoes his way across the room to take refuge underneath the chaise lounge. Then it becomes apparent he is simply trying to sneak past Tom, and as Jerry takes off to his next destination, the dining room table, Tom's eyes open as he sneers his usual wicked best. Jerry scurries up the tablecloth and hides behind a candleholder, and Tom pops up and grabs a very saber-like cutting knife. As Jerry reaches for one of the cookies set around a teapot, Tom brings the knife down savagely at Jerry's arm, but the mouse manages to pull his appendage away in time.

Tom slices the candlestick in twain right above the top of the mouse's head, and Jerry speeds off and starts hopping up the stairway clumsily, as only a tiny mouse beset with monstrous set of stairs would. Tom grabs the runner at the bottom of the stairwell and pulls it up, making it taut so Jerry's efforts to run up the straightaway are for naught, especially as Tom begins to pull the runner towards himself. However, at the top of the stairs, the runner goes under an upright piano, which comes flying down the stairwell. Tom flees fearfully, with good reason, but the piano rolls after him and smashes the cat against a wall. The top lid of the piano swings open like a door and a flattened Tom slides off, and pops back into three dimensions (even if, as a cartoon character in this film, he is always in 2D; it's all in your perspective of their existence).

It appears Tom has met his maker, and indeed, this is where Heavenly Puss not only gets its title, but also takes a wild swing away from the routine (as excellent a routine as that is, given the high quality of this series). There is a bright beam of light shining down as if from heaven (which indeed it is) upon poor Tom, and a great, golden escalator materializes from out of the nowhere. Tom's spirit lifts away from the cat's body, steps onto the escalator, and looks back confusedly at the body on the floor as he ascends up the escalator out of frame. The next shot is of the escalator's length, and how it winds casually a huge distance up to some far away clouds representing the heavenly gates.

Those gates have a sign on them reading "Heavenly Express," and through the fence, Tom spies a gilded train onto which other cats of a similar design are boarding. He looks to his right, and he sees a ticket counter where an cat of older disposition (voiced by none other than Daws Butler) is checking names off on a reservation register. The first cat in line is none other than Tom's old sometimes friend sometimes enemy Butch, a black cat covered in bandages and wearing a sling. We find out exactly why, when the agent states "Cause of decease: lost fight with bulldog. Pass granted." Butch steps forward, and a full set of bulldog teeth clamber along the ground behind him, still gripping Butch's tattered tail.

The next cat in line is Frankie, a gray cat wearing a top hat. "Struck with flatiron while singing on a backyard fence." Frankie lifts his hat, and a very tall, red bump on his head is shown. "Pass," says the agent, and Frankie makes his way to the heaven-bound train. The third cat is Aloysious, who appears at first to be a very rotund feline but then we find out the real reason for his portly appearance. The agent asks of him, "Oh, so you didn't see the steamroller coming, eh?" Aloysious nods his affirmation, the agent says "Go ahead," and cat turns to show that he is completely flattened out like bread dough as he passes.

The film takes a left turn to a truly gruesome joke as the agent says the names "Fluff, Muff, and Puff." A sloshing sound is heard and the agent looks over the side of the desk. A bag with its top tied shut comes hopping up, and it becomes immediately apparent that these are the names of three drowned kittens. (Every single time I watch this cartoon, my jaw hits the floor.) The bag pops open to reveal three happy, smiling but mewling kittens. They crawl out of the bag and start to head forward to the train. The agent makes a tsk-tsk noise and says, "What some people won't do."

Thomas knows he nowhere close to being an innocent party in this scenario, and he makes to tiptoe underneath the edge of the counter. The agent is not fooled for a second. "Thomas! Just a minute," he says as he consults his register. Tom steps back to take his punishment. "Apparently, your whole life was spent persecuting an innocent, little mouse. Now, with a record like that, I can't let you through. I'm sorry, Tom." But there is some light at the end of Tom's very dark tunnel. "However," the agent continues, "the Heavenly Express doesn't leave for an hour." He hands Tom a sheet of paper. "If within that time, you can obtain the signature of that little mouse on this Certificate of Forgiveness, you will be permitted to pass."

But, there is a catch, and it's a big one. "Now, if you fail, it's this." The agent turns to a rather ornate television monitor behind his desk. He pushes a button, and the screen turns on to show flames at first. They make way to show the devil, portrayed by the usual MGM bulldog, with red fur and wearing green horns and green slippers. In his right hand is a green pitchfork, as he tends a large cauldron atop a wood fire inside a hellish series of caves. He laughs like a maniac and screams, "Ah, let me have him! Send him down. Give him to me now!" He laughs again, and the camera cuts back to Tom, his yellow eyes bulging from his head, with his mouth agape in fear. The agent turns off the screen, and as Tom is shown gripping the desk, he is told, "Remember, you have only an hour."

Tom turns to race off, but disappears in a puff of smoke. His spirit is next shown back in the room of Tom's supposed demise, and drops back into his body with a slam, waking Tom up at once. As he comes to with the Certificate of Forgiveness in his left hand, his uses his other arm to wipe his brow in relief. Then he remembers why he has the certificate, sees a glowing clock reminding him of the hour he has left, and runs straight to Jerry's mousehole. He offers the mouse a large cake with candles and frosting that reads "To My Pal" on it, but Jerry thinks something devious is up instead. When Tom signs to Jerry the cake is on the up and up, Jerry speed-eats the entire thing like a buzzsaw and leaps back into his hole, leaving the six candles in his wake to clatter to the floor. Angry, Tom reaches into the hole and grabs the mouse, and forcefully puts down the certificate and the mouse, handing him a pen in the process, and points at the paper to make Jerry sign it. Jerry's response is to shoot all of the ink in the pen at Tom's face (as you would expect him to do).

Tom, seeing the clock, figures that he will have to forge his way to heaven. He runs behind the chair to start signing Jerry's name to the paper, but the disembodied voice of the reservation agent says shamefully, "Thomas! Uh, uh, uh, uh..." Tom speeds back to the mousehole bearing a large wedge of swiss cheese. This time, Jerry actually reads the certificate, but when Tom signs to him that if Jerry signs it, Tom will give him the cheese, Jerry angrily tears up the paper. Tom has had it with that reaction, and he grabs Jerry and prepare to smash his brains in with a fireplace shovel. Suddenly, in a puff of smoke, the bulldog devil appears. "Thattaboy, Tom!," he implores the cat. "Hit him and let's go! Come on!" The devil poofs away, and Tom kisses Jerry's head several times.

He gathers the torn pieces of the certificate, runs off, and comes back with the entire thing taped together. He begs and pleads Jerry to sign it, using a wild series of gesticulations to explain his story. Finally, the clock appears once more, and the conductor for the Heavenly Express is heard calling, "All aboard!" He begs and pleads again, but Jerry is still not buying it. Finally, he gives in, but when he tries to sign, no ink will come out of the pen. Tom grabs it and splats ink several times on the wall, and gives it back to the mouse. Jerry signs, and Tom zips back to the gilded escalator, but as he tries to climb onto it, the escalator disappears, a large trapdoor heading straight to Hades opens up, and Tom falls down, waving goodbye as he does. The cat falls straight into Satan's cauldron, and the devil bulldog continues to laugh loud and wildly.

Tom tries to escape, but the scene shifts back to the sleeping cat in front of the fireplace, where hot coals have shot out of the fire and have started to burn Tom's tail. He wakes up screaming, but then realizes he is not dead after all, and is home safe and sound (if not a little bit scorched). He runs to the mousehole and knocks on the wall above it with a huge, genuine grin on his face. When Jerry appears, Tom swoops him up and starts kissing and cuddling him. Mystified by this behavior, since nothing we saw in the film has actually happened, Jerry turns to the camera, and throws out his arms and shrugs his shoulders. Iris out.

Heavenly Puss only appears in Prince of Darkness for a few seconds (the scene where Tom falls into the bulldog's cauldron), but its cameo is a welcome one within the film, watched on a small television screen by one of the characters inside the church where much of the film's action takes place. When we watched the film on the big screen built on the stage at the church -- which is now the home of a local theatrical company, the East-West Players -- there was the noticeable sounds of recognition of Heavenly Puss from members of the audience, and one person near the back even clapped twice when Tom showed up. It reminded me of how I often get when I notice a movie cameo inside another film, and how I also make certain to point it out to my wife, whether she cares or not what it is (in most cases, she doesn't).

Despite my rampant and ever-growing atheism, I seem to have a soft spot for films where characters are caught between either heaven and hell or heaven and earth, such as Angel on My Shoulder, The Horn Blows at Midnight, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, its modern (if 1978 is modern to you) remake Heaven Can Wait, and A Matter of Life and Death (to name just a few). I don't believe in upstairs and downstairs at all when it comes to spiritual matters, but I really don't mind when they are portrayed in films. I can suspend disbelief with the best of them, as long as the visuals are groovy and the plots are fun. (A little less so with me when they head for heavier terrain, though there are always exceptions.) Heavenly Puss certainly succeeds on both fronts -- the backgrounds and animation are always pleasing to the eye and the story is a delight -- and it remains one of my favorite Tom and Jerry cartoons.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Countdown to Halloween: Hair-Raising Hare (1946)

Hair-Raising Hare (1946)
Dir: Chuck Jones
Story: Tedd Pierce
TC4P Rating: 8/9

“Did’ja ever have the feelin’ you was bein’ watched?” 

Bugs Bunny asks this question near the beginning of Hair-Raising Hare, a marvelous Warner Bros. horror spoof directed in 1946 by Charles M. “Chuck” Jones, and it is hard in this day, nearly sixty years later, not to yell back at the screen, “Of course, you moron!” With the omnipresence of social media, cameras on every cell phone, surveillance cameras on every street corner and inside every business, apparent government taps on everything we do, drone technology, and your goddamn nosy neighbors, it is no surprise that we seem to have become both the most narcissistic culture in history, and also the most paranoid. Are you being watched? Don’t worry about it… just give ‘em a good show.

Bugs does give us a good show in Hair-Raising Hare, and he may have gotten the feeling I was watching him a bit too much as this cartoon was replayed over and over again in the late ‘80s on the UHF all-cartoon channel in my hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. I am pretty certain that I did not encounter this particular cartoon until then, as I do not have a recollection of it from the old Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Saturday morning shows of my youth (my only source of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies in those days). Just like I could count on a block of Sniffles or Inki cartoons nearly every day, Hair-Raising Hare almways seemed to be on the channel, and if it wasn't on, it would show up just when I needed it, as I was growing ever more fascinated with the film’s massive, orange, hairy monster. Of course, we now know that creature as Gossamer, but at the time, without an internet to consult, I was only working with the information provided in the short, so I knew him only by the name that is written on the big metal door that contains him: “Monster”.

Hair-Raising Hare sets the proper mood from the start, with a wicked-looking title card composed of a green and black background, yellow “scary” lettering, leering, slight-crossed eyes, and a pair of menacing, clawed hands. (The hair on the back of the hands is a nice touch too.) Carl Stalling’s score plays a big part here too, as the music is very minimal, but the quivering strings build into a couple of quick jolts to establish a nicely sinister mood.

As the camera pans across a darkened forest landscape, Bugs lightens that mood slightly with his always delightful singing. As the camera ultimately rests upon his ubiquitous rabbit hole, Bugs sings offscreen: 

“Goodnight, sweet dreams
Tomorrow’s a-nudder day
Till then, sweet dreams, sweetheart!”

Suddenly, a beam of light forms a column straight up and out of the hole into the nighttime air. Bugs pops halfway out wearing a nightcap and corresponding shirt, and bearing a candleholder. “Eh, I dunno, but did’ja ever have the feelin’ you was bein’ watched?” he asks of the audience, immediately breaking the fourth wall as he so often does. My adoration of Bugs is based greatly on this connection between he and the audience, in the same way that I gravitated towards one of Bugs’ models, Groucho Marx, as a youth (and much later, the “earlier, funnier” Woody Allen). The attraction was that they were talking directly to me, and I responded by aping their every characteristic for the remainder of my life.

After the rabbit asks his question, we suddenly see that Bugs is actually being watched (as he suspected) on a television monitor (called the Televisor), where the controls are being manipulated by a pair of hands clad in red rubber gloves. The camera cuts to a mad scientist who bears about a 98% similarity to the famous actor, Peter Lorre (and star of many Warner Bros. productions of the time). The scientist asks, “Being watched, he says?” The voice is not that of Lorre, but of Mel Blanc doing his version of Lorre (a little bit off, but that may be intentional). 

From behind a nearby door marked “Monster” (as mentioned above) comes a vicious and frantic growling, as the door appears to be getting bashed from inside. “Patience little one,” the scientist says to soothe the monster. “Your dinner will soon be here. A nice tender little rabbit.” As the Lorre stand-in speaks, he builds a robot from the parts out of a box on the floor that reads “One Mechanical Rabbit Lure” (everything but the "ACME"). The parts form a clockwork rabbit in a red dress with a shapely woman’s figure and large windup key on her back. The scientist pats the robot bunny on the bottom and sends her on her way.

Cut back to Bugs still halfway out his hole holding the candle aloft. “You know, I could’ve sworn I was being watched. Yeah, but I guess it was just my imagination.” As he speaks, the female robot bunny zigzags her way up to Bugs from behind, and then departs. Bugs is about to give up for the night, says “Well —!”, and starts to dart down into his hole, seemingly never having seen the robot girl. But we are talking affairs of the heart here, and Bugs shoots back up out the hole with a very quizzical look on his face. And then he is up and into his Groucho stance, following the girl up a long hill with a ominous castle at the top bearing a neon sign above its door that flashes the phrase “Evil Scientist” repeatedly. 

Bugs enters the castle (some excellent use of angles in this scene and many other shots in this film), but the scientist is lying in wait, and slams the giant wooden door shut, barring it, bolting it, and locking it in quick succession. Bugs comes back to tell him, “You don’t need to lock that door, Mac! I don’t wanna leave!” Ever the cad, his eyes roll back to the audience, where he gives a knowing double-click of his tongue, and zips back to his would-be love prize. When he reaches the girl robot, he yells “Bay-bee!” and starts to kiss her, first on the fingertips, the hand, the forearm, and then up her whole arm. But when he reaches her neck, he starts to rattle and shake, her head spins, and she explodes into a dozen parts! Bugs is perturbed, and says “Dat’s the trouble wit’ some dames. Kiss ‘em and they fly apart!”

Bugs is no fool, though. He knows enough to skedaddle out of there once the pickings are slim. He makes to head for the door, but the mad scientist blocks his way, pushing him backward across a couple of rooms by the shoulders as Bugs continues trying to walking forward. “Uh, just a minute. I have another little friend who’d like to eat — uh, meet you.” Bugs, still wearing hot pants for the girl, is excited to hear this, and switches places with the scientist, pushing him backward by the shoulders instead. “Another friend?” Bugs asks. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah…” Bugs continues to say this until he pushes the scientist all the way to the iron door marked “Monster,” which causes whatever is inside to roar. Bugs jumps at the noise, and wraps himself around the head and body of the mad scientist. “Your — friend?” he asks, and the Lorre-doc says mildly, “Yes.” Bugs grabs the scientist’s hand and shakes it frantically, saying “Well… Goodbye!” California, Here I Come is played on the soundtrack as Bugs walks to a dresser across the room (with a broken vanity mirror), opens a suitcase, pulls clothes out of all three drawers and packs them in the suitcase, grabs an oversized hat from a hatrack, and a bag full of golf clubs, and makes his way back to the scientist, where he turns Groucho again for a line. “And don’t think it hasn’t been a little slice of heaven… because it hasn’t!” Bugs then departs swiftly, shedding the hat, clubs and suitcase, but when he reaches the barred door, he can’t open it.

In the meantime, the monster has been released. He is incredible tall, has an body almost entirely covered in thick, orange fur except for a pair of basketball sneakers, and has a nearly heart-shaped head much larger than the rest of his body. His only facial features are a pair of eyes and a smile that, much like his arms, tends to disappear except for when there is an expressed purpose for it. He stomps his way across the room to Bugs, who is too busy tugging on the door to notice. Bugs turns around suddenly, and the unflappable rabbit is already prepared to deal with this menace to his life. “Here, you look like a strong, healthy boy,” he says cheerfully to the monster. “Gimme a hand!” The monster just growls, and the camera cuts to Bugs’ reaction to the threat, which consists of a series of facial contortions and holding up a pair of signs for the audience to read. The first reads “Yipe!” in fairly small letters given the size of the sign, and then a second one reading “YIPE!” in letters that take up the entire sign. Bugs faints to the floor, lets go of the sign and waves to the audience as he does, and the sign finally drops.

Bugs recovers and bolts down the hallway with the orange monster in hot pursuit. He runs smack into the door, and then chuckles, telling the audience, “Heh heh heh… forgot to open the door!” (Not my favorite gag, I might add.) He then goes through properly and shuts it behind him, with the monster bashing the door from the other side. Breathlessly, Bugs asks “Is there a doctor in the house?” and he is answered right away as the fourth wall continues to take a beating as well. A well-groomed, shadowy figure pops up from the audience at the bottom of the screen, and tells Bugs, “I’m a doctor!” With the monster still straining to get through the door, Bugs doesn’t waste a second to turn around and face the audience with his traditional carrot in hand, and say “Eh, what’s up, Doc?” He wiggles his eyebrows and takes off just as the monster crashes through the door.

Bugs whips past a large mirror in a hallway, and after the monster passes it initially, he turns back to look into the mirror. The monster’s reflection stares back at him, screams desperately, jumps into the air and turns tail to run. The monster looks back at the audience, shrugs his shoulders and hands, and then darts after Bugs once again.

Bugs runs up a flight of stairs, but then runs back down just in time to run straight into the monster and knock him down. As Bugs stands on his chest, he points back and says, “Don’t go up there! It’s dark!” and zips off. The monster next encounters Bugs disguised with a lampshade and switch on his hand. The monster seems skeptical, and lifts the shade. Bugs has a pair of lightbulbs, one in each ear, and so the monster pulls the switch. The lights come on, and the camera cuts to a closeup of the monster rubbing his chin with his finger trying to make sense of things. When the monster looks up, Bugs is dancing away, still dressed as the lamp, to the tune of Shuffle Off to Buffalo. He then makes like a ballerina briefly, with the lampshade in use as a tutu, and then volts off with his usual quickness.

Bugs, ever in charge of the chase, whistles down the monster to get his attention. “Hey! Frankenstein!” and points to get the creature moving in the proper direction. But the tables get turned quickly. A large trap door opens up in front of the rabbit, and Bugs skids to a stop on the very edge of a large pit, kicking a small rock to the water at the bottom to show how far he could have fallen. Bugs prays to whatever god cartoon rabbits pretend to worship, and tiptoes backward away from the edge, only to run into the monster again, with his giant hands full of yellow and black fingernails ready to crush Bugs.

This leads into the most famous part of the cartoon. With a disapproving finger waving in the air, Bugs cries, “Oh, for shame! Just look at your fingernails!” The monster blinks his eyes in confusion as he peers down at his hands. A quick tornado, and suddenly Bugs and the monster are both seated at a small table, where Bugs is busy filing the monster’s claws and making with the salon small talk. In an affected voice, Bugs leads off with “My, I bet you monsters lead in-ter-est-ing lives! I said to my girlfriends just the other day, ‘Gee, I bet monsters are in-ter-est-ing,’ I said. The places you must go and the things you must see. My stars! And I’ll bet you meet a lot of in-ter-est-ing people too. I’m always in-ter-est-ed in meeting in-ter-est-ing people.” Bugs finishes the manicure, and says in a singsong voice, “Now, let’s dip our paddies in the waaa-ter!” The monster complies, placing each paw in a bowl of liquid, but is only rewarded with the stinging snap of dual mousetraps, one on each hand. The monster cries pitifully at the pain, as Bugs makes his escape.

Pausing at the top of a stairway beneath a painting, Bugs swiftly realizes that the eyes of the character in Renaissance dress are following him back and forth. Without warning, Bugs turns and pokes his fingers into the eyes. Bugs splits, and the painting drops to reveal the monster holding his face in pain. He jumps out of the hole in the wall and stops at the next painting, where Bugs is dressed in similar garb to the first painting. When the monster moves to poke Bugs' eyes in the same way, Bugs sticks his fingers out and pokes the monster there first. The monster jumps through the painting to the other side of the wall, but Bugs jumps back out. He tiptoes down the hall, and it is clear the monster is matching his steps from the other side of the wall. After more steps, Bugs comes to a clear spot on the wall. He picks up a hammer, taps it on the wall like you would while looking for a wall stud to hang a picture, marks the spot with a big, black X, and then pulls out a sledgehammer. He smacks the wall as hard as he can, and a crack slowly forms the outline of the monster’s body. The outline falls down from the wall, and then the big, heart-shaped creature falls through it.

Bugs is triumphant. He exclaims, “And so, having disposed of the monster, exit the hero through the front door, stage right!” He launches into his Groucho walk once more, and wiggling his eyebrows, he adds, “None the worse for his harrowing experience!” When he turns the corner, he is shocked to see a suit of armor in the hallway, standing as if on display (and even on a stand) but with the monster clearly jam-packed into it so tightly that tufts of orange fur are seen poking out of it everywhere. (It's kind of adorable, as is Gossamer at several points in this film.) His orange hands are holding an axe above his head, and straining with anticipation over landing a blow to the head of his prey. Bugs chuckles quietly, and leaves briefly, only to come back mounted on a gigantic steed, where Bugs runs the thing like a train engineer as he blows a whistle while resting in the armhole of a suit of armor, ready to joust with the monster. The monster’s head pokes out of the top of his armor in fear, and Bugs hits him so hard that he splats against the far wall, and lands on the floor inside a small tin can bearing his likeness and the name “Canned Monster”.

Bugs, triumphant again, proclaims, “And so, having re-disposed of the monster, exit our hero through the front door, stage right!” Bugs sings his Heading for My Bedding song briefly, but as he walks, he mistakes the monster for a rug, and the monster reaches up to grab Bugs by the throat. Through the crushing fingers, Bugs croaks out, “Wait a minute, Dracula! Did you ever have the feeling you’re being watched? That the eyes of strange, eerie things are upon you?” The monster actually seems to muse on this for a second, and then Bugs adds, “Look, out there in the audience!” The monster turns and his face becomes one of sheer fright. “PEOPLE!” he screams, and turns around and crashes through an unending series of walls to escape the bane of his — and my — existence.

Bugs begins to assume that the third time is a charm, and announces boldly, “And so, having re-re-disposed of the monster…” but he is distracted by the reappearance of the hot girl robot bunny, that has been mysteriously rebuilt (the scientist did sort of disappear in this film, so maybe...) As she parades around, he tries to continue. “Exit our hero…!” but she is just too much for him. “Mechanical,” he says pointing his thumb at her, just as she kisses him on the cheek. “Well! So, it’s mechanical!” he yells, and turns to follow her out, walking like a robot bunny. THE END.

Hair-Raising Hare never gets old for me, even after watching it several times in one morning to write this piece. It may be due to the Halloween spirit in which I have invested myself greatly in relaunching both of my blogs in the past month, as I tend to be more partial to films with horror or monster themes. But today I also rewatched the second film to feature the Gossamer character battling Bugs, 1952’s Water, Water Every Hare (also directed by Jones), and it did not fare quite as well with me. Though I like it, I am disappointed by that short’s mad scientist (done more in the Karloff style, though a good deal shorter than the Lorre knockoff), and it starts to careen into the cutesier Jones material that comes off too sugary for me (at times).

I was disappointed in finding out there were so few films featuring the Gossamer character (just the two in the Golden Age) once I finally got to see one of his films. I suppose he would be hard to adapt to a lot of material, so perhaps it was best they kept him to the horror spoofs they did. That doesn't mean they haven't employed him a lot in recent years, where he has made cameos in a wide variety of TV shows, specials and new shorts using the old characters. He has become more popular in the last twenty years than he was in the studio's creative heyday, and I would have to admit that I am part of that fanbase, even if I haven't purchased any toys or stuffed dolls yet. 

Besides how would he react to being owned by a "people"? I don't think my walls could handle the pressure.