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December 14, 2009


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James Keepnews

"Charlie Dog...one of Chuck Jones most convincing and disturbing creations." -- absolutely, as well as melancholy, as he comes up against his desire to "find a master" (!! -- "master narratives", anyone?) continually subverted by his congenital wiseassery. He is kicked out of every home he indefatigably seeks because of his nature, a la Mr. Arkadin's scorpion.

Happy to discover Manny's love for Chuck. Did any other critic of his stature -- or even any at all in this period -- appreciate (in print) the Warn-auteurs? Charlie reminds me of certain aspects in Jones' work rarely discussed, e.g. the rage engendered in his characters by things like Charlie's far from innocent shtick. The classic "Do you have a Labrador? Know where you can get a Labrador? Then, shut up..." and Elmer's boil-over rage demonstrates there's much that's inherently antagonistic in his nature, dawg...

Steve Winer

Chuck Jones used to quote George Santayana when discussing Wile E. Coyote: "A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim." I think this quote would apply equally to Charlie Dog and quite a few other Jones characters

Shawn Stone

Jones seemed to have more affection for Wile E. Coyote than Charlie Dog (and Daffy) because, if he never let Wile E win, he gave him a break once in a while. Like the end gag in LICKETY SPLAT, in which the rockets don't explode--and he allows the Coyote a nervous laugh.

Glenn, your Charlie Dog/Screwy Squirrel comparison is fine as far as both characters being abrasively annoying, but I'll take Screwy's anarchic violence over Charlie Dog's relentless neediness any day. Screwy had me from scene one, when he led the cute squirrel out of frame and (this IS Avery) walloped him.

Bruce Reid

James Keepnews: "Did any other critic of his stature -- or even any at all in this period -- appreciate (in print) the Warn-auteurs?"

A few years earlier ('46) James Agee wrote a fine, appreciative notice of Freleng's "Rhapsody Rabbit".

Charlie's one of those creations (like Sam and Ralph, or "One Froggy Evening") that makes you wonder anew about Jones's early, sappy Warners shorts. Were they just cynical aping of Disney tropes that masked the creator's real personality, or did the years bent over drawing fetus-proportioned sugar factories and animating their chirpy, can-do optimism drive a sincere sentimentalist to misanthropic howling?

Tom Russell

Just watched this. Man, that last bit with the sweat rolling down his face is freaky.

What caught my attention, more-so than Charlie's antics, was the broadness and number of Italian jokes. Not that I minded-- many of them were funny, and being part Irish in addition to Italian, one develops a thick skin for those sort of jokes anyway-- but it's just the kind of thing that wouldn't fly so much today (at least in terms of cartoons; MTV reality programming is another story) and that provokes a little prickle of shock in this viewer.

Here's a deliberately provocative question: is the rather innocent racial humour in something like this, or other American cartoons with foreign locales, any more or any less acceptable than the Censored Eleven?

I ask not to be pointed or inflammatory-- some of the stuff in the Eleven get me cringing like nobody's business-- but because I wonder if America's legacy of racism/slavery/what-have-you against its own people gives those cartoons a decidedly different context than the broad ethnic character types I perceive in something like A Hound For Trouble, or if an "exotic" foreign locale makes it "okay".

Glenn Kenny

@ Tom: Yeah, I had meant to mention the virtual onslaught of ethnic humor in the short, but got more caught up in Charlie's psychology. As for your question, I'd have to say the answer is "it depends." Which is not a real answer, I know. But a true one!

Claire K.


Glenn Kenny


Shawn Stone

Watching the unedited CHOW HOUND (Jones 1951), which turned up on the (sadly) last Looney Tunes Golden Collection (Vol. 6), was a shock. There's a gag cut from the TV versions I'd seen, where a mouse is forced to masquerade as an "African," with all the stereotypical accessories you'd expect. That's got to be one of the last racially insensitive African/African-American bits in a WB cartoon.

Of course the Native American "gags" continued right to the end of the line in 1969, with McKimson's INJUN TROUBLE.

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