A Gruesome Twosome (1945)
Director: Bob Clampett
Story: Warren Foster
Animation: Robert McKimson, Manny Gould, Rod Scribner, Basil Davidovich
Layout and Backgrounds: Thomas McKimson and Michael Sasanoff
Effects Animation: A.C Gamer
Voice Characterisation: Mel Blanc
Musical Director: Carl W Stalling
Cast: Colonel and Snucks, Tweety Pie, Butch the bulldog.
Date of release: June 9, 1945
We start the feature with a parallax of the feline equivalent of “Lover’s Lane” with the static silhouettes of embracing cats in the foreground – lovely.
Two tom cats are in the midst of wooing the same white tabby. The first is a ginger caricature of the famous vaudeville comedian Jimmy Durante named “Colonel” by another more stupid yellow tom cat who is in turn is called “Snucks”.
The two love rivals ends up coming to blows, the characters are excellent and they are very much the stars of this feature. Colonel and Snucks are told by the tabby that the cat who brings her a bird will be her “fella”. Much charging, blunderbuss firing ensued. In one sequence the Colonel and Snucks are at the starting line of their bird quest, during the count, Colonel ties a heavy weight to Snucks’ tail, the ricochet send Snucks flying at such a speed he is reduced to liquid in the tin bath that Colonel kindly hold up to receive him. The unfortunate tom is then poured out onto the ground where he miraculously coalesces again.
Finally the cats climb opposite sides of a telephone pole and meet Tweety and each other at the top. The two cats end up falling and there is an interesting shot where the cats are seen falling to the ground like wheeling aircraft spiraling down. The scenerary painting is beautiful. “Bombs Away!” yells Tweety.
For me the highlight of this really good cartoon is an extended sequence where Colonel and Snucks are disguised as a pink pantomime horse. Quite why they would think that this disguise would help them capture the illusive Tweety isn’t very clear but the scene is hilarious and very well animated. All the bagginess and stretchiness of the costume are played to the full. Tweety slaps a wasp until it becomes furious and then drops it into the back end. The William Tell Overture from the Lone Ranger starts playing and we see Tweety Pie, complete with white hat and mask, riding the horse and yelling “Hi Ho Silver Away!” – Finally Tweety beats Butch to a furious temper and sets him on the cats. Still wrapped up inside the pantomime horse costume.
He repeats the same unlikely catch phrase from “Birdy and the Beast”
“You know, I lose more putty tats dat way!”
A couple of interesting points about this cartoon. It was the last time that Tweety is seen as pink. Although the title card from “Birdy and the Beast” shows him as yellow, it isn’t until the next feature that Tweety finally arrives in the guise we all recognise today. See my previous post “Tweetie Pie”
According to Wikipedia the cartoon was eventually censored because Colonel says “here comes that naked genius” (at 6’35”). Apparently, censors did not like the implied nudity.
Colonel and Snucks also appear to be Ren and Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi‘s inspiration for Stimpy. He combined the two cats in this short to create Stimpy.
This cartoon was animated by Robert McKimson and the layout and backgrounds are credited to his brother Thomas McKimson, there was a third brother, Charles, who also worked at Warner Brothers, so I think it’s only fitting that we explore their work in a little more detail. Starting with the eldest brother Robert’s premiere short, “Daffy Doodles“, released in 1946