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Angel Puss (Looney Tunes)

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Angel Puss (Looney Tunes)
Angel puss-title.jpg
Unfortunately, even after recovering from his weak early directional years, Chuck Jones wasn't going to be totally immune to having stinkers every once in a while, and this racist cartoon is no exception.
Series: Looney Tunes
Episode Number: 431
Air Date: June 3, 1944
Writer: Lou Lilly
Director: Chuck Jones
Previous episode: "Tin Pan Alley Cats"
"Duck Soup to Nuts"
Next episode: "Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears"
"Slighty Daffy"


Angel Puss is a 1944 Looney Tunes cartoon directed by Chuck Jones and written by Lou Lilly. In this short, a little black boy is hired to kill a prototype of Claude Cat, but then proto-Claude escapes and proceeds to play tricks on the kid, pretending he's a ghost come back to haunt his "killer." It is the only Censored Eleven cartoon that was released under the Looney Tunes series (as all the others were part of the Merrie Melodies series); and is widely considered to be one of the worst cartoons of the Censored Eleven, along with "Jungle Jitters".

Why It Isn't an Angel

  1. Slow pacing and gags, which is unusual for a series that relies on normally fast-paced gags.
    • To rub salt on the wound, this short was released two years after Chuck Jones finally redeemed himself, and this short manages to make his earliest directorial works look good in comparison.
  2. Claude Cat's prototype is extremely unpleasant as he continues torturing and torturing the black boy throughout the short.
  3. The short has a very dark concept for a series like Looney Tunes, the premise involves a boy being forced to KILL A DROWNED CAT, which is no use and the environment is also dark and subject and makes the reduced even worse.
  4. Terrible writing from Lou Lilly, whose writing consisted of nothing but sadistic, dull, and cruel jokes. This is especially jarring considering that Lou Lilly's writing in his other cartoons like "Hare Ribbin'", "Russian Rhapsody", "Buckaroo Bugs" and "Draftee Daffy" which he worked for Bob Clampett all had better writing containing more funnier jokes and gags compared to this short.
  5. Bad ending: After discovering that the cat wasn't dead, the black boy takes a gun and shoots him, but then he comes back as a ghost of his 9 lives.
  6. Even if the racist aspects of this short are ignored, it would still be a petty cartoon with a dark and very scary plot.
  7. Just like "Jungle Jitters", for all these reasons above, this has also been widely considered to be, not just the absolute worst cartoon out of all the eleven cartoons of the infamous Censored Eleven, but considered to be the absolute worst Chuck Jones cartoon.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Great animation, as well as music by Carl Stalling and voice acting by Mel Blanc.
    • Shamus Culhane (who are uncredited) and Ben Washam also occasionally provide quality animation.
  2. Chuck Jones eventually learned from his mistakes and never included any racist stereotypes in his cartoons again (except the Inki shorts, which they're not bad). He also reworked Claude Cat to make him more sympathetic.
  3. Despite the ending is bad, the ending quote "And this time, brother, us ain't kiddin'." is somewhat funny depending on your view.
  4. The boy in the short is likable, despite being a racist stereotype that caused this to be a part of The Censored Eleven.
    • Even then, racism isn't the biggest problem.

Reception

The short currently holds a 4.8/10 on IMDb, making it the lowest-rated short of the Censored Eleven.

Reviews

On October 7, 1944, Herman Hill wrote an editorial for the African-American weekly The Pittsburgh Courier titled Angel Puss vs. Americans for All. Hill wrote, "Basis for the spontaneous protest by the long and patient suffering Negro theater-going public were the many forth-right expressions of condemnation regarding Warner Brothers' animated cartoon Angel Puss. Almost in direct irony was the picture's showing in Los Angeles, in that it was sandwiched between the main feature and March of Time's Americans for All, which theme is directly aimed at the lessening of racisms. It has since been learned that the Warner Brothers had ordered the somewhat considered controversial Americans for All to be shown in each of their theatres throughout the country as a contributory effort towards breaking down the evils of race prejudice. In a further attempt to throw light on the subject of caricatures, March of Time offices here was contacted. A spokesman stated that they had nothing to do with the placing of their film on the same program as Angel Puss or any other such picture. It was admitted, however, that in consideration of the type of cartoon, the poor taste was shown in the matter."

However, this concern was not expressed in the film press, which echoed and celebrated the film's stereotypes. On June 24, Boxoffice said: "A delectable bit of cartoon animation catches the natural aversion of a Colored boy to any form of supernatural suggestion as represented by a cat that was supposed to be drowned by the boy but escaped. The cat makes life extremely miserable for the boy by dressing up as a spirit but comes to an unfortunate end. There are lots of hearty chuckles in the reel."

Trivia

  • This was the last cartoon to use the 1942-1944 Looney Tunes title card with Porky and Daffy in the rings.
    • It wouldn't return until the late 40s; with updated designs of Porky and Daffy, it was used in Art Davis' "Riff Raffy Daffy" (which is the only Arthur Davis-directed cartoon to have Daffy and Porky together), and Robert McKimson's "The Prize Pest".

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