Early Chuck Jones Looney Tunes Cartoons (1938-1942)

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Chuck Jones was an animator who was often considered one of the greatest Looney Tunes directors of all time; however, Jones didn’t start off as a good director in his first few years (1938-1942, which are the cartoons he directed from "The Night Watchman" all the way up to "Dog Tired").

They featured characters such as Sniffles the Mouse, the Two Curious Puppies, Conrad Cat, and several one-offs.

Shorts

1938

  • "The Night Watchman" (November 19; one-off)

1939

  • "Dog Gone Modern" (January 14; first Two Curious Puppies short)
  • "Robin Hood Makes Good" (February 11; one-off)
  • "Prest-O Change-O" (March 25; with the Two Curious Puppies)
  • "Daffy Duck and The Dinosaur" (April 22; with Daffy Duck)
  • "Naughty But Mice" (May 20; with Sniffles; also his first appearance)
  • "Old Glory" (July 1; with Porky Pig)
  • "Snowman's Land" (July 29; one-off)
  • "Little Brother Rat" (September 2; with Sniffles)
  • "The Little Lion Hunter" (October 7; with Inki; also his first appearance)
  • "The Good Egg" (October 21; one-off)
  • "Sniffles and the Bookworm" (December 2; with Sniffles; first appearance of the Bookworm)
  • "The Curious Puppy" (December 30; with the Two Curious Puppies)

1940

  • "Mighty Hunters" (January 27; one-off)
  • "Elmer's Candid Camera" (March 2; with Elmer Fudd)
  • "Sniffles Takes A Trip" (May 11; with Sniffles)
  • "Tom Thumb in Trouble" (June 8; one-off)
  • "The Egg Collector" (July 20; with Sniffles and the Bookworm)
  • "Ghost Wanted" (August 10; one-off)
  • "Stage Fright" (September 28; with the Two Curious Puppies)
  • "Good Night Elmer" (October 26; with Elmer Fudd)
  • "Bedtime For Sniffles" (November 23; with Sniffles)

1941

  • "Elmer's Pet Rabbit" (January 4; with Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd)
  • "Sniffles Bells The Cat" (February 1; with Sniffles)
  • "Joe Glow, the Firefly" (March 8; one-off)
  • "Toy Trouble" (April 12; with Sniffles; final appearance of the Bookworm)
  • "Porky's Ant" (May 10; with Porky Pig)
  • "Porky's Prize Pony" (June 21; with Porky Pig)
  • "Inki and the Lion" (July 19; with Inki; last Inki short of this era)
  • "Snowtime For Comedy" (August 30; with the Two Curious Puppies)
  • "The Brave Little Bat" (September 27; with Sniffles; last Sniffles short of this era)
  • "Saddle Silly" (November 8; one-off)
  • "Porky's Midnight Matinee" (November 22; with Porky Pig)

1942

  • "The Bird Came C.O.D." (January 17; first appearance of Conrad Cat)
  • "Porky's Café" (February 21; with Porky Pig and Conrad Cat)
  • "Conrad The Sailor" (February 28; with Daffy Duck and Conrad Cat; final appearance of Conrad Cat)
  • "Dog Tired" (April 25; final appearance of the Two Curious Puppies; last short of this era)

Bad Qualities

  1. Chuck Jones tried way too hard to be like Disney around the time these shorts were made.
  2. Very poor and unstructured stories, especially "The Bird Came C.O.D".
  3. Most of the cartoons suffer from poor and slow pacing with loads of filler, and can get boring very quickly.
  4. Some of the jokes and humor are hardly even funny when compared to the other directors' work at the time.
  5. While they aren't mean-spirited jerks or loathsome characters, Sniffles, the Two Curious Pups, and Conrad Cat are sometimes unlikable characters because of how bland and unfunny they are (though there are a few exceptions, unlike Buddy).
    • Almost all of Jones' cutesy Disney-inspired protagonist characters such as Sniffles tend to be overly weak and passive. This is most notable in shorts such as "Sniffles Takes a Trip" where by the end of that short Sniffles is fearful of almost every woodland creatures that apparently are practically harmless, showing how much of a wuss Sniffles is.
    • The Two Curious Pups are bland rip-offs of Pluto from the Disney cartoons.
    • Conrad Cat is a lazy clone of Goofy from the Disney cartoons, right down to having Pinto Colvig (Goofy's original voice actor) providing his voice, but with none of Goofy's humor, likability and charm.
  6. Most of the premises for the cartoons are very unoriginal and formulaic as they usually consist of a cutesy character struggling to accomplish something or gets tormented by an inanimate object.
  7. "The Good Egg" has a scene with a Mother Hen trying to commit suicide when she can’t have a baby, which is very dark and depressing.
  8. To make matters worse, Chuck Jones reuses some of his plots for his earlier cartoons such as "Porky's Midnight Matinee" reusing the same plot from "Porky's Ant", and "The Bird Came C.O.D." reusing the same plot from "Stage Fright".
  9. While the animation is usually good at times, it can be a little off and sloppy every now and then.
  10. Most of the designs for the characters are saccharine and generic. For example, the African pygmy in "Porky's Ant" looks suspiciously similar to Inki.
  11. Subpar voice acting. For example, the voice given to Bugs in "Elmer's Pet Rabbit" sounds nothing like the other cartoons he appears in, making him sound like an old man.
  12. Many of the side characters in these shorts are either underdeveloped to the point where they're very forgettable, mostly annoying as ever, or a mixture of both. A good example would be the blabbermouth bat Batty from "The Brave Little Bat".
  13. Many of these cartoons (especially "The Bird Came C.O.D.") almost caused Chuck Jones to get fired from the Warner Bros. Cartoons studio by producer Leon Schlesinger who was not satisfied with the quality of the cartoons he made when they came out.

Good Qualities

  1. Chuck Jones eventually learned from his mistakes and started to direct much funnier and better cartoons starting with "The Draft Horse" in 1942 and continued to direct much funnier cartoons later this year and so fourth such as "My Favorite Duck", "Case of the Missing Hare", "Hold the Lion, Please", and of course "The Dover Boys".
    • Sniffles started getting funny by this point too, with his character wildly retooled from a slow, wuss dimwit to a cunning, fast talking trickster akin to Bugs or early Daffy. Same can be said with Inki (depending on your view).
      • By that time, Sniffles has been drastically recast as an incessant chatterbox (in the vein similar to Friz Freleng's Blabbermouse character from "Little Blabbermouse" and "Shop, Look and Listen" and the Batty character from Chuck Jones' "The Brave Little Bat") which serves more of a nuisance than a cute protagonist. While Sniffles being a chatterbox could be annoying at times, at least he is funny and not cringy unlike Batty from "The Brave Little Bat".
  2. Decent animation and music by Carl Stalling.
  3. Some of his earlier works during this time are decent such as "The Night Watchman" (Jones' directorial debut), "Old Glory", "Prest-O Change-O", "Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur", "Bedtime for Sniffles", "The Little Lion Hunter", "Inki and the Lion", "Tom Thumb in Trouble", "Joe Glow, the Firefly", and "Conrad the Sailor".
  4. Even the weaker shorts have their funny moments like Conrad's fall from a stepladder in "The Bird Came C.O.D." and the "TURN OUT THAT LIGHT!!" running gag in "Elmer's Pet Rabbit".

Trivia

  • Chuck Jones wasn’t fond of his earlier cartoons and gave them harsh criticism, especially "Elmer's Candid Camera" (the debut of Elmer Fudd), even saying that he would've burned their negatives if given permission.
  • Only five of the shorts from this era were produced in black and white in the Looney Tunes series. Every other short are in the Merrie Melodies series.
  • All the Inki shorts and "Mighty Hunters" no longer airs on US networks due to racial stereotypes on the characters. Some of these shorts still air on international feeds.

Comments


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EricSonic

26 days ago
Score 1
He was great, but had a rough start.

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