My Favorite Saturday Morning Memories
Growing up, I spent my Saturday mornings in front of the television watching pals Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes crew, Tom and Jerry, Droopy, Huckleberry Hound, The Flintstones, its later spin-off The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show, The Smurfs, The Snorks, Scooby-Doo Where Are You?, and of course Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Having one morning dedicated to cartoons after a long week of dealing with bullies, and shitty teachers, and pop quizzes, and that kid who always smelled like mustard (ALWAYS), was a welcomed respite. It was like cracking open a cold one after a hard day’s work. But since I was a just mere pup, let’s say it was like dunking a fresh chocolate chip cookie into a glass of cold milk (Ding! Age appropriate!). Then suddenly, cartoons were everywhere. On every channel. At any time. Hell, even a channel devoted to them 24 hours a day. This was fantastic! When Cartoon Network launched I rarely watched anything else (and honestly, other than TCM and the few channels my daughter watches, this is still true today. Read: Uncle Grandpa and Adult Swim). However, with the advent of the never-ending access to cartoons, came a quiet death to beloved Saturday morning cartoons on network television.
[Opens a cold one]
Brandie and the rest of the lovely crew over at True Classics just celebrated their 4th year in this crazy business we call “Classic Film Blogging.” That’s an eternity in this racket, folks. With each year, Brandie and Co. host an event to celebrate their fight to blog another day. Animation is an important component at True Classics and for this year’s event the focus is on those beloved Saturday Morning Memories from our childhoods. I had to think hard to remember my favorites as a kid since I still watch many of these cartoons today and have made new favorites as an adult. I’ve decided to choose three of my favorite Looney Tunes shorts that I loved as a kid and have shared with my young daughter.
I’ve always been a fan of Bugs Bunny. I especially love it when he goes head-to-head with Yosemite Sam, the short, red headed, hot tempered, gun toting, King of the Mudflaps.
One of my favorite shorts featuring Bugs and Sam is the 1948 Warner Brothers short High Diving Hare directed by Friz Freleng. In this cartoon, Bugs Bunny is selling tickets to a vaudeville show featuring the great “Fearless Freep” and his high diving act into a tiny barrel of water. When Freep is delayed, angry patron extraordinaire Yosemite Sam demands someone jumps from that diving board. And that someone is Bugs. Let the hijinks ensue.
Favorite quote: “Gimme a ticket. Gimme a whole mess of ‘em. I’m a-splurgin’”
Another favorite Bugs Bunny cartoon is the 1953 Chuck Jones’ short Bully for Bugs. In this cartoon, Bugs masquerades as a bullfighter and employs various tactics to outsmart a bull…with hilarious results. This one makes my 3 year old daughter laugh so hard, especially when the bull breathes on Bugs Bunny’s tail.
Favorite quotes (alright, they’re catchphrases): “I knew I should’ve taken that left turn at Albuquerque” and “Of course you realize, this means war.”
With no Bugs Bunny in sight , a frog by the name of Michigan J. is the star of this 1955 Chuck Jones short, One Froggy Evening. A construction worker finds a box at a worksite containing a live frog, complete with top hat and cane. From 1892. Just go with it, folks. This ain’t no ordinary frog, though (if the “living in a box without food, water, or oxygen” didn’t clue you in already). This frog can sing, baby! He cranks out standards such as The Michigan Rag, Hello! Ma Baby, and I’m Just Wild About Harry. The construction worker decides to make money off his newfound songbi- I mean, songfrog. The only problem is the frog will only perform for his owner. How cruel and hilarious!
Favorite quotes: There is no spoken dialogue in this short, but I love when the owner has lost all his money and the frog is just loving life and singing his little frog lungs out with Largo al factotum.
While these shorts aren’t available on network television anymore on Saturday mornings, many of them are available in their uncensored format on DVD and Blu-ray (some shouldn’t be shown to the kiddos until they’re old enough to get a history lesson). Several years ago cable channels like Cartoon Network stopped showing Looney Tunes on a regular basis; a disappointment to many who looked to these channels as their only venue for Bugs, Daffy, Porky, and the gang. Beginning last year, both Cartoon Network and its sister network Boomerang began showing an hourlong package of Looney Tunes shorts weekly (yay!). It may not be the same as the Saturday mornings we had as kids, but you can set the DVR and watch these cartoons in your jammies on Saturday morning…with a beer.
Jill Blake is the owner of the classic film website Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence. She is also a co-founder and editor of the film site The Black Maria and film editor at CC2K. In 2012, she was interviewed on-air by Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz. In 2013, she was a featured guest on the TCM podcast. In her spare time Jill is a stay-at-home mom, wife, fried okra connoisseur, and the neighborhood’s own L.B. Jeffries.