Animation, Beep beep, Brahms, Bugs Bunny, Cartoon network, Cartoons, Children's, Daffy Duck, Jazz, Liszt, Looney Tunes, Roadrunner, Rossini, Strauss, T.V, The Cat Concerto, The three little bops, The Three little pigs, Tom & Jerry, Warner Bros., Warner Brothers, Wile.E.Coyote
As a recent graduate faced with unemployment, I happen to have a bit of spare time on my hands. But having seen countless hours of reruns of Top Gear and Jeremy Kyle, one of the perks about daytime T.V, which I have discovered is Cartoon Network Too. Yes there are adverts selling unbelievably useless toys and way too many insurance recommendations, and most of the programming is mindless dribble, but what you also get from 2pm, is an hour of genius.
I am talking about an institution that is over 50 years old: Warner Bros.’ renowned Looney Tunes. Everyone grew up with them: grandparents, parents. Everyone knows the characters from Bugs, to Roadrunner. And everyone knows the catch phrases from ‘What’s up doc?’ to the sheer simplicity of ‘Beep beep’.
It was an animation revolution, and although to most of the Pixar generation they would seem “simple”, but I assure you they are far from. Looney Tunes are still as funny and enjoyable today, as they were back then. The comedy is universal; it works on anyone, of any background, and any age. And if anything, these Tunes are even more appreciated with age, I never realised just how clever and intricate they were when I was a kid. The Tunes reference great works of literature and music, and they are all made accessible to everyone. The effects of the Tunes are as classic as old Charlie Chaplin clips and simple mime comedy.
The most genius aspect is by far the orchestration; the musical genius behind these great compositions lied with several people including Carl Stalling, Clark Terry and Gus Arnheim. The musical accompaniment is by far the most influential and elaborate aspect of the creation; as the music was as much a part of the comedy as the animation and content. Complementing the images and exploring with sounds by experimenting with instrumentation to characteristically represent the imagery, the musicianship was by far cutting edge. To this day, people still associate the descending tones of a muted trumpet with failure and ridicule. The musicians were incredibly talented, and were working on repertoire that far surpasses most film scores today: ranging from influences from classical to jazz, the results are truly amazing.
Here’s a pick of my favourites:
Everyone knows the tale of the Three little pigs, but when Warner Bros. gets a hold of it, the tale comes to life. Warner Bros. actually created two different versions, here is the first, which uses Brahms’ Hungarian Dance.
And this just has to be the BEST reworking of this classic story. This time in a Jazz style ‘The Three Little Bops’ be-bop their way through the tale – full of witty remarks and ingenious detail – this is beyond brilliant. And with one of the best musical morals ever – ‘you gotta get real hot, to play real cool’.
I much prefer the Warner Bros. one to this (comparatively awful) Disney interpretation of the same tale.
Tom & Jerry
The winner of the Academy Award for Best Cartoon in 1943 – ‘The Cat Concerto’, featured Franz Lizst’s ‘Hungarian Rhapsody No.2’ and has been cited by many renowned pianists (including Lang Lang) as being their first influence for learning to play. It is without a doubt, one of the best Tom and Jerry episodes ever.
Johann Strauss’ opera – Die Fieldmaus, is resurrected as a conducting competition between the two rivals.
‘The Cat Above and the Mouse Below’ – This is where the notoriously comic ‘Figaro, Figaro’ imitation of opera singers came from, as once you’ve seen this Rossini’s the ‘Barber of Seville’ would never be the same! Watch out for the plunger!
Any Roadrunner episode is funny, and out of all the Looney Tunes I think Roadrunner is the silliest, but funniest cartoon. It is just simple, and definitely an example of universal humour – I bet you can’t get through without at least a little chuckle!
‘Rabbit’s Feet’ – Last but not least – Bugs… and a guest appearance by Mr. Wile.E Coyote himself.
You could spend countless hours going through these and reliving your childhood, and I advise you to. It was the paving stone for Pixar, The Simpsons, Family Guy ect. And it is better than ANY kids t.v nowadays. Kids will love it, and as an adult you will discover so much more, by truly appreciating the intricacy and genius behind some of the best animation of all time.