Coming Up Shorts! with… Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

“Hello, all you happy people.” – Droopy

Welcome back for another full post of Coming Up Shorts! This time, I’m focusing on various cartoons from MGM that were directed by Tex Avery. The shorts I’m covering were all a part of the Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1. While the shorts have not been released in chronological order, those in this set were originally released theatrically between 1943 and 1951.

Here’s a list and quick plot description for each of the cartoons included in this set (for my comments on the individual cartoons, click on the title to go to my previous reviews):

Tex Avery Classics

  1. Red Hot Riding Hood (1943) (Length: 7 minutes, 14 seconds)
    • The re-telling of Red Riding Hood, making Red a nightclub performer, Granny a nightclub owner, and the Wolf a womanizer.
  2. Who Killed Who? (1943) (Length: 7 minutes, 46 seconds)
    • We have a murder mystery, with a detective looking to find out who committed the murder while avoiding his own death.
  3. What’s Buzzin’ Buzzard? (1943) (Length: 8 minutes, 12 seconds)
    • Two very hungry buzzards decide to try to eat each other, to hilarious effect!
  4. Batty Baseball (1944) (Length: 6 minutes, 27 seconds)
    • For this short, we have a very screwy baseball game.
  5. The Hick Chick (1946) (Length: 7 minutes, 10 seconds)
    • Hick rooster Lem ends up fighting with a city slicker for the affections of his girlfriend, Daisy.
  6. Bad Luck Blackie (1949) (Length: 7 minutes, 8 seconds)
    • A little kitten is being chased by a dog, when he runs into a black cat that volunteers to help.
  7. Garden Gopher (1950) (Length: 6 minutes, 11 seconds)
    • Spike the dog has to deal with a troublesome gopher when he tries to bury his bone.
  8. The Peachy Cobbler (1950) (Length: 6 minutes, 43 seconds)
    • After an old cobbler gives some bread to some hungry birds, a group of elves help him catch up on work while he sleeps.
  9. Symphony In Slang (1951) (Length: 6 minutes, 45 seconds)
    • At the gates of heaven, a young man arrives speaking only in slang, and, unable to understand him, the main official turns to Noah Webster for help.

Screwy Squirrel

  1. Screwball Squirrel (1944) (Length: 7 minutes, 24 seconds)
    • Screwy Squirrel faces off against the bird dog Meathead.
  2. The Screwy Truant (1945) (Length: 7 minutes, 1 second)
    • Screwy Squirrel avoids going to school while being chased by the truant officer dog.
  3. Big Heel-Watha (1944) (Length: 7 minutes, 46 seconds)
    • Big Heel-Watha has to hunt don Screwy Squirrel to find some meat for his tribe.
  4. Lonesome Lenny (1946) (Length: 7 minutes, 46 seconds)
    • A big, lonely dog (who is too strong for his own good) chases his new little friend, Screwy.

George & Junior

  1. Hound Hunters (1947) (Length: 7 minutes, 18 seconds)
    • George and Junior try to work as dog catchers, but a small dog keeps eluding them.
  2. Red Hot Rangers (1947) (Length: 7 minutes, 59 seconds)
    • Forest rangers George and Junior try to put out a fire started by a lit cigarette.


  1. Dumb-Hounded (1943) (Length: 8 minutes, 1 second)
    • The Wolf escapes from prison, and Droopy must hunt him down.
  2. Wags To Riches (1949) (Length: 7 minutes, 11 seconds)
    • Droopy inherits a mansion, and Spike attempts to do him in so that he gets everything.
  3. The Chump Champ (1950) (Length: 7 minutes, 14 seconds)
    • Droopy and Spike compete in a variety of sports.
  4. Daredevil Droopy (1951) (Length: 6 minutes, 27 seconds)
    • Droopy and Spike compete to get a job in a circus.

As usual, I remind you that, when it comes to theatrical shorts, my own knowledge is generally Wikipedia level at best (not to mention whatever I find sometimes through Turner Classic Movie’s website), so I may not necessarily get everything right. Anyway, here goes. Tex Avery was a well-known animator and director from the golden age of American animation. He started out working as an inker and animator at Universal’s animation studios on some of the “Oswald The Lucky Rabbit” cartoons. During this time, he lost the use of his left eye when, in a bit of horseplay apparently common there, he was hit in the eye by either a thumbtack or wire paper clip thrown at him. Less than thrilled with his salary there, he ended up being fired. He next worked for Leon Schlesinger at Warner Brothers, where he became a director with his own unit, where they would help establish Porky Pig and Bugs Bunny, along with introducing Daffy Duck. However, he had issues with Leon Schlesinger, and he quit, briefly working for Paramount before he signed with MGM in 1941. There, he would make use of his own style, whether it be the fast pacing of the shorts, or the characters sometimes breaking the fourth wall, or making fun of the fairy tale tropes that Walt Disney made use of. He would do his shorts at MGM up through 1950, when he had to take time off from being overworked. He returned to do two more cartoons before leaving MGM entirely for the Walter Lantz studio at Universal (which would be short-lived because of salary issues yet again).

The set of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1 is comprised of shorts made by Tex Avery during his tenure at MGM. The shorts included are, as I said before, not necessarily included in chronological order. The main reason for that is what shape some of the elements are in, as many of the original negatives for MGM’s pre-1951 cartoons had been destroyed in a 1965 vault fire. But, for the nineteen shorts included in this set, Warner Archive Collection used 4K scans of the best available archival elements, and the results are fantastic! Every short looks so colorful, and it makes for easy viewing! This set contains many classics, including Red Hot Riding Hood, which turned the Little Red Riding Hood story on its ear, and gave us “Red,” as well as the Wolf, who was a frequent character in some of the shorts. We also got the likes of Screwy Squirrel, with four out of five of his shorts being included. And, my personal favorites of the set, the four Droopy cartoons. I remember those the most vividly from my own childhood (although I have some recollection of some of the stand-alone cartoons as well), and it’s great seeing them looking better than I’ve ever seen them look! I very much enjoyed this set, and I can certainly say that I look forward to seeing and enjoying Volume 2 (which has sadly been delayed by the pandemic, but, at least at the time of this writing, it’s being worked on and coming)! To borrow another quote from Droopy to describe my feelings about this set:

“You know what? I’m happy. Hooray.”

Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1 is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection. The whole set has a runtime of two hours, eighteen minutes.

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man (1951)

Starting off today’s Abbott and Costello double-feature is their 1951 movie Abbott And Costello Meet the Invisible Man.

Having just graduated from a detective school, Bud Alexander (Bud Abbott) and his buddy, Lou Francis (Lou Costello), join a big detective agency. Their first customer requires their help to get to the home of his girlfriend, Helen Gray (Nancy Guild), and her uncle, Dr. Philip Gray (Gavin Muir). There, Bud and Lou realize their customer is boxer Tommy Nelson (Arthur Franz), who is currently wanted for the murder of his fight manager, and Bud decides to turn him in to the police for the reward money. Unknown to him, though, Dr. Philip showed Tommy a serum that would make him invisible, and, while nobody was looking, Tommy injected the serum into himself. The police arrive, led by Detective Roberts (William Frawley), but they fail to find the now invisible Tommy, and take Bud and Lou in for questioning. Since Lou observed Tommy turning invisible, they have the psychiatrist try to talk to him, without success. Once Bud and Lou are let go, Helen tells them to meet Tommy later with a suitcase. Bud tries to take advantage and bring in the police, but, Tommy still being invisible, he fails again. Tommy decides to bring them in on his plan, and has them help him clear his name. They take Lou to the local gym, where, with Tommy’s help, he starts to look like a promising boxer (especially when he knocks out boxer Rocky Hanlon, played by John Day). Tommy’s plan really starts to work when a fight between Lou (now being called Louie The Looper) and Rocky is scheduled, and mobster Morgan (Sheldon Leonard), who is betting heavily on Rocky, sends his girlfriend Boots Marsden (Adele Jergens) to get Lou to fix the fight. However, Tommy starts to get drunk and a little crazy when celebrating, and Dr. Gray tries to keep him strapped down. Meanwhile, Bud and Lou start to consider throwing the fight, but Tommy gets there and pushes Lou to fight. But, can they win and clear Tommy?

While Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man is one of the better-known entries in the series of Abbott and Costello/monster movie mashups, that wasn’t originally the plan. The film was conceived as another regular entry in the Invisible Man series, but after the success of (you guessed it) Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein, plans were changed to include Bud and Lou. Of course, the script went through a number of changes as they decided to build it around one gag in particular, that of Lou in the boxing ring with an invisible helper. Of course, it wasn’t too much of a stretch for Lou to play a boxer, as he had at one point been an amateur boxer himself.

For me, this is one of their better outings. It may not be as horror-oriented as Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein, which works just fine for me. The special effects work really well here, for the most part (of course, some stuff doesn’t look as good now, but that’s bound to happen on some things). That boxing match is a lot of fun, but I know I enjoyed many other moments, too! One that comes to mind is when Lou is being examined by the police psychiatrist, Dr. Turner (as played by Paul Maxey), where he tries to hypnotize Lou, but Lou ends up hypnotizing him and everybody that comes into the room! And William Frawley as the head detective is also fun, as he tries to keep up with Bud and Lou and what they are up to! I will admit, I have not seen any of the other classic Invisible Man films, but my biggest “disappointment” with this movie is that I wish they could have gotten Vincent Price to be the Invisible Man (since he had a quick cameo “appearance” at the end of Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein). Don’t get me wrong, Arthur Franz does a pretty good job here, and I really can’t quite see the story being the same if Vincent Price had done the movie, but it’s still wishful thinking. Again, though, I enjoy seeing this movie every now and then, and I would easily recommend giving it a try (and seeing it again and again after that)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray either individually or as part of the Invisible Man collection from Universal Studios or as part of the 28 film The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection from Shout Factory, and is one hour, twenty-two minutes in length.

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Abbott And Costello In The Foreign Legion (1950)Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – Comin’ Round The Mountain (1951)

Abbott And Costello In The Foreign Legion (1950)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures CollectionComin’ Round The Mountain (1951)

Coming Up Shorts! with… Big Heel-Watha (1944)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!

(Length: 7 minutes, 46 seconds)

Big Heel-Watha has to hunt don Screwy Squirrel to find some meat for his tribe. Ok, so this one obviously deals with a lot of Native American stereotypes, so it has its issues. Still, it has its fun. Screwy Squirrel may not be the lead character here, but a lot of the fun gags are connected to him. Throw in the chief’s daughter, who also seems to be a source of humor here, and it’s got enough good points to be worth trying! I know I enjoy watching it!

And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring cartoons by Tex Avery (and the eventual post on the entire Volume 1 set), along with other shorts!