Coming Up Shorts! with… The Ant And The Aardvark

Welcome back for another full post of Coming Up Shorts!  This time around, I’m going with theatrical shorts featuring the complete run of The Ant And The Aardvark from 1969 to 1971, all of which have been put together for The Ant And The Aardvark collection.

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):

  1. The Ant And The Aardvark (1969) (Length: 6 minutes, 15 seconds)
    • The ant finds a nearby picnic and tries to bring home some food, but is constantly being interrupted by the aardvark.
  2. Hasty But Tasty (1969) (Length: 6 minutes, 16 seconds)
    • The aardvark tries to catch the ant, who is using a small motorcycle to get the food away from the picnic.
  3. The Ant From Uncle (1969) (Length: 6 minutes, 7 seconds)
    • The ant complains about a lack of relaxation, while the aardvark tries to hunt him down.
  4. I’ve Got Ants In My Plans (1969) (Length: 6 minutes, 17 seconds)
    • The aardvark has to contend with a green aardvark chasing after the same ant.
  5. Technology, Phooey (1970) (Length: 6 minutes, 8 seconds)
    • The aardvark consults a computer for help catching the ant.
  6. Never Bug An Ant (1969) (Length: 6 minutes, 13 seconds)
    • The aardvark tries to catch the ant using various methods (particularly using the attraction of sugar).
  7. Dune Bug (1969) (Length: 6 minutes, 34 seconds)
    • The ant is trying to vacation on the beach, but the aardvark keeps coming for him.
  8. Isle Of Caprice (1969) (Length: 6 minutes, 14 seconds)
    • A marooned aardvark tries to get to another island where the ants are, but is stopped by a hungry shark.
  9. Scratch A Tiger (1970) (Length: 6 minutes, 15 seconds)
    • When the aardvark arrives with a hungry look about him, the ant turns to a tiger he helped out for protection.
  10. Odd Ant Out (1970) (Length: 6 minutes, 7 seconds)
    • The blue aardvark competes with a green aardvark for a can of chocolate ants.
  11. Ants In The Pantry (1970) (Length: 6 minutes, 7 seconds)
    • The aardvark tries to act as pest control to get rid of the ant in a house.
  12. Science Friction (1970) (Length: 6 minutes, 16 seconds)
    • The ant has been captured by a scientist, and the aardvark tries to get him away for a snack.
  13. Mumbo Jumbo (1970) (Length: 6 minutes, 10 seconds)
    • The aardvark is chasing after the ant, but the ant is being helped by other animals in his forest lodge.
  14. The Froze Nose Knows (1970) (Length: 6 minutes, 12 seconds)
    • With an unexpected snowfall, the aardvark goes hunting for the ant.
  15. Don’t Hustle An Ant With Muscle (1970) (Length: 6 minutes, 9 seconds)
    • The ant tries taking some vitamins, which gives him super strength against the aardvark.
  16. Rough Brunch (1971) (Length: 6 minutes, 18 seconds)
    • The ant gets help from a termite to avoid the aardvark.
  17. From Bed To Worse (1971) (Length: 6 minutes, 13 seconds)
    • After getting hit in the road, the ant and the aardvark end up in an animal hospital.

In 1963, Friz Freleng and David H. DePatie, both of whom had worked at Warner Brothers Cartoons, formed DePatie-Freleng Enterprises when Warners closed their animation division. With the success of The Pink Panther theatrical shorts (which I’ll be commenting on later), they started branching out with some other series. The Ant And The Aardvark features a blue aardvark (who was never really given a name beyond “Aardvark”) and Charlie Ant. Both characters were voiced by John Byner. The theatrical shorts later became a part of the package show The New Pink Panther Show on TV starting in 1971, and the series proved to be quite popular (although no new shorts were produced for it). The series was revived twice, the first time for The Pink Panther TV series in 1993-1995 (with John Byner returning to voice both Charlie Ant and the Aardvark again) and the second time in 2010 for the show Pink Panther And Pals (with Kel Mitchell voicing the Ant, and the Aardvark mainly being voiced by Eddie Garvar, with John Over also doing some voice work for the character).

Besides the Pink Panther cartoons, The Ant And The Aardvark shorts are the only ones of the DePatie-Freleng group of cartoons that I have any fondness for. I enjoy John Byner’s portrayal of both characters, with the Aardvark’s voice sounding like comedian Jackie Mason and Charlie Ant being based on Dean Martin. The shorts may all be formulaic, in the category of “predator vs. prey” like much of the Sylvester and Tweety or Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons. They’re not *quite* as good as some of those earlier types (not helped by one or two feeling like remakes of some of those earlier cartoons), but they are still well-done and manage to be quite hilarious. The supporting cast also generally makes things better (with the green aardvark being the main recurring character that I can think of), and they keep the formula from getting too stale. These shorts haven’t necessarily been given a full-fledged restoration for the Blu-ray and DVD release, but they still look good enough to keep me happy. The out-of-sync audio on the “Technology, Phooey” cartoon is the only real complaint I have with the set. As I said, I enjoy these shorts, and I have no trouble whatsoever in recommending them for a fun time!

The Ant And The Aardvark Collection is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber. The whole set has a runtime of one hour, forty-seven minutes.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Pat And Mike (1952)

As you can tell from the title, this time around, we’re here for the classic 1952 movie Pat And Mike, starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn!

Pat Pemberton (Katharine Hepburn), the women’s athletic coach at Pacific Technical College, is dragged into a game of golf with a potential donor and his wife. Pat’s fiance, Collier Weld (William Ching), wants her to partner with the donor in hopes that he will win and donate to the college. However, Collier unnerves her, which results in her and the donor losing. After listening to the unsolicited golfing advice from the donor’s wife, Pat forces her to sit and watch her hit several good shots in a row. Afterwards, she is approached by Charles Barry (Jim Backus), who asks her to consider going pro. When Collier comes in, she tells him about it. He’s not thrilled, and tries to dissuade her, but she decides to quit her job at the college and go pro. At her first tournament, she does really well. Watching her is sports promoter Mike Conovan (Spencer Tracy), who suggests she could make some serious money by fixing it to come in second, to which she refuses. However, as it comes down toward the end, she sees Collier watching and, unnerved, makes enough mistakes to come in second. Undaunted, she goes to Mike, asking him to manage her, especially since she can do a few other sports, like tennis. After she signs with him, he starts up training her, forbidding smoking, drinking, men, etc. In various tennis matches, she does really well. However, in one match against Gussie Moran, Collier comes to watch her, and she gets rattled again, losing the match. Afterwards, Collier and Mike get into an argument about whether she should stay or go, angering Pat as she believes nobody else “owns” her. She joins Mike at his training camp, where he is also training boxer Davie Hucko (Aldo Ray) and his racehorse. There, she is able to admit to Mike that seeing Collier is what keeps getting to her. The two start getting closer, and Mike tries to get Collier to stay away from her. Right before the next golf tournament, some of Mike’s investors come, with the intention of convincing Pat to lose on purpose since they were betting against her. She refuses, and even helps Mike fight back. More trouble comes, though, as Collier arrives, and tries to convince Pat to leave. The question is, will she leave, or will she be able to overcome her problem?

Pat And Mike is the seventh of nine films that Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn made together. The movie was written by Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon specifically for Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. They particularly gave Katharine Hepburn a chance to show off her own natural athletic abilities, considering she herself was a very good golfer and tennis player. The movie featured a number of sports stars playing themselves, including Gussie Moran, Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Frank Parker (who also acted as a technical advisor and coached Katharine Hepburn).

While I have only had occasion to see this movie a few times, it’s one that I will readily admit to enjoying whenever I do! Obviously, the script is wonderful, but the performances are what make the movie worthwhile. William Ching does a great job as Collier, with his constant negging that undermines Pat’s self-confidence, effectively “jinxing” her whenever he is watching. And, we can see that, as Spencer Tracy’s Mike says, he doesn’t want an equal partnership, as he keeps trying to tell Pat what to do instead of letting her decide. Aldo Ray as the boxer Davie Hucko is pretty hilarious, especially when he obsesses over the attention Mike is giving to Pat instead of him, and then, when he talks about “fighting” himself (after he talked with Pat). Of course, considering the later reputation of one actor in this film, there is some more humor that wouldn’t have meant as much at the time. Charles Bronson, billed under his birth name of Charles Buchinsky (even thought the credits mis-spell it as “Buchinski”), plays a thug, but is beaten up and becomes afraid of Katharine Hepburn’s Pat. Of course, we also get the great Jim Backus in an all-too-brief appearance as another golf pro, who suggests Pat become a pro herself.

But, obviously, we’re here for the two leads, as they continue to display the chemistry that had brought them together for six films before this! Katharine Hepburn is wonderful here, as we see her character struggle with her self confidence, especially when dealing with her fiance, yet we see that she is strong enough to try fighting for her own life instead of just giving in to him completely. Then there is Spencer Tracy, whose character starts out somewhat corrupt and thinks himself a pretty macho guy, although he is willing to treat Pat as a partner. Of course, as the movie goes on, he becomes less corrupt and has to come to terms with his own issues, especially when Pat takes down the two thugs causing him trouble. A wonderful pair of performances, with a great story and great support from the rest of the cast. I certainly have no problem whatsoever with recommending this fun movie!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. For the new Blu-ray, they used a 4K scan of the original camera negative, and it looks fantastic! Again, I have limited experience with this movie (and don’t remember how it looked in standard definition), but I like this transfer! With all the dirt and debris cleaned up, and a picture devoid of scratches, this is easily the best way to view this fantastic movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 35 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

*ranked #6 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2020

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Father Of The Bride (1950) – Spencer Tracy – Desk Set (1957)

The Philadelphia Story (1940) – Katharine Hepburn – Desk Set (1957)

Coming Up Shorts! with… Hasty But Tasty (1969)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber)

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: 6 minutes, 16 seconds)

The aardvark tries to catch the ant, who is using a small motorcycle to get the food away from the picnic.  A bit of fun here, particularly with a recurring gag of a portable hole the aardvark tried to use, which keeps floating in and out.  The formula of predator vs. prey is still here, obviously, but the fun is still in watching the aardvark’s plans and traps fail Wyle E. Coyote-style!   Worth a few good laughs, anyway!

And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring more of the Ant And The Aardvark (and the eventual post on the entire set), along with other shorts!