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.

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TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… Comin’ Round The Mountain (1951)

For the second half of today’s Abbott and Costello double-feature, we have their 1951 movie Comin’ Round The Mountain!

Singer Dorothy McCoy (Dorothy Shay) has proven to be a hit at a New York nightclub, but her agent Al Stewart (Bud Abbott) has decided to bring in another one of his clients, magician Wilbert Smith (Lou Costello). Wilbert bombs, resulting in both him and Dorothy being fired. However, while he was trying to escape for his trick, he gave off a very distinctive yell, which Dorothy recognized as being from her own hillbilly family, the McCoys. She said that Wilbert’s grandfather had left a treasure that would only be revealed when one of his kin arrives, so she takes him and Al back to the hills. Once there, she tells them about the feud between the McCoys and the Winfield family (yep, they made use of that old hillbilly cliche). When they meet the McCoys, Granny (Ida Moore) takes a liking to Wilbert, but cousin Calem (Joe Sawyer) isn’t so sure about him, and decides to have Wilbert prove himself in the turkey shoot against the Winfield family. Wilbert gets through with the help of his cousin Matt McCoy (Shaye Cogan), while Dorothy meets and takes a liking to Clark Winfield (Kirby Grant). (uh-oh! We have a Romeo-and-Juliet-type romance here!) Wilbert’s current marital status leaves Calem and the rest of the family playing matchmaker. Wilbert likes Dorothy, but, since she is more interested in Clark, Calem decides to use the opportunity to marry off his 14-year-old “old maid” sister, Matt (who is happy with the arrangement). Wilbert doesn’t like the idea, and neither does Granny (since she is in favor of the feud with the Winfields), so she advises Wilbert to go to the witch Aunt Huddy (Margaret Hamilton) for a love potion. They get the potion alright, but more people drink it than they were supposed to, resulting in a lot of confusion!

For me, Comin’ Round The Mountain has some of my favorite scenes from the entire Abbott and Costello filmography. One of them is the scene with Margaret Hamilton, who is best known for her role as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard Of Oz, who once again plays a witch here. Bud and Lou’s characters come to her, seeking a love potion. When she demands payment beforehand, Lou is willing to pay, but Bud is skeptical, so she makes a model of Lou out of clay. Using voodoo, she sticks a pin into the model, giving Lou a pain. (Considering he was willing to pay, you can’t help but wonder, why him and not Bud?) While she’s not looking, Lou makes a model of her, and does the same thing! And then, after all the pin-sticking is over, Bud and Lou come across a “modernized” witch’s broom. And by “modernized,” I mean it has a windshield (with a working windshield wiper!) as well as a starter switch! For me, one of the most memorable moments from some of the Abbott and Costello films!

And while not quite as good, the following scene, which deals with the love potion, is still quite fun! The potion itself, according to the movie, is supposed to be drunk, and then the drinker falls in love with the first person they see (although it eventually wears off). So, of course, Lou gets Dorothy’s character to drink it, with her seeing Lou first, but then Lou’s character accidentally drinks it, sees Shaye Cogan’s Matt and falls for her. Of course, she also ends up drinking it, sees Bud’s character and falls for him. With all the arguing (and the subsequent wedding), it’s a lot of fun! Of course, they also have the leader of the Winfield family, Devil Dan (portrayed by Glenn Strange), drink it too, and he see’s Lou’s Wilbert (although he just becomes an affectionate friend instead of a lover). Still, it’s a fun moment!

As to the rest of the movie, I would for the most part say it’s a lot of fun. With the presence of Dorothy Shay as the “Manhattan Hillbilly,” the movie once again goes into musical territory, which gives me mixed feelings. On the one hand, the music itself is less than memorable, but, on the other hand, the songs seem to work well enough for the movie (and by that, I mean their style works, as the songs don’t advance the plot), which is a plus. And as far as Bud and Lou are concerned, they do make use of their “You’re 40, She’s 10” routine, which, considering the hillbilly atmosphere, seems appropriate (and, of course, it’s still funny). This movie may not be one of the absolute best Abbott and Costello films, but I enjoy watching it every now and then, as it is worth a few good laughs! So, as you can guess, I still rank it high enough to warrant a recommendation! If you get the chance, try to see it!

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the 28 film The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection from Shout Factory, and is one hour, seventeen minutes in length.

My Rating: 8/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man (1951)Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – Lost In Alaska (1952)

Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man (1951)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures CollectionLost In Alaska (1952)

Coming Up Shorts! with… Lonesome Lenny (1946)

(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)

A big, lonely dog (who is too strong for his own good) chases his new little friend, Screwy. More fun here with Screwy Squirrel, in what was his last cartoon from Tex Avery. Many fun gags, including the old “hallway with many doors being used in a chase sequence” bit, that is one of the funniest and most ridiculous uses of it! Many laughs to be found here, even with it’s slightly sad (and appropriate for being the last Screwy Squirrel cartoon by Tex Avery) ending.

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!