Coming Up Shorts! with… Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2

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 back for another full post of Coming Up Shorts! This time, I’m again 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 2. While the shorts have not been released in chronological order, those in this set were originally released theatrically between 1948 and 1955.

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 Screwball Classics

  1. Little Rural Riding Hood (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 19 seconds)
    • The city wolf invites his country cousin to the city, but cannot stop him from chasing after girls.
  2. The Cuckoo Clock (1950) (Length: 7 minutes, 5 seconds)
    • A cat is being driven crazy by a cuckoo bird and tries to get rid of it.
  3. Magical Maestro (1952) (Length: 6 minutes, 31 seconds)
    • After a magician is thrown out by opera singer Spike (also known as “The Great Poochini”), he gets his revenge by taking the place of the conductor and using his magic wand to wreak havoc on Spike’s performance.
  4. One Cab’s Family (1952) (Length: 7 minutes, 56 seconds)
    • A pair of taxicabs raise their new son (with the hope that he will also be a taxicab), but he wants to be a hot rod.
  5. The Cat That Hated People (1948) (Length: 7 minutes, 1 second)
    • A black cat expresses his dislike for humans for the way he has been treated, and takes a rocket to the moon.
  6. Doggone Tired (1949) (Length: 7 minutes, 34 seconds)
    • A rabbit tries to keep a hunting dog from getting enough sleep.
  7. The Flea Circus (1954) (Length: 7 minutes, 1 second)
    • When a stray dog walks in on a circus of fleas, they all leave (except for Francois, the clown), and it’s up to him to bring more fleas back!
  8. Field And Scream (1955) (Length: 7 minutes, 9 seconds)
    • We follow American sportsman Ed Jones as he goes fishing and hunting.
  9. The First Bad Man (1955) (Length: 6 minutes, 35 seconds)
    • This short tells the story of Texas, circa one million B.C., where Dinosaur Dan laid claim to being the first bad man in Texas.


  1. Out-Foxed (1949) (Length: 8 minutes, 18 seconds)
    • A group of hunting dogs (including Droopy) are promised a steak if they can bring in a fox.
  2. Droopy’s Double Trouble (1951) (Length: 7 minutes, 6 seconds)
    • Droopy and his twin brother Drippy are tasked with taking care of a house (and keeping out strangers). Of course, Spike the dog (with an Irish accent, no less!) has to join in on the fun (as the “stranger” that they have to keep out).
  3. The Three Little Pups (1953) (Length: 6 minutes, 44 seconds)
    • Three little pups (including Droopy) take on a dogcatcher.
  4. Drag-A-Long Droopy (1954) (Length: 7 minutes, 34 seconds)
    • Sheepherder Droopy drives his sheep into cattle territory, and the Wolf (who owns a cattle ranch) tries to stop him.
  5. Homesteader Droopy (1954) (Length: 7 minutes, 31 seconds)
    • Droopy and his homesteading family find resistance from Dishonest Dan when they make a home in cattle country.
  6. Dixieland Droopy (1954) (Length: 7 minutes, 44 seconds)
    • Droopy plays Dixieland musician John Pettibone, as he tries to become famous.


  1. The Counterfeit Cat (1949) (Length: 7 minutes, 6 seconds)
    • A cat tries to pretend to be a dog to get the bird that Spike the dog is guarding.
  2. Ventriloquist Cat (1950) (Length: 6 minutes, 41 seconds)
    • A cat uses ventriloquism to play some pranks on Spike the bulldog.

Cartoons Of Tomorrow

  1. The House Of Tomorrow (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 51 seconds)
    • We are given a tour of the house of tomorrow by the narrator.
  2. Car Of Tomorrow (1951) (Length: 6 minutes, 19 seconds)
    • We are shown the “cars of tomorrow.”
  3. T.V. Of Tomorrow (1953) (Length: 7 minutes, 7 seconds)
    • We are shown the many innovations of the television of tomorrow.
  4. The Farm Of Tomorrow (1954) (Length: 6 minutes, 32 seconds)
    • We are shown the “farm of tomorrow.”

Well, since the various Tex Avery shorts aren’t being put out on disc in chronological order, there isn’t much more that I can say about Tex himself than what I said when I reviewed Volume 1 of this series. So, I will confine my comments overall to the shorts included in this set. As indicated in the list above, this set contains more one-off shorts, some Droopy, some Spike (the bulldog), and the four Cartoons Of Tomorrow. As before, I consider the Droopy cartoons to be the most fun, since I have fond memories of growing up with them. They’re always guaranteed to give me a good laugh! I think I also remember the Little Rural Riding Hood and Doggone Tired shorts, but most of the rest were new to me through this set. Overall, it’s a fun continuation, with some cartoons just as good (if not better) than those in the first set!

All the shorts included in this set come from 4K scans of the best surviving preservation elements (since, as I mentioned before in my review of the first volume, many of the original negatives for MGM’s pre-1951 cartoons were destroyed in a 1965 vault fire). Compared to the first set, this one didn’t fare as well in overall quality in the transfers. Admittedly, most of the trouble seems to have been caused by the pandemic, which delayed the set (which I have heard was originally planned for a June 2020 release, or thereabouts, instead of the December 2020 release it got) with all the film labs and storage facilities being shut down (and thereby removing access to the film elements), and also resulted in the team that had done the earlier release and the Popeye sets being laid off. Further compounding the issue, they were still stuck with a release deadline which forced them to use some less-than-stellar transfers prepared for HBO Max. A lot more DNR (digital noise reduction) was used than would have normally been the case, resulting in too much grain being removed (and therefore, some of the detail). Now, for the most part, the average Joe (or Jane) probably won’t notice, as everything looks pretty good in motion (it’s just when you stop to pause the picture that things will look worse). Now, this isn’t a problem for ALL the shorts on the set, just a few. The majority are, for the most part, treated much better. There are a few that also had photoshopped titles, and there is a slight audio issue on the start of the short T.V. Of Tomorrow. Still, the set overall is quite nice, and even throws in an hour-long documentary on Tex Avery from 1988 as an extra. It’s only good, compared to the usual GREATNESS that we would expect from Warner Archive transfers, but it’s still better than you might see for other animated libraries.

Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The whole set has a runtime of two hours, twenty-nine minutes.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Harvey Girls (1946)

Today, we’ve got a Judy Garland double-feature! Ok, so it’s like last week’s Bob Hope double-feature, where I have one new review, and updated comments on the other due to a recent Blu-ray release (in this case, it’s her 1948 film The Pirate). So, for today’s new review, we have her classic 1946 musical The Harvey Girls! Of course, we’ll throw in a fun theatrical short to start us off, and then it’s on with the movie!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Magical Maestro (1952)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 6 minutes, 31 seconds)

After a magician is thrown out by opera singer Spike (also known as “The Great Poochini”), he gets his revenge by taking the place of the conductor and using his magic wand to wreak havoc on Spike’s performance. This was a another fun cartoon, with all the gags and costume changes (and song changes) that the magician forces Spike to go through! And it even throws in a gag with a hair on the screen (so, yes, it belongs there, even with the wonderful restoration this short underwent)! Sure, there are a couple of dated moments that won’t go over well, such as Spike being turned into a Chinese character at one point and wearing blackface at another. Still, those moments go by in a flash, and this cartoon is otherwise a lot fun, full of laughs from start to finish!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Civilization (and femininity) are coming to the Wild West! All along the Santa Fe railroad, Harvey House restaurants have been popping up, taming down the unruly towns. Now, their next destination is the town of Sandrock, Arizona, and the women that will be waitresses are taking the train to get there. Also on that train is Susan Bradley (Judy Garland), who is answering a matrimonial ad from H. H. Hartsey (Chill Wills). However, when she arrives, she doesn’t find him to be what she expected (and vice versa), and they agree not to get married. She learns that he is not the person that she had corresponded with, but that it was Ned Trent (John Hodiak), the owner of the local Alhambra saloon. She goes there to tell him off (and gains his interest) before she goes to join the rest of the Harvey girls. Of course, they’re not without their troubles, too. The local judge, Sam Purvis (Preston Foster), doesn’t want the Harvey House restaurant there, as he is opposed to the threats of the town becoming more civilized (not to mention he also gets a cut from the Alhambra, which he fears will decrease with the competition). Susan helps the girls to keep the Harvey House going, in spite of their troubles, and finds herself falling for Ned, much to the dismay of dance hall girl (and Ned’s girlfriend) Em (Angela Lansbury). Ned wants to keep things honest in his dealings with the Harvey House, and tries to get the judge to stop (but, obviously, he doesn’t). Will the Harvey girls win out (and will Susan and Ned get together)? Or will the judge and his ilk be victorious?

The Harvey Girls is based on the 1942 novel of the same name by Samuel Hopkins Adams. MGM bought the film rights, intending it as a vehicle for Lana Turner. Associate producer Roger Edens saw a production of the stage show Oklahoma!, and the plans were changed. Judy Garland was approached for the film, but she wasn’t interested, as she really wanted to work with Fred Astaire (for what would turn out to be Yolanda And The Thief at the time). Still, they were able to convince her to do The Harvey Girls instead, and it worked out well for her! The film was a hit, and the song “On The Atchison, Topeka And The Santa Fe” became a big hit for her (not to mention winning the Best Song Oscar that year)!

I’ve only had the chance to see this movie a handful of times over the years (mostly because I never quite got around to getting it on home video until now), but it’s one I’ve always enjoyed! Judy Garland is her usual fantastic self here! As a character that didn’t start out wanting to be a Harvey Girl, she sure did her best at it (and tried to be tough enough to get the town to come around)! The music (by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer) is a lot of fun, with “On The Atchison, Topeka And The Santa Fe” a particularly catchy earworm of a tune! But I also enjoy “Swing Your Partner Round And Round” and a few others! And while he only gets one solo dance, Ray Bolger is still fun here, with his own inimitable style of dancing!

Now, I will admit the movie isn’t perfect. As a whole, I’m not really fond of John Hodiak as the leading man, as his performance just doesn’t work for me. I’m also not thrilled with the disappearance of Virginia O’Brien’s character partway through the movie. I understand it from the perspective that, offscreen, this movie took a long time to film and she was pregnant at the time (and it became too difficult to hide it). However, the movie itself doesn’t explain her complete disappearance after the song “The Wild, Wild West” (which seems strange, considering her character and Judy Garland’s were supposed to be friends). Still, these are minor quibbles for me, and they’re not enough to keep me away from this film! It’s a wonderful, well-known musical (and for good reason), and it’s one I have no trouble whatsoever giving some of my highest recommendations!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection. This release utilizes a restoration from a 4K scan of the original nitrate Technicolor negatives, and it shows! The transfer just pops with color, looking just like one would hope it should! The detail is amazing here, and there’s no dirt or specks or anything else to mar the picture! A wonderful release that includes some deleted scenes from the movie, as well as some audio scoring stage sessions for most of the music, plus “On The Atchison, Topeka And the Santa Fe” in stereo, for those that want to hear it that way! A highly recommended release, and one of the best-looking of the year!

Film Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Ziegfeld Follies (1945) – Judy Garland – The Pirate (1948)

Gaslight (1944) – Angela Lansbury – The Reluctant Debutante (1958)

Murder, He Says (1945) – Marjorie Main – The Wistful Widow Of Wagon Gap (1947)

Ziegfeld Follies (1945) – Cyd Charisse – Singin’ In The Rain (1952)

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