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… Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1953)

For the second half of today’s Abbott and Costello double-feature, we have their 1953 movie Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.

A series of murders have hit Hyde Park in London, all committed by a monster of a man. At a suffragette meeting, reporter Bruce Adams (Craig Stevens) meets and becomes interested in their leader, dance hall girl Vicky Edwards (Helen Westcott). However, a fight breaks out, and American policemen Slim (Bud Abbott) and Tubby (Lou Costello) try to break it up. They fail, and are thrown in jail with everybody else. Everybody is bailed out by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Boris Karloff), who has taken care of Vicky for some time. He gives Vicky a ride to the dance hall, and Bruce invites himself along. Dr. Jekyll has his driver drop him off at his home, while Vicky and Bruce go on to the dance hall. Once in the house, Dr. Jekyll goes to his secret laboratory, where he vents his frustrations to his assistant, Batley (John Dierkes). He is now mad at Bruce’s interference with Vicky, as he himself has been in love with Vicky for a long time. Dr. Jekyll decides to inject himself with his serum, thus turning into the monstrous Mr. Hyde, and he goes to the dance hall to kill Bruce. As for Slim and Tubby, the riot resulted in them being thrown off the force. While walking home, they see Mr. Hyde trying to get into the dance hall and, thinking he’s a burglar, try to capture him. They end up chasing him away before he can do anything, and, with Bruce’s aid, they try to follow him on the rooftops. They lose him, and decide to split up. Tubby goes into a wax museum, where Mr. Hyde is hiding (yep, that was intended). Tubby is able to capture Mr. Hyde, but, before he can return with anybody, the serum wears off, turning him back into Dr. Jekyll. Slim and Tubby are in trouble with the police inspector again, but Dr. Jekyll asks the two of them to accompany him home and stay there for the night. Tubby finds himself unable to sleep, so he explores the house. He finds Dr. Jekyll’s laboratory, and runs into Batley. He gets away and tries to tell Slim. He also wakes up Dr. Jekyll, who admits to having a lab, and shows them. He leaves for a moment to get something to kill them, but Tubby drinks something and wanders off, with Slim following behind. When they both see that Tubby has turned into a man-sized mouse (an effect that quickly wears off), they go try to tell both Bruce and Vicky. By the time they get back, Dr. Jekyll has all his lab equipment hidden, making Slim and Tubby look foolish. Bruce asks Dr. Jekyll for Vicky’s hand in marriage, to which he agrees (at least until Bruce leaves, and then he reveals his true colors). Vicky calls Bruce back, and in the commotion, Dr. Jekyll accidentally injects himself with the serum, turning him back into Mr. Hyde (and, unknown to everyone else, Tubby accidentally gets injected as well). All of this results in a chase through London as everybody tries to catch the monster. But which one is which?

Of the four main films from the Abbott and Costello/monster mash-ups, I would argue that this one is the weakest of the bunch. One of the biggest problems is how much it strays from the source material. As I recall, the idea was that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were supposed to be two different sides of the same man, with Dr. Jekyll appalled by some of the things that Mr. Hyde does. Here, they seem to be one and the same, with Dr. Jekyll being quite willing to kill and be unkind to others, although he uses Mr. Hyde as a cover-up so that he himself is not implicated. Then, there’s the werewolf aspect, whereby a bite from Lou’s Tubby, when he has been turned into the monster near the end of the movie, turns others into the monster (instead of relying on the serum). Of course, Bud and Lou are still fun to watch, but it definitely feels formulaic, especially with them relying more on slapstick and not so much on their comedy routines.

Still, in spite of my lower opinion of this movie, it still makes for a decent Halloween movie. Admittedly, the scares are not as good compared to Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein, but that one is tough to beat. In the wax museum, we do get wax models of both Dracula and the Frankenstein monster (plus a dangling wire that causes the Frankenstein monster to move a little), which at least helps the Halloween atmosphere. Again, I don’t think very highly of this movie, and any other time of the year, I would not recommend this one, but around Halloween, I’m a bit more forgiving of this film’s issues. So, maybe give this one a try at this time of the year!

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

My Rating: 5/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Abbott And Costello Go To Mars (1953)Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – Abbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops (1955)

Abbott And Costello Go To Mars (1953)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures CollectionAbbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops (1955)

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Chump Champ (1950)

(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, 14 seconds)

Droopy and Spike compete in a variety of sports. With the offer of a kiss from the Queen of Sports, Spike does all he can to cheat to win (although everything, and I do mean everything, that he does backfires on him). The relationship between Droopy and Spike makes this work, and that’s all that needs to be said! Enough good laughs just like I expect with any Droopy cartoon!

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!