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 In The Foreign Legion (1950)

And for the second half of today’s Abbott and Costello double-feature, we have their 1950 movie Abbott And Costello In The Foreign Legion!

Wrestling promoters Bud Jones (Bud Abbott) and Lou Hotchkiss (Lou Costello) find that their client, Abdullah (Wee Willie Davis), is dissatisfied with them after being told he has to lose his next match, and decides to return to his home. Since Bud and Lou owe money to a mobster who helped bring Abdullah over, they decide to follow Abdullah and bring him back. The trail leads them to Algiers, where they find out he is a member of the Al-Minya tribe. The problem, though, is that the tribe, led by Abdullah’s cousin Sheik Hamud El Khalid (Douglass Dumbrille), has been sabotaging the railroad with the help of Foreign Legionnaire Sergeant Axmann (Walter Slezak). Sheik Hamud hears about Bud and Lou searching for Abdullah, assumes they are with the railroad and tries to have them killed. They manage to escape by taking shelter with the French Foreign Legion, except they meet Sergeant Axmann, who tricks them into signing up for a five year stretch with the Legion. They struggle with their training (Lou in particular, but was there ever a doubt about that?), but when they are given a pass to meet somebody in town, they realize that Sergeant Axmann is a traitor when he tries to send them to the wrong address. Sergeant Axmann had an ambush set up for them at the address he gave them, but they figured it out in time and got away. They run across Nicole Dupre (Patrica Medina), the French intelligence agent they were supposed to meet, and they tell her about the sergeant. However, without proof, nothing can be done, so Bud and Lou return to the sergeant’s quarters to find something. Unlucky for them, he returns and catches them. Conveniently for him, he needs men for a patrol, which he “volunteers” them for. While the patrol is camped at night, Sheik Hamud and his men attack, killing all the men but the sergeant. Bud and Lou are lucky, as they had gone off to catch a runaway camel, so they survive, too. They run into more trouble, though, when Sheik Hamud’s men capture them at an oasis, and the Sheik makes plans to have them killed. Can Bud and Lou escape from his clutches and help put an end to his destruction?

Originally, the plan was to start filming on Abbott And Costello In The Foreign Legion not long after finishing Abbott And Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff, but that didn’t quite happen. Lou had had some health issues that delayed filming, in between suffering from rheumatic fever again, as well as surgery to deal with a gangrenous gall bladder. Even with all that, his health was still precarious, yet he insisted on doing some of his stunts himself. That included a wrestling scene with Wee Willie Davis, which resulted in Lou suffering from a wrenched arm socket and a stretched tendon. Still, he was able to get through the movie, just the same.

This is probably one of the Abbott and Costello films I’ve been able to see many times over the years (and let’s face it, being one of the films with their names in the title, it was generally easier to figure out that they were in it whenever it would come on). Even after all this time, I still enjoy this one a lot. Obviously, it has its memorable moments, from the “wrestling rehearsal” (it was fixed! 😉 ) to the requisite thirsty desert trek with mirages usually found in comedies of this type, as well as a fish with false teeth at the oasis they find, so it’s all good fun! Admittedly, it probably does have some issues with the portrayals of the Arabs here (especially being led by all-purpose villainous actor Douglas Dumbrille), but it doesn’t feel like anything major here. As I said, it’s a wonderful movie worth quite a few laughs, and for that reason, it’s worth a recommendation from me!

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, twenty minutes in length.

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Abbott And Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff (1949)Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man (1951)

Abbott And Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff (1949)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures CollectionAbbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man (1951)

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Screwy Truant (1945)

(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, 1 second)

Screwy Squirrel avoids going to school while being chased by the truant officer dog. More fun with Screwy Squirrel (although with a slightly different laugh than the previous cartoon). Loved the quick appearance of Red Riding Hood and the Wolf utilizing their look from the opening of Red Hot Riding Hood. All the various sight gags here continue to make these cartoons fun and worth seeing to get a few good laughs!

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!