Monday, 31 October 2011

Your Mother Rides a Vacuum Cleaner

Witches are supposed to be scary. But Witch Hazel at Warner Bros. isn’t, despite her evil intention to turn Hansel and Gretel into waif waffles in ‘Bewitched Bunny.’ She talks to the audience, she cracks up at her own jokes like Phyllis Diller (the similarity doesn’t end there) and—my favourite thing when I was a kid—she leaves bobby pins in the air when she zips off camera.

A lot is made of Maurice Noble’s backgrounds that emphasize Witch Hazel lives in a world of corrupted reality but there are great bits of animation here, too. I love Ken Harris’ skipping cycle with the witch and the two kids. Ben Washam apparently is responsible for the scene when the witch answers the door and twiddles her crooked fingers in all directions when talking with Bugs Bunny.

And we have some smears, too.

Chuck Jones’ unit was down to three animators at this point (the cartoon was produced in 1952). Lloyd Vaughan was the third.

Bea Benaderet, and not June Foray, provides Witch Hazel’s voice in this cartoon. Bea left the studio for reasons we may never know, and June took over all her roles; her first cartoon at Warner’s was released in 1955 (‘This is a Life?’). Those who presume June played every single female role at Warners are quite mistaken. Even more forgotten than Bea is Marian Richman, who toiled without credit on a number of Warners cartoons (mostly for Jones) in the ‘50s before June arrived.


  1. As I've said before, this is probably my favorite post-Phil Monroe Chuck picture.
    The scene with Hazel answering the door is actually by Ben Washam, not Ken Harris.

  2. OK. I went with a comment on my FB page made by one E.W. Hall on May 3, 2010: "Yes, thats Ken alright"

  3. Hazel's eyes are drawn there the same way they are on Bugs in the masked avenger shot. I can't imagine what I was thinking back then.

  4. I actually prefer the second of the Bugs-Hazel cartoons, "Broomstick Bunny", which aside from having the most obvious connection to Halloween, also dispels the notion that Chuck's cartoons really suffered while Noble and Maltese were away from the studio (albeit Ernie Nordli and Tedd Pierce were working off the framework and designs set by Maurice and Mike in the first cartoon).

  5. Zartok, I'll change the reference. Thanks for the link.
    J.L., the interior background in the opening of Broomstick Bunny (Hazel at the cauldron) is probably the most UPA-looking thing ever done at Warners. The dialogue's not bad but the "Paul" thing still seems completely out of place.