The Walter Lantz cartoons dropped a few notches in quality when the studio reopened in 1950. Character designs were simpler, the animation was less elaborate and the timing has a different feel. Still, there were worthwhile Woody Woodpecker cartoons into the mid-‘50s, but it was a case of hit or miss.
‘Puny Express’ (1951) was the first short released when the studio re-signed with Universal International and went back to work. The lack of dialogue hurts this and other cartoons around this time—Lantz wanted to release cartoons to foreign markets and words got in the way—but there are a few things I like in this one.
There’s a throw-away gag involving Buzz Buzzard’s horse, Flea Biscuit. Horse rears tend to attract flies. Flea Biscuit’s does. And he deals with it. I really like the expressions.
The animation credits go to Don Patterson, La Verne Harding and Ray Abrams. The horse design may have been by Dick Lundy; he worked on this cartoon along with writers Bugs Hardaway and Heck Allen before they were let go when the studio closed in 1948.