Woody Woodpecker was a solid character in the hands of Don Patterson, the best director at the Walter Lantz studio after 1950 who wasn’t named Tex Avery. He and his animators came up with some good expressions, and there are some nice spikey fear takes by Woody in many of his cartoons.
Here’s Woody meeting up for the first time with the sinister Bat in Under the Counter Spy (1954).
Patterson milks things by having Woody do a shake take for 14 drawings, about half a second. It’s enough to register with the audience. It’s the old animation trick of a cycle of two drawings on ones with one drawing featuring a wavy version of the character. We’ve slowed down the take for you to see it better.
Some good expressions on Woody as he uses the strength of the “tonic” in the bottle to stop the Bat from shooting him. Looking at these reminds me of how dialogue-heavy the Woody cartoons got when Paul Smith took over the character.
Ray Abrams, Ken Southworth and Herman Cohen are the credited animators and Homer Brightman provides a good story with a bit of an odd conclusion (and a Dragnet parody to wrap it up).