Wednesday 5 October 2011

Cheese Chasers

Was Chuck Jones not happy with the gags Mike Maltese gave him for this cartoon? He seems more interested in experimenting with eyes than anything else.

Claude Cat has eye-lids within eyes in one take, and the unnamed bulldog has eyes poking out from eyeballs. Jones did the same thing in other cartoons.

Jones’ usual 1951 crew is credited—Ken Harris, Ben Washam, Lloyd Vaughn and Phil Monroe. I like Hubie and Bertie but I’d probably take ‘Roughly Squeaking’ (1946) over this one. There’s a wonderful galumphing run by the all-chest dog (who also engages in some Oliver Hardy-like finger wiggling at one point) and Maltese nicely sets up one of my favourite puns in a Warners cartoons toward the end.


  1. I have two favorite WB cartoons.
    This is one of them.
    I always show friends this one and Duck Amuck.
    The eyes are hilarious

  2. It's kind of a change of pace cartoon for Hubie & Bertie, who were always the hyperactive schemers in their previous cartoons, as opposed to the suicidally depressed pair here, riffing off the Freleng-Pierce storyline from "Life With Feathers" (which Maltese may also have had a hand in writing).

    The fact that Chuck has them trying to kill themselves in this one, and then does kill off the characters as recurring players, may be a hint that he was burned out on them by the early 1950s (and Mike Barrier speculated that Jones got burned out on all of his brasher subjects about this time, except for Bugs, who he was contractually obligate to keep going, Brooklynese traits or not).

  3. I just think Jones ran out of ideas for them. Witness the Hubie and Bertie cartoon that borrowed from the curious pup cartoon of years before.

  4. It's possible, but he did find a couple of new "mind-game" ways to keep the fresh after that, including "House Hunting Mice" which was nominated for an Oscar. This cartoon reads as if they wanted to do another mess-with-Claude's-head story, but couldn't figure out a new way for Hubie & Bertie to aggressively do it, so they went to the well and borrowed another Oscar-nominated story.

    I've never seen a problem with Warners or the other studios reworking the basic plots, as long as the revised version is improved from the original. "House Hunting Mice" is an improvement on "Dog Gone Modern", but while some people really like "Cheese Chasers", I find Friz's original works better, because even in his debut cartoon, Sylvester's a better personality than Claude -- who Chuck and Mike could never decide on whether or not he should be pathetically neurotic or Wile E. Coyote-like devious (Chuck's Sylvester is mostly neurotic as well, but that was Chuck's choice -- movie-goers could still get the normal Sylvester in Freleng and McKimson's cartoons).

  5. 'Dog Gone Modern' suffers from the standard pre-war glacial pace and the lack of dialogue. Hubie and Bertie can be counted on to at least say something amusing which makes them better characters than the boring dogs.
    What I meant by running out of ideas is that I've felt that's why he ended up dropping the characters, though I gather Mike Barrier believes it was a conscious decision by Jones to shy away from that type of personality.

  6. I'd say Cheese Chasers was the best of 'em all. If anything other than the Road Runner cartoons exemplifies the Santayanan dictum of a fanatic redoubling their efforts long after they've forgotten their aim, this "black comedy" 'toon - with Hubie & Bertie repeatedly seeking to induce Claude Cat to eat them, even after the bloating from their cheese binge ended - is Exhibit "A." Plus, some of the following lines:
    - Bertie: "Yeah, yeah - over" (then stifles a burp)
    - Bertie: "Yeah, yeah, Hubie - tough!"
    - Bulldog: "It just don't add up!"

  7. Good popint, wbhist, but, in addition to J.Lee and Yowp, don't forget that Jack L.Warner may have felt that the cartoons got too dark in terms of humor, a point a handful here like JL himself has brought up. In fact, the studio's output now including upbeat Doris Day musicals as much as anything, and that shows the change of direction for some of the theatrical features. And of course later Jones shorts wind up "softer" except the Roadrunner. 1951 was ALSO the last year for the Three Bears and stuff like "Chow Hound", one of the later shorts at the studio noted considered a classic and using the earlier characterizations, courtesy of Mike Maltese, and one of the final released shorts from the studio that I've regarded as unique and en joyable. [That and "Cheese Chasers" featured bulldogs similiar to Marc Anthony in the post-"Cheese Chasers" shorts.] STeve J.Carras

  8. The bulldog, by the way, is Mark Anthony(The dog that was in the pussyfoot cartoons).