Thursday, 5 January 2012

If Woody Had Gone Right to the Police...

...this would never have happened.

Even die-hard members of the Paul J. Smith Sucks Society admit this is one of his better cartoons, though he treats some groaners a little too seriously. It’s McKimson-esque in that “Bunco Busters” (1955) is a parody of the TV show “Racket Squad”. Dal McKennon does a pretty good job approximating the stiff delivery of Reed Hadley, who played Captain John Braddock in the crime show (the character here is called Captain Haddock). The character even looks like Braddock.

The animators on this cartoon all spent time at Warner Bros. in the late ‘30s—Gil Turner, Herman Cohen and Bob Bentley. I’ve never liked some of the thick ink-line work at Lantz around this period; look at the palm trees above. The story’s by ‘40s stalwart Milt Schaffer.


  1. This is probably the one "Woody Woodpecker" cartoon that everyone remembers the most.

    It's not just the Paul Smith Sucks crowd that likes this cartoon. Even amongst the "Woody Woodpecker is Annoying" crowd, this is considered to be one of his best cartoons.

  2. Maybe it's sounds strange for you, but in Russia kids like to watch these cheap Lantz cartoons of 50th and 60th, probably because it was on our TV every year since 1996. And still I can enjoy these cartoons ONLY when I watch TV - I don't want to waste my time watchin' them online.

  3. Smith's first two years as a director really weren't that bad, and even something a year or so after that, like "Niagara Fools" is still pretty good for a 50s Lantz cartoon.

    The problem is that just like Famous Studios on the east coast, the animation limitations by the mid-50s meant that a strong story became more and more important. You weren't going to get much extra out of the visuals, and by the end of the decade you had weak stories at Lantz supporting Smith's even weaker direction. In this case, Schaffer's story gives Smith something to work with that also made the stiff animation an asset, not a liability (and Warners and Paramount also had fun parodying the wooden monotone nature of 1950s TV cop shows, so the subject matter was obviously ripe for satire).

  4. SO Racket Squad was being parodied, then...I noticed some Dragnet in there, I think, at the end..Racket was parodied at WB by Jones as "Rocket Squad", with Daffy and Porky, and Tedd Pierce writing stories---ironically, Mike Maltese was at that time at Lantz, though not on this one. Also "Rocket Squad" has a cartoon/HB connection-Charles Shows ["Walt
    ,1979] created it.Steve C.

  5. Well, I sure can't sit through those Ma and Pa cartoons. The best one is the one Maltese did. And I used to leave the room whenever a 'Foolish Fables' was being shown. I'm afraid Smith had more misses than hits in the '50s. And it just got worse.
    Lantz used to blame television for the reason his cartoons went downhill (he had to make them less violent) but Smith's stuff wasn't great even before TV was a factor.