Tuesday 11 September 2012

Rock-A-Bye Bear is Still Sleeping

Tex Avery made several cartoons where characters run outside and react to inflicted pain so someone inside isn’t disturbed. “Deputy Droopy” seems to get the most attention because of Ed Benedict’s flat character designs. I much prefer “Rock-A-Bye Bear” (released 1952). The story by Heck Allen and Rich Hogan is far more satisfying (at the end of “Deputy Droopy,” suddenly all the characters develop hearing problems out of nowhere). The little dog who has been terrorising Spike gets his.

Joe Bear hires Spike for a nice, cushy job—keeping his house quiet and not waking him during hibernation time. A jealous beagle tries to make a racket and pin it on Spike so he can get the comfortable job. The situation builds to where the beagle blows up the house—but the bear doesn’t wake up. Here’s the little dog’s take when he sees his plan failed. One frame per drawing.

Ah, if only the cartoon was restored and released. You’d be able to get the effect of the take better.

The credited animation crew is Walt Clinton, Grant Simmons and Mike Lah. Avery revisited the idea again at the Lantz studio in “The Legend of Rockabye Point” (released in 1955), a fine cartoon even though the animation’s a few steps below his work at MGM.


  1. IIRC, this was the last cartoon done by Avery prior to his overwork-induced sabbatical, and Dick Lunday's arrival at the studio. If nothing else, it shows that "overworked" did not equal "out of ideas", since Tex and others would take this idea and run with it -- or, the characters would run with it -- several more times in the future (Hanna-Barbera would even borrow it before MGM closed for "Royal Cat-Nap", though they didn't have the desire to break the Two Mouseketeer format and completely commit to the gag).

  2. Tex Avery had a substantial fan base even before magazines such as Film Comment started publicizing his work (and Jones') in the 1970s. I saw this cartoon in a Montreal cinema in 1969 (main feature was "The Gypsy Moths").

  3. This is by far the funniest Drooper cartoon ever made. Unfortunately, it is the most difficult to find on video. MGM did so well with this, Avery remade it. I have seen both versions, but the first is the funniest.