Monday 3 December 2012

You Ain’t No Good Luck Charm

Art Davis directed Bugs Bunny only once. Whether that was through desire or the other directors at the studio sopped up the quota of Bugs cartoons, I don’t know. But “Bowery Bugs” is a pretty good cartoon, with a different feel than those of the other three directors of Warners at the time.

There’s a neat little scene where Steve Brodie takes Bugs into a gambling den as a good luck charm—and Bugs proceeds to help Brodie lose all his money. Bugs grabs a coin from Brodie’s pocket and deposits in a slot machine. Whoever’s animating the scene has Bugs’ fingers moving around.

Brodie anticipates a jackpot. But the slot comes up three lemons. We don’t see that. We just see the lemons roll out.

Bugs does a little slide step to get out of the way of Brodie’s punch.

The bouncer that chucks Brodie out of the place isn’t just nicknamed “Gorilla.” He is one. With fangs, even.

I’ve always liked how Brodie is tossed to the curve, then the lemons follow him. After just enough time, the gag is capped. A little sympathetic dog trots into the scene, licks Brodie, gives a take, then spits.

The animation credits go to Don Williams, Emery Hawkins, Basil Davidovich and Bill Melendez. Bill Scott and Lloyd Turner came up with the story.


  1. It's an interesting hybrid cartoon, in that a lot of the motion in the cartoon is similar to the arms-flaling style of the McKimson unit from the late 1940s, but the Scott-Turner script contains some dialogue (including a riff on an old Chico Marx line) that you'd expect from the Jones-Maltese unit of the late 40s and 1950s.

    It was also nice to see Shep the dog from "Bone Sweet Bone" get a cameo call-back after going through all that work for nothing in his lone solo cartoon ;)

  2. J Lee makes some excellent observations, the small pool of Davis-directed shorts often had the flavor of somewhere in the dead center of a triangle with Jones, McKimson and Clampett serving as vertices.

    Davis' Daffy Duck shorts in particular seemed to be the quiet transition ground between the lunatic Daffy (via Clampett) and the arrogant/greedy mallard (by way of Jones). Nice clear poses in all of Art's shorts, in the case of "Bowery Bugs" he certainly had a strong team to carry the action forward.

    P.S. Bill Scott dialogue is equal only to that of Mike Maltese!

  3. The same Bill "Bullwinkle" Scott?

  4. I think Art Davis made some fine cartoons in this, his first stint as a director, and even some of his later work for DePatie-Freleng had some of that same polish. The thing that worked against Davis at WB is that most of his cartoons were released in Cinecolor, while everyone else was working in full Technicolor for the most part. "Bowery Bugs" and "Bye Bye Bluebeard" were two that he did in Technicolor (the last two cartoons he directed at WB in fact).

  5. The scene above was animated by Bill Melendez according to Thad K's reel

  6. Art Davis did some pretty odd one-shots written by Scott & Turner:
    "Doggone Cats" prod#1054,1947
    "A Hick, A Slick,, & A Hick" prod#1073,1948
    "Bone Sweet Bone" prod#1082,1948
    Those are all highly recommended, with unusual design and stories (and in the second;s case,pretty neat and odd voices...)Steve C