Thursday, 25 July 2019

Quail! Rabbit! Quail!

“Bugs Bunny could have been a bird,” Tex Avery once said. No, Tex, he couldn’t. The proof is the dismal cartoon The Crackpot Quail (1941).

Avery took Bugs Bunny and turned him into a bird. He then took Elmer Fudd and turned him into a dog.

During the first encounter between the hunter and huntee, the dog comes to a Fudd-like late realisation. “Wait a minute!” he exclaims. “You’re a wabbit quail!”

The quail speaks into the dog’s ear. “Ya know, doc,” he admits confidentally, and then screams “I am a wabbit!You’re right!”

The quail takes off, ballet style, just like Bugs did in A Wild Hare

The dog, by the way, debuted in the enjoyable Of Fox and Hounds (1940). In this cartoon, he loses the “George” routine that Avery loved (and others copied). He’s really a proto-Meathead, the dopey dog in the Screwy Squirrel cartoons and, in a way, the quail is a primitive Screwy. There are no outrageous gags like you’d find in a Screwy cartoon. Instead, we get an incredibly boring scene involving the quail licking down its comma-shaped crest and an irritating, repetitive quail whistle. This one’s a real miss on Avery’s part (and that of his writer Rich Hogan).


  1. For more the REAL thing that they missed out on, was not calling it THE QUACKPOT-not CRACKpot(sic)-QUAIL.:) Take care!

  2. The problem here is Avery makes the dog the character the audience sympathizes with, while in "A Wild Hare" Tex had the audience sympathizing with the rabbit. We're also sympathizing with Willoughby in "Of Fox and Hounds", but in the end George comes back to save him from the bear, so his heckling can be forgiven (plus Willoughby had all those mattresses in place for the final gag). In "Crackpot Quail" we just get a heckler, who on the final gag just hides behind a tree while we get the extended skid-and-crash pan with Johnny Johnsen's (admittedly wonderful) oil backgrounds.

    Willoughby doesn't seem all that upset at the finish, but there's no reason to have any fondness for his adversary, and the problem was even worse in the concurrent "Haunted Mouse" that Avery and Maltese did, where Tex had Walter Tetley's voice almost sneering contempt for the cat he's heckling just for the fun of it.

    1. "Haunted Mouse" starts out so well and then crashes and burns when the mouse shows up.
      At least at MGM, Screwy found incredibly creative, over-the-top ways of heckling. He was funny. The Haunted Mouse wasn't and neither is the quail in this one.

    2. The Jimmy Stuart-ish voice and the fact that all those run-ins with the trees and other objects never seem to faze Willoughby makes "Quail" far easier for me to take. The mouse's disdain and the fact the cat's in actual pain a couple of times in the cartoon makes "Haunted Mouse" feel like some horrible misfire that Columbia might have done (and watching his debut story credit effort, you'd never believe Michael Maltese would become the greatest cartoon writer of all time from the material here).

    3. Yeah, it is like a Columbia, except a Columbia cartoon would have been more deliberately paced to make it even worse.
      Columbias from that period make you say "Get on with it!"

  3. Perhaps a reletive of Quentin Quail only this time he confronts the big dumb dog