Monday, 8 July 2019

The Old Split Screen Gag

At Warner Bros., Tex Avery used a gag involving a split screen which turns out not to be so split.

The version in Thugs With Dirty Mugs (1939) involves Secret Agent 2 3/8s calling police headquarters. We see a pan of telephone poles in the upper half of the screen, then the police chief.

The chief can’t hear the whispering secret agent, and tells him, breaking the whole idea of the split screen.

Cross Country Detours and A Bear’s Tale (both 1940) have split screen gags as well.

The cartoon credited Jack Miller with story and Sid Sutherland with animation before the 1944 Blue Ribbon re-release.


  1. I have this particular cartoon on an old VHS from the first month " Cartoon Network " was on the air. In the early nineties, they ran a lot of Merry Melodies and Looney Tunes from that era. Good stuff.

  2. That "split-screen" gag later turned up in one of Benny Hill's sketches in the 1980's, "The Herd." A whole section could be devoted here to Hill's live-action approximations of many Avery gags (i.e. the "hair in the gate" from Magical Maestro later used in the runoff chase sequence of a sketch that took place outside a newly-opened hospital that aired in 1984). It could be called "Benny Hill as Tex Avery" or "Tex Avery According to Benny Hill" or whatever.