Thursday 18 May 2023

Woody Comes to Rigor Mortis

Woody Woodpecker made several Western pictures and the first came while Walter Lantz was releasing through United Artists.

Fred Brunish provided the watercolour backgrounds for Wild and Woody (1948). Here’s a pan of part of the town site, with a gag sign that had to be from the mind of Bugs Hardaway (Heck Allen co-wrote this).

This is part of another background showing a livery stable. It is quickly panned from left to right, then director Dick Lundy cuts to a static scene of sheriff Wally Walrus addressing the townsfolk.

The background above actually starts with the camera focused on the sign below.

The golf course. The sheriff is eventually shot by Buzz Buzzard and buried here.

The sign approaching the town.

The sheriff's office. Brunish actually has three different paintings of it for different scenes. One has a hangman's noose to the left of the building.

Some interiors of the saloon. The swinging doors are on an overlay and the bar stool is partly animated.

There’s a lot to like in these United Artist Woodys. In this short, Pat Matthews has some funny, exaggerated animation, while Fred Moore opens the cartoon with some appealing, well-drawn footage of Woody singing while riding a pony, which is animated on twos, then on a cycle of 24 drawings, one per frame. It’s very smooth. Matthews and Moore would be gone after this short, along with every animator except Ed Love, who was left to finish the final U-A release before the studio closed for more than a year because of a lack of capital. When Lantz started up again and needed key artists again, only Brunish returned.


  1. The UA/Lantz shorts overall are so well-produced and animated, it's a shame that we now know what to expect once Lantz reopened his studio in the early 1950s.

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  3. He has fluffy ears, I thought it was just a generic dog.

    1. It is. It isn't Wally. Their body shapes are similar.

  4. Are we sure the sheriff is Wally Walrus?

  5. I'm reminded of Tex Avery's "Wild and Woolfy" and its Rigor Mortis Saloon: "Come in and get stiff!"