Saturday, December 20, 2008
First things first: the characters names are still a jumble here. Sam is Fred, Ralph is Sam. All things in due time, I suppose.
"Sheep Ahoy" finds the wolf awaiting the shift change so he can nab some sheep but of course he isn't quick enough for the sheepdog. This cartoon features a more stationary Sam. He definetely doesn't move around as much as in the first film. I love the fact that not only can the Wolf/Wile E. Coyote not capture a fast character, but he also can't outwit an immobile one.
Here we see the wolf not only trying to aquire a sheep, but also turning to murderous plots as he tries to kill Sam, for example, with a boulder. For all of Sam's lethargy, he still packs a mean whallop.
As with the coyote, the wolf defeats himself a lot of the time, such as with a balloon/fishing pole scheme. The film ends with the inevitable shift change, but there's a new element that comes into play this time. Not only does Sam have to stop his thrashing of the wolf to allow his co-worker to take over, but it's quitting time for Ralph as well, who has a co-worker of his own take his place for the resumed beating.
One point that I always find amusing is this: I can see why someone would pay Sam to protect the sheep, but who in the world is paying Ralph to steal them (and most likely eat them)?
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Chuck Jones' Sam and Ralph first appeared in 1953's "Don't Give Up the Sheep". As with most cartoon series, all of the elements didn't come together right from the start. The first obvious point is that Sam is named Ralph!
The series revolves around a sheepdog whose job is, of course, to guard a flock of sheep. The job aspect is amusingly highlighted by the dog punching a time clock and relieving his co-worker during a shift change. A hungry wolf creeps along, anxious for dinner. Another aspect of the series that would not emerge just yet is that of the wolf also punching the timeclock on his way into "work". For now he is just a predator trying to score a meal.
The sheepdog thwarts the wolf's attempts at sheep-nabbing in several "black-out" gags similar to the Road Runner series. After all, the wolf is just Wile E. Coyote with a red nose, although his design in this first cartoon is a bit more scraggly.
The sheepdog is a bit more active here than in later cartoons. Sure, he is always quick with a fist to the wolf's face, but the dog would eventually become much more stationary.
Messing with the timeclock, unleashing a wild cat (from Acme of course), and disguising himself as the Greek God, Pan, are some examples of the wolf's schemes.
The end of the cartoon sees another shift change occur during the sheepdog's beating of the wolf. The canine co-worker takes over the thrashing with barely missing a beat.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Next up in the spotlight here at the Factory are Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf.
When I was a kid, the Roadrunner/Coyote series were my favorite Looney Tunes. I think it was the lack of dialogue that made the cartoons so easy to follow. So to find "the Coyote" in two other series of cartoons always made it worth it to get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings.
Hearing Wile E. Coyote speak in the cartoons with Bugs Bunny was never really appreciated until I was older, but the Wolf/Sheepdog films were right up my alley and I appreciate them still, but on a completely different level.
Once I entered the world of labor, I began to appreciate the antics of Sam and Ralph all the more. We all have had to do things that we really didn't want to, but we had to because it was our job. Our business lives are completely different from our social lives. There are the themes of the Wolf/Sheepdog cartoons.
An advantage to such a timeline is that I won't have to choose just one film per year, for there was only one Wolf/Sheepdog cartoon released in any given year. Not only will every Sam/Ralph film be highlighted but I get to glorify one of my favorite cartoon series. Stay tooned!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
It's time for another edition of PD warehouse. Where cartoons are "breathtakingly restored" after "hundreds of hours of detailed restoration work". How do these companies sleep at night?
Sarcasm aside, today's cartoon comes from the Fleischers in two-strip technicolor for all fans of red and green.
"An Elephant Never Forgets" features a group of jungle animals as children heading to school. The Fleischer's use of a rotating tabletop background behind the cels creates the three-dimensional effect in the opening scenes. A lazy hippo never makes it inside the school, but rather falls asleep just outside the door.
A messy pig is physically disciplined with a smack on the head by the goose teacher. After a musical role call, a bullying gorilla abuses the elephant and the other children mock him for not remembering what two plus two equals.
A turtle is left in charge of the classroom who thwarts a giraffe's cheating attempt. While the teacher's back is turned, violence erupts and many a head is bonked with a book.
When class is dismissed, the elephant exacts revenge on the gorilla, proving that an "elephant never forgets"...to hold a grudge, apparently.