Claws for Alarm (1954)

Claws for Alarm (1954)
Article 5770 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-15-2020
Directed by Chuck Jones
Featuring the voice of Mel Blanc
Country: USA
What it is: Looney Tunes

Porky decides to spend the night in a deserted hotel in a ghost town, but his cat Sylvester becomes aware that the other residents of the hotel are a gang of homicidal mice.

This is part of a short series of cartoons from Warner Brothers which are noteworthy for two reasons: 1) they are among the few cartoons where Sylvester is treated as a sympathetic character, and 2) they are perhaps the most horrific entries the animation department ever did. These mice aren’t just being mischievous; they’re sadistic and homicidal, which is part of the reason that they mostly remain shadowy figures. The humor is largely centered around Sylvester being the only one who knows of the threat, and his attempts to save Porky’s life are mistaken for madness or (even worse) attempts by himself on Porky’s life. It also serves as an example of how Chuck Jones could take a stock character from the company and rethink it to serve his own purposes; this is one of the very few times he ever used Sylvester (who mostly got a workout on the Tweety and Speedy Gonzalez cartoons, which were done by others), and he chose to make him non-speaking and with his nerves on edge every second. It’s also no surprise that he humor isn’t so much knee-slappingly funny as malicious and darkly ironic. This is why I suspect only a very small handful of these were made (I think there’s at least one other); my guess is that they were a little too strong for the studio.


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