The Andromeda Breakthrough (1962)

The Andromeda Breakthrough (1962)
Article 5772 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-17-2020
Directed by John Elliott and John Knight
Featuring Peter Halliday, Susan Hampshire, Noel Johnson
Country: UK
What it is: British limited run series

A multi-national corporation combines forces with a newly-liberated middle eastern country with the intent of using a computer developed from alien technology. Toward that end, they kidnap scientists associated with an earlier project to work with the computer. However, complications arise…

The opening episode of this six-part British miniseries left me feeling I was dropped into the middle of a story rather than beginning a new one, but there’s a reason for that; this miniseries is a sequel to an earlier one called A FOR ANDROMEDA. I’d love to see the earlier series, but from what I gather, only one of the episodes is extant. Nevertheless, I rather enjoyed this series even without having seen the earlier one; it tells a complex story and is peopled with complex characters. It isn’t quite up to the level of the Nigel Kneale series from this era, but it’s solid and entertaining.

Bugs’ and Daffy’s Carnival of the Animals (1976)

Bugs’ and Daffy’s Carnival of the Animals (1976)
aka Carnival of the Animals
Article 5758 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-3-2020
Directed by Chuck Jones, Herbert Klynn, Gerry Woolery
Featuring Michael Tilson Thomas and the voice of Mel Blanc
Country: USA
What it is: TV special with Bugs and Daffy

Bugs and Daffy are competing pianists in performance of Camille Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals”.

Since the presence of anthropomorphic animals alone is not sufficient for me to declare an animated work as being genre, there’s a distinct possibility I will not be covering ALL of the seventies TV specials which featured Looney Tunes characters. In fact, I was half expecting not to cover this one, but the fact that one of the sections of the “Carnival of the Animals” concerns fossils, we get some fleeting images of dinosaurs, which is sufficient for me to include it. Though I am tempted to compare and contrast it with BUGS BUNNY IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT, I really can’t, because this one is rather a different animal from that one. This one isn’t a full-blooded attempt to emulate the Looney Tunes world, but rather it merely grafts a certain element of that world (the rivalry between Bugs and Daffy) onto a performance (with animated inserts) of the musical piece. In fact, I do wonder if the Bugs/Daffy animation was a late addition to the mix; they may have been added to add a little more commercial appeal to a project that would otherwise prove a bit too refined for a TV audience. The best thing about this as a whole is that musically the piece is well performed and the conductor is quite charismatic, though I should point out that only portions of the work are featured. The animation for the pieces that does not involve Bugs and Daffy (and was directed by Herbert Klynn) is passable but not particularly memorable. As for the Bugs and Daffy footage, it’s disappointing; it mostly consists of multiple repeats of the “Bugs gets the applause and Daffy gets the crickets” gag and a tiresome argument about the pronunciation of the composer’s name.

Butterscotch and Soda (1948)

Butterscotch and Soda (1948)
Article 5756 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-29-2020
Directed by Seymour Kneitel
Featuring the voices of Mae Questel and Amanda Randolph
Country: USA
What it is: Little Audrey cartoon

When Little Audrey is caught neglecting her regular meals in favor of gobs of candy, she is locked in her room with all of the candy removed. Then she starts to go into ….withdrawal.

At one point in this cartoon, Little Audrey is desperately hunting for candy in her locked room, and she looks up at the light fixture on the ceiling and sees the shape of a bag of candy in it. Immediately, a whistle went off in my head, and I found myself heading to IMDB to see if my suspicion was true, and indeed it was; this cartoon was referencing THE LOST WEEKEND, which also explains the hallucinations Little Audrey starts having. This bit of cleverness is the high point of this cartoon, which in other ways is very similar to the Little Lulu cartoon A BOUT WITH A TROUT; in each one, the main character has a bizarre fever dream in which they learn the error of their ways. Actually, the similarity between the two characters may not be a coincidence; Famous Studios made Little Audrey the replacement for Little Lulu when they decided to not continue purchasing the rights for the latter. This cartoon is actually fairly good, but it is marred by the presence of a racial stereotype with the black mammy character on display here.

Bunny Hugged (1951)

Bunny Hugged (1951)
Article 5755 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-28-2020
Directed by Chuck Jones
Featuring the voices of Mel Blanc and John T. Smith
Country: USA
What it is: Bugs Bunny cartoon

Bugs’ career as the mascot of wrestler Ravishing Ronald is in jeopardy when his employer is being pummeled by a wrestler known as The Crusher. He decides to take his employer’s place in the ring.

This cartoon is something of a remake of 1948’s cartoon RABBIT PUNCH, in which Bugs takes on a boxer. This one switches the milieu to the wrestling arena and takes a few potshots at the theatricality of the sport; in particular, the introduction of Ravishing Ronald (a parody of wrestler Gorgeous George) is pretty amusing. Like BULLY FOR BUGS, the only fantastic content is Bugs himself, but its listing in the Walt Lee guide ensures it review. It’s not quite up to the level of BULLY FOR BUGS, and I know quite a few people prefer RABBIT PUNCH, but this one has its moments; my favorite moment has Bugs employing a bank vault door in a strategy to win the match. This one is solid and entertaining.

Bully for Bugs (1953)

Bully for Bugs (1953)
Article 5754 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-28-2020
Directed by Chuck Jones
Featuring the voice of Mel Blanc
Country: USA
What it is: Bugs Bunny cartoon

Bugs takes the wrong turn at Albuquerque and, instead of ending up at the Coachella valley, finds himself in Mexico in the middle of a bullfighting ring. There he must contend with a bad-tempered bull.

Usually I don’t review cartoons like this one in which the only real fantastic element is anthropomorphic animals, but I make exceptions if the title is listed in the Walt Lee guide. I’m not going to complain; this is one of best of the Bugs Bunny cartoons, and it serves as a good counterpoint to my review of the dismal BUGS BUNNY IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT from a couple of days ago. Like that one, we have Chuck Jones and Mel Blanc on hand, but we have all the other elements that made Warner Brothers cartoons what they are; superb animation (especially of the bull), dialogue kept to a minimum in favor of comic action, wonderful use of music (including “La Cucaracha” and other familiar pieces), and exquisite comic timing. My favorite touch was the insults Bugs hurls at his foe; Gullabull, Nincowpoop, Embezzle, and Ultra-Maroon.

Bulldog Drummond’s Revenge (1937)

Bulldog Drummond’s Revenge (1937)
Article 5753 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-28-2020
Directed by Louis King
Featuring John Barrymore, John Howard, Louise Campbell
Country: USA
What it is: Bulldog Drummond movie

Hugh Drummond gets caught up in an attempt to steal a new (but highly unstable) explosive. Will this impact his upcoming wedding?

I’ll admit that the Bulldog Drummond series from the thirties is one of my favorite B-movie franchises. It’s not so much for the plots (which were so-so), but to enjoy the relationships and witty banter of the four main characters (Drummond, his servant Tenny, his friend Algy Longworth, and Colonel Neilson from Scotland Yard). I’ve covered most of them, but for some reason this one escaped me, which is surprising because it does have some clear fantastic content, which is the explosive which is demonstrated early on and then consigned to Gizmo Maguffin-hood. This one has a bit of horror tossed into the mix, as a severed arm also plays into the proceedings. Nothing major here, but it’s enjoyable enough for its hour running time.

Bugs Bunny in King Arthur’s Court (1978)

Bugs Bunny in King Arthur’s Court (1978)
aka A Connecticut Rabbit in King Arthur’s Court
TV special
Article 5752 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-27-2020
Directed by Chuck Jones
Featuring the voice of Mel Blanc
Country: USA
What it is: You can’t go home again

Bugs Bunny is stranded in the time of King Arthur where he must do battle Sir Elmer of Fudde.

This was one of several TV-special cartoons made by Warner Brothers as vehicles to revive their classic animated characters. And you know, I don’t really blame them for wanting to do that. Nor do I blame them for bringing the talents of Chuck Jones and Mel Blanc into the mix. But there’s just too much missing. They can’t rely on the comic skills of their classic animation department because it’s long gone now, nor do they have Carl Stalling to compose a perfect little soundtrack for their work; the music sounds anonymous and sometimes inappropriate. The result here is a rather glum cartoon shot at half the speed of the originals, is overly talky and a bit too self-conscious, and it makes very poor use of its characters. Jokes about the fact that the story was lifted from Mark Twain and passing references to Ray Bradbury just seem off-putting here. I’m afraid all this TV-special did for me is make me nostalgic for the original forties and fifties cartoons; whatever they had back then is sorely missing here.

Bubbles (1930)

Bubbles (1930)
Article 5751 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-26-2020
Directed by Roy Mack
Featuring the Vitaphone Kiddies, Judy Garland, Mary Jane Gumm
Country: USA
What it is: Not the main attraction

A woman sings about bubbles, and then children in costume sing and dance in a cavern presided over by the moon.

There’s really nothing in the plot to make this qualify as fantastic, but, since it’s part of a series of musical shorts made by Warner Brothers in the thirties, there really isn’t any plot at all. Rather, it’s just a set of musical pieces, and it’s being reviewed here because, after the initial song, it takes place in a cavern where the moon presides, and we see performances from comets, moonbeams, stars, and the planet Venus, or so says the moon. If it is the moon, that is – it could be the sun, but they never say which and the fact that he’s smoking a cigar doesn’t help clarify. If dancing and singing children trip your whimsy meter, this one’s for you; as for me, I’m glad it’s only eight minutes long, but I will confess I’m impressed with the athleticism of some of the performers. And, no, I wasn’t able to spot Judy, here performing with her sisters.

Broom-Stick Bunny (1956)

Broom-Stick Bunny (1956)
Article 5750 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-25-2020
Directed by Chuck Jones
Featuring the voices of Mel Blanc and June Foray
Country: USA
What it is: Bugs Bunny cartoon

While trick-or-treating in a witch costume, Bugs Bunny knocks on the door of a real witch, who vows to discover her visitor’s ugly secrets. When she discovers her visitor is a rabbit, she realizes that she needs one for her witch’s brew, and…

Like Marvin the Martian or the Tasmanian Devil, Witch Hazel only appeared in a handful of the original Warner Brothers cartoons, and though I’m not sure if she has as big a cult following as the other two, she certainly deserves one. She’s truly ugly, laughs at her own inadvertent jokes, and leaves a trail of bobby pins in her wake. June Foray’s voice work is outstanding in the character; despite her hideous demeanor, her self-deprecating sense of humor and unbridled glee make her almost cuddly. Chuck Jones animation is wonderful as well, and I couldn’t help but notice that the backgrounds have a bit of the UPA quality about them. This is another of Warner Brothers’ outstanding cartoons from the fifties. Recommended.

Brain Twisters (1991)

Brain Twisters (1991)
Article 5749 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-23-2020
Directed by Jerry Sangiuliano
Featuring Farrah Forke, Terry Londeree, Joe Lambardo
Country: USA
What it is: Brain snoozers is more like it

A college scientist is testing video game graphics on his students for a corporation. However, the students begin going crazy and becoming homicidal…

Ever since they became popular, video games have been blamed for a number of ills; in particular, they can serve as a scapegoat for violent behavior. I wouldn’t be surprised if this concept is what inspired this movie. The story is fairly obvious, but that’s not what’s the real problem here. It’s that once it has established its central situation, there’s nothing to do but wait until the movie gets around to resolving the situation, and what follows is a tedious slog through tiresome incident involving uninteresting characters with no real surprises to pep things up. It’s one of those movies I suspect I will completely forget about after a couple of days have passed. However, it gets a point for having one amusing laugh line about olive oil. It’s rather sad when the high point of a movie is a single joke.