Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Cagey Canary: A Late-Blooming Hybrid

Original release date: 11/22/1941

The surviving copy is a Blue Ribbon reissue from October 11, 1947. 

The original title card has surfaced, and shows no director credit, as is typical for a Leon Schlesinger production released after a director quit or was fired.

You can see a good-quality (tho' time-compressed) version of this cartoon HERE. No DVD or Blu-Ray release of this cartoon  yet exists.


A pretty good (and mostly mute) predator/prey comedy, The Cagey Canary feels more like a Friz Freleng cartoon than Avery's work. Freleng would soon release a similar cartoon, Double Chaser, as he worked his way toward Tweetie Pie, his Oscar-winning 1947 classic. If the credits of this original title card are at all reliable, Michael Maltese provided the story for this short. Its tit-for-tat humor, variations on a central (and threatening) action and what dialogue it has syncs up to Maltese's work with Freleng. It's less talky than Maltese's writing for Chuck Jones, but its structure and its character dynamics are accomplished. 

Maltese filtered through the detached chess-match of Avery's comedic eye, it again shows how close these late Schlesinger cartoons approach the look and feel of Avery's M-G-M classics. His drawing style is still buried deep within Robert McKimson's character designs. With their tendency towards better animation, the added bells and whistles slow Avery's timing down--with one gag taking a hell of a long time to get across. Let's wade in and have a look-see...