Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Cartoon a Day: Smoked Hams

Smoked Hams
Directed by Dick Lundy
Available on: Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection

"Smoked Hams" features a premise that has been used in many a cartoon...one character is tired and in need of sleep, meanwhile another character is bent on engaging in the noisiest activities he can. Thus in this film Wally Walrus is the one trying to rest, and, you guessed it, Woody Woodpecker is out to spoil that.

It starts with Woody doing some yard work. He pushes around the lawn mower and sings as he works. We've seen it all before in other cartoons, but then the direction of this short changes. Woody rakes the leaves in the yard and then sets them on fire, remember the days of burning leaves? Anyway, now it is the smoke which is keeping Wally awake and this turns out to be a very original turn for this cartoon.

The smoke, almost a character itself, enters the house through any crack it can find. After boarding up all the cracks, the smoke begins pouring in through a hole in the floor. Wally plugs it with the leg of his bed which leads to the best sequence in the film. Soon the pipes of the bed frame become a pipe organ, with Wally trying to plug more holes than he has limbs to cover. It's a very funny and original sequence.

Another thing that is interesting about this short is that Wally has his revenge on Woody at the end. He puts Woody into a strange machine that subjects him to a lot of the same treatment he gave Wally throughout the rest of the film. That's one of the unique things about Woody Woodpecker, he doesn't always end up on top. Can you imagine that being done to Bugs Bunny, no way!

It's not uncommon for Woody Woodpecker films to take ideas from other studios' shorts, but this one takes a familiar idea and makes it unique.

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