About a month ago, a friend of mine posed the question: "What was your first moment of directorial consciousness, and how did it come about?" I immediately thought of Tim Burton and Alfred Hitchcock, but I completely forgot about one important contribution to my directorial consciousness: Looney Tunes!
Like many young tots, I grew up watching countless hours of Looney Tunes. I used to watch the credit sequences with fascination because I realized that many of the same people worked on the cartoons over and over again. It became sort of a guessing game for me. Though I had no idea what the credits actually meant, I did my best to remember the order of the credits and guess whose name would appear next. Names like Leon Schlesinger, Friz Freleng, Michael Maltese, Carl Stalling and Maurice Noble are permanently wedged in my memory because of this tendency. I also noticed some fellas named Charles M. Jones, Tex Avery, Robert Clampett and Frank Tashlin directed my favorite cartoons and took note of their different animation styles. I wish I could say I preferred Chuck Jones back then, but I'm guessing my favorite was Tex Avery because, even at that age, I loved his pop culture references.
A particular favorite of mine is Avery's 1936 flick, I Love to Singa. It's a lighthearted Jazz Singer rip-off about a little jazz-loving owl born into a family of staunch classical music nerds. This one stands out in my memory because I remember watching it at the hospital when my little brother, Joe, was born. I was five years old at the time and paced up and down the waiting room like the father does in the cartoon. I was disappointed that I didn't create a divot in the floor with my white and pink sneakers that I had just learned how to tie the laces on without the aid of chewing gum. Whenever I watch it, I think of that memory and miss my brother very much.
On that note, here are a handful of my favorite Looney Tunes:
Hollywood Steps Out (1941, Tex Avery)
Swooner Crooner (1944, Frank Tashlin)
Two's A Crowd/Terrier Stricken (1950/1952, Chuck Jones). Frisky Puppy is my favorite.
A Scent of the Matterhorn (1961, Chuck Jones)
Rabbit of Seville (1950, Chuck Jones)
Feed the Kitty (1952, Chuck Jones)
Duck Amuck (1953, Chuck Jones)
The Abominable Snow Rabbit (1961, Chuck Jones/Maurice Noble)
Baseball Bugs (1946, Friz Freleng)
Rabbit Seasoning (1952, Chuck Jones)