These Little Town Blues…
Tom & Jerry were a defining part of my childhood. I could spend hours watching T&J shorts on Cartoon Network when I was younger and to be honest, this is my favourite; was then and still is now. As a kid, I would always get excited when this short came on TV.
Mouse in Manhattan is not a traditional Tom & Jerry short at all; there are no chases or the carnage you would usually associate with Tom & Jerry. It begins with Jerry leaving his life in the country in favor of the bright lights and Broadway of New York City. Tom only appears briefly at the beginning and at the end but Jerry leaves him a note showing that the two could be friends from time to time. The rest of the cartoon involves Jerry’s escapades in the Big Apple and plays out like a silent film with Jerry succumbing to the odd pratfall in the vein of Keaton or Chaplin; it’s all such fun to watch. Take the moment when Jerry is dancing and ice skating with the dolls on the table; could a piece of animation be more beautiful? During the short things go from really romantic to really dark quick but it all ends well. They still throw a black face joke in there with Jerry’s head being put into a container of shoe polish. I can tell you right not that these moments were left intact when showing these cartoons on the UK Cartoon Network and Boomerang when I was a child.
The locations Jerry visits in New York such as Grand Central Station appear very empty but who cares, just look at the beauty of it! Those painted backdrops have such scope to them. What really makes Mouse in Manhattan perfection, however, is the music. You might recognize it from the opening credits of My Man Godfrey but this rendition of” Manhattan Serenade” I feel is superior and I doubt could ever be topped. Tom and Jerry shorts always evoke nostalgia in me but Mouse in Manhattan just evokes that feeling to a far greater degree.
Dog Day Afternoon
I only had the pleasure of watching many of the famous Disney classics for the first time last December and while I enjoyed almost all of them, Lady and the Tramp was one I absolutely fell in love with. One of the aspects which makes Lady and the Tramp great is its ability to pull off a love story not only free of cliches but also manages to feel fresh. Going into this movie I was concerned that it would the typical high-class girl falls in love with a low-class guy (well dogs in this case) but I was very pleasantly surprised. Both Lady and Tramp are believable characters but display subtle dog traits which I didn’t even notice the first time I watched the film. Perhaps the most humorous of these would be the fact the dogs in the film refer to Lady’s owners and “Jim Dear” and “Darling” as this is what the two call each other throughout the film. The little details like this warrant Lady and the Tramp as a film worthy of multiple viewings.
Lady and the Tramp was the first animated produced in CinemaScope and they sure took advantage of the new format. The whole movie is one big ignition of the senses; could a movie be more relaxing to watch than this? Just like Lady I don’t want this seemingly perfect world of early 1900’s Americana to be altered in any way; notice throughout the entire the film every day is filled bright sunshine and it only starts to rain when things hit their worst. The date sequence also surprised me greatly; having seen it parodied to death my entire life I didn’t think it would have anything to offer me; yet their entire date had me awe and left me breathless. The soundtrack also offers some of the most memorable compositions and songs in Disney history, perfectly capturing the essence of falling in love. Lady And The Tramp is an absolute heart melting charmer If I ever saw one and my personal favourite animated Disney film from Walt’s era.
The Pride of the Simpsons
After recently re-watching the first nine seasons or what fans now refer to as the golden age I have come to the decision that Homer at the Bat is my favourite episode of The Simpsons.
I should point out that I’m not a sports fan (far from it as a matter of fact) and due to cultural reasons I do not know who any of these baseball stars are as the sport is not popular in the UK. However, this made me realise just what made the guest appearances during The Simpsons glory days so great. Even if you’re not familiar with a celebrity you can still enjoy their appearance on the show as they manage to give them their own unique comic, down to Earth personalities. Here there are no fewer nine guest stars and they’re all equally memorable and funny. However what also astounds me is how each of these guest stars has their own story arc and all this within the confines of 22 minutes. There is even an early exposure to Barney Gumble being a secret intellectual; leave it to The Simpsons to get the viewer interested in who was England’s greatest prime minister. There is so much going on in this episode yet the show’s creators successfully get it all in without any of it feeling forced. There’s enough material here to make several episodes.
Homer at the Bat is one of the more surreal episodes of The Simpsons’ glory days and they even manage to summarise this during the end credits in one catchy song (a parody of Talkin’ Baseball by Terry Cashman). Like many Simpsons’ parodies it has become more famous than its source and like the best Simpsons’ songs, a whole generation can recite it off by heart.
I can narrow down the two Simpsons episodes which I quote the most in daily life; A Star Is Burns and 22 Short Films about Springfield. Half of my favourite Simpsons’ quotes come from these two episodes alone.
This episode has not only my all-time favourite Simpsons’ moment but also possibly my favourite moment in TV history; I am indeed talking about the greatness that is the Skinner and Superintendent skit. I can recall several instances in which myself and people I’ve known have recited this scene in its entirety from memory. As a kid, I didn’t get the humour of the scene but can recall my parents and older brother laughing hysterically at it. Now that I’m older I constantly watch this scene over and over again. But do you know what’s the funniest thing (well aside from the aforementioned scene) it’s the little differences. Such as the episode’s parody of Pulp Fiction’s “Muthaf**ka” scene, with Chief Wiggum stating “Hey I know you!”; the complete opposite of what is said in the scene from Pulp Fiction. Like the greatest of Simpsons’ gags, it works on so many levels. Why did they never make another episode like this? I guess this one was as close to perfection as it gets that they could never top it.