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What? No Gravy?
December 22, 2008 1:38 PM   Subscribe

"Chow Hound" - IMDB - Directed by Chuck Jones, written by Michael Maltese, voices by Mel Blanc
Classic-era Warner Bros. Generally absent (with exceptions, sometimes butchered) from the airwaves due to its connotations of cruelty, the troublesome get-up they put the mouse in at the zoo, and the ending. Quite a devious and funny cartoon. (SLYT)
posted by JHarris (54 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Easily the best of the day. Thanks for posting this.
posted by jquinby at 1:47 PM on December 22, 2008


The ending of that cartoon has haunted me for several decades now. [shudder]
posted by Joe Beese at 1:48 PM on December 22, 2008


This is the source of that nightmare. Thank you, JHarris. With this knowledge, I can vanquish the demons.
posted by sonic meat machine at 1:52 PM on December 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


for the last 30(?) years, you could not have mentioned gravy in my presence,
without having me me whisper "this time we didn't forget the gravy"...
posted by stifford at 2:00 PM on December 22, 2008


One thing that impresses me here is that, in a genre filled with industrial cat crushers, animal-menacing saw blades, anti-bird dynamite sticks and dangerous contraptions neither intended nor rated for use by coyotes, the violence in this cartoon really stands out even though it contains none of that. (In fact, most of the violence is implied.)
posted by JHarris at 2:04 PM on December 22, 2008


oh, I am full of nostalgia right now. positively congested with it.

There is so much about warner bros. cartoons that I didn't get when I watched them the first time in the 80s. The blackface "native-savage" mousey is only part of that.
posted by LMGM at 2:12 PM on December 22, 2008


Wow. That was pretty dark.
posted by vibrotronica at 2:22 PM on December 22, 2008


"...Here's your reward...mmnnn...dog."
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:30 PM on December 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


I remember this! Back in the 80s, my grandma had a stack of VHS tapes full of cartoons she'd taped off Saturday morning TV for when we came to visit. I probably watched this particular cartoon two or three dozen times. One of my favorites.
posted by EarBucket at 2:34 PM on December 22, 2008


You know who else didn't forget the gravy?

That's right. Kevin Spacey.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:40 PM on December 22, 2008


NOT HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:45 PM on December 22, 2008


Wow. That was nasty. I was cringing during the setup, and the cat's revenge was definitely nightmare fuel.

Now I am tempted to make a post about some of the much more racist Warner cartoons. But I fear I am too lazy to hunt down good copies of the Coal Black or Inki and the Mynah Bird* or any of the Bosko shorts...

*which I saw as a kid in the 70s on the local UHF station in New Orleans.
posted by egypturnash at 2:52 PM on December 22, 2008


You meant this sin.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 2:54 PM on December 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this! I've seen most Warner Brothers cartoons a dozen times each (the ones they aired on Saturday morning cartoons in the 70s and 80s, anyway) but I'd never seen this one.
posted by peep at 2:54 PM on December 22, 2008


As long as we're on the subject of disturbing Looney Tunes: "Scaredy Cat" - in addition to boasting a canonical "Boink!" sound effect at 1:53 - terrified me as a child. Even today, it strikes me as far more sinister than amusing.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:11 PM on December 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


Peculiar. Chow Hound never bothered me a bit, but Scaredy Cat definitely got me. Sinister, indeed.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:13 PM on December 22, 2008 [1 favorite]




This one always freaked me out. Mostly the part that starts at 3:21.
posted by Lucinda at 3:26 PM on December 22, 2008


That had to have been meant for adults, at least on some level.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:31 PM on December 22, 2008


So . . . they gravy-boarded him, right? Amiright?

What? Too soon?
posted by awenner at 3:49 PM on December 22, 2008 [8 favorites]


and they say gravy's not a beverage!
posted by jonmc at 4:05 PM on December 22, 2008


I'm still looking for that green umbrella. No questions asked.
posted by not_on_display at 4:05 PM on December 22, 2008


If Warner Music is having YouTube pull all the music videos of its acts, why does this other division of TimeWarner leave so many of these classic cartoons uploaded by every Tom, Dick and Daffy undisturbed? It must be hurting the sales of their cartoon DVDs, right? Somebody from the RIAA should go and explain something to the Cartoon Department! (/sarcasm)

Anyway, the Looney Tunes were ALL "meant for adults, at least on some level". And when the full moon was just right over Termite Terrace, Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, Michael Maltese and even sometimes Friz Freleng were capable of some truly warped cartooning that would keep the censors of Saturday Morning TV constantly occupied 20-30 years later. If only Parker and Stone were capable of this level of subtlety... then only people like me would ever watch "South Park" - nevermind.

And yes, it is gravyboating. Perfect.
posted by wendell at 4:06 PM on December 22, 2008


I remember watching this as a small child in the early nineties, and being horrified. I never asked anyone else if they'd seen it, because, later, it seemed like something I must have made up in my head. I'm sort of relieved I didn't make it up. And, not surprisingly, it's as appalling now as it was when I was six.
posted by BabySeven at 4:10 PM on December 22, 2008


Either my childhood was particularly cruel or y'all were a bunch of cry babies.

Because when I was a kid those cartoons were HI-larious. The more violent the funnier they were.

The only thing that ever gave me nightmares was when my brother used to randomly throw fresh Elk liver, Pheasant heads, or lit ladyfinger firecrackers onto my bed when I was sound asleep.

Sometimes he then screamed "Grandma is a VAMMMM-PIIIIIRE! She vants to drink yer BLAHHHHHHD!"

Okay. Come to think of it my childhood was rather cruel.
posted by tkchrist at 4:11 PM on December 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


That had to have been meant for adults, at least on some level.

"We wrote cartoons for grown ups."- Michael Maltese.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:15 PM on December 22, 2008


As soon as I saw the title of the cartoon I thought, "Oh god I hope it's not the one with the gravy." And it was. I haven't seen that cartoon since the 1980s, when it scarred me forever. I don't even remember the cruelty to the cat, I just remember the cat force-feeding the over-full dog...

I didn't think it was funny at all back then, but this time the old-man owner made me giggle. So, thanks for that? I guess?
posted by chowflap at 4:28 PM on December 22, 2008


Okay. Come to think of it my childhood was rather cruel.

Yes, tkchrist, we know. You're a tough guy.
posted by katillathehun at 4:29 PM on December 22, 2008


Either my childhood was particularly cruel or y'all were a bunch of cry babies.

Eh. I think maybe we all just enjoyed all the slam-bang vaudeville and the darker stuff sailed right past us until we were grownups.
posted by jonmc at 4:40 PM on December 22, 2008


Yes, tkchrist, we know. You're a tough guy.

Can I stop flexing then?
posted by tkchrist at 4:43 PM on December 22, 2008


If only Parker and Stone were capable of this level of subtlety... then only people like me would ever watch "South Park" - nevermind.

What? You mean Cartman licking the tears off a kids face after he made the kid eat his own parents wasn't subtle enough for you?

'Course I don't think Elmer Fudd shooting himself in the face with a shotgun was all the subtle, either.
posted by tkchrist at 4:48 PM on December 22, 2008


Since we're talking about childhood TV trauma, this scared the bejeezus outta me as a kid (well the part between 1:55 and 3:42 anyway)

... actually it still does... it's the beginning to the Michael Jackson "Thriller" video
posted by bitteroldman at 4:59 PM on December 22, 2008


and the part between 8:25 and 9:45 is hella awesome!
posted by bitteroldman at 5:04 PM on December 22, 2008


I remember seeing this as a child, and I wasn't traumatized by it. Rather, I thought it was uproariously funny. The bugs bunny road runner hour was full of cartoons like this with the little guy winning in the end. Seeing it now made me thing of Cool Hand Luke and the egg eating scene.
posted by Eekacat at 5:10 PM on December 22, 2008


Damn, I made that link then when I was on the way to the store I suddenly remembered - "Gluttony! Gluttony! Not sloth. Duh." Incidentally, we're not having pasta tonight.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 5:10 PM on December 22, 2008


I remember getting spooked by The Case of the Stuttering Pig when I was a kid.
posted by defenestration at 5:13 PM on December 22, 2008


Hmm, it is a somewhat dark cartoon, but that's what makes it funny.

To continue analyzing the cartoon, another thing about it that I like is that it's got a solid structure. A lot of, for example, Friz Freling's cartoons were strings of "blackout" gags, that faded out between them and little continuity from gag to gag. Chuck Jones' Roadrunner cartoons were similar, a lot of directors did it. This one's got a solid structure though, like a short story. The houses aren't random places, but each is memorable (especially the "mm, dog" guy KAC noted), and the classified ads are recognizable for each house by the name they gave the cat.

Overanalyzing, I know. But it's fun!
posted by JHarris at 5:26 PM on December 22, 2008


Okay, the reason why this one freaks me out is because....you assume that the cat and mouse will win the day by the usual means- this is why there's that part where the cat shoves a stick of dynamite into the steak. You assume that the next 10 seconds are going to be the dog in cartoon hell or something. When the dog seems to "win", it's really unsettling, and the ending- wherein the cat and mouse are taking revenge not by bonking the dog on the head with a hammer but with VIOLENT FEEDERISM- pretty much goes against all of your assumptions about cartoon violence, i.e. that it is short, unrealistic, comically exaggerated and only lasts until the character can peel themselves off of the sidewalk. This is a really great example of how terrifying the violation of familiar genre norms can be.

OH GOD I CAN'T STOP WRITING PAPERS.
posted by 235w103 at 6:19 PM on December 22, 2008 [8 favorites]


Probably my creepiest Warner Bros. experience was my rediscovery of "King-Size Canary". It was one of those childhood artifacts I had completely, utterly forgotten about, but upon seeing it again I remembered everything about it.

The creepy thing was searching for it on YouTube and learning, via the descriptions of some of the results, that the short is some sort of ur-example of an entire underground sexual culture focused on the inflation of cartoon characters.

Yeah, yeah, I know, this is the internet, Rule 34 and all that, but that was the first time I'd had some childhood memory scarred in an authentic way, as opposed to intentional gross-out stuff.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:20 PM on December 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, I guess I should have made sure that nobody else was overanalyzing before I overanalyzed.
posted by 235w103 at 6:24 PM on December 22, 2008


I'm as squeamish/over-empathetic as the next...squeamish person, but the last scene didn't scare me. It was actually pretty anticlimatic, I was really hoping the Dog would get his comeuppance by being identically victimized...maybe by the lion at the zoo. Or there would be some sort of revenge involving dynamite. Death by gravy, eh.

None of the Warner Bros stuff ever struck me as anything but silly. Now Tom and Jerry, that was disturbing, because it was so unrelentingly violent, with a lot more cruel and less fun.

I mean, in a world that contains H.R. Pufenstuf, the bar for "terrifying" is just higher than these cartoons ever got to.
posted by emjaybee at 6:31 PM on December 22, 2008


It was commonplace in my house for my dad to yell "WHAT? NO GRAVY?!?!" when dinner was served. This cartoon is sacred in my family.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 6:39 PM on December 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


weird. I haven't seen this cartoon since I was a kid, and in my head, I always remembered the gravy scene as being a funny gag. seeing it as a grownup, and paying attention to the sinister details of the final fadeout, it really gives me the creeps. is it possible to be retroactively scarred by something?
posted by ericbop at 7:05 PM on December 22, 2008


235w103: Don't worry, there's plenty of beans to go around! Okay, I think I'm done with referring to that now.

Finding this cartoon unlocked a few more memories in the ol', uh, bean. (dammit) Another one, not as dark but still kinda unusual and funny in the same way, is "Early To Bet", the one about the Gambling Bug. The dog offers to play with the cat a "game of Penalties," which involves the loser taking a doomed spin on the Penalty Wheel (which is done up with numbers and playing card symbols), fishing the number describing the punishment to come out of the filing cabinet, then undergoing whatever cartoon violence it describes, usually in a short phase. So: "No. No! Not the 'Gesundheit'! Not that! Anything but the 'Gesundheit'!" It's all so ritualistic and invented, but suggestive of a vast history of such games, both between the dog and cat (has the cat ever won at this??) and the world at large.
posted by JHarris at 7:20 PM on December 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: acres and acres of meat

The disturbing thing about this cartoon isn't the ending. It's the knowledge that the main story is, if anything, a sanitized version of common practice. Enforced prostitution. Slavery. Excessive meat consumption.
posted by DU at 7:27 PM on December 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ah, here it is! "Early to Bet"
posted by JHarris at 7:46 PM on December 22, 2008


Argh, try this: "Early to Bet"
posted by JHarris at 7:47 PM on December 22, 2008


Death by gravy. Heh That is only one of our secrets.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:01 PM on December 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


JHarris, I've been looking for that one for years - thanks!
posted by Space Kitty at 8:34 PM on December 22, 2008


I LOVE Early To Bet. Talk about a font of childhood catch phrases.
posted by tkchrist at 9:01 PM on December 22, 2008


The other cartoons linked in the thread are interesting and certainly better than the average Warner Brothers cartoon, but Chow Hound is a complete story told very, very well--it stands head and shoulders above the others. It's as though the animation team didn't quite read the entire memo sent out on How Cartoons Work or something.

(and it's good thing they didn't)

Thank you.
posted by Nonce at 12:19 AM on December 23, 2008


I haven't thought of this cartoon in years. Yet, just from the FPP, I wondered if it was 'that one'. Then the title assured me, yup, that one. Fascinating to read the comments here. Another great Metafilter thread.
posted by Goofyy at 1:08 AM on December 23, 2008


Wow. At Thanksgiving, my brother was asking if any of us remembered a cartoon with a dog getting force-fed gravy.. (We didn't). He said he had asked around and no-one recalled anything so he was beginning to think he dreamt it.

Just in time for Christmas - cool points for me! Thanks JHarris.
posted by xena at 6:20 AM on December 23, 2008


Food hoarder! Food hoarder!

Thank you, Warner Bros., for warping my childhood so severely.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:12 AM on December 23, 2008


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