Andrea/Duck Dodgers here. I friendly welcome every fan of animation at my blog. The goal is to support the love and rediscovery of Classic Theatrical Cartoons from the Golden Age of Animation, keeping meanwhile an eye on Golden Age "Funny Animals" Comics as well as on modern animated productions! Every SUPPRESSED ethnic caricature to be sometimes presented here is just for HISTORICAL and EDUCATIONAL purpose and NOT to offend anyone. Stay Tooned and Enjoy the place !

Friday, May 25, 2007

Screwball Squirrel

I'm fulfilling a recent request from one of our readers: "Screwball Squirrel" is Tex Avery's MGM cartoon released on 1st of April, 1944. At that point, Avery was working at MGM for two years, and already directed several amazing cartoons such as "Blitz Wolf" and "Red Hot Riding Hood". However, one thing was still missing - a popular and lasting character that could compete with WB superstars Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck (after all, it was Tex who created them several years earlier). Under the increased pressure from producer Fred Quimby, Tex finally unleashed Screwy Squirrel, a new character that's going to win the sympathy of the millions of moviegoers around the world. Or maybe not...

The lovable Screwy Squirrel in action

Aggressive "smart-guy" and heckler type cartoon characters were at the peak of popularity during the WWII years. Early Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker perfectly epitomized that kind of spirit. However, Screwy Squirrel took these characteristics to the unreasonable (and hilarious) extreme. Screwy was completely unlikeable and obnoxious, probably the most amoral and aggressive personality that emerged from the classic cartoon era. His only mission in life was to inflict the pain and suffering to his opponents, often without any previous provocation. In that respect, Screwy was the ultimate heckler. That's enough to secure a lasting cult status, but not the mass popularity, so Screwy's career ended after only five cartoons. He literally died at the end of his last (and best) cartoon "Lonesome Lenny".

Despite all personal shortcomings, Screwy Squirrel left a respectable legacy of five wild, funny and inventive cartoons, in the best Tex Avery's tradition. His debut "Screwball Squirrel" has all typical elements that will grace the rest of the series. Many of the gags are involving the breaking of the fourth wall, various digressions, characters that are aware of being in the cartoon, etc. I hate that definition, but Screwy might be the first truly post-modern cartoon character.

The first 30 seconds of "Screwball Squirrel" can be easily mistaken for a Disney or Harman-Ising cartoon. However, several moments later, the nauseatingly cute Sammy Squirrel is brutally beaten up, and we know we're deep in the Avery-Land.

Few more curious facts about Screwy:
  • Screwy Squirrel was voiced by radio actor Wally Maher.

  • According to some sources, Tex Avery absolutely despised Screwy Squirrel. It was his least favorite character.

  • Screwy Squirrel resurrected in 1993, appearing in Hanna-Barbera Saturday Morning series "Droopy the Master Detective". As expected, it was the watered down and highly sanitized version of the original character.

  • A real modern attempt at creating the new Screwy Squirrel type character happened in mid-90s, with Pat Ventura's "Sledgehammer O'Possum". Two shorts were made as the part of Cartoon Network's "What a Cartoon" series, and like most of Pat Ventura's work, they are an acquired taste. Believe it or not, Sledgehammer makes Screwy Squirrel look like Mahatma Gandhi :-)

  • On April Fools' Day 1997, Cartoon Network ran the Screwy Squirrel cartoon "Happy-Go-Nutty" repeatedly from 6 AM to 6 PM, as part of an April Fool's Joke that the cartoon character had taken over the network.

  • The complete Screwy Squirrel filmography:
    Screwball Squirrel (1944)
    Happy-Go-Nutty (1944)
    Big Heel-Watha (1944)
    The Screwy Truant (1945)
    Lonesome Lenny (1946)

Update: Check out these excellent Screwy Squirrel posts on Kevin Langley's blog ! You'll find the original animation drawings, model sheets and complete videos from Screwy Squirrel cartoons.

And finally, here are the screenshots from "Screwball Squirrel":



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always like that cartoons. I also like the fact that the cute squirrel made a reference of one MGM's star charaters, Barney Bear.

9:20 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Screwy Squirrel was simply ahead of his time, that's all. He's my favorite character.

8:17 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tex Avery was so advanced he was making fun of the screwball characters he created.

He created Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and then caricatured them. Brilliant!

6:49 pm

Blogger Martin Juneau said...

Nice description of Screwy Squirrel. This character could be a perfect satire of Disney and early MGM style. However, after than Avery left Screwy, he created Georges and Junior. I know that but the real icon Avery's character staying Droopy.

So far, it's a great request!

10:13 pm

Blogger Eshniner Forest said...

Dam thats great!

3:01 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many people will find this strange, but he's my all-time favorite cartoon character, even surpassing Bugs & Daffy!

7:13 pm

Blogger Clinton said...

What I liked about Screwy was that he was the total opposite of the cute, furry woodland creatures of the forest. Very interesting to know that Screwy's last scene with Lenny said, "sad ending, isnt it?" As if he knew he was done for.

8:53 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Screwball Squirrel doesn't realy die in his FINAL SHORT. When Lonesome Leny was holding the squirrel, he manages to hold a sign that reads "Sad ending. Ain't it?. Cartoons don't really die. These "Death scenes" are only bogus death scenes. It's only a joke and it makes me laugh for a long while jejeje!!!
Greetings! - Nicolas

1:12 am

Blogger David McHank said...

amazing that from 5 cartoons, several images found their way into that preston blair cartooning book huh?

3:44 pm

Anonymous CoreyToons said...

Do you have any animation footage online of "Screwball Squirrel"? I would love to see it!

1:35 pm

Blogger Unknown said...

Do you know where we can see any animation footage of "Screwball Squirrel" and other characters in that series?

1:38 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW, screwy squrrel makes me laugh, but sledgehammer o'possum really scares me, i dunno why

9:03 pm


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer Posts | Older Posts | Home
Free Web Counter
hit Counter