Christmas Movies I

film 9 of 16

Snow Business

Film Review by Dean Duncan Mar 24, 2015

Granny’s bird and Granny’s cat are snow bound in Granny’s cabin. Granny’s cat kisses Granny’s bird to reassure him. Then suddenly this kiss gives Granny’s cat an idea. Zaniness ensues.  

These Tweety and Sylvester pictures are kind of like Jack London’s Call of the Wild andWhite Fang, put together: we have domestication introduced and forced to adapt to wilderness, wildness, ditto, with the domestic. When you add the fact that the snowbound cabin is stocked only with bird seed you get Jack London strained, again, through Samuel Beckett. They’re just cartoons, but they connect and portend far more than you might suspect.

They’re just cartoons, but a lot of them are as well and beautifully crafted as any films you could think of. Director Friz Freleng pretty well always uses the static frame and the tiptoe music that you see and hear here. Terrific techniques! They pretty well always works. Gags-a-plenty: there’s a very nice bit with that paper boat in the pot of boiling water. The skating on vegetable oil is good, and the spatula that Sylvester sensibly uses to lift his burning paws/hands from the grill.

Snow Business introduces a second cat to the mix, and he provides some superb new possibiities. In a strange way he takes Sylvester out of the antagonistic relationship with his prey, and turns him, and the film as well, toward a purer, more abstract kind of violence. Striving is all, and what you strive for doesn’t really matter. Or, if we want parables, war impulses are raised to the point of absurdity by the miniscule objective over which they’re all battling. (Cf. the Roadrunner cartoons).

That’s some amazing stair shot! The very fine dippy bird sequence is accompanied by some superb music, which, again, is a particular hallmark of the Freleng films. The sound effects, care, as usual, of the unspeakably resourceful Treg Brown, are also terrific. They import sounds that you wouldn’t quite expect, giving flesh in ways you would never have imagined. This is one of the roots of comedy, or, if you concentrate a bit, wonder.  The final ice stuff is really great—another exemplary bit of gag construction.