Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies Title Cards: 1950-51
By Jason Haggstrom, March 17, 2011
Following up on last month’s post on Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies title cards from 1948-49, I bring you a gallery of title cards from 1950-51. Since today is St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll start with the title card for The Wearing of the Grin. While I wouldn’t call this one of the great title cards in the set, it does feature the iconic clover leaves that are so closely linked to today’s holiday. The cartoon itself involves a pair of leprechauns who torment Porky Pig in order to drive him away from their castle and prevent him from finding their pot of gold. Along the way, Porky is given a pair of magic shoes that force him to dance and that eventually chase him through a surreal, Dalíesque wasteland. The Wearing of the Grin was to be the final cartoon to feature Porky Pig in a starring, solo role and it’s a great one. Porky had been Warner Bros. animation’s first major star but had been supplanted first by Daffy Duck (a phenomenon that was even satirized in toon form in Friz Freleng’s You Ought to Be in Pictures), and then by Bugs Bunny. After The Wearing of the Grin, Porky was relegated to the role of "straight man" in pairings with Daffy Duck or the non-speaking, house cat version of Sylvester.
Some of my personal favorites in this set include the fantastic title card for Mutiny on the Bunny and Bunker Hill Bunny. Both feature some really nice design work in the lettering. I love the painted look of the letting of the former (not to mention the fantastic half-dot above the letter "i") and the red striping within the letters on the latter. These two images in particular illustrate an extreme contrast in iconographic concept: the title card for Mutiny on the Bunny is designed around a realistically detailed (and ominous) painting of a battleship (with no character in sight) while Bunker Hill Bunny features a solid color background that makes the iconic drawing of Bugs Bunny—and his revolutionary accouterments—really stand out. As with the best title cards, the theme and mood of both toons is conveyed before a single frame of the story has passed.
Also take note of the fact that the title cards for the Tweety shorts Carnary Row and Putty Tat Trouble make use of identical imagery. The re-use of imagery is pretty rare in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies title cards (with the obvious exception of the earliest toons which were almost exclusively black with a common style of white lettering). However, rather than using a static image as we see in the vast majority of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies title cards, both of these Tweety title cards were animated to show Tweety singing as he swings (the title card for All a Bir-r-r-d was also animated to show a train moving across the frame). I’m not as fond of the animated title cards because they lack that painterly quality that makes so many of the title cards stand out from the cartoon itself.
If you like these images, take a look at my previous post of Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies title cards from 1948-49.