Tweety Bird and Sylvester Cat (voiced by Mel Blanc) star in this animated short which takes place aboard a steam-powered heavyweight train. Sylvester’s attempt to capture and eat Tweety are thwarted at every turn by the train’s conductor, a bulldog also riding in the baggage car as well as a number of this-could-only-happen-in-a-cartoon hijinks.
As in many of the classic Looney Tunes created by Warners, the artists insert their names on background signs that flash by so quickly you need to freeze-frame the DVD to catch it. My copy of All A Bir-r-r-d comes from Volume 2, Disk 3 from the Looney Tunes Golden Collection.
The opening credits (see above) show a 5 car train with the baggage car inexplicably located in the center of the consist. The train is lead by a 4-4-4 steam locomotive (a somewhat unusual wheel arrangement, at least for the United States at the time).
Let’s check out this wide open cartoon adventure as it rolls down the track!
As the train stands at the station, the locomotive appears to have two numbers: 651 on the cab and 99 on the tender. The first coach behind the tender has S.P.Q.R in the letterboard.
As the opening credits finish, the train pulls into the station. On the platform, a matron hands up her “precious darling” to the conductor while Tweety grimaces from all the sickeningly-sweet baby talk. Look at all the ornate metal work on the platform canopy — Warner’s animators really sweated the details in those days.
With an impressive display of smoke, the train pulls out of town.
The conductor has carelessly placed Tweety’s cage right next to Sylvester’s crate. After catching Sylvester in the act, the conductor puts Tweety up high in the baggage car.
Good broadside view of the baggage car. We can see through the open door that Sylvester is piling up suitcases and crates to reach the cage hanging from the car’s roof.
Just as he’s about to grab the bird, Tweety pulls the Emergency Cord causing the locomotive to slam on its brakes.
Demonstrating Newton’s First Law, we hear Sylvester crashing through the forward coaches (now labeled South East & Western).
Sylvester continues forward past the tender (now labeled SPQR) onto the cab of the locomotive (now labeled #814 and sporting a 4-4-0 wheel arrangement) and right into the firebox. In true cartoon fashion, only his rear end is set on fire.
At least two more emergency brake cord gags omitted HERE. ;p
Sylvester finally runs into the bulldog (whose crate is helpfully labeled, “Warning Vicious Dog”). After telling the dog, “Ah, Shaddup” and bashing him with an umbrella, the train climbs and descends an impossibly steep grade (looks like 40% at least) sliding Sylvester into the bulldog’s cage. Sylvester, of course, gets his comeuppance.
Gotcha! With diabolical joy, Sylvester captures Tweety. BUT…hearing the conductor’s footsteps, he stashes Tweety into a mail sack (this must be an R.P.O. car too) and hangs him out on a trackside mail crane.
Sylvester smiles with sweetly-false innocence as the conductor plods past, then hurries his way back to the observation car platform to retrieve his canary booty. Wouldn’t you know, it’s now the bulldog in the mail sack. Curses! Foiled again!
Nice details on the observation platform (red & white striped canopy), although the marker lanterns should be showing red to the rear, not green. Minor nit.
I always like the cartoon expediency of cutting a hole in the ceiling with just the saw. Ever tried that yourself? And cutting a perfect circle to boot. Of course he gets Mister Bulldog instead of Tweety.
The chase has now moved to the top of the train. Hiding from the pursing canine between cars, Sylvester produces an enormous club as the train rounds a sharp curve. Unfortunately, instead of the bulldog, he comes face to face with a tunnel portal and is thus ejected from the train.
The train finally reaches its next stop — little Gower Gulch (population 86). Hastily roaring up in a cab, Sylvester (in drag) trots up and claims Tweety’s cage. (By now, it’s a safe bet the cage contains the bulldog, not Tweety.)
As the taxi speeds alongside (with Sylvester and the Bulldog going at it), Tweety watches from the observation platform commenting, “It’s going to be awfully lonesome from here to Pasadena!”
A good, violent cartoon with a speeding train to keep the plot roaring along. What’s not to like? Lindsay says, “Check it Out!”
Here’s what IMDb has to say about All A Bir-r-r-d:
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