Cartoon of the Day: Whoa Be-Gone

Whoa Be-Gone
1958
Directed by Chuck Jones
Available on: Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 2

If I was on a desert island and only had a limited number of cartoons to have with me, well there’d have to be a good batch of Road Runner shorts. No matter how many times I’ve seen them, I always laugh out loud. What’s the story on this one? You have to ask? The Coyote is chasing the Road Runner. ‘Nuff said.

One of the centerpieces of this short is a series of gags which end in an extreme overhead shot of the coyote falling to the canyon floor. Gradually he gets smaller and smaller until to our eyes he completely disappears. After a brief moment we hear the “THUD” and see a ring of smoke dust. It’s a classic gag, and it’s funny every time it’s repeated. It’s interesting to listen to the commentary track on this short in which we hear a segment of an interview with Chuck Jones where he tells how there was a certain number of frames that was the ideal amount of time to pass between when the coyote vanishes and when the smoke appears.

There are several quick gags in this one, but my favorites are the ones that have long set-ups and prolonged payoffs. The bit where the Coyote is going to slide down a wire using a roller skate helmet is classic. You think you know what’s going to happen as he slowly gets his balance to head down the rope, what does happen is a surprise, with another surprise tacked on to the end of that. It’s that great Chuck Jones sense of comic timing.

What can I say, it’s hard to go wrong with the Road Runner!

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