Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Who’s the best Warner Brothers cartoon character?

I know it’s not silly season anymore. But it worries me that this debate — arguably the most important in movie history — is not carried out more often. As any fule kno, the only American cartoons that really matter …

Mon, Oct 3, 2011, 11:54

   

I know it’s not silly season anymore. But it worries me that this debate — arguably the most important in movie history — is not carried out more often. As any fule kno, the only American cartoons that really matter are those from Warner Brothers. Yes, Walt Disney was a genius and so on. But who really retains any affection for Mickey Mouse past the age of four? Tom and Jerry were smashing. They were, however, always a little one note.

No, the great canon in this field is the work carried out by Warner Brothers from the mid-1930s up until the early-1960s. Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Sylvester: has there ever been a more impressive collection of cynics and wiseacres? The cartoons managed, for three decades, to combine zany good fun with surprisingly sophisticated jokes . Let’s get the first controversy out of the away quickly. Anybody who thinks that The Road Runner deserves the gold medal is some sort of maniac. I accept the fact that Wile E Coyote is the real hero of those films, but that tweeting bird really gets on my wick. Also, the films didn’t really vary sufficiently in tone. I use my Acme brand eraser to wipe Road Runner’s name swiftly from the list.

Sylvester is certainly a candidate. I can’t think of anything to dislike about this excellent cat. Come to think of it, Tweety was every bit as nasty and annoying as Road Runner. However, the presence of the weary feline always made those films crackle. He’s in.

Bugs Bunny is also a magnificent creation. Possessor of an inexplicable Brooklyn accent, the rabbit had a degree of suaveness that even Cary Grant couldn’t manage. He also — like all the best Warner Brothers characters — was bracingly intolerant of authority. These animals really were nicely subversive throughout.

Daffy Duck is also a prime candidate. Whereas Bugs was a quietly efficient enemy of despotism, the Duck — though equally free-thinking — could never overcome his own fury long enough to effect any meaningful rebellion. He deserves inclusion for the brilliant Duck Amuck alone. If this post was about the best individual cartoon then — with apologies to What’s Opera Doc? — that would surely take the prize.

But this place’s choice for best ever WB cartoon character remains a slightly unusual one. Ah say, ah say, boy. Is there any character quite as hilarious as Foghorn Leghorn? Don’t bother answering. There isn’t. His fantastic pomposity. His inability to listen. His grand belief in his own innate magnificence. Foghorn Leghorn is hereby nominated the champ. Just the thought of him makes me giggle.

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