As I’ve said before, old cartoons were great because they were basically about lovable animals committing heinous acts of violence against each other, and I respect that. Tom & Jerry – A cat and mouse try to murder each other with kitchen appliances. Sylvester & Tweety – Same, but now the cat gets tormented by a bird with a speech impediment. Pepe Le Pew – A skunk sexually harasses and/or assaults a cat. Maybe that last one wasn’t so great, in hindsight. It was a simpler time. A simpler, cat-hating time.
One of the other classics of the absurdly violent genre were the Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote shorts, which, I just learned this week, began in 1949 with an appearance titled “Fast and Furry-ous.”
FAST AND FURRY-OUS.
Fast and Furry-ous is a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon, released on September 17, 1949, directed by Chuck Jones and written by Michael Maltese. It was later reissued as a Blue Ribbon Merrie Melodies cartoon.
Fast and Furry-ous was the debut for Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner. It was also their only cartoon made in the 1940s. It set the template for the series, in which Wile E. Coyote (here given the Latin name Carnivorous Vulgaris) tries to catch Roadrunner (Accelleratii Incredibus) through many traps, plans and products, although in this first cartoon not all of the products are yet made by ACME.
The title is a play on the old expression “fast and furious”. [Wikipedia]
It sure as hell is.
Watching the seven-minute clip now, it’s kind of shocking to see how fully-formed the whole thing was right out of the gate. All the classic gags are there: the falling off a cliff, the malfunctioning rocket, the painted tunnel that the Road Runner zips through and Wile E. Coyote immediately smashes into as though he just assumes that, okay, the tunnel is magic now so full-speed ahead, all of it. Hell, there’s even a genius bit where he straps a refrigerator to his back with the freezer open and the ice machine rigged to shoot cubes in front of him so he can ski down the side of the desert mountain. Does it work? Of course not. But don’t let anyone tell you cartoons are weird today. Cartoons have always been weird. That’s the lesson here.
Anyway, if any of you need me, I’ll be imagining Ludacris in a bunny costume rapping “2 Fast … 2 Furry-ous” while Wile E. Coyote chases Vin Diesel through the streets of Rio. Or Tokyo. Or wherever the hell. It’s my dream. I’ll put them all on the moon if I want.