Claws for Alarm

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Claws for Alarm
Merrie Melodies (Porky Pig and Sylvester) series
Directed by Charles M. Jones
Produced by Eddie Selzer
Story by Michael Maltese
Voices by Mel Blanc
Music by Carl Stalling
Layouts by Maurice Noble
Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
The Vitaphone Corporation
Release date(s) May 22, 1954 (USA)
Color process Technicolor
Running time 7 minutes

Claws for Alarm is a 1954 Merrie Melodies cartoon, directed by Chuck Jones and produced and released by Warner Bros. Pictures. It was the second of three cartoons teaming Porky Pig and Sylvester the cat (continuing his non-speaking role as Porky's cat) in a spooky setting where only Sylvester is aware of the danger the pair are in. The other two films in the series are Scaredy Cat (1948) and Jumpin' Jupiter (1955).

Synopsis[edit]

Porky and Sylvester are driving to Albuquerque, New Mexico, then Porky decides to stop for the night at the hotel in Dry Gulch; actually a ghost town. Sylvester alone is alert to the danger from murderous mice that have taken up residence in the hotel. Unlike the previous cartoon, however, the mice are (mostly) unseen, except for tiny, malevolent pairs of eyes in dark corners (and the moose heads over the main desk and Porky's bed). No matter; Porky checks in with a few small scares for Sylvester.

The mice do what they can to kill and/or scare Porky and Sylvester. As always, Porky does not see the danger until Sylvester has chased the mice away, leaving him holding the bag—or, in one case, the noose the mice have dropped around Porky's neck, which the cat has just pushed Porky out of the way of. Porky demands to know why Sylvester shoved him, leading to Sylvester mimicking the moose head and the noose dropping from it. The moose head begins to follow Porky up the stairs, with a shotgun out of its mouth and tries to shoot Porky. Sylvester fights with the moose and Porky scolds him.

Porky enters vacant room 13 where Sylvester is still watching for any imminent danger. Suddenly, a noose comes from the ceiling and almost strangles Porky. Sylvester grabs a razor and cuts the noose. Porky who felt that sees Sylvester with the noose and the razor asks what he is doing with them. Sylvester sees a mouse (which closely resembles Wile E.) with a large kitchen knife. The mouse swoops down and cuts a line of hair on Sylvester's back. Porky, humiliated and furious with the shenanigans forces Sylvester to go out. Sylvester sees a ghost but the moonlight reveals that the "ghost" is just the mice standing on each other's shoulders under a white sheet. Nevertheless, Sylvester runs back inside but Porky only sees another white bed sheet covering a chair. He pulls the sheet off and Sylvester mimes that he saw a ghost. Porky still doesn't believe him but suggests that Sylvester sleep with him. Sylvester then soldiers on all night, guarding his master with a shotgun he earlier wrestled away from the mice.

Dawn finally breaks, with good riddance to those ghost mice, ending the bleary-eyed cat's vigil as Porky awakes, but Porky wants to continue to stay. This is the last straw for Sylvester, who clubs Porky over the head with the shotgun butt while he is freshening up and singing "Home on the Range," leaving him stuck on the "and the deer and the antelope play" line like a needle skipping on a record. Sylvester, meanwhile loads the car with the luggage and Porky and speeds away from the hotel. After a last look back, Sylvester breathes a sigh of relief—not seeing the pairs of eyes blinking from the speedometer as the film closes.

Reception[edit]

Some cartoon buffs view Claws for Alarm as the creepiest and darkest of the trio of cartoons centered on Porky's and Sylvester's weird vacations, noting the simpler drawings and the almost never-seen mice. Emru Townsend, writing for the online animation magazine Frames Per Second, lists Claws as one of his favorites for Halloween, and comments: "Claws for Alarm makes the cut for Halloween because, unlike in the other two cartoons, the sense of fear and dread comes in from the very first frame." Townsend also cites the "true horror-movie fashion" of the ending, where the "monsters" are not completely vanquished.[1]

Censorship[edit]

Much like Scaredy Cat and (to a lesser extent) Jumpin' Jupiter, Claws for Alarm has been shown edited on television:[2]

  • On ABC, all scenes involving guns and nooses were cut (see channel edits below for specific information).
  • On CBS, the scene where Sylvester plugs a gun with his finger and the gun fires, causing the bullet to go through his finger and out via his tail (to Porky commenting "Mice") was cut.
  • On Cartoon Network's pre-2002 airings (CN now airs this cartoon uncut), Nickelodeon and the syndicated "Merrie Melodies Show", the following parts were cut:
    • The scene where Sylvester uses a noose to demonstrate to Porky what could have happened to him had Sylvester not saved him was cut on "The Merrie Melodies Show" and pre-2002 Cartoon Network, but was left uncut on Nickelodeon and post-2002 Cartoon Network.
    • The scene where a noose lowers on Porky while Porky is sleeping, Sylvester cuts the noose with a razor and Porky accuses Sylvester of attempted murder was cut on "The Merrie Melodies Show", pre-2002 Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon.
    • The scene where a moosehead has a rifle emerging from its mouth to try and kill Porky and Sylvester beating it up was cut on Nickelodeon, but left intact on Cartoon Network (both pre- and post-2002) and the syndicated "Merrie Melodies Show").

Availability[edit]

This short was edited into Daffy Duck's Quackbusters (1988), and is featured in its entirety in the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 3.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Townsend, Emru (October 27, 2007). "Hallowe'en Cartoons #5: Claws for Alarm". Frames Per Second. Retrieved August 24, 2012. 
  2. ^ http://looney.goldenagecartoons.com/ltcuts/c/

External links[edit]