Red Hot Riding Hood

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Red Hot Riding Hood
Red Hot Riding Hood WP.jpg
Theatrical poster to Red Hot Riding Hood (1943)
Directed by Tex Avery
Produced by Fred Quimby
Voices by Frank Graham (Narrator, Wolf, Showroom Announcer)
Elvia Allman (Grandma)
Sara Berner (Red Hot Riding Hood)
Connie Russell (Red Hot Riding Hood, singing voice)
Music by Scott Bradley
Animation by Preston Blair (unc.)
Ray Abrams (unc.)
Ed Love (unc.)
Irven Spence (unc.)
Layouts by Claude Smith
Studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) May 8, 1943
Color process Technicolor
Running time 7 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Preceded by N/A
Followed by Swing Shift Cinderella

Red Hot Riding Hood is an animated cartoon short subject, directed by Tex Avery and released with the movie Dr. Gillespie's Criminal Case on May 8, 1943 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. In 1994 it was voted #7 of The 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field, making it the highest ranked MGM cartoon on the list. It is one of Avery's most popular cartoons, inspiring several of his own "sequel" shorts as well as influencing other cartoons and feature films for years afterward.

Plot[edit]

Title card to Red Hot Riding Hood

The story begins with the standard version of Little Red Riding Hood (with the wolf from Dumb-Hounded, the cartoon which saw the debut of Avery's Droopy). The characters rebel at this stale and derivative staging of the story and demand a fresh approach. The annoyed narrator accedes to their demands and starts the story again in a dramatically different arrangement.

The story begins again, now told in a contemporary urban setting. The narrator explains that Little Red Riding Hood is now an attractive performer in a Hollywood nightclub under the stage name "Red Hot Riding Hood," and the Big Bad Wolf, now a Hollywood swinger, follows Red to the club where she's performing. Red performs onstage (a rendition of the 1941 classic hit song "Daddy" by Bobby Troup) and the wolf goes mad with desire. He brings her to his table and tries wooing her, but she wants nothing to do with him. Red escapes the Wolf, saying she's going to her Grandma's place, but when the Wolf arrives, Red's nowhere to be found (she isn't seen again until the end of the cartoon). Red's grandma is an oversexed man-chaser who falls head over heels for the Wolf (upon seeing him, she whistles and says, "At last a wolf! Yahoo!").

The Wolf tries to escape, but Grandma blocks the exit and asks him, "What's your hurry, hairy?" She locks the door, drops the key down the front of her evening gown, and poses provocatively for him. Soon after, Grandma puts on a bright red shade of lipstick and tries to kiss the Wolf several times during his stay. He tries to escape, but the lovelorn granny chases after him. Every door the Wolf opens, Grandma's there waiting with puckered lips. He finally makes his escape by jumping out a window, severely injuring himself in the process. But since this is a Tex Avery cartoon, the Wolf immediately recovers and makes his way back to the nightclub (albeit covered with bandages and bruises). At the club, the Wolf says, "I'm fed up! I'm through with women. Why I'll kill myself before I'd even look at another babe." Immediately after saying this, Red takes the stage and begins another performance. The Wolf pulls out two guns and commits suicide, but his ghost rises from his dead body and howls and whistles at her like he did earlier.

Characters[edit]

The character of Red closely resembled one of the top pin-up girls at the time, Lana Turner. She is considered an amalgamation of the then popular Hollywood stars. Her singing voice in this particular short was reminiscent of Lena Horne's, while her speaking voice emulated that of Katharine Hepburn.

The two supporting characters are Red's sisters in the entry of the nightclub foyer, where the Wolf walks in. It is the shortest, who says, "Cigarettes, cigarettes!" And the other is the tallest, who says, "King-sized, king-sized!"

Censorship[edit]

Wolfie being "lustful".

The most famous element is the musical scene where Red performs and "Wolfie", as she calls him, reacts in highly lustful wild takes. Those reactions were considered so energetic that the censors at the time demanded cuts in this scene and others. Avery claimed that a censor made him edit out footage of the Wolf getting sexually aroused at the sight of Red performing. An army officer at Washington, D.C., then heard about the censored prints and asked Louis B. Mayer for uncut ones. The print was shown to military audiences overseas and went over great with them.[1] Preston Blair on the other hand, who animated Red, did not recall any cuts to the film. He did recall, however,that the military went nuts over it.[2]

Blair had his own censorship tale. According to him, the censor was dirty minded and thought the film promoted bestiality between a woman and a wolf. Blair was instructed to animate a new ending, where the wolf's face is torn off as a mask and he is revealed to be a man. He completed the additional footage, though disgusted with the unnecessary censorship. At the end the studio never used this ending and Blair was unaware if the print survived.[2]

A rumor surfaced at the 1992 Conference of the Society for Animation Studies, that there was another alternate ending. According to this rumor, Wolf married Red and had a baby with her. Blair declared there was no such sequence. Mark Kausler provided a copy of a continuity script that clarified that Wolf married Grandma and not Red.[2]

The film's original conclusion had Grandma marrying the wolf at a shotgun wedding (with a caricature of Tex Avery as the Justice of the Peace who marries them), and having the unhappy couple and their half-human half-wolf children attend Red's show.[2] The chase scene with Grannie and the Wolf ends in the completed film with him jumping out of a window. In the early script, the Wolf crawls back inside and explains that he is about to commit suicide. The chase continues and Red joins the two other characters. The Wolf is tied up and Grannie instructs Red to get a preacher. She then kisses the Wolf. The two get married at a shotgun wedding. The Wolf says "I do" with Red aiming an anti-aircraft gun at his back. The final scene takes place at a nightclub. Grannie and the Wolf attend a performance of Red. Three baby wolves at their table go wild over Red.[2] This ending was indeed animated and stills of the wedding scene are included in the MGM photo library. The images were fully inked and painted.[2]

This ending, deleted for reasons of implied bestiality and how it made light of marriage (something that was considered taboo back in the days of the Hays Office Code), was replaced with one (that, ironically, has also been edited, but only on television) where The Wolf is back at the nightclub and tells the audience that he's through with chasing women and if he ever even looks at a woman again, he's going to kill himself. When Red soon appears onstage to perform again, the Wolf takes out two pistols and blasts himself in the head. The Wolf then drops dead, but his ghost appears and begins to howl and whistle at Red same as before.

Follow-ups[edit]

  • Red made a cameo appearance in the 1998 animated film, Quest for Camelot, where she appeared briefly during the third verse with Cornwall, before she turned into Devon's head.

Homages[edit]

  • The gag where Grandma rushes to kiss Wolf, misses and leaves a giant lipstick imprint on the wall was also used in the Woody Woodpecker cartoon A Fine Feathered Frenzy when Gorgeous Gal tried to kiss Woody. She also shows up behind every door Woody opens ready to make out with him. Unlike Grandma, Gorgeous Gal does manage to kiss Woody several times during the film however. Gorgeous Gal marries Woody Woodpecker as well.
  • Jessica Rabbit (of Who Framed Roger Rabbit) looks and acts like Red Hot Riding Hood as they are both nightclub performers.[3] The scene where Grandma chases The Wolf was the inspiration for the scene in the movie where Lena Hyena chases Eddie Valiant. The wolf was also going to appear in the film (in one of the early drafts in the film's script the wolf was supposed to be seen in the Ink and Paint Club during Jessica's performance.) another draft of the script had him seen being kicked out with a bra on his face before Eddie went into the club, but these were dropped out later on.[4] Heather Locklear's introduction scene in Looney Tunes Back In Action is also a homage to this cartoon.
  • The famous scene of The Wolf reacting lustfully in the club was directly referenced in The Mask where Stanley Ipkiss goes to the Coco Bongo club as the Mask. Seated at a similar table, he reacts to his first sight of Cameron Diaz's torch-singer character Tina Carlyle (who is very similar to Red) by mimicking many of the same cartoonish "wild takes" (achieved through the use of CGI), and his head even morphs into that of a cartoon wolf when he wolf-whistles and howls before bashing himself on the head with a mallet.[3] There is also an early scene where The Mask's wimpy alter ego, Stanley Ipkiss (played by Jim Carrey) pops in a cartoon video, which shows this cartoon (on the part where the Wolf is lustfully reacting to Red singing "Daddy") and is yelled at by his landlady, Mrs. Peenman, after laughing at it.[3] The Mask sometimes turns into the Wolf again in presence of attractive women in the animated series.
  • Aside from Holli Would from Cool World resembling Jessica, many Tex Avery Wolf caricatures are watching her performance.
  • The "Let Me Be Good To You" scene in The Great Mouse Detective resembles this cartoon.
  • In the Bugs Bunny short The Big Snooze Elmer Fudd gets chased by several Tex Avery Wolf caricatures after getting dressed up as a woman.
  • Both chipmunks briefly turn into wolves in the Chip n Dale short Two Chips and a Miss, which also has a similar premise.
  • Tom Cat briefly turns into a howling wolf in the Tom and Jerry short Puss n' Toots while preparing for a date. The cartoon got released while Red Hot Riding Hood was still in production.
  • In Animaniacs the Warners often act like the Wolf while Hello Nurse and Minerva Mink often act like Red.
  • The infamous scene where Wolf acts exaggeratedly lustful is briefly featured in the PJTV "Ten in Two" episode "Goodbye Liberal Feminism" by Sonja Schmidt where she, in a satirical manner, compares it to how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid responded regarding one of his female colleagues.[5]
  • The scene is parodied in an episode of The Simpsons where Dr. Hibbert claims Marge could develop "Tex Avery syndrome". He then shows the Simpsons a video clip with a wolf reacting with wild eye takes to a nurse similar to Red Hot Riding Hood. The animation is also parodied in the episode "Lisa the Beauty Queen", where Bart reacts in a comically exaggerated manner at the thought of beauty pageant contestants, including hitting himself with his own shoe, panting, howling and then splashes himself with a glass of water to calm himself down.
  • In the ending cutscene of Earthworm Jim, Jim reacts to the sight of Princess Whats-Her-Name by re-enacting Wolfie's lustfulness.
  • In Hound Hunters, in attempting to catch a dog, George dresses up as a poodle. When the dog spots the disguised George, it turns into Wolfie for a moment.

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cohen (2004), p. 37
  2. ^ a b c d e f Cohen (2004), p. 38
  3. ^ a b c Corliss, Richard (August 8, 1994). "CINEMA: Like the Mask?". Time. 
  4. ^ "Q & A with Gary Wolf". jimdavies.org. 
  5. ^ Schmidt, Sonja (December 24, 2010). "Sonja Schmidt: Goodbye Liberal Feminism". PJTV. 

External links[edit]