Early to Bet

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Early To Bet
Merrie Melodies (Gambling Bug) series
Directed by Robert McKimson
Produced by Edward Selzer
Story by Warren Foster
Voices by Mel Blanc
Stan Freberg
Music by Carl Stalling
Animation by Phil DeLara
Emery Hawkins
Charles McKimson
Rod Scribner
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s) May 12, 1951
Color process Technicolor
Running time 7 min
Language English
Preceded by It's Hummer Time
Followed by Leghorn Swoggled

Early to Bet is a Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies theatrical cartoon short released on May 12, 1951 starring The Gambling Bug. The Gambling Bug is a small character who infects others with the desire to gamble. He wears a green tie, a red jacket, a brown hat, and a white tuxedo. Early to Bet is the only appearance of this character.

The cartoon is a sequel to the 1950 short It's Hummer Time, which featured the same bulldog giving the same cat elaborate punishments (in that case, it was retribution for the cat disturbing the dog while the cat was pursuing a hummgingbird).

"The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down" (the theme for Looney Tunes) is featured in this cartoon.

It is available on DVD as part of Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 1.

Plot synopsis[edit]

The narrator describes what happens when the Gambling Bug is around. First the Gambling Bug gets a client to flip a coin against a waiter. Next the Gambling Bug has two men are sitting at a bar bet five dollars ("five bucks") that a buzzing fly will land on one or another glass of beer first. Then a man who puts a coin in a casino slot machine. He watches the wheels spin around until three oranges appear. He jumps for joy until the payout from the machine is actually 3 oranges instead of the jackpot. He gets enraged and starts punching the slot machine.

After that introductory segment, the bug goes on vacation hoping to leave his victims alone today. Suddenly, he sees a dog asking a black and white cat if he'd like to play Gin Rummy for Penalties. The cat refuses and says he's through playing cards with the dog. The Gambling Bug can't resist to bite the cat's ear. All of a sudden, the cat goes berserk and starts repeating "Deal the Cards, Deal the Cards, Deal the Cards" to the dog. He promptly loses. The cat spins the Wheel of Penalties, and his penalty is Number 14: "The Gesundheit". He is forced to blow bubble gum as the dog puts sneezing powder in his nose, causing him to sneeze and the bubble gum covers him. The cat then refuses to play cards with the dog again, but the bug makes the cat bet again. The cat loses yet again, and gets number 75 on the wheel: "The William Tell". The penalty is that the dog shoots a toilet plunger at the apple on the cats head, but the dog aims it into the cat's face. This time the cat swears off gambling for sure, but the bug bites him again. The same thing happens, the cat loses, and receives number 36 on the wheel, appropriately christened "Roll Out the Barrel". The penalty is to roll out a barrel of gunpowder. The dog then puts a quick lit match on the gunpowder and the cat blows up and flies back onto the ground.

While influenced with yet another bite, the cat tries to play again but now the dog refuses for the sake of the cat's health, wanting to stop before the cat kills himself. The bug comes in and agrees to play one with the cat, he decides to cut for the highest card with the cat. The cat cuts a three of hearts, to which the gambling bug says "not so good cat, watch!" proud of having a good chance at winning; but only to draw a 2 of diamonds. The gambling bug gets the penalty of "the Post", being whacked by a Post newspaper.

Other appearances[edit]

  • The Gambling Bug makes a brief cameo at the basketball game in Space Jam.
  • The dog makes another appearance in It's Hummer Time.
  • The cat made his fourth appearance in a Robert McKimson short and would make his final one later in 1951 in Leghorn Swoggled, but was never given a name

External links[edit]