I wanted to share with you one of my all time favorite Chuck Jones cartoons “Fresh Airedale”. In the 1930’s through to the 60’s, the main cartoon directors at Warner Bros. were expected to make a certain number of Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Sylvester cartoons each year. But once every year the directors we’re allowed to make a cartoon that was strictly their own. This was done sometimes as a way to encourage the development of new characters for the studio, and a few of those cartoons gave us characters such as Pepe Le Pew and started the Coyote/Roadrunner series. But there are a few of those one-shot cartoons that have stood the test of the time. A few of those cartoons include The Dover Boys, Horton Hatches the Egg, Feed The Kitty, and One Froggy Evening (Most of these examples are by Chuck Jones, but there are several great one shots from the other WB directors as well such as Friz Freleng, Bob Clampett, and Robert McKimson.) Fresh Airdale is one those one shot cartoons and it is a great one at that.
What I love most about this cartoon is its sadistic black humor. Our main character Shep the dog, who is quite literally a son of a bitch, does everything short of murder to get what he wants. Even though his master is generous enough to feed him a full on mutton, he still resorts to stealing his masters steak when he’s not looking. Observing this sideshow is the innocent cat, with whom the master seems to despise with every fiber of his being. The cat takes the punishment brought on by Shep’s actions, and is thwarted by Shep every time he tries to do the right thing. The torture of the cat is totally sadistic and hilarious at the same time, and the black irony at the end of the cartoon is just brilliant.
I love it when a great cartoon can take a turn to the dark side. It’s of those great metaphors for the individual we see manipulating the love and attention of the public, only to see their true conniving and deceitful ways behind closed doors. Like a politician in some cases. Then we know the cruelty and injustice of it all when those people actually get away with it. This cartoon is absolutely priceless. Check it out: