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Back Alley Oproar

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Back Alley Oproar
Back Alley Oproar
Directed By: I. Freleng
Produced By: Eddie Selzer (uncredited)
Released: March 27, 1948
Series: Merrie Melodies
Story: Michael Maltese
Tedd Pierce
Animation: Gerry Chiniquy
Manuel Perez
Ken Champin
Virgil Ross
Layouts: Hawley Pratt
Backgrounds: Paul Julian
Film Editor: Treg Brown (uncredited)
Voiced By: Mel Blanc
Arthur Q. Bryan (uncredited)
Gloria Curran (uncredited)
Tudor Williams (uncredited)
Music: Carl Stalling
Starring: Sylvester
Elmer Fudd
Tabby Singer
Preceded By: A Hick, a Slick, and a Chick
Succeeded By: I Taw a Putty Tat
Back Alley Oproar07:23

Back Alley Oproar

Back Alley Oproar is a 1948 Merrie Melodies short. The short features Sylvester and Elmer Fudd as its main characters, voiced by Mel Blanc and Arthur Q. Bryan respectively. The title is a play on "uproar" and "opera".

Plot

Elmer is ready for bedtime, but Sylvester has other plans as he starts singing on the fence in Elmer's backyard. A series of gags play out, as Elmer tries everything up his sleeve to get rid of that unwanted pest. Elmer eventually confronts Sylvester, but before Elmer can blast him with his shotgun, Sylvester sings a sweet, gentle lullaby to ease him to dreams. However, this doesn't last, and the insanity continues…

Elmer eventually dies from explosives from his attempts to get rid of Sylvester. He winds up in Heaven, as an angel on a cloud. Momentarily he thinks he will finally get some peace and quiet. However, the spirits of Sylvester's nine lives continue to sing as they ascend around him, each with a numeral on his back (there are actually more like 18 Sylvester's depicted overall), singing the sextet from "Lucia di Lammermoor". One of them even took Elmer's halo. The exasperated Elmer dives off his cloud and a crash is heard off-screen.

Production

The cartoon is a color remake of 1941's Notes to You, also directed by Freleng. It has a similar plot (although the ending of the original doesn't have the characters die from an explosion; instead the cat dies from getting shot, and returns as nine singing angels), but the Elmer and Sylvester roles in Notes to You were taken by Porky Pig and an unnamed alley cat (the latter bearing a striking resemblance to the cat from Bob Clampett's The Hep Cat).

Back Alley Oproar is notable in the Warner cartoon canon as one of the very few shorts in which Sylvester actually "wins out" over another character, albeit at the presumed cost of his life.

Censorship

When this cartoon aired on the WB!, the three times Elmer runs down the steps (which are slippery from grease) and steps on tacks when trying to stop Sylvester from singing were cut.

Pop culture and musical references

  • Sylvester starts his concert by singing Rossini's operatic piece "Largo al factotum" from The Barber of Seville, complete with sheet music on a music stand. He is bonked by one of Elmer's shoes just as he finishes a climactic "Fiii-gaaa-rooo!"
  • Sylvester evokes another classical staple as he sings "la-la-la, la-la-la..." to Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" while tromping in heavy boots, up and down Elmer's backstairs.
  • The cat sings "Some Sunday Morning" (by M.K. Jerome, Ray Heindorf and Ted Koehler) until being bonked again when Elmer throws a book titled "The Thin Man" at him, after which Sylvester throws a book called "Return of The Thin Man" at Elmer, who closes the window before the cat can finish. Then the phone rings (in a phone booth in Elmer's house), and the cat sings the final line through the phone.
  • Sylvester sings Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn's "You Never Know Where You're Goin' Till You Get There" (this song would be the opening music only a few weeks later in "Hop, Look and Listen").
  • Elmer charges after Sylvester, interrupting that number, and Sylvester hands the sheet music to a dopey-looking cat before fleeing. The cat turns the music sheet every which way, and then begins singing an excerpt from the aria, "Carissima" (by Arthur A. Penn), in a classically operatic female voice. That song comes to a sudden end when Elmer whacks her over the head, and the cat and the song both fade out like a record slowing down. Then the cat staggers and falls off the porch roof, in rhythm to the tune's closing notes.
  • Confronted by Elmer and his shotgun, and a threat to "bwow him to smitheweens", Sylvester sings a variation of "Brahms' Lullaby" ("Go to sleep, go to sleep, close your big bloodshot eyes...") He then carries Elmer back to his bedroom and tucks him in, still singing until he finishes. He then kisses him on the cheek sweetly and walks out the door, turning off the lights.
  • Seconds later, the cat jolts Elmer awake by playing a fast-paced march "Frat", by John F. Barth, another frequent WB staple, on a one-man band apparatus. Elmer chases him again, and he runs out a door and closes it. Elmer opens the door and slams his head into another door labeled "Surprize!" (sic)
  • Sylvester rows a rowboat across the top of the fence, singing a jazzy version of Percy Wenrich and Edward Madden's "Moonlight Bay". Elmer puts out a saucer of milk, which he has laced with alum, and summons the cat. Sylvester dances to The Sailor's Hornpipe to reach the saucer, and carefully holds a cane and straw hat out to see if Elmer has the site booby-trapped. The cat slurps down the milk, hornpipes back to his fence, and resumes singing "Moonlight Bay" until the alum shrinks his head to the size of a ping-pong ball (another oft-used WB joke), while his voice speeds up to chipmunk-level.
  • Sylvester apes Spike Jones with his last solo number, "Angel in Disguise" (by Paul Mann, Stefan Weiss and Kim Gannon), which also foreshadows the film's conclusion. He performs in the manner of Jones' band, starting with a brief, serious-sounding introduction (apparently not Blanc's voice), immediately seguéing into a jazzy rendition featuring a collection of crazy sound effects produced by firing guns, breaking bottles, and exploding firecrackers. As with some of the other songs in the cartoon, Sylvester sings directly to the viewing audience (see illustration). Elmer caps the performance by lighting the fuse to a box full of dynamite -- which explodes instantly and kills Elmer and Sylvester.
  • As Sylvester's nine-plus lives soar past Elmer, singing together like a choir, they perform part of the sextet from Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor", which was used in the original Notes To You and is also recognizable from 1946's "Book Revue" - "You can't do dis to me / I'm a citizen, see" - and from 1949's "Long-Haired Hare".

Trivia

  • Sylvester's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 was reused in Bugs Bunny's Overtures to Disaster. It used the same audio but the animation was new because Warner Brothers at the time did not have the rights to pre-August 1948 footage, although Warner still has the cartoon's original negatives stored in the vaults (the publishing rights to the music track were owned separately by Warner/Chappell Music).
  • The Tom and Jerry short by Chuck Jones, "The Cat Above and the Mouse Below", had a similar concept but with a different plot.
  • Kit For Cat and this cartoon share the same night city title card. Coincidently, both original title cards were cut in 1955. The original opening and credits for this cartoon and the former were restored on DVD, this one on Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 2, Disc 4 and the former on Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 1, Disc 4, however, Kit For Cat, for unknown reasons has the Blue Ribbon ending.

Also, this cartoon was reissued in the 1954-55 season. Since this was a Merrie Melody, and IN TECHNICOLOR, the original end title was kept. The cartoon was shown in Blue Ribbon form from 1956-present on TV, although present-day airings air the Blue Ribbon, 1995 dubbed version, which uses the 1948 end title with a dubbed notice.

Gallery

Sylvester Cartoons
1945 Life with FeathersPeck Up Your Troubles
1946 Kitty Kornered
1947 Tweetie PieDoggone CatsCatch as Cats Can
1948 Back Alley OproarI Taw a Putty TatHop, Look and ListenKit For CatScaredy Cat
1949 Mouse MazurkaBad Ol' Putty TatHippety Hopper
1950 Home Tweet HomeThe Scarlet PumpernickelAll a Bir-r-r-rdCanary RowStooge for a MousePop 'Im Pop!
1951 Canned FeudPutty Tat TroubleRoom and BirdTweety's S.O.S.Tweet Tweet Tweety
1952 Who's Kitten Who?Gift WrappedLittle Red Rodent HoodAin't She TweetHoppy Go LuckyA Bird in a Guilty CageTree for Two
1953 Snow BusinessA Mouse DividedFowl WeatherTom Tom TomcatA Street Cat Named SylvesterCatty CorneredCats A-Weigh
1954 Dog PoundedBell HoppyDr. Jerkyl's HideClaws for AlarmMuzzle ToughSatan's Waitin'By Word of Mouse
1955 Lighthouse MouseSandy ClawsTweety's CircusJumpin' JupiterClaws for AlarmA Kiddies KittySpeedy GonzalesRed Riding HoodwinkedHeir-ConditionedPappy's Puppy
1956 Too Hop to HandleTweet and SourTree Cornered TweetyThe Unexpected PestTugboat GrannyThe Slap-Hoppy MouseYankee Dood It
1957 Tweet ZooTweety and the BeanstalkBirds AnonymousGreedy For TweetyMouse-Taken IdentityGonzales' Tamales
1958 A Pizza Tweety PieA Bird in a Bonnet
1959 Trick or TweetTweet and LovelyCat's PawHere Today, Gone TamaleTweet Dreams
1960 West of the PesosGoldimouse and the Three CatsHyde and Go TweetMouse and GardenTrip For Tat
1961 Cannery WoeHoppy DazeBirds of a FatherD' Fightin' OnesThe Rebel Without ClawsThe Pied Piper of GuadalupeThe Last Hungry Cat
1962 Fish and SlipsMexican BoardersThe Jet Cage
1963 Mexican Cat DanceChili WeatherClaws In The Lease
1964 A Message to GraciasFreudy CatNuts and VoltsHawaiian Aye AyeRoad to Andalay
1965 It's Nice to Have a Mouse Around The HouseCats and BruisesThe Wild Chase
1966 A Taste of Catnip
1995 Carrotblanca
1997 Father of the Bird
2011 I Tawt I Taw A Putty Tat
Elmer Fudd Cartoons
1940 Elmer's Candid CameraConfederate HoneyThe Hardship of Miles StandishA Wild HareGood Night Elmer
1941 Elmer's Pet RabbitWabbit Twouble
1942 The Wabbit Who Came to SupperAny Bonds Today?The Wacky WabbitNutty NewsFresh HareThe Hare-Brained Hypnotist
1943 To Duck or Not to DuckA Corny ConcertoAn Itch in Time
1944 The Old Grey HareThe Stupid CupidStage Door Cartoon
1945 The Unruly HareHare Tonic
1946 Hare RemoverThe Big Snooze
1947 Easter YeggsA Pest in the HouseSlick Hare
1948 What Makes Daffy Duck?Back Alley Op-RoarKit For Cat
1949 Wise QuackersHare DoEach Dawn I Crow
1950 What's Up Doc?Rabbit of Seville
1951 Rabbit Fire
1952 Rabbit Seasoning
1953 Up-Swept HareAnt PastedDuck! Rabbit, Duck!Robot Rabbit
1954 Design for LeavingQuack Shot
1955 Pests for GuestsBeanstalk BunnyHare BrushRabbit RampageThis Is A Life?Heir-Conditioned
1956 Bugs' BonnetsA Star is BoredYankee Dood ItWideo Wabbit
1957 What's Opera, Doc?Rabbit Romeo
1958 Don't Axe MePre-Hysterical Hare
1959 A Mutt in a Rut
1960 Person to BunnyDog Gone People
1961 What's My Lion?
1962 Crow's Feat
1980 Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bunny
1990 Box Office Bunny
1991 Blooper Bunny
1992 Invasion Of The Bunny Snatchers
2012 Daffy's Rhapsody

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