Thursday, May 16, 2019

NATIONAL CLASSIC MOVIE DAY: 5 Fave Films of the '50s


The Classic Film and TV Cafe leads us in celebrating the 5th annual National Classic Movie Day with a blogathon spotlighting cinema of the 1950s. Click here to join the celebration.

I will go out on a limb and suggest that most movie buffs, like me, love a list. Particularly a list that includes the word "favorite", such as - oh, let's say - 5 Favorite Films of the '50s. It sets the heart to beating and the mind to racing. The possibilities for any film fan are varied and endless! I toyed briefly with my 5 favorite 1950s westerns and then considered my 5 favorite 1950s movies beginning with the letter "S". I do believe, however, that it is best in such situations to go with your gut; the first titles that come to mind and here they are!



Shane is the movie that made me love movies. George Stevens' beautiful adaptation of Jack Schaefer's novella tells the story of love and violence as seen through the eyes of a young boy. Location filming in Wyoming and California bolsters the work of the superb ensemble of actors.

The film's Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography for Loyal Griggs, Best Screenplay for A.R. Gurthrie Jr. and for Supporting Actors Brandon de Wilde and Jack Palance attest to its excellence.


I love entering into the Hawksian world as represented by this team of men and women fighting an invasion from space at the top of the world in The Thing from Another World. I imagine myself with such skill and the ability to be so calm in the face of danger.

Truth be told, I probably don't have to watch the old "Thing" every single time it airs because it was committed to memory long ago. Nonetheless, it is fun to get together with old friends and fight our old foe.



I was born in the same year as What's Opera, Doc?. Unlike this favorite Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese short, I was not placed on the National Film Registry in 1992. Mel Blanc and Arthur Q. Bryan voice Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd respectively in their inimitable fashion. What's Opera Doc? is a perfect spoof and, oddly enough, a perfect introduction to Wagnerian opera. If you can't view Wagner's work with a jaded eye, you may fall asleep before the night at the theatre is over.

Twenty-odd years ago at a Blockbuster on a busy Friday evening, What's Opera, Doc? was playing on the screen, soundless. A young fellow in the line-up and I began singing the parts, if not to the delight of the crowd, to our own.



Reginald Rose's original teleplay of Twelve Angry Men was nominated for the Primetime Emmy in 1955 and his screenplay for the 1957 film release for an Oscar in 1958. It is an impressive script detailing the conflict within a jury and the true meaning of "beyond a reasonable doubt."

12 Angry Men provides well-delineated roles for each of the characters with their interactions feeling organic and truthful as life and death hang in the balance. Proving himself during the Golden Age of Television, director Sidney Lumet made his feature debut with this film. The characters may feel trapped in a room on this wet and humid day, but the audience does not, as the camera subtly moves to bring us close to the emotions when required, and give us the aspect of a distant observer when needed.

Henry Fonda, the producer and the leading player in the fine ensemble, and director Lumet rehearsed the cast for weeks before filming and it is one of those creative touches that make 12 Angry Men as engrossing and timely today as it was when originally released.



Director John Ford fashioned The Quiet Man as an allegory, touching on the history, legends, myths, humor, and humanity of his beloved Ireland. It is a movie that brings burning tears to my eyes and raucous laughter to my lips.

Beautiful location filming and a dream cast are supported by Victor Young's lovely score. Its two Oscar wins out of seven nominations were for Best Director and Best Cinematography for Winton Hoch and Archie Stout.

I love the people of the Isle of Innisfree with all their stubborn pride and open hearts.













66 comments:

  1. Lovely selection Paddy, not seen any of these but now so many (and all of yours) added to the to watch list! love Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews

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    1. That happens to me all the time. Someone speaks of a favourite movie and it goes over my own never-ending list. Happy Classic Movie Day, Gill.

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    2. Belated thanks Paddy - hope yours was good too

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  2. Yay for Shane! It would have been on my list if I hadn't written a long review a couple of years ago. Still need to see "What's Opera, Doc" -- heard so much about it. :-)

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    1. Jocelyn, you will get such a kick out of What's Opera, Doc! There were plenty of favourite features that deserved a spot on this list, but this short is indeed a classic and I defy anyone to leave the room once it begins.

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  3. "I was born in the same year as What's Opera, Doc?. Unlike this favorite Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese short, I was not placed on the National Film Registry in 1992."

    Heh. What's Opera Doc is such a fun choice. I haven't seen it since I was a kid but I'd like to watch it again now, especially as I'm more indulgent of Wagner than I was then (I probably only knew Ride of the Valkyries).

    I always expected to dislike The Quiet Man as a piece of phoney Hollywood Oirishness, but it really is a lot of fun and hard to resist.

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    1. I appreciate your comments. Happy National Classic Film Day.

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  4. I really like “12 Angry Men” and time flies when I am immersed in it. It is so thought provoking to show everything from the perspective of the jurors and to realize the biases that can affect critical decision making. I want to see “What’s Opera Doc” again and would have loved hearing you and the young man at that Blockbuster’s that night.

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    1. I know what you mean about 12 Angry Men. I don't want to know it is on if I have things that need doing.

      In my memory we were probably better at the duet than we were in reality, but it was fun.

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  5. I can't believe I've only seen two of your choices. And it is only recently, after my third viewing, that I finally fell in love with The Quiet Man. Looks like I have some new films to add to my watch-list.

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    1. Oh, my goodness! I am proud to have added to what I am sure is an already busting at the seams "to see" list.

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  6. On your list, I've only seen one from beginning to end -- 12 Angry Men. I've been wanting to see The Quiet Man for years, I've heard such good things about it. And I've seen chunks of Shane, but I've never seen it from start to finish, for some reason. I will have to check these out!

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    1. I expect to hear that you have become a big fans of these movies before year's end.

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  7. I am so glad that you included "What's Opera, Doc." Along with "One Froggy Evening" it is probably my all time favourite Warner cartoon. I think too often when we think of movies or films, we think only of feature films and forget all the wonderful short subjects out there! In fact, aside from assorted animated theatrical shorts, there are a few Hal Roach shorts (especially Laurel & Hardy's "The Music Box") that would rank among my favourite films of all time.

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    1. So true. I look back at the delight given by shorts, both live-action and animated, and they deserve to be among the pantheon.

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  8. I love your video store story about “What’s Up, Opera.” I’m a fan of ALL your selections! 12 ANGRY MEN is so timeless...my wife and I were just talking about it yesterday. SHANE is one of the great Westerns and THE QUIET MAN ranks with John Wayne’s very best.

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    1. Thanks. I tried not to fuss too much about it. Thanks for the delicious torture of making a list and for National Classic Film Day.

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  9. Great list Patricia! I love how varied it is :)

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    1. Thanks, Virginie. It is fun to remember these movies.

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  10. Your list is tops. I wish I had been in the video store when you sang along with WHAT'S OPERA DOC?

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    1. Thank you.

      You could have made it a trio, I'll wager. At least throw us a line or two when we drew a blank.

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  11. Nice mix of choices! Shane and the Quiet Man were two also on my mind...not an easy task to zero in on only five from the '50s. What's Opera Doc?...I do no know that one. Now very curious since you (and your singing partner) were inspired to perform in line at Blockbuster.

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    1. What's Opera, Doc? is Chuck Jones at his finest. I really think you'll get a kick out of it.

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  12. Paddy Lee, I really like your list. Also, I would have liked to have been at Blockbuster that day in the 1990's. I have seen these five diamonds several times since the 1960's and I can always watch them.

    I don't think that I could just pick five from the 1950's, because that is such a great decade for movies. I would still have a hard time selecting five in separate categories. Like you, I would probably go with what springs from the mind at first thought. THE SEARCHERS(1956), CALAMITY JANE(1953), DON'T GO NEAR THE WATER(1957), ARTISTS AND MODELS(1955), SOME LIKE IT HOT(1959), and ……

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    1. Walter, I like your off the top of your head list. There is a lot of humor in it, and that speaks to a fine character.

      PS: We would have had fun with you joining in at the Blockbuster.

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  13. I can feel your joy coming through the screen! Wonderful choices and truly reflective of you!

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    1. Thanks. We have certainly got to know each other well over the years.

      Happy National Classic Movie Day.

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  14. I love 12 Angry Men. I used to teach a freshman college writing course on research writing and when I taught about argumentative writing, I used to show this film to my class and we would talk about the way the arguments and counterarguments were set up between the jurors. They enjoyed the film (which is saying a lot about 18 and 19 year olds when it comes to classic films).

    Tam May
    The Dream Book Blog
    https://tammayauthor.com/category/blog

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    1. I love 12 Angry Men too, except Lee J. Cobb was right. The Kid was guilty. y'bunch of bleeding hearts.

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    2. Tam, a true testament to fine and timeless work that you could use 12 Angry Men in the classroom. It would certainly be an eye-opener for young viewers.

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    3. Mayhaps, my friend Rcocean, but they arrived at reasonable doubt.

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  15. Rcocean: So, you're MissPaddyLee
    MissPaddyLee: What's that mean to you, Rcocean?
    Rcocean: I've heard about you.
    MissPaddyLee: What have you heard, Rcocean.
    Rccocean: I heard your Top 5 choices are pretty darn good. In fact, I couldn't do any better, 'cept maybe put "Pillow talk" in there somewhere. And hey, what about a cup of that coffee?

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    1. You don't have to prove anything to me. Pillow Talk would enhance any 1950s movie list.

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  16. Now why am I not surprised to see The Thing? Great picks, CW. I especially like the inclusion of The Quiet Man, certainly one of the best ( and most entertaining ) films of the 1950s. The next event will have to read "Five Favorite John Wayne Films Blogathon" and then I know you will be really happy.

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    1. Have I become preditable? Ha!

      Can you imagine? 5 Fave Duke movies? My head would explode.

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  17. Paddy Lee, this is a fun post. Yes, I most certainly agree with rcocean that PILLOW TALK(1959) should be in there somewhere. Also, TEACHER'S PET(1958).

    Five Fave Duke movies from the 1950's. Hmmm...THE SEARCHERS(1956), THE QUIET MAN(1952), RIO BRAVO(1959), HONDO(1953), and THE WINGS OF EAGLES(1957).

    Now for head exploding. Five Fave Warner Bros. Looney Tunes from the 1950's!

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    1. Nooo! Only 5?! I'll give myself the option of leaving out What's Opera, Doc?

      Duck Amuck, Rabbit Seasoning, Boyhood Daze, Steal Wool, and One Froggy Evening.

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  18. Great choices, Paddy! 12 Angry Men is powerful and made my runner-up list. One of the finest directorial debuts ever. Fonda is the face of the real America or at least the idealized version.

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    1. If Fonda/Fonda's persona is the ideal, it is certainly worth striving toward.

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  19. I came up with 6 movies, not 5. Here is my list in chronological order. 1. PICNIC (1955) with HOLDEN & NOVAK and also BETTY FIELD and ARTHUR OCONNELL. 2. BUS STOP(1956) with MARILYN MONROE,DON MURRAY in his first movie, HOPE LANGE and also FIELD & OCONNELL again. 3. PEYTON PLACE(1957) with LANA TURNER, ARTHUR KENNEDY, LEE PHILIPS, RUSSELL TAMBLYN, BARRY COE, LLOYD NOLAN and also LANGE & FIELD again. BETTY FIELD is in all three. TO BE CONTINUED.

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    1. Many fine actors in those movies.

      I really like the performance of Rosalind Russell in Picnic. I think Rosemary and Howard have a better chance of making a go of things than Madge and Hal, in the long run.

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  20. 4. THE LONG HOT SUMMER(1958) with NEWMAN & WOODWARD. Also ORSON WELLES, ANGELA LANSBURY, ANTHONY FRANCIOSA, LEE REMICK. I also like RICHARD ANDERSON & MABEL ALBERTSON in it. 5. GIDGET(APRIL 10, 1959) with SANDRA DEE, JAMES DARREN & CLIFF ROBERTSON. Plus YVONNE CRAIG. OCONNELL again-this time as the dad of GIDGET. 6. PILLOW TALK(OCTOBER 6, 1959) with HUDSON & DAY. Also TONY RANDALL & THELMA RITTER. All six movies happen to be in color.

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    1. I haven't seen The Long Hot Summer in a long time. Oh, those accents!

      I'm very fond of Gidget, and Pillow Talk. Your list is top-heavy with drama and I'm glad to see the lighter side put in an appearance.

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  21. GAH! I love this idea! I've been thinking that I'd about run out of subjects for my "ten favorite _____" film lists, but I could do them by decade! That would be so fun!

    The other reasons I love this are obvious: Shane and The Quiet Man. John Wayne and Alan Ladd. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 But you knew that already ;-)

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    1. Yes, I did know that already.

      I look forward to your future posts on the subject.

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  22. You're right – it's always best to go with your first instincts. (A method I used on multiple choice questions in high school chemistry, and passed.)

    I'm thrilled you included What's Opera, Doc?

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    1. Thanks.

      Your list was inspired and I have returned to it a couple of times since yesterday.

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  23. I've seen all of these films, but I really must revisit Shane and 12 Angry Men, which I've been surprised to see on so many lists. Clearly it's time for another viewing! Loved that you included Bugs, too.

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    1. A revisit with those two movies will be a pleasure, but you already know that.

      First things that come to mind are often surprising.

      Thanks so much for visiting.

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  24. Caftan Woman, what are some of your favorite DISNEY movies(the live action ones)? There was OLD YELLER with DOROTHY MCGUIRE, TOMMY KIRK, KEVIN CORCORAN, FESS PARKER & BEVERLY WASHBURN.( It came out the same year you were born.) The first two Disney movies HAYLEY MILLS did were POLLYANNA & THE PARENT TRAP. The other ones were IN SEARCH OF THE CASTAWAYS, SUMMER MAGIC, THE MOON SPINNERS and THAT DARN CAT. JOHNNY WHITAKER did 3 movies including THE BISCUIT EATER (a movie about a boy and a dog) with EARL HOLLIMAN, PATRICIA CROWLEY & LEW AYRES. When he was on FAMILY AFFAIR his name was spelled JOHNNIE. He also did a Saturday morning show SIGMUND AND THE SEA MONSTERS with SCOTT KOLDEN. Johnny & Scott played brothers named Johnny & Scott. It had MARY WICKES as the housekeeper.

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    1. Old Yeller and Pollyanna are certainly favourites. I love Swiss Family Robinson and all of the movies with James MacArthur who was an early crush: Third Man on the Mountain, A Light in the Forest, and Kidnapped.

      The comedies with Dean Jones, of course. Blackbeard's Ghost is a "new" favourite because I didn't see it until a couple of years ago.

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  25. Dean Jones did two episodes of MURDER, SHE WROTE. I like the second one the best where he is married to Carrie(KATE MCNEIL) the niece of Jessica. His character was a scientist. Some other guest-stars were MARCIA RODD & KAREN GRASSLE (who played Caroline on LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE). (I remember Marcia from an earlier episode that had to do with strawberry preserves. That one had a clever title KEEP THE HOME FRIES BURNING.) Dean was in the movie BEETHOVEN about a ST. BERNARD. It had CHARLES GRODIN & BONNIE HUNT. He played a veterinarian that was certainly different than his Disney roles. Later he voiced a different character in the Beethoven cartoon(I didn't watch the show.) He voiced the role of George, the family man played by Grodin.

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    1. Keep the Home Fries Burning is one of my favourite Murder, She Wrote episodes. I love the choreography of the ever-moving jam jar.

      I don't believe I've heard of Beethoven, but it is grand to know that Dean Jones kept working.

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  26. In his Disney movies Dean Jones got to work with HAYLEY MILLS, NANCY OLSON, YVETTE MIMIEUX, SANDY DUNCAN, MICHELE LEE, DIANE BAKER & JULIE SOMMARS. These women are still with us. (SUZANNE PLESHETTE, the only one that is deceased, did 3 movies with Dean.) Michele Lee and Sandy Duncan have a musical background. I heard that Michele started out as a dancer. Sandy played PETER PAN (as did Hayley Mills). I remember Sandy from a SCOOBY-DOO episode I saw around 1983. I think most people will remember her from those NABISCO cracker commercials. Also Sandy and Dean were nominated for GOLDEN GLOBES for THE MILLION DOLLAR DUCK. Dean for the lead in a comedy or musical and Sandy for the newcomer award. She also got another GG nom-this time in the lead for THE STAR SPANGLED GIRL. I like reading about the GOLDEN GLOBES better than I do the Oscars because the GGs are not as stuffy and concerned about prestige movies. Do you know the work very well of Sandy and Michele?

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    1. The musical backgrounds of Sandy Duncan and Michele Lee impresses me. I think it is wonderful that Michele played the role she played on Broadway when How to Succeed in Business was made into a movie. I'd love to have been able to add Sandy to the list of actresses I saw in My One and Only. She was one of the Broadway replacements. Both ladies are very talented.

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  27. You threw me for a bit of a loop with a few of your choices although they are stellar! I'm happy it didn't occur to me to consider those WB shorts or I could never have gotten to five finalists. Love it, Paddy. This is a terrific lot that shows the wealth of and depth of movies we could have chosen from. Oh, THE QUIET MAN.

    Aurora
    Once Upon a Screen

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    1. Ta-da! I feel like Hope Emerson in Adam's Rib (throwing you for a loop).

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  28. A great list film and I like the range of films across genres as well. Shane is a fabulous western and I'm a huge fan of 12 Angry Men, which I was close to putting on my own list. I LOVE that you included What's Opera Doc? - we enjoyed a great evening seeing it on screen at the Sydney Opera House accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra. Time for me to watch The Quiet Man again!

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    1. Oh, how wonderful to have seen What's Opera Doc? with live accompaniment! That is a treat I hope I can experience someday.

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  29. From your choices, 12 angry Men is my favorite, with The Quiet Man as a close second. I only haven't watched The Thing from Another World!
    And you certainly made me laugh with everything you wrote about What's Opera, Doc?
    Thanks for the kind comment!
    Kisses!

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    1. My pleasure. What?! Do you mean to tell me you haven't watched The Thing from Another World yet? Well, all in good time, my friend.

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  30. When I was a kid I watched THE BUGS BUNNY/ROAD RUNNER cartoons on CBS on SATURDAY mornings. I remember the singing frog cartoon one very well. Also I remember after I had seen each cartoon at least 3 times they showed one that was new to me. It was where BUGS BUNNY was lost and he ended up at a spooky hotel where there is a vampire. Even though I like Bugs Bunny my favorite one is DAFFY DUCK.

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    1. Daffy cracks me up. He's such an emotional character who can't hide a thing. Bugs is more sly. Those characters formed my sense of humour.

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  31. What do you think of TWEETY & SYLVESTER, PORKY PIG, ELMER FUDD and YOSEMITE SAM? Also I liked the TAZMANIAN DEVIL cartoons. I read on WIKI that there were only five of those. I really like the part of one cartoon that after BUGS BUNNY pretends hes a monkey the TAZMANIAN DEVIL is in a tree and grabs Bugs by the ears, pulls him up and says Why say you monkey when you got powder puff tail like rabbit, RABBIT?

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    1. I remembered later it was what say you monkey(not why say).

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    2. Porky is a particular favourite of mine. Such a versatile character; he could be the lead or great support. Yosemite Sam cracks me up. I really get a kick out of Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog. The physical comedy in those series of shorts really tickle my funny bone.

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