Chuck Jones Program #1: Magnificent Obsessions | Chicago Reader

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The first in a series of eight programs assembled by the Film Center to honor the legendary animator Chuck Jones. Though these animated shorts have long been shown on TV, they were made for the big screen: Jones's art depends on establishing and then disrupting space and rhythm, and you have to be drawn into his illusionistic setups to experience the full effect. In the 11 cartoons on this program, made between 1949 and '63 (including some of his best), characters pursue their obsessions to the point of absurdity, their frustration growing into a kind of eternal hopelessness. The squirrel in Much Ado About Nutting (1953) finds a coconut, and when he finally succeeds in cracking it open, he finds only another shell. In the hilarious The Hypochondri-Cat (1950) two mice try to rid their house of its hypochondriacal cat, which turns whatever color the mice claim it is—including plaid. Duck! Rabbit! Duck! (1953) is one of three Jones cartoons in which Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny each try to persuade hunter Elmer Fudd that it's open season on the other, eventually driving him mad when he concludes that it's “baseball season.” And at the end of To Beep or Not to Beep (1963), one of the most sadistic Road Runner cartoons, Wile E. Coyote's backfiring catapult is revealed to be “Built by Road Runner Mfg. Co.” All are in 35-millimeter, most are in excellent, seldom-screened studio prints. 85 min.

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