Shrunken Cinema/Termite Terrace/Fast and Furryous

From Eccentric Flower

Fast and Furry-ous

1948

Summary: The coyote tries to catch the road runner.

Director: Chuck Jones

Writer: Michael Maltese

Featuring: Wile E. Coyote.

Onreel

0:20 Sound cue: "Dance of the Comedians" from "The Bartered Bride" by Smetana. This is pretty much used throughout, except during the cues noted below.

0:44 Road Runner: Accelleratii incredibus.

1:04 Coyote: Carnivorous vulgaris.

4:44 Sound cue for the refrigerator sequence: "Winter," Albert Gumble.

5:17 Sound cue when the refrigerator reactivates: "Jingle Bells."

6:02 Sound cue as they hit the highway cloverleaf: "I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover."

Offreel

Road Runner Gag List

This is the very first Road Runner cartoon. Chuck Jones intended this to be a one-shot, which is why there is a three-year-plus gap between this and the next, Beep Beep. Fan response to this cartoon convinced him to bring the characters back.

Unlike other star characters in these cartoons, Wile E. ("wily") Coyote and Road Runner essentially begin fully formed - what you see in their very first outing is pretty much the same thing you see in any of their other outings; there isn't any evolution to speak of. There are only a few minor signs that this is the first Road Runner cartoon: 1) not all of the coyote's props come from the Acme company (thus breaking rule 7 below), 2) The Road Runner occasionally inflicts active damage (breaking rule 1 below) 3) the backgrounds in this cartoon and Beep Beep, done by Robert Gribbroek, are more realistic-looking desert scenes than the steadily-more-abstract later ones, mostly done by Maurice Noble.

In at least one interview, and possibly also in Chuck Amuck, Jones states that the inspiration for the coyote was the description of same in Mark Twain's Roughing It, where, among other things, the coyote is described as "a long, slim, sick and sorry-looking skeleton" that is "a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry."

Some pages flat-out say that the Road Runner's "beep beep" was voiced by artist Paul Julian. IMDb offers the following alternate theory, which you may take or leave:

"The Road Runner's only vocabulary, 'Beep, Beep!,' was inspired by background artist Paul Julian who would make the sound while rushing down the hallways of the animator's offices. For this short, the sound effect was produced by Treg Brown who used an electronic horn called a Klaxon. When the gadget disappeared, Mel Blanc mimicked the sound for the second Road Runner short .... That sound effect became the standard for all Road Runner cartoons thereafter."

The coyote only speaks in cartoons which do not involve the Road Runner (rule 4 below).

I list the coyote as the only star character in these cartoons. I've never been able to find much of a personality in the Road Runner, who seems to be more of a mobile plot device than anything else; also, because the coyote does occasionally appear in cartoons which do not involve the Road Runner, it's useful to have a listing for him on the Characters page, whereas it's not very useful to give the Road Runner a listing of his own. If you'd like to find the Road Runner cartoons, just go to the character page and find all the Wile E. Coyote cartoons that don't say (vs. Bugs) or (vs. Sam) after them.

The Road Runner Universe

In Chuck Amuck a set of rules for the universe of these cartoons is referred to. These were probably just an on-the-spot creation of Jones' (Chuck Amuck is a lovely book, but is known to play fast and loose with the truth), but since they do seem to be pretty close to the actual practice, they are worth a mention here.

  1. Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going "beep, beep."
  2. No outside force can harm the Coyote - only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products.
  3. The Coyote could stop anytime - if he were not a fanatic.
  4. No dialogue ever, except "beep, beep" and yowling in pain.
  5. Road Runner must stay on the road - for no other reason than that he's a roadrunner.
  6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters - the southwest American desert.
  7. All tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.
  8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote's greatest enemy.
  9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.
  10. The audience's sympathy must remain with the Coyote.
  11. The Coyote is not allowed to catch the road runner.

These rules do occasionally get bent - for example an occasional truck or train collision breaks rule 2 - but on the whole, they correctly define this tiny, hermetic universe. The amazing thing about the twenty-four Road Runner cartoons* directed by Jones is that they manage to consistently remain entertaining (and sometimes surprising) even though they are effectively required, by the rules, to do the same thing over and over and over.

* One of those 24 cartoons is a half-hour piece called "Adventures of the Road-Runner" which was intended as a television pilot. When the pilot failed, the material was used to make three cartoons: To Beep or Not to Beep, "Zip Zip Hooray," and "Road-Runner a Go-Go." I don't count those three individually. For a full breakdown, try this page.

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