257. The Hypo-chondri-cat – Chuck Jones

song-of-the-prairie

SUMMARY: Hubie and Bertie convince Claude Cat that he is seriously ill.

WHY IT’S HERE:I’ve always been a big fan of black comedy so it’s hardly surprising that Chuck Jones’s Hubie and Bertie cartoons are amongst my favourite Warner creations. These fantastic shorts tackled such dark subjects as mental illness and attempted suicide but ‘The Hypo-chondri-cat’ is the grimmest of all, focusing on the big one; death itself. Pitted against their regular rival Claude Cat, a neurotic mess of a feline, the sadistic mice set about convincing him that he is fatally ill. This results in a terrific, nightmarishly surreal scene in which Claude visualizes himself being pursued by surgical equipment as he listens to Hubie and Bertie preparing to operate. When he comes round again is when the cartoon gets really cruel as the mice convince a terrified Claude that he didn’t survive the operation. It’s all very macabre but also hilarious in a deliciously sick way. The cartoon ends on a peaceful but troubling note with Claude still totally unaware he’s not dead. With such dark subject matters, it’s hardly surprising Hubie and Bertie didn’t catch on with a 40s and 50s audience but these cartoons remain incredibly interesting and entertaining forgotten classics that give us a glimpse into the darker side of Warner animation. Riot!

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