SUMMARY: Spike the dog gets a job looking after the house of a hibernating bear. The problem is that the bear is violently opposed to noise and Spike happens to have an exploitative rival.
WHY IT’S HERE: ‘Rock-a-Bye Bear’, for my money, is one of the most gut-bustingly hilarious cartoons Tex Avery ever directed. Though not generally considered among his classics, ‘Rock-a-Bye Bear’ still makes me roar with laughter every time I see it. Similar in theme to the classic Tom and Jerry short ‘Quiet Please’, ‘Rock-a-Bye Bear’ features a dog trying desperately not to wake up a violent-tempered hibernating bear. The bear, who apparently can’t stand noise, is actually one of the loudest characters ever animated, a classic comedy contrast that Avery exploits to characteristic extremes. This cartoon also features the most successful example of a gag that Avery would return to again and again in other cartoons, in which a character is forced to run backwards and forwards to a safe hiding place in order to let out a loud noise. Avery made cartoons with greater technical flourishes and more unusual moods but ‘Rock-a-Bye Bear’ is perhaps the quintessential example of his skill for comedic extremes.