From A to Z-Z-Z-Z
Directed byCharles M. Jones
Written byMichael Maltese
Produced byEdward Selzer
(uncredited)
StarringDick Beals
Mel Blanc
Norman Nesbitt
Music byCarl Stalling
Animation byKen Harris
Lloyd Vaughan
Ben Washam
Layouts byMaurice Noble
Backgrounds byPhilip DeGuard
Color processTechnicolor
Production
company
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • October 6, 1954 (1954-10-06)
Running time
7 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

From A to Z-Z-Z-Z is a 1954 Warner Bros. Looney Tunes animated cartoon short directed by Chuck Jones.[1] The short was released on October 16, 1954, and stars Ralph Phillips.[2]

Written by Michael Maltese and produced by Edward Selzer, it was animated by Ken Harris, Lloyd Vaughan and Ben Washam.[3] Voice actors Dick Beals,[4] Mel Blanc[3] and Norman Nesbitt[3] were uncredited. Sources are divided whether the uncredited teacher was voiced by Bea Benaderet.[4]

The short was nominated for "Best Short Subject, Cartoons" at the 1954 Academy Awards.[3]

Ralph appears in a sequel cartoon, Boyhood Daze, released in 1957.[5]

Plot

The cartoon begins with an exterior shot of an elementary school classroom. Through the windows, schoolchildren are visible at their desks. They are learning arithmetic by rote. The main character, Ralph Phillips, is bored with this lesson; on seeing a bird outside, he imagines that he is free to use his arms and legs to propel himself through the air.

Miss Wallace interrupts this daydream and sends Ralph to the blackboard to add a column of numbers. He is so intimidated by the problem, he fantasizes that the numbers come to life and laugh at him. He appears as a chalk drawing on the blackboard, sneaks toward the numbers and removes the line above where the sum should be; the numbers (having no support) collapse. A 5 suddenly stands up, using a 4 as a sword and Ralph fights it using the line as a weapon. Ralph sticks the line into the 5, defeating it. The other numbers get up and give chase. Ralph takes the capital D and Y from the alphabet row above and uses them to make a bow and arrow; he fires at an 8, destroying it. He then takes the dot from both the lowercase i and j and loads them into the i. He then uses the i as a weapon similar to a shotgun.

Miss Wallace brings Ralph back to reality and sends him out to mail a letter. He responds by becoming a Pony Express courier who braves a horde of Indians on what becomes his desert journey.

Back in the classroom, he finds the geography lesson tedious until the sight of a fish in an aquarium triggers his next daydream — as a deep-sea diver, without gear, who kills a shark which is guarding an immobilized submarine. He then lifts the submarine, allowing it to float freely to safety (on board is Miss Wallace dressed as a nurse; she holds up a sign reading, "Oh, thank you, thank you, Ralph!"). As Ralph is acknowledging this, an octopus tentacle grabs him around his throat; this turns out to be Miss Wallace escorting him by his shirt into the corner, for not paying attention during class.

This, however, does not stop him from turning the classroom into a boxing ring where he knocks out the champ. As he is celebrating this, the scene segues back into the classroom, where the boxing ring bell turns out to be the classroom bell. The children have all left for the day and Miss Wallace tells Ralph he may go too. As he is walking from the room, Ralph imagines himself as a striding Douglas MacArthur and repeats the general's most famous line: "I shall return."

Reception

Darrell Van Citters writes, "Of all the Warner Bros. directors, Chuck Jones seems to have relied least on conventional formulas for his story material. Part of this was probably due to his personal preferences and part of it was due to his ace story man, Mike Maltese... Credit goes to Maltese for suggesting such a gentle cartoon in a studio that relied heavily on adversarial relationships in its films, and credit to Jones for agreeing to make it. It also provided rich material for production designer Maurice Noble's vision of the role of animation design in a cartoon. For a film to work as well as this one does means that the material has to resonate with all members of the creative team."[5]

Home media

This short is included on Disc 2 of the Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 1 DVD and Blu-ray Disc sets.

References

  1. ^ Beck, Jerry; Friedwald, Will (1989). Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons. Henry Holt and Co. p. 266. ISBN 0-8050-0894-2.
  2. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. pp. 100–102. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d "From A to Z-Z-Z-Z". BCDB.com. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  4. ^ a b Ralph Phillips at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on November 4, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Beck, Jerry, ed. (2020). The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes Cartoons. Insight Editions. pp. 2–3. ISBN 978-1-64722-137-9.