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I Just Watched...

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It (2017) - Slightly updated, partial retelling of Stephen King's massive tome, from New Line Cinema and director Andy Muschietti. It's 1988, and a group of young teens in the town of Derry, Maine are terrorized by an otherworldly clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), who can make them see their worst fears. They must band together to stop the fiend before it kills them all. Starring Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Jackson Robert Scott, and Nicholas Hamilton. 

King's novel succeeded in large part due to the nostalgic immersion into Baby Boomer cultural touchstones. The filmmakers decision to update the setting to the late 1980's is understandable in the sense that the follow-up, featuring the adult versions of the characters, will now chronologically fit with modern times. The filmmakers also decide to forgo any excessive wallowing in 1980's pop iconography, with a movie poster here and a song there the only references. That boils the story down to the horror film essentials, and while there's nothing original in the mix, it is well presented, and features a handful of memorable scare moments. The special effects are also largely successful, and Skarsgard is good as the monstrous clown. The filmmakers also made the interesting decision to not explain Pennywise, perhaps leaving that for the sequel. I'd be curious what a first time viewer, with no knowledge of the source novel or the previous 1990 TV mini-series version, thought of the story. 

I recently caught up with the first season of the TV series Stranger Things, which almost certainly had some impact on this film version of It, even going so far as to cast one of the show's leads in this as well. That's not a problem, though, as that kid (Wolfhard) is good in both, and the rest of the cast in this is also terrific, with Lillis, as the sole girl in the group, and the aforementioned Wolfhard, as the foul-mouthed jokester, the stand-outs.  (7/10)

Source: Warner Blu-Ray.

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I watched Don't Bother to Knock on the Fox Movie Channel last night with Richard Widmark, Marilyn Monroe and, in her movie debut, Anne Bancroft plus a supporting cast full of familiar faces like Laurene Tuttle, Jim Backus and Elisha Cook, Jr.  It's early in Monroe's career (1952) and it's a dramatic role about a babysitter (Monroe) with mental problems. The story takes place in a New York hotel where the elevator operator man (Cook) recommends his niece (Monroe) for a babysitting gig.  Of course, because it is Marilyn Monroe, we get a "leg" scene of her lifting her hemline to adjust her stocking and a brief scene of her in her slip after she's worn the kid's mother's negligee.  I'm not a big Monroe fan but she's decent here, stretching her acting muscles.  I like Richard Widmark and he plays a mostly sympathetic character (although he thinks he's going to have some sexy time with Marilyn until he realizes she's off her rocker).  Anne Bancroft plays a singer in the hotel lounge.  She sings a couple tunes (I don't know if she was dubbed or not but it did sound like it could be her voice) and is Richard's true love.  Noreen Corcoran, sister of Disney child actor Kevin and who used to be in the TV show BACHELOR FATHER, is the little girl in danger.  Not a great movie but there is some suspense and it's fairly fast-paced.

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Lawrence-thanks for your opinions about IT (2017). It's been so long since reading the story, I'll be seeing it "fresh" as you suggested. My only recollection is how incredibly good Tim Curry portrayed Pennywise in the first movie, it's burned in my brain. I'll give the new one a go, but am ready to scoff at the new clown portrayal.

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3 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Lawrence-thanks for your opinions about IT (2017). It's been so long since reading the story, I'll be seeing it "fresh" as you suggested. My only recollection is how incredibly good Tim Curry portrayed Pennywise in the first movie, it's burned in my brain. I'll give the new one a go, but am ready to scoff at the new clown portrayal.

Yeah, I was too, as I'm a fan of Curry's, as well. I still liked Curry more, but Skarsgard does a good job. It's presented a bit differently, and the "unnaturalness" of Pennywise is pronounced, via camera angles and subtle CGI tricks.

By the way, the Skarsgard family is seemingly becoming the biggest acting family in Swedish history, it seems. Dad Stellan Skarsgard has been an international star for 40 years, brothers Alexander (True Blood) and Gustaf (Vikings) are TV and film stars, and now Bill as Pennywise. There appears to be one more, Valter Skarsgard, but he hasn't made much if any American stuff.

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8 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Lawrence-thanks for your opinions about IT (2017). It's been so long since reading the story, I'll be seeing it "fresh" as you suggested. My only recollection is how incredibly good Tim Curry portrayed Pennywise in the first movie, it's burned in my brain. I'll give the new one a go, but am ready to scoff at the new clown portrayal.

Skarsgard's portrayal is good--and more importantly, better than Curry's in keeping with the book--it's just the new generation fanboy OBSESSION with the character, at the expense of King's metaphor, that I have problems with.  Given that so much of the fan zeitgeist at the moment seems to be centered around a decidedly subjective appreciation of 12-yo. kids with suburban-neighborhood bikes seeing scary things in the 80's (with all the "Stranger Things" fandom on Netflix, us real kids of the 80's have been telling the new "fake" ones, "Face it, you envy us..."), the It fandom seems to be treating the character as some independent Freddy Kruger--"When are we going to see his backstory?"--and not the book's metaphoric plot idea that the kids are seeing their fears.  Frankly, with so much pop nostalgia, I was surprised the director bothered to do the second Adult half of the book at all.

But, have to admit, director Andy Muschietti did a cracking job of creating a nightmare mood, when the kids see their fears--There are scenes that will literally have you saying "I've had ones like that.  :blink: "  King originally wrote the book because he wanted "the ultimate Universal monster bash", put the kids in his own 50's childhood and had them see the Teenage Wolfman and the Creature From the Black Lagoon, but with 80's kids, the director did a good job updating the imaginary monsters to real psychological fears instead.

11 hours ago, ChristineHoard said:

I watched Don't Bother to Knock on the Fox Movie Channel last night with Richard Widmark, Marilyn Monroe and, in her movie debut, Anne Bancroft plus a supporting cast full of familiar faces like Laurene Tuttle, Jim Backus and Elisha Cook, Jr.  It's early in Monroe's career (1952) and it's a dramatic role about a babysitter (Monroe) with mental problems. 

And the scary effectiveness of it is, she plays them a little too well.  :unsure:  From personal experience growing up, I'm guessing from her bio.

If this had come out in the 90's, it would be passed off as yet another Babysitter-From-Hell movie--but they didn't know what those were in the 40's, so they try to pass it off as "Film noir"--but show this to any fan who wants to symbolically diss Marilyn as a 50's-created dress-flipping airhead.  Her one note of breathy earnestness is absolutely creepy when turned evil.

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19 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

It (2017) - Slightly updated, partial retelling of Stephen King's massive tome, from New Line Cinema and director Andy Muschietti. It's 1988, and a group of young teens in the town of Derry, Maine are terrorized by an otherworldly clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), who can make them see their worst fears. They must band together to stop the fiend before it kills them all. Starring Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Jackson Robert Scott, and Nicholas Hamilton. 

 

 

I saw this back when it first was released in theaters, and the clown (Pennywise) scared me so much that I had to sleep with the lights on for a week. I'm a huge wimp when it comes to "scary" movies (unless they were made in the 50s, then I can handle them). 

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Romance of a Horsethief (1971) - Forgettable European adventure romp, released by Allied Artists and directed by Abraham Polonsky. In circa 1904 Polish Russia, the Czar has tasked Cossack Captain Stoloff (Yul Brynner) with requisitioning all of the horses he can for use in the Russo-Japanese War. This puts him at odds with a local group of Jewish peasants, led by Kifke (Eli Wallach), who trade in stolen horses. Brash young horse thief Zanvill (Oliver Tobias) is the most accomplished of the lot, and while that makes him a target for Stoloff, it doesn't help when Zanvill begins a romance with local noblewoman Naomi (Jane Birkin), just returned from France with revolutionary ideals. Also featuring Lainie Kazan, David Opatoshu, Henri Serre, Linda Veras, Marilu Tolo, and Serge Gainsbourg.

This was scripted by Opatoshu, and based on a novel by his father, a famous Yiddish writer. Opatoshu should be familiar to anyone who watched any television from the 1960's. This movie plays like a mash-up of two other 1971 releases, Fiddler on the Roof and Nicholas & Alexandra, and lacquered in a Tom Jones veneer. Tobias is the lead (he gets an "introducing" credit), and he was a noted theater star in Great Britain at the time. Both he and Birkin get overshadowed when any of their more notable co-stars are on screen, and the cast is unusual. Brynner and Wallach get to relive their Magnificent Seven days, while Kazan and Gainsbourg seem dropped in from another planet.   (5/10)

Source: TCM. The print was lousy, seemingly leftover from the 4:3 VHS release.

MPW-37232

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) This one's a keeper, quirky story reminded me of a Coen Bro's film 8/10

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Been a long time since I've seen it.

"Pet Sematary" (1989) on El Rey

Does anyone wants Steven King preside over our funeral?:lol:

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5 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Romance of a Horsethief (1971) - Forgettable European adventure romp, released by Allied Artists and directed by Abraham Polonsky. In circa 1904 Polish Russia, the Czar has tasked Cossack Captain Stoloff (Yul Brynner) with requisitioning all of the horses he can for use in the Russo-Japanese War.

The thing that struck me from both this & the earlier presentation of The Journey, was the predilection Yul's characters seemed to have for munching on glasses whilst/after drinking from them.

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NickAndNora said:I saw this back when it first was released in theaters, and the clown (Pennywise) scared me so much that I had to sleep with the lights on for a week.

Uh oh, that happened to me after seeing THE SHINING when first released at a theater. Hopefully, watching IT at home on a TV will minimize the scariness. My other "trick" is to fast forward through intense scenes, or just watch it without sound. Tom Savini taught me this-he said you won't be effected by violence as much if watching without sound-you'll then view it as a visual "special effect".

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12 hours ago, NickAndNora34 said:

I saw this back when it first was released in theaters, and the clown (Pennywise) scared me so much that I had to sleep with the lights on for a week. I'm a huge wimp when it comes to "scary" movies (unless they were made in the 50s, then I can handle them). 

There's nothing wimpy about being scared by clowns. It's normal.

While I'm at it it would be much appreciated if people would stop posting pictures of clowns on this thread. Thank you.

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Love Before Breakfast (1936) - Undistinguished romantic comedy from Universal Pictures and director Walter Lang. Scott Miller (Preston Foster) is a wealthy business tycoon who is infatuated with socialite Kay Colby (Carole Lombard). When she becomes engaged to Bill Wadsworth (Cesar Romero), Scott has some strings pulled to get Bill sent to Japan for work. During his absence, Scott sets out to win Kay's affections. Also featuring Janet Beecher, Betty Lawford, Richard Carle, Forrester Harvey, Joyce Compton, and E.E. Clive.

Strictly routine stuff, although seeing Foster as the lead in a rom-com is unusual. Both he and Lombard are good, even if many of the situations would be deemed lawsuit-worthy, if not downright creepy, applied to real-life in the modern world. This is also the second 1936 film I've watched in less than a week where laughs are expected from the female lead getting a black eye.  (6/10)

Source: Universal DVD, part of the Carole Lombard: The Glamour Collection.

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The Murder of Dr. Harrigan (1936) - Quickie B-picture mystery from Warner Brothers/First National and director Frank McDonald. When a hospital administrator who has taken the credit for inventing a new miracle anesthetic goes missing while awaiting surgery, it starts a manhunt throughout the facility, one which uncovers the corpse of the doctor who was slated to perform the operation. The police are called in, and the mystery deepens as the number of suspects grow. Starring Ricardo Cortez, Kay Linaker, John Eldredge, Mary Astor, Joseph Crehan, Frank Reicher, Anita Kerry, Phillip Reed, Robert Strange, Johnny Arthur, Don Barclay, and Mary Treen.

This minor mystery was based on the stories of Mignon G. Eberhart, who wrote a series of tales with Nurse Sarah Keate as the protagonist. However, besides changing the character name to Keating (played by Kay Linaker), she's also made secondary to love interest Cortez as Dr. Lambert, who does all of the case solving. Interestingly, the Nurse Keating role was originally assigned to Mary Astor, who refused it. To punish her, the studio forced Mary to take a lesser supporting role as another nurse. This was one of a dozen or so mysteries released by Warner Brothers in the 30's that were stamped with the "Clue Club" banner.  (6/10)

Source: TCM.

Harrigan-Poster

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The Shape of Water--yikes.  Not an original bone in the entire body, from the 'beauty and the beast'/'creature from the black lagoon' roots to every stereotypical character (why not just call the authority figure Billy Bob Inhuman..)  Ah, the lovely fairy tale romance/fantasy/bloody mayhem formula, and some camera work that looked like they were getting extra pay for another shot, another shot, another shot. Conniving men, voiceless powerless women.   True Love? If she really cared, she would've dumped him in the ocean day one, and not put him through the maudlin ending.  Just my opinion, folks B)

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10 hours ago, limey said:

The thing that struck me from both this & the earlier presentation of The Journey, was the predilection Yul's characters seemed to have for munching on glasses whilst/after drinking from them.

Yeah, I guess it must be a "Russian thing", limey.

They ARE noted for doing some rather strange stuff, ya know.

(...but what say we leave current events out'a this for now) ;)

 

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Expensive Women (1931) - Dolores Costello and Warren William.  A rather interesting precode featuring Costello prior to her semi-retirement (she made very few pictures after that -- The Magnificent Ambersons being the most notable).  She is certainly one of the most beautiful actresses I've ever seen, with this note of melancholy in those great blue eyes, underlying the "party girl" surface.  Apparently, this was Warren William's first talkie, and in my opinion, her character should have stuck with him throughout (their scenes together are delightful), rather than succumbing to the weak charms of an upper crust English scion who is dominated by his father, who tells  her that she'll never marry his son because she isn't "clean."  The movie also involves a contrived "murder" plot.  This is a very sexually honest movie;, it's suggested that she sleeps with William the night they meet and then with young Brit cipher, who claims he loves her.  Yet -- spoiler alert -- she still ends up, unpunished, with a good man by the end.  If the movie were made 5 years later, she would have had to die of consumption or throw herself under a train or something.  Some great support by Polly Walters as flapper who talks almost nonstop.  Not a great movie, but I can't resist a precode, or Warren William.  I also thought Costello was a very fine and underrated actress.   It would have been interesting to have seen her in more films in the 30s.

 

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Poppy (1936) - Comedy from Paramount Pictures and director A. Edward Sutherland. Professor McGargle (W.C. Fields) and his young ward Poppy (Rochelle Hudson) are traveling entertainers and con artists. They arrive in a small town where Poppy falls in love with local mayor's son Billy (Richard Cromwell). Things turn sour when McGargle decides to pass Poppy off as an heiress to claim a fortune. Also featuring Catherine Doucet, Lynne Overman, Granville Bates, Maude Eburne, Bill Wolfe, Adrian Morris, and Rosalind Keith.

Tom recently wrote at length about this film, so I don't have much to add. I think I may have liked it a bit more than he did, but I was also unfamiliar with the earlier version of the story. There were a handful of laugh-out-loud moments for me, such as the musical performance with the rolling hat, and some good one-liners. I also liked Hudson, and enjoyed her big tellin'-'em-all-off scene.   (7/10)

Source: Universal DVD, part of the WC Fields: Comedy Favorites Collection.

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The Princess Comes Across (1936) - Enjoyable comedy/mystery/romance from Paramount Pictures and director William K. Howard. Carole Lombard stars as "Princess Olga", a Brooklyn-bred actress pretending to be Swedish royalty in order to win a part in a movie. She and her companion (Alison Skipworth) are traveling to the US on board a luxury liner named The Princess, which is where she meets concertina player King Mantell (Fred MacMurray) and his companion (William Frawley). When a would-be blackmailer ends up dead, Olga and King are the prime suspects, so they team up to find the real culprit. Also featuring Douglass Dumbrille, Mishca Auer, George Barbier, Lumsden Hare, Porter Hall, Sig Ruman, Bradley Page, and Tetsu Komai.

Lombard does a broad Greta Garbo take-off to much amusement, and she and MacMurray are good together in their second outing as co-stars. The excellent supporting cast adds a lot of flavor, making for a fun, lightweight movie.  (7/10)

Source: Universal DVD, part of the Carole Lombard: The Glamour Collection.

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THE SECRET OF NIMH (1982)

This is a Don Bluth animated movie; I am a fan of his Anastasia and The Pebble and the Penguin and this was next on my list. It centers around a widow mouse named Mrs. Brisby (I don't believe you ever hear her first name) who has 4 children: 1 of whom is very sick and can't be moved, which proves difficult when the frost is over (spring has sprung) on the farm where they live and the farmer is going to start plowing the field. Brisby has a talk with the "Great Owl" (and lives to tell the tale, no less), who tells her to seek help from the rats in the rosebush (who just so happen to have escaped a testing facility in which they have become extremely intelligent after being test subjects).

A cute movie overall. I think Hermione Baddeley's "Auntie Shrew" was hysterically dramatic, and Dom DeLuise was endearing as the clumsy raven, Jeremy. 

Score: 3/5 

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Never Too Young to Die (1986) - Ridiculous, entertaining trash from Paul Entertainment and director Gil Bettman. Lance Stargrove (John Stamos) is a college student and gymnast who resents his absentee father (George Lazenby). However, when the old man ends up dead, young Lance learns that his father was secretly a James Bond-esque secret agent for the US government. Lance teams up with his father's former co-worker Danja (Vanity) to catch his dad's killer - the maniacal hermaphrodite Velvet Von Ragner (Gene Simmons), a heavy metal cabaret singer and cult/gang leader determined to poison the local water supply with toxic waste. Also featuring Peter Kwong, John Anderson, Ed Brock, Tara Buckman, Curtis Taylor, Branscombe Richmond, and Robert Englund.

This weird mash-up of 80's action genres is silly, stupid, and very amusing. No explanation is given as to why Simmons' gang all dress like extras from Mad Max, even driving vehicles with animal skulls attached to the hoods. All the cliches and ingredients are present: lots of guns in a wide variety of shapes and firing rates; a large assortment of motor vehicles, most of which will be shown crashing at least once; random stuff blowing up real good with attendant giant fire balls; and women with big hair. Speaking of big hair, Vanity is perhaps at the peak of her attractiveness, and fans of hers will find much to enjoy, especially during her over-the-top seduction scene. I was surprised to see ubiquitous 60's TV fixture John Anderson show up, while Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund is only onscreen for a few minutes as the bad guy's computer expert. Peter Kwong gets an "introducing" credit as Stamos' tech wiz college roommate and Q stand-in. This same year Kwong made a bigger impression as one of the bad guys in Big Trouble in Little China. The real star of this turkey is Simmons, though. The sometime singer and bass player for the band KISS, Simmons outdoes himself in a crazy role that starts over-the-top and continues to climb higher. On a "serious" quality scale, this earns a 3/10, but on a so-bad-its-good scale, it's an easy 8/10.

Sample dialogue:

"Oh, no! Not the finger!"

"Give us the RAM-K before we tenderize your butt!"

"Hey tomato! Here's a grape tomato!" (as a man is assaulted with a small tomato)

Source: TCM.

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That's odd, as George Lazenby played James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service!

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Bugs Bunny and The Three Bears (1944).

A 7 minute Merrie Melodies joy, a hilarious parody of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, with Bugs substituting for Goldie and the three bears, of course, unlike anything to be found in the original fairy tale.

Chuck Jones, who directed it, was evolving at this stage in his career, from some earlier sentimental cartoons into animated shorts that were increasingly character based. And that's one of the great attributes of this effort, the distinct individual characterizations of the three bears, along with that of wise hare Bugs. There's short, volatile Papa Bear, quiet, seemingly more repressed Mama Bear (boy will that change!) and big, dopey Junyor Bear. This cartoon was so successful that it would lead to a couple of other cartoons featuring this same bear family.

Aside from the cleverness of Tedd Pierce's writing and, of course, the brilliance of the animators, wonderfully capturing subtle facial reactions, there are the voice artists who make dominant contributions to this cartoon. The legendary Mel Blanc voices Bugs, of course, as well as Papa Bear, while character actress Bea Benaderet is hysterical as the Mama Bear who develops a real case of the hots for Bugs, who, in turn, is desperately squirming to escape her passionate paws. Interestingly Wikipedia says that dopey Junyor was voiced by Kent Rogers, rather than the often credited Stan Freberg. Yet the Warners DVD release of the cartoon has a second audio track by Freberg in which he talks about his experience in playing Junyor Bear on this Bugs classic. I'll take Freberg's word on the DVD over Wiki on this one.

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1 hour ago, TomJH said:

Bugs Bunny and The Three Bears (1944).

Chuck Jones, who directed it, was evolving at this stage in his career, from some earlier sentimental cartoons into animated shorts that were increasingly character based.

Interestingly Wikipedia says that dopey Junyor was voiced by Kent Rogers, rather than the often credited Stan Freberg. Yet the Warners DVD release of the cartoon has a second audio track by Freberg in which he talks about his experience in playing Junyor Bear on this Bugs classic. I'll take Freberg's word on the DVD over Wiki on this one.

Chuck claimed his first "funny" cartoon was 1942's "The Draft Horse", which would have predated 1943's Private Snafu by a year.  So yes, he was just getting the hang of this "comic timing" thing, unlike 1940's "Good Night, Elmer", which has the reputation of being THE unfunniest Warner cartoon ever made.  ("Old Glory" was a PSA and doesn't count.)

And I'll take Freberg's word for it too, even though voice artists sometimes have to stretch the truth about their credits or imitation-gag sources.  BTW, pretty sure that Billy Bletcher (Mickey Mouse's Pete) was Papa Bear and Bea Benederet as Mama in the later cartoons, but not sure who's playing it here--Think that's still Mel Blanc as Papa at this point.

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2 minutes ago, EricJ said:

Chuck claimed his first "funny" cartoon was 1942's "The Draft Horse", which would have predated 1943's Private Snafu by a year.  So yes, he was just getting the hang of this "comic timing" thing, unlike 1940's "Good Night, Elmer", which has the reputation of being THE unfunniest Warner cartoon ever made.  ("Old Glory" was a PSA and doesn't count.)

And I'll take Freberg's word for it too, even though voice artists sometimes have to stretch the truth about their credits or imitation-gag sources.  BTW, pretty sure that's Billy Bletcher (Mickey Mouse's Pete) as Papa Bear, but not sure who's playing Mama--Bea Benederet was only in the later cartoons.

According to Stan Freberg in the Warner DVD audio track, it was Blanc and Benederet in Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears. He ought to know.

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