19 February 2009 | phantom_tollbooth
Stands out from much of Warner Bros. 1960s output
Friz Freleng's Oscar-nominated 'Mouse and Garden' is a nicely orchestrated piece of toing-and-froing which is constantly entertaining. While the Oscar-nomination may have been a bit of an overreaction, Freleng still shows himself to be an old master at timing gags. Sylvester and his supposed pal Sam (voiced by the legendary Daws Butler, doing an impersonation of Stan Freberg's Pete Puma voice) scavenge for food together while constantly attempting to screw the other out of whatever they find. When Sylvester finds a live mouse, the battle is upped to the next level. 'Mouse and Garden' is ultimately a film about friendship and deceit and the detrimental result when the two meet. After suffering the indignity of being paired with intolerable characters like Tweety and Speedy Gonzales for years, it's always good to see Sylvester in a cartoon without either of these twin drag factors. Here, the mouse is more a prop than a character, looking on in mute bewilderment as the two cats cheat themselves out of a meal. The limited animation is effective in evoking the atmosphere of a pier at night and, while Sam is hardly a memorable adversary, the whole cartoon is carried by the false niceties and growing paranoia that eventually defeats the two characters. It might not quite be a classic but 'Mouse and Garden' is a solid, always enjoyable cartoon that stands out from much of the 1960s Warner Bros. output.