Witch Hazel vs. Witch Hazel

Trick or Treat

 

Broom-Stick Bunny

(Embedding doesn’t seem to work with this one 😦 Please click the link to watch.)

Here’s a good example of why I prefer Warner Bros. cartoons over Disney ones. These two cartoons both feature the phenomenal June Foray as a Halloween witch, one good, and one not-so-good.

The first cartoon is another Donald Duck comeuppance, and it has a generally kind, kid-friendly tone. The Witch Hazel in Trick or Treat is a happy-go-lucky sort who admires the costumes of Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and despises Donald’s stinginess and pranks. She helps the boys take revenge in a very unusual manner. There’s an impressive explosion when she prepares her brew, but overall there’s not a whole lot of excitement in the episode. It’s just a happy, bouncy jaunt, very much like its soft and snappy theme song. It’s all very professionally packaged, with no sharp edges to cut yourself on. John Kricfalusi calls Disney animation “feminine,” and this cartoon certainly feels that way.

Broom-Stick Bunny, on the other hand, is something else. It’s balls-out zaniness, from its crooked, technicolor backgrounds to its witty and perfectly delivered dialogue. Of course, it’s a Chuck Jones joint, so what else would you expect?

Jones’s Witch Hazel is much more than just a cheerful old potion-maker. Foray puts on a tour-de-force performance here, expressing joy, vanity, insecurity, giddiness, impatience, jealousy, and despair all in the space of seven minutes. Feminists might balk at the characterization, but everyone else will find her hilarious. It’s hard not to like a villain like this, who sings sweetly to herself, leaves clouds of hairpins in her wake, and is always on the edge of a real belly-laugh. Of course, Mel Blanc is terrific too, as both Bugs and the bored-looking genie in the mirror, but this is really Hazel’s show.

My absolute favorite moment in the cartoon is when Hazel reveals her intent to add Bugs to her brew, and the two characters collide with a brilliant musical sting:

bugsandhazel

I love the lines here! Hazel is so far up in Bugs’s grill that he should tip over. The rigid poses are perfect for the tense situation. Best of all, though, is Hazel’s face! Instead of the expected expression of open hostility, she wears one of hardly-contained glee, and it fits perfectly with her character.

Comparing these two Witch Hazel adventures on a purely technical level, I’d say that Disney comes out looking like the superior studio. Broom-Stick Bunny looks rough and simple when put next to the silky-smooth, always-on-model motion of Trick or Treat. But where Disney is the faultless father, Warner Bros. is the fun uncle, and Broom-Stick is the cartoon I’d rather watch. It’s wonderfully written, creatively designed, and tremendously voiced. It also ends with one of the funniest twists in cartoon history. No one does cartoon comedy like Chuck Jones, and this is one of the crown jewels in his body of work.

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Author: lisvender

Writer and animator in Central California.

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