Originally Premiered: February 16, 1952
A hungry cat tries to land hot Christmas meal. His arsenal: everything underneath the tree
The cruel little bird known for his adorable speech impediment was with us before mispronouncing the word “sweetie pie,” earning him the name Tweety.
Tweety’s first appearances
His first cartoon as the cat-foiling character we all know came in Bob Clampett’s A Tale of Two Kitties from 1942. However, back then he was still referred to internally as “Orson,” the original name given to him during a cameo, his real 1st appearance, in Clampett’s WWII short Wacky Blackout made just a few months prior.
Sylvester, originally cast as a reluctant suicidal aid, and Tweety’s first Abbott and Costello inspired victims
As it turns out, not only did Sylvester spend a bit of time without a name as well, he originally starred alongside a suicidal bird, a woodpecker and even Porky Pig. Following Clampett’s departure from the Warner Brother, Friz Freling picked up the Tweety reigns and decided to combine him with his lisping cat in 1947’s “Tweetie Pie” and the two have been synonymous ever since. The duo would go on to win Warner its very first Oscar for an animated short and they even got their own bizarre detective show, The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, which ran for five seasons on the now-defunct WB network.
In this house lies… a ravenous hunger
Finally, we gotta Looney Tunes short up in here! Wish it hadn’t taken so long, since Bugs and Co. have only been represented thus far by the late 70’s shit sandwich, Looney Christmas Tales. Thing is, Warner Bros. cartoons feature plenty of Holiday gags – Bugs dressed like Santa, somebody singing “Jingle Bells” briefly, etc. – but I haven’t found a whole lot of shorts starring the iconic LT gang fully shelled in Christmas.
Obviously, the oversight isn’t due to the rigid criteria of A Cartoon Christmas (we did MST3K for God’s sake!) and it’s about finding the right feel, which is perfectly exemplified by 1952’s Gift Wrapped.
If there’s anything I love more than a wholly Christmas-themed short, it’s one that take place entirely under or around a Christmas tree!
Not only does that mean glorious imagery O’ The Season, it virtually guarantees that all the gags will somehow involve Christmas decorations and stereotyped versions of toys kids don’t even ask for anymore.
Now, it’s not that “Bill O’Reillying” the disappearance of Christmas toy standards (“If a Christmas Tweety cartoon were made today, it’d involve Sylvester getting whacked with a Wii Remote and being strangled by a pair of iPod earbuds – HAYOOO!”) it’s that the generic toys of Xmas are still used in depictions made today. And I love seeing traditional shit like candles, glass balls, and toy trains used in the name of pure violence.
He’ll need a crane
Besides, outside of that, “Gift Wrapped” is a largely by-the-numbers Tweety and Sylvester cartoon. Not that that’s a bad thing… You’ve got bird eating jokes:
Feathers can’t be good for the feline digestive system
Cat eating jokes
The fastest way to a dog’s stomach is through his butt
Who’s selling dynamite to birds?! Terrorists… that’s who
And what the hell, a little bit of gunplay!
AHAHAHA! You’re dead forever
Actually, those last two have been slightly altered, or removed altogether when last they saw television airwaves. One thing, you may never have seen is Sylvester staggering down the stairs after reeling the through a sawed hole in the ceiling:
I don’t think that’s racist?
Other showings have removed Tweety’s “popgun” blast, while some have even excised the “Geronimo” sequence in its entirety, despite being a fairly innocuous, almost childlike depiction of Cowboys and Indians.
Hey, Injuns watch cartoons now too, people
Either way, it all ends with a whipsmart solution from Granny, and the gang comes together to sing “Hark the Herald Angel Sings.”
Although, I’m not sure how she expected to get a rousing vocal performance from her pets like this:
Making bound and gagged people watch you sing is really more of a ritual for serial killers
Other than the carol at the end, none. Although rumors persist that Granny was conceived immaculately.
Say what you will about whether these cartoons were made for kids or adults, the setup wholeheartedly acknowledges the existence of Santa Claus. Unhappy with present (a rubber mouse) Sylvester switches the tags with a far bigger gift (Tweety) addressed to Granny, the only occupant in the house besides Hector the Bulldog.
The perfect crime
And it actually works! Either the old bitch is senile, or this cartoon was visited by Saint Nick!
It’s a fairly standard Tweety and Sylvester joint, although the imagery is unmistakable, plus all the Christmas cheer under the tree gets used as a weapon. Couple that with the wonderful snippets of Holiday standards by composer Carl Stalling, and you’ve got a fantastic piece of Christmas animation that should definitely work its way into your December rotation.
Gift Wrapped is available on Volume Two of the phenomenal Looney Tunes Golden Collection. Sadly, this series has been discontinued and Warner Bros. has been trying their hand at other release formats that don’t stack up to the wonderful features and overall value found on all six editions of the Golden Collection, so I encourage you to pick it up soon if you have any interest whatsoever. They’re currently going for a song, and barring any kind of comprehensive, chronological Looney Tunes release, I guarantee these sets will end up fetching well over $100 once the stock is cleared. The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries – The Complete First Season is also available on DVD, and hey, you can’t go wrong with a Christmas Tweety plushy!
2009’s Dec. 3rd Christmas Special
A WISH FOR WINGS THAT WORK