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Western Animation / Bad Luck Blackie

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"One of the most perfect cartoons ever made."
Chuck Jones, praising his mentor's film.

Bad Luck Blackie is a 1949 animated cartoon produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, directed by Tex Avery.

The short involves an innocent little kitten being bullied by a cruel bulldog. After enduring his slapstick torment the kitten escapes into an alley, and meets a cigar-smoking alley cat with black fur. The cat offers to protect the kitten by crossing the dog's path and causing him bad luck whenever the kitten blows on a whistle. The rest of the short involves the Amusing Injuries that befall the cruel dog as the kitten uses his newly-found protection to his full advantage.


  • Amusing Injuries: Part of the Laser-Guided Karma the dog suffers for his cruelty entails all sorts of comical injuries with effects that vanish by the next scene in service to the Rule of Funny. For example, the second flower pot raises a lump on his head (causing several flowers to sprout from the remnants of the pot), but it is gone seconds later. When he is hit by a falling piano and knocked unconscious, the kitten opens his mouth like the lid of a grand piano and plays a (mistake-riddled) rendition of "Yankee Doodle" on his teeth as if they were keys before slamming the "lid"; the dog is back to normal in the next scene.
  • Annoying Laugh: The dog has two, provided by Tex Avery himself. The main one is a goofy belly laugh, but a couple times he also emits a wheezy snicker that predates Muttley. And at the very end, the kitten gives the same wheezy snicker.
  • Anvil on Head: All manner of heavy objects fall on the dog's head when the black cat crosses his path; the good old-fashioned anvil is saved for when the kitten jumps into a can of black paint and crosses the dog's path to save the (formerly) black cat from his wrath.
  • Ash Face: Exaggerated. When a bomb goes off on the dog's face, all that's left is a charred empty outline where his head used to be.
  • Balloonacy: The cat uses a balloon to fly by the dog when he is up on top of a telephone pole (unusually, not accompanied by "Comin' Thro' the Rye", but by Juventino Rosas' "Over the Waves" waltz). What the dog gets after that is a lit bomb.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Seeing that the formerly-black cat is about to receive a whopping from the bulldog, the kitten repays the former for all the times he's saved his life and the latter for all the times he's put him through hell by painting himself black and crossing the bulldog's path, at which point an anvil to fall from the sky and onto the bulldog's head, causing him to release the cat and swallow the whistle.
  • Bully Brutality: Most of the attempts at bullying the bulldog performs involve trying to smash the kitten with heavy objects and in a couple of occasions trying to blow him up.
  • Bully Bulldog: The first act of the cartoon involves the bulldog mercilessly tormenting the kitten - tossing him up in the air and pretending to hold out a cushion for him to land on before pulling it away at the last minute, giving him a dish of cream with a mousetrap hidden at the bottom, squashing him between two books - all for the sake of his own amusement. He gets his Laser-Guided Karma, though.
  • Bully Hunter: The black cat's response to the dog's bullying is to deliberately cause him bad luck.
  • Butt-Monkey: The dog spends the second act with random objects falling on his head courtesy of the black cat crossing his path, all because of his bullying habits.
  • Cartoon Bomb: Guess who gets to have one blow up in his face.
  • Cats Are Magic: At least when they're black and bring instantaneous bad luck by crossing someone's path.
  • Cats Are Mean: Inverted. It's the dog that is. Though, at the very end, once the kitten becomes the black cat, he gives off the same evil laughter as the dog before.
  • Cat Stereotype: It plays around with the idea of the bad-luck black cat.
  • Cranial Eruption: The dog gets one the second time he gets hit with a flowerpot; the flowers bloom as the bump rises.
  • Cute Kitten: Ridiculously so, even.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: What we have is a black cat who defends the weak.
  • Dashingly Dapper Derby: Or Dastardly Dapper Derby, depending on how you look at the black cat.
  • Determinator: Even with his bad luck, that dog just won't quit. Drop flower pots, pianos, steamer trunks, cash registers, Cartoon Bombs, safes, or piles of bricks on him, and he'll still go after first the kitten, then the black cat.
  • Flower-Pot Drop: A flowerpot is the first thing that falls on the bulldog's head. Larger and more unlikely objects soon follow.
  • Forcibly Formed Physique:
    • Occurs when the titular Blackie comes out of a drainage pipe with his body round, thin, and elongated. How he managed to get his head and a unicycle through that pipe without effect, however, is anyone's guess.
    • This is just one of may examples throughout the cartoon. Others include the kitten being squeezed between two sets of books into the shape of a book, the bulldog squeezing under a dresser and coming out a flat rectangle, and the bulldog trapped in a jagged shape after bricks fall on him to form a wall.
  • Good Luck Charm: Subverted. The dog has a lucky horseshoe for one confrontation, but when he tosses it up in the air, it lands back on his head. Followed by three more horseshoes. And then the horse.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: The bulldog eventually neutralises the black cat's bad luck by painting him white, and begins to deliver a payback beatdown onto him. The kitten however rectifies this by painting itself black, making itself The Jinx and able to dispose of the dog itself.
  • Illogical Safe: When the dog steals the whistle and hoists a safe high into the air to drop on the black cat, the black cat nonchalantly redirects the safe by sliding the X the dog has painted onto the sidewalk under the dog's own feet. When the safe lands, the furious dog opens the top (which now sports an Impact Silhouette) rather than the front, but he is still unharmed.
  • Impact Silhouette: The dog's face is imprinted on the safe that falls on him.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: By the end of the short, the dog is still running... away from anything else that tries to fall on top of him.
  • iSophagus: After the dog swallows the whistle, every time he hiccups, the whistle blows and something falls on him. This sort of breaks the rules that the short had been following in the first place, as now it's the ''whistle'' giving the dog bad luck, but with Avery shorts Rule of Funny is always being invoked.
  • Jerkass: The bulldog.
  • The Jinx: The black cat actually uses this to help other cats in need.
  • Just Whistle: And the dog will suffer. After a brief demonstration of his powers to bring bad luck by crossing someone's path, the black cat gives the kitten a whistle and says to blow it if he needs help.
  • Karmic Trickster: The black cat has apparently made a profession out of this.
  • Killer Rabbit: When the kitten starts fighting back he becomes one, especially once he paints himself black.
  • Kitchen Sink Included: Because Tex Avery, duh— although notably the invoking phrase doesn't come up.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The dog deserved every last bit of bad luck that was bestowed upon him.
  • Leitmotif: The traditional Scottish folk tune "Comin' Thro' the Rye" is used to represent the black cat.
  • Made of Iron: The dog. Even with his staggering injury count, he doesn't die in the end (although he probably wishes he did).
  • My Card: When the kitten flees into an alley and the black cat accurately guesses "dog trouble", the latter hands over a business card reading "Black Cat Bad Luck Company. Paths crossed — Guaranteed bad luck".
  • The Not Catch: The bulldog tosses the kitten into the air and grabs a chair cushion to catch him... only to pull it away at the last moment and laugh.
  • Passing the Torch: The cat gives the kitten his bowler hat as a symbol that he's now the new black cat in town.
  • Pun-Based Title:
    • The title was based on Boston Blackie, a popular radio show at the time.
    • Early on in the cartoon, the kitten, hiding on a bookshelf, is squashed into book-shape; when the dog pulls the kitten out, we see the title, Kitty Foiled — a pun on the popular novel Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of a Woman by Christopher Morley, made into a popular movie in 1940. Interestingly, there was also made a 1948 Tom and Jerry cartoon called Kitty Foiled, made a year before this cartoon came out.
  • Rule of Funny: The ending most of all; the universe has apparently undergone Pavlovian conditioning after the black cat's torment and now automatically drops heavy objects on the bulldog when he blows the whistle, black cat or no black cat.
  • Serial Escalation: Every time Blackie crosses the dog's path, the objects that fall on him get bigger and more ridiculous. We start with flowerpots and a steamer trunk, build up to a safe and a pile of bricks, and climax with a steamroller, an aeroplane, a bus, and a battleship.
  • Shadow of Impending Doom: Particularly visible at the end when the bulldog has swallowed the whistle. Each time he hiccups and blows the whistle, a shadow appears where he is standing, forcing him to run for his life before something heavy falls out of the sky.
  • Schmuck Bait: The kitten comes across a box with the words 'Curiosity killed the cat'. Sure enough, upon opening it, the bulldog comes out as a scary jack-in-the-box, scaring the kitten into dropping the whistle.
  • Shout-Out: Several to MGM's signature cartoon series, Tom and Jerry.
    • The opening shot is a perfect recreation of the opening shot of the first Jasper and Jinx—er, Tom and Jerry short "Puss Gets the Boot."
    • When the dog pushes the books into the kitten, the kitten's newfound cover reads "Kitty Foiled." (The title of which was itself a reference to the 1939 novel and 1940 film Kitty Foyle.)
    • Additionally, the famous Tom scream is used in this short.note 
  • Squashed Flat: The bulldog is flattened out by a falling trunk that forces him against a set of stairs, forcing him into the shape of the steps.
  • Superstition Episode: It's a one-shot, but the short is about a kitten who enlists the help of a black cat to give bad luck to the bulldog that kept tormenting it. The bulldog even tries another superstition to counter the black cat's bad luck by carrying a horseshoe for good luck. (Which fails hilariously when he throws the horsehoe into the air and it lands on his head. Followed by another three horseshoes and a confused-looking horse.)
  • That Russian Squat Dance: One of the ways Blackie crosses the dog's path (and one of a few times we don't hear "Comin' Thro' the Rye"; Johannes Brahms' Hungarian Dance No.5 plays instead).
  • Wild Take: Blackie has one of the Oh, Crap! variety when he realizes he's been painted white and is no longer able to dispense bad luck.
  • "X" Marks the Spot: The bulldog paints an X on the sidewalk exactly below a safe that's suspended from a pulley hoist. Bad Luck Blackie appears and stands on the X, whereupon the dog smugly releases the rope. Blackie hears the Bomb Whistle, looks up, assesses the situation, and calmly slides the painted X with his foot until the X is beneath the dog. Toon Physics dictate that a falling object must land on the X, even if it must bend gravity to do so. Therefore, it does.


Video Example(s):


Bad Luck Blackie

The cartoon's opening scene establishes the bulldog as a mischievous bully who delights in making the kitten's life hell.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / BullyBulldog

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