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Back Alley Oproar is a 1948 Merrie Melodies short. The short features Sylvester and Elmer Fudd, voiced by Mel Blanc and Arthur Q. Bryan respectively.

Title

The title is a play on "uproar" and "opera."

Plot

Elmer is ready for bedtime, but Sylvester has other plans as he starts singing on the fence in Elmer's backyard. A series of gags play out, as Elmer tries everything up his sleeve to get rid of that unwanted pest. Elmer eventually confronts Sylvester, but before Elmer can blast him with his shotgun, Sylvester sings a sweet, gentle lullaby to ease him to dreams. However, this doesn't last, and the insanity continues…

Elmer eventually dies from explosives from his attempts to get rid of Sylvester. He winds up in Heaven, as an angel on a cloud. Momentarily he thinks he will finally get some peace and quiet. However, the spirits of Sylvester's nine lives continue to sing as they ascend around him, each with a numeral on his back (there are actually more like 18 Sylvester's depicted overall), singing the sextet from "Lucia di Lammermoor". One of them even took Elmer's halo. The exasperated Elmer dives off his cloud and a crash is heard off-screen.

Gallery

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Availability

Production

The cartoon is a color remake of 1941's "Notes to You", also directed by Freleng. It has a similar plot (although the ending of the original doesn't have the characters die from an explosion; instead the cat dies from getting shot, and returns as nine singing angels), but the Elmer and Sylvester roles in "Notes to You" were taken by Porky Pig and an unnamed alley cat (the latter bearing a striking resemblance to the cat from Bob Clampett's "The Hep Cat").

"Back Alley Oproar" is notable in the Warner cartoon canon as one of the very few shorts in which Sylvester actually "wins out" over another character, albeit at the presumed cost of his life.

Censorships

  • When this cartoon aired on the WB!, the three times Elmer runs down the steps (which are slippery from grease) and steps on tacks when trying to stop Sylvester from singing were cut.

Pop culture and musical references

  • Sylvester starts his concert by singing Rossini's operatic piece "Largo al factotum" from The Barber of Seville, complete with sheet music on a music stand. He is bonked by one of Elmer's shoes just as he finishes a climactic "Fiii-gaaa-rooo!"
  • Sylvester evokes another classical staple as he sings "la-la-la, la-la-la..." to Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" while tromping in heavy boots, up and down Elmer's backstairs.
  • The cat sings "Some Sunday Morning" (by M.K. Jerome, Ray Heindorf and Ted Koehler) until being bonked again when Elmer throws a book titled The Thin Man at him, after which Sylvester throws a book called Return of The Thin Man at Elmer, who closes the window before the cat can finish. Then the phone rings (in a phone booth in Elmer's house), and the cat sings the final line through the phone.
  • Sylvester sings Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn's "You Never Know Where You're Goin' Till You Get There" (this song would be the opening music only a few weeks later in "Hop, Look and Listen").
  • Elmer charges after Sylvester, interrupting that number, and Sylvester hands the sheet music to a dopey-looking cat before fleeing. The cat turns the music sheet every which way, and then begins singing an excerpt from the aria, "Carissima" (by Arthur A. Penn), in a classically operatic female voice. That song comes to a sudden end when Elmer whacks her over the head, and the cat and the song both fade out like a record slowing down. Then the cat staggers and falls off the porch roof, in rhythm to the tune's closing notes.
  • Confronted by Elmer and his shotgun, and a threat to "bwow him to smitheweens", Sylvester sings a variation of "Brahms' Lullaby" ("Go to sleep, go to sleep, close your big bloodshot eyes...") He then carries Elmer back to his bedroom and tucks him in, still singing until he finishes. He then kisses him on the cheek sweetly and walks out the door, turning off the lights.
  • Seconds later, the cat jolts Elmer awake by playing a fast-paced march "Frat", by John F. Barth, another frequent WB staple, on a one-man band apparatus. Elmer chases him again, and he runs out a door and closes it. Elmer opens the door and slams his head into another door labeled "Surprize!" (sic)
  • Sylvester rows a rowboat across the top of the fence, singing a jazzy version of Percy Wenrich and Edward Madden's "Moonlight Bay". Elmer puts out a saucer of milk, which he has laced with alum, and summons the cat. Sylvester dances to The Sailor's Hornpipe to reach the saucer, and carefully holds a cane and straw hat out to see if Elmer has the site booby-trapped. The cat slurps down the milk, hornpipes back to his fence, and resumes singing "Moonlight Bay" until the alum shrinks his head to the size of a ping-pong ball (another oft-used WB joke), while his voice speeds up to chipmunk-level.
  • Sylvester apes Spike Jones with his last solo number, "Angel in Disguise" (by Paul Mann, Stefan Weiss and Kim Gannon), which also foreshadows the film's conclusion. He performs in the manner of Jones' band, starting with a brief, serious-sounding introduction (apparently not Blanc's voice), immediately seguéing into a jazzy rendition featuring a collection of crazy sound effects produced by firing guns, breaking bottles, and exploding firecrackers. As with some of the other songs in the cartoon, Sylvester sings directly to the viewing audience (see illustration). Elmer caps the performance by lighting the fuse to a box full of dynamite -- which explodes instantly and kills Elmer and Sylvester.
  • As Sylvester's nine-plus lives soar past Elmer, singing together like a choir, they perform part of the sextet from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, which was used in the original "Notes To You" and is also recognizable from 1946's "Book Revue" - "You can't do dis to me / I'm a citizen, see" - and from 1949's "Long-Haired Hare".

Trivia

  • Sylvester's "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" was reused in Bugs Bunny's Overtures to Disaster. It used the same audio but the animation was new because Warner Brothers at the time did not have the rights to pre-August 1948 footage, although Warner still has the cartoon's original negatives stored in the vaults (the publishing rights to the music track were owned separately by Warner/Chappell Music).
  • The Tom and Jerry short by Chuck Jones, "The Cat Above and the Mouse Below", had a similar concept but with a different plot.
  • "Kit For Cat" and this cartoon share the same night city title card. Coincidentally, both original title cards were cut in 1955. The original opening and credits for this cartoon and the former were restored on DVD, this one on Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 2, Disc 4 and the former on Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 1, Disc 4, however, "Kit For Cat", for unknown reasons has the Blue Ribbon ending.
  • Also, this cartoon was reissued in the 1954-55 season. Since this was a Merrie Melodie, and IN TECHNICOLOR, the original end title was kept. The cartoon was shown in Blue Ribbon form from 1956-present on TV, although present-day airings air the Blue Ribbon, 1995 dubbed version, which uses the 1948 end title with a dubbed notice.


v - e - d
Elmer Fudd character looney tunes series
1930s (Egghead)
Egghead Rides AgainLittle Red Walking HoodDaffy Duck & EggheadThe Isle of Pingo PongoCinderella Meets FellaA-Lad-In BagdadA Feud There WasCount Me OutJohnny Smith and Poker-HuntasHamateur NightA Day at the ZooBelieve It or Else
1940s
Elmer's Candid CameraConfederate HoneyThe Hardship of Miles StandishA Wild HareGood Night ElmerElmer's Pet RabbitWabbit TwoubleThe Wabbit Who Came to SupperAny Bonds Today?The Wacky WabbitNutty NewsFresh HareThe Hare-Brained HypnotistTo Duck or Not to DuckA Corny ConcertoAn Itch in TimeThe Old Grey HareThe Stupid CupidStage Door CartoonThe Unruly HareHare TonicHare RemoverThe Big SnoozeEaster YeggsA Pest in the HouseSlick HareWhat Makes Daffy Duck?Back Alley Op-RoarKit for CatWise QuackersHare DoEach Dawn I Crow
1950s
What's Up Doc?Rabbit of SevilleRabbit FireRabbit SeasoningUpswept HareAnt PastedDuck! Rabbit, Duck!Robot RabbitDesign for LeavingQuack ShotPests for GuestsBeanstalk BunnyHare BrushRabbit RampageThis Is a Life?Heir-ConditionedBugs' BonnetsA Star Is BoredYankee Dood ItWideo WabbitWhat's Opera, Doc?Rabbit RomeoDon't Axe MePre-Hysterical HareA Mutt in a Rut
1960s
Person to BunnyDog Gone PeopleWhat's My Lion?Crow's Feat
1970s-present
Portrait of the Artist as a Young BunnyBox Office BunnyBlooper BunnyInvasion of the Bunny SnatchersDaffy's Rhapsody
See also


v - e - d
Sylvester the Cat
1940s
1950s
1960s
1970s-present


v - e - d
Looney tunes and merrie melodies logo
Media
Franchises: Show-logo-looneyTunesMerrie Melodies logo

Shorts:
Television: The Bugs Bunny ShowThe Porky Pig ShowThe Road Runner ShowThe Merrie Melodies ShowSylvester and TweetyThe Daffy Duck ShowThe Daffy/Speedy ShowLooney Tunes on NickelodeonMerrie Melodies Starring Bugs Bunny and FriendsThat's Warner Bros.!Bugs N' Daffy
Feature Films: The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner MovieThe Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny MovieBugs Bunny's 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit TalesDaffy Duck's Fantastic IslandDaffy Duck's QuackbustersSpace JamThe Looney Tunes Hall of FameLooney Tunes: Back in Action
Specials: Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie GhouliesCarnival of the AnimalsBugs Bunny's Easter FunniesBugs Bunny in SpaceBugs Bunny's Howl-o-Ween SpecialA Connecticut Rabbit in King Arthur's CourtBugs Bunny's ValentineBugs Bunny's Looney Christmas TalesHow Bugs Bunny Won the WestThe Bugs Bunny Mother's Day SpecialBugs Bunny's Thanksgiving DietDaffy Duck's Easter SpecialBugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All OverThe Bugs Bunny Mystery SpecialDaffy Duck's Thanks-For-Giving SpecialBugs Bunny: All American HeroBugs Bunny's Mad World of TelevisionAn Ounce of PreventionBugs vs. Daffy: Battle of the Music Video StarsBugs Bunny's Wild World of SportsHappy Birthday Bugs! 50 Looney YearsBugs Bunny's Overtures to DisasterBugs Bunny's Creature FeaturesBugs Bunny's Lunar Tunes

Characters
Main characters: Barnyard DawgBeaky BuzzardBugs BunnyCecil TurtleCharlie DogClaude CatDaffy DuckElmer FuddFoghorn LeghornGossamerGrannyHector the BulldogHenery HawkHippety HopperHubie and BertieLola BunnyMac and ToshMarc Anthony and PussyfootMarvin the MartianMichigan J. FrogMiss PrissyPenelope PussycatPepé Le PewPete PumaPorky PigRalph WolfRoad RunnerSam SheepdogSpeedy GonzalesSylvesterSylvester Jr.TazThe CrusherTweety BirdWile E. CoyoteWitch HazelYosemite Sam

Minor characters: Blacque Jacque ShellacqueBoskoThe CrusherGiovanni JonesYoyo DodoTasmanian She-DevilMelissa DuckHugo the Abominable SnowmanSpike and ChesterNasty CanastaThe GremlinPrivate SnafuPetunia PigPlayboy PenguinShropshire SlasherCount BloodcountMama BuzzardColonel ShuffleEgghead Jr.Owl JolsonToro the BullRocky and MugsyMinah BirdInkiBeansLittle KittyHam And ExOliver OwlPiggyGabby GoatBuddyHoneySlowpoke RodriguezThe Three BearsFoxyK-9A. FleaSnifflesConstruction WorkerFrisky PuppyRalph MouseHoney BunnyRoxyThe Martin BrothersRalph PhillipsClyde BunnyFauntleroy FlipDr. I.Q. HiGruesome GorillaSloppy MoeHatta MariBusinessmanThe WeaselWiloughbyThe Two Curious PuppiesCool CatBabbit and CatstelloInstant MartiansBobo the ElephantColonel RimfireSmokey The GenieJose and ManuelMerlin the Magic Mouse and Second BananaConrad the CatAngus MacRoryBanty RoosterThree Little PigsTom TurkeyGoopy GeerNelly the GiraffeAla BahmaDr. LorreCottontail SmithBunny and ClaudeClaude HopperThe Hep CatThe Drunk StorkThe CatSinging CatSouthern SheriffOld Woman's CanaryOld Woman's CatBluebeardPorky's Drunken FriendsOld WomanLittle Red Riding Hood's Grandma • Little Red Riding Hood (Little Red Walking Hood/Little Red Riding Rabbit/Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears) • Goldilocks (The Bear's Tale/Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears) • The CrowKing ArthurKing Arthur's Knights

Studios
Warner Bros. CartoonsDePatie-Freleng EnterprisesFormat FilmsChuck Jones EnterprisesReel FX
People
Dave BarryWarren BatchelderMel BlancTed BonnicksenArthur Q. BryanBill ButlerBob ClampettRuss DysonMilt FranklynFriz FrelengManny GouldGeorge GrandpreKen HarrisHugh HarmanRochelle HudsonRudolf IsingUb IwerksChuck JonesCarman MaxwellNorman McCabeChuck McKimsonRobert McKimsonTom McKimsonWillian LavaLou LillyMichael MalteseTedd PierceHawley PrattTom RayVirgil RossLeon SchlesingerRob ScribnerEddie SelzerCarl StallingLarry Storch
Music/Songs
A Hot Time in the Old Town TonightWhistle and Blow Your Blues AwayI Think You're DuckyThe Merry-Go-Round Broke DownMerrily We Roll Along
Other


v - e - d
Warner Bros. Cartoons 1947
Media
Shorts (1929-1939):

Shorts (1940-1949):
Shorts (1950-1959):
Shorts (1960-1969):

Studios
Songs
Other
Warner Bros. CartoonsLooney TunesMerrie Melodies
See also


v - e - d
Warner Bros. Cartoons 1947
Media
Shorts (1929-1939):

Shorts (1940-1949):
Shorts (1950-1959):
Shorts (1960-1969):

Studios
Songs
Other
Warner Bros. CartoonsLooney TunesMerrie Melodies
See also


v - e - d
Warner Bros. Animation Logo (Template-only)
Looney Tunes/Spielberg universe
Animated series: The Bugs Bunny ShowTiny Toon AdventuresTaz-ManiaAnimaniacsThe Sylvester & Tweety MysteriesPinky and the BrainFreakazoid!Road RoversHisteria!Pinky, Elmyra and the BrainThe Cat&Birdy Warneroonie PinkyBrainy Big Cartoonie ShowBaby Looney TunesDuck DodgersLoonatics UnleashedThe Looney Tunes ShowNew Looney Tunes

Films: Bugs Bunny: SuperstarThe Bugs Bunny/Road Runner MovieThe Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny MovieBugs Bunny's 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit TalesDaffy Duck's Fantastic IslandDaffy Duck's QuackbustersSpace JamWakko's WishTweety's High-Flying AdventureLooney Tunes: Back in ActionBah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes ChristmasLooney Tunes: Rabbits Run

DC Comics
Animated series: Batman: The Animated SeriesSuperman: The Animated SeriesBatman BeyondStatic ShockThe Zeta ProjectJustice LeagueTeen TitansJustice League UnlimitedThe BatmanKrypto the SuperdogLegion of Super HeroesBatman: The Brave and the BoldYoung JusticeGreen Lantern: The Animated SeriesTeen Titans Go!Beware the BatmanDC Super Hero Girls

Animated films: Batman: Mask of the PhantasmBatman & Mr. Freeze: SubZeroThe Lego Batman MovieBatman: Return of the Caped CrusadersBatman vs. Two-Face

Hanna-Barbera
Animated series: What's New, Scooby-Doo?Tom and Jerry TalesShaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!Scooby-Doo! Mystery IncorporatedThe Tom and Jerry ShowBe Cool, Scooby-Doo!Yabba-Dabba Dinosaurs!

Direct-to-video film series: Scooby-Doo on Zombie IslandScooby-Doo! and the Witch's GhostTom and Jerry: The Magic RingTom and Jerry: Blast Off to MarsThe Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age SmackDown!The Jetsons & WWE: Robo-WrestleMania!

Other TV series
Detention¡Mucha Lucha!Xiaolin ShowdownCoconut Fred's Fruit Salad IslandBaby BluesRight Now KapowDorothy and the Wizard of OzBunniculaGreen Eggs and HamUnikitty!WayneheadOzzy & DrixMike Tyson Mysteries3 SouthMadJohnny TestFirehouse TalesThunderCatsThunderCats Roar
Other original films
Theatrical: Quest for CamelotThe Iron GiantOsmosis JonesThe Lego MovieStorksThe Lego Ninjago Movie

Direct-to-video: Kangaroo Jack: G'Day U.S.A.!¡Mucha Lucha!: The Return of El MaléficoHappiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown

Films, distribution only
Gay Purr-eeThe Incredible Mr. LimpetTreasure IslandOliver TwistThe Nutcracker PrinceRover DangerfieldThumbelinaA Troll in Central ParkThe Pebble and the PenguinCats Don't DanceThe Fearless FourThe King and IThe Scarecrow
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