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To Beep or Not to Beep is a 1963 Merrie Melodies short directed by Chuck Jones, Maurice Noble and Tom Ray.

Plot

When he finds a picture of a baked Road Runner while skimming a book of Western Cookery, Wile E. Coyote licks his chops. He is unaware that Road Runner has just sneaked up behind him, also licking his chops. Turning around to determine the source of the noise, he finds himself snout-to-beak with the bird. One beep sends the coyote jumping into the air, book and all, and through an overhead ledge, with his neck caught inside.

Determined to catch and eat the bird, the coyote tries to snare him in a noose. Instead, he falls backward off a cliff. A rock fragment also falls off the clip and right on top of him. He marches off, in accordion form, with his arms dragging on the ground behind him.

During a more-traditional chasing of Road Runner, a few cactus plants are uprooted and dragged along, toward a bridge. The bridge contracts, with only the last plant failing to clear. A few seconds later, the Coyote runs off the edge of the cliff. The cactus follows and catches him on his rear end, upon which he unleashes an agonized scream right back up to the top.

He tries to leap forward, using a large, coiled spring attached to a boulder. The boulder becomes propelled, dragging Wile E. off a cliff. He manages to hold onto the ledge for his dear life, which causes the boulder to rebound and take the ledge with him. The ledge falls onto another rock, with the Coyote landing on one side and the boulder landing on the other in a teeter-totter fashion. He bounces upward, taking the boulder with him. When the boulder is caught in a narrow gap, the coil spring causes him to snap all the way back up and become suspended in the process. He unstraps himself to take another fall. And lands face first on the ground, with his legs drooping.

The coyote tries a wrecking ball, but it rolls backward toward the control cab. Then, he tries a catapult, whose purpose is to hurl a boulder at Road Runner. It manages to crush Wile E., no matter where he stands. On his last try, the catapult stalls, and the coyote cautiously creeps out from his manhole to unjam it. He gets tossed through the air, riding the boulder as it goes through a mountaintop before being bounced back, flattening the coyote like a pancake. The catapult was built by the "Road Runner Manufacturing Co."

Availability

Streaming

Notes

  • It is one of the few Chuck Jones-directed Road Runner cartoons to have a running theme, namely a series of catapult gags.
  • Except for the very beginning and ending frames, this short is entirely comprised of scenes featured in Adventures of the Road-Runner TV pilot with new music by William Lava which replaces Milt Franklyn's original music scores from the pilot.
  • This was the only Chuck Jones Road Runner cartoon not to involve either character taxonomy or any ACME products, though Adventures of the Road-Runner did feature their taxonomy. It was also one of the few with no instances of an ash-face explosion.
  • The lasso and catapult gags were used in The Bugs Bunny Road-Runner Movie.
  • Parts of the rope sequence and the catapult sequence were reused in the later "Roadrunner a Go-Go".
  • This short was used in The Bugs Bunny Road-Runner Movie.
  • The boulder that falls on Wile E. appears in the Boulder Museum.
  • Wile E.'s scream from when a cactus falls on him is re-used at the near end of Daffy Duck's Quackbusters when Daffy gets hit by a wrecking ball (and similarly eats the camera). It previously appeared in "Tugboat Granny", when Sylvester leaps out of the smokestack and back onto the bridge.
  • This cartoon was featured in the final installment of Looney Tunes on Nickelodeon.

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