5. "Come with me to the Casbah."
While a number of sources cite the 1938 movie Algiers as the origin of Pepé Le Pew's favorite come-on, the line was featured in the trailer but was never actually said in the film itself. Le Pew himself was a spoof of Algiers' protagonist, Pepé le Moko, a French jewel thief portrayed by Charles Boyer.
The amorous French skunk relentlessly pursued Penelope, an uninterested and frequently terrified girl cat, through over a dozen basically identical cartoons. As great as Chuck Jones was, if you've seen one Pepé Le Pew cartoon, you've basically seen them all. In the clip below we see Pepé hit Penelope with a variation on his usual pickup line: "You do not have to come with me to the Casbah... We are already here!" That's about as close as Jones' Lew Pew cartoons came to shaking up the formula.
Pepé's schtick apparently seemed harmless and charming to audiences of the time, but these days it comes across as weird and creepy and sometimes even kind of... well, rapey. ("I pierce you with the ack-ack of love, flowerpot.") Non means non, Pepé!
This 2009 AT&T cartoon depicts Penelope being madly in love with Pepé.
Stockholm Syndrome, no doubt.
6. "Well, now, I wouldn't say that..."
Some Looney Tunes catchphrases don't sound that familiar out of context. In order to recognize them, you really need to hear them spoken in the original goofy cartoon voice. Case in point: "Well, now, I wouldn't say that."
In the following clip from the cartoon "Draftee Daffy," it's said by a little creep from the draft board who has spent a whole cartoon harassing Daffy Duck.
Now you recognize it, right?
"Well now, I wouldn't say that" was the catchphrase of Richard Q. Peavey, a nebbishy druggist portrayed by Richard LeGrand on the long-running radio comedy, The Great Gildersleeve. The series is all but forgotten now but it was enormously popular back in the day, so much so that it spawned a TV series and four feature films. Peavey blazed the trail for a thousand wacky sitcom neighbors to follow, by dutifully showing up once an episode to say his inexplicably popular catchphrase with little justification, and then getting the heck out of there.
You might say that "Well now, I wouldn't say that" was the "Giggity-giggity" of its day.
7. "He don't know me vewy well, do he?"
Red Skelton is a good example of how somebody can be a huge star in his lifetime, and yet be nearly forgotten within a generation or two.
Skelton was a popular radio and TV comedian for decades, but time has not been kind to his broad, corny comedy, full of vaudevillian gags, hobo clowns and characters with names like Clem Kadiddlehopper and Freddie the Freeloader. If modern audiences recognize Skelton at all, it's probably as the voice of Father Time in the seasonal TV favorite Rudolph's Shiny New Year.
A few of Skelton's catchphrases will live on forever, thanks to Looney Tunes reruns. "He don't know me vewy well, do he?", "You bwoke my widdle arm!" and "I dood it!" were all taken from Junior, Skelton's "Mean Widdle Kid" character. But if Skelton's comedy has dated poorly in general, Junior's antics look particularly dire to modern eyes. (I'm afraid all those clips of portly middle-aged men wearing baby bonnets on The Jerry Springer Show have made us all see "adult babies" very differently than our grandparents did.)
Here's a clip of Junior in action.
Yikes. Hopefully Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler will learn from Skelton's example that comedians can only do these silly babytalk characters for so long before they start to read less as impish man-children and more like sad grandpas who've wandered away from the rest home again.
8. "TURN OUT THAT LIGHT!"
You hear this one a lot in WB cartoons from the 1940s, always shouted in the angriest, most intimidating voice Mel Blanc could muster. It was a reference to the WWII air raid drills, when leaving your lights on at the wrong time could bring a furious air raid warden pounding on your door. While Japanese Zeros never bombed the continental US, Americans had good reason to worry that an attack could come at any time. So understandably, leaving your lights during an air raid drill on was seen as not merely unpatriotic, but also dickish.
In "Elmer's Pet Rabbit," the cartoon below, Bugs Bunny hollers the line at the very end.
1940s Warner Bros. cartoons were full of wartime references like that, including a whole lot of stuff about the scarcity and deliciousness of meat. For example, here's a hillbilly flea singing a little ditty called "Food Around the Corner" in the 1943 cartoon "An Itch in Time."
This was when meat was rationed, and "Meatless Tuesdays" were a real thing. So it's not unlikely that a lot of the audience watching this cartoon had more sympathy for the hungry flea than they did for the poor dog.
It kind of puts our current troubles in perspective, huh? Sure, maybe the economy is in the crapper and the government shutdown was annoying as hell, but at least we've got Fatburgers to eat and we don't have to worry about anybody dropping bombs on our heads while we're playing Angry Birds Star Wars II.