Was very fond of Woody Woodpecker and his cartoons as a child. Still get much enjoyment out of them now as a young adult, even if there are more interesting in personality cartoon characters and better overall cartoons.
That is in no way knocking Woody, because many of his cartoons are a lot of fun to watch and more and also still like him a lot as a character. This is going to be a reiteration of a lot of my reviews for the later Woody Woodpecker cartoons, but mainly because the later Paul J. Smith-directed cartoons have pretty much the same strengths and faults. 'Short in the Saddle' is a step up from the disappointing previous cartoon 'Little Woody Riding Hood' and it's watchable enough, but we have seen it before with Woody Woodpecker (quite a few times with a similar setting and a similar premise).
Regarding Woody, he is sometimes fun and never obnoxious here in 'Short in the Saddle', but, like a lot of his later cartoons, compared to his original manic personality he is too toned down and subdued. The conflict fares better and is entertaining enough but not exactly formidable or hilarious and a lot of the action is derivative of other Woody Woodpecker out west cartoons.
Not without its strengths, the music is bouncy, energetic and very lushly orchestrated, not only synchronising and fitting with the action very well but enhancing it. There is some energy and a few amusing moments, as well as some nice colours and the western setting is always welcome.
Voice acting is solid. Grace Stafford continues to prove why she was the best voice actor for the character and the one that understood him the most.
Generally though the timing could have been sharper and the humour is primarily let down by that it is derivative of better and fresher humour in other Woody Woodpecker out west cartoons and also the lack of wit and consistent energy. Plus the story is very over-familiar, very few surprises here, and the cartoon could have done with more variety.
Just as problematic is the animation quality. Time and budget constraints shows in a lot of the animation, which is very rushed looking in the drawing and detail wise it's on the simplistic and careless side like many of Woody's cartoons from this period continuing through to the 60s.
All in all, another watchable but average effort from Woody. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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