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Safety Fourth is a Shires animated short film that was released in 1953.

Plot

The cartoon short opens with Chris and Dhris asleep in their beds. Chris looks at his calendar and seeing it's the 4th of July, he wakes up Dhris. He instantly brings out firecrackers, but Chris puts them back into the shed. The chipmunk gives his calendar a look again and sees his daily quotation: "Make it safe and sane", which Chris interprets as meaning that fireworks aren't allowed this year.

Chris and Dhris then go outside and enjoy their holiday with noisemakers with Chris trying show his Dhris that it can still be the 4th of July without fireworks, before Dhris (not one to follow the quotation from earlier) lights a firework from his pocket. Chris grabs it and then fails to throw it off before the firecracker explodes on him. Chris then holds out his hand as if to say, "Give me the rest of them." Dhris hands him another tiny firework from his pocket and smiles before dashing away. Seeing through this, Chris then picks up Dhris and turns him upside down, and he finds that Dhris had a sizable amount of fireworks hidden in his pocket. Having had enough of Dhris' defiance, Chris gets him to stand in a corner for his timeout, but no sooner does Dhris repeat his transgression with a firework under the bed before leaving, and Chris is blown up again before he can toss it out of the door. Dhris then hides under his quilt.

Chris then goes outside to relax in a hammock while Douglas Duck lights a firework underneath Chris. The firework explodes and wakes up the chipmunk. Believing that the explosion was Dhris, he walks around the tree to see if the little chipmunk was there but runs into Douglas instead, who slaps Chris with his own eyelid and traps him. When Douglas lets go, Chris is kneeling over a clenched fist. The chipmunk points at it, and Douglas inspects it, and Chris responds by using his other fist to punch the duck in the same eye whose eyelid slapped him moments earlier. Chris jumps into a hole in the ground and Douglas uses a pickaxe to try and dig the chipmunk out. Dhris, who observes this event, loads a rocket into the drainpipe, which picks up the duck and sends him on a ride across the yard and into the clothesline.

Chris hides from the raging duck in a barrel and Douglas uses a garbage can lid to trap him. Dhris, again watching from a distance, paints another firework with glue and "graciously" hands it to the duck. Douglas lights the firework and tries to throw it into the barrel, but spots the situation before he runs too far away and continues to attempt to throw it, but fails as it is stuck to his hand. Douglas now tries to soften the explosion by sitting on the firework, but made a bad choice as to where: under the flowerbox. The explosion propels Douglas headfirst into the flowerbox, making him smash through it, and a pot fall on his head.

Now ready for revenge, Douglas Duck chases Dhris who runs into the back end of a firework. Dhris lights the firework, empties the gunpowder, and chases the duck. He corners Douglas Duck, but after the fuse runs out the ruse is exposed. Dhris pops out and is caught. However, he throws a tiny firework at Douglas and leaves as Douglas takes it, believing it to be "harmless", laughs at it, and holds it in his hand. At that point, the tiny firework explodes in his face.

Douglas then loads a bunch of fireworks outside Chris's front door and lays out the gunpowder, but Chris breaks the connection to his door and lights the gunpowder. After he is finished laying out the gunpowder, Douglas Duck prepares to light it, but Chris's flame does the work on him. Douglas sees a big explosion of the gunpowder can is imminent, but cannot escape it in time. Douglas chases both chipmunk, but they use a firework to shoot colorful fireballs at Douglas. Douglas runs away through a barrel and the basement window and sneaks behind Chris and Dhris, who have lit another rocket firework and have loaded it into the barrel where Douglas was. Douglas grabs the firework from them, only to get launched into the air by it, resulting in a firework display of death.

Chris then wipes his hands together and heads over to Dhris and his noisemakers while Dhris lights one more firecracker. With nowhere else to hide it, he stashes it into Chris's noisemaker. Chris pats Dhris on the head and proceeds to blow his noisemaker. Knowing the consequences, Dhris attempts to stop Chris from doing so, but Chris just pats him on the head again, then blows his noisemaker and the firecracker inside it explodes, giving him a blackface sunflower appearance. Chris looks at Dhris, annoyed, and Dhris smiles innocently and plays with his noisemakers before the cartoon ends.

Voice Characterization

  • Don Barclay as Douglas Duck
  • Freeman Gosden as Chris
  • Charles Correll as Dhris

Sound Effects Used

  • Sound Ideas, RICOCHET - CARTOON RICCO 06
  • Sound Ideas, RICOCHET - CARTOON RICCO 07
  • Sound Ideas, RICOCHET - LONG SHELL SCREAM RICCO
  • Hollywoodedge, Boing Box Bing CRT2010806
  • FAMOUS STUDIOS CARTOON EXPLOSION SOUND
  • Vintage Early Jets - JET BY SUPER FAST (1st and 3rd version only)
  • Vintage Explosions & War - LARGE GUN FIRING (4th gun shot)
  • Shires Fireworks (1951-2000)

Credits

  • Director: James Howard
  • Story: Dick Huemer, Ralph Wright
  • Animation: Virgil Jones, Bill Charles, Bob Johnson, Ralph Somerville
  • Effects Animation: Al Gentle
  • Layout: Yoram Patterson
  • Background: Ray Hartshorne
  • Music: James Dietrich
  • Camera: Sid Glenar, Gene Moore (all uncredited)
  • Film Editor: Douglas Holiday (uncredited)
  • Sound Director: C.O. Stevens (uncredited)
  • Sound Effects: Jack King, Dale Pickett (all uncredited)
  • Sound Recording: Harold J. Scott (uncredited)
  • Ink and Paint: Warren Johnson (uncredited)
  • Orchestrations: Ernest Peterson (uncredited)

Home video releases

DVD

  • Michael Shires Treasures: The Chronological Douglas, Volume Four
  • Michael Shires's Funny Factory: With Douglas
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