A Ham in a Role is a Looney Tunes short starring the Goofy Gophers along with an unnamed dog. The cartoon, released in December 1949, was directed by Robert McKimson and released by Warner Bros. Pictures. The cartoon draws heavily from the works of William Shakespeare, with its gags relying on literal interpretations of lines from Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Richard III, and Romeo and Juliet.
A Ham in a Role would be the last cartoon in the Golden Age of American Animation (he would be recycled for a single short in the 1990s in the World Premiere Toons series) to star the dog that had opposed the Gophers in their first two appearances. In addition, this is the first Gophers cartoon to be directed by McKimson; it was supposed to be directed by Arthur Davis, but when Warner Bros. Cartoons reduced from four units to three, A Ham in a Role was reassigned to McKimson, along with animators J.C. Melendez and Emery Hawkins.
At the beginning of the cartoon, an anthropomorphic dog, who also appeared in The Goofy Gophers and Two Gophers from Texas (albeit in slightly different form) is tired of appearing in cartoons and goes home to study the works of Shakespeare. Upon arriving back home, the dog finds that his home has been invaded by gophers. Unfazed, the dog then begins reading Hamlet. Upon discovering the gophers sleeping in the book, he throws the book out the window.
The Goofy Gophers then get their revenge on the dog by literally interpreting lines from Shakespeare works, including "lending him ears", tormenting him with flames (to his foot), dousing him with "the joy of life" (by dumping a tub of water on the dog), dumping limburger cheese as the dog utters the "that which we call a rose" line while holding a rose, imitating the exhumed Yorick in a dance (making the dog appear like a Shakespearean coward), using magnets on the floor and ceiling to toss the dog around the room (in armor), with the coup de grâce coming about when the Gophers use a horse to kick the dog out of his house and back to the studio, where the dog laments that "parting is such sweet sorrow", returning to the studio where he began the cartoon as the song You Ought to Be in Pictures plays in the background.
This cartoon was originally issued as a Looney Tunes cartoon with the Looney Tunes music. When it was re-issued, the cartoon was re-issued with Merrie Melodies credits, but retained the Looney Tunes music.
Prints with this cartoon's original titles exist on YouTube.
This cartoon is available, with the original Looney Tunes cards restored, on Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 6, Disc 1.
- A Ham in a Role at Internet Movie Database