Friday, 3 February 2012

101. I Haven't Got a Hat (1935)

It's rather amazing on how that ever since the beginning I've set up the blog - I never thought that I could reach the 100th episode anytime soon and it seems like only yesterday that I was writing reviews such as Congo Jazz or Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid. Well, I'm glad to see many readers who've come by and commented - and now; you've read 100 reviews!

Amazing! I didn't think I was going to make it that far and I'd thought I would quit. Well, it's a shame that I still have about 900 reviews left to go. I've even completed about 10% of the challenge.

But hey, let's call this a celebration. Here's what I've got prepared for you fans to watch - a link of reviews in years: here, here, here, here, here and so far in 1935. Here I'll look back at how brilliant I was since Day 1 - and you can start off with 1930; and read from then on "Bye".

Oh man what a pisser; we've helped him with our knowledge, contributions and even corrections for him - and this is HOW HE REPAYS US??!

- What's going on?!

What do you mean what's going on?! You're throwing us some flashback of your shit reviews because you're too lazy for something special - what we want?!

- But I've completed 100 reviews - I wanna rest.

Sucks to your "rest" - I mean this is what Steven Hartley would've written in his 'Blabbing on Arts and Culture' blog. Or even what Family Guy would come up with. I mean, Devon Baxter did a damn favour for you by creating a "Buddy's Day Out" trailer.

- What? I ain't lazy - I still have the energy. Tell me what to do?!

Well, go on - give us your 101st review?!

- What?! You mean you want me to review some lousy Buddy cartoon or a bad Merry Melody. Forget it.

- Oh no, this isn't just "any" Merrie Melody from 1935 or even a "Buddy" cartoon - this is an important cartoon. A cartoon so important that one character would become a popular leading Looney Tunes character...

- You mean "I Haven't Got a Hat!"


- Alright - now I've been talked into it. Fine - looks like I'll have to save these food 'til later.

Warner cartoon no. 100.
Release date: March 2, 1935.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Joe Dougherty (Porky Pig), Elvia Allman (Miss Cud), Bernice Hansen (Little Kitty, Ham), Billy Bletcher (Beans, Ex).
Musical Score: Bernard Brown.
Animation: Rollin Hamilton and Jack King. Bob McKimson uncredited.

Yes people; this celebration is actually a very important cartoon in the WB studio. This cartoon is crowned to be the very first appearance of Porky Pig - who in about a year's time would become the studio's star and would continue to be a star of the Looney Tunes spanning three decades. This also marks the first appearance of the "Beans" gang - with Beans the Cat, Little Kitty, Ham and Ex, and Oliver Owl. This cartoon was sort of made as a special probably because they wanted to get rid of Buddy since he was bland enough; and Schlesinger suggested an "Our Gang"parody. Of course; this cartoon did well with audiences and then Buddy was kicked out soon; with the "Beans" gang coming - but the audience always had their personal favourites on Porky Pig who is probably the first recognisable character in the Looney Tunes franchise.

If you thought my roleplay at the beginning is similar to the Nostalgia Critic's 100th episode review on Battlefield Earth - at least I didn't copy every single bit or even film it; and besides everyone parodies or copies.

Anyhow our cartoon begins with some introduction to the characters: the first to be introduce is Miss Cud - who is the School Teacher. She rings a bell and seems pleased. Our next character to be introduced is "Beans" the cat - who would briefly be the Looney Tunes star. Beans is seen eating a jar of jam with the cameraman shouting "Hey" in which Beans razzies at the audience. A fine gag there (but I imagine that this was the point when Freleng tried to make entertaining cartoons). Bob Clampett claimed to have used a "Clampett" name gag in that cartoon called "Clampett's Soup" and also claimed to have created Porky and Beans - in a Michael Barrier interview when it was actually Friz who created and chose Porky's name based on childhood classroom nicknames - according to Jerry Beck in the DVD commentary.

The next characters to be introduced is Porky Pig and Oliver Owl. Of course; Porky's the real hero here. The two mischievous puppies: Ham and Ex were introduced next - and one of em elbows each other and they whisper to each other because they probably have a trick up their sleeve - I guess. Notice that Little Kitty hasn't been introduced. Well that's the characters introduced, and I imagine they were introduced because the crew thought the audience were going to know these characters soon. It's like as though this short was a pilot as it did well with audiences; and later in 1935 Jack King directed the first few then Tex Avery arrived around the time I Haven't Got a Hat was released and used those characters.

Then the cartoon starts to begin with a school poster for the parents to attend as it is a school event. The poster reads: Musical and Recital (Sponsored by the Children of this School for the Benefit of Teachers and Parents). All Children are Eligible. All of the parents (just mothers) are walking into the school - such as chicks, piglets, etc. Inside the school we see that the classroom is packed with mothers and their children. All of them are ready for their performance.

Miss Cud brings her bell (the pun of of course is she's wearing a cud). She announces to the people in the classroom the first student for recital: We will now open our exercises with a recitation of our little friend Porky Pig. The audience clap but Porky is still sitting at his desk revising but Beans pokes him to get up on stage in an attitude as though he wants the show to get over and done with.

Porky then stands up to the stage in which his rise to fame begins. We is to recite the poem The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. Porky's stutter here is by Joe Dougherty (and the voice) and couldn't control his stutter but I wonder if the purpose for this sequence was for the stutter to annoy the audience to shout "alright, already" but they liked that stuttering pig. It's like comparing comedian Roy Atwell (as Yowp pointed out before) that he would put on a stutter that would annoy the audience to shout "get on with it". Porky begins his recitation:

Porky Pig: (stuttering) Listen, my children, and you shall hear "Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere" (Porky does an impression of Revere on his horse). On the eighteenth of April 1775; (waves out American flag that remembers American Revolution). Hardly a man is now alive who remembers that famous day and (stutters) year. "Half a league, half a league onward rode the four hundred." "Forward, the Light Brigade!", "Charge it to me", he said, "Cannon to the right of them!"

Porky then points to his right of a turtle working behind the scenes by banging on his shell to show a dramatic display that works really well. Notice how Porky gets his directions wrong as he accidentally points to the left. Really great character personality. Porky then points to his left "Cannon to the left of them", in which a pup behind-the-scenes pulls down a basket of light bulbs that smash to make gun sounds. As Porky is about to continue - the class get bored in which a group of dogs start to lick Porky off the stage, and that's all you see of him in this cartoon - but don't forget; you'll see him in many shorts to come. When Porky says "Half a league, half a league onward", he gets the poem mixed up to The Charge of the Light Brigade. It's pretty dated, too.

Bob McKimson was the uncredited animator on the Porky Pig sequence and did a great job there. He gave Porky some real character animation - he sweats as he tries to control his stutter of his speech. He performs some great pantomime. You can really feel that Porky is trying really hard so this is probably what the audience really liked in that sequence, and Porky was brought back - the stutter captured the hearts. For someone who's probably seen this cartoon the first time might think that Porky looks so different - and he may not be the same as he will look like in the late 30s, 1940's or 1950s but his stutter and his name still marks his first appearance.

Now that Porky has finished his part of the cartoon, Miss Cud announces: And now we will hear Little Kitty. Little Kitty enters the classroom very timid and nervous but gets pushed in by the mother. Her job is to recite the nursery rhyme: Mary Had a Little Lamb. Just as Little Kitty is about to begin; we already see some great personality coming from her as she is really child-like who can't recite really well; in fact as she is is starting her recite of the nursery rhyme; she already struggles on the easiest part: the first verse. Miss Cud is behind the scenes assisting Little Kitty in getting her lines right. She mimes the word "lamb" and even holds out a picture of a lamb.

Little Kitty then remembers the word "lamb" and recites the second verse: It's fleece was white as... she struggles on the next word to come out in which Miss Cud brings out a cereal box of cornflakes. She tosses the cornflakes out in the air to resemble snow -silently. Little Kitty accidentally shouts "cornflakes" in which to her humiliation and Miss Cud's. Little Kitty then recites the rest of the poem and funnily enough gets all the verses right; which I guess is part of the joke - she struggles with the easiest part but remembers the hard parts. While Little Kitty struggles; she moves and sweats as though she's desperate for the toilet or something - even from the tone of voice. Bernice Hansen does an alright voice but it sounds just like her other voices. As Little Kitty hasn't quite finished the very last part; she rushes out of the door then out of the school. If I'm not mistaken; this sequence of Little Kitty was animated by Bob McKimson, too.

The next part then moves onto the musical section starting with characters that don't need an introduction in this short: Ham and Ex. Ham and Ex - the two puppies are singing the title song; I Haven't Got a Hat. It's said that the voices (Ham by Bernice Hansen) and Billy Bletcher to voice Ex - but I only think Bletcher does the part of when Ex does the boomb-boomb sounds; and the rest is Hansen doing both the voices while they are singing.

Meanwhile Oliver Owl and Beans are seated at their desks - they are rather bored; but Oliver Owl brings out a bag of sweets that he's hidden in his desk. Beans licks his lips for his admiration of the candy but Oliver Owl tease him by eating a candy cane and sticking his tongue out towards Beans. From what I've seen - Oliver Owl is a pretty snobbish character - his appearance and all. Ham and Ex then finish off their
unspectacular performance with their singing of the title song - and to think that teachers would allow popular songs to be played in school?

Miss Cud then walks into the stage where she has a piece of paper on her hand, she announces: We have with us today a very competent musician Master Oliver Owl. Oliver Owl then puts down his bag of sweets as he grabs out his piece of paper with his piano score; and turns away from Beans snobbishly. As Oliver Owl is about to leave; Beans the Cat is about to steal some of his candy but Oliver Owl snatches them away from Beans stealing them and walks to the stage to play the piano.

Oliver Owl places the bag of sweets by the side of the piano; and places his piano score on the table as he is about to begin. Oliver Owl is playing a settling tune on the piano. One of the school kids try to shush one of the classmates to listen to Oliver Owl's piano skills. Beans the cat then plans on an idea to humiliate Oliver Owl whilst playing the piano. Beans the cat steps outside as he finds a ladder outside the school window with a black cat sleeping on top of it. Beans places the black cat inside the piano and then a random dog that ran into the scene. Mmm, looks like we know what's going to happen and I imagine that Friz Freleng wanted this sequence to be intended as the highlight of the cartoon.

As Oliver Owl is still playing the piano - the piano keys are playing itself as the dog and cat are still chasing each other; I presume. The animation of the piano is brilliant and moves well. Oliver Owl is startled as he finds out that the keys are playing themselves. The song is changing itself to Poet and Pleasant Overture as the piano starts to move itself violently towards a pretty violent tune to play. It's a really fun gag to look and even the kids in the class (inc. parents) aren't noticing.

As the chasing inside the piano has stopped as the dog and cat stopped chasing each other - briefly. The audience clap at that piano thinking that Oliver Owl has these skills when actually - he couldn't turn in something like that. Oliver Owl then just bows and praises himself - masquerading that he played that tune towards the end.

Oliver Owl then notices the piano playing itself and is shocked to find that his fake piano skills have been revealed. The dog and the cat jump out of the piano and continue to chase each other. All the kids starts to boo at Oliver Owl for faking it - and once again - really great story telling. Beans the cat is sitting outside the window ladder laughing but Oliver Owl gets his revenge by squirting green ink all over Beans. Beans falls off a ladder in which a red bucket of paint catapults inside the school that covers Oliver Owl and Beans falls inside the school. Considering that Oliver Owl and Beans are now even, they shake hands grinning - and that's all folks.

This is my special completed by giving you a review of a cartoon that would go down in the history of the Looney Tunes, and it's really good. The character personalities of this cartoon are a highlight and that's probably what was really important in making successful cartoons - while Bosko and Buddy were just nothing but a rip-off of Mickey Mouse (who in my opinion is just a bland Disney character that NOBODY can see - but he's certainly better than Bosko and Buddy. Donald Duck and Goofy are funnier characters; face it). I had a feeling that the piano sequence was meant to be the highlight and the audience were meant to look up to Beans, but Porky was what they really enjoyed; and the studio really found themselves a successful star. Bob McKimson contributed to good animation (as well as the other animators; whom I don't know who animated what). This was a really good Merrie Melodies and I have a feeling that his cartoon was a special turning-point of the Looney Tunes in which Tex Avery arrived to use his characters; and that Jack King would improve his directing skills by directing "A Cartoonist's Nightmare" which is a good cartoon. Friz, unfortunately still made his bland cartoons for at least another year - and this cartoon could've been his breakthrough - but not yet.


  1. Stuttering comedian Roy Atwell was the voice of Doc in Disney’s Snow White. He does some of those spoonerisms in the film (‘Uh, come on, hen- Uh, men.”)

  2. Congratulations, Steven! I hope you can reach 200 reviews quite soon!

    Look like Rollin Hamilton worked on scenes with Ham and Ex - their sense of timing looks different, plus their simple design, that looks a little bit older than with other characters, was easier to animate for good ol' Ham(Hamilton).

  3. Actually they use the name Miss Cud because the character is a cow and cows chew their cud (regurgitated partially digested food).

    Also, Porky's voice at this point is attributed to Joe Dougherty. Dougherty was a real life stutterer who did the part for two years before being replaced by Mel Blanc. Personally I find Dougherty's version of the character unpleasant to listen to, and it's in large part because he's an actual stutterer (and a pretty severely afflicted one too if I'm any judge). I don't want to sound insensitive but it's hard to listen to him, and harder still when you realize that we're meant to be laughing at his real affliction.

  4. Keith Scott's more accurate than I when it comes to stuttering comedians. Atwell used to get tongue-tied and start over all the time (one of several radio comedians who pulled that kind of routine). Roscoe Ates was a true stutterer.

    I kind of wonder .. and we'll never know the answer .. if King animated on this because Schlesinger thought so highly of the concept that he wanted his best animators on it. I have to wonder if Jones worked on this as well. I suspect there must have been more than three.

    Brent's right. Dougherty's painful. He's not funny.

  5. Daugherty's actually funnier as the cretin singing the title song in "Go Into Your Dance" later in 1935, where the annoyingness of his stutter is a major part of the gag. But he was never more painful than in calling out to the farm animals in Tashlin's debut directorial effort, "Porky's Poultry Plant".

  6. Devon: I know Atwell did the voice of Doc; and funny enough - I was going to mention it but I didn't see the use.

    Sanek: Well, if you think it's Rollin Hamilton; then go ahead - but I can't tell his scenes well.

    Brent, Yowp & J Lee: I personally agree that Dougherty's voice is unpleasant to listen to and godly annoying. That's why Leon fired him to get Mel Blanc as his replacement. Although - I guess his voice in "Golddiggers of '49" isn't as painful but still annoying.

  7. I'm with all of the above four posters ,too, on Doughterty. He sucks. [But must be given credit, admittedly for being the first voice of Porky. Mel Blanc was hired in 1937.]

    STEVE C.

  8. Fifth on the suckage as well. At least the suckage in this case is historical, as it would hold station for Mel Blanc's arrival. Mel in later interviews (which could or could not be made up) noted he heard pigs 'grunt', and that may have contributed to Mel doing the voice of Porky so well.

  9. When Porky stutters it sounded real, as if his voice actor was really stuttering! Reply if you agree!

    1. He was. Joe Dougherty actually stuttered quite badly, which is why he was let go and Mel Blanc took over the role two years later. Dougherty dropped off the map for some fifty years, it seems; I can't find much about him except he had some medical training in college and died of a heart attack in 1971. age 79.