Wednesday, 14 March 2012

128. The Blow Out (1936)

Warner cartoon no. 127.
Release date: April 4, 1936.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Tex Avery.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Joe Dougherty (Porky Pig) and Lucille LaVerne (Bomber).
Musical Score: Bernard Brown.
Animation: Charles "Chuck" Jones and Sid Sutherland.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky helps people in the streets in order to get cash quick to buy an ice-cream soda. Meanwhile a mad bomber is terrorizing the city - before Porky encounters him.

This time it's Tex Avery's turn to direct a short as part of the "Beans" gang group and of course; he chooses Porky - since he wanted him to be a star. You may have noticed the crappy colorized version of the cartoon (well; it doesn't look bad in color) but at least I found a copy of it in black and white; so I'll stick it to its original formula.

 Our cartoon begins with the Town Hall in which there is a mysterious figure wearing a black cape hiding by the building preparing for a disguise. The figure then places a clock by the door which has a bomb inside. The bomb sets off with the building blown up.

The news hits the front headlines in the scenes of the newspapers in which has headlines such as Bomber at Large, $2000 Reward for Bomber, Time Bomb Blows up Building, Fiend Evades Capture, etc. Notice how the same newspaper with the same headline appears more than once a couple of times. The police department are sitting in their offices groaning "Calling all cars" in which they're looking for the bomber. The police animation would later be reused in later Avery shorts for WB. It appears to be that everyone has identified the bomber but are unsure of his whereabouts.

 The police cars are out trying to search for the bomber all over the city. We PAN across the streets to some of the crowded apartment areas where he view the basement door in which that is the location of where the bomber lives. To demonstrate how spooky it would be; it has a bat flying across the basement. I wonder if Avery just had one of his animators to do a bat fly; and someone else did the bomber after the pan?

The bomber is producing more clock bombs for his next trick in which he speaks by placing in the bombs; "A little dynamite, a black bomb, a few firecracker, some lovely skyrockets, and the time bomb that will blow up the city". The bomber has finished preparing the clock in which he walks out with his disguise with the black cloth and hat. So he must be unaware of the newspapers since they've already got a picture of him - looks like he's going to be spot easily. The voice of the bomber may be grating as it sounds like a witch but at least it shows how evil he is.

The bomber with his disguise costume on then walks to the city map in which he ponders "Let's see; what building today?" The bomber grabs out his marker pen in which the map already shows some parts of the town already blown up. Now that is one evil villain. The bomber finds the part of the building he wants to blow up, "Ahh - here it is!" then draws a circle on the location.

The bomber then walks out of the house and it seems that he already knows how to navigate around the city. As he steps out of his basement; he hides from the sounds of people approaching. The bomber then starts to tiptoe his way with more trouble and chaos for the city as he laughs evilly until we iris out to the next part of the cartoon. If you notice that the voice sounds similar to the witch in Snow White (1937) and ironically LaVerne did the voice of the witch, also.

We iris in in which our hero Porky is walking down the street as he looks much more younger and chubbier. As much as I like Avery's shorts for the 1930s WB cartoons; his character designs on Porky weren't good until Bob Clampett made him cuter by comparison. His designs on this cartoon are just rather unappealing but the personality still shows appeal.

Porky is standing outside an Ice-cream soda cafe in which he is desperate to have an ice-cream soda himself as he's looking through the window at the delicious taste of it. This was probably a treat for Porky as he looks so happy; since this was the Great Depression where people would've had it on an occasion. Porky looks sad as the man drinking the ice-cream soda has finished it all. Porky checks in his "pocket" to see if he has any money. He stutters, "Five pennies just enough for an ice-cream soda".

 He runs into the building in which he asks the gentleman on the counter "one ice cream soda, please?". The bartender replies; "Too bad sonny; you only have half enough pennies for a soda". Porky walks out sad, but realises if he can "have one" but the man on the counter says "I'm sorry you need five more pennies". Well the sign at the shop clearly said an ice-cream soda costs 10 cents.

Porky walks out of the ice-cream soda bar rather sad as he can't afford one. He sits down on the pavement rather bored and trying to think of an idea. A man is walking past the street in which he accidentally drops his walking stick. Porky picks it up for him in which the man was very obliged for that, "Thank you little man; here's a penny for you". The man offers him a penny as a reward in which Porky is satisfied with the penny as he does a little dance before placing it in his pocket. These days no-one would give you a penny for that as they're all tight with money.

 Porky then looks to his right in which he runs to the part of the pavement where it shows a woman has dropped her glove. Porky picks up the glove for her in which the woman responds "Oh thank you son, here's a penny". Another penny for Porky; another triumphant dance he gives us.

Porky sees a cow lady accidentally dropping her purse in which Porky zooms in to pick it up for her. One penny, one dance. The speed here used in Avery's cartoons shows the improvement as though they've just made it in a second which Avery loved to use.

I do quite like that spin Porky does whilst dancing as you can see in this small picture on your right. Nice spikes that are produced here but I'm not going to guess the animator identifications - for two things: one - how am I supposed to know. Two, I don't often like to make mistakes if I attempted - but we all make mistakes.
Porky has so far achieved 3 coins from the people for deliberately helping them out in order to get money. Porky looks on the pavement in which he finds a 5 cents coin which would easily cover up his allowance to buy an ice-cream soda. As Porky is about to pick it up a Scottish terrier dog rushes into the scene and picks it up before he does. He greets Porky and walks off.

Meanwhile as Porky was looking at his left; we PAN to our right where the bomber is about laughing evilly as he is on the side of the walls. The bomber then stands by the Blotz building.

The bomber laughs evilly in which he is turns on the clock to "on" shouting "Here it goes". The bomber in his disguise costume places the bomb clock on the doorstep and vanishes. This turns into a failure for the bomber as Porky enters the scene and thinks he accidentally left it in which he tries to return the clock bomb to him not knowing it's a bomb.

Now that is some great characteristics of Porky; not knowing of the bomber's plan and the bomber is in trouble by Porky as he will go after him to return the clock because he's expecting a penny. The bomber is standing behind the wall of the building waiting the explosion but Porky walks into the scene in which he tries to return the bomber the clock but the bomber makes a "take" since Porky doesn't know what he's doing. The take is a pretty funny expression as he runs off.

 There is a chase sequence that is going on between the bomber and Porky as they are running from shop to shop and back out. The bomber then starts to hide inside a garage and attempts to close the door. As he tries; the door is slammed to the other side with a gap open for Porky to run through.

The bomber is found by Porky again in which he tries to hand in the clock but the bomber gasps with fright as he finds Porky before running out. The bomber then tries to run up to the very top of the apartment building. Porky has already reached the top that scared the bomber which causes him to run down. This short reminds me of the Droopy cartoons where the wolf is trying to escape from him - Dumb Hounded and Northwest Hounded Police except it hasn't been exaggerated on how Avery would like to use it later in his cartoons. The musical score in this cartoon by Bernard Brown shows some great dramatic staging for this bit of action.

 The bomber then starts to hide under the manhole and into the sewer where it is very dark down there. He laughs evilly in which that he is sure Porky will never find him down there. He is wrong since Porky has already arrived there in which the bomber starts to scream.

The bomber then starts to run on the other side of the sewage but Porky is already there. Tex Avery loved to use those type of gags in which a character had already arrived; it's his use of comic timing. It works really well in this cartoon as this is probably the first Warner cartoon to use this type of timing.

 The bomber jumps out of the sewer to hide in another manhole but Porky follows. The bomber jumps out of another manhole but tries to block Porky from escaping. Porky comes out on the last part of the manhole still holding the clock. And you'd think that the clock should have already exploded by then but the timing must save some time.

The bomber then grabs out a sign as he thinks Porky is still inside the manhole shouting:

Bomber: Now I'll fix the little pest, so he'll be blown to pieces whether you people will like it or not.

The bomber then plans to blow up Porky himself as he thinks Porky with the bomb is under there. Porky is standing behind him in which he is clinging onto his robe. One of the cops in the police car then notices him. "There goes the bomber, Mike - let's get him!" The police car then starts to chase after the bomber.

 The bomber is caught by the police car in which he turns around to run off - Porky is still clinging onto his robe dangling about which is pretty funny to look at. The officers in the car then notice Porky dangling.

Cop #1: Look the kid's got hold of him.
Cop #2: Yeah the little fella's got plenty of nerve to tackle a mug like that.

The bomber then runs back into his house in which the cops are still after him. The bomber is then unlocking the doors in which he shouts "They can't get me now!" He then blocks the door so the cops won't get in. The bomber blocks the door with a barrel; box, etc. The officers then knock on the door shouting "Open up in the name of the law!". The bomber then notices that next to him is Porky (who was clinging onto his dress the whole time) gives him the clock which is burning up. The bomber changes his mind in which he unlocks the doors and into the police van. Porky gives him the bomb on the way. There is a funny scene of the police van driving away in which it reacts to the fireworks inside.

 Everyone has crowded around as they proclaim Porky the hero who did help out in stopping the villain in which he was the reason for letting him go to jail. The man gives him a bag of money saying, "Here's your reward, $2000!" Porky does his triumphant dance as he has enough money to buy ice-cream sodas. The bag drops on his head in which money falls out.

A group of people then crowd around questioning Porky about what will be do since he's manages to become fortunate with the money. Porky starts to stutter on what he's going to buy; as we don't know until the next scene...

 ...yes; it turns out that what Porky was going to buy him all along in the picture was an ice-cream soda. However since he has got enough money to buy himself some ice-cream sodas; he has in fact used his whole cash to buy a whole bunch of ice-cream sodas. Now that ending has got some charm.

Say; since Porky's reward was $2000 and yet an ice-cream soda cost him 10 cents. So; if you divide 0.10 from 2000 - it means he has enough money to buy exactly 20'000 ice-cream sodas. What a "piggy" ;-). I wonder if that's all he was buying for.
Overall comments: This was a rather charming Tex Avery cartoon in this early Porky character. Yes; I dislike the character design but it doesn't ruin the whole picture just because of design. Porky has a charming personality here in which he is portrayed as a child here just to buy ice-cream sodas which was the whole point of this cartoon; since the bomber played a part of the story. The dialogue was very clear to understand (probably because of the sound quality I was listening to). The bomber was also a great villain here in which his voice was just great and sounded much like the witch. Although I am unsure if this was Lucille LaVerne who did the voice - just because it sounds like the Wicked Witch from "Snow White"?? The action scenes were entertaining to watch as it was much more fun to see than watching Jack King or Friz Freleng sequences - so Bravo to Tex. Bernard Brown appears to have shown an improvement with his musical scores (even though it was one of his lasts) his musical scores appear to tell the story at times (and show coherence). Overall; a charming cartoon that I'm sure a Looney Tunes fan would enjoy.


  1. What a cool site! I wish I had this kind of commitment to my blog :D
    I'm a big fan of the Warner Bros. cartoons, Tex Avery, Hanna Barbera, Woody Woodpecker and Tom & Jerry - they just don't make cartoons like they used to!

  2. "The little fella's got pretty unnerved to tackle a mug like that."

    He actually says, "The little fella's got PLENTY OF NERVE to tackle a mug like that."

  3. Corrected it Devon,

    but I was close, though.

  4. Steven, the bomber is Martha Wentworth. Same voice as in "Fraidy Cat", the 1942 Tom and Jerry cartoon.

  5. I cannot recall what the Mad Bomber looks like in this cartoon, but having a woman voice him is unique. When I'd heard the Martha Wentworth voice on MGM cartoons (she was one of the witches over a caldron in Hugh Harman's "THE BOOK WORM"), I seriously thought the voice actually belonged to Margaret Hamilton who would play such a role in 1939's MGM classic, "THE WIZARD OF OZ". I once made a DVD compilation from laserdisk that featured this cartoon alongside other Avery cartoons where one character was trying to speed away from or avoid another character, but that character would always show up at the very spot to drive him crazy, like "TORTOISE BEATS HARE" (Warner Brothers), the first of the Bugs Bunny vs. Cecil Turtle titles, and the DROOPY cartoons you mention.