Friday, 23 March 2012

133. Fish Tales (1936)

Title card courtesy of Dave Mackey.
Warner cartoon no. 132.
Release date: May 23, 1936.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Jack King.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Joe Dougherty (Porky Pig).
Musical Score: Norman Spencer.
Animation: Bob McKimson and Don Williams.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky goes fish, but falls asleep in dream sequence where he's captured by huge fish.

This is the first full-length Porky short to be directed by Jack King since Porky has only been the supporting characters; such as "Boom Boom" or "Westward Whoa!".

Our cartoon begins with Porky, whistling, who is outside with his fishing rod walking to the harbour where his plan of the day is to go fishing. Porky then starts to walk past a hole where there are two worms that pop up and loop around each others necks. They slide out of the holes in which they follow Porky.

Porky then starts to step inside his speed boat in which he notices that there were two worms following him all along. He grabs out a can in which they are supposed to get in. What I find pretty abnormal for this cartoon is that the worms with personality jump into the can as though they're probably suicidal worms. It gets even MORE messed up when the other worm walks in as though it's doing a Mae West characteristic walk or something until the worm drags her in. Why would worms want to be jabbed in a hook?

Porky then starts to turn on the engine of the speedboat in which the engine starts off rather bumpy but as the engine starts to move the boat; it doesn't go any further. Why? Because Porky is that foolish enough to have forgotten to let go of the ropes; but wouldn't the rope already snap if it's going in such force? Although this does defy the laws of  force; but again in "High Diving Hare" this does the same with the laws of gravity but only the gag in that is more charming to look at and even is excused by Bugs at the end.

The rope is still attached to a spigot until it lets go as the boat starts to spin around in which Porky begins a really crazy trip around the sea. I like the idea of how Porky chose to go fishing in the sea instead of a lake; therefore you'll find HUNDREDS of fish creatures under there. However at the rate that Porky is travelling he has little chance of finding them until the boat has stopped.

The timing here in this boat sequence is an improvement however that I will say. Jack King's cartoons have shown some improvement on the timing here before he left to go to work for Disney. That scene of the speed boat diving under water and swimming under the ship before going back up is definitely an influence of what Tex Avery probably did.

Porky and his speed boat is now going straight towards a battleship in which he cowards himself from being injured. What would be the point of doing that since he would already be injured? The speedboat then travels inside the ship going straight in which a table of sailors sitting down gets torn in half by the incoming speedboat. As the speedboat leaves the battleship then sinks; but I doubt this was meant to be a parody of the Titanic sinking since that sunk in a 90 degree angle, and plus it was split in half. The speedboat continues to act like crazy in this sequence as the timing is probably the best that Jack King has used for this cartoon in terms of speed. The speedboat goes underwater as there are plenty of fish under  there.

The speedboat sequence then comes to an end in which Porky finds the pedal (didn't he realise that all along?) in which the speedboat pauses. The speedboat then starts to spin around 360 degrees numerous times with the use of early speedlines; and that was an early Avery trait he used for his cartoons; and King sure used it here.

Porky then whirls his head as he is rather confused until he lowers his head in which he falls asleep. A fish then starts to swim through his mouth I presume. There appears to be a cut through music cues between the fish near Porky's snout and Porky waking up. I checked the Censored Looney Tunes Guide web page and nothing solid found. As Porky has woken up he starts to feel rather strange as he keeps on feeling his face as though he must've been dreaming.

Notice the smear here of when Porky moves his head around; this is probably the earliest use of smears I've seen in a Warner Bros. cartoon - I don't really know about the earliest cartoon with a smear but they say for a Warner's cartoon it was the "The Dover Boys" as it used proper smears; but here is probably the earliest use of facial smears I've seen. I do wonder who that animator would be, but again I do wonder which animators did what in these early shorts.

Porky then starts to grab out his fishing rod as he starts to go fishing after about 2 minutes of crazy shit coming at the screen such as the worms, the boat sequence, and a fish probably swimming into Porky's snout. Porky swings the fishing rod but the hook is accidentally attached to the boat in which it causes a 360 turn which is a funny gag probably inspired by Avery or by one of the writers - could Tubby Millar or Ted Pierce have worked with him on this short?

As Porky dives his fishing rod into the ocean; he pulls up the fishing reel as it turns out to be a fish's head. Gross. Porky then fishes again as he has managed to grab a group of fishes in a row. Very lucky catch, eh? Porky places them inside a bucket but he stretches the bucket so they can fit in which the bucket then goes down again. Some neat timing being shown here of the bucket stretching; and also the boat spinning around 360 degrees.

Porky then yawns in which he considers to take a nap after only fishing for about 30 seconds or lower. Well - the speed boat probably caused him exhaustion so at least there is some sense here. Porky then goes to sleep while positioned in a pose with his fishing rod. Porky places the rod by the edge of the pole waiting for a fish to yank it and moves the ropes to position as a pillow or something.

While Porky is upstairs sleeping; there is a fish underwater who has the personality and capability of a human that can walk. The fish then grabs out a piece of doughnut in which he places it on the shotgun to shoot it out. Gag inspiration from Avery's "Gold Diggers of 49". Porky's soul then starts to come to life as he finds the doughnut on the boat and picks it up to take a bite. The scary part then turns up when the doughnut has a mouth that snaps Porky's snout dragging his soul underwater.

The fish continues to unwind the reel from his shotgun taking down Porky's soul in which he is placed on a net. Porky's dream is currently in danger although since we know that it's Porky's soul and that it's all a dream - this makes the cartoon more boring and less frightening at all. Jack King had the knack to make these thriller shorts with the consequences showing up and he's certainly making it a dull one.

The fish starts to carry Porky with a net but instead drags him with his fins. This is a good attempt to use the swirling water effect underwater although it looks too much like smoke that can be easily mistaken as it. Disney's "Pinocchio" wouldn't achieve the effect successfully until then. The fish then arrives at home in which he seems to shout  (whatever word he was saying; "home", "hello" or anything) in some Ed Wynn accent. The group of kiddie fish then arrive at the scene as they are excited to see they brought Porky Pig home for dinner.

The children fish then swim to the mother fish about a "pig" being brought home in which they're clearly excited by the looks off. The mother and the children then step outside as the father proudly theatrically shows them Porky for dinner. The children laugh at Porky in which one of them touches him but Porky wiggles scaring the kids.

The fish then starts to grab Porky inside the kitchen in which he cuts off his clothing that turns Porky naked. The fish places Porky inside a casserole dish and stuffs him with pepper. Porky starts to sneeze in which he does so but the casserole dish slides back to hit the wall and lands on Porky. The fish replies with a "Gesundheit!". The fish then starts to stuff in vegetables inside the casserole dish which looks like they're going to be having stuffling pig or something. The fish then shouts "Say, arr!" but Porky only opens his mouth; unless this could've saved from Dougherty having to say "Arr".

The fish then starts to place Porky inside the oven; and I do like the realism of how it was opened - I wouldn't doubt if it was Bob McKimson since he's in the screen credits. Inside the oven there is a group of flames dancing around the fire place around the casserole tray. Porky is inside the oven coughing and shouting "Get me out of here!".

The escape sequence then begins as the flames then help Porky out of the oven in which he runs out and escapes. I find this overall sequence underwater very dark as a fish is capturing a pig; and placing him in the oven. It makes me afraid of fish.

Porky then starts to hide in a type of cave in which he hides from the fish but then to be spotted by a massive worm underwater that wants to eat Porky. Could that be the same worm that went inside Porky's can when wanted to. This is too subtle to go into detail. Porky is therefore being chased by the worm but punches the worm in which the worm's body has a knot inside it with no animation inbetweens. The worm untangles its neck in which the chase sequences continue.

Meanwhile there is a snoring fish that snores bubbles out of its mouth. Porky and the worm swim inside it but as the worm is about to slide out; the fish's mouth looks as though it's a party whistler with the noise and all.

Porky is standing by a pole in which a swordfish flies into the scene and stabs itself through the pole in which the swordfish's nose is trapped by the pole. Porky then grabs out a mallet he has found underwater by luck in which he smacks the swordfishes' nose to block it from escaping.

Porky runs out of the scene but only to be discovered by an octopus that wraps around Porky with it's  arms and smacks him in which his arms stretch before returning back. The smack is repeated itself one more time; until the ocotpus then plans on strangling Porky that cause Porky to struggle until...
...Porky is back to normal as he is struggling with the ropes dangling on him. It has obviously been a bad dream as it has clearly been seen frmo earlier in the short where Porky's soul swims down the sea. One question that really confuses me; how come Porky is still naked since in his soul his shirt was cut off while cooked and is topless even in reality. Did he rip it off or something in his dream? It doesn't make sense to me.

Porky then starts to drop down every piece of equipment that he finds in which he starts to turn on the engine of the speed boat to sail away into the distance.

Overall comments: This Jack King cartoon certainly was an improvement with the gags shown here and his sense of timing such as the boat sequence. Despite the improvements that King has made; I must say that this is probably one of his most messed up shorts he did at WB. The fish sequence capturing Porky could've been better if we knew it was only a dream until the very end and not with Porky's soul leaving. Parts of it didn't make sense to me such as how Porky was still naked after it was all a dream and how did he have his shirt removed when it wasn't a fish; or what was the worms thinking of entering the can when they'll get killed - these are questions we'll never know. The animation has showed some improvement here; like the smear of Porky Pig on top that I have presented.

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