Saturday, 7 April 2012

145. Milk and Money (1936)

Warner cartoon no. 144.
Release date: October 3, 1936.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Tex Avery.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Joe Dougherty (Porky Pig, Porky's Father) and Billy Bletcher (Mr. Vipor).
Musical Score: Carl W. Stalling.
Animation: Charles "Chuck" Jones and Virgil Ross.
Sound: Treg Brown.
Synopsis: Porky and his son have until 3 o'clock to pay the rent; as Porky and his horse try to earn money by becoming a milkman and later a horse jockey. Only a horsefly can give them hope.

The first cartoon to use the new title card of only Porky Pig featured since it definitely tells us that Porky Pig is the new star to the Looney Tunes; while in the previous title cards with Porky remaining in the last cartoons were likely to be from the 1935/1936 season. So; it's safe to say that this is the beginning of the 1936/1937 season.

Our cartoon begins with a beautiful background view of a house with a beautiful front yawn that shows flowers which also has a farm. We pan to Porky's father who is busy digging the ground for Harvest as he is going to build crops. Porky's father then points on the right after hearing  Porky's whistling; "That's my son, Porky!".

We PAN to the right as we see Porky Pig who is using a plough horse but is far too useless and lazy do be ploughing the fields. Porky is taking his time which I imagine is meant to be a funny gag since it shows that Porky Pig is not hard at work at all.

We start to PAN forward to the barn where it is very dark inside. I like how the camera shot would zoom in carefully into the dark barn and then quickly inside as we see some horseshoes lying around. We then move to a desk with a home made out of a small box that has a saddle on top disguised as a roof.

Yes; the sign on the door of the resident says it all - it's Hank Horsefly. Let's say "hello" to him. This is a really awesome looking horsefly as he has the small tail and the face of a horse that shows it a great caricature.

Hank Horsefly notices a plough horse's behind (a good point of view shot of the horse plough's behind). Hank Horsefly grabs out a bib as he ties it around his neck. As Hank the horsefly flies out of his house we zoom in to the horse's plough (good speedup) and then Hank bites in the horse plough's behind.

The horse starts to whinny as he reacts to the horsefly's biting episode on his behind. There's an awesome reaction of the horse to that which is pretty funny. What we get is a neat aerial view shot of the crop field that Porky's working on as the horse manages to plow very quickly. The timing is perfect of the horse digging up with the plough. I wonder HOW did Avery do that since it's just a drawing of the plough. I imagine is that very had an overlay (or something) on top of the dug up crops and Avery came up with a technique to remove it with the ploughed crops showing. The plough horse then breaks open a gate as Porky flies out and the horse is sitting on a bucket of water as he managed to get rid of Hank the horsefly.

Porky has his suspenders hanging on top of the plough and Porky's father walks into the scene to place him on the ground safely. Porky's father makes a worried take as he shouts "Uh-oh".

The man who is approaching his farm in a carriage is Mr. Viper - the snake (also the taxman) who is wearing a suit and is just one of those typical caricatured villains that have curly moustaches; black suits and hats (often top hats). Mr. Viper approaches to the farm as he steadies the horse with a "Whoa!" sound. We dissolve into later as there had been probably a lengthy talk about how Porky's father and Porky are way behind the rent.

Mr. Viper: ...and if you don't have the money tomorrow by 3 o'clock. I'll take the farm (breaks the forth wall) He'll never make it".

Mr. Viper then lowers his hat as he leaves them "Fare you well", as he walks off with that slithering snake walk. Don't forget - he's also a "snake". He slithers back onto the carriage and it's very good timing and movement of the snake slither. (Devon Baxter in the comments mentioned that the Mr. Vipor scenes were animation by Chuck Jones; this is pretty damn good animation of Mr. Viper).

Porky's father then starts to speak rather grimly to Porky about the truth "Things look pretty dark, son" as they have no hope in having enough money to pay the rent. There is a great use of mood and atmosphere since the backgrounds and screen starts to fade darker to demonstrate Porky's father's mood. Porky then replies with his hand gestures rising upwards "Brighten up, Pa. Brighten up". That is a very good pun in terms of it's visual look to it (like the color volume of the background) and it's so true as Porky said so. It's very typical of what Avery would do.

Porky continues to talk as he has proposed on what he will do "Me and the horse will go to the city and get some money". In the next scene Porky is seen sitting down in the park trying to find a job for him and the horse to work on order to save Pa and the farm.Porky has finally found the perfect job for him to save money which is to be a milkman and the horse can be the one that drives the milk cart.

The advertisement on the paper reads; "WANTED - MILKMAN WITH HORSE. APPLY - FULLER - WATER MILK CO.

The next scene Porky marches right into the company's headquarters and speaks to the manager for the job.

Manager: Okay son, you get the job. But if you break one bottle, you're fired.

Porky is rather afraid of his actions and warnings about breaking a bottle. In the next scene; Porky is now seen as a milkman with his horse driving the milk wagon with it's cycle animation (including Porky turning to his head to the audience). Hank Horsefly is outside ready for his napkin but reads a notice on the horse's plough as it reads; "Gone to the city - Dobbin". Hank the horsefly starts to buzz angrily as he starts to make his journey travelling all the way to the city. He grabs out his suitcase and then flies out of the scene.

Porky is outside his van as he places a bottle of milk by the front doorsteps of the houses. There are random black cats around the pavement that go around drinking the milk which is rather amusing as it shows that the people will think Porky did a bad job and no-one will even think it was a black cat.

Porky approaches at the footsteps of a couple named "Mr. and Mrs. D. Onne and Family". The pun is meant to be from the famous quintuplets raised by Mr. and Mrs. Dionne. Porky grabs out the bottles and places them on the doorstep as he drops the bottles of milk for each family as he stutters; "Mister, missus, and, uh, family" as he drops out a bottle that has five teats in one bid so the five kids can drink from it; heh heh - looks like they don't need breastfeeding anymore. Porky continues to do his job as the milkman while the other black cats drink the milk without his acknowledgement of that.

Meanwhile up in the sky Hank the horsefly is on an expedition trip to the city as he needs a map to follow it; ha ha - he REALLY wants to chew that horse's ass desperately.

While Porky Pig is still delivering milk bottles on people's doorsteps. In his milk basket all of the bottles are gone. Porky then grabs out a basket of empty bottles as he places them all inside the milk canteen. Porky places his tray in position as he turns on the spigot where the milk bottles are filled and plop out of the spigot and into the tray. That has very good timing and I love the "plop" sounds that go with it. Mike Barrier mentioned those type of gags Avery was using in 'Hollywood Cartoons' and it's certainly a typical Avery gag but I just love the timing of that. It was done so well; it's a shame that I can't get around identifying the animators of this period since their styles are not easy to identify.

Meanwhile Porky hears the sound of a woman at the very top of an apartment as she shouts "Yoo-hoo. Yoo-hoo. I want one bottle of milk please". Porky delivers his milk through a downspout as he places it inside and blows so the milk bottle can travel all the way up the top for the woman who has a house on top of the roof - oddly enough. Wait - Porky hasn't received payment.

Meanwhile Hank the horsefly has finally arrived at the city as he drops his luggage and map as he finds Dobbie the horse ploughing the milk wagon. Look at that beautiful horse walk in that point of view shot. Hank the horsefly then starts to speed up to grab Dobbie in the butt but stops because of traffic lights. Hank Horsefly buzzes angrily. That is pretty funny since he had to stop of traffic lights but he could've just went through since it's not as though there are lots of flies about. I guess maybe he just felt the need.

Porky and his horse Dobbie are still riding around the streets but very slowly. Hank then starts to speed up as he seems to have a nibble on him coming any time soon and SHAZAAM! The horse neighs and spins around reacting in a 360 degree angle and starts to run very fast much because of the reaction to the bite. The speed becomes very fast that it starts to form into speedlines and then into a shooting arrow - the wagon does. Now that is probably Avery's best time speed in terms of action so far; which is better than what he did at 'Gold Diggers' which is great speed effects but in this one it forms into an arrow which makes it even more impressive and sharper.

The "arrow" continues to shoot very fast until it crashes into a lamp post as Dobbie the horse is very weary but that's not the worst part. THE MILK BOTTLES HAVE CRASHED. Porky wakes up and finds the bottles smashed much to his horror.

A blurry cloud with an image of his boss recites Porky's memory as he recalls his warning; "But if you break one bottle, you're fired". This becomes a horror look on Porky's face. As we move on; Porky is seen on his horse Dobbie looking rather glum as he's been given the sack. Porky then starts to walk past a race track which would be good news for Porky and his horse since they could win some cold hard cash and enough for Porky's father to pay the rent on time. Dobbie then spots a bucket of oats in one of the stables as he runs off to eat it which confuses Porky.

As the racecourses start to open; Porky's horse is dragged open by a black person who could be in what John Steinbeck has described it as "stable buck". Porky is rather confused on how he got into the race. You can hear 'Sabre and Spurs' in the background - which Carl Stalling seemed to use whenever races are about to begin.

All of the other horse racers are very competitive and jumpy to race but not Porky's dog since it's too sleepy and lazy. Porky will never win and earn none at this rate. The announcer on the tower then pulls the trigger and shouts "They're off". There is another aerial shot that Avery loved to use to show action - and of course other cartoon directors. I just love how it's showing that the number of horse in a long shot are already completing their laps but Porky's horse hasn't even begun or even Porky isn't ready. Porky reads the notice; "Fourth Place - $10'000 Handicap". Porky starts to try and get his horse running shouting "Get up. Let's go. This is a race. Get up, log" but the horse won't even start moving as Porky is bound to lose and walk away with nothing - not a bean.

Meanwhile Hank the horsefly is flying around looking for Dobbie the horse. Boy; it must be his companion. A ray of hope suddenly turns up as Hank horsefly is about to bite him which becomes an advantage of Dobbie since he starts to neigh and spin like crazy. Dobbie is on the run with those thick use of speedlines.

The aerial shot shows us that Dobbie the horse is overtaking many of the players who haven't even completed one lap while Dobbie is managing to run many laps in like a second. Now THAT'S definitely a world record - ;-). A typical Avery gag then pops up that shows Porky and his overtaking the jockeys on the horse as one jockey is found on the other horse with two jockeys racing on one horse and the other horse is empty.

More overtaking continues as Porky and Dobbie run very fast past a jockey and horse in which tornado speedlines cover up the racers and it turns out that the horse is the jockey; and the jockey being the horse. An audience then woo on the leading horse that even Dobbie's speed causes the audience to move sideways by force.

They continue to run to such speed as they are reaching the finishing line. The horse's brakes then start to squeal as Porky and his horse win the race by luck. The announcer shouts "The winner!". Porky is rather confused but once the prizes are being awarded he's very satisfied with the results.

 Meanwhile back at home Porky's father is walking up and down worrying if Porky will return home on time with the money. Hmm; his father isn't saying "Worry, worry, worry" like he did on 'Porky the Rainmaker''. Mr. Viper the taxman a.k.a. the snake has his watch out as he announces; "Hmm. It is now one minute to three. (Breaks the forth wall) I got him going".

The sounds of a car horn arrives at the house as Porky's father stutters with joy "Well, I'll be jiggered" since Porky has arrived in a very fancy roofless limo; suit and the money. We're in the Money is heard in the background of the limo. This is another popular song that Stalling often used like whenever the characters have stroked rich and especially when it evolves around money. So there are early Stalling music traits in this cartoon that's featured here. At the very back of the limo shows Hank the horsefly who's returned sitting down on a sun lounge.

Mr. Viper is thunderstruck and completely surprised as it's bad luck for him at the very last minute. "Curses. I'm sunk!" Porky Pig then jumps up to his father's arms embracing each other with the bag of money as Porky hands Mr. Viper some of the cash.

Porky Pig: Here's your money, Mr. Viper.
Mr. Viper: Thaaank youuu.

As Mr. Viper positions himself where he lowers his hat for his thanks; Hank then buzzes in the air and bites Mr. Viper in the anus as he starts to fly with his holler. He hits the ground as Porky lowers the black screen where Mr. Viper is the only character on the screen as the "That's all, Folks" titles appear with him sitting down rather weary. Now that is very clever of Avery to use since it's he's making him sit down during the That's all, Folks credits; and Avery seemed to like using iris in jokes of the characters only left on the screen - a trait of his - as it's another example shown here.

Overall comments: This cartoon certainly was a big improvement of the techniques Avery was using for animation as though some of it was inspired by Frank Tashlin. I liked the use of gags here and Avery's timing was certainly an improvement. It had a good story here even though it starts off with those typical parts of a taxman saying "You've got 'til (... o'clock) to have your money or else" but here Avery and the writers have found a clever situation to make it work. Since being a milkman failed; being a horse jockey helped but only to Hank the horsefly was only a minor character but supported the story and was the key symbol of hope for Porky, his horse and his father. The speed sequence of the milk wagon moving was definitely an improvement of speedlines - which you must admit as it forms into an arrow which shows Avery experimenting with timing in this cartoon. The gags that amazed me in this short were the empty bottles/spigot gag as well as Dobbie the horse ploughing the field after his first bite from Hank. Avery even showed some gags with the colour volume changing that gathered emotions (dark to bright) and even to puns. It feels as though Avery used some experiments with animation and gags that all fit together nicely.


  1. Chuck Jones animated those scenes with Mr. Viper. His work really had a smooth feel to it and in Clampett's cartoons, in the close-up shots, he added a 'gloss' to his characters (something Brandon Pierce pointed out).

    Also, there's that animation style I can't figure out creeping in again. It's shown at the shot of the "brighten up" gag, the scene with Porky and his boss, and Porky thinking back to what his boss told him. I wish I could know who animated that way.

  2. The "D. Onne" gag is a reference to the Dionne quintuplets, born two years earlier; the nipples are actually a rubber glove.

    There's at least one more reference to the quints in the WB short "Baby Bottleneck" (1945) where Daffy is taking telephone orders for newborns at the stork's and he answers one call with an incredulous, "Mr. Dionne, pah-leeeeze!"

  3. Thanks joecab for the Dionne reference - I never knew that. I'll make an update on it.

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