Wednesday, 11 April 2012

148. Little Beau Porky (1936)

Warner cartoon no. 147.
Release date: November 14, 1936.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Frank Tashlin.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Joe Dougherty (Porky) and Billy Bletcher (Ali-Mode, Le Commdandant).
Animation: Robert Bentley and Nelson Demorest.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).

Our cartoon takes place where it begins in a foreign legion outpost set in the middle of the dessert. This is sort of the 3rd Warner Bros. cartoon made where it focuses on beaus and it seems to be popular by these artists of French soldiers protecting deserted places. The sun then starts to bounce upwards as it rises. We then start to move closer to the outpost.

A Tashlin technique that he's used for experimenting shows a bulger on top of the outpost as he gives the morning call with his trumpet - all in silhouette which are shadows of an unseen caller. A silhouetted flag then rises which is good animation. More silhouetted figures are shown such as a drummer beginning the march of the soldiers entering their base. The shadowed soldiers then start to march to the front part of the outpost; and it appears that's what Tashlin was using for this cartoon to give it a very unique look to it as it's a very unique idea for a Warner cartoon back then. I like how the backgrounds only focus on the walls since that's there the silhouettes would appear of course.

In the next scene we hear some clinging sounds of medals and then towards the end of the wall is the commander as he is strolling down with so many medals he's wearing on his uniform. He also wears epaulettes on his shoulders with a sword case strapped around his waist. The commandant who has the face of a bulldog then starts to take a look at his soldiers in the outpost.

I've nothing against Tashlin at all since he used brilliant animation techniques with his cartoon with great experiments to add; but I have to say the scene of the commandant with his medals dangling and making sounds - the animation is appalling. I understand that Tashlin was experimenting with style and to try and make movement realistic but the medals dangling is really a failure; it doesn't look right; and even the epaulettes moving really does look bad and unrealistic. Sorry but that's just my two cents.

The commandant then starts to take a look at his soldiers in the base as they're all standing straight but the character designs are a little rough when looking at it. I do like the PAN of the soldiers as he move along and until the very end Porky Pig is the odd one out since he's leaning on a soldier.

The commandant then shouts "Porky Pig!" as Porky makes a jump and grabs his hat while dropping back to the ground after his quick fright from his name called. The French commandant then shouts "Attention"; Porky raises one foot and drops it straight just like what a normal solider would but he did that too firm that it starts to bump into the other soldiers as they tilt on their left and drop like bowling pins all lined up together. The French commandant isn't pleased to see that the "attention" isn't going well as he shouts it again. The gag then turns up with all of the soldiers tilting back up to their spot on their right which is a pretty charming gag but I think this is the same animation but done backwards - something that loads of cartoon directors have done and it would've saved animators from not having to do a hard task.

Commandant: (off-screen) Porky Pig!
Porky Pig: Who? (stuttering badly) me?
Commandant: Yes you-a (almost stuttering, then firm). YES YOU!

I imagine that this is the same animator who did the French commandant walking down in his stroll. The Colonel shaking with his medals shaking was better animation though - but it gets sloppy-Joe when he walks down the outpost shouting "Forward March" with too much movement on the epaulettes and medals clinging. Like I said; I'm aware that this was just a type of experiment Tashlin was trying and don't forget he was only 23 when making this short so he wasn't at his best when making these cartoons. Porky Pig then starts to obey the commandant's orders as he marches behind the commandant. The HUGE sword case then starts to trip Porky as it makes a turn for the French commandant marching off. He gives a wink to the audience breaking the forth wall. Why does the commandant's stomach bob on every step he takes; it's like as though there are tons of tiny dynamite pieces that explode on every step he takes. Porky continues to walk until the commandant stops and Porky walks on his of his sword case bumping into him.

The commandant gives Porky the job to scrub his camel as all of the soldiers will be out suspecting any terrorists in the deserted towns. The commandant demands Porky, "YOU! Scrub my camel. And be careful you do not hurt him!" Porky then salutes to the commandant "Okay dokey" obeying his orders.

Porky unrolls his sleeves as he grabs out a brush to dip it in soap water to wash the commandant's camel. Porky then climbs on the step-ladder to clean up his humps but the camel sits down until Porky steps back down to try and wash him but the camel just stands back up. Porky then thinks of an idea to try and wash the camel as he stands around whistling trying to mind his own business. He dashes up the ladder but the camel just sits back down. As Porky starts to step down the ladder the camel stands up and vice-versa as Porky steps up the ladder. It all turns into a type of game as Porky goes up and down the step-ladder and the camel sits and stands. That has some very neat timing by Tashlin. The step-ladder then starts to break because of Porky messing around with it until it collapses and Porky drops to the ground breaking the bucket of water.

Meanwhile a telegraph boy is riding on his camel travelling all the way to enter the foreign legion outpost where Porky is; and where the French commandant is as well. The telegraph dog riding the camel has an important letter for the commandant which is a rather "lumpy" ride for him. No pun intended.

The guard of the outpost then notices the telegraph boy running to the gates as the guard opens the gates. The camel then starts to skid as they have entered the foreign legion in which he runs off to the commandant to send him the letter as he is about to send him the letter before his clumsy trip leaving the piece of paper flying around. The telegraph boy appears to be calling out for the letter speaking in a French language.

The letter then starts to fly around the colonel's head and notice that funny piece of animation of the commandant's eye pupil spinning around as the letter  spins around him and you'll notice in a few frames his eyeball has no pupil. That was something quite clever.

The letter then lands on the commandant's pointy moustache which the gag shows of pins to place through paper with notes which are not used anymore. The commandant then reads the paper - his moustache then curl to form reading glasses which is just classic and very clever. The letter was written from the local telegraph company CAMELGRAM as the message reads "Ali Mode's Riff Raff have attacked us, come at once.........Time's a wastin!! General Sanflee. The commandant then shouts and orders "To arms! To arms! We attack Ali Mode!" 

The trumpeter then makes the call for the attack on Ali Mode as all the soldiers start to rush out of the outpost to chase after Ali Mode. There is some great montage effects of the soldiers leaving the barriers and out of the outposts while the trumpeter is still giving the call.

The soldiers are grabbing out their guns and even grabbing their camels from the Camel Barn to begin on their expedition looking for Ali Mode. All of the soldiers then rush out of the doors as the commandant is the last one to be out so he knows which soldiers he wants have left. The last soldier to arrive is Porky Pig as he is riding on his camel but the commandant drags the camel's tail out of the way dropping Porky to the ground. Look at that beautiful close up of the commandant going straight to Porky's face shouting "Where do you think you are going? We need men! Not camel scrubbers". The commandant then leaves in which Porky is left in the outpost all on his own grumbling behind his back.

Porky goes on grumbling, "So I'm a camel-scrubber, Huh? I'd rather be a camel-scrubber than an old jingle-bell general". We PAN along to the left of a WANTED poster of Ali-Mode. The poster reads: WANTED - DEAD or ALIVE "Preferably Dead"! ALI MODE.

Porky then walks down where the poster is as he is still grumbling and acting too brave, "I'm not afraid of  Ali. I'd  like to beat him face to face. I'd punch him in the jaw. The big sissy". Porky then looks at Ali Mode at the poster as he makes a scared take as he dashes across to the door and locks it so Ali Mode won't be able to enter the fortress. Listen to Porky's bit of dialogue as he is grumbling; Dougherty actually appears to control his stutter pretty well as it doesn't  seem to be a problem there. Porky then starts to act brave again coming up with a poor excuse "I wasn't scared. I just felt a draft" which is just bogus. Through a POV shot from binoculars we view the fortress outside (where Porky is outside) and the person holding the binoculars is none other than Ali Mode. Oh commandant; soldiers; COME BACK. A pretty good closeup of Ali Mode is seen as he whistles for his followers as they pop up from the hills of the desert behind him.

Ali Mode then starts to sneak up on the fortress as he starts to knock on the door to see who is in there. Porky is hammering a lot of wood on the doors to protect the place. He lightly hammers the wood which sounds like a knock as Ali Mode knocks on the door again. Porky is afraid as it's copying his hammering knocks; but then he hammers into rhythm as Ali Mode does the same. Porky speaks to his camel thinking, "It's an echo!" Ali Mode speaks quietly in a funny, falsetto voice "It's an echo". A funny part then turns up as Porky starts to yodel but Dougherty's attempt to yodel is just terrible. Ali Mode performs a better yodel as Porky still thinks it's his echo as he turns to the camel; "Pretty good, huh?"

Ali Mode then tries to copy Porky's words disguising an echo until he goes full about himself saying "Heck! That's perfect!" as though he couldn't resist. Porky then starts to hide behind the camel's legs knowing that there is definitely somebody behind that door who could be Ali Mode - and it is. Porky then timidly asks:

Porky: Who's there?
Ali Mode: (soft voice) I'm a poor little sheik with no place to sleep. Won't you please let me in?

Now listening to THAT quote; it's ALMOST EXACTLY THE SAME quote from Disney's  1933 classic short The Three Little Pigs except that the word is replaced as "sheik" to "sheep" to probably avoid breaking copyright. Sheik was an Arabic word to describe an elderly or the meaning of a "leader/guvnor". Still, it's pretty clear that Tashlin got that line influenced from Disney because - who else? But remember, Tashlin claimed that EVERYTHING was stolen by Disney.

Porky then starts to open the wooden door to the window with bars as he almost falls for his trap. Ali Mode is seen fiddling with his knife but Porky then realises who he is and shouts "Uh-oh. It's Ali Mode!"  Ali Mode then starts to bang on the doors continuously demanding to be let in.

Ali Mode: Let me in!
Porky: No!
Ali Mode: Let me in, I say! Open up the door, please!
Porky: No!
Ali Mode: Let me in!!
Porky: No, no, no, a thousand times, no.

Ali Mode then starts to exclaim to the other followers of him in a different language to break into the outpost as he shouts "Amscray!" the group of his followers then start to dig to the ground to invade the foreign legion outpost but Porky cuts down an palm tree for it it hits the trespassers on the head as they jump out of their holes and out.

Another trespasser as already made it to the top of the fortress as he attempts to shoot Porky with his machine gun. Porky then runs up the top of a tower but while running up the stairs; the enemy shoots the stairs to try and stop Porky.

Porky is standing on the tower as he shoots from out of the window with a machine gun shooting the wood attachments to what looks similar enough to a china rack. . The opponent soldier then lands on a water-well with the pulley spinning numerous times whacking another follower in the face many times. Ali Mode climbs up the ladder to the tower and then opens to the floorboard while Porky Pig is busy shooting at his enemies and followers to Ali Mode. Porky can see what he's trying to do as he steps on the floorboard with Ali Mode falling down the ladder; and falls down. . Another soldier then shoots but the gun reaction makes the pole very wobbly for him as he holds on firmly. Porky fires the pole off in which the soldier falls down landing on the water-well with another soldier being smacked by the pulley. A shooter shoots out from the cauldron pot but the pot spins around a number of times, also.

After all those quick pacing used for Ali Mode climbing the ladder with repeated scenes used; Ali Mode then falls back down as well as Porky for breaking the floorboard.

Ali Mode then slides down at the main base of the outpost as Porky's camel then starts to beat up Ali Mode with a gag featured that shows his humps doing the work of beating Ali Mode. I like the funny drawings of Ali Mode being beaten as he shouts "I'll say, he's playing a game!" Porky opens up a barrel of Cairo Syrup. The camel then starts to toss him inside the barrel as it splashes the entire screen. The camel then starts to walk up to him licking the syrup.

After the misfortune of Ali Mode and his defeat. We hear the sounds of bells clanging again. Yes; Porky is the hero of this picture as suddenly he's ended up with more medals than the captain that the straps  for the medals are LONGER than his uniform which I guess is the gag since the animation of the jingling medals seems very weird to me. Porky Pig appears to now be the general of the fortress. One question though; how did he get SO MANY  medals just for capturing Ali Mode. Was he REALLY WORTH a lot of medals? Porky also whistles for his camel who's also won medals that are attached to his hump for the beating of Ali Mode, too.

Overall comments: I can tell that Frank Tashlin in this cartoon was experimenting with the timing, and the pacing of the short like in the Ali Mode invasion sequence. The animation was very unique in this sequence as though Frank Tashlin was trying out in a different style even though it was rather rough. What really put me off though was the medals jingling animation as it really didn't look right - no matter how much of an attempt it was to try and make it realistic or experimenting. It was a different animator that appeared to be given a lot of those medal jingling scenes but I do not know who the animator is. Tashlin seemed to be crazy with the idea of a silhouetted opening which was actually pretty cool but I wonder if the animators would only have to animate the outlines. I quite liked the simplistic animation of Ali Mode there. This cartoon had some entertainment here (and finally heard a part where Joe Dougherty controls his actual speech) but the animation to me was Sloppy-joe at times but it has good gags and characters to help make it a better cartoon.


  1. One of Tashlin's best WB cartoons!! Billy Bletcher was great as the Commandant who harassed Porky!!

  2. I liked Bletcher's voice too. I'm glad you liked it; apart from the jingling medals animation that put me off; I was pretty much fine with the rest of the short.

  3. Sorry for the little OT, but...maybe I said it TOO LATE, but what you think about producers' labels? WB cartoon studio changed their executives a lot of times, you know...

  4. Producer's labels: what do you mean?

  5. If it's about the labels of me putting Leon Schlesinger's name - I'm still going to keep it that way until "Buckaroo Bugs" - I'm just going with the credits.