Friday, 20 April 2012

153. Porky the Wrestler (1937)

Title card courtesy of Dave Mackey.
Warner cartoon no. 152.
Release date: January 9, 1937.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Tex Avery.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Joe Dougherty (Porky Pig), Ted Pierce (Fighter) and Mel Blanc (Hoo-hoo sounds).
Animation: Charles "Chuck" Jones and Elmer Wait.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky is a hitchhiker who is thrown into a wrestling arena by mistake.

This would be Mel Blanc's first EVER short that he's ever recorded a voice for but he ONLY makes the "Woo Woo" sounds here; and Blanc would pioneer the Looney Tunes being a star making hilarious voices for great characters.

The cartoon begins with a dash of newspapers roaring out of press with newspaper barkers reading the exciting news that reaches the front headlines. The front headline reads; "CAPACITY CROWDS TO WITNESS CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING TONITE". A caption shoots straight to the screen reading "EVERYONE'S GOING".

After the headlines roaring; we can view to a hitchhiking dachshund who is wearing a suit and holding a briefcase. The dachshund is trying to get a car's attention by using his thumb for the hitchhike sign; and his body stretches before zipping back again! A sign on the tree reads; "To the Big Fight". Another hitchhiker is sitting on the grass smoking a cigar waiting for a car. Another dopey hitchhiker uses both hands to display the signal with dopey looking eyes which I guess is typical of what Avery might use but anyone uses that. Another hitchhiker shouts "Calling all cars. Calling all cars. Give me a ride please". It seems that Warner Bros. loved using references from the old radio program of the time "Calling All Cars". A good joke for it's time.

Porky Pig is also one of the hitchhikers who is using the sign to get the cars attention. He then encounters a motor car driving past as he continues to use the hitchhike with a driver who is riding the motor car who looks like Stan Laurel. The gag is that the Stan Laurel type dog's motor car stops and breaks into pieces. He packs the parts into a case and is now a hitchhiker.

Porky then continues to give the sign until a car finally parks to enter him in with the driver asking about where his next stop is:

Driver: Where you goin', sonny?
Porky Pig: (stutters) to the wrestling match.
Driver: So am I.

Porky is about to enter the vehicle but the car just leaves him on his own which I guess is kinda funny since we expected Porky to get a lift as to what Jack King or Friz Freleng of the time could've included but at least Avery surprised us.

Porky Pig then starts to hear the sounds of a limo driving on the road. Inside the car is "The Challenger" as it's also captioned, too. The Challenger is of course pretty rich (and a professional boxer) as he appears to have a plaster on his head from a past injury I expect. He is puffing happily with his cigar.

The music heard in the background is We're In the Money a song that Carl Stalling loved to use in his shorts that described money or rich people and here is a good example. The challenger who is basically a millionaire spots Porky hitchhiking as he grabs the cab in the neck asking him in some (what sounds like an Italian accent) to "pick up the little fellow". I like how the car's wheels brake with feet that pop out of the wheels to show as though they're halting. Porky enters the limo as he is welcomed by the challenger of the upcoming match.

The challenger then asks for Porky's name as he takes his word by replying with his name. The challenger then reveals his name but I can't  tell what his name is since it's spoken too quickly but he appears to be talking about how he is a very tough player. I like the perspective of the animation with the close-up of the challenger.

There is a group of folks outside the arena waiting for the arena to arrive waiting for the limo to come for the challenger to arrive at the arena on time. The limo parks outside the arena but as the challenger steps outside he falls down a trap door.

But Porky steps out and for SOME reason those fellows then mistaken Porky Pig as a wrestler which is just completely beyond me because wouldn't the challenger already be FAMOUS or something; and yet they'd mistaken him as a pig? That's crazy.

The crowd in the audience are clapping in rhythm waiting for the show to begin. A fighter waiting on the canvas hears a caller telling his rival (I'm going along the lines to say his name is "Scowsky" or something like that). The referee with the huge loudspeaker introduces a fighter for the match named Mad Mountain (I think that's his name) the Champion. The crowd then cheer on the Champion. The referee then points to the other corner (Scowsky?) I REALLY DO NOT THE NAME?!?! If only there were subtitles that existed here. Help me with what it is. I do like how the referee stretches his neck and head inside the loudspeaker still shouting. 

A helper under the canvas then pulls the switch extending Porky Pig upwards in which he is sitting down on on a stool and is mistaken as the Challenger. Porky looks at Mad Mountain (or whatever his name is) in which Porky looks off-screen scared in which Mad Mountain is roaring at poor Porky with that lion roar he creates.

The bell then rings in which the match begins. Porky then starts to "whoop" with fear and that is actually Mel Blanc's voice heard there. Although Mel would say his "first voice" was something else but Blanc's minor part was part here as it's just the same woo-woo sounds on what Daffy makes in early cartoons. Porky Pig then starts to hold onto the edges of the canvas until he is bounced off by force from the tough rival fighter of him.

The fighter then starts to bounce Porky as he is the shape of a basketball and bounces Porky like one. He sort of goes into song while bouncing Porky. I believe the voice of the fighter is Ted Pierce as it's exactly the same as the one from 'Village Smithy'.

Porky Pig manages to escape but Mad Mountain then jumps on him trying to wring his arms but Porky manges to escape while the player accidentally wrestles himself clicking his head, trying to twist his ankle, etc. He's even in pain banging on the canvas not realising what he is doing to himself. He continues to bang on the table until a local (who is leaning on the edge of the wooden floorboard) then catapults with is pipe flying out of his mouth and landing into the wrestler's mouth.

The wrestler then starts to spit out smoke from his mouth in which he hear what sounds like train-tracks and the gag is that the wrestler then starts to form into a type of steam locomotive and even copying  the actions which even works as a gag itself; as Avery loved to use impossible things but made it subtle.

The referee then starts to make a jump by running off as well as Porky. Eventually; the referee and Porky then form the line of the locomotive steam-train which is at least rather funny. Here Carl Stalling is playing the music of California, Here I Come and uses roughly two minutes of that entire song for the short to get the comic actions right. Even that shot of the bell with making the locomotive bell sounds is worth a laugh. Avery at this point isn't  trying to make a charming short at all but is focusing on how to make an audience laugh.

During that train sequence; it's even bringing the atmosphere of the room as there is a sudden wobbly movement of a guy getting a drink from the water fountain. The very weird part but funny part is that the dog member of the audience looks out the window to find that they're moving and really looks as though they're on the steam train.

It clearly doesn't make sense but that was the goal for what Avery is using for the gag which is still rather funny in its ways. The take of the dog from looking out the window is rather funny and the fact he grabs out his suitcase and leaves the arena. Porky has now completely lost track of the train track sequence in which he is on his own still thinking he's a train and making a complete tool of himself.

Porky then starts to bump into the wrestler's chest until the whole sequence is interrupted with the wrestler trying to harass Porky shouting; "So you don't want to play choo-choo, Huh?" He grabs out Porky until he starts to spin around Porky with those typical speed-lines that I'll be getting used to since Avery was using those effects to make speed much more appropriate.

They also start to fly around the arena just like an airplane and the animation is very impressive as it looks very realistic. Porky, rather dazed then starts to look up as he screams at the wrestler and removes a patch from under the canvas and runs under it just like running under a rug. The wrestler then starts to kick Porky under the rug until he slides down with his head popping up from the pole holding the canvas as it's very funny, but very funny use of the "impossible things". The wrestler then starts to whack Porky on the head but Porky shoots out from the other part of the pole and knocks out the wrestler.

The referee then starts to walk into the scene as he does the counting from 1 to 10. It's kinda funny since the referee pauses with counting with numbers as the wrestle grunts before acting knocked-out again with the audience repeating his grunts. The referee then declares it as a "Knock Out!" and points to Porky Pig as "the winner!" The wrestler raises his head slightly with the referee lowering his head. The wrestler then drops his head with the referee's hand jammed and he screams in pain. He lets his hand free from the heavy hand with a massive hand from the reaction to it which is a cool shape-look to it.

Overall comments: I think this was the type of cartoon where Avery was making his turning point of gags since it's the type of gags that we've never seen before. He's making them really look impossible and that they clearly don't make sense but they even have charm to it. The hitchhiking gags were fine - particularly the dated "Calling all cars" one. I dislike the fact about that the Challenger has a long name with weird words that I can't even have a grasp of figuring it out. It's not funny when you can't understand what is being said, but that's just my opinion. I find it interesting that the Challenger at the beginning was a professional player back in the '30s who owned money since back in the days I used to think wrestlers played as amateurs although I could be wrong since amateur sports was pretty common back in those days. What really annoys me is that for some reason Porky Pig is mistakenly thought as the Challenger when it makes he think "How have they never noticed the Challenger"? Pretty confusing to me.


  1. The challenger's name is approximately Hugo Yakinowskiowskiwowskiskowskiskowski, though that faux-Russian surname is never pronounced quite the same way twice.

    The champion's name is Man-Mountain.

  2. Professional wrestling pre-dates this cartoon.
    Elmer Wait died 20 July 1937 at age 23. He was one of a number of youngsters who drew comics for The Los Angeles Times; Wait's apparently appeared around Feb. 1930.

  3. I have a color animated cell with porky in the ring under him is blank but the ref is pointing the finger as EXACTLY shown it the depiction above. It has the slots cut out at the top as well as th animation layout numbers at the top in black oil marker. I wonder how much that's worth?

  4. This was also the first cartoon to feature the ever-so-famous TWANG! sound in the intro.

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  6. What's the name of the song used in the opening credits/intro? I always prefered it to "Merry Go Round..." and "Merrily We Roll Along..."

  7. The fact that the wrestler's nameis mis-pronounced each time is part of the charm of this cartoon