Saturday, 21 April 2012

154. Pigs Is Pigs (1937)

Warner cartoon no. 153.
Release date: January 30, 1937.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Martha Wentworth (Mrs. Hamhock), Berneice Hansell (Children) and Billy Bletcher (Evil Scientist).
Animation: Bob McKimson and Paul Smith.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Piggy is very greedy who just loves to eat; until in his dream he's allowed to eat all he likes turns into a nightmare.

This is a classic Friz Freleng cartoon made during his period and probably his most memorable of the period. This is the second appearance of the Hamhock family and also their last.

The cartoon begins with a cottage on a very sunny day and the residents are the Hamhock family of course. The Hamhock piglets are seen outside in the garden playing happily with each other as they are giggling. They're all very good friends.

A member of the children is Piggy who is walking away from the children and all he is thinking of in his mind is food, and what food he wants to eat and when to have it. He is also isolating himself from the other children which makes him the odd-one out from the group. His mind thinks of roast chicken, sandwiches, pie, etc. just as he is walking down to a bench with all those thought bubbles fading in which is quite a good technique used by Friz Freleng; as he uses great animation techniques for this short, too.

As Piggy sits down at the bench he continues to think of the lovely thought of sweetcorn, watermelon, and Piggy licks his lips in despair. Mrs. Hamhock then brings out two freshly baked pies to place by the window-sill to make sure it cools down. The scent of the pies then start to give the scent to Piggy who is just tempted by the smell and his mind playing at him to eat the pie. Look at how his eyes widen (in the screenshot) and yet it's much more appealing than the eyes given on Piggy. Piggy starts to grab out a piece of raspberry pie as he spins it with his finger chomping at it leaving it with one piece left.

He then grabs out another piece but Mrs. Hamhock grabs it away in time as Piggy bites his fingers by mistake. Mrs. Hamhock cries at what happened to her pies; "My fresh little pies! Look what you have done to them, and I worked so hard all day over a hot stove. Can't you wait until dinner? Don't you ever fill up? My, what an appetite. Always hungry!" Piggy, of course is still hungry as he's thinking of roast turkey in his mind with a thought bubble popping out.

Mrs. Hamhock then steps onto the front porch as she rings the bell to call for the other students, "Dinner's ready, children" she calls. All of the other kids then start to run to the house after an afternoon of playing. I have to say that the backgrounds or this cartoon certainly is an improvement with colour although I imagine that's because this cartoon's in full colour while 'At Your Service Madame' was in 3-strip; I think.

The children are running to the house in that pathetic running cycle while Piggy makes a complete dash to the house even knocking the other piglets out of the way. Even the speed of Piggy dashing into the house was an improvement as though Freleng was inspired by Tashlin. The speed is made much more appropriate with Mrs. Hamhock almost sucked in by the wind as she holds on to herself. Piggy is already the first of the piglets seated at the table as he starts to grab the food with is hands but is stopped by Mrs. Hamhock.

All of the other kids then enter the table as they're ready to eat dinner. Mrs. Hamhock then starts to say her prayers as she orders the other piglets to do so before eating which would be part of their tradition. While they are mumbling saying grace; Piggy is the only member on the table not saying grace.

During the grace; Piggy asks the Lord; "And please could we have ice-cream, tonight?" as he is just demanding for more food which is rather disrespectful but typical. I doubt this is Berneice Hansell voicing Piggy here but I don't know. While of all of the other piglets including Mrs. Hamhock are saying grace; Piggy then comes up with a cunning plan to get as much spaghetti as he could which means he'll eat all of it. He starts to tie the spaghetti ends from one plate to the other and to do that in all the other tables.

Piggy then goes under the table as he finds bits of spaghetti dangling down the table and he ties them into a knot combining with each other altogether. It's rather clever but it makes me think why would every plate have a piece of spaghetti be dangling on the side of the table?

While all of the other piglets are still mumbling with their prayers; Piggy then sits back on his table ending the grace, "Amen" as though he was praying all along. Piggy grabs out his fork as Mrs. Hamhock tells the piglets to eat; "You now commence". Much to the surprise of the children they find that the entire plates of their spaghetti are being sucked out of their plates and all sucking into Piggy's mouth; even including Mrs. Hamhock's plate. This shows some good personality of Piggy since that he is being very disrespectful to his family and being such a jerk as he's not giving any of the piglets and his mother to eat and being such a greedy piggy.

After the entire plates of spaghetti are wiped out, Piggy is being given a telling off by his mother. She screams: "Piggy! What's the matter with you? This is the last straw, that broke the camel's hump! Someday you will pay for this. So you want you should burst yet? Himmel, such a food papa. You listen to Mama!" One of these days; indigestion will get you sure!"

I like the facial expressions that are shown on Piggy's face as he's rather annoyed from hearing  Mrs. Hamhock giving Piggy a right bollocking. Indigestion will get Piggy? Well that seems unlikely in the meantime.

Later that night as the lights are being turned off (listen to the music at the exterior shot of the house - very good use of music by Carl Stalling it sounds very original and sort of too modern for the 30s).

All of the other piglets are in their beds snoozing but the only piglet who is still awake - is none other than Piggy. Piggy isn't giving a break on food as it's still in his mind. He is thinking of all the goodies to eat; with thought bubbles popping up in his mind: ice cream, hot dogs, chicken, sweetcorn, watermelon, cake and pie which probably suggests to us that he wants to have a midnight snack soon...

Piggy is still sitting on the bed but it dissolves into a dream sequence as he's outside in the garden sitting on a bench but in a different location. Piggy is wandering around thinking; "Where am I" until a door opens that gives him a fright. A mad scientist welcomes in inside, "Come in sonny; make yourself at home". The scientist appears to have the knack of continuous hiccupping while in dialogue.

The scientist then welcomes Piggy inside the scientist's laboratory. The scientist then starts to speak to Piggy; "Hungry my little man? Have some nice pies, cakes (hiccups), ice-cream and pickles". Piggy then walks up to a table filled with food that Piggy loves. The scientist allows Piggy to "help yourself". The scientist then allows Piggy to make himself comfortable to sit on the armchair. As Piggy sits down; the scientist pushes the table away as Piggy is caught on a chair where these leather belts to trap Piggy from moving and to have his mouth opened with a type of machine to hold his snout. The mad scientist then starts to laugh as he shouts; "So it's food you want? We'll give you plenty of that!"

The chair machine then starts to form a trap door with Piggy seated from the leather belt as it slides through the laboratory in perspective. I like the animation of that. The mad scientist then starts to laugh evilly as he walks to his machine called the "Feed-a-Matic". He asks Piggy; "So, you love food?" and starts to play with the machines to get the food out.

A conveyor belt has a line of tin soups that is poured into a special type of soup-feeder machine with the liquid combining together into purple and Piggy is force fed in this sequence. This sequence which does go on for quite a while is a masterpiece. This is probably Friz Freleng's best so far; as the force-feeding sequence from the Feed-a-Matic is so original and it makes the cartoon very interesting in it's ways as it's also very inspiring.

A hand machine then start to squeeze bananas out of their skins as Piggy has his mouth out with the bananas juts dropping down to his stomach all in one gobble. The mad scientist continues to laugh at Piggy's unfortunate event.

A hand then starts to place a coin in some type of vending machine that shoots out olives to go straight into Piggy's mouth. The price for the olives is 1 cent; and the hand continues to place the coin inside the vending machine as Piggy just goes for it. The next sequence then focuses on a type of machine with a bellows that blows ice-cream off the cones and straight into Piggy's mouth.

This sequence is so original that it would even be an inspiration to television shows, cartoons, sketches, etc. The most notable uses of the force feeding sequences would be featured nine years later in a Walter Lantz cartoon called 'Apple Andy' directed by Dick Lundy. Andy Panda loves apples but gets force fed apples in the sequence as it's shown here. The sequence was also displayed as rather dark like the 'Pigs Is Pigs' cartoons.

Here is the screen shot that I have provided here.

It was very well spoofed in The Simpsons 'Treehouse of Horror IV' where Homer Simpson goes to hell after eating his forbidden doughnut. I love the fact of how Homer is given the amount of doughnuts in the world by the force-feeding machines; and this was only displayed as comedy while in this cartoon it's rather frightening. Here is a screen-grab that I've provided from my Season 5 DVD.

It's also funny seeing Homer really fat after eating all those doughnuts and is still hungry with the devil-type creature out of his marbles stating; "I don't understand it. James Coco went mad in 15 minutes!"

Anyway back to the review; there is a little animated sequence of the machines making a sandwich which is very well animated. The machines are picking up a piece of bread as well as adding a long piece of bread into it. Salt is shaken onto it, then some pepper. Then some mustard to add some flavour.

I love that small gag added here with the hand about to place a bowl full of onions but the sign reads 'Hold the Onions'. Another bit of bread is placed on top making it a complete sandwich which is all for Piggy to eat up. Piggy eats the pieces of bread like a lawn mower mowing the grass. The force feeding sequence is rather dark to me since it shows that Piggy is forced to eat as much as he possibly can or even to do beyond that; since no-one likes to be forced to eat (unless people with big appetites do). Piggy trapped in a chair is rather unsettling but frightening as he is forced to eat as much although the horror of it is appropriately displayed in this cartoon.

Piggy in the chair is sent to another section with pies. He is brought to the 'Pie-A-Trope' machine where hands extend for Piggy to chomp up the pies. A hand pushes a button for what Piggy would eat and is given a cherry pie. The cherry pie then spins as Piggy chomps it just like what he did earlier on in this short.

Piggy is now given a blueberry pie in which he chomps it off leaving blueberry stains on his face. The rest of the sequence then focuses on montage shots of Piggy continuously eating with a laughing scientist. The montage shots feel inspired from Frank Tashlin's short 'Little Beau Porky' and I just like how it is shown in this sequence. The staging is wonderful as it displays the horror and the continuous eating from Piggy as well as the scientist still laughing at Piggy's unneccessary sacrifice.

Piggy has already gained a lot of weight as his stomach appears to look very tight while wearing the leather belt. The mad scientist then starts to prod Piggy's belly while still sitting on the chair sarcastically asking him:

Scientist: Had enough, my boy?
Piggy: Yes, sir.
Scientist:  Why, you're not half-full.

Piggy then starts to wobble out of the seat as he is completely over-weight from over-eating. While he is walking out of the laboratory, he starts to pick up a chicken drumstick and as he is just takes a bite from it; he explodes. I love how that is presented here since he was eating too much and his stomach got to the point of no longer eating; but Piggy doesn't think about his stomach and as he takes a bite; his belly just explodes.

Piggy then starts to wake up under the duvets squirming from the nightmare he had. He is still alright of course. Piggy then starts to look around the room and only to find out that he is still at home.

Mrs. Hamhock then starts to call from downstairs; "Wake up, sonny. It's time for breakfast." Piggy then starts to jump out of his bed and dashes to the breakfast table. Piggy then starts to eat up his porridge very quickly. Now that is a funny ending considering we all thought that Piggy was going to be a different person at the end but the fact is that he's still the same. It goes to show that Friz Freleng used some good ideas (or even probably a story man) to think that he'll change at the end but doesn't even do so - it just makes him want to eat again

Overall comments: This is one of Friz Freleng's earlier masterpieces in this cartoon. It has a very good story with good character personalities of a greedy little pig who can only think about food but then his food dream turns into a nightmare as I imagine that it was supposed to be rather dark. The Feed-a-Matic sequence was very original to me and this is what influence writers on shows like 'The Simpsons' and even in Walter Lantz cartoons; and even the writers from the Treehouse of Horror episode mentioned that they were inspired from this short. This is the second and final appearance of the Hamhock family as we wouldn't have needed anymore since it could only go worse. The animation here is very appealing as it was animated by mostly Bob McKimson since I can see some scenes he probably did but I'm not going to grasp on the styles. After only two cartoons of the Hamhock family; the characters then disappear from the screen but Pigs is Pigs is easily their best cartoon out of  'At Your Service Madame' and it's even on the '100 Greatest Looney Tunes' book.


  1. "All of the other piglets are in their beds snoozing but the only piglet who is still alive - is none other than Piggy."

    You mean "awake". His brothers are still conscious.

    Also, the music in the background during that scene is "When My Dreamboat Comes Home" which also plays in the beginning when Piggy is day-dreaming about food.

  2. I wonder what "Duvets" are...possibly blankets..... this was also used in Frank Tashlin;s 1938 n"Wholly Smoke" and Art Clookey's 1967 "Grub Grabber Gumby", and of course in Stanley Kubrick's 1971 "A Clockwork Orange", in live action! MGM used that for Harman-Ising's "Pip Dreams" which starred three monkeys [the wise ones of Japan].Steve C.

  3. Thanks Steven! I just had an inclination to search for this video (3AM) but had no idea what it was called. I am 45 and my sister 50. We watched this once when were young and never forgot the story line! We wanted to see again, but then we had to wait forever for it to air again and happen to be home when it aired--no VCRs yet, no internet and no YouTube! Thanks bunches--also, I'm teacher--great job and example-setting for other teens! Best wishes!!

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  5. There was a remake. I saw it twice back in the '60s. Freling did have a habit of remaking some of his cartoons as animation improved over the years. In the remake the character's name was changed to Sparky. At the end of the dream he wasn't just fat -- he was Grand Obese (ie huge); a food packed ball 7 feet in diameter. He really does look like he'd burst at any moment.

    Do you know anything about the remake? I've searched for it for years with no success.

    BTW -- your review of this cartoon is the best I've found on the web. This has always been my favorite cartoon froom the Warner Bros library. Thank you.

    1. Hey, is there by chance a full version of your Piggy avatar? That's quite impressive and I'd love to see a full version of it!

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    4. Please can you stop with the comments on this blog, as I've already got a stupid number of e-mail notifications!

  6. Where did you get that screen capture of Andy Panda in the "Feed-a-Matic".

    1. Hey there, I'd like to know as well; where did you get that artwork of Piggy? I've never seen it before!

  7. You wrote: " Piggy grabs out his folk as Mrs. Hamhock tells the piglets to eat..." Should read as " Piggy grabs his fork as Mrs. Hamhock tells the piglets to eat.."

  8. Yes, this was the second and final appearance of the Hamhock family, but why do you say we "wouldn't have needed anymore since it could only go worse"?

    We only got to see Piggy do a bit part. What about the other children of the family? Each one had a fault and a virtue just like him. Piggy was both a glutton AND a clean freak (the virtue of cleanliness). It would have been interesting if we could get to see the sides of the others -- wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, and envy. Each of her children represented one of them. And each one would have had a story that could have been told.

  9. What I meant was that the Hamhock family (in my family) didn't need to be regular characters.

    1. I know "what" you meant. I meant WHY do you say it?

    2. Because if they became regular characters throughout the series; they're not going to go well like Bugs or Daffy did; I mean they're not funny enough; so I feel two shorts with them was enough for me. Just my two cents. End of.

    3. An interesting point of view. There are many examples of the WB toons from that era that illustrate your point. Sniffles would be the best example. Cute and sometimes annoying, he was many things, but his style of humour was very very different from Daffy or Bugs. And then there was Babbit and Catstello -- based on the comedic duo Abbott and Costello -- they only appeared in 3 cartoons. And then there was The Canyon Kiddies -- they only appeared once. None of these could stand against Bugs or Daffy, but why try? It's a comparison of apples and oranges.

      Personally, I would have liked to see the stories of the other children.

      On a side note, although this is my favourite MM short, it is also one of the most disappointment. That is on account of the fact that Freling made it a dream story -- I HATE DREAM STORIES! That's because they're non-events.

      Look at what the short really is: Piggy Hamhock is always hungry, thinking of food, eating, and stealing food when he can. And no matter how much he eats, he never fills up. He sleals one of his mother's pies and latter manages to eat the entire dinner meant for his whole family. That night he goes to sleep, has a dream, and wakes up in the morning. Talk about dull. It would have been more interesting if Freling had made it a real event.

      BTW -- Just did some math. At the end of his feeding he would weigh roughly 800 ppounds -- GRAND OBESE. But like I said, too bad it wasn't reality.

  10. I have a question: what was "Piggy's unneccessary sacrifice."?

    1. Okay, but are you really going to keep on asking me questions about everything I written in this review post?

      What I meant was that I don't like Piggy's sacrifice from overeating. Surely there must be better justice than that.

    2. I mean no offense. I am just a very BIG fan of this particular cartoon and yours is the finest review about it. THE BEST. But some of the things you wrote make me scratch my head. From your remark, I take it you are referring to Piggy's explosion when he eats the turkey leg? If so, I agree with you. After all he went through he only ended up being plump.

      "Piggy's unneccessary sacrifice" was just that. Although this is supposed to be a nightmare, I think deep down Piggy was actually enjoying himself. If you do a frame-by-frame check of the sequence where the Fattener unstraps him, there is a moment when Piggy is looking at his obesity and smiling! I think what he is like in the end may be what he actually wants for himself.

      As I said, I am a very big fan of this particular cartoon -- I though my Blogger name and icon made that obvious.

      I mean no disrespect -- I was just chatting with you. What you are doing here is fantastic. I believe these films are very significant to our culture. It was for such a reason Congress created the National Film Registry. I believe every single cartoon in the Warner Bros collection should be included in it.

      It was nice chatting with you and thank-you for what you are doing here.

    3. Hamhock:

      Thanks for your comments; and from what I've read - I kind of take back when I know you were just chatting. If you want to chat more about it then you can do this directly at my e-mail address:

      As for this cartoon; I consider this to be Freleng's finest cartoon he made in that before going off to MGM. It's just that as for me; when I finish a cartoon review - I never particularly look back at it; I always move on to the next cartoon as I feel I should because that's what will be the next review. Thanks for your regards about my review. I don't try to write the BEST ever review; I just review it from beginning to end; make some comments about it during the film; then finish with my overall thoughts; it takes me a couple of hours to do it - sometimes its tough work and I admit I HATE starting a new review but I do feel much better and I get the hang of it whilst starting it.

  11. Wasn't there a Bugs and Elmer, maybe Porky, version where Bugs is antagonizing while singing opera and force feeds either Elmer or Porky?