Friday, 27 April 2012

156. Picador Porky (1937)

Warner cartoon no. 155.
Release date: February 27, 1937.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Tex Avery.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Joe Dougherty (Porky Pig), Billy Bletcher (Bull) and Mel Blanc (Drunken Hobo).
Animation: Charles "Chuck" Jones and Sid Sutherland.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky, who was a hobo then becomes a matador in order to win $1'000 and only to find out he is fighting a real bull after his plan goes awry.

This is what was apparently Mel Blanc's first cartoon he ever voiced (even though we hear his whoop sounds in 'Porky the Wrestler' from Porky) but this is basically the first cartoon in which he GOT A PART; and not just making sounds from a character already voiced by somebody else.

Our cartoon begins with a title card which reads us the name of the village, La Rosita, Mexico; and about their bull-fights as though this is writing coming from a guide book on the village. I'm still going to write the notes down for my sake.

Slumbering peacefully'neath the warm caresses  of the noonday sun, lies the sleepy little village of La Rosita.
It presents a scene of serene quietude and beauty as its inhabitants enjoy their mid-day siesta preceding the annual Bull-fight.
The solitude os briken only by the occasional strains of soft guitar.

We get to hear some sweet Spanish music in the background to demonstrate the beauty and peacefulness of what the description of La Rosita which is a rather good melody to choose...

...for a gag which shows in the next scene of the very violent village of La Rosita that isn't even peaceful at all - maybe not so violent even though you can hear the gun-shots. Avery has done it again; he's basically spoofing on a guidance of a town and faking it all up.

Inside the village are a group of Mexican bands that like to play Spanish music with their maracas, etc. There are a few gags on the "shaking" Mexican gags such as a local wiping with a towel from a bath. A gag then pops up with a boy inside a pot (carried by a woman) shouting "Swing it Mamma, swing it". I wonder if that is Tommy Bond voicing the kid in the pot. A bartender in the counter then shakes with a mixer to join in the musical spirit as well as the Mexican girl dancing. The Mexican girl dancing and shaking with a cloth was reused as far as I recall but I forgotten the short. So as I've mentioned the town is very spiritual and lively which would be a good place for Mexican music.

Porky Pig is played as a hobo here as well as two other bums following him. They look at the village to find a lot of residents dancing and having a lot of fun. There is a neat point-of-view shot looking at the folks having fun but then move slowly to a free with a bullfighting notice.

The notice on the poster reads; TO-DAY BULL FIGHT - 1000 PESOS to the WINNER! Porky Pig and the two hobos that he was with start to crowd together as Porky whispers a plan to them. Remember that "pesos" is a Spanish currency. In the next scene; we find that Porky Pig steps out of a costume shop with the other two hobos as they're dressed in a bull costume. The hobos even pop out of the bull costume to reassure the audience, "It's us". There is some neat animation of the crowd entering the stadium as it then starts to crowd the entire stadium with a brief montage shot of the crowd entering.

Porky and the "bull" then enter the stadium entrance with an interesting characteristic walk on the bull. Porky then starts to slowly creep up by the cart where the real bull is but behind bars. The real bull is rather nasty looking but then starts to notice the bull walking past with love-hearts popping out of him. Oh, so the costume is actually a cow then - well THAT was convenient. The bull then takes an interest in the costume.

Porky Pig then starts to move the bull cart out of the scene until he returns it to find that the bull has already been tossed out. The "cow" costume is then thrown into the cart as Porky exits the scene. I imagine the bull costume scene had to be difficult to animate since I notice some eye-blinks on the costume (unless they were the hobos' eyes) as there is a fly flying around the scene. A hobo's hand then stretches from it's tail to try and grab the fly out of the way. The "hand/tail" then squashes the hand and flicks the fly out of the scene.

Meanwhile a hobo inside the costume then spots a bottle of moonshine inside the cage (although it makes me think why would a bottle of moonshine end up in a bull cage in the first place)? The hobo starts to take a guzzle of the moonshine but ends up coughing not liking the taste of moonshine - and this is Mel Blanc doing the voices here.

The hobo then starts to pass the bottle to the other hobo who is at the back end of the bull. The hobo then starts to spin around numerous times easily affected by alcohol as he starts to feel rather weary from the hiccuping sounds.

The hiccuping sounds would've been done by Mel Blanc too since it's similar to the hiccup effects - and in case I'm going off-topic he did the hiccuping effects on Gideon in the Cat in Pinocchio. The hiccuping scenes of the bull costume then becomes a little exaggerated with broad movement.

The movement becomes broad that what Avery has done with his comic timing is that he makes the bull move around the cage a number of times and moves all over the place in which he ends up sliding out of the cage bars. Meanwhile outside at the arena there is a trumpeter who gives the call the bull to begin the race as there are a number of gates being opened by which is a small gag that shows there are too many doors. Porky Pig then starts to jump out on what looks like a small mouse-hole and boy; is PORKY REALLY that small?! Porky then starts to cheer with the audience as they cheer on the matador which is Porky Pig as a "matador in disguise". Porky then grabs out his red cape and sword as he walks down the arena with the crowd cheering.

Meanwhile a bull-keeper then walks into the garage to find that the bull is out of it's cage including the bull costumed one. The bull-keeper then shouts "Ze bull is gone" but then finds an easy solution to the problem to replace it with another cage where the bull is the replacement for the bull-fight - and of course the hobos inside the cow-costume have managed to escape by sliding through the bars.

Porky is still waving to his "fans" as they wouldn't know who the matador is. The guards then release the doors as there is an angry bull that then charges at the scene. Porky starts to spin around as the bull just runs past him leaving Porky in that tornado speed-line effect. After Porky spins around in that effect he starts to sweat as the bull is standing close to him still steaming as Porky stutters, "Take is easy, boy. That was too close". Porky Pig is therefore to continue with his matador skills with the bull.

Porky Pig starts to bring out his red cape as he starts to slide it out of the way from a charging bull but the gag is part of the "impossible things" since the bull ends up running inside the cape. Porky's tricks which is of course impossible but makes the cartoon a bit more interesting is when Porky starts to shake the cape slightly as the bull falls out and thuds on the ground which makes the audience applaud.

Porky bows to the audience for the fine abilities that he has been able to do and then he starts to whistle for a "caddy" in which a caddy enters the scenes and brings out a golf bag but inside the bag is just full of plungers. Porky Pig then starts to grab out some plungers off the bag and places them on the bull but in different areas.

The bull then starts to wriggle off the other plungers off his body successfully but is down to one last plunger which is stuck on his back. The bull then starts to try and pull the plunger off him but the plunger ends up caught on his nose as the audience just laugh at him with humiliation.  The wooden part then falls off which struggles the bull even more as his mouth ends up looking rather floppy.

This is a good example of character animation with a character actually thinking; and it's the same concept that was used in the Disney cartoon Playful Pluto which Pluto and the flypaper sequence. I imagine that this would've been done by a strong character animator in Avery's unit working on that short - although it could be one of them; even on that scene with that crying bull. The bull then starts to fix his mouth properly in the right shape as the bullfight will not be over - yet.

Meanwhile there is a gate that opens with these hobos that were inside the bull costume but they're very drunk with that really tall drunk that looks a little like Stan Laurel - I think this is still Blanc doing the voices although I'm not sure. It's pretty good solid animation of the drunken hobo drunk and even going to the camera in perspective. It's interesting that the drunk was done in full animation with the other hobo playing the guitar is just cycled animation. The drunks are singing La Cucaracha.

Porky is still waving the red flag with the steaming bull but the drunks are still singing their song. Porky Pig is still playing the bullfight - and the WHOLE POINT of that bullfight segment was that Porky Pig was actually masquerading himself as a professional matador thinking the bull was the costume with the hobos inside it but he double-checks to see and it turns out that inside the mouth is a real bull that Porky didn't believe since the beginning.

There is a little chase sequence and you can even see some airbrush effects going on Porky trying to run away from the real bull. There is a time-keeper keeping track of the time but then blows from a party popper with a mallet hitting the gong as it is half-time.

The bull then suddenly freezes as it's the end of the game and poor Porky has "frozen stiff". Two Mexican guards then start to pick up Porky from the ground with the ground attached to his feet which is kinda funny. Porky is then given a drink of water to help refreshen himself as he is guzzling the drink with his throat before placing it in a funnel spitting it out. A bull does the same guzzling down the drink as you can hear it through Treg Brown's guzzling effects. The bullfight then starts to speak to his parents which I'm sure is a dated reference but I don't know what it's from, "Hello mamma, hello father; great fight we're having today - wish you were here". After a short break, the time-keeper then blows from the party popper again but the mallet just hits him on the head.

The bull then gets off the funnel using it as a telephone as he starts to chase after Porky who makes an instant take from the bull charging after him.

Porky Pig then manages to find safety in the "Safety Zone". The bull then starts to wait patiently as the bull can't catch Porky in the "safety zone" which is a funny gag by Avery that shows it's like a game of "tag/it" and you're in the zone where no-one can touch you. The bull then releases the safety zone by holding it which frightens Porky as he dashes out of the screen. I believe that scene was animated by Bob Clampett since Devon Baxter spoke to me of an e-mail by Mark Kausler of examples of certain scenes in early Avery cartoons (like the fan-dance in 'Miss Glory') which happens to have been by animator Bob Clampett; since this scene is similar to the other Porky Pig scenes; this could also have been a Clampett scene. The bull still continues to chase after Porky Pig who is making a fun for his life. The two hobos realize that Porky's in trouble as one of whom whispers in each other's ears for a plan.

The hobos then start to put on the costume as they hide behind the piece of wood so the bull can't be seen. The "cow" costume shouts "yoo-hoo" trying to flatter the real bull in which the bull starts to walk off flattered.

As the bull is still walking on rather flattered; the two hobos then start to beat him behind the box as there is some off-screen beating going on but it is presented in a really comical form. You see letters pop out reading "BANG" or "CRASH"; which was a common straight for 1920's cartoons; and yet Avery is using it in this cartoon for comical purposes. After the fighting has finished the costume bull won the fight with the real bull - unless they're drunken act gave them a boost of confidence for them to beat the bull with strength - even though it was their plan.

The bull costume then starts to walk down the arena proudly as though they're part of the act as though they should've been with Porky Pig since the very beginning. The hobos in the costume then start to play dead lying straight to the ground with a "truce" flag flying out of their tails.

The crowd then start to cheer on Porky Pig as they believe that he managed to kill the bull and win the fight. The real bull then starts to wake up as it was only unconscious for a short while. This is mega bad news. The judge of the fight then starts to give Porky the 1000 pesos prize. Hang on a minute; isn't the bag supposed to be a "pesos" sign and not an American dollar sign? The bull costume playing dead then opens his eyes but dashes out of the way noticing that the bull is still awake and after Porky. Porky is still waving his hat as he turns to find out the bull is still awake steaming as he dashes out but runs back to give the bull the bag of cash before dashing out of the scene.

Overall comments: This cartoon should've been called something like 'Matador Porky' since Porky isn't even a picador in this short since he's not riding a horse in the fight nor is there even a horse featured in this cartoon. This cartoon went on for quite a bit of time but at least we got to see some solid character animation such as the bull and the plunger scene which was a good example of good character animation. Although I noticed that the cartoon appeared to have a couple of goofs such as why was Porky Pig incredibly tiny while entering the mousehole; and what would a bottle of moonshine be doing in the cage. I hate to say this but I didn't find this Avery carton particularly special in my opinion; although that cartoon had a few moments and what else? The title card segment at the beginning was at least used for amusement and at least that is what's original of what Tex included. It's good to see that voice actor legend Mel Blanc has made a role which is why this cartoon is pretty important in it's ways as Mel Blanc got to do a voice of a character for the first time without just making "sounds". Overall; I have to admit that I wasn't particularly too keen on it - even though it may be Avery but I want to be entitled. 


  1. Sorry for the OT, but where all years labels?!? Hey!!

  2. Look, I'm busy - I must have accidentally deleted the "Years" labels - but please don't bother me, I got other things to do other than Blogging. Please give me time.

  3. Sorry, I don't want to injure you. I'm busy myself(that's why I stopped my own blogging)...

  4. I noticed that you were wondering why the 1000-Peso bag had a dollar-sign: the Mexican peso actually uses the American dollar symbol.