Sunday, 6 May 2012
161. Porky's Duck Hunt (1937)
Release date: April 17, 1937.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Tex Avery.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig, Daffy Duck), Taylor choristers (Drunken fish) and Billy Bletcher (Man from Upstairs, Drunken fish).
Animation: Virgil Ross and Robert "Bobe" Cannon. Bob Clampett uncredited.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky and his dog are out hunting ducks but ther is one screwball duck in particular that harrasses Porky who would later become Daffy Duck.
Being Daffy Duck's 75th birthday a few weeks ago; this review will be a belated birthday post as this is the first apperance of Daffy Daffy being a screwball here but wasn't named until 1938. This is also Mel Blanc's first voice for Porky Pig and becomes his permanment voice throughout the series. Joe Dougherty has already been booted out for his stutter problem so Blanc gave Porky atype of grunting sounds which gave Porky's voice some charm and appeal; also Blanc voices Daffy. This is also Bobe Cannon's first animation credit working for Tex before being shipped off to work for Clampett and didn't get credit again until 1938.
After that pan along the items used for duck hunting; we PAN to Porky Pig who is standing by the mirror with his shotgun posing as a hunter. Great camera pan, don't you think? Porky Pig then walks up to his dog as he starts to aim his gun at different positions as a practice; even aims it at his dog. I guess the gag is that we thought Avery was going to make Porky kill the dog. The dog is frightened thinking Porky Pig was going to shoot him as the dog hides inside a cupboard scared. Porky Pig then chuckles "Don't worry, it's not loaded, watch". Notice how Porky's line is much more polished and suitable as Mel Blanc even makes it charming.
There is now a loud knock on the door in which Porky Pig asks:
Porky Pig: Who's there?
Man (o.s.): It's the guy from upstairs.
Porky Pig then opens the door to check but gets a whack on the face from the man's fist who is holding onto a newspaper as he walks back upstairs with his pants ripped and marked. Is it me or does the man in that scene look sort of similar to what would become Casper the Caveman in 'Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur'.
Porky Pig then begins to notice that there is a duck flying which is good news which means he can shoot a duck. Suddenly; as Porky Pig is about to shoot the duck; a whole group of hunters pop up from the other side of the pond as they blast at the duck. This frightens Porky as he knows that there are a whole bunch of hunters out today shooting for ducks or birds. I find it interesting that the hunters are just shooting with their guns continuously as though they want to shoot the duck leaving every bit of his body blown off. The gag is that the duck is still alive after the gunshots and continues to fly which it part of the "impossible things" but it's just what would make an audience laugh thinking "I thought the duck would be dead". The hunters then all shout "All shucks!"
Porky Pig then starts to use some tricks to catch some ducks by placing decoys to the pond which are devices to try and distract ducks. Meanwhile, this is the FIRST TIME we see Daffy Duck appear on the screen (he wasn't called Daffy in this cartoon but it's his design) as he flies down to the pond and quacks at Porky pretending to be a decoy. Porky Pig then turns around scratching his head as he can't make out which one is a real duck. Daffy then quacks again but Porky Pig turns around and finds that Daffy Duck is pantomiming a decoy. Porky Pig turns behind him again to check if it's the same duck but can't tell. He then breaks the forth wall winking at the audience for his next trick which he thinks is bound to work well.
Porky Pig then is about to shoot Daffy Duck as Daffy screams as he's about to be fired. Porky fires his gun but to avoid any violence in this cartoon; water is squirted out to make the gag much more environmentally friendly to animals (he he). Daffy Duck then starts to fly over and lands onto a barrel of whiskey (the 'XXX' symbol represents whiskey) that is seen lying around in the pond. Daffy climbs on top of the barrel. Porky Pig then shoots again but misses as he shoots a barrel. The duck quacks loudly and flies off. The barrel then sinks underwater. Boy that sinking water effect really does look sloppy. I'm not too sure if that is meant to be Daffy; as it seems to be sly with the decoys but doesn't act all screwball yet -unless that is what we will see later on.
They then start to step onto the boat as they start to row around the pond which they start to go into song: On Moonlight Bay. There is a fish member playing the banjo (the singers were by the Taylor choristers while Billy Bletcher voices the fish singing solo in the verses - such as the fish singing "we were sailing all long". The comic timing of the fishes hiccuping is a particuarly funny. I find it amusing how they giggle like girls and sing in barbershop style. The song is sung in this sequence with some funny timing and funny solo lines by Bletcher playing the drunken fish playing the banjo. I like the perspective shot of the drunken fish playing the banjo and how we get a good close-up of his face. That particuarly lengthy sequence was very entertaining as we get to see drunken fish sing which is crazy in cartoons but at least this was a turning point for Avery (as well as Daffy Duck, too).
Daffy Duck returns again as he just bites Porky Pig on the nose which even looks painful there but it's funny. Daffy Duck starts to fly away as Porky Pig shoots after him as Porky is annoyed at him. Porky fires his gun as the duck drops to the ground. Porky Pig then becomes excited as he shouts "I got him. I got him! Go and get the duck, Rinny-Tin-Tin". Avery is referencing here 'Rin Tin-Tin' who was a famous dog character of the 1920's and 1930s who even had a career in motion pictures. Porky's dog then starts to dive to the pond to swim over to catch the duck as Porky encourages him to do so, "That's it. Bring him back."
A really classic moment pops up as Porky Pig grabs out a script and remarks; "Hey, that wasn't in the script!". This is a brilliant, original, executed gag as it shows that Porky Pig is really an actor in cartoons; and we'd really thought that it was just gags of Porky Pig hunting ducks but there's really a story going on. Daffy Duck is ruining the story with his craziness and this is a great idea for films that make deliberate errors to make an audience laugh. This is really a turning point for Avery that really shows that animated cartoons were made by people (such as the script). I bet that got a lot of laughs. Mel Blanc even makes the gag funny with his solid voice acting. After Porky Pig shouts out the error in the script, Daffy then chuckles, "Aw, don't let it worry you skipper. I'm just a crazy, darn-fool duck". Daffy Duck then starts to whoop around the lake acting all crazy and screwy which is what we got to know of Daffy today. That scene of Daffy whooping the lake was animation by Bob Clampett who was involved a lot on the creation of Daffy Duck. The "woo woo" sounds were inspired by comedian Hugh Hebert which made Daffy a star. Daffy Duck at the time was a cartoon character that nobody would've been before that was so crazy and looney.
Daffy Duck then approaches the scene and spots the eel to hide behind the lodge planning to eat it. Daffy Duck thinks of it as a normal fish and doesn't know it's electric (which is probably why the sign popped up to tell the audience). Daffy then swallows the eel down his throat and swims as normal. Suddenly Daffy becomes electrocuted and starts to quack loudly swimming for life creating sparkling lightning bolt effects. This gag is rather similar to what we have seen in Porky the Rainmaker when Porky purchased weather pills. Daffy Duck has got the personality of a duck in this part but his personality isn't so developed other than being a screwball but this is only his first appearance - what do you expect; him going into an argument over what season it is?
As Porky Pig is about to pick up a sandwich, he places his gun on the boat. The group of ducks then start to fly to the boat quacking and bothering Porky. Porky then shoos then away with his hands threatening to use his gun at them. After that he places his gun back to the ground as the ducks fly away. The ducks then return as Porky grabs out his gun but aims it at a wrong direction. He blasts his gun as he falls off the boat and into the lake. Now that is a funny gag original of what Avery has included. The timing of when Porky Pig blasts the gun and into the water is really funny that makes me chuckle. Meanwhile Joe Penner then pops out of the water as though he came from nowhere holding onto a duck in his hands. He shouts, "You WANNA BUY A DUCK?!" which was a Penner quote and uses his characteristic chuckle.
Porky Pig tries to shoot with his gun but discovers that there are no bullets left inside his gun. Daffy uncovers his ears realizing that he's not shot and no bullets are fired. Daffy Duck swims to Porky and grabs out his gun to help him fix it. Daffy tuts as though the gun won't work. He grabs out the gun himself and throws the cork out and then fires. Daffy then chuckles, "It's me again". Daffy Duck starts to swim around the pond acting all looney and crazy whooping excitedly. I imagine that this is another Bob Clampett scene and I think he did most of the Daffy Duck scenes. This would've definitely caught an audience's attention since this is probably the first time a cartoon character has acted in this type of wacky behavior.
Porky Pig then grabs out the "duck call" which he tries to call duck's attention. He blows from it but there are bullets shooting at the cattail plants from the various hunters which is a funny, clever gag. Porky is disguising himself as a duck with the duck call but very ignorant to do so since he forgets about hunters being around. Porky Pig then looks at the duck call again but throws it away redeeming it as useless. The duck call ends up dropping down the dog's throat.
Porky Pig grabs his dog out of the pond as they are in danger to return home. It's funny how the hunters are shooting them and not realizing that it's just a hunter with a dog and thinking it just be a duck just by hearing quacking sounds. Porky Pig then starts to walk home rather tired and sad since he has failed catching a duck while hunting all because of being harassed by that screwball Daffy Duck. The dog is still hiccuping with duck noises but Porky turns around looking at him rather annoyed. The walk movement is pretty good animation but I'm not going to guess who the animator is but I wonder if anyone else can.
There are a mass of ducks by his apartment (as it appears to be) as they are performing aerobics to drive Porky Pig mad. Porky Pig tries to shoot after the ducks one last time but his luck is just over as he's out of bullets or that a cork is caught stuck in the gun. Porky Pig then stutters, "Doggone it, no more, b-b-, shells". Porky Pig then drops the gun and the gun happens to fire leaving another hole on the ceiling. There is another knock on the door as it happens to be the man from upstairs who was involved with that incident earlier on the film. Porky Pig opens the door and gets a punch in the face from the man as he walks back up the stairs with his pants ruined again. It's the same animation from earlier on and it makes sense to re-use it.
That ending scene is hilarious and doesn't get tiring watching Daffy whoop around with loose movement. Luckily I found a copy of this cartoon in black and white; even though I don't have the restored version on DVD as I hate seeing cartoons colorized - it's just me, folks. There is one in black and white available but with annoying Cartoon Network logo stuck on it but at least here it appears to be an original film.
Overall comments: This cartoon is a REAL turning point for Tex Avery with character personality. He has given us a character who was probably the zaniest of it's time and he's really going far into his league and creating gags that Disney wouldn't even dare. Comparing this cartoon; the 1936 Porky Pig cartoons basically had a plot but mainly had funny gags just plopped into there. Here though; the gags actually show some realism such as Porky dragging out the script that shows the cartoon being in production. Porky Pig sure is an improvement with his voice of course as Mel Blanc is perfect for the character. His Daffy Duck woo-woo sounds are funny (but even made them funnier in the 1940s) as they were inspired by Hugh Hoover. Daffy Duck doesn't lisp at all since this is just an early cartoon but would eventually get to that stage around maybe, 1939. In my opinion, I think this is the first Warner Bros. cartoon that really focuses on the word "looney" of the "Looney Tunes" as Daffy Duck was just a screwy character here resembling a "normal" duck. Tex Avery was at the top of his game but watching the drunken fish singing was rather entertaining too. Theatres responded to that cartoon greatly as Daffy Duck proved to be popular and gained attention from the public and the Studio realized that they found themselves a second star.