Release date: October 30, 1937.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Frank Tashlin.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig / Guy in the Third Row) and Billy Bletcher (Lawyer Goodwill).
Story: Melvin Millar.
Animation: Volney White.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky's lawyer tries to cheat out of Porky's uncle's will by transforming into a monster and to capture his family.
This is the first WB cartoon where it directly parodies Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The cartoon's title is a pun to the 1937 Warner Bros. film The Case of the Stuttering Bishop; which was only released a few months prior to the cartoon's release. I wonder if the cartoon had a working title. Also the first cartoon for story man Melvin "Tubby" Millar to get screen credit who would work for Tashlin, Avery, Norm McCabe and Clampett in his black-and-white years. He was already a regular story man at the studio for a few years (beginning in 1934) before the cartoons got screen credit.
The rain for this sequence is of course rain filmed in a studio from live-action but I think it was done when placed after animation cels to give it a stunning effect. The effects animation of the window shutters are a very marvellous effects; but however I am starting to question though if AC Gamer did effects animation. Sure; he was known as one but if he was then how come his credits were with Freleng and must've been in the Freleng unit whilst never credited with the other units but I'm not too sure though. After the William Tell piece has finished in the storm shots. We find some more shots that Tashlin heavily focused on with obscure camera angles. The interior shot of the house focuses on the grandfather clock and the pendulum is swinging.
During this camera PAN through the entire family; we find that all the members of the family are frightened, even Petunia Pig; the wife of Porky in this cartoon. As we PAN to Porky Pig, he is the only happy character seated which I guess makes it rather funny since he's the odd one out. That was a pretty good camera PAN to make the gag work. But what also makes the gag work with the camera pan was that notice how that the children sitting down are actually being seated in height order. After that PAN, we then start to hear a knock on the door in which it scares Porky; there is a quick cut to Porky as he makes a take and jumps up in the air. The family are on top of a ceiling lamp in which their heads pop out of the lampshade and this time in head size order (smallest to biggest; Petunia to Patrick). Porky however doesn't match with the other heads which also makes him the odd one out. Mmm, I find it interesting that now Petunia has arrived on this cartoon about 7 months after 'Porky's Romance' - I guess she was popular enough to return briefly.
Porky then walks over to the front door chuckling realising it was only his faithful old lawyer of his, "Okay. Just a minute" answers Porky as he walks over to the door to open it for Lawyer Goodwill. As Porky opens the door; the storm then blows Porky and his family behind as well as his furniture. Lawyer Goodwill arrived already in his raincoat and then he closes the door behind him. I like the weight of the animation of where they are blown back and the lawyer's struggle to enter. Lawyer Goodwill's head is not seen as his hat is covering it. Goodwill then grabs out his hat and empties the amount of rain and water out so it splashes onto the floor. The lawyer's head then appears after emptying his hat and it feels quite strange that it appeared but cleverly animated. The lawyer then walks over to the family; 'Now children, come, come. We've got business to attend to'. Of course the lawyer is seen here as a very warm-hearted, soft-spoken lawyer who is no harm towards Porky or his family here.
The lawyer then stops sobbing over the loss of their uncle and his friend and continues about the will, 'I have the will right here. You can read it for yourselves'. The family then look over to see what is written from their uncle's will: I will and bequeath all my property to my niece and nephews. Love and kisses, Uncle Solly. P.S. Bury me not on the Long Prairie! Of course; the P.S. message is meant to be a joke as it's a title cowboy folk song. The family are awed about the will as the niece and nephews get his own life insurance. The lawyer interrupts the moment; 'P.S. Tut-tut - there's more to read'. Another P.S. note then reads: However, in case anything happens to my heirs my entire fortune goes to my good friend Lawyer Goodwill - Uncle Solly. Of course that would only happened if their children would've got kidnapped or killed, or what
There is a really neat Tashlin technique of Lawyer Goodwill walking down the front steps of the porch. Notice how that when he walks down the stairs you see him gone from the screen for a while; but you find him a few seconds later you find that he appears on the screen walking around the other part of the house in which the camera starts moving. That must've been complicating to stage and layout but I like how this is viewed from the eyes of a still camera in which Goodwill appears again after walking down the steps. The lawyer is then walking down to the basement of the house; but dashes back to hear any sound in the house before walking down. Mark Kausler credits that scene to the credited animator: Volney White.
The lawyer appears to have a secret laboratory in which he takes off his jacket as we start to find out more about the darker side of Lawyer Goodwill. After taking off his jacket; he replaces it with a black jacket of what he would wear done in the laboratory. Goodwill then reaches his lab table and brings out two glass cups on the table and looks over at the shelf.
Lawyer Goodwill's hand then pops over to the shelf (nicely animated) as he grabs out a potion called 'Jekyll and Hyde Juice' which sounds like a cool name for a wicked potion; as it references Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Lawyer Goodwill then starts to pull off the cork out of the bottle by biting it off; giving it a good socket plop effect when the cork is pulled off. Goodwill then starts to pour the potion into the glass cup in which he then starts to mix it together with both cups. Some very interesting effects with the water changing cups; but it was no effects animator though. Lawyer Goodwill then looks at the glass for his potion in which he is planning something evil towards but we can only figure out what his plan is but we only know that he is up to no good; since the label of the potion does give it away. I like how scenes were laid out and staged which gives it
After breathing heavily for a while; we then hear silence for a while (and dramatic music stops) in which it turns out that the experiment didn't work and there is a still pose on Goodwill. His eyes blink after the plan didn't work out well. Goodwill then raises his shoulders in a "Oh well" type attitude in which he tries again. Lawyer Goodwill then pours another part of the potion in which he pours it into the glass again. Goodwill then walks over to the milkshake machine to mix the drink; and of course milkshake machines were brand new upon the film's release. After mixing it like a milkshake which is a rather clever-idea type gag; Goodwill then has the milkshake-type foam on top of the glass which would make a really good formula. Goodwill then starts to guzzle down the entire potion down his throat in which he breaks the glass, and that's when the action begins.
Lawyer Goodwill then changes into a nasty looking villain very quickly; and I think the transforming scene was planned out very perfectly. It was done very quickly but I feel that it was done in a rather frightening way. The villain (who was then Lawyer Goodwill) turns out to be a fraud towards Porky's family as he breaks the forth wall, 'You wouldn't think I was Lawyer Goodwill now, would you?' Goodwill then starts to move over to the camera much closer when saying 'would you'. Goodwill then starts to makes vows; 'I'm going to get rid of those pigs and you can't help them either!' The villain then pops closer to the camera as he shouts; 'You bunch of softies! Yeah, you in the third row! You big softie!' then starts to laugh evilly. I really like the animation of when the villain keeps on coming close to the camera as it shows some very good broad staging. The voice of Goodwill as a nasty villain is of course the voice of Billy Bletcher; and I feel that this isn't any old voice of his and he definitely puts on a very unique voice for the villain compared to what he usually does.
The power then goes out; but pops back again in which the biggest sibling; Patrick has vanished (and I like how there are X marks on where they stood - as though X marks the spot). Porky notices that Patrick went missing which shocks the other family. The power switch then goes off the second time but as it turns back on; we find that the second biggest child Peter has also vanished. Porky calls out that Peter has gone missing; (and the other family members get more shocked). The power switch goes off again but back in a millisecond in which Percy has gone missing; Porky again calls out his name as he did with the other missing kids. The power switch then goes off again for the final time as we find the last and smallest sibling Portus has gone missing which means the entire children have been wiped out in each very brief "power cut". The power goes off again (excuse me) for the final part THIS time with Porky and Petunia now missing; hence their X positions on the couch which gives the design of the room a more interesting view.
Petunia Pig: Gee Porky, I'm scared'.
Porky Pig: Don't be frightened. You're with me. We'll find them.
Porky then holds onto Petunia's hand as they step out of the couch to go and look out for their kids. Porky then starts to try and call for his kids, 'Hey fellas, where are ya?' There is a long background pan as we exit the living room to the basement; then we dissolve into the basement as we find Goodwill laughing; the pan continues as we find that the siblings are in the stocks tied up; and there are spare ones for Porky and Petunia. Goodwill then continues; 'and as soon I can get Porky and Petunia up here. I'll do away with all of you - like this'. The villainous Goodwill then starts to pantomime a cut throat. Goodwill even comments to the audience; 'And if that guy in the third row comes up. I'll fix him too'. Of course the recurring gag of the short is referencing the guy from the third row which is very funny and very original in this story; and it gives me the perspective that the other directors at that time were funny too; not only Avery.
Porky then starts to realise whose hand he's holding on until he turns around and goes in that crazy, very funny eye and facial take towards the villain and dashes off. Porky then starts to make a complete dash up the stairs very fast away from the villain. As he makes it up to the top he then holds onto Goodwill who has already made it up there before he did without effort which makes it even funnier to me. Porky is seen holding onto Goodwill in which he believes he's holding onto Petunia; 'Gee, Petunia - I saw the most awful-looking man all big and black with big teeth, and a great big, long black nose and...' Porky makes a slow turn towards who he is holding onto in which he goes into that goofy take realising he is holding onto the monster Goodwill. Porky then starts to run straight back down the stairs again with fright in which he runs over to the laboratory in the basement.
Porky Pig then dashes down to the basement as he closes the door and locks it. He turns to find his actual family all tied up in the stocks and their mouths covered from bandanas so they wouldn't speak. Porky exclaims, 'Land sake's alive' as he tries to untie the family members. Just as he tries to untie then; there is loud banging going on from the basement as shows the no-good Goodwill is down there after Porky and his family. Goodwill then breaks the plank to which it locks the door and charges into the room as he shouts, 'Now I got you'.
The family are now standing by the wall cornered and afraid that they will be done for. Goodwill then walks over about to grab them threatening; 'I'll do a way with all of you'. Suddenly a heavy object falls to the ground out of nowhere in which he flies over to the stocks and ends up being trapped. Porky's family then ask curiously at the same time; 'Who did that?' A voice from nowhere then shouts, 'ME!'
Goodwill: Who are you?
Man from Audience: I'm that guy in the third row. You big sourpuss!
Now that is a very funny and clever way to end the cartoon as it shows the only person to stop the villain is the man from the third row. It was probably not what he expected but but least he got even with the villain.
The transforming scenes were very good; and I even think that the character who was supposedly meant to be scary and Tashlin has successfully made his character frightening. The cartoon is probably one of the darker WB cartoons but I find that it's one of Tashlin's funnier cartoons and even one of his best. The 'guy in the third row' gags are just awesome and funny that it gives great satire through the cartoon and to the very end where the man gets even with the villain; so you could say an audience member was the hero of the cartoon. Of course; this is Petunia's 2nd appearance but she is married to Porky and not that lame-ass she was in Porky's Romance so I see that Tashlin is trying to make her work as a regular character - she certainly sounds better with her voice. I must say that I think this cartoon has probably one of Billy Bletcher's greatest voice performances he did in his career. Of course; almost every villain he plays has his voice sound exactly the same but he gives this villain's voice a different but appealing quality that really works. Overall; this short was a very good cartoon and Tashlin was at the top of his game when making the cartoon.