Friday, 10 August 2012

186. Porky's Hero Agency (1937)

Warner cartoon no.185.
Release date: December 4, 1937.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Robert Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig) and Ted Pierce (The Gorgon).
Animation: Chuck Jones.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky is taken into a dream on being a Greek hero agency.

Notice how that Carl Stalling's name is spelt wrong in the screen credits. I like how Porky is designed in the screen credits as a ceramic figure. I imagine that was created by one of the studio staff.

The cartoon begins as we find that Porky Pig is in his bed; all dressed in his pyjamas reading a book called Greek Myths. The mother then comments, 'Porky, it's way past your bedtime. Go to sleep now'. Porky then lowers the book as he responds to his mother; 'Aw gee Ma, the exciting part it's all about gorgon who turned everyone she looked at into stone'. He then starts to lower the book as he continues to speak about the Greek myth of gorgons which are of course - terrifying creatures; and Porky already explains it by how when a person is seen by her they'd turn into stone and that the gorgons are stopped by Greek heroes according to the book.

After his explanation; Porky's mum doesn't particularly care much about what Porky has to say as her hand then reaches for the light switch and she turns off Porky's nightlight as she comments, 'Happy dreams'. Porky then starts to lower himself to sleep leaning on his pillow rather bored. Porky then starts to sign to himself before he goes to sleep as he makes a wish about himself, 'Gee; I wish I was a great Greek hero with nothin' to do but slay dragons, etc.'. We then find that the book starts to pick itself up as there is a whirling effect for this dream sequence. The book starts to whirl around (although this was animated) but why couldn't they have made a camera effect for that?

The greek palace at the front of the book then starts to whirl around as well; as we find that the background dissolves into a Greek world and the palace stops whirling but we find that there is a sign up there that reads Hero for Hire. Porky then starts to go into the dream as he is now called, 'Pokykarkus' - and that is in fact a reference to Parkyakarkus on the radio show; 'The Chase & Sanborn Hour' that was hosted by Eddie Cantor. Parkyakurkus is "park your carcass" in gibberish Greek.

Porky is standing outside the palace with a sign on display as it reads; TODAY'S SPECIAL as it reads several qualities on being a hero that go on during the day; such as dragon slaying and even including about getting maids safe - of course saving the females would make you an important hero. The writing in big bold letters below then reads: IS YOUR DAUGHTER SAFE? - with smaller writing at the bottom reading, 'CALL PORKYKARKUS OLYMPIA2222'. Porky is also working as a type of speaker on this as well as he's on the lookout for heroes. I guess the '2222' part is a reference to the phone number or something but I don't know. It appears as though Porky is a heroic figure who pays people for slaying dragons (for $50) and saving maidens for 50 cents.The phone then starts to ring (held onto by a statue figure) in which Porky walks over to the phone to answer it. The phone call is coming from the Emperor as he informs Porky to come on over in which Porky agrees to. He answers the phone saying, 'Hello, hero agency speaking. Oh who? Yes, the Emperor. One hero to go? Yes sir". With the 'one hero to go' line; it's referring to Porky himself being the hero.

Porky then walks over to a statue figure that is called, 'Mercury' who was a Roman god in mythology. It turns out that the phone box is actually attached to his armpit and that's why there is a hand holding the phone - (which I think is a little funny). Porky then starts to walk over and then he flies over to the Emperor's palace; with shoes that show he has...wings. Okay...

After a flight from his palace to the Emperor's; he then skids to the ground to greet the Emperor. 'Howdy, Empie'. The emperor then turns around from his chair in which he shushes Porky as he replies; 'I'm making a fireside chat with my she eps'. It turns out that the Emperor is in fact giving a talk towards an audience and that they have in fact already turned into stone. There appears to be a reference with the voice as he shouts in a monotone voice; 'This is Emperor Jones speaking'; but I'm not sure what it's meant to mean. The Emperor here is shown with a very strong Greek accent so bear with me if my writing in the next part won't be top notch not because of being tired but actually struggling to understand dialogue and the plot of the cartoon. But I think that the Emperor's voice is a reference to the Parkyakarkus character; but I'm not too sure.

To make it as though the audience agrees with what he is saying; he then starts to pull a rope chord in which there are strings attached to the arms in which they give a salute sign. Of course for an audience today watching this; they'd be thinking of it as the Nazi salute. The Emperor then continues to talk on with his heavy Greek accent (and that means I can't understand the dialogue too well) in which he comments that the population of the place went from 6'000 and then states that there are 500 hundred with 54 people; if that's what he means) he comments that seven of them being statues.

The Emperor then grabs out a marshmallow from the fireside (attached to a stick) as he continues his lecture to these statues (makes him an eccentric) in which he continues his chat. There appears to be a lot of dated in-jokes I think in this section, of some shorts. The lecture turns out to be about the amount of 6'000 statues and the fewest amount of people that is becoming a problem in which the lecture is about the Gorgon. As soon as the Emperor says the word, 'Gorgon' he spits out the word until he pulls the rope and then the statues in the audience clap.

After he pulls the ropes from where we hear the clapping he then continues his speech; and I notice that Porky is standing by the audience but just appears to be standing there just listening. The Emperor mentions the rumours about the Gorgon has a chain hanging on her neck; of some sorts. While he gives out his speech; there is a sausage on a stick (being held by a statue) in which it roasts on the fireside. The Emperor then picks up the hotdog and eats it whilst continuing his talk.

The Emperor then continues his talk about the problem and he sends Porky Pig over next to him as to being the Greek hero to help stop the problem with the Gorgon. As he nominates Porky to be the hero; he then asks for those 'all in favour' on casting Porky to be the hero. He pulls the chord as normal in which all the statues volunteers. I mean; personally I know these are gags being tried out but it just seems pointless if he's just getting folks who used to be statues just volunteering for him. Why couldn't he just get the other people who haven't turned to stone yet - it's really clogging my brain. The funny part is that even the clock's hand volunteers; the only inanimate object (or living) to be even volunteering. The Emperor is amazed by the votes that he's managed to cause in which he shakes his hands to Porky and comments, 'It's a deal'. He comments, 'Adios Porkykarkus' as Porky then starts to leave the palace for his duties.

The Emperor continues to say goodbye towards Porky as he is leaving such as, 'Happy landing, drop us a line, etc!' - I guess that this is just supposed to be funny ways for the Emperor to keep on greeting goodbye to him. Porky is flying with his flying shoes in which he greets the Emperor.

Hey, notice some of the shots in the palace where he isn't wearing any shoes but in the flying scenes he is? Porky then trips on a column in the sky but he therefore spins around after his trip and he turns upside down afterwards in which he falls down like a dive-bomb. At least the funny Treg Brown sound effect made it rather funny to me. Porky then makes a dive-bomb before he then flies into the distance to a volcano in the Greek area. I do like how the camera angles for this scene was planned out on where Porky was flying which must've made the background pans a little bit complicating. After the fade-out we then fade-in to find the volcano but in a close-up view and the Porky flies over to the volcano with his flying shoes. After he flies into the volcano he then stops flying as he makes a land and then starts to walk into the Gorgon Statue Factory. We find that in the long-shot Porky then walks over to the Gorgon Statue Factory and that's where the smoke from the top of the volcano came from in which it does kind of make it a fine gag in its ways.

As Porky has already landed; there is a sign in which we spot in this point-of-view shot in which it reads: "WHY GO SOMEWHERE ELSE AND GET YOURSELF CHISELED? THE GORGON WILL TURN YOU TO STONE CHEAPER WITH HER MARVELLOUS PHOTOGRAPHIC EYE. The writing at the bottom continues but in much smaller writing: IF NOT SATISFIED IN THIRTY DAYS YOU WILL BE BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE WITH HER LIFE RESTORING NEEDLE

There is a funny little part that is also; what I think rather looney of Clampett and also typical of him in which there is writing just added into; as the sign then changes to "...life restoring needle ----------- MAYBE". Now that is just rather amusing that we know the fact that the Gorgon is in fact not a fair person at all; considering there is no chance of your life being restored. As we can see; there is a row of frozen statued men in a line; but there is a sign that now reads 'Picket Fence' in which that is how they are formed now. Porky then walks over to a door in which he delivers a message; notice how there is a Fuller brush man statue stepping by the door with his foot standing by it - which I think is rather amusing. Porky knocks on the door to deliver a telegram to the Gorgon but before he pronounces 'Gorgon' correctly a hand then snatches the letter and slams the door in which the brush man's foot is caught on the door which is a funny gag. Porky snaps his fingers; 'Aw shucks'. I love how that the brush man's foot is actually jammed on the door; shows how wacky and impossible Clampett could get.

Afterwards; there is then a shot as we find a photography man standing by making a photo shoot. There appears to be another in-joke in which the photographer then asks for the next model to step in in which he is an old crooked man. As he's crooked; the photographer makes an in-joke that he must be nervous - which is an in-joke. I like how that Clampett has thought of a clever idea for the man to be the camera stand as well; as he appears to have a camera in his eye and his chin leaning on a camera stand.

The old man then starts to give out instructions as he asks; 'Smile at the camera. Watch the birdie (he brings out a toy bird which is a popular use to catch attention when in photoshoots. He then starts to ask; 'Are you holding it? I'll wait' - of course he's not holding it since the old man is crooked in which the old man then starts to wait by blowing his nails waiting patiently which I find rather funny as he's mistaking the old man to be a nervous child. He then starts to sing to himself; but then as we watch the old man still crooked; the photographer asks 'Steady now?' but after the flash - he turns into a statue and I think Clampett and his team have developed a clever concept of how the Gorgon (the photographer) has managed to turn them into stones - I like that idea. A sign is then placed by the card in which it read; 'Antiques: $60,000,  P.S. 000,000" - now the P.S. part was rather funny and even Clampett has used it again afterwards. A hook then slides into the scene to slide the antique statue carefully out of the scene.

The next models to step into the scenes are of course parodies of 'The Three Stooges' as we watch Moe, Larry and Curly walk in as they sue their trademarks is where they hit each other in the face; and that would've been a funny gag since it was a popular series of the time. They then turn into stone in which they are then frozen into one of their also trademark poses which is the 'Three wise monkeys' sign (See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil). The gorgon then comments, 'I guess I made monkeys out of them' which is a funny one-liner.

Porky then starts to knock on the prison  door in which he then hopes for the Gorgon to be at the door. Then there is an arm that reaches out in which the voice replies back, 'Welcome, stranger. Won't you come in?' after shaking his hand he is then dragged into the room by a Negro guard. He is then joining the queue where Porky is at his fate of being turned into a statue. The next folks to be turned into statues look like an aerobics team in which they form a pyramid shape act; but then after being turned into stone they form an actual pyramid. The gag itself works in that level; even though they don't turn into human shapes but blocks but you really get the idea of why the gag would work itself. The price tag for the Egyptian pyramid is priced at $50. The top part of the pyramid is actually broken in which the Gorogn is annoyed. He then uses the life-restorer to help fix the pyramid (and probably one of the fewest times she's had to use it); then she turns them to stone again and form a perfect pyramid.

The Negro guard then comments to him in which he responds; 'You're next' to be statued. Hang on a minute; if he's next then what happened to the other guys in front of him? Was this a goof? Was this a cut? Porky then starts to back off as he doesn't want to be turned into stone as he pictures in his head on what his fate could be a - a piggy bank. He then walks back shouting, 'No, no - a thousand times no'. Mmm, I've noticed that in some Porky cartoons - do you reckon that would've been a supposed catchphrase for him?

Afterwards; Porky then realises he has bumped into a statue behind him in which it falls to the ground. The statue trips and then falls as it breaks. Porky realises that he has created a good idea. The gorgon then calls in for more. The door opens and we find that Porky Pig is in fact under a a statue of a Greek man with a perfect figure. The gorgon is even amazed as she turns to the audience remarking; 'Would you look at that?' which is a funny, subtle gag. I do like that walk cycle of the figure (although we can't see Porky's trotters moving so I imagine the cycle might have been a bit of a challenge in animation - then the trotters turn up after the cape falls down. I like how that he sits down on a chair in which the Gorgon has taken an interest on him as she dashes to the table next to him asking, 'Is this seat taken?' in which she starts to sit down next to him in which a love bubble pops out and bursts which I think is rather amusing considering that she is being made a full out of by Porky in his way of enticing the Gorgon.

Porky's hand then reaches out to grab the life-restorer that is tied around her neck; as he tries to grab for it - the Gorgon then starts to go into a craze as though she's been touched and comments, 'Why, Mr. Apollo?' which is another funny subtle joke. She then picks up Porky in the statue and kisses him. Afterwards she comments, 'Didn't taste the difference' and then she grabs out a ring in which she believed she's being proposed and comments, 'so sudden'.

She then grabs out and kisses the hunk statue until it breaks into fragments in which it turned out she was kissing Porky. Porky then realises that he is almost caught in which he starts to grab the life-restorer and runs away with it. The gorgon realises that she's been had. She then starts to call for help and even uses the police signal; 'Calling all cars'. Porky then runs over to an antique in which the old man is free from the statue before he realises that he's being chased by the gorgon and he runs off in that funny take of his. Porky also frees another statue of a naked man holding a frisbee in which he whirls around and throws it - I guess it feel like a statue that was from a nudist beach or some such - with a frisbee being held. The gorgon is on the chase with the camera stand to try and freeze them again. Porky then restores the life of man on a horse but after being restored to life; we find that he is on a merry-go-round type style which I find is rather amusing.

More lives continued to be restored and that includes a woman statue who appears to have the same type of muscles as Popeye. Then another life that is restored is a mermaid but she unzips her fin and runs out which is particularly quite funny.

Porky then starts to step outside in which he goes as far as restoring life to some of the temples in which they starts to trot away with the columns moving which I think is going beyond the boundaries but it's still presented in a comic form. There is a very funny Shirley Temple type gag where Porky revives the life of a temple called Shirley as its referencing child actress Shirley Temple - and the gag I think is funny enough even though I find it a bit groan worthy. Porky is now being chased by the Gorgon who is chasing after him and it will be Porky this time that will be stoned (Huh, doesn't it not sound weird the way I said it? - her hee). As Porky is running away; we notice something and even I (I will say it) fucking love this part where Porky is just running slower and slower because he is in a dream. He then stops and gets captured. I mean I just think that is incredibly true and realistic; I mean haven't any of you ever experienced a nightmare where you were being chased and for some reason you get slower and slower when you run? The gorgon then grabs hold of Porky in which Porky has his eyes closed so that he will try and not get turned into stone. He shouts, 'Open your eyes - open up I tell you, etc!' the dream then fades back into reality where Porky is in bed and the shaking turns out to be the mother waking up Porky. 'Come on, open wide. It's time to wake up Porky'. Porky then wakes up after his eyes are opened by his mother in which he cuddles up to his mum giggling as he is alright and safe at home.

Overall comments: What I find rather interesting in this Clampett cartoon is that despite that Clampett managed to make Porky a more grown-up by finalising his personality and design (something that probably wasn't complete until 1940 or 1939); here Clampett has made Porky the child in this cartoon which is rather weird to me since he made Porky become an everyman; but yet again Porky always varied in designs through the 1930s but it never always felt terribly noticeable. I find that the story concept for this cartoon was a rather interesting choice for Porky to be a hero agency in a Greek world stopping the Gorgon. I did feel though however the first part of the cartoon went buy rather slowly but then when we saw the Gorgon the cartoon started to get into action. I noticed how that the Emperor in the designs looks like a similar design in Casper Caveman that we see in Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur which didn't come out until 1939 but I guess maybe Jones animated on the character; but surely did designs and character layouts though.

1937 is the end of the output for the Porky Pig cartoons; and all-in-all; I'd say a very historic year for Porky. To begin with; we know that at the beginning of the year; Porky was still voiced by actor Joe Dougherty who stuttered too much and he was not funny with voice acting and failed in many ways - so he got canned. When Mel Blanc took over the whole; he made the voices of the character much more appealing and of course went on to voice many other prime Looney Tunes characters; so that was pretty important of this year. Two new characters were supposed to join the Porky series which were Gabby Goat and Petunia Pig but of course - they didn't last very long. Of course; Clampett would go on to make many other Porky cartoons through the '30s and way up to 1941 before he got to make his own cartoons (other than Porky) but Clampett I think managed to make Porky the right character he was; and I don't think everyone got the hang of him until 1939; perhaps - but Frank Tashlin, I think, got better with his character designs (before that he made him terribly beefy) but he did tone him down around later this year and got better by 1938 where Porky at least looks much slimmer; so I don't Tashlin's designs on Porky this year were too great. All in all; I must say that out of this year's output on 'Porky Pig'; Clampett made the best Porky cartoons I have to say.

7 comments:

  1. Hey Steven, I can understand the Emperor's accent (and his awful grammar!), so his full speech runs like this:

    "Shh! I'm making a fireside chat with my sheeps!... My friends, Grecians and customers, this is Emperor Jones speaking.
    Statistics show: what last season at this time was population in Greece from 6,000 with 500 with 54 people [i. e. 6554], with 70 statues.
    So is now in THIS season, a population from 35 people with 6000 statues—thanks to that good-for-nothing Gorgon! Ptooey!...
    Now is coming to me rumors that this Gorgon has, hanging from a chain around the neck, a magic needle entitled 'Bring-Em-Back-Alive Life Restorer.' So as soon as subjected a statue to the needle, it's becoming again blood and flesh.
    So I think what I'll send a hero to snatch the Life Restorer. All in favor, raise your right hand!... It's a deal!"

    "Porkykarkus" is a double pun. It obviously mimics Parkyakarkus; but while Parkyakarkus sounds like "park your carcass," Porkykarkus sounds like "porky carcass" (i. e. describing his fat figure!).

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    2. Comedian Harry Einstein played a character being referred to (in the form of a pun) Parkyakarkus (a Greek character on Eddie Cantor's and Al Jolson's radio programs. He later got his own radio show, "Meet Me at Parky's" appeared in eleven films as Parkyakarkas from 1936 to 1945.)

      Harry Einstein's well known sons are the actor/director Albert Brooks and Bob Einstein (a.k.a. Super Dave Osborne).

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  2. As with Avery's wolf in "Little Red Walking Hood", Clampett here follows Tex's idea in using a villain who is (at best) supposed to be a very minor 'serious' threat and is almost entirely played for laughs, using the same 'Lizzy Tish' parody Tashlin used in "The Woods are Full of Coocoos" and turning the Gorgon into a ditzy gossip. Eliminating the need for any sort of 'dramatic tension' as in your average Disney story meant the entire cartoon could be played for laughs, which is where the Warners' cartoons really started charting their own path to success.

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  3. The Emperor proclaims to his statued delegates, “My friends...” Franklin Roosevelt began his fireside chats that way on the radio.

    “Bring-em-Back-Alive-Life Restorer” is a takeoff on animal collector Frank Buck’s first book, “Bring ‘Em Back Alive.”

    The statue Porky knocked over was named “Dick O. Powello” [which is a takeoff on the name Apollo], but it’s actually a reference to Warner Bros. actor/singer, Dick Powell, who starred in many pivotal Warners musicals (42nd Street, Footlight Parade, Gold Diggers of 1933, to name a few), so the Gorgon actually says, “Why, Mr. O. Powello!”

    The “discus thrower” is a takeoff on a very famous Greek statue called the Discobolos of Myron. The woman statue that Porky gives Popeye-esque arms is a takeoff on the Venus de Milo, who happens to have missing arms anyway (it is a mystery as to why that is).

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  4. Thanks Dave for the full dialogue; you save the day; and you Devon for the information.

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  5. Bescides having his NAME mispelled a tad, Carl Stalling's music credit is here just plain Music by. The Parkykarkykas character as ised here and borrowed form the radio show, would needless to say return in Daffy Duck & Egvghead as a turtle.I love the temple seque effect when Porky starting haivng that dream. Also, naturally, Tedd Pierce is BOTH the Gorghon AND Porky's Ma, and B;anc is the "ParkyLarkas"
    character,

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