Friday, 10 August 2012
186. Porky's Hero Agency (1937)
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.