Tuesday, 14 August 2012

189. Porky's Poppa (1938)

Warner cartoon no. 188.
Release date: January 15, 1938.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig, Narrator, Porky's Poppa) and Bob Clampett (Duck).
Animation: Chuck Jones.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky's cow Bessie is in competition to a more advanced and useful mechanical cow.

During the cartoon's opening titles; the cartoon then starts to begin as we hear the voice of a narrator (that appear to be a vocal group) as they is singing their version of Old MacDonald Had a Farm instead the song is called Porky's Poppa Had a Farm. The title card in fact shows a chalkboard in which a hand comes in to rub out the credits and write down the opening part of the song.

Then we start to view to Porky's farm where he works and lives. The vocalists then go into song as they sing, 'And on this farm he had a pig - Porky Pig, you know'. Porky Pig then appears in the scene in which he then starts to stutter the verse which is typical in the old tradition song. I guess that Porky Pig's catchphrase back then was 'Oh boy' even though it wasn't so much common later on. The vocalists then go into verse, 'With a...' in which Porky Pig sings; 'Oh boy, oh boy' which is part of the song. Of course since Porky stutters as he tries to sing in verse but the vocalists then overlap his stuttering part in which Porky was about to say 'Oh boy' but instead he then responds to 'Oh skip it' which shows a funny frustration towards Porky. The next verse we hear the vocalists sing 'Porky's Poppa had a farm. E-I-E-O' the next farm character to be introduced to this song (and also this cartoon) is Poppa's goose; in which the vocalist then sings, 'With a' the goose then makes a honking sound which is a funny sound effect.

Then we start to move on to the next farm animal that is to be introduced in which the vocalists sing again: Porky's Poppa had a farm. E-I-E-I-O' - the farm animal is then a cow. There is a little funny gag in which it's also a pun, too. It starts off with, 'With a little calf here, and a little calf there...' the cow then starts to stand up and show her own calf (calf meaning the back portion of the lower leg) and of-course 'calf' has another meaning where it means a baby cow.

As the vocalists then start to go into song again; the cow then turns around chewing as normal. The vocalists then continue the whole verse 'With a little calf here...' in which the cow starts to dance with her calfs again which is some rather funny movement and of course the whole concept of the gag. The next farm animal that is introduced in this song sequence in which it is a duck (No, not a Daffy Duck). There is a hand that pops up in the screen in which the duck then starts to quack at different positions which makes it a much more lively scene. The duck then starts to shout out to the audience (and I believe in a Ted Lewis phrase - but I could be wrong) "Everybody sing!" in which even the words pop out and appear on the screen which is a really cool cartoony effect and sometimes Bob Clampett even liked to use that trademark. Then the vocalists start to sing very quickly in which they sing, 'A little quack here...' and all done pretty fast speed; which shows Clampett was experimenting with speed which I think is pretty cool. The cow then returns in which they sing, 'A little calf here and little calf there' but this time the cow then hands out puppets of calfs which is also rather funny since now it's changing the meanings. The goose then starts to honk around as the goose honks with a bunch of horns all over him; even around his neck. Even Porky this time grabs out a gramophone in which it records his dialogue; 'Oh boy, oh boy' which is also rather amusing. It's even more funnier when it starts to stutter and it causes Porky to break the record. It even finishes with 'Oh boy' but played in such slow speed; which is hilarious.

The song then concludes as the vocalists then starts to sing in a much more downhearted voice and depressed. They sing the last part in which they sing in a depressed tone; 'And on this farm he had a mortgage. Woe-woe-woe-woe-woe'. There is a mortgage that is seen with feet standing up to show that the farm isn't exactly a happy place and the mortgage is the downer part; which is funny but true. The set-up of that scene was just great; the voice and even how the mortgage is shown - the horror of it.

The next shot we then find Porky's father walking up and down rather worried and concerned about the mortgage or how to make money. There is a montage shot that is shown there as it displays an announcement at the spot. Whilst it is a montage; is it me or does the mortgage paper look like it's hanging by Porky's father's back. The narrator then announces: And so, today, as it must to all men, DEBT comes to Porky's Poppa, 48. With the number '48' that would mean his age. Porky's Poppa is still walking around his barn as he continues to worry as he continues on; 'Ruination. Worry. Worry'. Notice how that Porky's Poppa actually hasn't made an appearance since Milk and Money which was released more than a year ago. Porky's Poppa continues to walk up and down as he continues to worry, 'Taxes. Mortgage. Woe is me. No milk. No money. What a pickle'. Of course this is definitely not the first time we've seen Porky's Poppa worry about situations or debt in his farm since it probably must've been a regular thing for him in the past.

Porky Pig is standing outside the barn; after the PAN from his father and then to Porky. Porky is standing outside his cow's shed as she is called Bessie. The sign outside her barn reads QUARANTINE: HOOF N'MOUTH TROUBLE. We expect it to be serious since Bessie is quarantined; but instead we find that in the barn she has her hoof caught inside her mouth which is pretty dopey but funny. Notice in the background she has a picture of a bull called, 'Bull Bontanta' a reference to celebrity - Bull Montana who was a wrestler and actor.

Porky's Poppa then walks over as he watches Bessie's production chart (which means how much she has been milked). He walks over to see the results of her; the chart that records to what happens in the week then finds that there is a sudden drop. The drop is so low; that there is another long piece of paper then rolls down as we find that it has gone that low; that gives us the real idea as to how low it has dropped and even presented in a believable view. Porky's Poppa is shocked when he finds that her production chart has decreased so badly that he walks over to the stable door in which he then starts to place a sign covering the quarantine sign in which it not reads: OUT OF ORDER. Porky's Poppa then points to Bessie as he has no choice but to sell Bessie to get slaughtered, 'Remind me to send you to the hamburger factory'. Bessie then visualises it in her head in which she features; as the bubble thought features her whole body built on hamburgers which will be her fate. I like how it is pictured in her thought and of course the horror of being slaughtered which just makes the cartoon more interesting to watch as we see some drama. Oooooh.

Porky's Poppa then picks up the phone in which he then starts to make an order for a replacement to Bessie. He rings the phone to place his order: 'Hello, Acme Mail Order Company? Send me one cow, airmail'. Of course we think that there is just another cow but as we find a parachute that lands on their site to the ground; Poppa then unwraps the parcel to find it's a MECHANICAL cow. Of course; we would be forgetting that he was calling a company that would make such a thing.

The mechanical cow has got a rather cool design as he is designed as a cow-type robot who could fill in the work very quickly. Porky's Poppa then starts to read the label attached to the mechanical cow's tail as it reads: The New 1938 CREAMLINED Cow. I like the awesome to describe the latest invention; 'cream lined' which would be a reference to 'streamlined' as we are to discover that Poppa has decided to use modern design. Is it me or is it that Porky's father's snout is just designed the wrong way where it looks rather weird to me. It appears to be drawn too long; but when you look at his face from the side; it doesn't look like a pig's snout to me - it just looks...weird. Porky doesn't approve of the new mechanic as he responds, 'Aw, there ain't no such animal'. Porky's Popppa then turns on the machine in which he finds that his latest new machine is in fact very successful into preventing him with further debts and threats from the welfare. The electric udders then start to squirt out milk in which there are milk bottles moving from a conveyor belt to show that the mechanic actually works very well. Other machines then start to place the bottle caps on top; as well as cream paint to show what the milk bottles would look like once in the market.

Porky then starts to make a take in which he dashes over to Bessie in which he starts to grab out a pitchfork as there are a chunk of hay on the pitchfork in which he starts to try and encourage Bessie more; 'Come on Bessie. We won't let that old newfangled heifer beat us. You just eat your hay and show that tin-can cow who can make the most'. Porky then tries to take Bessie's hoof off her mouth so that she could eat some hay and produce more milk. Bessie then places her foot back into mouth as though she isn't in control of her own foot.

Porky then grabs her foot again in which he tries to pin it down, 'Aw, every time you open your kisser, you put your foot in'. Bessie then places her foot inside her mouth again but Porky tries to bring it back down again as he insists, 'Bessie, you got to eat! You don't want to be smothered in onion, do ya?' Porky then pushes her feet back down again in which he is sitting on them. He grabs out his pitchfork in which he tries to feed her with hay. Porky thinks of a clever idea in which he places hay by her feet. Her feet will shoot up like a catapult and go into her mouth as she will chew it. Porky then walks over out of the barn to see what Bessie could produce. I do like that comic timing of when Bessie shoots her hoof into her mouth and also notice some of the spiky effect it shows on her hoof for it to shoot up.

Porky then starts to walk out of Bessie's barn as he then closes the gate behind him. Porky then will have nothing to do but then wait for Bessie to produce some milk. He then walks up and down as though he has to wait worriedly. Porky then starts to hear the sounds of a baby cry in which he finds out that Bessie has produced one milk bottle. The baby cry effect is particularly funny as though Bessie produced a baby when it's just a milk born. Porky then wraps up the milk bottle as though it's a new born child and places it in a basket.

Another baby cry is heard in which Bessie has produced a second milk bottle. Porky then wraps it around as the time he did for the other bottle; and the same for the third bottle, and the forth. As the basket is almost full. Bessie then produces one more bottle and hands it over to Porky. Porky then starts  to come in a shock as he finds that is a chocolate milk bottle; considering that it is now the odd one out. It's also pretty funny; and I imagine that Clampett and his unit would have fun creating their gags since they didn't have their own storywriter back then. Porky then places the chocolate milk back worried there for a second until another milk bottle is born in which Bessie has managed to produce 5 milk bottles successfully. Porky then comments on the amount of milk bottles she has managed to make, 'Gosh. Quin---. Quart-tuplets'. Well, I guess that is just the joke since if it would be "Quart-tuplets" then it's only 4 milk bottles produced but since it's 5 bottles it would be "quintuplets" of course. I do wonder if that would be a Dionne quintuplets reference.

Porky then runs over to his father in which he is carrying a basket of milk to his father as he tries his best to surprise him.

Porky Pig: Hey Pa, look what Bessie did.
Porky's Poppa: Yeah, but can she do this?

Porky's Poppa then turns on a device in which the mechanical cow is about to produce a lot of milk. As Poppa then turns on the button, the udders then start to produce some dairy that then land in a conveyor belt. The cream-lined cow can produce some cottage cheese; and the gag is that the cheese then lands on the conveyor belt as it's shaped like a cottage - hence "cottage cheese". Then the cow starts to produce some Limburger - and we find that there is a peg covering the Limburger cheese of course since Limburger as a horrid smell. Then Swiss cheese can also be made as it also plops out and lands on the conveyor belt in which we find out that a cuckoo in Swiss uniform then pops out of the mechanical machine with a machine gun firing at the Swiss cheese. The funny gag is that the Swiss cheese then develop mouths in which they yodel which is very funny I have to say. This in fact gets Porky rather concerned that the cream-lined cow machine is in fact doing very well. Porky then starts to dash inside Bessie's barn in which he wants to try and produce some more milk.

There is a rather neat camera angle where the camera only focuses on Porky sitting on a stall. We think that he is holding onto Bessie's udders as he's wanted to squirt more milk into the bottle. Porky then stutters, 'Come on, Bessie. Hurry, hurry. Step on it'. The camera then stretches the entire screen as we find that Bessie is then holding onto the bucket in which he pours it into funnels - which is a rather clever set-up - gagwise and film wise. If Bessie already has milk in a bucket; and how could she produce more?

Porky's Poppa then starts to find that Bessie and Porky are already in competition with his machine and they are doing rather well.  Porky's Poppa then tries to top what they are doing as he pulls out a machine. It turns out that not only can the robot produce milk and dairy; but it can also produce sundaes. We find that there is a brush for the machines in which it places a cherry on top of each in which they place it on top of the sundae. Whilst comparing it with Bessie; we find that she is holding a massive ice cube on her forehead in which she needs it to help produce ice-cream cone out as he hands it over to Porky. Comparing it with the mechanical cow than the real cow like Bessie; Porky's Poppa's machine is certainly much more useful and advanced. While the mechanic is placing cherries on top of sundaes - the conveyor then discovers that there is a bottle of whiskey lying there by mistake, in which the it makes a voice; 'Uh-oh'. As this still continues; Bessie is still producing more ice-cream and you can see how she suffers from the coldness on her head in which she shivers. Poor cow. Porky then discovers that Bessie is running out of dairy in which there is a tiny bit of ice-cream that she's produced. Porky then jumps and shouts, 'Quick, Bessie. More hay'.

Bessie then starts to sit by the barn as she is eating more hay. Meanwhile in the assembly line scenes of the mechanical machinery we find that are are bottles of 'vanishing cream' that then appear out of nowhere. The brush then starts to pick up the vanishing cream away so that it doesn't continue on considering it's not dairy (and yet, novelty). Of course the brush moves slowly that it even skips the other vanishing cream jars; probably shows how the speed isn't advanced enough yet.

The brush then starts to move to the vanishing scream towards where Bessie is eating her hay, but then suddenly it pours down her mouth where the hay is; but then that's where the gag starts to appear. There is a board where the milk bottles slide from where Bessie produces hay. However, one milk bottle then slides down as being empty because of Bessie chewing on hay when covered with vanishing cream which results to being no milk. The more milk bottles that arrive; no milk that turns out. Of course even the milk bottles vanish as Porky picks them up to place in the basket which I think is even funnier because of the vanishing cream. Porky then begins to suspect something strange that has happened towards Bessie. Bessie then starts to pick up the bottles and finds that it is starting to vanish. Bessie therefore tries again but this time it turns out that the vanishing cream even pours cream all over the hay which will result in no milk at all for Bessie. As she keeps on chewing - she then discovers that there isn't even any hay left for her to make which becomes a disaster.

Bessie then steps out of the barn to look out for some more hay. Porky then spots some in front of her, 'There's some'. Bessie then starts to try and pick up the hay to chew but the mechanical cow beats her to it as it stretches its neck to collect the hay; of course being mechanical - it could do that.  Porky and Bessie then start to chase up to the other side of the barn as they find more hay; however the mechanical head then beats them to it in which he eats the hay.

Bessie the cow (with Porky on her back) then starts to ride out of the barn to look out for more hay. The mechanical cow then follows them out of the barn to beat them in finding the hay and eating it. I like that little charming gag of where the mechanical cow is speeding up, but can also transform itself into a hoover whilst catching up; it was a pretty clever thought-of gag I'd say. Porky and Bessie then spot another haystack in which they attempt to eat it. As they were about to it; the mechanical cow (transformed into a hoover) then races at the scene and sweeps up the hay before Bessie could even touch it. Poor Bessie and now the mechanical is also being proven of being a pest. In a long shot the hoover then starts to sweep up the entire haystack leaving for Bessie. Even an entire barn full of hay is then wiped out with no hay left. I like how that the gag even shows the barn getting much smaller after the amount of hay is gone which was pretty clever.

The mechanical cow then starts to make a turn as the mechanical cow notices a haystack where it is labelled, 'Milk Weed'. Porky then starts to notice the milk week over there in which he comments, 'That's the last straw' in which he has came out with a pun. They then start to speed up towards the haystack; and I love how the shots were arranged for watching a single-shot of Porky and Bessie chasing up to the haystack, and also the mechanical robot. It makes the action much more quickly-paced and even exciting. We then discover in a long shot that they both make it at the haystack at the same time but we discover that then there is a explosion that covers them; with hay flying over the screen.

The mechanical cow then starts to make a move again which it starts to head over to the barn and produce tons and tons of bottles of milk. The amount of milk produced is so numerous that it even lifts the barn off the ground which makes the gag itself rather funny. Porky's Poppa climbs on top of the barn full of milk bottles as he believes the mechanical machine is the winner. He grabs out the hand shouting, 'The winner!" and you can see the disappointment in Porky's face. Bessie then pops her face out of the mechanical cow (and it turns out that she IS in fact the winner) so she then shouts out, 'Oh yeah!' referencing the catchphrase that we know from the 'Ken Murray Show'. Porky is excited for Bessie as he shouts, 'Oh boy' - then a goose pops into the scene in which that's the end of the cartoon.

Overall comments: Of course this is the first Porky Pig cartoon of 1938 which is probably his best year of films in the 1930s. Again, it appears to be as though Clampett is using Porky Pig as a child as it looks like he's trying out different ideas on how to make Porky work; but being a child or not - it still works well. The opening song sequence was in fact rather entertaining to listen to as Clampett knew how to make it funny and appealing to an audience. Of course the opening part where we listen to the barn music and vocalists sounds rather corny and annoying but as it gets to the mortgage - that is in fact the funny way to conclude it. In the Clampett cartoons; I always find that he was very good and able to construct a story to make it really imaginable and appealing to an audience. I like how that he gets a father to try replace the cow with modern design but Porky and his cow Bessie would have to fight against that until it reaches a really cool climax. I'd say Clampett was good at writing his own stories.

I admit that I don't particularly like the redesign of Porky's Poppa here (even though it's really not much different from the 1936 Avery version) but I don't particularly like how his stout is drawn too long; and when you look at the side of his face it's not a really appealing side. The gags I liked here are the fact that the baby cries coming from the milk bottles was pretty cool as being new-born milk bottles; but even funnier when somehow the cow produces chocolate milk by mistake. Thsi cartoon overall I would consider to be a fine cartoon but however I think that Clampett would direct some great black and white Porky cartoons this year and even including adding Daffy Duck as he already became a star by 1938. Notice how that in the first five cartoons in the Clampett cartoons that Chuck Jones has been the only credited animator; and yet no story credit. Although Clampett didn't have his own story writers but I know Chuck was his noble animator back then but how come the others didn't credit until What Price Porky?


  1. “The March of Time”, a popular radio show( and later a series of newsreels) often headlined someone famous decline by stating, “And so today, as it must to all men, death came to "name, age”. Hence the satiric version at the beginning with the mortgage crisis.

  2. Voices: Graham Webb (the three-digit pricey 1999 "Animated Fi;m Encyclopedia) credits "Russell Bowers" as a voice, tha tmay be the axctual narrator since clearly Mel Blanc is almost everyone else, and I doubt Clampett is heard in this. Blanc is also funny as Porky's dad and the "Uh oh" voice of the robot cow...and as Bessie(presumably that's him too) at the iris out.

    ANimation: The long-running 1960s retraced version leaves off CaRL sTALLING'S NAME!!

    Random Lines:Porky's Poppa's line "Yeah, but can she do this" is reprised by Blanc as "Blackie the Slick": (not a Censored 11 short,bntw) a decade l;ater in Art Davis's WB cartoon "A Hick, A Slick, and a Chick", his all mousey take on Popeye's love triangle set up (with Blanc, Stan Freberg, and BEa Benaderet).

    Storyline similairity: Suprised you didn't mentioon it, Steve H.:): It's similiar to the idea of 1937's "Porky's Railroad", only Porky isn't up against a villian but his own dad.teve C.

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