Friday, 21 September 2012

205. Porky's Party (1938)

Warner cartoon no. 204.
Release date: June 25, 1938.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig / Black Fury / Penguin).
Animation: Chuck Jones and Norm McCabe.
Musical Score: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Fun and craziness go on at Porky's birthday; his dog gets drunk and a sewing silkworm that causes trouble for a penguin.

This is the last cartoon that Chuck Jones got screen credit on as an animator. However, I believe that his character layouts were still continuing on for a little bit after his credit but went into direction straight afterwards - but I'm not sure if this cartoon was his last as an animator or not considering that he has been credited on every cartoon beginning with 'Porky's Badtime Story'.

The cartoon begins as we find that there is a birthday cake laid out on the table. Porky's hand then arrives at the scene in which he then starts to light some candles on the cake with a match. He is singing to himself 'Happy Birthday' as it is Porky's birthday today. He sings while stuttering, 'Happy birthday to me...' - after he lights the candles - his dog who is sitting opposite towards him then starts to take a sneaky lick of the ice-cream off his plate and then on top of his mouth - rather cute and charming.

The doorbell then rings in which Porky jumps off the chair from organising his party as he then goes over to answer the door. Porky runs over to the door - the knocking goes into the rhythm of Shave and a Haircut which is a typical way of knocking a door - and these days its just so common for anybody to that. As Porky opens the door - the postman's fist then knocks on Porky's head to the last two beats of the rhythm. The postman then starts to comment as he has a package for Porky Pig. He appears to have a large voice and lisp that almost blows Porky away - "Package postpaid for Porky Pig". Porky Pig is then tossed a package towards him until the postman then slams the door. After the postman closes the door - Porky then opens up the letter to see who it is from and Porky's dog walks over to look as well.

It is a letter from Porky's uncle who appears to be residing in Hong Kong. The letter reads:

Dear Porky, Happy Birthday! I'm sending you a genuine oriental silk worm as a present. Lovingly yours, Uncle Pincus Pig P.S. When you want him to do his stuff just say - "Sew!" There is an interesting camera effect where it's meant to be a POV shot of Porky's eyelids closing lower on the P.S. message.

After reading the letter and the P.S. message - Porky tosses the letter in which he then opens up the package that he was given for his birthday. Porky then finishes unwrapping the package in which he opens up the box to see what his silkworm looks like. The dog then walks over to see what Porky has got in his hand. It turns out that what Porky has got in his hand is a small silk-worm in which it has an oriental look to it which makes it a rather amusing concept even though it may be a little bit politically incorrect today. The silkworm is sitting on top of his hand in which he is holding onto sewing sticks. Porky then asks the silkworm to demonstrate on what he can do. The silkworm then starts off by sewing a sock - in which it amazes Porky from there and at least its cool to have a silk worm

The music that is heard in the background of the silkworm sewing is called Gavotte which really works well as a portion for the scenes featuring the silkworm. Things then start to get slightly naughty when Porky then discovers the silk worm then starts to sew a bra on Porky's hands. Oooh - that naughty Clampett. Porky then hides the bra behind his back rather embarrassed but that was a very funny gag. After Porky then removes the bra away from him he then asks his dog, 'We gotta hurry and get ready, Black Fury, the others will be here any (trying to pronounce 'minute' whilst stuttering) anytime now for my birthday supper'.

Porky and his dog then scamper away from the door in which they then run to the bathroom. Porky jumps up on one of the stools in the bathroom. Porky then places some hair-growth on top of his bald head in which he uses a brush to sweep his bald head before leaving the scene. Some nice musical cliches by Stalling on where Porky pours some hair-growth on top of his head. Afterwards the dog then climbs on top of the bathroom stool and then a whole Chuck Jones animated sequence begins...(Hmm, little did I realise earlier on that it is Chuck Jones' 100th birthday today) and at least I will be talking a little bit about Jones in this sequence.

This amazing Chuck Jones sequence begins as the dog; Black Fury; then steps on top of the bathroom stool and then starts to drop some hair-growth on top of his head. His head is then covered in hair-raising liquid and the effect and the animation of that is rather oozy and appealing. The dog then looks at the bottle of the hair-growth and it reads that 99% of it contains alcohol. Out of curiosity - the dog then starts to take a sip of the bottle into his mouth and we all know what the consequences are going to be - intoxication.

There is some really nice character animation of the dog going through poses before hiccuping but then hiccups. The dog then takes a swig of the bottle before hiccuping again. The dog then starts to go into hiccups and look at how fluid the animation is when he moves with intoxication. The dog then starts to move closer to the camera in perspective as he looks rather dazed as he shouts "Happy birthday!" before he starts to throw hair-growth all over himself. Chuck Jones has really been an excellent draftsman all of his life and he was even a very good animator before be became a director. His style of drawing has even continued to change rapidly over the years; where in the 1930s whilst working for Clampett he had his own drawing style and in the first six Chuck Jones cartoons - the style is evident from the character layouts. He then appeared to have a rougher style through the 1940s with these oval looking eyelids but then he started to show some more solid drawing and even his most evident style into the 1950s and to his death.

Porky Pig is already standing by the table as he has finished preparing for the party. He then hears the sounds of guests in which he has guests at the door. The knocking (again) is the sound of 'Shave and a Haircut' in which Porky then walks over to the door to answer it but the knocking to the last part of the rhythm returns as it hits Porky on the head. Porky then receives his first guest to enter the house in which it is a penguin - he dashes in with a present for Porky as he shouts 'Happy birthday Porky'.

The penguin then arrives at the scene where he already starts to help himself by scoffing the ice-cream on the plate. Rather unpolite of the penguin guest to just barge in and just eat all of the ice-cream - the penguin then notices a large chocolate birthday cake which he is now about to scoff. He then starts to cut a piece of cake to himself in which he then removes the huge remaining part of the cake off the plate (with just one piece left) and off-screen the penguin just eats the cake greedily to himself. The next guest then starts to knock on the door and Porky answers the knocking on the door for the 2nd guest. It turns out that his 2nd birthday guest is his friend Goosey (so no Gabby Goat anymore, eh ;D). Goosey then enters the scene as he shakes hands to Porky. After greeting Goosey - it turns out that the 'hand' was a trick hand that extended with a sign reading Happy Birthday fat boy! That is a very funny insult to Porky as he certainly got owned.

Goosey then starts to stand on top of the chair and then seats himself down as the party feast is already starting. Porky Pig breaks the forth wall to the audience stating that Goosey is a very silly character. Whilst he is stuttering about how silly he is - we see that the sewing silkworm inside Porky's jacket is sewing in the theme of Gavotte. We find that coming out of Porky's jacket is a sock, then a girl's blouse followed by a bra as this is very typical Clampett humour. More bras and socks then follow as Porky then picks up the silk worm and tosses him out of the scene as it is becoming a nuisance to Porky.

The silkworm is very funny through this cartoon and its already becoming the highlight of the cartoon and even the highlight of Clampett's own humour as he has the excuse to use that specific type of humour. Meanwhile the penguin is enjoying his feast of some ice-cream on the party table. The silk worm then lands into the plate full of ice-cream. The penguin is still munching away on the ice-cream with spoonfuls in which the silk worm then starts to sew away inside the ice-cream. The silk-worm then steps out of the scene where we find that he is sewing (and in the theme of 'Gavotte' as well) and its also become a very funny and distinctive theme for the silkworm - just like the music to 'Figal's Cave' for the mynah bird character in the Inki series.

As the penguin continues to scoff away on the ice-cream - the silkworm is therefore sewing inside the ice-cream. As the penguin grabs a spoonful of ice-cream - it turns out that a sock is coming from the scoop that he is taking. The penguin then makes a surprised take that he has discovered a sock inside his bowl of ice-cream. Disgustedly; he then starts to take the sock out of the ice-cream and tosses it away. The facial expression on that penguin's face is rather amusing.

The penguin then starts to pull out another item from the ice-cream from out of his mouth. It looks really flat from the view that we are seeing it from but then suddenly it starts to 'plop' and it forms into a top hat. Okay, but how the hell can you sew a top hat? Anyway, the timing of the top-hat plopping upwards is just perfect timing. The penguin then starts to toss the top-hat away trying not to take any notice of it and also features that unsure look on his face as to how it got there. The penguin then starts to form another ice-cream scoop inside his mouth in which suddenly - he realises that he had gobbled something inside his mouth. It turns out that the silkworm has already sewn on another top hat inside and then his head starts to change shape as the top-hat then starts to plop upwards and the shape is inside his head. The timing is very hilarious and even the gag of it - although still, how can it be sewn? I see this sequence as some type of Disney influence in which you see a character struggling with an object and has to think real hard to solve the problem but still failing - it happens a lot in Pluto cartoons, or Donald Ducks, too.

The penguin then attempts to keep his own head in his own normal shape by pushing his head down. After pushing it down, his head then starts to plop back into a top-hat shaped head again. The penguin grabs a bib to tie it around his head but suddenly - the top-hat then forms another shape inside the penguin (at a different angle) and there is some very funny animation there. I don't know if it was Jones or an animator following his character layouts.

The penguin then jumps out of the chair just screaming in rage of the problem that he is facing with the hat caught inside him. Goosey then arrives at the spot to see what has happened. Goosey makes his attempt to try and solve the penguin's problem by picking up Goosey, holding onto him and then charging him to a wall to see if the problem is solved. No problem solved and only the top hat gets flattened slightly. The penguin believes that the problem is solved - the top hat plops back again shooting Goosey and the penguin out of the way like a catapult which is perfect comic timing. After another attempt, the penguin's head then appears to be of normal shape again. The penguin uses his hands to check if his head is back to his usual head size. The penguin realises that it is finished and he shakes Goosey's hand for his help in 'removing' the hat. After that 'situation' is finished; they walk back to the dining table but then again...the penguin faces a problem with the damned hat again. The top hat plops back again once more. The penguin complains in his funny squeaky voice. Goosey hammers the penguin to try and stop the top-hat from popping up again. After that - it has vanished from the head but this time the top hat plops back up but it is exposed around his rear end. After a couple of attempts with the hammer - Goosey just attempts on hammering him but this time grabs out a bucket to trap the penguin from bouncing. After a sudden reaction - Goosey opens the bucket but finds a hole on the ground that reveals that he has bounced up so violently that he hits the floors below - how hilarious with that - and even without a story man but gags contributed by Clampett and his team.

After that sequence with Goosey and the penguin (which went on for longer than a minute) we then return to the drunken dog who still has the hare-growth bottle. After a while of being drunk - his hair has completely grown and he is completely hairy and scruffy as he looks a real mess. The dog then continues to howl but also hiccup at the same time. The character animation is also done by Jones there and you can see that it is very solid. His animation for Clampett back then was much more slower but also very beautiful; and very realistic and fluid. His animation was really special and I think he's underrated for that.

The dog then starts to look at himself in the mirror - he starts to make a double take as he is frightened at the state of him. Some nice loose movement where the dog is rubbing his cheek with his fingers. The dog then grabs some shaving foam and then starts to spread himself with shaving foam all over. It looks like as though he has rabies. The dog's paw then starts to grab for the electric shaver as he turns it on. The electric shaver is turned on and the dog moves his head closer towards the electric shaver that starts moving. The dog then gets attacked from the electric razor which causes the dog to run away from the bathroom and then yelp in agony.

Meanwhile Porky is sitting down on his chair having some dessert for his birthday party. The dog then runs at the scene to cling onto Porky. Porky Pig then turns his head around to look at who is clinging onto him. Porky has not fully registered on who is holding onto him so he turns his head back slowly. After just realising, Porky Pig then starts to make a big take in which he cries out 'Mad dog! Mad dog!' of course - meaning that he has rabies which is just shaving foam.

The other guests: Goosey and the penguin then turn around to look at the state of the dog and they also believe that he is a mad dog too. The penguin dashes at the scene - in which he runs back at the spot to pick up his piece of cake, too as he doesn't want it to get 'infected' too. The dog is just staring at it not having a clue as to what is happening. Porky and Goosey then run to try and run away from their dog. The penguin arrives inside a different room as he then replaces the hatstand and he places himself disguising himself as a hatstand. Porky and Goosey then arrive at the spot as Porky is still shouting 'Mad dog! Mad dog!' so the penguin then rushes out not pretending to be a hatstand anymore. Porky and his guests then start to stack the doors with boxes to block his dog from entering. Porky and Goosey quickly dash inside a closet door but they slam it before the penguin guest can even make it.

The penguin then starts to bang inside the door to try and let himself open. Porky and Goosey are inside the closet door as they believe that they are secured. What they don't know is that their dog is standing right behind them and it makes the whole climax amusing. Porky then lights his match so he can signal some light inside the closet - he finds that his 'mad dog' is inside as they make a small take before leaving the closet.

The penguin still then bangs on the door in which then Porky and Goosey crash through the door flattening the penguin. The dog then chases them following that. There is a push-up bed that is hanging in the doorway where the dog lands on. The penguin then arrives at the spot to hide under the covers and not knowing that Porky's dog is hiding under there as well. The penguin then starts to raise his head out of the covers slowly and so does the dog, too. The dog and the penguin then turn to face each other but the penguin makes a scared take sound that he scrambles out of the bed. The bed then then starts to close in which it is back inside the wall. Porky and Goosey then realise that they are in trouble as they believe their hiding spot is useless and they run off. The penguin tries to escape but is caught by a spring on the bed so he is shot straight back and we hear some off-screen fighting.

As the fighting continues - the beds then start to close and open a couple of times. The penguin tries to make an escape but the dog's hand then arrives at the spot to grab the penguin back. The fold over bed then finally closes as the dog is suddenly sober and back to normal. Porky and Goosey then discover that it was nothing to worry about after all. 'Aww it was just old Black Fury after all'. After the penguin got beaten up - he then begins to retaliate towards the dog threatening to fight him, 'So...' - but at the spot the silkworm returns at the end of this cartoon to sort out the penguin. There is some sewing going on inside the penguin's bill and it all becomes madness. The penguin goes into a rage as the sewing and the clothes growing continues - and we find that the penguin then gets tied up like a mummy. Goosey whacks him with a mallet on the spot as the cartoon ends.

Overall comments: I have to say that with the humour and the gags that Clampett was developing - Clampett was definitely at his streak there and 1938 was a very good year for him. With those reasons, his cartoons were just full of energy, gag ideas and even appealing stories. He had Chuck Jones animating for him who really knew how to give what Clampett wanted back then with timing and solid drawings. The gags in this cartoon were just hilarious and I just love the silk worm who I believe was the reason of satire through this cartoon. He arrived at appropriate times where he even embarrasses the character that gives Porky a bashful side of his personality - which he often is. The animation here is very appealing - even with the dog and also the sequences with Goosey and the penguin. Goosey had a goofy look in these early Clampett designs and it reminds me of the designs that Clampett used when he made very early Daffy Duck cartoons around around 1938 up to 1940.

The timing there was very top-notch as it was just perfect the right use of timing of where it would make the situations/gags even funnier. Bob Clampett was already full of ideas even in his earlier cartoons but its unfortunate that even after 1938 that he would later meet a decline with the quality of his cartoons. This was also Norm McCabe's first animation credit in over a year since he first started off working for Frank Tashlin. I don't know when he left the Tashlin unit or even arrived at the McCabe unit. It's quite interesting that Clampett uses one-shot characters for this cartoon as being party guests. He could have used maybe a very early Daffy Duck which would worked as a replacement for Goosie - but hey; he uses Daffy Duck in the next cartoon he directs. 


  1. First all, congratulations on being able to get in another post; the goose/penguin gags are dfeinitly funny....the openguin acts like Gabby Goat a lot!Steve

    1. The character was originally going to be Gabby himself, oddly enough.

  2. "It's quite interesting that Clampett uses one-shot characters for this cartoon as being party guests."

    Actually, if you look at the surviving storyboards for this cartoon here (originally from a Golden Collection), you will see that Gabby Goat and Petunia were originally to have been included—and a lot of (honestly, better) gags with them were dropped. (Many are visible after the main body of the cartoon—stick around after "That's All, Folks!" to see them.)