Release date: September 24, 1938.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky / Dodo / Various Characters), Billy Bletcher (Roaring Goon), Ted Pierce (mysterious voices) and Dave Webber.
Animation: Norm McCabe and Izzy Ellis.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky travels over to the darkest Africa (in Wackyland) in search for the last existing Dodo - but he encounters strange and surrealistic creatures upon his discovery.
|1949 remake - 'Dough for the Do Do'|
Of course the cartoon was ever so popular that Clampett made a remade version five years later with 'Tin Pan Alley Cats' and Friz himself did a remake with the exact same storyline: 'Dough for the Do-Do'. Also to note that this is the last Clampett cartoon to not have Chuck Jones animating on the cartoon (the last being 'Porky and Daffy' but was uncredited). It's safe to assume that without Jones' involvement in the cartoon - Clampett got complete control which probably explains one of the earlier signs of his wackiness and unique style to the cartoon.
(You probably realize that I'm going through a different style of the posting of this blog - which I am trying out).
From an animated shot of the newspaper transformed to a background layout of the front page of The Globe - we read that Porky Pig is on a expedition in search of the last known do-do to have existed. The front headline reads: PORKY HUNTS RARE DO-DO BIRD WORTH $4000'000'000'000!! That little gag in the column of the newspaper reading: "P.S. 000'000'000," is of course very humorous and also an exaggeration as if Porky got that reward he would end up being the richest man alive and of course nobody could invest THAT large amount of money - so it's very funny. From what I've calculated - that is an investment of 4000 quadrillion dollars.
After the newspaper announcement which is the main focus of our story - we cut to Porky who is on his small plane beginning his expedition. I like how even the size of the plane matches Porky himself. After flying in perspective - Porky greets his own theatre audience explaining that he is on the hunt of the missing dodo - and even brings out a picture to prove it.
That design of the dodo used in this cartoon is incredibly unique and wonderful. It clearly does look like Clampett following Dali's ideas and even drawing out a cartoony version of a 'dodo'. We hear Porky's stutter as he has troubles with pronouncing the word 'photo' and instead says 'picture'. Porky flies from North America across the Atlantic and then travels to Africa. That design for the world certainly looks odd from outer-space but at least it's very artsy. From a plane shot view we view Porky's plane arriving at the Africa area. Clampett, himself, uses some plays around with the areas of Africa such as 'Dark Africa' and his plane flies fast a much darker shaded area called 'Darker Africa' and then to 'Darkest Africa'. Records of a 'dark Africa' is unknown but it has been referred to as a 'dark continent' probably because of dark natives residing there. Near the 'Darkest Africa' area lives an unknown area which Porky has to land - at least in this cartoon world Porky knows the location of the unknown part of Africa.
That dark voice that reads out the motto for Wackyland certainly shows a rather creepy side to the story and it certainly keeps me intrigued to watch the cartoon. After Porky reads the sign he steps back into his plane where he and the plane tip-toe through Wackyland in search for the Dodo.
Porky looks at the craziness - and even points towards the audience where the silliness is coming from - although the character animation for that isn't very strong and there doesn't appear to be a strong expression on Porky's face. However - the hat-take on Porky is rather splendid pacing as Porky has clearly got his attention to the unusual surroundings. This background clearly shows some Salvador Dali - and Clampett records in an interview that he designed the backgrounds himself. The music to 'William Tell' - still playing in the sequence turns out to be a wacky creature residing in a flower using his long hooter as a flute to the music. It makes it very absurd and - the wackier the cartoon will go. The crazier it goes is when the Wackyland creature quits playing the flute and turns more upbeat by playing the drums and jazz music - which would evidently be referencing popular music of that period.
They look like these were doodles for Clampett's ideas for Wackyland creatures - and anybody's own doodles except they're being used for a 1930s animated cartoon and Clampett is getting paid to doodle. I believe this also extend's the cartoon's important for its odd and funny character designs - as well as doodles. During that pan - we stop where we find a nutty rabbit on an unattached swing which definitely is an oddball. During the pan - we pan to a cauldron where it is staff references to the Studio. The pot reads: "Treg's a Foo" - referencing sound editor Treg Brown. Then a weird creature pops out and shouts, "Hello, Bobo" which is referencing to animator Bobo Cannon who animated on the cartoon. Everything of the background during this very long pan shows the surrealistic and even the fun the background and layout artists get to use. It's a sense of freedom Clampett gave in his cartoons when Leon ordered his own directors make what they believe - and I think Clampett really followed Leon there. There is even an amusing part at the end where we see a prisoner behind bars (although even the bars are unattached) and scream for freedom where a weird cop creature arrives at the spot and whacks him with a baton before exiting at the scene. Everything of that scene is rather bizarre - the voice, the animation, the layouts, and even the timing. Were backgrounds perhaps done by Richard Thomas??
After the fight it turns out that it appears to be a conjoined cat and dog with the same body. Mmm, I wonder if that ever inspired the show 'CatDog' to be created? Porky ends up being scurried into the fight which causes him to bump into a tree - why not have the tree act rather weird with some surreal movement? We then cut to some very appealing animation of the drumming creature finishing off and as he clashes - the whole flower and himself shakes which is just crazy animation.
The Three Stooges are evidently talking gibberish as they poke each other in the eyes which is their comedy trademark. They then gibber in front of the audience. Of course - we would be baffled; but a messenger creature arrives quick in time and translate gibberish language to English: 'He said his mama was scared by a pawnbroker's sign' in Mel Blanc's hilarious distinctive falsetto voice. Even that English translated sentence doesn't make sense but hey - its funny. I love the fact that he just has wheels - that is just cool. Looks like it is Treg Brown having fun with his sound effects when the Three Stooges creatures poke and prod each other with their characteristic trademarks.
The weird creature with the sign responds to Porky with a huge amount of direction signs as he shouts "That way!" which is just an oddball but I can see Clampett's wackiness going on as Porky is in a land with no logic or intelligence - but I feel it makes the cartoon a masterpiece that way. The weird creature then closes the sign with a doorway that leads to the Dodo (that is underground). Porky enters to find the Dodo which leads him to fall below Wackyland. As Porky falls down - he then lands from a spout - which turns from liquid to Porky himself. That is just incredible animation, imagination and timing which is incredibly clever.
Porky Pig: Are you really the last of the Dodos?
Dodo: Yes, I'm the last of the Dodos!
That way the Dodo just stretches his neck as his face goes straight towards' Porky is rather cool and I can see a looseness to the animation. The Dodo then goes into a crazy motion where he appears to chant 'dodo' over and over as it sounds something of a tongue twister. That little dance and where he jumps on top of Porky's head feels like something of a Daffy Duck routine. In the climax of the sequence as Porky gets rather dazed from all the jumping - the Dodo zips out and then back (behind Porky) making a police siren. So then it follows on with a chase sequence where the Dodo hides behind bizarre shaped trees acting like Daffy Duck excitedly. That little tree scene where Porky runs but falls was rather neat timing as well as the Dodo acting jumpy.
That is just some very funny animation there where he the door is inanimate but it is treated in a very rubbery form. Clampett used that trademark a lot - even in his later cartoons where he liked to move curvy movements for guns, telescopes, etc. Porky runs into a door and crashes - classic. Porky struggles to open the door and to twist the doorknob to open. Meanwhile - the Dodo is hiding by the window sill. The really weird part is that there is no house, no wall to even hold a door or a window sill - it's all invisible and it just stays there as the purpose is that Wackyland has no logic. Porky notices the Dodo by the windowsill as he runs over to climb up but he is too slow. Good timing choice as the Dodo is evidently a much faster character, while fat Porky is much slower as a runner. As Porky climbs the windowsill - the Dodo turns up and kicks his booty through the window and the Dodo runs towards the door.
The WB shield just definitely pushed the limits as we all came to know the logo very well but to even use that in Wackyland is just...nuts. It's hard for me to analyse but I think perhaps it was added to add Warner Bros. credit to the Looney Tunes. The Warner Bros. shield zips away as Porky's chase sequence continues with the dodo. The Dodo stops in midair as Porky bumps into him but the Dodo continues his wacky chase. As the Dodo reaches his wild take - he opens up the scenery (another wacky moment as we thought it was the backgrounds). The Dodo reaches an edge but adds in a bricked-wall to block Porky from chasing him. The brick wall is definitely out of nowhere. Porky crashes into the wall with bricks flying out and it then causes him to cry and whimper afterwards. Wouldn't it have been funnier if Clampett or Treg Brown to have included baby cry sounds to make it more wacky?
After a while - the Dodo walks through Wackyland acting normal and minding his own business. That characteristic walk is rather broad of the logo. We then hear the sounds of a disguised Porky Pig dressed as a newspaper man shouting out the headlines of the news. He shouts out "Porky Pig catches dodo!" which catches the Dodo's attention as it is total bogus. The Dodo falls for the trick as he shouts "Where's that, where's that? Where, where??"
Porky then responds, "Now!" which was a part of the trick to catch the Dodo and he finally has caught "the last of the Dodos" and he would be the richest man on Earth for that. Porky jumps with glee as he prances "Oh boy, I've really caught the last of the Dodos". The Dodo responds to that, "Yes, I'm really the last of the Dodos - aren't I boys?". A group of dodos arrive at the scene which frightens Porky and shout "Yeah! Woooo!!". What a funny conclusion to the cartoon as it turns out there really were more Dodos and the jokes on Porky.
A good way that I would describe that cartoon is it feels like Bob Clampett was working around on a wackier version of Lewis Carroll characters and even the concept of 'Alice in Wonderland'. You can clearly see it there - Porky after the Dodo -- Alice chasing after the White Rabbit. Even the strange creatures of the cartoons appears to be showing Clampett trying to top Lewis Carroll but he was really influenced by Salvador Dali. Clampett gave his unit the sense of freedom to let his animators choose what they believe - and it could be he asked his colleagues to create the most surrealistic and kooky backgrounds to even be seen in a cartoon. Clampett was only roughly 24 or 25 when he made this cartoon and he pretty much had a clear mind with what he was doing and he certainly knew how to handle Porky in this cartoon. It's a shame the work later on deteoriated around 1939 when he got bored of making Porky Pig cartoons.