Thursday, 6 December 2012

218. Porky's Naughty Nephew (1938)

Warner cartoon no. 217.
Release date: October 15, 1938.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig / Mouse / Horse) and Berniece Hansell (Pinky Pig).
Story: Warren Foster.
Animation: Robert Cannon.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky spends an afternoon at the beach with his menacing nephew who manages to cause Porky's day out like hell.

The first story credit where Warren Foster is credited - who at the time worked in the Clampett-Katz unit. Of course, I think this cartoon at least is the first to show a very slight decline in Clampett's quality - because before that he was at a perfect streak when working with Chuck Jones - as this is also the first cartoon where Clampett didn't write a story. But, of course - Warren would later have an excellent story career at Warner Bros. working with Clampett until 1946, and even with story credits spanning through the cartoons of Frank Tashlin, Bob McKimson, and of course, Friz Freleng.

Our cartoon begins as we find a sign that tells us a swimming competition is to be taking place. To show that this is evidently a cartoon world - Bob Clampett has chosen to use the words 'cartoon animals' who will be competing in the event. I guess, Clampett or Foster just wanted to be a little bit more unique with their choice, and to show Clampett is full of cartoony ideas - we can see it here. Clampett even adds a silly pun at the end: "Elephants must wear trunks while swimming!"

So, there is a line of 'cartoon animals' that line up for the swimming tournament. A group of cutesy looking animals walk straight through a bath house which is some clever animation timing of as they walk out of the house - they are already in their swimwear. There is some gags of the animals where there appears to be a joey creature who has a swimsuit that is too large. He turns on the tap on a sign that reads "bathing suit fitter" - after turning on the tap - the swimsuit turns in perfect shape. A dog arrives at the scene who wears a bathing suit too small - after turning on the tap - he shrinks to fit the size and walks out of the scene. A rather clever and exaggerated gag.

So, we find that Porky is in his swimwear carrying beach supplies at the beach with his rather obnoxious chatterbox who pesters Porky with questions. To add the annoyance; it's no surprise that Berniece Hansell (probably) provides the voice of the nephew. Porky turns around towards his clingy nephew stuttering, 'Keep your (tries to stutter 'pants') diapers on!'

Of course - his nephew just blows a raspberry towards Porky with disrespect. Porky finds a spot of sand to place his umbrella so he could rest. It turns out that after he stabs the umbrella - there was a dog lying town who yells 'OWW!' that was a rather funny gag as it was totally unexpected of him. The dog socks Porky out of the way stuck on the umbrella.

Porky lands in a spot where his nephew turns out to have chosen the spot. After the land - the umbrella and Porky begin to vibrate. So, Porky's head, pretty much, vibrates for a few seconds until it ends with his nose but he slams his face to stop the vibration. So Porky finds his time to relax by the reach under supervision of his nephew.

Porky's nephew is therefore, noticing Porky is asleep - the nephew walks over to Porky to play a rotten prank on him. The nephew whacks him with the spade which causes Porky to wake up and discover his nephew has tricked him - disguising he is building his own sandcastle or whatever he is doing. After shaking his head numerous times; Porky believes that a fly has got his face - but how can he think that since flies are really harmless compared to a smack on the spade? Unless he ignorantly thought that his nephew was using the spade as a flyswatter to get rid of the fly? There is a whole sequence where we find the nephew trying to whack Porky but Porky turns around to find he's been had.

After being whacked again (to the theme of 'Shave and a Haircut') Porky wakes up and he mistakens a toddler sitting near him to be the criminal of this situation and victimising Porky. The toddler looks like a type of toddler that character designers for Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon shows would be influenced from. Porky walks over and gives him a telling off as he is telling off the wrong kid. Porky snatches the small spade off him but the toddler comes out with a bigger spade to Porky's surprise. So the toddler whacks Porky with a spade as he walks with heap.

Porky's nephew walks over at the scene grabbing the big spade acting tough towards the toddler, "Hey you - lay off my uncle Porky" - he is about to whack him with the spade but whacks by which is either accidental or likely deliberate. But, anyhow Porky is attacked by his naughty nephew.

After that incident; Porky is slammed by the spade which causes him to fly out of the scene and lands to the ground again. His nephew runs out of the scene and jumps into a small pond pretending to act as though he is drowning. Porky wakes up as he hears the fake calls of his nephew "drowning" which causes him to almost jump out of his swimsuit (saved by his straps) and Clampett even shows Porky bare in that scene.

He runs over in an attempt of being a hero saving his nephew. Porky dives at the scene but only to have his head knocked as the lake is very shallow. He wiggles around the lake as Porky's nephew laughs making a fool out of him. Porky gets back up to find a starfish in his face but after an attempt of pulling it off it smacks back into his face. His nephew offers to help out pulling off the starfish but only 'painfully' where it causes Porky to yelp in pain. What I can say is that the yanking off part really did NOT look painful as it lacks a lot of weight animation-wise or even realism.

After the episode - Porky has a plaster on top of his head from the bump he had in the lake is is looking rather tired out. His nephew is willing to make an offer of apology towards him, "Gee, I'm awful sorry Uncle Porky". His nephew then tries to persuade Porky he will be a good nephew 'forever and ever' - and asks to build a sandcastle for him, and his name is identified here only as Pinky. Porky immediately forgives him but only to find the truck dumping a load of sand on top of him - as Porky is going through a lot of bitter moments.

Afterwards - there is a trumpet call that announces the swim race is to begin - which Porky Pig is competing himself. A duck uses his bill to make the call and holds out a sign reading "Swim Race" and then sticks out his rear end with the word boasting "NOW" - a cute little Clampett idea. All of the other animals then rush at the scene stampeding over the duck.

All the animals are at the starting line, so Porky rushes out of the sand and he joins into the tournament. There is a little mouse who is the referee of the tournament who shouts out with his gruff voice, "Get on your marks, get set..." - we see some dramatic action with the music arranged by Milt Franklyn and after he pulls the trigger to start the race - a traffic light pops with the 'Go' sign to begin. A rather amusing set-up with the fake-dramatic setting.

The race begins as all the other animals decide to cheat with peddles and such to speed them up in the race whilst Porky is the only contestant swimming properly. There is a dog who is a caricature of one of the commentators of horse racing that shouts: "There they gooo!" As Porky swims - there is a duck with a propeller who swims in front of Porky whacking him with the propeller as he is over-taken.

A lot of the sequence features reused animation from Bernard Brown's 'Pettin' in the Park' - particularly the scenes with the crane riding on a unicycle underwater working her way through her legs which appear to stretch. Other reused animation features an ostrich running underwater (with the head above the water) but runs into a chest of draws and ends up caught in there. Since this sequence does involve a swim race competition - and that concept was used in 'Pettin' in the Park' - its suitable to reuse some of the animation for that purpose - so it works well.

Some new animation and evidently one of the writers' own sense of humour where there is a jockey and a horse riding through the scene but they also sink under the water as the horse whinnies from almost drowning. The horse then blurts out "This can't be Santa Anita" - which is of course referencing the Santa Anita Park which is famous for hosting the horse races. The horse and jockey scene was animated rather cleverly - even if having to be realistically.

Meanwhile a goose is swimming at the scene where there are a group of insects on a tiny canoe as a leader calls out "Stroke, stroke, etc." - the goose swallows the boat with curiosity and we see that after being swallowed they are still shouting out 'stroke!' (with the skin stretching out of the oars rowing) which gives it a cartoony effect.

We find that Eddie Cantor is one of the contestants of the tournament - which is weird as I thought this tournament was for 'cartoon animals' and not celebrities. He ends up crashing into a buoy as he his head vibrates because of that. There appears to be a dated reference (perhaps in radio or film) as Cantor claps in one of his characteristic trademarks and shouts to the audience, 'At last a buoy' which is just a horrible pun. He carries the buoy like a baby.

A deer swims at the scene and notices that the ostrich is overtaking him in the competition. The moose decides to try and overtaking him further by using his antlers to create sails to he could travel quicker.

Porky's nephew turns out to have been hiding inside the buoy the whole time and he grabs out a ship model which he places in the water with the sails being disguised as a shark's fin. Porky's nephew shouts out, "Help, uncle Porky! A shark!". So Porky turns around where he makes a wild take where he almost jumps out of his suit (saved by the straps) and he ends up swimming frantically surpassing all the other leading contestants all because of his nephew's prank.

Porky wins at the finishing line as he crashes into a tree - his naughty nephew hops to the stream to try and convince Porky that he was only being chased by a sailboat but as his nephew pulls out the 'sail' of the boat - it turns out that there is really a shark fin under there. This makes his nephew the butt out of his own prank and Porky wildly scrams out of the scene, as does his nephew. One part that I really do question is why would there even be a competition taking place with a shark already living in the lake?

Overall comments: This cartoon - I think shows one of the early signs where Clampett is beginning to get bored of directing Porky cartoons - he made Porky a straight character who was versatile (and often some very good cartoons with Chuck) but here he has made Porky the victim in this cartoon because of his naughty nephew - and Porky would later be a victim from vaudeville characters later on - so I believe it shows some good signs, but I feel this cartoon was just a bit too bitter on Porky. It could've been funnier, but for a while the story really goes off-topic where we find that the swimming race competition appears to go on for quite a long time with just gags and reused animation of the swimmers swimming and there was no focus on Porky.

Maybe the one or two gags, but it was a bit too much. Clampett's own idea to use the reused animation was probably for budget costs and it was good reuse. Warren Foster (or Clampett) appear to be engaged with silly puns that are used in the cartoon like the elephant one at the sign in the beginning, and the Eddie Cantor with his "buoy". At least that is the only cartoon that we see of the nephew who was an obnoxious little bastard. There were some cool takes that Clampett got to experiment with Porky - particularly that swimsuit gag which he almost flies out of. Being it was Foster's first credit; his great streak wouldn't really begin until around '42 when he was working with Clampett on 'Merrie Melodies' colour cartoons and would later have a great career from then on.

1 comment:

  1. Eddie Cantor had five children-all daughters-which was a longtime running gag in his act.