Sunday, 16 December 2012

225. Porky the Gob (1938)

Warner cartoon no. 224.
Release date: December 17, 1938.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Ben Hardaway & Cal Dalton.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig / Captain / Sailors).
Story: Melvin Millar.
Animation: Gil Turner.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky works at sea in the navy - but found too incompetent to take part in capturing a pirates submarine - until he spots one, alone.

Last time we had seen 'Hardaway/Dalton' paired together since Love and Curses and this cartoon is where they are finally paired and Cal Howard was taken off.

The cartoon begins as we still see night in the sky - but then the sun rises as we see a navy ship standing in the near distance as the ship's vessel then blows. We hear the sounds of a sailor using the trumpet call for all the sailors to board the ship.

All the sailors then arrive at the harbour as we jump onto the lifeboats to sail across to the navy ship to return to duty. After sailing back to the ship - the sailors then aboard their navy ship carrying sacks needed for duty. We follow on with some montage shots of the sailors about to make its voyage - with one sailor pulling up the anchor and a shot of the anchor rising. The anchor rising was some reused effects animation from I Wanna Be a Sailor. Then we see a sailor underwater as we find he is in the engineering deck and he turns on the propellers; and these animated propellers then start to turn on as the ship sails and then the smoke from the funnel rises as they are ready for a new journey.

The cartoon then gets into action as the ship sails by and the crew are singing (out of their windows) to the traditional sailor song: Anchors Aweigh: as they start off by singing, "Over the seas - let's go men. We're starting right off, we're starting right off again!"

Porky then takes over singing the lyrics of the song for a while as he sings; "Nobody knows where or when - we're shoving right off again" and he also stutters while singing that part. Porky appears to be rowing (from the close-up) point but it turns out he's using a push-up machine (as it seems) to make it look like he's sailing but instead makes him a bit of a hick - which I don't find a funny gag. I have to say that the vocals of Porky singing there sound absolutely awful and it feels like they forgot to speed up Blanc's vocals there or that Blanc seemed to have his vocal strings tied up - but most likely the speeding up effect. Poor editing.

More navy gags appear as a flagman sailor waves (but as the tide comes in) a seal arrives at the spot and takes over - presumably he ate the sailor which is a rather dark but popular 1930s gag. The captain opens his door and sings his part, "We'll just be come for years and years and then..." and it sounds like Blanc is doing an impression of Candy Candido or Elmer Blurt from 'The Al Pearce Show' but I'm a little unsure.

More sailors then dance through the song - but I find the gag a little amusing where the ship rocks and they almost slide out of the ship into the sea - and the gag is repeated a few times of that scene. They then end up losing their own balance as they all tip into the ocean - probably never to be seen again; as most sailors end up lost at sea.

The cartoon properly begins after the song sequence as we find that the captain is in his own cabin asleep. As we truck back we know that he is snoring and of course snoring his socks off. He snores violently that his socks almost blow away but are saved by suspenders.

As he is asleep - he has his own window open but the water ends up rising into his own room as he awakens and spontaneously gives out orders when he is actually confused. He then blabbers out, "Clear the decks out!" Then he steps out of his own cabin as he orders his sailors, "Avast - you swamps. All hands on deck! Full speed ahead. Ease the wheel!"

He walks up and down giving out those orders. As he is hammering with a mallet. The captain orders to his crew: "Batten down the hatches" and then shouts towards Porky for those orders but Porky responds the hatches were already battered down. The captain's angered response is, "Well, batten down again! I'll teach those hatches" - it appears the captain is rather out of control here. Porky surely looks rather fat in an unappealing way.

The captain continues to order orders until he finds a sailor rather sleepy in a hammock. The sailor doesn't respond - so the captain then starts to blow his whistle but produces no sound. With no sound - he uses the sailor's fingers for whistle; which I guess is funny since you use your fingers to often whistle - and its a rather nutty gag but certainly not a gag which is believable.

As roll call begins - all the sailors then gather together in a line where the captain is to see if all the sailors are around. From the close-up shots; he finds all but Porky and he shouts for his name. Porky dashes at the scene to catch up. The Captain then begins as he orders for all the sailors to, "Count off!". Porky, who is first in line, starts off by counting "one" with all the other sailors engaged in rhythm by rhyming almost every number they count off. The second sailor begins with, "two - over my shoe". "3...4...shut my door". "5 and a 6...pick up sticks!" A very lame gag I find as its rather childish and of course - an attempt for a looney gag but it certainly doesn't top of the gags Avery used - and hell, even Tex could knock it out better here.

The Captain is annoyed with the goofiness as he quietens the assembly line and slaps them all with his hand - the airbrush effect was certainly rather decent. The trumpet call is then heard which means the sailors are reported for duty. The Captain then announces, "Last one out is a softie" which is a gag that Hardaway would've got from Avery.

All the sailors then run out stamping him until the Captain orders for a 'halt' and the entire group then freeze - which is a cool technique and gag where they are put on held so the Captain can walk past the crew so he isn't a softy. What a cocky and arrogant personality. After that arrogant walk - he then zips out of the scene and all the sailors continue to dash through at the scene. Meanwhile - there is a wireless officer in the stateroom as he is asleep but awakens of the radio that makes the noise for battleships and code. The captain walks in as he is already scoffing at his hamburger and he scoffs; "What did they say?" he grabs out the wireless message and it is a mission to capture a 'pirate submarine' where the reward costs at $50,000. The Captain is awed at the reward as he shouts with excitement. Immediately enthusiastic on the mission; he shouts: "All hands on deck - all speed ahead!" and ease the wheel!

The news is announced as the same sailor (from earlier on the cartoon) makes the trumpet call to set on the mission. All of the sailors then start to board on a plane in search for the pirate submarine.

Porky tries to step on board but only to be kicked out by the sea Captain as he shouts, "Get out! You're rockin' the ship" which is a direct insult to Porky and then the plane leaves with Porky staying on board. The Captain then opens the door again as he breaks the forth wall, winking at the audience: "And I DO mean rocking" which is just an altered quote of the line, "And I do mean you!" It would just be funnier if he said the original Jimmy Fiedler quote as that quote he just said isn't even funny at all. Porky then walks out as he grumbles, "I never get to do nothing - all I hear is 'Porky do this and Porky do that', etc." and this scene doesn't feel very sympathetic enough as I can't feel his frustrations here. Porky then plans on giving up his own navy career as he then plans on deserting the ship.

Meanwhile at sea - there is a submarine periscope on the lookout - and we see that the windscreen wiper cleans up the scope. Below we find that a pirate captain is below and spots a navy ship. Of course - we know that his plan is of course to blow up the ship. He then pulls the knob (like we see in pinball) where the undersea bomb is about to shoot directly to. That pinball knob gag was rather useful.

The pacing of the bomb shootings straight to the ship is certainly some terrible pacing. The bomb then arrives at the spot and stamps a target on the ship so it can be targeted. Of course you can hear Franz Schubert's popular piece: "Erlkonig" which is even a very popular Carl Stalling piece for action scenes that are stirring up.

The bomb then starts to make a step back before shooting straight through where the ship is therefore collided. Very confusing as to why the ship did not explode and it clearly shows through the effects animation that it looks as though the port of the ship had exploded - and yet it is still standing with Porky on board (unless the water is sucking through the exploded part - creating a 'Titanic' moment - wait and see). But still - there's just no other way it would survive.

Porky feels the eruption on the ship as he removes the ropes covering him and he scatters out of the way noticing it was the pirates. He then finds a cannon and he aims it at the pirates' submarine. There is a sequence that goes on where it involves Porky firing cannons towards the submarine but there appears to be an extended hand that reaches over and places a cigar inside Porky's shirt pocket. I don't even understand the gag where the glove just takes the cigar back - its all just stupid.

A pirate of the submarine then fires with a machine gun towards the ship. Then there is an explosion of the pirate afterwards where his machine gun is destroyed. He then plans his next trick where he grabs his slingshot and he shoots his own bubblegum directly towards Porky's cannon. With that effect the bubblegum stays on his cannon and that is just very sloppy movement of the gum.

 Porky fires the cannon but the cannonball is caught on the chewing gum - and ends up exploding Porky's gum. As lame as gags get, how on earth could chewing gum be so strong to stop the cannon. May work elsewhere but its just unexplained. After the explosion - the cannon has exploded and Porky has a lifebelt on his head rather dazed.

After the explosion - the pirates continue to fire at Porky where all he has to do is attempt to dodge bullets that are shooting straight towards him. He then runs inside a cabin but there is a little gag where the bullets shoot windows diagonally where we see the bright lights reading: "Bingo" which would be a bright lights reference.

Porky then escapes as he grabs hold of a rope and he kicks the pirates attempting to climb aboard, out of the way. Porky then grabs out a plunger as he then aims it at the pirate's submarine. Porky then pulls the submarine up as he has captured the pirates single handedly.

Afterwards - Porky is therefore given a medal and of course - the $50'000 prize as he is a proud member of the navy. However, another trumpet call is given as the Captain bellows, "Last one out is a rotten egg" - everyone dashes out of the scene - let alone the bag of money. Porky dashes back and then catches up with the rest of his crew.

Overall comments: It feels as though that after the Frank Tashlin unit was disbanded - Chuck Jones was given his unit and was allowed to direct all-colour cartoons. The 'Porky' cartoons that were also directed by Tashlin appeared to have been given to the Hardaway-Dalton unit but alas they also directed colour cartoons. They have directed a few characters with the pig character - but I do find that even they are a bit incompetent with handling the character. The story of this cartoon featuring Porky in the navy story is in fact a recycled story idea from Little Beau Porky which was made two years earlier. Much of the gags in this cartoon are very lame and they're anything but solid - but there were a few I thought were so silly that it was mildly amusing - like the sequence where the sailors were doing the counting off.

Most of the gags in the cartoon are very weak that you just wouldn't find it believable and many of them appear to be very 'weightless' like the bubble-gum gag, the bomb gag and also the plunger gag.As directors; this cartoon had some pretty poor pacing as you will notice that the cartoon really doesn't have a story going on until around half-way through the cartoon as you will notice that they had about half a minute to set up the sailors to board on the ship and sail, a minute of the sailor's singing and then a minute of the captain doing his duty with the sailors - and nothing happens until around the point in the wireless room. What I have forgot to mention which was a great gag - and not even used before in the Warners cartoon was the 'freeze' gag where the crew have just been frozen as the Captain walks past them to get into the lead - I admit at least some good came from Hardaway and Dalton where they had some original ideas that were going on.

5 comments:

  1. The song in the beginning is not Anchors Aweigh, but Song of the Marines by Harry Warren and Al Dubin. It was from a 1937 Warner Bros. feature, The Singing Marine. About the song’s lyrics, the line “We’re leaving today...it’s anchors aweigh,” was not in the original film. The lyric was sung, “It may be Shanghai, farewell and goodbye.”

    ReplyDelete
  2. A few items that will hopefully help you enjoy some of the gags:
    The bugle call was the mess call, and it was well known that the Navy had the best meals, of all the armed forces, so the 'rotten egg' comment could be considered accurate, that being the only food left if you were last in arriving.
    The cigar reward/retrieval gag was based on the midway games of skill/strength, such as the Ring the Bell or Shooting Gallery. A cigar was the prize for the men who could succeed at either. When Porky missed, his reward was taken away. The phrase "Close, but no cigar" is pretty much in play, here.
    True, Dalton & Hardaway lacked the polish of their contemporaries, but they were the third-stringers of Termite Terrace, and most likely got the least skilled on their team.

    ReplyDelete
  3. At least one part of this cartoon -- the end battle with Porky swinging on the rope to attack the pirates -- looks as if the design was the big-cheeked Porky Tashlin had been using since "Porky at the Crocadero". The model Hardaway and Dalton would use had a rounder, less ovular face, so this may have been a short that Tahlin had done preliminary work on when he left the studio and which was finished by Hardaway and Dalton.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is very much like 'Little Beau Porky' but I absolutely love it all the same.
    I would love to find a dvd of all the old Porky's,
    They were the best!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete