Sunday, 16 December 2012
225. Porky the Gob (1938)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.