Wednesday, 27 March 2013

256. Porky's Hotel (1939)

Warner cartoon no. 255.
Release date: September 2, 1939.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig / Goat / Gabby Duck) and Phil Kramer (Cuckoo Clock).
Animation: Norman McCabe and John Carey.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky is an owner of his own hotel, and has a visitor who wants only peace and quiet during his stay. But misadventures begin to take place which disturbs the goat's piece.

Last cartoon to use to irritating chatterbox Gabby Duck who was used in two previous cartoons, and this time: Clampett uses the duck character whereas he was used previously by Tex Avery and Hardaway-Dalton. Appealing little title card with a bellboy mouse carrying a whole lot of luggage.

The cartoon begins with an overlay shot trucking in of a village. The shot fades to a background shot with a banner which reads: ' 'Welcome to Donut Center' - and there is a little silly pun at the bottom written in childish (or my type of handwriting) 'What a Hole!'. The camera tracks down with a neon board which forms 'Porky Pig's Hotel'.

Then it starts off with an off-screen chorus singing substitute lyrics to the song Honeymoon Hotel -- which, I suppose is rather relevant as the popular song relates to hotels. Porky Pig is seen sweeping the porch of the hotel.

As soon as I watch a sequence where Porky is gayly sweeping the front porch of the hotel, and with the off-screen chorus -- I think of one word: crap. Just by hearing it and Porky acting like a Disney-esque character, it already indicates to be this is going to be a very weak Porky cartoon. Porky finishes sweeping off from the porch and does so on the pavement. After sweeping the pavement during the song, he swipes the dust off to the road, and sweeps them under the pavement like a doormat. Okay, I suppose that may be rather more like Clampett there, but then again any director would use that gag.

Some crisp timing after the song sequence where Porky moves his broom towards his hands briskly, and then picks up the broom like a flute. He plays it like a flute and walks down the sidewalk and plays The Girl I Left Behind Me. Gee, that is just a typical, cutesy gag that even Disney could laugh at.

Porky hears the sounds of a car horn, and Porky gasps excitedly; 'Gosh an (trying to pronounce 'automobile') a car. I wonder if its a customer!'

The car then drives and makes turns with a rather cartoony effect of having the automobile stretching and even turning to make the car appear at a very weird angle. Porky rushes back in, happy to know its a customer. He changes into his bellboy outfit in a flash and walks over to greet his customer in the car. The guest then responds, 'I'm here for a rest. I must have (bleats the word 'peaaaaace') and quiet'. It appears Clampett is attempting really hard in showing Porky's stuttering personality as he continuously attempts to pronounce a word but changes to stutter an easier word. He stutters, 'Yes sir, I'll take your (stutters) ba-suit-trun--luggage'. The goat exits the car as he is seen in a wheelchair.

Inside the hotel the disabled goat enters the hotel as well as Porky. The music cue is still Honeymoon Hotel which is played entirely throughout the score. The old goat is seen with a grumpy look and has an odd wheelchair where boots at the back move the wheelchair for him...which is just wacky, but I suppose it works.  Porky walks over to the elevator where the elevator door opens and he walks up the steps...I guess the gag is there is no lift, but it felt slow-paced anyway.

After the fade-out; the chatterbox duck arrives at the scene where he looks at the old goat sleeps and looks at his features (as well as the bandage on his foot) with curiosity. He then starts to talk abruptly and annoyingly and reveals his name is Gabby.

Okay, but didn't he already have a name before (Dizzy or something?) and yet Gabby was already another short-lived goat character with Porky from two years earlier.

Anyway, as a continuously talking duck is supposed to be funny; the goat is irritated by the duck's voice as he just drums his fingers. Of course, if the old goat feeling annoying is meant to be amusing, it isn't. We'd just share his pain. The old goat calls for Gabby the duck over, to entice him, and then pulls out a supposedly scary face to scare the pants out of the duck. Geez, out of the many creative ideas you could pull off - the old goat just uses an old roar? Anyway, after Gabby sheds a tear; he asks as to why he scares them and continues to talk briskly.

Meanwhile a fly arrives at the spot and then Gabby starts to look at the fly with his own pupils rotating. Some pretty amusing animation of the pupils rotating, and then shows there are two pupils in one eye! The fly buzzes in theme of Shave and a Haircut and quotes along the lines of Jimmy Fiedler 'And I do mean (buzzes)'.

Gabby slaps his bill in an attempt to splat the fly but accidentally slaps his beak. This follows into, what I consider, a pretty pointless chase sequence where Gabby is chasing after the fly, with the plot already waffling.

The fly already lands in portraits, with Gabby constantly missing him as he attempts to smash him with a hammer. The fly lands on a Venus de Milo sculpture, but the Venus ceramic figure comes to life by booting the fly off her shoulder. I'll give Clampett for a very funny gag. The chase sequence pauses as the fly is sitting on a door. Gabby approaches slowly to the fly until Porky whacks the door open; suppressing Gabby to the wall that has already got dent marks.

After the chase sequence - we fade into a cuckoo clock scene where the cuckoo steps out (voiced by Phil Kramer) who reads out 'As my father once said; quote)...' the cuckoo then bursts out 'CUCKOO!' which was delivered by Mel Blanc, and then back to Kramer: '..unquote'. I can only interpret the voice was probably from the Grouch Club which starred Kramer. Though I may be wrong.

A rather random scene which arrived out of the blue, but again--I guess its an excuse of padding; though the 'cuckoo' scream by Blanc is always rustic. It's lunch-time and Porky walks over to lists the meals to the old goat.

He continues to stutter and list the meals the hotel serves, until he snaps his finger feeling irritated, 'or try our blue plate (?)'. The goat accepts and wishes to order it. Porky rushes back and has the meal all ready for the old goat. The old goat sniffs the food with delight, but all of a sudden he tosses his food away. He ends up eating the plate--its just weird, its just abnormal, but its just Clampett.

Meanwhile, Gabby returns who is still bothered about the fly in the hotel. I've never seen any character or person so bothered of a fly; that would take up a lot of bother...geez. The old man is bothered of Gabby, and shouts 'Get away! Geeeet away!' Gabby rushes out of the scene, but finds the fly is sitting on top of the old goat's bandage.

Afterwards; the old Goat attempts to whack Gabby with his walking stick, but Gabby whacks him with the walking stick. Then it turns into a chase sequence between Gabby and the old goat.

So much for Gabby. There is a rather recent dash effect where Gabby just exits the scene, leaving nothing but dust. Gabby slams the door but the goat rides through the door, breaking it open. There is some great pacing by Clampett where we find Porky carrying the luggage for a pelican customer.

The slow-pacing is just a perfect sense of pacing where the fast music cuts to a gentle scene of Porky. I love how Clampett arranged it. Then the goat and the duck - dash through Gabby and the pelican that the pelican ends up spinning continuously. After the pelican steps out of his own bill, as well as Porky. The door crashes to a wall where the old goat and Gabby's head are trapped on a painting. The painting relates to the execution of Captain John Smith. The Goat's head is the executioner; Gabby's is John Smith. The final gag at the end shows Gabby pleading not to be executed; believing its all happening.

Overall comments: Although the cartoon clocks in around the 6 minute mark--a typical time limit for an animated cartoon, but even again, the cartoon feels its been padded. I suppose it would've turned out as a very short cartoon. The chase sequence with Gabby and the fly did waffle the cartoon in its ways; and Gabby appeared to have been too bothered about it. Porky Pig is still more or less the straight man as Clampett as interpreted him in his 1939 cartoons; whereas he does really lack a lot of charm, and even his cheerfulness and gayly sweeping definitely considers Porky a bland character. The goat character really wasn't that much special to me at all -- and overall, this cartoon was just nothing special. The story was just flat, and it felt like there could be a great advantage for the old goat to have his peace disturbed. Chuck Jones would have his chance when animated cartoons were much more advanced and superior in the 1940s -- he did so with The Pest in the House. The only parts which I didn't particularly mind was the Venus de Milo gag as well as Gabby's eyes circulating...which felt like the only resemblances of Clampett's rustic gags. Probably one of Clampett's worst and least-memorable Porky cartoons by far.


  1. A "Blue Plate Special" was a colloquial term commonly used by restaurants and diners from the 1920s through the '50s refering to a specially low-priced meal. The divided section plates used for the specials were ususally only available in blue.

    The old goat eating the plate is a long used cartoon gag based on the misconception that goats prefer eating tin cans and other garbage.

  2. Last call for the duck, but not for the persona -- Freleng would rework the basic can't shut-up trait into Little Blabbermouse in 1940, and then Jones would give it a shot, putting it into his fast-talking Batty for a Sniffles cartoon the following year, which he and Maltese than transferred into Sniffles himself in 1943. No one can ever say the Warners studio didn't try to make the character work.

  3. The persona was based on the "Fibber McGee and Molly" radio kid "Sis/Teeny"-I betttttcha!Steve C