Monday, 1 April 2013

259. Jeepers Creepers (1939)

Warner cartoon no. 258.
Release date: September 23, 1939.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig / Ghost and Making Faces / Falsetto) and Pinto Colvig (one line of Ghost) (?).
Story: Ernest Gee.
Animation: Vive Risto.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky is detecting a ghost in a haunted house - but finds he gets spooked by a goofy one.

The first Looney Tune cartoon with the new animated 'Porky on drum' ending other than the Tashlin-esque Porky which was first seen in Rover's Rival.

The cartoon starts off one night in a city jail - where a sign outside reads: We Select Your Cell But You Can Pick Your Lock. Inside we find a silhouette shot of the chief officer calling cars '6 7/8' inside as he is making a call about strange noises from a haunted house.

The camera fades to Porky riding his own police car, and he skids, then stutters: 'Gosh, that's me'. His car has 6 7/8 labelled.

He listens to the name chief inspector who is asking for him to investigate ghosts, that's said to be located at a certain house. Porky then stutters, feeling scared, 'Did he say, ghosts?'. The chief officer responds: 'Yes, ghosts!'. And yes, we all saw that coming.

He responds, 'You know, those white things that go BWAHAHA!', Porky takes from the reaction. Porky then begins to set up the car and turn on the engine, but as we believe its about to drive off -- the car's wheels start to tip-toe very sneakily. Funny? I'd only be facetious to make a positive comment like that.

Meanwhile; we then move onto the haunted house scene where we find the name of the house is called 'Belli Acres'. Urm, is it supposed to reference (I dunno) 'belly acres' or something? Well anyway; we get about a whole lot of footage of the haunted house outside where we watch the leaves blow around the porch outside of the house.

We also watch the shutter windows slam the walls in rhythm of Shave and a Haircut...which is just a little typical, cute gag. Up the top, there are tattered curtains flying from the bedrooms, bats fly out of the scene.

A rooster weather vein is strucked by lightning, and automatically turns into a roast. What?!?! That's really all I can say--that is the most ridiculous and incoherent gag ever. Yeah, I can imagine the gag actually working if it were a REAL rooster on top, but to have a rooster weather vein struck my lightning and turn to roast. Yeah, Clampett fans would defend saying 'this is Clampett for you' -- but even Clampett's and Avery's more realistic gags have more sense and realism than this!! The music cue for the sequence is The Tempest by J.S. Zamecnik.

As we pan inside the haunted house, we hear various ghostly laughs coming on inside---but from all the 'scariness' it turns out that the screaming of the ghosts was from a radio set. The radio announcer concludes the spook stories and finishes off, 'Sleep tight, kiddies'. Reference or anything?? A hand turns off the radio, and it is a ghost, sitting on an armchair smoking cigars.

Okay, but what would be the point of a ghost smoking with no lungs (okay, okay--I see the point). He comments, 'Gosh, that was sure a scary story'. Afterwards, we watch the ghost who places his cigar down and grabs out his cup of tea. He uses the smoke rings in form of a doughnut to eat them.

Okay, I guess that is a mild gag--nothing spectacular, but he keeps on using the same actions over again in about 10 seconds, which shows some really poor pacing going on--just over a cup of tea gag. It's enough for me to say - put the cup of tea, down!! Afterwards; the pendulum on the clock starts to sing but also goes into rhythm: but am not sure if its referencing a popular song or anything.

After the clock then strikes -- it comes to the moment where I'd just rather listen to Dizzee Rascal or even Bjork. The ghost--then goes into song singing 'Jeepers Creepers', and you hear such bland lyrics where he loves to haunt. He then makes his intention to try and scare the audience by pulling faces (and breaking the forth wall). I guess a 1939 audience might have got a jump..but is it meant to be scary? Of course not.

He continues to sing that stupid and obnoxious song. Though it was a popular song written by Harry Warren and John Mercer; you just got to except that the tune itself is an insufferable ear worm as well even listening to the substitute lyrics. Help me!

Believe it or not, that's actually Mel Blanc singing the ghost voice, and not Pinto Colvig. Though it sounds similar: compare Pinto's Goofy voice to the singing voice: different results. The ghost continues to perform many antics when he continues to jump around, act like a horse and even run himself into a washing machine. Afterwards, the ghost then listens out for the door, and he begins to slide down the curvy stairs. He slides all the way back and comments in a 'no shit' attitude: 'There's somebody at the door'. Uggh, the ghost is an obnoxious asshole who hasn't done anything other sing a stupid song about himself. We're already about halfway through the cartoon, and literally no climax has been developed and the ghost introduction took too long!!

The ghost, after sliding down the staircase, arrives at the door which Porky (off-screen) is knocking at. The ghost performs a falsetto voice of a woman's and shouts, 'Come in' (also voiced by Mel Blanc). Afterwards, the ghost then swirls around into disappearance.

Porky opens the door, looks around, and asks: "Is anybody home?" After that didn't work - he decides to enter inside the haunted house alone, already feeling afraid.

After walking a few steps inside the haunted house, the blinds from a window then begin to tumble which gives Porky a fright. After a fright, he rushes outside of the haunted house, afraid. Afterwards; he quietly walks back into the haunted house.

The ghost steps back into the cartoon again (what, again?) and he then is about to perform tricks on Porky. He grabs out through his pocket, a pair of shoes. Afterwards; he digs into his pocket and also pulls out a frog. He places the frog inside the shoes after the frog attempted to jump away. After placing the two frogs inside the shoes, he chuckles 'This always gets em'. The boots then start to make motion through the help of the frogs hopping inside.

As Porky continues to tiptoe through the dark, creepy haunted house - the boots (with the hopping frogs) start to follow Porky behind him. A lot of the slow pacing of Porky tiptoeing through the haunted house, as well as the boots -- really do slow down the cartoon down, which is probably why the cartoon itself is long.

Whats odd is; just before Porky turned to make a move...the boots already had a chance to hit Porky, why not there? Anyhow, the boots marching on its own becomes relevant in the scene where the strings of the boots are caught attached to a hatstand, and then a curtain lays on top of the boots to create the visual looking like a haunted, spooky character. The ghost then follows Porky's steps and this time is carrying a tureen and a spoon with him...and he ends up whacking it by covering Porky's head. Porky gets a weary reaction out of it. Knowing Clampett; it could've came up with a funnier reaction than that.

Porky then stutters frighteningly, 'What was that?!'. After walking back a few feet; the other side of the wall features the walking boot and the 'cloaked figure'. Porky turns around as it scares the living daylights out of him. He dashes offscreen and then it follows on with a chase sequence. As he starts to open doors, in an attempt to escape, he finds the ghost is haunting and scaring him.

After dashing up the stairs very quickly, he then is seen being held by the ghost who is holding onto Porky. Porky then explains what he has seen, (though not realising who is holding onto him)...and this is not what I consider funny gags...as it feels as though Clampett rushed the cartoon with ideas.

Porky realises that he is speaking to the ghost before running away. After running down a whole lot of stairs, and the hallway of the haunted house -- he aces his escape through his own police car.

The ghost then very quickly follows, and this is probably only small part of the cartoon with some quick timing on the chase. After the ghost then overtakes Porky's speed limit in his car; he then skids and pretends he is a hitchhiker. As Porky passes him, he remarks: 'Going my way, bud?'...Porky drives back and holds up a sign 'No Riders' before the exhaust pipe explodes on the ghost's face. The cartoon concludes with the ghost in blackface, and caricatured as Eddie Anderson: 'My oh my, tattletale grey'. Of course, Blanc in future cartoons would deliver the voice much more expressively and funnier.

Overall comments: This is what I consider a masterpiece by Clampett. I'd consider this cartoon to be on par with other great Clampett cartoons such as Coal Black, A Tale of Two Kitties or even The Great Piggy Bank Robbery. I mean, there is so much wonderful and unforgettable scenes in the whole cartoon: particularly that minute long storm sequence outside the house where you'd be wondering 'get on with it', but no...its a really good scene for that reason. The song that is sung by the ghost ('Jeepers Creepers') is just an extremely inspiring, wonderful song with such cleverly-written lyrics..it puts Rogers & Hammerstein to shame. I mean, listen to such wonderful and powerful lyrics: "Jeepers Creepers. It's a lot of fun", "Clearing, scaring", etc. Wow!

Let's not forget about our character: the ghost. I've seen a better showcase other than watching the ghost in this cartoon. Pure entertainment, and...just a hilarious character, whose appearance should've been used much more often. The fact that the cartoon actually clocks in at 8 minutes and 45 seconds makes it absolutely a treat as every second in that cartoon is incredibly essential to Clampett's wonderful gags; and such scenes that are really essential for Clampett to keep is the long scene where he stuffs the smoke doughnut in his tea, the storm outside or even the ghost's song. I mean, the ghost's song really does add up to how scary he can be. What else can be said, this cartoon is easily the echelon of the 1930s, and also the top cartoon of 1939.

Okay, I can't take this anymore---here is my overall comments: it sucks.

6 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Tashlin used the Porky in the arms of the guy he's running from whlie telling him who he's running from far better in "The Case of the Stuttering Pig". And Freleng used "Jeepers Creepers" far better in "Notes to You", because the cat's trying to annoy Porky by singing it.

    Oh, and Clampett used the end gag better in "Goofy Groceries" because Jack Benny turning into Rochester was a logical connection. Other that that, this is a heckuva cartoon, and you can tell Clampett is in no way at all burned out at having to use Porky in every single cartoon (remember, it's still April 1 on this side of the Atlantic...)

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  3. Seriously, though, I do like this a lot (and thus I DELIBERATELY kept AWAY from commenting when you wrote this, Steve))..It's questionable IF Pinto Colvig does ANY dialogue, already I believe at Fleischer's studio in Florida, so far as I'M concerned it's all done by Mel Blanc (already proven for all but whatever one line you said may be done by Colvig.) And I LOVE the "Jeepers Creepers" song (except when Friz used it before the latterday Daffy's humiliated by crickets in
    Showbiz Bugs" almost twenty uyears year.).

    Belly Acres: Belly Ache.

    Cop (to Porky, defining ghosts as if Porky needs to know!): "Those white things that go BOO!" (If I'm not mistaken, Blanc does all the voices.)

    A weather vane rooster gettin' lightning-struck thus turning into a roast dinner is one of the most inspired gags and I LOVE that ghost, and exactly two weeks after this review was written...that ain't no April Fool's joke.Steve C.

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    Replies
    1. The song and the cartoon itself is awful. Finito.

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    2. The edited version, in which it abruptly ends after the "Goin' my way?" line, is even worse.

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