Saturday, 13 April 2013

267. Porky the Giant Killer (1939)

Warner cartoon no. 266.
Release date: November 18, 1939.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Ben Hardaway and Cal Dalton.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig / Knight) and Billy Bletcher (Giant).
Story: Melvin Millar.
Animation: Gil Turner.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky goes into giant-killing expedition, and once he's in the castle; he's trapped and harassed by a baby giant.

The cartoon starts off after we view the title card, as we pan down vertically as the castle's door opens with the typical gag disclaimer about 'giants being fictitious'...from watching the cartoons just chronologically, this just becomes a terrible eyesore from reading this, almost cartoon after cartoon.

The cartoon then starts off properly as we see a giant-exploring expedition. By judging on the designs of the streets--we can already tell this is set in Medieval times.

Porky looks out of his window and he rushes down the stairs of his house to follow the crowd. Porky follows the crowd who are walking over to the giant's castle. He knocks on a knight; and the knight's real head pops out of the helmet and asks, 'Well?'. Porky asks: 'Where are we going?'. The knight responds: 'We're going to get the giant'. Porky stops and realises he would need some weaponry to help batter the giant. He finds an abandoned table, and pulls off the leg of the table which he disguises as a club. We can only know how bad the cartoon will go once he's uses a useless weapon to attack the giant.

Meanwhile inside the castle we find the giant inside as he is inside his baby's room singing his son a lullaby. He is singing Rock-a-Bye Baby and also combines the song with some useless made-up lyrics. Whilst the giant sings the song mid-way; the baby jumps up and scats; before going back to sleep. Didn't particularly see the whole point in that...which is just uncharming for a cartoon baby doing that.

Afterwards; the giant sings off the last part with other ridiculous and unfunny lyrics. After singing, he stretches his arms and yawns from tiredness. Meanwhile outside, the giant-killing expedition lead to the castle's entrance as they are standing outside.

One of the giant-killers walks over to the door, and then manages to open up the door. Well, why the hell isn't that door locked? They just walked in and sneaked in so easily. Also, look at how the heights of the background and proportions are worked out. This doesn't look like a giant's castle, and the characters all look about the same height and the backgrounds are at a much smaller scale. Appalling.

Meanwhile, the giant is seen taking a nap as he is snoring in and out. As he is snoring; he is breathing in and out near the picture frame of a yacht that the yacht then moves in and out of the frame. Okay, I guess in a cartoon reality it makes sense, but it's not a particularly funny gag. Look at the scale of the bear-rug on the floor. It's tiny and poorly measured.

The giant hears the sounds of people walking inside the castle, and mutters: 'Who's there?'. In a long-shot sequence: the giant-killers listen out to the giant's voice shouting 'Anybody here?'. They all rush out of the scene to save their skins. Once they rush out of the doors - leaving the castle, Porky follows.

As Porky follows; the door slams in front of him and he struggles to open the door. The giant continues to ask 'Anybody here?'. In another long-shot, the giant looks out to see if anyone's around -- but Porky is hiding under the balcony.

Gee, even in that long-shot; the castle looks too small for the giant...the designs are just ugly. In the rear shot itself; we see too many continuity goofs where the giant looks too small as he shouts 'Yoo hoo!'. The giant pulls a confused expression on his hands walks away from the hallway. Porky realises the coast is clear and so he walks up the stairs. Inside an empty room he walks into, there is nothing in there other than a fireplace. The kettle, sitting on the fireplace boils on Porky's rear which gives him a take and he rushes into the baby's room. Gee, I sure wonder how Porky managed to resist himself from screaming?

Porky covers himself underneath the baby giant's blanket on his bed. After a few moments where the baby is in a 'What the hell' expression, Porky turns to look at the baby and makes a 'take' at the baby's size, and he dives under his bed. At least, Porky is drawn on a scale much smaller than the body, but the proportions are a little sloppy.

Whilst Porky is secluding himself under the baby's bed. The baby giant's hand reaches out under the bed to grab hold of Porky. As a result, Porky responds in a really out-of-character mode by biting the baby's finger.

Next, the baby cries in the most aggravating, unrealistic baby cry you could hear. The animation where the baby attempts to shake Porky off is also very unrealistic as it lacks weight. After shaking Porky out; the baby's finger (which Porky bit) throbs.

After the baby's reaction to his thumb being bitten. He ends up in a playful mode as he is bouncing the bed which causes Porky to bounce unsafely. 'Aww, so you want to play do ya' Porky reckoned. He then attempts to get the baby's attention by playing 'peas, porridge, hot'. After a few hand-slaps in the game: the baby slaps him out of the scene. The baby continues to act playful, but Porky walks over to him indignantly: 'If you weren't such a big baby, I'd bust ya right in the nose'. The baby grabs hold of his nose where he lets go, and Porky crashes into the same area, twice, where the baby's toys are.

This whole sequence with the baby and Porky, is most definitely padded, as the pacing of the story is like molasses in January. The irritating giggles of the baby are certainly no joy to put up with, that I just hope someone has injected morphine in his milk bottle. Porky throws a ball at the baby giant's face and ends up bawling.

Porky walks over to feed the baby a milk bottle to quieten him down. Holy cow, after all the hassle going on in the nursery; the giant is still fast asleep. Anyway, the baby then gets fed with a milk bottle which contains 5 gallons of milk...and by looking at the size of the milk bottle--does that look like it contains 5 gallons to you?

According to Mike Kazaleh, the milk feeding scenes were animated by Rod Scribner; and some of the posing (like on Porky) is a subtle giveaway. After the baby has quietened down from the milk: Porky then attempts to entertain the baby a little longer by showing some really pointless, stupid trick what he could do with a teat. He pushes the teat down to the bottleneck (where the baby bottle, again, looks small in size)...and then the teat pops back up. With all that really had timing and padding--Hardaway and Dalton really HAD to use a pointless sequence like this?? Anyway; the teat hits him in the eye, because he stares at it with curiosity.

Yes, the sequence with Porky and the baby: HAS to go even longer when he ends up dealing with the baby in an attempt to put him asleep because of his loud cries. He hushes him up and stutters: 'Will you be a good boy and go to sleep if I sing you a song?'. The baby nods with eagerness.

Porky walks over to the novelty piano. He then begins to play the 'ABCs' towards the baby giant. I'll admit Porky's stuttering on the letter 'G' is very funny in terms of his impediment.

It turns out that the giant, already up, is watching Porky sing the 'ABCs' to the baby and comments: 'Isn't that the cutest thing?'. He walks over and sits listening to Porky's singing. Porky turns and finds the giant is standing right him. He makes a take and he hides behind the baby giant's toys. The giant then wriggles his finger to get Porky to come on over. Porky, not realising the giant is a softie, shakes his head 'with' a no. This then turns into a chase sequence between Porky and the giant. Finally, about two and a half minutes of absolute waste; the climax already takes place.

During the chase sequence; the giant reaches out with his hand in an attempt to catch Porky but Porky squeezes himself out. Instead of just running through, Porky runs down the steps on one right and runs up the steps on the other side, whilst the giant runs with heavy steps. I'm not gonna bother talking about the height of the castle anymore, as you'd all get the gist by now.

Porky finds himself running out of the castle windows, but this almost causes him to fall to his death. He runs back to the window sill of the castle.

Between two windows; the giant grabs out one hand but misses; then the other and misses again. He snaps his finger with a 'darn it' attitude. Then, Porky ends up being cornered as the giant uses his finger to walk towards Porky and grab him.

Porky slips from the giant's teachers as he falls down the tower of the castle; but luckily lands in a moat. At the bottom of the moat; Porky struggles to swim for his life; but the giant crawls form under the bridge and he slurps up the moat in order to retrieve Porky. in shot; which I wonder if you've noticed--why the hell does the giant look like a ghost in that scene?

I guess it was a mistake to use 50% shades on him? After the giant slurps up the entire moat: he captures Porky, and Porky walks inside the castle; possibly to be killed.

Oh no, he's very much alive but he is captured just to get the giant and the baby back to sleep by singing the 'ABCs'. Porky, finding himself trapped, watches them asleep and attempts to make an escape (whilst singing the ABCs). However, the giant halts him from escaping and Porky reluctantly walks back to the piano singing the rest and also remarks in song: 'Everything keeps happening to me'. As he attempts to stutter 'G' again, he rests his hand on the piano, 'Shucks!'.

Overall comments: This is a cartoon by Hardaway-Dalton that I despise the most. Seriously. From what I've said in the comments, above is enough for me to explain the bad point of it, but I'll go through it again. This cartoon lacks the amount of charm, and even in Porky. The baby and Porky scenes are a complete dull, and holds absolutely no merits. Porky is really boring throughout the cartoon, and the baby is enough to kill the cartoon with his aggravating cries and spastic playfulness. This cartoon even holds up no charms that even made Clampett's worst Porky cartoons appear more suitable...which is saying a lot. Then again, this isn't really a funny cartoon at all; where the gags are just flat, the comic timing of the baby is unfunny and that whole sequence really slowed the cartoon down. In fact, the cartoon's pacing is another problem; which probably explains why it's clocked up to 8 minutes long. In fact, it doesn't even feel like they're padding like Disney or Chuck Jones would--it feels like a parody of a slow-paced Disney sequence...considering how it is ridiculously long, but of course--its not a parody.

The only part of the whole cartoon which I may say has a little bit of 'charm' is ONLY when Porky is stuttering on the letter 'g' when singing the ABCs to the baby. The giant of the cartoon is also another character, who isn't worthy--and his soft personality is certainly not at all charming. As I have already mentioned, the scales and size of the castle throughout the cartoon varies from shot-to-shot...but its a flop the castle accommodation looks too small for the giant to even live in it. Porky even changes size most of the time in certain shots, where at times he looks as big as the baby, and other times--much smaller. I suppose, that it would've cost a lot of time to go through size in such accurate detail, but then again..I suppose we'll never know the exact reason. What's probably worth to note, is and at least Hardaway-Dalton managed to make Porky a star throughout the entire cartoon, without having such a minor role throughout 1939, but they just didn't make Porky work well in this short. Also worth to note, this is Hardaway-Dalton's last black-and-white cartoon they directed.


  1. Also worth to note, this is Hardaway-Dalton's last cartoon they directed.

    Last B&W cartoon. "Busy Bakers" is yet to come from Ben and Cal.

    And, yes, "Porky the Giant Killer" is an incredibly annoying cartoon, with a story line that's like "Porky's Super Service" on steroids (or, given this cartoon's subject matter, on human growth hormone). Compare either with how Tashlin finished of his Porky-vs.-obnoxious kid entry, "Brother Brat".

    1. Thanks J,

      My mistake--I clearly meant to say 'last Porky cartoon'..but accidentally left it out. Silly me. As for BROTHER BRAT--well, that's probably the best and funniest Porky vs. baby brat cartoon...since they're timing and gags were MUCH more an improvement in 1944.