Wednesday, 29 May 2013

276. Ali-Baba Bound (1940)

starring PORKY
Warner cartoon no. 275.
Release date: February 10, 1940.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig/Baby Dumpling/Suicide Squad/Man at Gas Station/Bomber)
Story: Melvin Millar.
Animation: Vive Risto.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky is sent on a mission to stop the attacks of Ali Baba and his troops from attacking a fortress.

A preface card of the cartoon's location takes place in the Sahara Desert; where Tubby Millar notes in a ridiculously corny and bad one-liner: 'Where it is so hot the fan dancers use electric fans'. Meanwhile out in the Sahara desert, it starts off as how it would usually look: dry, sandy and empty.

Then the camera quickly pans to a gas station, with neon-lights reading 'The Oasis', where Clampett and his crew are satirising names of clubs as well as linking the word to a isolated area in a desert.

Meanwhile over at the Brown Turban nightclub (a pretty obvious spoof of the Brown Derby, don't you think?)..Porky walks out of the club singing The Girlfriend of a Whirling Dervish--and for some reason, Blanc's voice isn't sped up for those scenes, which does sound rather odd for a viewer listening. In a quick pan to the left, we find a particular spy loitering by a palm tree in secrecy. The spy is shown as a caricature of George Raft, and there's a little gag Clampett hyperbolises where he is flipping a coin with his feet, which is a direct reference to one of Raft's most famous films: Scarface.

Whilst Porky walks past the George Raft spy; the spy then whispers a 'psst' for Porky's attention. Porky, makes a take from the whisper and walks backwards to discover. The spy, then signals him to be quiet, and reveals from his cloak a secret message ballot..I guess the ballot idea was supposed to be a gag.

Porky reads the letter and discovers a message from the spy, notice the film reference to the 1939 motion picture: Confessions of a Nazi Spy written as Confessions of a Nasty Spy.

Prior America entering World War II, altering the title to 'nasty' would of course, be relevant for that matter, even though they both have a negative connotation, of course. Porky reads the message and discovers the legionnaire criminal: Ali-Baba and his Dirty-Sleeves (referencing the famous Arabian legend: Ali Baba) are planning to attack the Desert Fortress. The letter turns out to be signed by the 'Tattle Tale' Guy. Porky gets a reaction from the letter, and rushes off to save the day, before rushing back to the spy to thank him, and quotes Joe Penner, 'Ya nahaaaaasty spy!', were Penner's original quote was 'Ya naaaaaasty man!'.

Porky then rushes off an a attempt to save the day and stop the attacking from occurring. 'And I thought Ali Baba and his Dirty Sleeves were washed up!' stutters Porky. Meanwhile, Porky stops and finds a 'U-Drive' store where you can hire camels. Porky walks in to hire a camel.


He reads the sign of a small camel who is labelled as Kiddy Kar. He picks the baby camel as a choice to stop the attack on the foreign fortresses. Without paying the price yet, he already decides to start off riding the camel as he climbs on top, although slides off the humps, and back on the camel's back again.

Particularly very cutesy gags for Porky, although Treg Brown's sound effects at least make an attempt and help make it a little funnier, even if weak. The next scene shows some neat timing by Clampett which syncs in wonderfully to the notorious song The Streets of Cairo to the camel walking out of the rental store.

Meanwhile out at the legion's headquarters, Porky arrives at the spot, although notices a note on the door. The note is written by a 'General De Livery' who wrote a note to any messenger that he has gone to a legion convention all the way in Boston.

No gag written on the letter, except for a rather weird and silly regard at the end reading 'Loves and kisses' which is amusing as it just looks unprofessional and camp. After reading the note, Porky is relieved: 'And I was worried about those days'.

Pan to the left, we find the real Ali-Baba spying on Porky by using beer bottles as binoculars. To avoid any tension and fearfulness of the character: Blanc just delivers a dog voice which Clampett asked for, to add weight to the caption under Ali Baba's name in the screen: The Mad Dog of the Desert. Clampett comes up with a unique visual gag, which is cleverly animated, of Ali Baba whistling with his fingers which briefly turn into a whistle.

Meanwhile as Porky and the camel walk away from the fortress, which is not in use, charging straight towards them are Ali Baba's tribe charging straight towards them...if you think the African cannibals from Buddy of the Apes has been overused, well, this has been taken from the morgue and one of the animators in Clampett's unit reanimates it.

Porky then makes a turn to escape from the thieves as they dash out of the scene. Porky and the camel already encounter a dash of mud; Clampett interrupts the pacing of the action and music for tiptoeing through the mud, and then back to action.

The sort of action Clampett and the other WB directors loved, to test the audience's attention span. Porky and the camel quickly rush back inside the fortress where the thieves have the complete fortress surrounded. Porky closes the door and locks it tightly. However, the thieves are already attempting to break into the door with one particular thief using headache pills to help break the door open. Ouch.

A lot of the attacking sequence all relies on gag dumping, where its all a string of gags, with absolutely no character personality flowing through the cartoon, and it results in short attention spans. Porky grabs out a shotgun and aims towards at one of the thiefs, although every time he fires, the gun turns floppy.

Each gag is unfunny and slow, and this is a good example to show that Clampett isn't showing any reform in his own cartoons. More gags included show the thieves aiming inside the fortress like a strength tester.

Meanwhile, outside where the attacking is occurring: a thief with a bomber strapped on top of his head is cheerleading on the fighting that's going on, and is seated as a substitute. Blanc's delivery is rather amusing, as it usually is, although the gag itself is a little overused in some of the earlier 1930s cartoons.

Meanwhile there is another thief who then attempts to climb up a fortress, by climbing and jumping up like a cat would. Whilst at the top of the fortress, Porky just knocks the thief down with a mallet. Instead of a fighting back with violence, the thief just turns into a attitude of a depressed labour worker holding out a sign reading: 'This fort UNFAIR to Arabs!'..which is mildly amusing, where he just tames immediately from the point of anger.

In the next sequence; the cornered Baby Dumpling who is standing rather meekly by the war: to create tension; a shadow of a thief with a dagger is pointing towards Baby Dumpling, and also kills him within an inch of his life. The baby camel then grabs out a horn which shouts out 'Help!' with the way Mel Blanc would usually deliver it.

Meanwhile over at the camel rental place; the words 'HELP' occur to her mind; until the words pop out of the scene. She realises that Baby Dumplings is in trouble and leaves her spot and rushes on her way towards the fortress to save her baby camel.

She also hops along the way which makes the characteristic hop very funny. During her journey towards the fortress; the mother camel pauses; and then hops back over to a local gas station in the desert.

The cartoon continues to get bonkers where a guy is filling the camel with gas, inside the camel's hump. An awful lot of the writing of the cartoon just runs together, especially the 'gas' sequence which just shows an awful lot of padding. The inside of the camel's humps appear, as the engine inside is functioning, and the camel can resume the rescue, although travel at such speed. As he breaks inside the fortress, Ali Baba has Porky and Baby Dumpling cornered. The camel then charges straight across his rear end where he falls out the scene. Clampett is obviously not very ambitious with any wackiness in any of those scenes, and the timing of being booted is rather conservative and disappointing.

After Ali-Baba and all of his troops have been booted out of the fortress, all controlled by the mother camel, and Porky--the substitute troop is the last one in line to attack the fortress.

In his goofy mode, with the bullet strapped towards his head, he then makes way to charge straight towards the fortress with a powerful bullet on his head to blow up the fortress.

Whilst he is charging straight towards the fortress, Porky opens the door, and discovers that he is in danger from the bullet, and quickly opens the door as a result. The substitute thief charges at the bullet shouting out 'Beep, beep' continuously. As he continues to charge, the other camels open the door to make way for the bullet to attack Ali Baba and his followers by accident. The final gag ends with the bullet striking the organisation, where they turn into tents, and the sign turning into: Ali Baba's Auto Camp.

Overall comments: Compared to Clampett's last effort in Africa Squeaks, in this cartoon, he is more or less back to square one again. This time Melvin Millar is writing the story for this cartoon, and
his output is about as weak as Clampett's other Porky cartoons are in that period. Explaining the weakness of the cartoon is almost as similar to repeating myself about his previous efforts, but I'll go through it again. Much of Clampett's gags in the attack are just too unoriginal and flat. Clampett doesn't encounter anything daring to do in production, and throws throws in a lot of mild gags that it all runs down together as a cartoon. Much of the gags are just padded like the gas station sequence, which just doesn't juice into the cartoon very well. Watching Clampett's own comic timing (and gags)--you just know that despite his frustrations with the pig, his attitude just got lazy, and he isn't even trying to come out with something outrageous gagwise.

He also had used battle sequences before in earlier cartoons like What Price, Porky which did have funny gags as well as great timing, whilst here it is lacking the spirit.The gag with the substitute bomber was probably the only amusing part of the cartoon as a mode, and to resemble Clampett's own charm. However, I did particularly like the sequence prior to the attacks with the George Raft spy; which showed some media appeal in that particular sequence. It's also the 2nd Porky cartoon where he is seen defending a foreign fortress; although the previous cartoon Little Beau Porky, has him working in a fortress, whereas Porky is just a mere messenger in the cartoon, and ends up victimised into this. Clampett couldn't have much better accomplishments to do with Porky, and either uses him in less screen time of the cartoon, or just victimise Porky in battles, due to his frustrations.

4 comments:

  1. "Baby Dumpling"'s Blondie Bumstead (comic/movies/radio/TV) little kid (another
    connection to animation-Penny Singleton, aka radio and screen's golden are Blondie, became Hanna-Barbera's 1962 Jane Jetson voice-and "The Jetsons" also had Mel Blanc and WB writers Michael maltese and Warren Foster,wh left WB around 1958.:)) So that is where "Baby Dumplings" name came from.) Blondie itself had several more American popular connections=the punk/new wave band that made Deborah Harry a star in the later USA disco era with "Heart of Glass" (which was released on Chrysalis, a division of WB/reprise) and the name of the supporting teenage "Hairspray" movie/stage character "Penny Pingleton" (released by New Line/WB). Whew! Talk about the many connections./

    That guy with the bombshell on his back has the Mel Blanc voice that he'd use for Bugs Bunny in a very tweaked way.

    Porky went to the arabain desert a lot so far, with 1938's "Porky in Egypt" being a different outing with that Napoleon like Camel. The use of the many Arabs reminds me of the 1936 short "Little Beau Porky", which of course had remade as a nautical adventure in 1938 with "Porky the Gob".

    Finally, these are quite timely in a time of war against the middle east only we won the war..Steve C.

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  2. Actually, that's "Tattle-tale Gray," a phrase popularized in ads for Fels Naptha Soap.

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  3. Fun Fact: this short, along with some other WB Cartoons has fallen into Public Domain.

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  4. Yes, "ALI-BABA BOUND" has fallen into the public domain, but there have always been a couple of harsh edits, and I wonder what the missing pieces are. This cartoon was also one of those that were possibly retraced, and that version was often shown on our syndicated LOONEY TUNES programs out here in the late 1970's. I would have liked to see a fully restored version of it.

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