Tuesday, 9 July 2013
282. Slap Happy Pappy (1940)
Warner cartoon no. 281.
Release date: April 13, 1940.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig / Rochester Duck), Jack Lescoulie (Jack Bunny), Cliff Nazarro (Bing Crosby/Eddie Cackler) and Danny Webb (Andy Devine chicken/Ned Sparks chicken and Walter Winchell bird). (Thanks Keith Scott!)
Animation: John Carey and Izzy Ellis.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: At Porky's farm, an Eddie Cantor caricatured chicken, longs to have a boy and is in desperation for one. That is, until he finds out its secret; through crooning.
After the sign gags appear; Porky is seen ploughing his horse as he whistles merrily in tune towards Arkansas Traveller. For the dawn scenes, the use of colours great a good look for the atmosphere of dawn, particularly in Porky's flesh.
Porky stops where he greets a cow; "Good morning, Mrs. Cow!". The cow then responds, quoting from the Mad Russian (played by Bert Gordon) "How do you do?". Afterwards; Porky then continues on with the ploughing in the fields. He gets back into his whistling mood and ploughs the horse through the crop fields, until they walk past some crop fields where we stop viewing their activity. Porky, steps out of the plough, but pulling the horse with a rope; where this time the horse does the labour work. A rather cutesy gag, which you'd just accept politely.
The camera then pans towards where we find a rabbit pouring some easter egg paints on eggs sitting on top of a conveyor belt. We then find the rabbit, a complete caricature of radio celebrity Jack Benny, as he introduces himself as Jack Bunny, as well as identifying him as the Easter bunny.
Evidently, the voice is done by Leslie Lescoulie; who also voiced Casper Caveman for Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur, as well as being known for impersonating Benny. After continuing his job, pouring easter egg paint on top of the eggs.
He finds one egg, however, which is completely rotten. He looks at the egg and states, "Uh-oh, that looks like a bad one". He smashes the rotten egg with a mallet; and the fragments of the smashed egg are swept away. As Jack Bunny carries on with his duty, he then spots another egg; but painted egg. Believing the egg is also no use; he grabs out the mallet to smash it; but just in time a Rochester chick halts Jack Bunny. He pops out and shouts, "Hold it, boss!"...he then sweats his relief and remarks, "Mmm-mm, heaven can wait!".
Porky then reads the front headline as he remarks: "This is really big news!". The front headlines read about "eggspectors" coming over to inspect an egg, hoping for a son.
The caricatures of the roosters feature radio celebrities Eddie Cantor, as well as his wife, but here, Eddie is parodied as Eddie Cackler. The camera then pans towards a Mr. and Mrs. Cackler inside their hen hose; and the sign then jokingly reads: BOY WANTED...where the joke is that Eddie Cantor had five daughters, and used to jokingly refer in shows that he wished he had a boy.
To make the joke even funnier, the eggs all hatch, and they're all girl chicks..and yes, I'm doing my best to avoid using the term "chicks". Eddie Cackler gets a reaction with a rather wild, looney, albeit mild take for Clampett; where he then bawls over the fact they're all girls, and not boys.
The character acting of Eddie cross over no boys is extremely funny, where we watch his hands gesture with annoyance, but at the same time, uses his typical hand gesture signature which he's most notable for in gestures. Eddie Cackler then removes the sign which read: Boy Wanted, and now into a sign which now reads: Boy STILL Wanted; which shows his desperateness.
He then pleads: "Boys, boys! How you do it?". The Crosby chicken then explains on how he attracted boys on being born. "It's a very simple matter. Yeah, there's really nuthin' to it. I'll show ya. Just watch".
He walks over towards a sleepy hen and then begins to croon. The hen then becomes immediately swooned from his singing; her heart then pounds exaggeratedly. The next gag, which is rather wacky as well as funny, shows the hen suddenly laying dozens of eggs which overflow her basket. All of the eggs, however feature names of boys--which explains the formula as to how he gets boys, by crooning. An extremely cartoony and wacky concept, you can see Clampett at least enjoying himself, and finally turning out something rather originally amusing.
Afterwards; Eddie Cackler then steps out of the henhouse where he then pleads with joy about having a boy (no rhyming intended). He then walks out of the henhouse singing to himself with joy, as well as grabbing out a box of cigars he tends to celebrate with.
He hands over a cigar towards Porky, whose been off the screen for quite a while. He sings the song in rhythm to the popular song Confidentiality. He continues to throw cigars towards random farm animals, as well as a baby duck, who loses balance from that effect. He then walks up towards a Kay Kyser rooster and announces he'll have a boy. The Kyser rooster responds, "That's right, you're wrong!"..thanks to Keith, the Kay Kyser part was reused audio from Africa Squeaks. Then the Kay Kyser walks up towards a Ned Sparks chicken, as he responds moodily "I'm very happy about the whole thing!".
The Eddie Cackler character then continues to sing with happiness, as well grabbing out the American flag from nowhere; waving it merrily. He then skids with his knees as he chants the final part: "Oh wait, till you see my boy!". Just after the song sequence has finished, clucking sounds are heard through the henhouse; and Cackler rushes inside to see whether the "boy" has been born.
After walking back inside the henhouse; the egg is then labelled 'Junior'. The egg then unhitches, and lo and behold, the egg is hatched and the chick is born.
Eddie Cackler, then leaps with joy, believing its a boy. He then dances with his wife for a while overwhelmed. He then concludes with a final answer: "Tell me, is it really a boy?". The chick then responds, quoting Mr. Kitzel, 'Mmm, could be!'.
Of course, the idea of that for a cartoon story, feels more of a concept from a lesser appreciated studio. What may be considered maddening, is how the hell does this cartoon associate Porky Pig? Well, you all know how desperate Clampett was to begin something fresh, but his own ideas only backfired when he had the compulsory policy of giving Porky some screen time. All in all, the story itself was pretty stupid and uncreative. The gag for Eddie Cantor wishing to have a boy may have been, well, amusing for its time...but having it stretched almost throughout the cartoon runs together. If you'd really say so, some of the gags aren't a far cry from what would be later used in Swooner Crooner, particularly with the Crosby chicken crooning towards a hen and mountains of eggs pile up. Then again, 'Swooner' is a much more hilarious concept.