Sunday, 21 July 2013

289. The Chewin' Bruin (1940)

starring PORKY

Warner cartoon no. 288.
Release date: June 8, 1940.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig) and Robert C. Bruce (Old Timer) (Thanks Keith Scott).
Animation: Norm McCabe & Vive Risto.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: An old-timer tells the story to Porky Pig of how he caught a bear, and stole his tobacco.

Taking place on a dark, rainy night where the weather is at a rather poor condition in what appears to take place in a Western village; and inside a shack; belongs to the residence of the old-timer and Porky Pig. Starting with a silhouette on the wall; the old timer then explains about the bear which he had shot; and with its head hanging on the wall.

Porky then becomes amazed and eager at his story; and his grandfather remarks about how the bear he had shot was 'wild about tobaccy'.

Sounding like a completely ridiculous story for Porky; he buffs: 'Aww, that's silly. You expect me to believe a story like that. Why that's impossible. It's unbelievable (stutters the word); was it really?'.

The grandfather; responds as he scoffs tobacco inside his mouth explaining about how he caught in the bear. 'Yes sire; I done a heatin' with him. Thought I'd seen everything. But I  was dead wrong. The close-ups of the grandfather where he chews tobacco has some lovely squash and stretch animation-wise. He spits the tobacco out, and what is seen as a outrageous Clampett gag; he spits on a silhouetted spittoon which then goes into a crazy and funny reaction. The grandfather then begins the story: 'It was up in the North Woods, about 30 year ago as I can remember, I was out a-huntin' with ma favourite dog'.

The flashback then takes place back in the time as the old-timer is seen as an avid hunter and his hunting dog is following his tracks as they walk carefully around hunting for particular animals. As the grandfather remembers; he spotted a reindeer from a particular distance.

Just as the hunter watches towards the reindeer from the distance; a close-up is trucked in where he is remembers from his memories. Described as seven feet long; the hunter remembers him for 'his beautiful horns'.

The horns then make a sound which I believe is meant to be a original Stalling cue. After the deer; the hunter then continues to look around and he spots a group of chipmunks where they are eating their acorns with enjoyment. The hunter then scares them when he faces them at gunpoint as a tease. The chipmunks turn and they exit very afraid. They then nibble themselves into a log where the log ends up reading: Goodbye Mr. Chips. Another very corny gag which has Warner Avery-esque quality.

Whilst the hunter and his dog continue to trail along the path, he admits he wasn't interested in hunting small creatures, where he was interested in hunting for the opposite. As the hunter continues to walk through the North Woods; and as his dog follows--a huge bear creeps up behind them.

The bear is walking behind the dog and also copying his walk movements. The dog; unaware that he is danger, bumps into the hunter's rear end just as the hunter already made a stop. The hunter hushes the dog for quietness.

The dog, then turns back and hushes the bear to be quiet. Just as the dog is about to continue following the hunter; he makes a double take as he realises there is a bear behind him. The dog then turns 'scared stiff' which Clampett uses the metaphor as a visual gag; as he freezes which makes the sacredness of the dog believable as well as amusing. The bear then pulls the dog out of the little bit of ice and continues to follow the hunter, instead of killing the dog.

The bear follows the hunter, but of course, it is meant to be the wrong type of suspense the audience is supposed to feel. In a close up shot; Clampett lightens the atmosphere. As the old timer mentioned earlier, the bear was extremely hooked on tobacco; and so he finds a tobacco inside the hunter's back pocket. He attempts to grab the tobacco but it slides all the way down his pocket.

The bear then makes a attempt in grabbing his hand as he reaches inside his back-pocket. The hunter being touched in the rear end, then squirms with uncomfortableness. A very typical Clampett gag, which is a little bit of adult humour; where it implies the hunter is being sexually harassed.

The hunter turns around where he remarks sternly: 'Take it easy, Daisy' and he smacks the bear with his shotgun. The bear's head vibrates slightly but the smack on the head has increased the bear's anger. He roars violently towards the hunter; where he gets a scared feeling.

The hunter, shaky, turns his head down from his rear end where he is staring face-to-face towards the bear. They slide their pupils up and down; already making eye contact. The hunter then smiles sheepishly and greets him timidly: 'Hello'. Very expressive and amusing facial expression which is a very popular expression all the directors would use, apart from Chuck Jones. The bear roars furiously and the hunter scrambles out of the way frantically and carries his frozen dog with him. In a series of quick-paced shots: Clampett puts in little bits of visual gags; particularly when the hunter rushes through the snow and the footprints appear afterwards.

The hunter then rushes inside an empty cabin where its fear of the bear already goes as far to the point where not where he places a bear trap outside the snow, but when he removes the 'Welcome' mat from the porch. The bear follows the tracks of the hunter's footprints.

Believing the bear trap may be the solution to the hunter's problem, the bear manages to get caught in a bear trap; but proves to be mightier than the trap.

The bruin then makes the bear trap out of his paw; where the trap ends up yelping like a dog and rushes out into the horizon. A very creative gag which only Clampett would interpret or even create in contrast to the other Warner directors.

Meanwhile inside the cabin; the hunter and the dog are adding additional parts of wood towards the doors to block the bear from entering the cabin. The bear ends up knocking on the window; where small from the roof falls. Discovering a part of a wall is free; he lifts it up like window blinds. He walks through inside the cabin where the hunter is in peril. The dog, holding a hammer after blocking the door, discovers the bear right next to him and faints stiffly.

After the hunter has finished nailing the doors as well as additional bits of wood; he then spots the bear behind him and goes into a frantic take. He then scrapes the nails off the wood which all, as a gag, land into a box of nails. After pulling all the bits of wood out, he attempts to escape but the bear grabs hold of his shirt, not wanting to eat him.

The hunter zips out of his own outfit so fast that the bear is only holding onto his overlay. The hunter finds himself cornered but plans to shoot the bear. The gun turns out to have life but then flops after getting roared at by the bear. Realising that even the gun was hopeless, the hunter is in a hopeless situation.

The bear and the hunter then get into a fight which is covered with swirls as well as dust effects; in another a 'cartoon fight effect' for lack of better word.

The old timer admitted he didn't mind fighting the bear; but when it got to the point the bear had grabbed his tobacco and chewed it; this broke the camel's back for the hunter. "That's what really got me steamed up!" remembers the hunter; with steam rising from his ears. The fight then ends up turning aggressive where the hunter kicks the bear in the rear end; and after some intense punching the bear then hits the ground and causes a hole. The hunter places a sign which reads 'Man at Work' where he is busy in beating the crap out of the bruin.

Back towards the present day; the old timer then concludes the story as to how the bear had never ever touched his tobacco since then; as his head had been a carving from then on. The bear, listening to the story; then ends up questioning 'Oh yeah?'.

 He then makes a big chew from his tobacco where the tobacco strikes towards the spittoon in silhouette; with the same silhouetted gag which was seen earlier in the short. Porky and the old timer then hold onto one another; believing the head carving is cursed; whilst the bear nods his head with a 'So there' attitude whilst the cartoon irises out.

Overall comments: The short itself feels like a part of it has some of Clampett's own wacky, silly humour has been considered when making this cartoon. Some particularly wacky gags which are very much Clampett's contributions would be the bear trap gag. Clampett has used that gag several times as it is a very amusing and well executed one. The deer's horn as well as the chipmunks were of course; short gags but also very much under the influence of Tex Avery. There is at least some adult humour particularly when the hunter is 'touched' when the bear digs his hand through his back pocket. The whole concept that the bear is completely obsessed with tobacco that it carries all through the toon is another cartoony concept; that I suppose Clampett would be one of the few stalwarts to create into a cartoon short..and he did, and even deliberately used Porky as a child so the story of 'the chewin' bruin' would be the main focus of the short. Thanks to Keith Scott, who helped me with my quest for identifying the voice of the old timer in this short being voiced by Robert C. Bruce. Its great to see Bruce actually get a chance to voice a character, apart from his usual typecast assignments by being the narrator: even though he's quite possibly best at that. It's also the same voiced which was used previously in The Hardship of Miles Standish. Overall, with not too much to comment on; this was a hit-and-miss Clampett short; it had its funny moments, it paces through rather evenly, but it isn't particularly very extraordinary at all.


  1. It's a more increasingly typical case where Porky isn't even in the short (just like Terry's Mighty Mouse!) himself a lot! I think you skipped Freleng's July cartoon "Porky's Baseball Broadcast" which would be his actual return..the deer's "sound" is an 30s-40s automobile sound!

    The bear sniffing in Pappy's pocket is definitely quite funny, and I thought that it was Bob Bruce before reading this (thanks to Keith Scott) Porky';s Grand Pappy.S.C.

    1. My fault..I accidentally typed in the wrong release date; but fixed it. No, not missed a cartoon; I'm following it chronologically.