Wednesday, 21 August 2013

297. Patient Porky (1940)

Warner cartoon no. 296.
Release date: August 24, 1940.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig/Cat/Whispering Owl/proto-Bugs/Rochester Elevator Boy) and Sara Berner (Receptionist).
Story: Warren Foster.
Animation: Norm McCabe.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: At a local hospital; a cat patient spots an unwell Porky, and the cat goes his looney ways in attempting to dissect Porky amateurishly and incoherently.

The title card of course, shows an silhouette of an emergency van rushing frantically; evidently taken from the opening of The Daffy Doc, except; it is only presented as a still..which makes the title card for the former a lot more effective. As a matter of fact; much of the cartoon itself recycles particular elements from The Daffy Doc, which repeats particular formulas. Not counting the particular reused animation, the cat patient really plays the role of Daffy Duck from the previous cartoon, and Porky Pig plays the victim of a patient with a stomach-ache, and so the cat attempts to dissect Porky..which is noticeably similar to the screen grabs above.

During the operating room with the audience watching an audience being performed; Clampett also uses the same scenario from 'Daffy Doc' though it is switched over towards near the end of the short.

The opening shot of the long-shot sequence of the hospital is also taken directly off The Daffy Doc particularly with the receptionist on the phone. The receptionist on the phone is responding to particularly very lame puns such as "Sir Gerry" (surgery), as well as other names such as "Mr. Cyclops".

Clampett mainly is engaged with particularly unfunny puns throughout the cartoon; as the opening title card, for example mentions as a parody, 'Adapted from the famous book "The Pains Came" which is an obvious, though an amusing pun for The Rains Came. I was particularly usual for this era where Clampett would like to just poke fun for the sake of it where he'd come up with a ridiculous parody title for a book; and try too hard on that gag.

Other notable puns appear through the cartoon; as the name of the owl doctor near the beginning of the short is titles Dr. Christ Chun; which is a direct, lame pun pulled off from the show Dr. Christian, which was a popular radio show broadcast by CBS which ran for 17 years between 1937 to 1954.

More puns which could loosely appear in a Tex Avery spot-gag; features particular patients in the ward. A sickly owl is in bed, and his ailment is 'loss of voice', but as for the symptom: 'He just doesn't give a hoot!'...rather generic, I'd say.

Mel Blanc, though pulls off a great performance of the owl who responds to the doctor, 'I can't talk above a whisper'. Dr. Chris Chun responds, 'You can't what'..and the owl bellows: 'I CAN'T TALK ABOVE A WHISPER'...which is a great satirical scene full of energy as well as looney-tooney. The next gag featuring the dog with a cast, calling for the doctor's attention, is another gag which feels set-up as a very Avery-ish spotgag. He inspects the bone, and admits it is 'knitting up'; where the X-Ray reveals the bones formed as hands knitting back together.

The cat himself also gives himself a pun-like name to disguise Porky as a qualified doctor, named Dr. Chilled-Air; which is referencing Dr. Kildare. The character is very funny another trickster which has a very Clampett-esque personality which he used in his characters, where he is portrayed as nuts and mischievous.

A couple of Clampett's gag also appear to work rather cleverly and subtle in some cases. During the elevator sequence with a Rochester parody of the elevator boy, which takes place in the opening, he does through the first three floors chronologically in the form of the first three letters of the alphabet.

 In the first floor, he lists out particular places for treatments beginning with the letter 'A': ague, asthma, anemia, arthritis, etc.; with the second floor, starting with 'B': beriberi, biliousness, bronchitis, bends, etc.

He exaggerates it even further to the letter 'C' before breaking off with his standard 'Mmm-mm'. Clampett also puts another pun rather visually and wonderfully when the proto-Bugs Bunny, if you insist on that being, rushes to the hospital hallway of a blackboard which has recorded the number of births for particular animals, with rabbits standing out a lot more with 490. The proto-Bugs rushes out as he remarks 'Not anymore', and adds up to 750; which is an amusing, subtle pun of how 'rabbits multiply'.

If you look carefully at the design of Bugs over at the blackboard; the 'prototype' Bugs actually shows a slight combination of the Bob Givens design which was used from A Wild Hare as well as using the voice which was used in Hare-Um Scare-Um as well as hopping around like a lunatic in a Hardaway style.

Porky doesn't appear in the cartoon until much later on; which is almost the constructed in the same sense as The Daffy Doc; which doesn't include Porky until half-way. Instead of being healthy, Porky enters the hospital actually feeling unwell with a stomach ache. He has eaten too much birthday cake at a party, and feels poorly.

Clampett gives Porky some slightly longer screen-footage time where Porky steps in through the remainder part of the cartoon; particularly in close-ups (likely animated by Norm McCabe) where he is portrayed as unwell, though this action remains very much precise from 'Daffy Doc'

...where he attempts to avoid being cut in half by the wacky cat. The whacky cat himself has a similar persona towards Daffy Duck from the former cartoon; where it is evidenced from the line as he grabs Porky and shouts, 'Hey, look fellas, I got a patient! I got a patient!'; in a looney-tooney matter. Even earlier in the cartoon he tricks hippo patient from by tickling and disturbing him as he places the tip of his finger to roll through his stomach.

Clampett still is engaged with a popular song chorus during the climatic sequence which does weaken the cartoon's atmosphere where the Clampett energy; deteriorates into a useless vocal groups who sing in substitute lyrics from We're Working Our Way Through College...which is particularly frustrating when watching a Clampett cartoon from a particular era where a lot of his energy and effort was lacking.

During the final shots where Porky is about to be dissected from a particularly phoney operation; which results in the cat being almost insane enough to kill Porky; he proceeds to rush out. The final moments of the cartoon, has a particularly Tashlin-esque inspiration from the 1930s cartoons he directed where the characters proceed to rush out in quick paced editing. The shot in particular, frame-grabbed, shows how Clampett has given the animation speed a much more solid and exaggerated feel; where Porky is just a mere airbrush effect. The total amount of frames of that one shot is only 16; which sums up to one feet of animation; which is still less than one second.

After proceeding into the house; Clampett reaches to the final conclusion; which although is particularly looney, but very sadistical, as Porky's plan to halt the operation with a sticker reading 'Do Not Open 'Till Xmas'. Confused, the cat responds: 'Christmas?!' as he proceeds to rush next to Porky in bed, and decides 'I'll wait'..where you feel particularly sorry for Porky in an amusing matter.

In conclusion; Patient Porky, is sort-of a remake of a Clampett effort, The Daffy Doc. The concept is generally similar to both cartoons, although the gags as well as the situations work particularly differently. The cat, is indeed a patient, but without any reason, decided to dissect poor Porky feeling unwell, which takes the short to the extreme. The previous cartoon, is without doubt very much superior to this cartoon; whereas this short only clocks in at just 6 minutes, making it particularly very short in terms of its total time. In all, I find it is a particularly better effort for Clampett's 1940 entries; as the cat was particularly amusing, even with a similar Daffy Duck persona, as well as the sleazy Mel Blanc voice..though the amusing character as well as the delivery ends up deteriorate into lame puns as well as the very brief song sequence. Not a bad Clampett effort, overall.


  1. Now if they had just the gag involving the iron lung ...

  2. We're still in the period where Clampett's stuck having to use Porky in every short and is desperately trying to do work-arounds. The main problem with the cat is he only seems to be there to make the borrowing from "The Daffy Doc" slightly less obvious (and after 'Daffy Cat', we'll get 'Daffy Fish' coming up in "The Sour Puss" -- Bob must have Woo Woo-ed all over the studio lot a few months later, when Leon decided everyone has to make color and B&W cartoons and Porky didn't have to be in every Looney Tune anymore).

  3. The idea behind "Patient Porky" was that the animators were thinking up ideas for a new cartoon featuring Porky, since Bugs Bunny hadn't come into full fruition and Porky was the main "star" in all of their shorts. After watching "The Daffy Doc", some amusing hospital gags were thought up and the decision to make a short to use them came up. They borrowed a lot from "The Daffy Doc", that evident, but the ideas and gags were pretty well executed. I know many people who like this one as much as the original.

  4. I love this hilarious cartoon.
    The overly critical critique leaves out this important verse:
    "I got a famous urgin', to be a famous surgeon,
    And I'm gonna start out to carve my new careeerrowwwwwrrrr;"

    "The patient always has a lot of indecisiont,
    but afterward, he brags about the big incision;
    We'll get to the seat of the trouble,
    although it costs you double;"