Sunday 30 December 2012
Warner cartoon no. 234.
Release date: March 11, 1939.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig - Mr. Motto) and Billy Bletcher (Invisible Man), Sara Berner (Operators) and Danny Webb (Police Chief).
Story: Ernest Gee.
Animation: John Carey.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: The phantom is becoming a threat to Hollywood with crime scenes occurring - only Porky - aka Mr. Motto can solve the mystery.
Anyway, there is a description that follows on reading: Any resemblance this picture has to the original story from which it was stolen is purely accidental. Which is of course a spoof of those title cards which were really common for the 1930s and 40s cartoons.
We then hear the sounds from Stage 13 of a woman screeching which there is a crime scene that has occurred. The figure in a black cloak then steps out of the theatre and laughs rather evilly as he is covered - not revealing his identity. The part where his shadow steps out of the stage door is very good staging.
Afterwards - it follows on with some montage shots of the police officers in the wireless room trying to detect the figure. The news of the phantom already screams the front pages as the studio police are on the hunt for the phantom - and we see some animated shots of the police cars on the lookout in the streets. There is also a small scene with recycled animation of police cars from The Blow Out which appears to be a rather notorious recycled animation for the 1930s WB cartoons.
The case begins as the front page of the newspaper begins with the police officers interviewing suspected movie stars to have been involved in the recent affairs. The really cool effect is seen as we only see the shadow of the studio detective interviewing Frankenstein who is the first suspect. I like how the silhouette is pretty much satirising the dramatic stagings of live-action mystery films.
As Frankenstein is seated; and listening to the questions. He then grabs out his fingers by his teeth and he ends up biting his nails like a typewriter. Mmm, this sequence is certainly 'nail biting'. Mmm, I never thought Frankenstein had really long nails - but perhaps it could be described in the Mary Shelley book? I dunno. The gag itself is very amusing - especially the part with the huge shadow and it turns out to be a dwarf officer who is yelling which is amusing since Frankensteins could crush him easily.
Afterwards, the figure then arrives at the top of the attic - and still runs around the pole for the stairs which is rather cool. He walks through the attic and steps through the door of the upstairs room, and he enters his own hideout - which is the dressing room for The Invisible Man - and he IS the suspect.
The Invisible Man then removes his cloak and of course - we know he is invisible as we only see him wearing a hat, gloves and a pair of shoes. He reveals to everybody watchingg that he is indeed the Invisible Man - who is "a phantom to those guys". He then grabs out an apple as he munches it and we can see the effect of the apple being eaten inside which is awesome. Afterwards - the apple then digests inside the stomach and plops back as an apple. He announces the secret for his crime was because of him being used in only one picture and was then dropped. He reveals much more of his gruesome plans as he plans to wreck all of Hollywood.
Afterwards - the public is already afraid and fearful of the phantom that they are determined in bringing in Mr. Motto to solve the scene. Of course - Mr. Motto was a fictional character who was a detective and was very popular from the 1930s all the way up to the 1950s. We then see a crowd as they are rather afraid and from what we visualise - they are demanding for Mr. Motto to be hired.
Of course - the crowd was some stock footage there, and its certainly cool to be used for comedy here, and exaggeration in animated cartoons by adding some real footage inside.
After all of the humpuss about bringing in Mr. Motto to help solve the case - the newspaper headline announces that he won't be available. The headline reads: Sorry, Motto on Vacation. That is certainy very amusing - added a headline there who it sound disappointed. Reminds me of these headlines you would get from tabloids. The news of Motto on vacation already causes an uproar that even the studio sergeant phones his agent to take him off vacation, "I don't care if he is on vacation -- get me Mr. Motto!" which is a cool voice done by underrated voice talent Danny Webb. Meanwhile the world's signal and wireless then go asking for Mr. Motto.
Meanwhile in a desert island we find that Mr. Motto (in reality, Porky) is resting in that peaceful island reading his book: Ju Jitsu which is of course an activity which is similar to karate, tiquando, etc. As he reads the book - we then listen to the sound of the phone ringing - of course the only signal that he has to use a phone is a coconut. He cracks it open and answers.
I have to say, and even if it is rather ridiculous but we are going to be listening to him with a Japenese accent throughout the entire cartoon - which in my opinion is rather pointless of having Porky play another character.
But with that said, I have to say I would have to give Mel Blanc credit since it must he difficult to put on a Porky voice doing an impression of a Japanese accent (and still stuttering). As he answers the phone - he hears about the phantom and agrees to travel to do his duty right away. He then turns on the propeller of his island as he travels over to Hollywood, and appropriately playing in the tune of California, Here I Come. Afterwards the island crashes at the pier like a rock -- which is just very, very bizarre. He then boards on his own plane and he travels over to California.
Meanwhile back at the station - the chief policeman is sitting in his office as he is doing some important work. The plane then crashes at the station as the policeman gets a fright. Porky Pig (I mean, Mr. Motto - as I have to call him that in this cartoon) steps out of the plane and is still reading his book. The police chief then greets him by quoting, 'How do YOU do?' from the radio character called the Mad Russian played by Bert Jordan.
I find it rather cool when they both shake hands that Mr. Motto just shakes his whole body as he hits the ground. He then stutters with his apologies - but then hushes him as he grabs out his magnifying glass so he can begin his mystery.
Mr. Motto then walks around the set as he investigates - the typical way: footprints. How does he know which footprint belongs to the phantom? Well anyway - the gag is there is no glass inside as he peeks his head through and that is funny. There appears to be a really terrible cut from the point of where he still investigates (and the director is sitting on the chair) and to the scene where the phantom ('The Invisible Man') appears as he laughs. Something has been cut there - but I wonder if that was a television or theatrical cut since this print I am watching at least doesn't feature a television logo inside so I don't know...
So anyway - after that abrupt and dodgy cut - we see the phantom once again (wow, scary) as he covers his identity and ready for another plan. As he is tip-toeing around the set believing he is alone - he then makes a scared take. He shouts out 'Mr. Motto' as he has managed to spot him. The way Bletcher has voiced it was executed very well.
To avoid getting caught - he comes up with a sneaky plan as he dashes out of the scene to put the cape in the bin (revealing himself as the invisible man) and then hides inside a poster disguising the rest of the clothing to be the poster of the woman.
As the Invisble Man pretends - Mr. Motto walks past the scene as he looks for any further clues. The Invisible Man then decides to risk himself ignorantly by kicking Porky in the rear end and dashing off. Then - the Invisible Man picks up an axe and plans on chopping Mr. Motto. He makes these quick jumps so he misses - even jumping out of his own trousers. There is some jerky animation that follows where the Invisible Man attempts to chop Mr. Motto but manages to dodge -- all jerky timing.
Porky (I mean Mr. Motto) continues to swing him around until he then collapses to the ground. That sure must've been difficult to animate an action like that of an invisible character. The Walter Winchell parody enters the scene again as he is about to report what the next step that Mr. Motto is about to do.
He grabs out a spray of 'anti-invisible juice' where he is going to squirt it towards the invisible man to reveal the identity. Winchell then announces, 'Ladies and gentleman - the Invisible Man is---'. Hugh Hebert. He then reveals himself as he just claps merrily like he would normally do - and that is a very amusing final shot.
I have to say that I really do have mixed thoughts about Porky Pig being portrayed as Mr. Motto here. For one reason, why is Porky Pig even in this cartoon if he was just referred as Mr. Motto? And...it could have worked a lot funnier if Avery had his role and used Egghead to satirise the mystery - but here, I just feel having Porky portraying another character just doesn't work - it doesn't even feel like a Porky cartoon to me - and it just feels rather pointless. The story was rather short-lived as well as the pacing of the cartoon that it didn't even feel like a mystery to me - but I admit I will give credit that the Hugh Hebert gag was a little funny at the gag but other than that - I haven't got a lot to say of what was funny of this cartoon as I feel it was just weak and straightforward. Neverthless, I will give Mel Blanc credit for doing a good job of voicing Porky Pig in a Japenese accent trying to impersonate as Mr. Motto as I thought it must've been difficult for a talented voice artist.
Saturday 29 December 2012
Release date: February 25, 1939.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Ben Hardaway & Cal Dalton.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Cop / Seabiscuit) and Joe Twerp (Old Timer/Driver/Scandanavian).
Story: Melvin Millar.
Animation: Gil Turner.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Traveller is out at the West Coast in the search for cold - whilst he stops at the gas station. An old timer advises him its pointless of collecting old and recollects his time of catching gold.
The driver (who appears to be an impersonation of Roy Atwell or Joe Twerp who use spoonerism for their comedy sketches). The driver asks to put gas inside as he has problems with his speech. The old timer then places the fuel in his car and asks, 'What's the hurry, son?' The driver responds, 'I'm going out to gig for dold, sold for gig, uh...gil for der..Oh fiddle dee-dee - I'm going out to dig for gold".
The old timer finishes using up the fuel as he chuckles, 'Don't make me laugh. There ain't no more gold in them hills than there is in a hound dog's tooth. Listen, son. I've dug for gold in every corner of the world. Why, I remember back in 1849...' So, hang on a minute - if this cartoon is set in the modern day (with modern cars of the 1930s and local gas station - then THAT old timer must be over a 100 years old or something?? What the f--- he must be the oldest living person by that point! Wait, you can hear him humble slightly, 'course I was just a little kid' and I guess that would help make him a bit younger than we thought?
He walks up to the white horse and asks who he is. Then the horse replies, 'Seabiscuit. What's yours' and neighs. For those that don't know - that is a reference of a famous racehorse who was named, 'Seabiscuit'. Meanwhile we then notice the bar as we find the young version of the old timer who had lived in that era.
However, one thing that concerns me is he doesn't even LOOK like a young boy - as instead he just looks like a a guy who is a young adult - and yet he must be well over 100 in the modern day; and yet even not looking 100. -sigh- when could the directors get it right? Meanwhile, as he is looking around trying to find somewhere to stay as he is a new arrival at San Francisco - he is spotted by a local inside a bar. The bar spots him as a victim (aka)' sucker' into gambling inside the bar.
He is thrown inside the bar as he spins around to a table where there is local who already has a pack of cards out with him. There is some really neat animation in this sequence that is solid where the man is shuffling up the cards. The hand movements of the card shuffling is indeed, very solid. There is a part afterwards where the shuffler just stops shuffling and he lights his cigar while the cards continue to shuffle.
Afterwards he then shows off his cards - but at that moment there is a local that enters the bar and shouts out, 'They found gold in the hills!' which is going back to the California Gold Rush of 1849 - as it is referenced in the cartoon.
But the timing is really slow when the young fellow dashes out of the bar. Afterwards - there are folks on the mountains digging for areas where they could find gold. The digger then runs over to find his spot to dig for gold as he holds out a 'claim' sign.
He goes through different areas of the mountain to put his claim sign to the ground but other folks already beat him before he could claim it which is an experiment of timing and it's not too bad. Afterwards, he goes to a different area but another digger claims it first with the sign reading 'Finders Keepers'. This goes on as he then finds a quiet area where nobody is around. The gag where the sign just shoots straight over reading "Keep Off" is very amusing as he has that much bad luck for getting gold. He then gets frustrated and gives up. He tosses the sign away but the 'Claim' sign lands at a spot he has found.
The next scene we find that he is still alive - though he is injured from that 'near-fatal fall' as he is hospitalised. The doctor arrives at the scene with a stethoscope where it appears to have a detector on there. As he is detecting his heart and the detecting sound for a stethoscope is rather cool.
Mmm, what does get me to curiosity is did hospitals REALLY look that clean around 1849. Before the period of Crimea War and when Florence Nightengale stepped in to improve conditions - its best to call this a continuity goof.
The doctor then announces that gold has been discovered at Virginia City - and the fellow then shouts out, 'Gold! Whooopie!' and dashes out of the hospital - and he's not going to travel all the way to East Coast as there is a Virginia City in Nevada. He dashes back in to collect his hat before leaving out to travel thousands of miles just to collect gold. Meanwhile - over at the East Coast (I imagine) he is out at the river as he is looking for gold as he uses a can to search for it but he still doesn't find any luck. There is a corny gag that follows afterwards as we spot what looks like some guy looking for gold shaking how bootie - okay, that was just random. He then pulls out a goldfish form his dish and places it in the fishbowl - now that is just clever.
As we pan horizontally - he then come across an underground mine where there are a couple of miners down there as they are playing some music. They sing the song My Sweetheart Needs Gold For Her Teeth but in the theme of the old song The Old Apple Tree.
The bears guy playing the guitar looks rather cool, and there are guys that rush inside sitting in a cart as they sing along to the song. The sequence follows on as we see some miners underground digging for gold.
There is a guy who is opening up nutshells to search for golden nuggets. Each time he finds one it is placed inside a barrel full of nuggets. After cracking one nutshell; he finds no nugget so he tosses it away. I don't see how it is meant to be a gag (if that is the purpose). I'm sure everyone would find something not there as it should. There is a chef underground who is already cooking some gold bouillon in the pot and as he slurps it to try the flavour - his teeth then turn gold which is rather cool. There appears to be a reference or a quote I can't make out as the guitarist unfolds his beard for a line. The song then concludes and the miners in the cart then go back.
The digger is still in search for gold at the stream but as he finds no luck of even finding any worthy gold - he gives up and walks out of the woods. He then enters a saloon where he orders a nugget nectar. After the barman pours a shot - he then drinks it. After drinking it - the volume of the drink was so strong that it causes him to feel weird and pass out on the floor.
After he passes out - voices break out about gold in a different location. There are a few good pacing shots of the close-ups of the locals they and the digger ends up waking up to go on the search for MORE GOLD.
We follow on with a sequence of some montage scenes where the digger is on his horse out to look out for gold in the gulch. He even travels through every part of the world, through canels, and even sledging to a different country just to find gold! I sure like how these sequences lead to exaggeration as though he heard cold over at a different region and even travelling further away. The letters 'GOLD' just popping up are certainly rather effective.
We then head back to the present day as the old timer explains his story about why is it pointless to go out searching for gold. "You're just wasting your time, son. Why I wouldn't go on one of them wild goose chasers for all the gold in the world. No sure bob!'. As he is pointing out some helpful advice to him from one of his experiences - a messenger arrives at the spot.
He announces of gold in such location. The whole gist of the entire cartoon is the old timer tosses the driver out of the car and shouts, 'Whoopie!' and drives off. He drives back to give the driver a message, 'You can have the station' and he drives off with excitement leaving the driver sitting in the middle of the world as he now has been forcefully been given no choice but to take over the gas station.
Overall comments: I find that this cartoon at least has an energetic plot that is going on - whilst the Hardaway-Dalton cartoons really have thin narratives that are usually very weak but here I find it flows rather smoothly. The pacing for the cartoon is rather fine, and it appears to flow by rather smoothly. But overall, my impressions of the cartoon is I find it to be rather average at best. The gags are very plain, and there are a lack of - if any - funny gags, but as I had mentioned there were certainly some very amusing moments. The scenes where there a group of guys that claim a position before each other is certainly a very amusing gag - but I would wonder where Hardaway had contributed to the writing gags on the signs since he loved using that in his cartoons - particularly at Lantz. I have to say that the ending was certainly worth a pass - as the old timer is a big hypocrite and he just leaves his gas station for more gold, and forgetting all of the advice he said, and even going through the whole trouble of searching for gold again. That is certainly something.
There are certainly some nits in there which I would just classify as goofs. I find that the time gap between the present day and the Gold Rush of 1849 to be a way too long gap as the old timer certainly doesn't look very old at all (unless the story could be get to some 50 years earlier; it would make sense). The hospital scene rather confused me as I would never imagine hospitals need spaced and clean at ALL in 1849. Overall, I find that it was a rather good attempt of bringing a cartoon story that was set during the California Gold Rush. It sort of feels like the skeleton of Tex's Gold Diggers of '49 was used in this cartoon - but mainly for searching gold but much of it is pretty much all original. But comparing both, I like Gold Diggers a lot better. With that aside, I have to say that the quality of this cartoon certainly needs some freshening up as its lived in public domain condition for years.
Friday 28 December 2012
Release date: February 18, 1939.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig) and Billy Bletcher (Porky's Boss).
Story: Warren Foster.
Animation: Norm McCabe.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky's dog ends up following Porky to the rubber factory - until he already ends up caught in many episode problems.
Although the Warner Bros. cartoons were already growing, they were also adding in some new characters who would regularly appear in the cartoons. Porky and Daffy already had that, and even in the Sniffles cartoons so it could possibly attract more audience members by adding in regular characters.
That is an awesome design for the Flooky the rubbery dog there as it looks really cartoony and appealing. I love the fluidity of the animation where he scratches and he pulls a flea out of his body. A very cutesy looking flea there that he has pulled out.
Porky walks out of the house as he is on his way to work as he works for a rubber company. Flooky follows him along to work without Porky's noticing and even appears to copy Porky's quirks as he walks.
As Porky and Flooky walk down to the hill to where he works there is a sign at the door that reads 'No Dogs Allowed'. Porky finishes off that quirky walk (as he appears to stop and use some movement with steps) before he enters the factory. As he is about to enter - the dog walks through his legs and the Porky grabs his tail and tries to stop him from entering. He then warns Flooky he would lose his job and he ties his tail to a hook so he wouldn't escape. The music in the background is Mutiny in the Nursery which is one of my favourite Stalling cues. After the door closes - the dog then digs his way to the ground to enter the factory.
Porky: Good morning, boss.
Boss: What's good about it? Get to work!
Porky walks over to do his job. The walrus then pulls the machine as there is a bulldozer that moves in perspective to pick up and munch some rubbery items. The bulldozer then grabs out (and I like how it looks like a mouth) and reads the rubbery tree.
There is a very juicy and appealing animated shot as the crawler then munches up the tree like good and then has hands sticking out like chewing gum which is a very appealing animated scene where you can feel how juicy and fluid the animation is. It's also a rather wacky gag to actually give the dirt digger some personality there. I also love how that it then spits out the rubber out of the mouth and it lands inside a waffle iron. Porky opens up the iron and the complete tire is revealed; and it certainly is some clever and inventive ideas on how to create a tire.
Meanwhile Porky is having his lunch break and he opens his lunchbox to have a slice of some cherry pie. Flooky arrives at the spot and barks. Porky has a jump and then the cherry pie lands on his face. Porky then spots exit and warns him to leave at the exit but Flooky is not uninterested and just licks the pie off Porky.
As he walks on - Porky trips because of the car attached to his tail and it beeps - the dog already tries to 'hush' the car to stop which is certainly a funny effect. The dog then tiptoes out of the scene and is standing on a stool as he is walking around the factory. As he doesn't look where he is going - he ends up falling and splashes off-screen. Some good timing there with the dog falling as we saw the splash.
Flooky then ends up inside a barrel full of rubberising solution and of course, as he accidentally swallows it. It causes him to act so strangely like he wraps a tongue around his head. Afterwards he then tips over the barrel as it splashes.
He picks himself up and then starts to stick himself out of the solution. As he walks - his legs and body all start to move rubbery which is some very fun animation animated there by Bobe Cannon. As he walks on and his legs continue to wobble - his whole body then shoots up in the air automatically and then he crashes down again. He keeps on bouncing.
This is certainly a Clampett celebration for his black and white cartoons with animation experiments. Here, Clampett is engaged with a typical sequence he would come up with (as we saw many times of this in earlier cartoons) and yet he comes up with cool ideas. Afterwards; the dog realises that he can stretch his whole skin and he stretches the skin on his face which is all kooky animation. He then forms different heads into celebrity heads for laughs - he forms into Edward G. Robinson, Edna May Oliver, Clark Gable and even Hugh Hebert.
It then causes some more trouble as his feet step back down again and he ends up bumping around all over the place and crashing as well. After all the bumping, he ends up caught inside a bottle that also attached is a funnel.
He notices that his own head is caught in the bottle and he uses a lot of his strength to try and get the bottle off his head. After setting the bottle from his head free - he then has to deal with the funnel. He does so with success but he flies out of scene. He then has his own body caught up on the stairs, and as his body is so rubbery his body is in line with the stairs. The dog then walks out with his body caught in a zigzag form which is rather cool.
The boss then arrives as he is already carrying some tires - and finally, something is actually going to happen in the cartoon that is another character as we have focused on almost two minutes of just antics. The boss and the dog are about to talk towards each other but instead the boss walks up the steps of the dog's body and ends up falling.
After the fall, he finds that he has tires that are covering him. He notices that it is a dog and burns up about the fact there are dogs inside the factory. He then gets up as he shouts out, "I hate dogs!". After that tone there is a scared hot dog lying in the table that becomes afraid of that tone, and believing he is going to be attacked. Now that is just a wacky gag that would usually go beyond me - even though the pun is silly.
The boss then finds the dog who is inside the factory and we follow on with a typical chase sequence. There is a scene where the boss grabs the dog's tail so he can be tossed outside. "Now I got ya!" he shouts, but Flooky is so stretchy that he runs over and bites the boss in the behind. The boss yelps and lets go of the dog where he is knocked over.
The boss then tosses him out of the scene, as Porky approaches asking the boss not to harm him. Mmm, it feels like a while since we last saw Porky Pig, didn't we? So there is a sequence that follows as the boss attempts to toss Flooky out of the factory and then Flooky ends up hitting the tree and then back into the factory.
So - the boss pushes Porky out of the way as he tries to save his pet but the boss just tries to toss him out of the window but fails each time. The boss them thinks of an idea as he tosses him out and looks out the window. While it worked for a few seconds, Flooky just shoots straight through the door. This then causes the walrus to fly inside the waffle iron as he steams up. Afterwards - he has a tire that is on his body as he looks at the audience rather worried.
However, I do find that the pacing of the story is certainly slowed down as the scenes with the dog going through a lot of accidental antics does go on for too long and almost takes up about half of the cartoon's running time - even though the cartoon falls rather short, it felt impossible for the writers to come up with a whole story of Porky's job in the rubber factory. Some of the Carl Stalling music cues of this cartoon are one of my favourites ever like Mutiny on the Nursery which is a really catchy tune. Overall, I find that this cartoon is one of the stronger 1939 cartoons.