Tuesday, 29 December 2015

390. Ding Dog Daddy (1942)

Warner cartoon no. 389.
Release date: December 5, 1942.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Friz Freleng.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Pinto Colvig (Goofy Dog), Mel Blanc (Birds), Sara Berner (Female dog).
Story: Ted Pierce.
Animation: Gerry Chiniquy.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: A dim-witted, lonesome dog falls in love with a greyhound statue - but has to avoid a guarding bulldog.

Perhaps what made Friz Freleng the director he is today was his reliance to sticking to typical animated cliches and taking advantage of it in creating an effective and funny animated cartoon. In this case, he uses a dimwitted personality for the protagonist, and a mute bulldog which he has used numerous times in animated cartoons. With that combined, it has the elements of a classic Warner Bros. cartoon.

For a story so absurd, the casting and team fit perfectly. Pinto Colvig provides the main voice for the dim-witted dog - giving it a Goofy persona which is standard casting. Ted Pierce's uncanny ability to conceive a preposterous idea for a story and making it work is all the more evident here, thus giving Freleng and his animators a lot of opportunities.

As far as character personalities go, they're almost entirely reused. The dog bearing some resemblance to Willoughby the dog, despite a different character design. The bulldog design also bears a lot of similarities to the dog in Double Chaser. With the two personalities coinciding, it's bound to create some great conflict.

The opening sequence is a great case for the audience to sympathise with the protagonist. It is mating season at the park, and the dimwitted dog is feeling the love as he nosily watches two lovebirds on a limb about to mate. One lovebird turns back disturbed and snubs him, "Let's not get nosey, bud!".

Embarrassed, the dog turns his eyes on an elegant looking greyhound who promenades through the park. The dog cuts her path and hopelessly asks her out, chuckling sheepishly and foolishly. The female dog snubs him again by mocking his laugh and responding bluntly: "Nah, I wouldn't like to be your girl!".

The following dissolve shot creates a fitting pathetic fallacy to fit with the character's emotions. From the opening shots, the background skylight is bright and handsome. In the next scene of the dog walking away dejectedly - the sky is bleak and melancholy. Stalling's cue of Blues in the Night fits the scenario well.

Just as he walks past a well-formed estate he finds the match he is looking for - an inanimate greyhound statue. With his heart metaphorically ticking, he immediately falls in love. As a dimwitted personality, it's impossible to not feel sorry for the character: whose loneliness outcasts him, and how his only match happens to be inanimate.

Freleng's comedic timing is put to excellent use as the story gets more wacky. As though falling in love with a greyhound statue wasn't enough; lightning strikes the statue the moment he kisses it - creating an electrifying and erotic effect for the dog. The timing of the dog's electric shock has a very jerky feel - though the swiftness makes it believable.

The erotic behaviour of the dog afterwards creates a hilarious, cringeworthy piece of character animation that gives the dog some added character. The dog bounces with a lot of enthusiastic energy, and then lands on the flower beds freely throwing the flowers out with joy. It's a amusingly-conceived gag that recurs several times in the short.

Freleng and Stalling's timing of the flowers to Mendelssohn sets the carefree spirit and mood of the dog wonderfully. Alerted by the dog's presence, a vicious bulldog runs to the spot. Not taking notice of the bulldog, the guard dog plants a beware sign next to him to get the hint. The dimwitted dog double-takes and flees from the estate. For a story that seems to centre on the dog's hopeless romance, this creates an all-new dilemma: to outwit the guarding bulldog.

Animated by Phil Monroe
In an attempt to get back into the estate, the dog conceives his first plan. He attempts to pull off a stunt by placing a newspaper between at bottom of the gate. Then he attempts to remove the locked key from the other side of the doorknob with a pencil, hoping it would land on the newspaper; so he can open the gate.

The dog brags about how he "seen this done in a feature picture once." It's a funny bit of satire on individuals being easily influenced by stunts in motion picture that isn't liable to work - making it even more ironic for an animated character.

The trick indeed goes wrong when he pulls back the newspaper, to find the bulldog on top of it - glaring at him. The dog double takes and runs to another side and finds another gate. He peeps through another keyhole - but finds further trouble. The POV shot of the dog staring into the bulldog's eye is an incredibly dynamic and beautiful layout; adding depth to the peril.

For the following sequences, Freleng takes full advantage with comic timing and staging for potentially funny gags. The comedic timing of the two dogs accidentally kissing each other on the lips has a perfect and spontaneous pace to it. The following shot of the bulldog snarling and anticipating an attack, however, is awkwardly sluggish.

Not long after, this follows into a complex piece of staging and layout, as the dog buries himself underground and revealing himself as a mould of dirt as he flees around the garden.

Animated by Gerry Chiniquy
The dog momentarily digs his way through the water fountain, until he realises the possible consequences and escapes. Quiet a feat to make a gag effect like that work with a heavy reliance of effects animation.

The dog's dimwittedness takes its toll in an old cliched gag when he unknowingly has the bulldog sitting on top of him as he tiptoes through the garden inconspicuously. To add to the dog's stupidity, when the bulldog gets knocked out from a tree limb, the dog pulls him back up and continues to tiptoe. Upon realising the bulldog is on top of him, he goes into a quiet state of shock which is captured effectively and hilariously in a close-up of his head ticking, courtesy of the masters of Freleng and Stalling at work. He takes some aspirin pills to decrease the effect.

After outwitting the dog and reuniting with the greyhound statue, he discovers it is being carted away for scrap metal (it was the war, y'know). This follows by an incredibly effective montage sequence of the factory. If Freleng exceeded in comic timing and cartoon formulas, he also did brilliantly at creating elaborate, dynamic shots for automated factories.

For a sequence that's supposed to be largely mechanical and repetitive, Freleng takes no slack at all to give it a rich, unique feel. He evens adds the occasional gag for a cartoon's sake; such as the timing of the factory's chimney smoke synchronised to Beethoven.

For a director who is criticised by Clampett fanboys for being "bland"..this sequence has clearly been overlooked. On the other hand, it creates a suspenseful sequence for the dimwitted dog as he shouts out "Daisy" all over the factory. The layout shot of the dog overlooking the mass load of bullets is a beautiful portrayal to his struggle and anxiety of finding the statue.

In a climatical scene, the dimwitted dog mournfully cries of the apparent loss of "Daisy".  He blubbers, "I guessed I lost ya, Daisy! I'll never see you again!" At that moment, a bullet slides down and lands on the dog's arms - with Daisy's name engraved on it. .

The following scene the dog is astonished and upset of the apparent changed appearance, but is still in love, making up for a bittersweet reunion. Just as he kisses the bullet - it detonates.

The final gag is a decent pay off to the recurring gag that occurred during the cartoon featuring the dog's wild erotic reactions. The dog reaction makes him bellow: "She hasn't changed a bit" as he bounces around with excitement as the cartoon irises out.

As funny as the one-hit character might be, the dim-witted personality still feels somewhat more tragic rather than comedy relief. The opening scenes of the dog receiving rejection is surprisingly poignant. It's also hard to not feel sorry for the character whose love is hopeless and easily falls for a greyhound statue, making his ignorance more pitiful than charming. With little issues asides, it results in a fun Ted Pierce story which may be episodic, but all ties together. Friz sticks to certain cliches as far as gags go but has the ability to refine them to make it more innovative and less amateurish.

Rating: 3.5/5.


  1. The dumb hero, whether voiced by Colvig, Mel or Avery from "Of Fox and Hounds" on, was always made lovably dumb, but never more sympathetic than in this cartoon. Most of the other cartoons use the personality as an immediate starting point for the classic Warners dolt-vs.-sharpster battle, but from the sneering female wolfhound to the echoy cries of loss in the munitions plant, Freleng really asks us to not just relate with the dog's problem, but to feel the consequences of his mental slowness (rejection and loss). Quite a lot of twists and turns for Friz to pack into seven minutes (and really, he gets more pathos out of Colvig's basic Goofy persona here than the personality animation masters at Disney ever even tried to squeeze out of the character in any of their shorts).

  2. The title refers to a song, "Ding Dong Daddy from Alabam'."

  3. I'm sure you've already known but Bodek610 is uploading better quality pre-48 shorts, sourced from TV Puls 2.

  4. This cartoon is somewhat like another greyhound (but not the bus line) and duck decoy one earlier, the duck one, "A Coy Decoy"(1941, Clampett), with Daffy, and the still seven years-away "The Greyhounded Hare"(1949, McKimson), starring Bugs Bunny, since someone falls in love with inanimate objects, with Clampett, as only he could, having Daffy actually MARRY AND PROCREATE with that decoy, though it's the only one of these three that ends like that ("You! And your education!!"),though Daffy and Bugs do seem out of character in that role...SJC

  5. And apologies \if my posting is not really welcomed but I'm sure that I made in interesting point and hope everyone had a merry christmas and will have a happpy new year.