Sunday, November 27, 2011

Also Starring Porky Pig

Daffy-blogging, essay 12 of 15 blog entries on
Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½th Century

Porky Pig in Drip-Along Daffy (1951).
Also Starring Porky Pig

The Space Cadet in
Duck Dodgers (1953).
In Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½th Century (1953), Porky plays the “eager young space cadet,” looking very young for his years.  In his introductory shot, he looks downright baby-ish.

In reality, Porky was the oldest, most-seasoned member of the cast.  Marvin the Martian was a newcomer (first appearing in 1948), Daffy Duck was a long-term dependable star (first appearing in 1937), but Porky was the very first Warner Bros. cartoon superstar, with his initial screen appearance dating back to 1935.

Porky and Daffy as friends in Porky's Pigs Feat (1943).
Porky was an odd candidate for stardom.  His only distinguishing characteristic was his stutter.  Aside from that, his age varied, his weight shifted wildly, and his character changed to fit the short.  But, somehow, stardom was his destiny.  When the Warner Bros. team started having him stutter “Abba-de, abba-de, abba-de, Th-that’s All Folks!” at the close of every
Looney Tune, his immortality was assured.

Porky was always a different kind of star.  Both Daffy and Bugs could easily carry a picture—they had “leading man” personalities.  As parts for Daffy and Bug grew, Porky receded into supporting roles under directors Tex Avery, Frank Tashlin, and Bob Clampett in the 1940s.

Chuck Jones struggled to find a comic personality for Porky that he could identify with.  Through trial and error, Jones eventually decided to stress the role of Porky as an “observer.”  Jones explained this new identity for Porky in his book Chuck Reducks:

“The role became significant in Duck Dodgers, in which (Porky) acts as Daffy’s assistant.  The film’s leading man could not appear heroic unless he had somebody to bounce off of, and a character such as Daffy required someone relatively meek for the role.  Porky, responding on behalf of the audience, makes us realize the true craziness of what we are seeing.”

Marvin the Martian meets his match in Duck Dodgers.
While Daffy and Porky were sometimes teamed as partners in the 1940s, Porky’s new role as a wiser observer appears to have debuted in Drip-Along Daffy in 1950.  Daffy plays the western-type hero and Porky is the stubble-bearded comic relief, riding behind on a donkey.  As with his space cadet in Duck Dodgers, Porky plays the character who can actually read the unfolding situation correctly and win a confrontation with the villain.  In Drip-Along Daffy, Porky defeats villain Nasty Canasta by sending a toy soldier out to fire a gun at him.  In Duck Dodgers, Porky hands a stick of dynamite to Marvin the Martian and the ruse works.

The new Daffy-Porky relationship continued to develop through at least two more excellent Jones Unit cartoons, Deduce, You Say (1956) with Daffy as Dorlock Holmes and Porky as Watkins and Robin Hood Daffy (1957) with Porky as Friar Tuck.

Daffy and Porky in Deduce, You Say (1956).

Daffy and Porky in Robin Hood Daffy (1957).

Reference Sources
Chuck Amuck by Chuck Jones
Chuck Reducks by Chuck Jones
Hollywood Cartoons by Michael Barrier
Looney Tunes: The Ultimate Visual Guide by Jerry Beck
Warner Bros. Animation Art by Jerry Beck and Will Friedwald
7 Minutes by Norman M. Klein
That's All Folks by Steve Schneider
Stepping Into the Picture by Robert J. McKinnon
Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume One DVD set, Duck Dodgers commentary by Michael Barrier
Friends at the IMDb Classic Film message board including Rollo Treadway, Chloe Joe Fassbender, Illtdesq, and Fish Beauty
... and an occasional sneak glance at Wikipedia entries (but always double-checking everything!)

Watch Duck Dodgers...
Purchase Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume One DVD set at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Rent Disc Two of Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume One DVD set at Netflix or other rental service.

© 2011 Lee Price

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