Definitions

Dark Africa

Porky in Wackyland

Porky in Wackyland is a 1938 animated short film, directed by Robert Clampett for Leon Schlesinger Productions as part of Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes series.

In this film Porky Pig goes hunting through a surreal Salvador Dalí-esque landscape to find the Do-Do Bird for a very large bounty. In 1994 it was voted #8 of The 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field and in 2000 was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress, who has selected the short for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Plot

A newspaper shows Porky traveling to Africa to hunt the rare dodo bird, worth four sextillion dollars. Porky uses his airplane to go to Dark Africa, then Darker Africa, and finally lands in Darkest Africa (per the route shown in the cartoon, somewhere in the vicinity of the Sudan). When Porky lands, a sign tells him that he's in Wackyland ("Population: 100 nuts and a squirrel"). Soon he sees many strange, weird, and oafish creatures around.

Suddenly, the last dodo of the dodo species appears. Porky tries to catch the dodo, but the dodo plays tricks on him. Finally, Porky, disguised as a newspaperman, claims that Porky captured it. As the dodo is captured, he and hundreds of dodos confirm this.

Humor

The film is celebrated for its surreal humor, such as when Porky is chasing the bird, it disappears and suddenly the Warner Brothers shield emerges from the horizon's vanishing point, as it typically did at every cartoon's beginning, and complete with the standard stretched "boing" of the steel guitar. The Do-Do comes from behind the shield to bop Porky on the head and we see the shield immediately turn to return to the horizon with the bird riding it there (with, consequently, the boing sound played in reverse). The Do-Do character is much like the very early Daffy Duck in voice and mannerisms.

Among the crazy characters Porky encounters is a creature with three heads arguing amongst themselves. From the haircuts on the three heads, it is clear that this is a parody of The Three Stooges. The character then faces the camera and leans into it in such a way that their round heads form a triangle, and a small character explains to the audience that, "He says his mama was scared by a pawnbroker's sign!"

Follow-ups and derivative works

Much of the Wackyland sequence was adapted and reused by Clampett for inclusion in his 1943 short Tin Pan Alley Cats. A color remake of Porky in Wackyland was supervised by Friz Freleng in 1948. Re-titled Dough for the Do-Do, the remake released in 1949. The films were nearly identical, in many cases appearing to match frame-by-frame in certain details, albeit with Porky's appearance updated and the voices having evolved, and many of the backgrounds being different. Some new animation not in the original version, including scenes from Tin Pan Alley Cats was added as well. Dough for the Do-Do was produced in Technicolor, but was originally released in Cinecolor due to a dispute with the Technicolor corporation. Later reissues were printed by Technicolor. The one difference in storyline is the ending,where Porky dresses as another dodo, announces himself to be the last dodo. The dodo handcuffs himself to Porky, claiming "I've got the last Dodo!" and runs with Porky to claim the reward. Porky reveals himself, and still handcuffed to the dodo, runs off with him, now proclaiming "I-I've got the last D-D-Dodo!" Once they disappear over the horizon, scores of dodos appear to confirm this. There were at least two TerryToons plagiarizations of Porky in Wackyland in the 1940s or 50's. Dingbat Land (1949) starred Sourpuss and Gandy Goose. The role of the Do-Do was taken by a minor Terry character, Dingbat. The second film, a more direct plagiarization of the Porky Pig/Do-Do cartoons, starred a British hunter and a Do-Do stand-in. The creature didn't talk, but made strange hooting noises, and flung flames from a tuft of hair on top of its head.

Tex Avery, for whom Clampett worked as an animator in the mid-1930s, borrowed strongly from this cartoon for his 1948 MGM cartoons Half-Pint Pygmy (in which the characters, George and Junior, travel to Africa in search of the world's smallest pygmy, only to discover that he has an uncle who's even smaller) and The Cat That Hated People (where the cat travels to the moon and encounters an array of characters similar to those in Clampett's Wackyland, e.g., a pair of gloves and lips that keep saying "Mammy, mammy", just like the Al Jolson duck in Porky in Wackyland). Clampett would again use the Three Stooges parody when a later creation of his, Beany and Cecil, faced the "Dreaded Three-Headed Threep".

According to writer Paul Dini, the Do-Do Bird is the father of Gogo Dodo, a character on the 1990s animated TV series Tiny Toon Adventures. A small clip from the film was used in a Slappy Squirrel segment on another Warners animated TV series of the 1990s Animaniacs. The segment, titled "Critical Condition", featured Porky in Wackyland as part of a fake Laserdisc release. The Do-Do Bird has made occasional guest spots in the DC Comics Looney Tunes comic book, being colored in grayscale as opposed to the rest of the art being in color.

Censorship

  • The Nickelodeon version of this cartoon (which was computer-colorized when it aired on "Looney Tunes on Nickelodeon") cut the brief scene of the black duck saying, "Mammy, mammy," as it walks past Porky.
  • When this cartoon was distributed by Guild Films in the 1950s, the scene of the Do-Do popping into frame on the WB shield and slingshotting Porky into the ground was cut. This was done because Warner Bros. did not want to be associated with television at that time.
  • When "Dough for the Do-Do" aired on ABC, the black duck and the Do-Do using a slingshot against Porky while clinging from the WB shield were deleted, as was the three-headed freak slapping and eye-poking itself.

Notes

References

  • Beck, Jerry and Friedwald, Will (1989): Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons. Henry Holt and Company.

See also

External links

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