Sunday, January 24, 2016

Rally 'Round the Casting Office, Boys!

Our next Looney Tunes cartoon is an average affair called Yankee Doodle Daffy... and yet, this one's a childhood favourite?  Why?  How?  How could such a perversion of the path to a normal life take place?  Well, I mostly had access to what was shown on the T.V. at the time, logging as many hours on the VCR as I could, with new tapes magically appearing courtesy of my parents.  Ah, childhood.  When I was growing up, all the cool kids huddled around Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album in fourth grade, something they probably wouldn't admit to today.  No, they all love Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus, just like their kids now do.
But back to me.  This is my blog, damn it.  I think what started my lifelong love affair with Yankee Doodle Dandy... I mean, Daffy... was, of course, Daffy's banjo solo.  For audiophiles like myself, it's the kind of thing you have to listen to more than once.  With audio, it's not all about first impressions.  Sure, the first impression draws you in and all, which is why you want to listen to something a third and fourth time.  Now, the songs of Justin Bieber, for example... usually a first time is more than plenty.
Or maybe it's the simplicity of the plot of Yankee Doodle Daffy that's so refreshing.  Dramatic conflict at its simplest.  Porky's got a job as a casting agent and, much like Oliver Hardy, all he wants is to get to his golf game and relax.  When in comes Daffy Duck, ruining everything as usual.  Daffy takes every piece of Porky's luggage, one at a time, goes to set it down, and then returns to peddle his wares.  His wares?  The hot young talent on the block, Sleepy Lagoon, if the closed captioning is correct.  Sleepy does a mean trick with his giant purple lollipop, but Daffy seems to do all the performing on Sleepy's behalf in this one.  Sleepy's got a guitar case for said lollipop, incidentally, lol.
And so Porky tries to sit there in his now chair of torture and be a horror-show cooperative Malchik, but it soon becomes entirely unbearable.  Porky tries to escape, but Daffy is one step ahead at every turn, blocking every door and... door.  Dang, but that office's got a lot of doors!
However, Porky's fortunes seem to be about to change.  During the big "I'm a Cowboy, Yessir!" number, where Daffy sings along to the tune of... I don't know... but the IMDb knows!  Dayamn, they're good.  And so, much like the yet-to-be-reviewed and far zanier Draftee Daffy, a safe is used to change the direction of the plot.  However, it's Daffy who ends up in the safe here, with Porky locking him in, spoiler alert, rather than Daffy locking in the Draft Board dwarf, with rather sinister consequences.  I thought safes were easy to get out of!  Go figure.  And so, next scene: Porky's on that plane, breathing a sigh of relief.  For a second there, I forgot about what happens next.  Hint: it's kind of like the plane sequence in Northwest Hounded Police, only with more time to breathe.
Now, Wikipedia and the IMDb are full of a wealth of information, but there's one tibdit of knowledge that they don't have currently... I gotta do everything around here.  See, a long time ago in a simler era, kids, there was a show called "Saturday Night Live."  There was barely an internet, and the scourge of internet video and YouTube had yet to be released from the genie's bottle.  And "Saturday Night Live" had yet to be abbreviated to SNL, much like Kentucky Fried Chicken is now KFC.  Anyway, the great Jeremy Irons hosted the show... my God!  1991?  Oh, I feel so old.  Anyway, one of the last skits of the show... I guess they put the, um, less-loved bits towards the end... was a fake commercial he did for classical tunes that have appeared in cartoons.  As only an actor of his stature could, he informed us that the lyrics of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" were actually "Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!"  Yeah, What's Opera, Doc? always gets cited the most.  But there was one reference that apparently I was the only person in my corner of the West Coast got.  He included a shout-out to the "genuine" lyrics of the William Tell Overture, featuring a clip from the very cartoon I'm reviewing now!  You know, I think I WILL add that to the IMDb!  Maybe not now, but soon.  I'm still a contributor in good standing, I think.  As the old barnyard saying goes, make a nuisance of yourself while you can....... DAMN YOU, JERRY BECK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now, even a slightly dull cartoon like this has to have a finale.  And what a finale.  Daffy says "And now the kid goes into a finale... and WHAT a finale!" ... see how I did that?  And so, we have about eight or nine Daffy Ducks all performing various circus tricks together.  You might notice, however, that some of the Daffies are opaque, and some of them are a little translucent.  That must've been a pain in the ass for the cameraman that day or that week.  So much extra work involved, but it paid off in the long run, like the poor sound engineers who had to endure with Glenn Gould's perfectionism in the recording studio.  As for the glittery pictures of Daffy, well, it makes me think of the old Atari 8-bit computers.  Non-Atari people may want to skip the rest of this paragraph.  Now, the advanced programmers over at Activision, for example, knew how to make multiple player-missiles on different vertical bands of the screen, and not make them glitter.  The programmers over at Atari proper, however, were a little cockier, and we get monstrosities like their take on Ms. Pac-Man, blatantly overusing the four players and four missiles.  I mean, if you're using multiple players and/or missiles for one ghost, they're going to glitter when they cross vertical paths!  Nowadays, the problem is that graphics are just too slow, in my humble opinion.  If you work for Nvidia, don't bother spamming me.  It's true, and you know it.  No amount of machine language trickery will speed up my web browser.
And so, much like non-Atari heads at this point, Porky's had enough of Daffy's salesmanship.  "STOP IT!" Porky says three times, then gives in and decides to see Sleepy Lagoon's act.  Sleepy puts his purple lollipop in its case and goes to work.  I dare not spoil the ending, partly because I didn't even know that it was the great Billy Bletcher supplying his voice.  I'm just still confused about why the Warner Bros. cartoonists would think to do the story of the trials and tribulations of a casting agent like this.  Were they ever afflicted with desperate performers and agents as such?  Well, even Mel Blanc had to get his foot in the door at one point, so perhaps there was some resonance with him.  He'd probably been on both sides of that at one time or another, but more in Porky's shoes when he made it big.  So many copycats trying to take his place.  Ain't it the life, though?

Good double bill with: Duck Soup to Nuts, another Porky v. Daffy affair

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

1 comment:

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