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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is an extremely funny short most effectively done in black and
white and directed by Frank Tashlin. Because I want to cover some of
the gags in this, here's a spoiler warning:
Porky and company are called out to fight a fire at a boarding house for performers. While the fire is a problem, Porky has at least as much trouble with one of his fellow firemen, a slow moving, slow talking dog whose ideas on firefighting are eccentric, to say the least! The gags come fairly fast and furious here, mostly having to do with fighting the fire, such as Porky running toward the fire with a water bucket, only to have the fire take the bucket away from him and throw the water on Porky.
Among those in the boarding house who come out are an old man with his leg in a cast who says he's okay, but that they need to save Grandpa! He then jumps and uses his beard as a parachute and an acrobatic troupe which jumps out of the building and land in formation.
As for the dog, he has his own theme music which fits his movements and he causes no end of trouble. He goes up to a window where a woman is screaming for help and, when she tells him to "put me on the street", he picks her up, holds her out and then drops her! He also plays a trick on Porky involving a fire hydrant and a seltzer bottle.
There's a really nice montage of repeated action toward the end which showcases a lot of the funniest gags. The ending is very good, so I won't spoil it here. This short is available on Looney Tunes, Volume 4 and is well worth viewing. Recommended.
If you thought that cartoon gags had gone as far as they could, just
watch "Porky the Fireman". Whether the fire spells out messages, water
from the fire hose plays Whack-a-Mole with the fire in the windows, or
one character seriously needs his hearing fixed, the whole cartoon goes
to show that nothing was sacred to the Termite Terrace crowd.
OK, so maybe we could also be cynical and say that Warner Bros. spent about the first four years of Porky Pig's existence mostly putting him in various kinds of roles just for the hell of it (aside from this one, he was also an engineer, pilgrim, bullfighter, etc.). But seriously, with the sorts of gags that these cartoons had, how can you not like them at least some?! I will say that Porky and the other characters really started getting some of their best roles in the early '40s, but this is still worth seeing, if only as a historical reference.
...One of his better ones actually. The animation is fluid and detailed, the fire effects are very inventive and the camera angles once again shows a director who knows how to direct his material and do it expertly. It's that particularly that makes one wish that Tashlin was better known. The music is jaunty and very beautifully orchestrated, the dog's theme matched his movements brilliantly. The gags are literally at least 5-laughs-a-minute, and luckily even at such a fast pace all the gags work wonderfully, the best being hilarious and the dog bagging the best moments. The story is always fun and not too predictable. Porky is good and amuses in how inept he is at his job, though the stronger and more charismatic is the dog, his manner is perhaps too relaxed for such a potentially life-threatening situation but that's what makes him so funny. Mel Blanc as always does a stellar job with the voice acting. Overall, excellent early Porky cartoon and one of his better ones, notable for Tashlin's direction, the humour and the dog. 9/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Porky the Fireman" is a self-explanatory Frank Tashlin-directed Porky
Pig cartoon. Porky and his crew dash off to extinguish the roaring
blazes at a theatrical boarding house, where plenty of funny gags
For me, the major highlight of "Porky the Fireman" is the lackadaisical pipe-chomping dog on Porky's crew. He follows the curvature of a fire hose as he nonchalantly strolls towards Porky and calmly asks him, "What did you say?" "I said turn on the water!!" "Oh." The dog then strolls back to the hydrant. Another time, he slowly climbs a ladder and asks Mabel the Fat Lady, "What did you say?" She responds by frantically coaxing him to save her from the burning building and put her on the street. "Oh." He grabs her and tosses her out the window!
The only remaining question I have regarding "Porky the Fireman" is: What happened to all the firemen at the very end?
Frank Tashlin's 'Porky the Fireman' is one of those excellent early Porky Pig cartoons in which Porky could easily be substituted for a different character. The emphasis here is very much on a series of extremely inventive gags all based around a burning building which Porky's fire brigade is trying to save. Frantically alternating between trying to find a source of water and rescue people from the blazing windows, the firemen finally extinguish the last flame or do they?! 'Porky the Fireman' moves at a real lick, ensuring that if you don't like one gag there'll be another one along immediately. This speedy pace is only broken up by the cartoon's true star, a laid-back, pipe-smoking dog whose terminally relaxed demeanour is entirely incongruous with the situation. Some of the dog's jokes take longer than your average gag but Tashlin treats his material with an assurance which makes certain that the audience will not become bored. The inventive idea of personifying the flames that are destroying the building results in some brilliant moments too. 'Porky the Fireman' dashed my preconceptions about its dull title by proving to be a fast-moving, funny and fresh animated short. Recommended.
In 1935, Disney's MICKEY'S FIRE BRIGADE was a great cartoon. Three years later, under the direction of Frank Tashlin, PORKY THE FIREMAN took the same subject and did it forty times as well. Clocking in at 40 gags per minute, a sensible plot and excellent animation, this movie marked the end of Disney's domination of animation. Three years later, the Clampett satire of FANTASIA, A CORNY CONCERTO, would seal the issue.
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