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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In Bob Clampett's semi-autobiographical cartoon short "The Film Fan", Porky Pig is sent out by his mother to get a bottle of milk and a loaf of bread. Thrilled when he sees a sign at the theatre labeled "Kids Admitted Free", he rushes in. The gags in this one are a little bit repetitive, using puns, caricatures and spoofs of popular films of the time. The best part is at the end, when Mrs. Pig calls the theatre and the manager steps in front of the screen and says "If there is a little boy here who was supposed to get groceries for his mother, he'd better go home right away!" And, of course, every young patron of the theatre immediately dashes home. A great cartoon.
You see corny (and often funny) signs on old cartoons that really make
them fun to watch. For instance, this cartoon wastes no time getting
its gags in early as we get overhead shots of a movie house, which is
making its grand opening today. It's showing the film, "The Broken Leg"
which is "surrounded by a large cast." The side marquee advertises "We
Change Our Shorts Every Day" and "It's Cool Inside: 103 Degrees."
A snooty woman and her snooty poodle walk by the theater with their noses in the air, with the old bag saying, "We nevah go to movies, do we Cuddles?" However, "Cuddles" loses his dignity when he sees an ad for a film featuring a lot of trees, and drags his master into the theater. Yes, cartoons in the 1930s are a bit bizarre.
Anyway, the real story deals with a buddy Porky Pig walking by and seeing "kids admitted free" and literally racing into the theater. From there, we really get the corny materials and we see parodies of the newsreels of the day, such as a story about "from the town of Eightnine, Tenn., we hear that a scientist discovers short-tempered doctors always lose their patients."
There is a funny bit showing germs under a microscope followed by "J. Pretzel Pumpernickle, Retired Baker, Never Spends A Penny Although He No Longer Kneads The Dough."
You get the drift of the humor! As someone who loves puns, I still laughed at this ridiculously corny story about an afternoon at the theater watching coming attractions and the like.
Bob Clampett's 'The Film Fan' is one of the early Porky Pig cartoons in which Porky is still cast as a little boy. Sent on an errand by his mother and told to come straight home, Porky can't resist going to the cinema. So begins another of the many cinema-set Warner Bros. cartoons. 'The Film Fan' has some nice moments in it, especially the visual gags involving sardine-can-like public transport, a deflating building and an arcade crane machine, but for the most part it is overshadowed by Friz Freleng's 'She Was an Acrobat's Daughter' from two years previously. 'The Film Fan' borrows a few gags from that cartoon but doesn't pull them off nearly as well and, overall, it doesn't evoke a sense of being in the cinema like Freleng's cartoon did so well. Also, as is the case with many of his early starring roles, Porky is almost completely unnecessary and barely features between the gags. His sole purpose seems to be to set up the closing gag and to provide the cartoon with a star name, even if that star spends the majority of the cartoon off screen. Nevertheless, Porky fills the role as well as any other character could have done and there's enough good material here (including a very funny spoof of The Lone Ranger towards the end) to make 'The Film Fan' worth a watch, if not exactly worthy of ecstatic recommendation.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Film Fan" is a very good black-and-white Warner Bros. cartoon
directed by the very capable Bob Clampett. Although the lovable Porky
Pig is given star billing in this cartoon, he doesn't really steal the
show. He attends a movie theatre (along with a lot of other little
kids) and enjoys watching the various newsreels and movie clips, which
feature lots of visual gags and wordplay. There's even a nice
caricature of Clark Gable from the mock picture "Gone with the Breeze"!
Here are my favorite moments from "The Film Fan." Porky is quite funny when his body gyrates in all directions upon his discovering that kids are admitted in the theatre for free. A snooty society woman and her dog claim never to go to movies as it is below their dignity, but when the dog spots an ad for a movie titled "The Valley of the Giants: A Story of the Big Trees," he goes hilariously insane! On the big screen, the Masked Marvel and his horse Sterling break into a jive dance and sing "Loch Lomond" while on the trail of desperadoes; one particular kid in the audience fires a slingshot at the screen, and the shot hits the horse!
"The Film Fan" is simply a joyous cartoon. The Porky Pig we see in this film is the Porky that I most admire: sweet, lovable, and dependable, even if he temporarily forgets that his mother sent him on an errand to buy milk & bread and come home right away!
One of the many short cartoons from Porky Pig's early days has him
sneaking into a movie theater chock full of every pun imaginable. I
should identify that these puns are basically groaners that one would
expect to find in math homework or in crossword puzzles. But you gotta
admit that there are some funny ones in there.
Even beyond word jokes, the cartoon never misses an opportunity for a sight gag. Whether it's the guy's legs, or what happens in the Lone Stranger movie, they keep the surprises coming at you at full speed. So, even if "The Film Fan" isn't the greatest cartoon created by the Termite Terrace crowd, you should still at least watch it for some laughs. It's sure to elicit at least some.
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