Pooch the Pup takes his girlfriend and an anthropomorphic camera to the jungle in search of the giant ape, King Klunk. They arrive just as the Hot-Cha tribe is offering one of their own girls to the ape as a sacrifice. King Klunk tries to bite down on her head, but even his enormous fangs can't make a dent in her hard skull. His attention turns to Pete the Pup's girl, whom he snatches up in his huge hand. The ape doesn't know what to make of her until Cupid hits him with an arrow. Suddenly, King Klunk is in love. He even battles a dinosaur to prevent her from getting devoured. During the fight, Pooch takes the opportunity to rescue her. After winning his battle, the ape takes after the fleeing pair, but they defeat him by cracking a giant egg over his head. Soon, Pooch and his girl are exhibiting the giant ape in a big-city theater. Mischievous Cupid reappears to reignite the ape's passion for the girl, which gives him the strength to break his chains and cause some real trouble. Written by
Walter Lantz's amusing cartoon parody of KING KONG
While back issues of Mad Magazine afford us the opportunity to study contemporary movie parodies since the 1950s, KING KLUNK, produced by the Walter Lantz animation unit at Universal Pictures, gives us a rare opportunity to see what happens when a famous monster film from 1933, KING KONG, is parodied in a nine-minute cartoon the same year. The hero here is Pooch the Pup, billed prominently in the credits, a dog character apparently modeled on Bimbo from the Betty Boop cartoons. He plays a filmmaker who journeys to the island of King Klunk with his unnamed light-colored female dog girlfriend. He takes with him a camera fastened to a tripod, which, in the fashion of cartoons of the era, walks on its own through the jungle.
The natives on the island are portrayed in the typically stereotyped big-lipped fashion of cartoon "cannibals" in the 1930s. However, this cartoon does something really interesting in the midst of the racial stereotyping. You may recall that in KING KONG, the island natives had picked a girl from their village to be sacrificed to Kong, but once they spot blonde Fay Wray they completely forget about the native girl, who's never seen or heard from again in the film. Well, this cartoon doesn't forget her. When giant gorilla King Klunk spots Pooch's girlfriend, he decides he'd rather have her than the native sacrifice, so he deftly picks up the girlfriend as she's walking behind Pooch and replaces her with the native girl, all without alerting Pooch who then takes the native girl's hand. When Pooch turns and sees her and reacts with shock, the native girl declares "Goona," presumably the word in her language for love, and begins chasing Pooch with great ardor.
The action quickly shifts to the pursuit of Klunk and Pooch's girl and includes a fight between Klunk and a dinosaur, as in the original, and an encounter between Klunk and a dinosaur egg, followed quickly by a voyage to New York, Klunk in chains on a Broadway stage, and Klunk's rampage through the city. (Just as Kong indiscriminately chomped on New Yorkers or dropped them to their deaths on the street below, Klunk picks up handfuls of fleeing pedestrians and tosses them off to the side.) Klunk takes Pooch's girlfriend again and climbs with her to the top of a building identified only as the "Broken Arms." Pooch takes to the air in a plane and combats Klunk singlehanded.
In the final shot, the native girl makes a surprise return appearance with a gag bit that clearly broke a prevailing racial taboo of the era. It's quite a clever and subversive bombshell in an otherwise uninspired and not very funny cartoon.
Klunk himself is, for the most part, a growling, drooling, fanged gorilla monster and, despite being hit with a native Cupid's arrow, is never quite convincing as the lovestruck ape Kong was in the live-action film. The match with the dinosaur is fun, though, with Pooch providing blow-by-blow commentary. This cartoon is found in the "Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection" DVD box set.
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