“Were you havin’ dinner?”
Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Manuel Perez; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on March 29, 1941.
Apart from “Porky in Wackyland,” this might just be the Porky cartoon I’ve seen the most. Because it’s so good, right? No. Because it was always put on VHS tape compilations, due to its public domain status. I’ve seen it on at least five different tapes, and they were all the ugly recolored version. Not a good way to start off my Porky fanboy ways.
Porky is quite the responsible farmer. The weather is nice, so what does he do? Work of course! Plowing his fields, and storing his canned goods. His work ethic spreads to his livestock as well. His chickens lay piles of eggs, and his dog stores his bones. What a hard life. Isn’t there an easier way? Perhaps we should take a peek at the farm across the way there.
This is where our titular bear lives. He’s a lazy, worthless, good-for-nothing sack of sand. So, the most fitting name for him is Landon. (If you got offended by reading that, then you clearly aren’t the guy I’m insulting. I don’t think he can read.) Landon prefers to spend every moment sitting in a chair, singing about how great it is to procrastinate. (I can’t say he doesn’t make it look tempting.) His bad influence spreads, though. His dog can hardly bark at cats, his chickens play mahjong, and his cow reads books. Even the mouse has a hammock.
Still, there is a problem with such a lackadaisical life. Sure, it’s great now, but it’s almost never great later. And time passes. From the lovely, gentle warm days of August, to the one of the worst times to live, January. (I’m aware what month I’m writing in, thank you.) It’s cold, it’s freezing, it’s a miserable time to live through, and the only way you could possibly want to do so is with a full belly. Here’s where Landon’s habits have come back to bite him. He’s got nothing to eat!
All he and his dog can do is imagine the glorious meal they COULD be eating. (You know, was slaughtering his animals not considered work?) Then, there’s a ray of hope. A dog’s nose is phenomenal. Probably only second to sharks and bears. (Awkward.) It catches that telltale whiff. That marvelous scent! THE MOST BASIC, PRIMAL INSTINCT THAT ALL LIVING THINGS ARE AWARE OF! There’s food in the house! To the cans! They search and search, and there efforts are not in vain. They’ve found a bean! And they couldn’t be happier!
Time to eat! Actually, Landon stops his dog from going to town. Not because he’s greedily hoarding their salvation. Quite the opposite in fact. He insists that they say grace and give thanks for finding a means of staving off the grumbling bellies. Very spiritual, but not very practical, for as soon as they have their eyes shut, the mouse from earlier takes it for himself. Landon misses his chance to catch the rodent, and breaks into sobs. Then laughter. Then sobs. (I usually can’t stand the laughing to crying gag. I guess it goes by fast enough to not annoy me.)
The dog decides to get some lines in this picture and points out his master’s decline of sanity. Heck, he wouldn’t be the least bit surprised, if the bear suddenly decided to eat him. Hmm, that IS an idea! Landon is all for it, advancing on his loyal pet with utensils in hand. (His eyes are either closed or gone, but they come back) The poor creature begs for his life, pleading to be spared. (Mel is comedic when his characters get worked up. That man could SHOUT.) Their march takes them all across the way, to Porky’s place. (Who finally shows up again.)
Passing by his window, they spot a lovely feast. Clearly too much for just Porky and his dog to eat. (I’m available.) Landon spares his dog, and they both go to his door to beg. I’ll give the bear credit. He doesn’t invite himself in. He tries to play it innocent, but he can’t even get to the sob story before Porky slams the door on them. Rightfully so! If they aren’t going to take life seriously, then I don’t see why they’d give death much thought. But then, Porky sees his “Love Thy Neighbor” sign, and his conscience begins to prickle. (Be strong, man! I’m sure God wants those bums to suffer! It’s because he loves them!)
Porky gives in, and lets the two inside. They gorge. Later, the bear is plump and happy. (And I won’t lie, as a kid, I thought he ATE Porky. I mean, he pats his stomach whilst saying the pig’s name.) Landon promises to have learnt his lesson, and vows to be a different bear next winter. But wait! Birdsong! Could it be…? Yes! Spring! (Which isn’t much of an upgrade, but it isn’t winter.) Old habits die hard and Landon returns to his porch, to continue wasting time. It’s lucky for him that bears eat grass.
Favorite Part: I like the fact Landon demands they give thanks. Even if it’s just one bean, he’s grateful all the same. It’s a good lesson.
Personal Rating: 3