Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Manuel Perez; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on September 20, 1941.
And we bring the month of horror to a close with one more tie-in to the month’s post. What could be more thematically appropriate than a cat at night?
Ah yes, Night. Black as tar dipped in shadows. A time where the absence of light helps you realize how insignificant you really are. How vulnerable. You wouldn’t last three minutes against those who thrive in dark. Might as well sleep so you can manage to avoid the feelings of dread that will consume all empty space available in your mind. Helps that you’re probably exhausted to boot. It is at such a moment we find Porky. The best friend I’ve never personally met due to him being animated and I, not so much.
Murphy’s Law. Always lying in wait. Ready to pounce on the best laid plans of mice, men, salmon, and sea turtles. If you’ve got the gift of life, you’ve got an appointment with this phenomenon. All you have to do is anticipate. It will catch you when you stop. These two forces of nature intersect when an alley cat picks the fence bordering Porky’s domicile as the perfect location to partake in the only kind of wauling he partakes of: caterwauling.
Understandably, Porky is not pleased with the feline crooner. It’s around this time that you will take note (s to you) of that peculiar feeling we call deja vu. We’ve discussed a very similar plot over a decade prior. So, even though this short was the original, you’re liable to see the more polished, colored reimagining first. It hurts me on a spiritual level to have to put Porky down, but the latter cartoon really does everything here, but better.
There’s a few differences. One that I like is when Porky sets out a dish of milk for the cat while he waits with his gun. It remembers that Porky’s patience isn’t the only thing getting exhausted. The cat (That I am now calling ‘Notes’ for obvious reasons.) is able to down the dairy delight without getting a bullet through the cranium. Of course, since cat’s are the natural world’s a-holes, he wakes Porky for no other reason than that it amuses him.
After lulling Porky back to sleep with a lullaby, and placing him back in his bed, he wastes as little as time as possible in turning on the radio, full blast. He leaves to keep in his spirit contained within his body, but doesn’t let up with the songs. Even entering the domicile again to make sure Porky’s ears catch the noise his larynx pitches. It’s hard to sympathize with Notes once he passes such a threshold. At least Sylvester would spend most of his picture’s running time out of Elmer’s place. Makes it easy to wonder why Elmer couldn’t just try ignoring the sound better, and since both are being jerks in their own unique ways, you don’t feel too bad when both end up dead in the end.
Oh! Don’t worry! Freleng and the Frelettes don’t go so far as to let Porky die. But rather than using a more cartoony version of killing, say, blowing a cat up with dynamite, Porky opts to just shoot the kitty. And don’t let Notes’s singing and hamming up his wound make you think he’s faking. Porky just shot a cat through the chest. Your sympathies probably won’t stay with him after such a stunt, regardless of how much you don’t care for cats. It’s pretty out of character for the guy, too. He doesn’t jump to murder as a solution for those who annoy him unless he was already hunting them. At least Porky feels guilt for having to resort to such extreme measures, and from what I was taught before leaving religion behind, that should be enough of a punishment.
Murphy’s law, my friends. It returns with seven of Notes’s nine lives to continue the serenade with total immunity to guns now. (4 and 8 have gone to heaven and hell, respectively.) It’s an ending to be proud of as it stays on the singin’ sextuplets for over thirty seconds. (Gotta let them finish the song. Not like they’ve been singing throughout the rest of the picture.) And with that said, I’ve brought things full circle back to Porky-centric ghost stories. Will the cycle repeat the next time we meet? It wouldn’t be fun if I told you. Wait like the mortal you are. You’ll have a happy Halloween to keep you company.
Favorite Part: Porky is so sleepy that his head hits the pillow before he can lie down properly. It’s up to the rest of his body to get itself into slumber position. Cute; like a child insisting they are not tired and being betrayed by the eyes they thought were on their side.
Personal Rating: 2. The remake really was better in all ways. It kept the best jokes, gave the cat role to someone who had been building a screen presence, fixed the ending to be less horrific and more, you know, funny. It’s the superior product. If there wasn’t slight differences, you’d actually do fine to pretend this didn’t exist.