Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Two Long Pigs

The story’s a little ill-conceived in spots, but there’s some nice work in “Alley to Bali,” a 1954 Woody Woodpecker cartoon directed by Don Patterson. Some effective layouts, good use of colour and Clarence Wheeler’s arrangements (or whoever was arranging for him) are highlights. And some of the animation’s pretty good, too. Herman Cohen, Ray Abrams and Ken Southworth aren’t known for being A-listers, but Cohen and Abrams were animating in the ‘30s and Southworth worked at Disney (in 1940, he was an office clerk for a wholesale grocer in Chicago).

There’s a really interesting speed/outline effect in this cartoon. I couldn’t tell you who drew it. Woody and Buzz Buzzard are sailors—deemed edible “long pigs” to some echoing volcano god in Indonesia. They’re lured to the volcano by the god’s female servant (using her femininity as bait).

Buzz rushes over top of Woody to get to the woman, but he consists of mutliple outlines.

Then Woody stretches back and he becomes a multiple outlines as races after Buzz.

The effect is used later when Homer Brightman’s story suddenly, and misguidedly, plays the dramatic climax for laughs. Somehow a frying pan is conjured up, Woody and Buzz land in it, there’s a salt-and-pepper-shaker gag, a temporary-transformation-into-sausage gag, then both become multiple outlines as they make a dash for it.

Yeah, that’s the creative way they get out of their predicament. They just run away. Nice going, Homer.

Patterson got bumped back into animating when producer Walter Lantz hired Tex Avery, then when Avery left, he wasn’t rehired to direct; Lantz brought in Alex Lovy from one of the commercial houses. Nothing against Lovy, but it’s too bad Patterson didn’t get a second shot.


  1. Even going back to the Ben Hardaway story period, Lantz cartoons habitually struggled mightily to come up with strong endings. This one's no exception.

    (Also, it's one of the great mysteries of animation history why, when given a chance to get Avery, Lantz decided to demote Patterson instead of Paul J. Smith. It might not have made a long-term difference in the studio's output, but Patterson's shorts from the mid-50s are the ones most people remember, and while Smith's early work was decent (not great), once you get past "Niagara Fools" it's hard to think of a Smith short that rises anywhere above 15-plus years of six-minute time-fillers).

  2. "Termites From Mars" is my favorite '50s Woody cartoon. Love the channel-hopping interrupting news anchor, and Woody being zapped into his "outline" which becomes unfurled by a termite alien. Great job by Patterson.

    I concur-what was Lantz thinking?

  3. 11/14/12
    RobGems.ca wrote:
    Many Lantz cartoon fans wonder over the years why Lantz continued the fair-to mediocre direction of Paul Smith instead of Don Patterson. One or two confessions may be this: Smith was a family freind of Lantz's who knew him since the 1920's,and even had Smith's sister employed at Lantz's studio during the 1960's. Second: Smith was believed to be going blind near the end of his reign as a director (cira 1967-72,continuing until Smith's death in 1980.) Because he was a faithful & devoted partner over the years for Lantz, this is probably why Lantz kept Smith on the payroll until the end of the theatrical series in 1972,even though the worse Smith's bad-to failing eyesight had occured, the worse his sense of sight and direction got. Lantz decided not to discriminate Smith's crippling blindness by continuing to let him work at the studio, even if his work got more & more mediocre during the 1960's. It was all out of loyalty. On the other hand, Patterson was a well-respected director/animator who probably never recovered from Tex Avery's sudden departure from Lantz's studio in 1955;Either that or it was a financial dispute.

  4. Ohh, some of the posing is pretty flexible and it's really GOOD too, you sure won't find this kind of life and vitality in any other directors films at Lantz AFTER this period that's for sure, with some exceptions.