Short Film: Celebrate Porky Pig Creator Bob Clampett’s Centennial with ‘A Corny Concerto’

Why Watch? For starters, Bob Clampett was kind of a big deal and today is the 100th anniversary of his birthday. He directed cartoons for Warner Bros. from 1937 to 1947, a decade of boundlessly entertaining work. He was also a somewhat controversial character, mostly due to his insistence that he had created Bugs Bunny all on his own. That turns out to be entirely unfounded, of course, but at least Porky Pig was definitely his. The two of them face off in the first half of A Corny Concerto, the first time in WB history that two major characters shared a cartoon.

The whole thing is a parody of Walt Disney’s work, Fantasia in particular. Elmer Fudd takes on the role of musicologist and conductor, rising from behind the orchestra to introduce “Tales from the Vienna Woods” in the style of Fantasia‘s Deems Taylor. He later returns for the second segment, “The Blue Danube.” The first of these Johann Strauss II waltzes is paired with a classic Bugs Bunny versus the hunter cartoon, with Porky Pig taking over for Fudd. It plays like a rambunctious ballet, the animation playfully interacting with the music. The same is true of the second segment, a direct parody of Disney’s Oscar-winning The Ugly Duckling (1939). The duckling in question is said to be Daffy Duck as a baby, though I’m not sure I buy that.

The split format and the obvious parody make this a bit of an oddity for Clampett, and the Warner Bros. studio as a whole. Yet its skillful musicality and sense of vaguely anarchic fun is a sign of the direction the studio would go after World War II, with Clampett’s former friend and biggest rival Chuck Jones taking the lead.

What Will It Cost? Just about 8 minutes.

Trust us. You have time for more short films.

Daniel Walber is a freelance critic living in Brooklyn. He holds a MA in cinema studies from New York University, loves any movie under 80 minutes, and is gay for Bette Davis.

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