The Second World War is raging abroad and like most Americans at home Porky Pig is doing his duty as best he can. The story I am about to recount is one of hard work and perseverance…and distraction, a story which resulted in the only Porky Pig cartoon to receive an Academy Award nomination as Best Short Subject (Cartoons). This story’s title is Swooner Crooner, a Merrie Melodies cartoon on the Gold Ribbon reissue version, but I believe this was originally from the Looney Tunes series. Swooner Crooner was directed by Frank Tashlin, produced by Leon Schlesinger Productions and released by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Porky is going about his business at the Flockheed Eggcraft Factory where he supervises hens that lay eggs for the war effort. After the eggs are laid Porky gathers them, places them is containers and ships them off to wherever they’re needed as the above image illustrates.
One day as he’s going about his business Mr. Pig notices the chickens are suddenly distracted from their laying duties. The nests no longer hold chicken, but rather signs that read “absentee.” Porky rushes outside and sees the chickens swooning and fainting to Frankie, a handsome rooster with an incredible voice singing “It Can’t Be Wrong.” Frankie is made to look and sound like Frank Sinatra so no wonder the hens are losing it. When he starts his rendition of “As Time Goes By” forget it! They start laying eggs all over the place!
Out of his wits Porky gets the idea that the answer to his egg-producing woes is to hire another crooner so he puts an add in the paper announcing auditions. The list of talent that show up is impressive. You have the likes of Nelson Eddy, Al Jolson, Rudy Vallee, Jimmy Durante and Cab Calloway. All in rooster form, of course. Porky’s not satisfied with any of them, but then the Bing Crosby rooster shows up. Calling himself “The Old Groaner” Bing turns out to be the answer to Frankie. When the hens get a load of the Old Groaner they start laying more eggs. As soon as Frankie notices his competition the two go at it in a crooner-a-thon and the hens’ production increases exponentially. By the mountain full actually.
When next we see Flockheed Eggcraft Factory it’s dusk and there are hills of eggs as far as the eye can see. An excited and appreciative Porky asks the roosters how they did it to which both Frankie and the Groaner respond by demonstrating their talents.The result is Porky himself laying a mountain of eggs. The lesson here is that we should never underestimate the power of the crooner.
Porky Pig delivers a great performance in this piece. I should mention that Porky does particularly well in farm settings as I remember another fine performance of his from An Egg Scramble (1950) in which he is again the manager of a farm having to deal with a hen and her lackluster egg laying. That’s one for another time though. The hens in Swooner Crooner are particularly worthy of mention given they do a bang up job of laying eggs on cue, which is never an easy task. The various roosters in Swooner Crooner also add to the fun of the piece. While not voiced by the persons they are imitating the voice actors got each and every one of them right on point. All the songs included in the cartoon are terrific too.
For all of the reasons noted above I chose Swooner Crooner as One of My All-Time Favorite Cartoons and my choice for the Blogathon of the same name hosted by Movie Movie Blog Blog. Be sure to visit the blogathon to read about more animated favorites.
That’s all folks!!
What a hoot! Animators have loved taking off on Frankie, from Tex Avery’s LITTLE ‘TINKER to WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT. I gotta check this one out. Thanks for contributing this to the blogathon!
I love the characterizations of Bing and Frank, but boy that ending makes me groan. Good ol’ Porky. I consider him the most underrated character actor of his generation.
This sounds really good! I just took out the Looney Tunes collection from the library so I’ll see if it is included.
The ending is actually a stinker, but the cartoon is still a hoot.