The Traditional St. Patrick's Day Cartoon

It’s kind of strange that Porky Pig’s last theatrical film as a solo star (after this he would only appear as sidekick to Daffy Duck or Sylvester) should be a phantasmagoric cartoon about stereotypical leprechauns, but maybe not. Porky, being considered kind of a boring character by most of the directors and animators, was often placed in really surreal situations that he could react to without actually, you know, doing anything.

There’s something about the dialogue in films like this that I think is part of a great U.S. comedy tradition, the strange mash-ups of different types of language and the fascination with the way words sound. Many of the writers who wrote like this were New Yorkers, often the children of immigrants, and they would sort of create their own hybrid highbrow/lowbrow language out of all the different types of English they’d heard and read. Michael Maltese was one of the greatest practitioners of this kind of writing, and here he turns his attention to strange pidgin-Irish dialogue (“Now isn’t this sight enough to set the heart crosswise in ye?”) and dialogue that sounds like a fusion of stuff Porky has read in books (“You picturesque old peasant caretaker of the Old Sod, you!”). Lots of writers do colourful dialogue, but that kind of elaborate playfulness with the sheer sound of English is rarer.


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