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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Orphan Toon Musings #3: Jeepers Creepers! It's...Mel??

Foreword from Your Humble Toonkeeper, Rachel Newstead:

Will Rogers said it better than I ever could: "It ain't what we don't know that hurts us--it's what we think we know that ain't so..."

The power of suggestion is an amazing thing--if we're told the same thing long enough, we begin to believe it, no matter how unlikely or implausible it is. And until just a short time ago, I'd have sworn before a Senate subcommittee that Pinto Colvig voiced the practical-joking ghost in the 1939 Bob Clampett Looney Tune JEEPERS CREEPERS. That's common knowledge, isn't it? Isn't it? I mean, who am I to disagree with every film and animation resource in the known universe?

So convinced was I that when Kevin wrote to me at 1:00 this morning suggesting otherwise, I attributed it to sleep deprivation on his part.

But now....I'm not so sure. He could be right.

Or is the power of suggestion merely pulling my mind the other way?

My communications professor in college had a term for this feeling: "cognitive dissonance." Or it could just be the cold medicine I took a few hours ago...

I won't try to make up your mind for you. Read what Kevin has to say and decide for yourself. Just don't blame the cognitive dissonance on me.

He's Not There!

By Kevin Wollenweber

Well, perhaps in the future, we should put up a full review for this cartoon, but there has always been a misconception about the ghost’s voice in the classic LOONEY TUNES cartoon, “JEEPERS CREEPERS”, starring PORKY PIG.

I’d read a post from a while back on a blog called RANDOM SEMICONSCIOUS MUSINGS (a fairly interesting blog, by the way) with all kinds of uncut classic cartoons to enjoy. The blogger, a fellow named Larry, emphatically states that the voice of the ghost in JEEPERS CREEPERS is Pinto Colvig.

While Colvig did do the occasional voice for the studio during this period, the voice of the ghost (especially when singing) is Mel Blanc, stealing Colvig’s thunder for the moment and doing the voice almost spot on.

I will go on record and say that Colvig might have been more entertaining as the voice of this ghost and would have added his own usual muttering inflections, even adding his own sound effects. Yes, you know that Pinto is on when you get that farting car noise when a character is taking off in some sort of rickety vehicle—you can hear this sound in so many of the cartoons that he took part in from his tenures with Disney and MGM as well. You know it is him doing this noise because you can hear him cough as the “voice” of the motor being choked. If you want to hear a tour de force performance by Mr. Colvig, seek out the performance as Old Doc Stork in one of my favorite MGM wartime cartoons, THE STORK’S HOLIDAY. You will hear this noise I’m referring to as well.

That Mel can almost ape a Colvig performance is truly a testament to his voice talents, but, as the saying goes, “close enough but no cigar!” If you’re in doubt, please, sit down sometime with both voices, Mel’s ghost in this cartoon and, perhaps, the voice that Colvig *DID* do for the lead character in that cartoon that featured The Hobo Jugtown Gadget Band or the voice of the lovelorn dog in another Warners toon—I’m sorry; it’s late and I forget its title right now. Only Pinto could neatly do Pinto, and I hate to see him misrepresented.

Don’t get me wrong; JEEPERS CREEPERS is a brilliant cartoon, and I like its often excised (on TV airings, anyway) ending gag as the iris closes. Hopefully, we will see it and other missing Porky cartoons on DVD real soon.

Postscript: So, is Kevin right? Well, I can only say this: I've always been able to tell when Mel does a "dumb" or "goofy" (with a small "g") voice, as it often tends toward the "Barney Rubble"-ish. To my ears, the ghost sounds closer to "Red Hot Ryder" in BUCKAROO BUGS--a classic "dumb" voice that's indisputably Mel's--than Colvig's Goofy. Indeed, as Kevin said, it's especially evident when the ghost is singing.

Judging from the comments on Larry's blog, it appears Kevin isn't the only one who disputes the accepted "facts." That's a great relief to me--I never liked suffering cognitive dissonance alone.


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