The Isle of Pingo Pongo
|The Isle of Pingo Pongo|
|Merrie Melodies series|
|Directed by||Tex Avery|
|Produced by||Leon Schlesinger|
|Story by||George Manuell|
|Voices by||Robert C. Bruce (narrator)|
|Music by||Carl W. Stalling|
|Animation by||Irven Spence|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.
The Vitaphone Corp.
|Release date(s)||May 28, 1938 (USA)|
|Running time||9 min|
The Isle of Pingo Pongo is a 1938 Warner Bros. cartoon directed by Tex Avery. It is the first of Avery's spoofs of travelogues, followed on with similar cartoons such as Detouring America, A Day at the Zoo, Fresh Fish, Cross Country Detours, and Crazy Cruise. The cartoon, along with 10 other pre-1948 cartoons, was banned in 1968 and added to the Censored 11 category by United Artists, the owner of distribution rights of the short and UA believed that no amount of editing could make it allowed to be distributed on United States television. It is the only Egghead cartoon on the list.
The short follows a cruise ship’s trip from New York to the island, presumably located in the South Seas. The ship sails past the Statue of Liberty, who acts as a traffic cop, past the “Canary Islands” and “Sandwich Islands”.
The cartoon revolves around themes of jazz and primitivism, and is set on a remote island. The central character is an early version of Elmer Fudd known as Egghead, and most of the cartoon consists of travelogue-type narration and blackout gags, many including Egghead. The inhabitants of Pingo-Pongo are mostly tall, black, and have big feet and lips. Like other cartoons at this time, the native inhabitants resemble animals and reflect stereotypes of the time. The natives are at first playing drums, then break into a jazz beat, still described as a “primitive savage rhythm,” which leads the audience to connect the savage jungle to modern jazz music.
There is a running gag with Egghead where he says, "Now Boss?", but the narrator keeps saying "Not now." That is, until the end, where the sun fails to set when he says "as the sun sinks slowly into the West". Egghead reappears and says "Now Boss?" The boss says "Yeah, now!" Egghead shoots the sun, making it sink into the West and ending the film.
The ban has been upheld by the cartoon's successive owners and is unlikely to be released on home video, however, as The New York Times reports, unauthorized copies are relatively easy to find. The cartoon was reissued as a Blue Ribbon Classic, however, the original titles are known to exist.
Additionally, it was recently viewed with other films part of the Censored Eleven at the TCM Film Festival in Hollywood on April 24, 2010 as part of a classic film series, presented by Donald Bogle.
- "The Isle Of Pingo Pongo". Big Cartoon DataBase, August 30, 2014
- Cartoons of a Racist Past Lurk on YouTube http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/28/business/media/28cartoon.html