You Don't Know What You're Doin'!

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You Don't Know What You're Doin'!
Directed byRudolf Ising
Produced byHugh Harman
Rudolf Ising
Leon Schlesinger
StarringOrlando Martins
Music byFrank Marsales
Color processBlack and White
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
The Vitaphone Corporation
Release date
October 21, 1931

You Don't Know What You're Doin'! is a 1931 animated short subject directed by Rudolf Ising and produced by Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising, and Leon Schlesinger as part of the Merrie Melodies series from the Harman-Ising studios and distributed by Warner Bros. First released on October 21, 1931, the film is perhaps one of the most amusing and effective of the cartoons from the studio's earliest years.


The story involves the character Piggy, who picks up his girlfriend Fluffy and takes her to a theater where a hot jazz orchestra is playing. Piggy mocks the trumpet soloist, then crashes the stage to play a corny chorus of the 1873 hit "Silver Threads Among the Gold" on the saxophone. The audience, led by three shabbily-dressed drunken dogs in the balcony, mock Piggy with the title song "You Don't Know What You're Doin,'" as Piggy defends his self-perceived "talent."

One of the tipplers (a black dog, perhaps a prototype of Goopy Geer) joins Piggy onstage. The dog drinks from a bottle of bootleg hootch (the film was made during alcohol Prohibition in the USA) and belches in Piggy's face. The fumes on his breath instantly intoxicate Piggy. Piggy snatches the booze and runs out of the theater with the dog chasing him. He pours some of it into the radiator of an automobile, which arches its back like a frightened cat and takes Piggy for a wild ride through the city. Even the streets, lampposts, telephone poles, and background buildings seem to come to life in a loopy, drunken state.

The dog continues to chase after Piggy, but both of them eventually end up in the back of a truck which dumps them into a trash can. Both of them shout out "Whoopee!" as the cartoon comes to an end.


The musical soundtrack was done by the then-nationally famous Abe Lyman Orchestra (though on some prints mis-attributed to the Gus Arnheim band), which adds a happy energy throughout the cartoon. The eccentric virtuoso trombone playing of Orlando "Slim" Martin is prominently featured. Martin played not only music but also some rather bizarre effects on his horn (the techniques he used to produce some of his sounds continue to puzzle other trombonists). His trombone solo representing the drunken automobile is especially memorable. The Schlesinger Studio had their sound effects department construct mechanical devices to roughly reproduce some of Martin's sounds, which became standard cartoon sound effects.


You Don't Know What You're Doin'! is available on disc 3 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 6.


  • Schneider, Steve (1990). That's All Folks!: The Art of Warner Bros. Animation. Henry Holt & Co.
  • Beck, Jerry and Friedwald, Will (1989): Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons. Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0-8050-0894-2

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