Friday, March 10, 2006

PINKFINGER (1965)

Released at the height of the 60's spy craze, where it seems that every cartoon series and television show was somehow involved in the spy game, either in single episode parody or in full show concept, Pinkfinger is a staggering disappointment. Violence happens -- without real set up, without real resolution, and with misfired gags -- and just because Pink is dealing with spies, the entire thing is supposed to be hilarious. Well, spies aren't, in and of themselves, funny. In fact, they are kind of scary and an amazingly sad reflection on the state of the world. But, in this film, a shadowy figure plotting and then releasing a bomb is supposed to be the pinnacle of humor. They must have gotten their information from a bad source. Probably your own CIA.

The film starts out fine with a new concept: there is a narrator that speaks to the Panther. He convinces the cat that there is a nest of spies literally just a stone's throw away from where the Panther is sitting reading a book called "Secret Agent". The Panther dresses up in a trenchcoat, hat and pipe, and then takes to the streets to catch the spies. (Because that is what he does? Really, what is the motivation here for the Panther? Does he even ask what side the spies are on?) At one point, there is an unbelievably lame gag where one of the spies drops a note, and the Panther picks it up. The note reads "TSALB MIH"... at least, it does from our angle. I know that I read everything by holding the paper in front of me and looking out over it to see the other side. Of course, he doesn't understand the paper, and then knocks on a door and gets blasted in the face with a pistol.

The gags misfire or are too obvious for the remainder of the film (Pink is on a ledge when a spy drops a banana peel on it; Pink is going to light his pipe in a traincar full of spies, the lights go off and then back on, and he is caught holding a bomb in place of the pipe; need I go on?) Except for some rambunctious alligators hiding in a pit, there is nothing funny going on in this one. And even there, it is a brief antic by one of the alligators that is slightly amusing, not the gag surrounding them. Most confused is the ending, where the narrator ends up trapped inside of a sidewalk lift with a ravenous lion. We never see any of the set-up, let alone the figures in the trap, and when the Panther ignores the narrator's pleas for help and then walks off, while we understand why he is leaving the man in the lurch, it just comes off as... nothing, really. Just another dead end gag in a misconceived film.

It's reason enough to call in an assassin...

Pinkfinger (DePatie-Freleng, 1965) Dir: Friz Freleng & Hawley Pratt
Cel Bloc Rating: 4

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