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. The cartoon was banned from TV syndication in 1968 by United Artists (the owners at the time) for racist depictions of African Americans and is one of the “Censored Eleven”.
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,” and the overall story was less plausible than some of Tex Avery’s other cartoons.
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.
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, a print with original titles is known to exist. Today the cartoon can be easily accessed on YouTube. Additionally, the short 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. —Wikipedia
A descendant of both Daniel Boone and Judge Roy Bean, Fred “Tex” Avery enjoyed on-the-job art training when he was assigned to illustrate his high school annual (“The only guy there who could handle a pencil”) Avery left his home in Dallas to take a three-month course at the Chicago Art Institute, then headed for Hollywood, to look for work in the animation field. Contrary to previously published reports, Avery did not get his start at Terrytoons or Van Beuren, instead, he “met a fella who knew a girl” in charge of inking and painting at the Walter Lantz Studio.
From 1929 to 1934, Avery animated scenes for other directors, and also dabbled in gag writing. Seeking out a better-paying job, Avery wangled a job with Warner Bros. animation producer Leon Schlesinger after convincing Schlesinger that he’d directed two cartoons at Lantz. He hadn’t, but that didn’t stop Schlesinger from appointing Avery head of his own unit at “Termite Terrace,” populated with such animation wizards as… read more
Legendary American animator Tex Avery (“Uncle Tom’s Bungalow” & “I Love to Singa”) crafts the first of a long-running series of spoofs of the ‘Going Places’ travelogues which wound up part of the… read review