Baby Bottleneck

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 13, 2015

The post-war baby boom is usually said to have begun in 1946. Had it been noted this early, and if so, did it partly motivate this production? Or is it just a coincidence? If the latter, then Baby Bottleneck still reflects a mindset, or something of a collective sentiment. Eventually, somewhere in there, films are a reflection of the time and culture that produces them.

Regardless of the root or motivation, the film starts with an unprecedented demand for babies. The stork is Jimmy Durante, and the strain has caused him to resort to drink. To remedy the situation they resort to temp help, which results in a lot of funny/undisciplined gags about mismatches that come about. (Pig and alligator, etc.) Eventually Porky takes over the operation, while Daffy manages the deliveries themselves. There are lots of semi-successful topical gags—Bing Crosby, the Dionnes. That wailing hippo pauses to give us a variation of a tried-and-true joke. “I’m only three-and-a-half seconds old!” The animators have fashioned a remarkable expressionist—techno-anxious—production line. Get a load of that burper!

Presently we start a really crazy chase, in which Daffy has to deal with his suddenly and impossibly elongated and deboned leg. This part is reminiscent of Porky in Wackyland, and it echoes Disney’s Pink Elephants. It looks forward to the Louvre sequence in Joe Dante’s Back in Action film. Michael Barrier says that, once again, this is typical Clampett. Baby boom or not, we’re not getting commentary, or a bid for relevance. This is just energy; not the illusion of life, but life itself. Even so, the breakdown of that expressionist production line is because of that mis-presented baby is very suggestive, very resonant. Cinematically it echoes René Clair, 1931 (II), and Chaplin, 1936. It looks forward to Bert Haanstra’s Glass, as well as looking over all the times in which industrialism chews us up and spits us out.