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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

VHS Vednesday, Presidential Edition: I Go Pogo

I GO POGO (1980). Directed by Marc Paul Chinoy. Starring the voices of Skip Hinnant, Jonathan Winters, and Vincent Price.

This is a bit of a departure, since I don't have a copy of this movie to watch right now; instead, I'm going by long-gone memory. Still, given the special Presidential occasion, this is the movie I had to review.
I Go Pogo (also titled Pogo for President) is a surprisingly faithful stop-motion adaptation of Walt Kelly's brilliant comic strip, taking much of its dialogue verbatim from Kelly's storylines in which Pogo Possum (voiced by Skip Hinnant) is reluctantly recruited into running for President. Pogo, too nice to say no, winds up caught between the machinations of the sinister Deacon Mushrat (Vincent Price) and Mole (Jonathan Winters), and the friendlier but no less manipulative campaign of Albert Alligator (Stan Freberg) and Churchy La Femme (Arnold Stang). Only the morose Porky Pine (also voiced by Winters) stands by Pogo as a true friend and not as a meal ticket.
The movie is peppered with musical numbers, many of them performed by Dr. Hook--the peppy "None of the Above" and the gentle "Hard to Be a Friend" are particularly memorable.
While the film adaptation does tone down Kelly's more pointed political satire (Kelly's Joseph McCarthy caricature, Semple J. Malarkey, is absent, and the ostensible villains--Deacon, Mole, and Wiley Katt--are nowhere near as malevolent as their original versions), it still captures the dual levels of Kelly's creation: Funny animals for the kids, winking commentary for the adults. It's a testimony to the strength of Kelly's writing that even a watered-down version of Pogo maintains its integrity.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
All of the voice actors do a fine job of bringing Kelly's characters to life, while maintaining their own distinctive vocal patterns. With Vincent Price's melliflous tones, you can practically see the elaborate typeface Kelly used for the Deacon's word balloons. No, no "leaving it off the resume" here...



At 9:26 PM, Blogger Sea_of_Green said...

OMG, I had almost completely forgotten about this ...! I remember seeing it when it was first broadcast on TV, YEARS ago.

Oh, Pogo. Pogo was a brilliant political satire. Walt Kelly was a genius.

At 4:38 AM, Blogger John Ellis said...

Thanks for the kind words about our know 30 years ago this year we finished it...what a miracle it got made! Note that for you and your readers, feel free to join a bunch of us (that made the film) on our Facebook page, just search for "I Go Pogo: The Movie" and that's us! We're posting never before seen images and clips and such...a fools paradise I say!


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