"I Haven't Got a Hat" is a 1935 Merrie Melodies short, directed by Friz Freleng. It is notably the debut film of series star Porky Pig, as well as several other long-forgotten would-be stars of the series, most notably Beans The Cat, who was intended to be the picture's lead star. It was also the very first Merrie Melodie cartoon in the two-strip Technicolor process. (Disney had an exclusive contract to use the three-strip Technicolor process, but eventually, Warners would share that contract, which would lead to them using the process for Gone with the Wind.)
The cartoon is set around a school musical and recital, where a group of animal adults and children alike are gathering in the small schoolhouse to watch. The teacher, Mrs. Cud, introduces Porky Pig, who gets up and goes through a lengthy, stuttering struggle to recite the poem The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (with a snippet of Charge of the Light Brigade sandwiched in). The kids get bored with Porky and whistle for a pack of dogs to chase him off stage.
Mrs. Cud calls for Little Kitty on stage, who tries to sing "Mary Had A Little Lamb", but ends up running off stage in stage fright. The twin pups Ham and Ex come along and sing the cartoons title song, "I Haven't Got A Hat", in a duet. Meanwhile, Beans the Cat tries to steal fellow student Oliver Owl's candy, but Oliver catches him and snubs him as he's summoned to recite the Poet and the Peasant Overture on the piano. Beans, disgruntled, sneaks outside to the window near where Oliver is playing, where a ladder is conveniently located. Beans finds a stray cat and dog wandering nearby, and when no one is looking, he lures them inside the piano. To Oliver's bewilderment, the piano plays itself perfectly, to the audiences cheers. But once the cat and dog break back out, the audience boo him. Beans the Cat is left laughing at Oliver's predicament, but Oliver sees him and responds by squirting him with a green ink pen. Beans then falls off the ladder inside, and a red bucket of paint nearby is launched inside and covers Oliver Owl. Since the two are even now, they shake hands grinning as the cartoon ends.
"I Haven't Got a Hat" provides examples of:
- Affectionate Parody: Of the The Little Rascals comedies — known in the day as "Our Gang".
- Animated Music Video: Like all of the early Merrie Melodies, they were mandated to have a song from the Warner Music catalog present as the cartoons title and centerpiece. The song number (sung by Ham and Ex) barely lasts a minute on screen though, and the rest of the cartoon is just gags.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: When Ham and Ex are introduced, they look at the camera and start whispering about the audience.
- Breakout Character: Despite being Porky's first major appearance, he barely has any screentime and isn't even the central character in the short—he was supposed to play second fiddle to the trickster Beans the Cat, who gets the most important scenes in the cartoon. Porky is the earliest Looney Tunes character most people remember today.
- Chaos Architecture: The window and door near the piano Oliver Owl plays seems to either trade places or vanish depending on the scene.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Beans the Cat ruins Oliver Owl's piano recital, just because Oliver caught him trying to steal his candy and blew him off.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Porky is a lot fatter looking here, is depicted as a child character, and he isn't a major player yet. There are a crop of other characters who were to be potential stars for the Looney Tunes studio, including Beans the Cat, but all of them (save Porky) fell into obscurity after being used in a couple more cartoons, like "The Phantom Ship", "The Fire Alarm", "Boom Boom", "Alpine Antics", and "Hollywood Capers". On top of that, Porky's voice is slightly different from what it would sound like later on; his famous stutter is a lot more frustrating-sounding, because his actor at the time (Joe Dougherty, who preceded Mel Blanc as Porky's actor) had a very real stutter that he couldn't control.
- The "That's All Folks" ending card has an unnamed falsetto jester saying the phrase.
- Within their remaining time as Looney Tunes stars, the other character often ditched the schoolchild motif of this short along with other characteristics. Beans is portrayed as a short fused prankster here, while in later appearances he is a standard plucky protagonist (not unlike Bosko or Buddy, which Warner Bros. studios was trying to move away from in their attempts to be more than just a wannabe Disney cartoon studio). Oliver Owl's snooty rival character is also dropped for the most part.
- Easily Forgiven: Despite ruining his recital and getting covered in paint, Oliver Owl is satisfied at Beans just getting ink squirted at him, and shakes hands with Beans in the end.
- Establishing Character Moment: Beans the Cat trying to steal jam in the opening, plus Porky's stuttering recital.
- Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Porky is chased off the stage by dogs.
- Looney Tunes in the '30s
- The Owl-Knowing One: While he isn't given much characterization, Oliver Owl is described by Mrs. Cud as a very competent piano player, so at the least, he seems cultured (and rather snooty towards Beans when the latter tries to steal his candy).
- Off-Model: In one scene, Beans is drawn with noticeably smaller eyes than in the rest of the cartoon.
- Porky Pig Pronunciation: From the Trope Namer. Porky has this out of the starting gate, but here you can tell it's really holding back Porky—the poor piglet is literally sweating just to get through his lines.
- Potty Dance: Little Kitty struggles to get through "Mary Had a Little Lamb", that she forgets some of the words. Also, throughout, she fidgets and crosses her legs as if to indicate she has to use the bathroom. As her voice speeds up and when she gets to the last line, she sprints to the outhouse outside of the schoolhouse.
- Punny Name: The intention of Porky and Beans' names were to be a play off of "Pork N' Beans". Ditto for Ham and Ex (ham and eggs).
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: All of the children are rather adorable looking little animals.
- School Play: Of the recital variety.
- The Prankster: While Beans the Cat tended to be portrayed as a bland protagonist in shorts after this, here he's presented as a greedy little trickster, who ruins Oliver Owl's piano recital (by stuffing a dog and cat inside) just because he won't share his candy with him.
- Vocal Dissonance: Ham and Ex sing "I Haven't Got a Hat" in a falsetto appropriate for their age, but then Ex does the "Bom-bom-bom-bom" accompaniment in a deep bass.