The cartoon starts out fairly common with a blue winter night setting contrasted by spots of yellow. This has already been established in the title sequence.
Basically, yellow stands for artificial light within the houses. It also highlights the clock on the church tower that corresponds to the narrator's claim that the cats are put out at nine o'clock every night.
Likewise, the clock does not stand out from the tower when robbed of its hue (yellow).
It is probably no coincidence that Porky wears dark red in the title card (top image). In the actual film, an extra wears that color while Porky himself is in his white pijamas.
All of these "black cat" Clampett cartoons stage colorless characters against colorful backgrounds. THE HEP CAT (1942) applied a tastefully muted night time palette with spots of primary colors. In A TALE OF TWO KITTIES (1942) the colors have been determined by different times of day and thus consisted of natural earth tones and strong sky colors rooted in reality.
The choice of garish neon colors in KITTY KORNERED, however, takes the concept of colorless characters against colorful backgrounds one step further. Gone are most of the earth tones. Flamboyant hues prevent the backgrounds from receding and feel much more expressionist than realist. The room colors also seem to change occasionally for no other reason than variety.
Porky's house is in keeping with the already established blue-yellow color scheme with blue leaning towards green (the fence) and towards red (blinds and right walls).
The threshold between exterior and interior color scheme is rendered rather expensively: On the outside the door is seemingly white and therefore reflects the light of its surroundings. When it is opened the inside lighting affects it strongly. Since any gradient from blue to yellow (reflecting artificial light and yellow walls) includes green in the middle, the door changes gradually on each frame from light blue to green to yellow.
|Background perspective is already a little forced, the closed door however is wonky and outright wrong!|
Expressionist perspective experiments
The rest of the "pig and cats" games take place inside Porky's house. Analyzing the following screenshots I will focus 1) on the warped perspective and 2) on the different color schemes of the four chase scenes.
Before Porky enters the house through a pane-less window, Clampett overstrains us with a cluttered composition of all four cats without visual hierarchy. As if this wasn't enough, the room seems to lean towards the spectator. The background colors look random (probably because of the dominant lavender-blue drapes). Upon closer inspection the underlying color scheme seems to be magenta (wall and floor) vs green (couch). Size relations vary a lot in Clampett's expressionistic cartoons as can be seen when Porky's oversized head enter the frame from behind the cats.
Green and magenta
In this strange bedroom the the floor is green and polished:
|Perspective on the wall is wonky and supports the pan to the right with vertical lines leaning to the right.|
|Here the background perspective is from slightly above while the cat is seen from the side.|
Green and blue
Just in case you thought that room colors were consistent in order to garantuee orientation, think again... As soon as Porky arrives on the scene, the floor has changed from green to dark blue and from polished to carpet.
|Probably the higher angle on the left was chosen to not give away the green walls just yet - to make the change more gradual.|
Red, yellow and neon green
Interestingly, the doorway colors are indeed consistent with the beginning of the film: red floor, yellow walls, green door.
John Kricfalusi has analyzed this scene in great detail and has been pointing out the following cut on action (or rather impact):
"right in the middle of the action Clampett changes the background to the more extreme angle of the door.
This gives the crash way more impact than if he had done the logical thing and used the same background." (John K.)
In my opinion this cut not only gives the crash more impact but is completely necessary for two reasons: 1) the mismatching character and background angles of the jump could not result in a convincingly drawn crash. 2) After the crash, the cat's fall is limited by the frame. Although its lying position is by no means consistent with the angle of the crash, at least this background makes it look like the cat was lying on the floor. This landing on the edge of the frame would be completely off in the first high angle background.
|Both backgrounds are wonky but not in the same way. Note also that Porky still seems to stand in the last scene (or in an upstairs room?).|
Then after the cats have conspired to disguise themselves and play an "Orson Welles" (re-imagining his famous "War of the Worlds" radio drama) on Porky, we see Porky's bedroom that combines purple walls with a green blanket and a dark blue floor.
The "martian" characters are depicted in fully saturated colors. Two in hot pink and green and two in magenta and yellow.
|Porky's take is once again limited by the upper frame edge.|
Inconsistent by nature
If this cartoon proves anything then it is the fact that inconsistent backgrounds are not consciously noticed as long as the audience is busy following the foreground action. If even a loose continuity of character action is maintained, film makers can get away with almost anything in the background (many a movie trailer makes good use of this effect). There is no doubt however, that perspective and colors subconsciously have a strong effect on how we perceive the action.
In most of these backgrounds there is nothing receding and no muted tones the eye can rest on. Instead the colors seem to jump forward adding to the claustrophobic feeling of this cat-infested house.
I am sure that many inconsistencies in Clampett's cartoons could have been avoided by handling these scenes more carefully. But that, it seems, was not what Clampett was after. He wanted to entertain and also see what he could get away with.
Whoever chose those colors could have gone completely random. But as my breakdown into scenes has proven, they did not. Some of the dominant colors may look unpleasant but they have been applied very restrictively within clearly defined color palettes. There seems to be a long way from the subtle color effects of THE HEP CAT to the outrageous color design of KITTY KORNERED. As you may have guessed I favor the earlier approach. But I also like to study artistic growth and that is what these three posts have been about.