The uniquely serious Schlesinger-produced cartoon retells the origins of the United States of America. Porky Pig plays a child forced to learn the Pledge of Allegiance. He becomes quickly bored and falls asleep. In his dream, Uncle Sam (voiced by John Deering ) comes to life and teaches Porky about history from Colonial America through the American Revolutionary War to the expansion of the American Old West, briefly alluding to Abraham Lincoln. Upon awakening, Porky snaps into a salute and recites the pledge as the Flag of the United States waves overhead and the words "The End" pan over the waving flag similar to the end of Three Little Bops. There are no Merrie Melodies rings at the end, as in other shorts, or the words "That's All, Folks!" (The Flag of the United States has only 48 stars, as this short was made before Hawaii and Alaska were admitted to the Union. Also, this Pledge of Allegiance as recited by Porky does not yet include the phrase "under God". That phrase was not added until 1954.)
The animation in Old Glory is realistic and heavily rotoscoped, different from the usual Warner Bros. style. Director Chuck Jones was known for his Disney-like style during this period, and Schlesinger assigned him to make this cartoon for that reason. The scene with Patrick Henry saying his "Give Me Liberty" speech was rotoscoped from the Warner Bros. color 2-reel historical short, Give Me Liberty. That short won the Academy Award for Best Short Subject - Color of 1936.
Status of original titles
The original ending was cut when the cartoon was reissued twice as a Blue Ribbon Merrie Melody once on August 25, 1945 during the 1944-45 season (evident from the style opening rings used: orange rings with a black background) and again on September 12, 1953 during the 1953-54 season (evident from the style opening rings used: orange rings with a blue background). The 1953 BR opening is restored for Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 2.
A dubbed version is known to exist. Since the cartoon was reissued in 1945, the second reissue retains the 1945 ending after the flag fades out. This is because it was reissued after Leon sold the studio, so this was allowed. Other cartoons that kept the first BR ending were Rhapsody in Rivets and The Trial of Mr. Wolf, the latter having its original titles restored on DVD.
A version with a restored ending cue can be found on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 2. This copy retains the 1953-54 Blue Ribbon opening, but also contains the original ending cue and LEON SCHLESINGER The End card fading in on the flag.
Old Glory is Jones's first short to feature Porky Pig. It is also Porky's first appearance in a color Merrie Melody since his debut in 1935's I Haven't Got a Hat, and his first short in three-strip Technicolor.
Legend has it that during the late 60s, Old Glory was regularly screened between rock acts at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Supposedly the Fillmore's patrons drew great amusement from a pig (or "cop" in 60s slang) saluting the American flag.
It premiered at the famed Carthay Circle Theater at Los Angeles on July 1, 1939 - three days before Independence Day.
Unlike other Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons, this is also the first Warner Bros. cartoon short which is not classified as comedy, in fact, it is focused to be educational. A few more were like this later on.