A Gumby moment, brought to you by Nicolas Cage

Last night, I was watching the 1986 movie Peggy Sue Got Married, about a time-traveling Kathleen Turner who goes 25 years into her own past, when she was in a budding relationship with her philandering husband, played by a very young Nicolas Cage. It's a great movie, but I could not get past the weird voice that Cage was using. Was this a voice he'd had before his career took off, and then he worked on altering it? Or did he choose this weirdly high-pitched, dorky voice? It was the latter. And it was supposed to be Pokey, the horse friend of claymation character Gumby. And it almost got him fired, but somehow convinced his uncle, director Francis Ford Coppola, that this was a great idea. And lo, by the powers of nepotism, he stayed in the movie, doing that voice.

As any responsible geek would do, I sought out some Gumby videos to contrast and compare. I was pretty disappointed to find that not only was Cage's "Pokey" voice an unbelievably questionable acting choice, but it was also a really bad impression of Pokey. I'll include video of Cage's performance after the jump so you can also compare, but if you want to take my word for it, you can just watch "The Moon Boggles," a 1956 episode of Gumby (video link) that features our two pliable friends in a sci-fi adventure!

Here are some of Cage's "Cagiest" moments, and you will hear that he doesn't sound like Pokey as much as he sounds like someone who has a permanent wedgie, as well as a frog in his throat that is inexplicably wearing underwear and also has a permanent wedgie (video link):

Another thing I'd like to know is when Cage started to walk places shoulder-first, and if he walks like that in real life. No really, next time you watch a Nicolas Cage movie, watch him walk shoulder-first. You won't be able to not-notice.


  1. I had guessed that the voice he uses is similar to buddy holly when he’s singing the chorus of the that eponymous song.

  2.  This is exactly what I try to keep in mind when I watch him in PSGM. His vocal choice has always irritated me, though.

  3. Interesting… my guess had been that he based it off of Buddy Holly’s voice from the chorus of the song Peggy Sue. Really squeaky.

  4. I also can’t help but notice that Nicolas Cage bears very little resemblance to Luke Cage, the superhero he named himself after.

  5. The source for the story on Cage’s voice IMDB, which isn’t always reliable since anyone can submit an edit, they do have a staff to double-check the submissions but who knows how reliable they are. Wikipedia mentions the same story so the IMDB editor might have considered that a verification, but if you look at the interview with Cage that wikipedia uses as a source, it verifies that he was inspired by Pokey but doesn’t say anything about him convincing Francis Ford Coppola that it was a good idea, maybe Coppola just grudgingly went along with it.

  6. Pokey sounds like someone trying to imitate a voice like that, where Cage sounds like maybe he really does has a voice like that.

  7. Dear Jamie,

    I gave you some grief in the SNL recap post since I felt—and still feel—it was a bland, predictable piece.

    In contrast, this is the exact kind of post I know I & others come to Boing Boing for.  Great work! Keep on this track!


  8. Interesting – that’s the not voice I remember Pokey having. Sure enough, he did have a different one, I assume later on in the series. It’s deeper and a bit more nasal sounding:

    (Skip to about 2:00 for a good spot of dialogue)

    It’s a little closer to the Cage voice, but still not there.

  9. The voice threw me, too. I always assumed he was doing a Marlon Brando kind of thing — not a good Brando, but what somebody at the time might think sounded like him, trying to make a persona. (See also: “Goodman Buys a Gun” by Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder)

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