China Jones

“Me, dragon lady.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Tom Ray, George Grandpre, Ted Bonnicksen, and Warren Batchelder; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on February 14, 1959.

Daffy is Irish, but they call him China Jones. A nod to the series “China Smith” but not a very clever name. How about China Schmidt? Or China Smithers? Or… I don’t know, China Shmith? Actually, that one wouldn’t work as Daffy is actually lisp free in this cartoon. As he finishes the meal he was eating, he cracks into his Chinese fortune “cakes”. There’s no fortune in it, and that really is the worst feeling in the world. They’re not called advice cookies! I mean, “cakes”.

It actually isn’t advice either. It’s a plea! A plea for help! Someone is being held prisoner in a bakery with a reward of 150 pounds. (Do tell. They must have been in there decades to think that joke is still clever.) But as the parody suggests, Daffy is a detective and should probably solve this case. All he needs is a hot tip, and those tend to be supplied at Limey  Louie’s tavern. But as he prepares to depart, he is approached by another famous detective, Charlie Chan, er, Chung. (See? This one makes sense.) And no squinty eyes/Fu Manchu mustache can hide my beloved Porky from my fanboy/stalker eyes. Man, do I want to wallpaper my room in his autograph.

Chung is here on some matter of money. He’s not really elaborating for the sake of a punchline, but a good detective like Jones can figure it out. The most obvious reason is the most likely. Chung is just trying to get himself a piece of the pound pie. Jones brushes him off so he can get to Louie’s. Now, Louie and Jones have a bit of a history. Jones is kinda, sorta the person who sent Louie to prison. And unbeknownst to Jones, Louie is already released and has set this whole prisoner thing up to get some delicious cold revenge. Donning a disguise, he awaits the P.I.

Louie introduces his self to Jones as the Mrs. and gives a sob demonstration of how the cops treated her husband, on Jones. But once that thrashing is over, “she” is willing to give Jones the tip he needs. Pick a card, any card, specifically the card being subtly pushed onto you. These are bad leads that just lead Jones to a couple of painful mishaps, but it doesn’t seem like he’s catching on until after the second attempt. Fun’s gonna have to be cut short Louie, go on and reveal yourself.

Revealing his true identity, and revealing the hoax, Louie is ready for a Peking duck dinner. Jones bravely runs into the backroom. He trips a trapdoor that leaves him dangling over a pit of Chinese alligators. Louie does Tweety’s “piddy” shtick, to feed his pets. (It is a pretty funny change up with the thick cockney accent.) Jones barely manages to escape this familiar situation, when Chung reappears. Can he help out? Well, I wouldn’t doubt Porky is capable, but he never said he was a detective at all. He’s a laundry man. And that money matter he wanted to discuss? Jones’s bill.

In the end, Louie gets away with assault and Jones is forced to work off his tab. Shouting for help, in mock Chinese, about his ironic punishment of being trapped in a Chinese laundromat. (This ending was cut during the 90’s. Probably a good call for impressionable minds. I mean, I definitely used mock Chinese myself as a kid. I really didn’t need more encouragement.)

Favorite Part: Jones, trying to “duck” out on his bill, quotes Confucius. Chung quotes right back, calmly pulling out a club as he does so. Bass. There’s no other word for him.

Personal Rating: I’m giving it a 1. It’s loaded with stereotyping that can not; should not be considered funny in today’s day and today’s age. If it doesn’t bother you as much, I believe you can consider it a 2.

Moby Duck

“I wonder how prehisthtoric man usthed to open cansth.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Animation by Don Williams, Manny Perez, Warren Batchelder, Bob Matz, LaVerne Harding, and Norm McCabe; Layouts by Dick Ung; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editors: Lee Gunther and Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Looney Tune released on March 27, 1965.

No explanation needed! Daffy and Speedy are marooned on a deserted island, and Daffy ain’t pleased. He’s also being extremely racist, citing one of the reasons that Speedy isn’t a good shipwreck buddy is because he can’t speak proper English. As well as not being a decent food source. Daffy needs food and the good lord provides. A box of canned goods washes up nearby. (Wouldn’t that sink? In real life, I mean.)

Speedy is glad that the two of them won’t starve, but Daffy intends for him to. See, Daffy is a very greedy duck and he plans to hoard all the stuff for himself. Speedy trying to use the logic of “I’m a smaller creature and need less” doesn’t even sway the duck’s sympathies. He probably is very well aware of Speedy’s crazy metabolism, too. (Lightning fast AND a mouse? That box would be empty by Thursday.)

Of course, the biggest problem with canned food is that it is canned. Can openers are required to partake of the goodies within. As is wont to happen in  Looney Tunes, a mouse is the one holding the tool. But unlike the more sadistic mice of the past, Speedy is willing to negotiate. Daffy shares food, Speedy shares the tool. Daffy says nuts to that, and sets about trying to get the cans open via rocks, and axes. (This doesn’t work because cans are the strongest containers in the Tune-iverse.)

I really do have to give credit for Daffy’s next attempt: baiting a sailfish into stabbing the can open. (I never would’ve thought of that.) It’s creative, but also kind of foolhardy. Daffy thinks the best way to go about this is to tie the can to his rear. Dangerous enough, but things get worse when the can comes undone. The sailfish is an unstoppable force by this point, and chases Daffy across the island and up a tree. Daffy still gets the point by the end of it. (You like that one? I got it from “The Jungle Cruise.”)

Speedy decides he’s just going to give Daffy the tool. Probably because he knows what a fat load of good it will do for them now: Daffy left the box in the tidal zone, and it’s now surrounded by water and sharks. Daffy breaks down (his feet and bill even paling to show his anguish) while Speedy makes a new friend: Robinson Crusoe. He’s a great guy to have around, because he knows all the best eateries on the island. Thank goodness it’s “Fridays”, because Daffy won’t be following them in there once he gets a look at the menu. He instead takes like himself to water, and swims for the horizon. (Speedy might follow his lead once he sees what is served up when all the ducks leave the island.)

Favorite Part: Daffy gave me a new way to spell ‘nothing’. N-U-E-T-H-Y-O-N. (Usually that joke would just have the speller spell ‘nuthing’.)

Personal Rating: 2

His Bitter Half

“Cute like a sth-tomach pump!”

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8mb3g4

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, Arthur Davis, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on May 20, 1950.

While reading the want ads, (and having an errant ripple overlay his body) Daffy spots the kind of notification wild dreams are mad of: a single woman who is financially stable wants a man to tie it all together. Daffy is single AND  a male! Time for a quick courtship we don’t get to see, a wedding and honeymoon that is suggested, and the brand new happy couple arrives to their humble home. Here, Daffy tries to live the good life. A life of racing forms, lounge chairs, pipes and fezzes. The Mrs. has other ideas.

See, she is much larger and imposing than Daffy, and all that muscle says that he is the one going to be in charge of the housework. (The reason she has money is because she never bothered to hire a maid.) She just has to prove to Daffy that her threats to “slap his mouth clean off his face” aren’t hyperbole. And Daffy scrubs, and sweeps, and launders his life away. (Who’s the one wearing all those socks?) But once he’s got all those tasks accomplished, he meets the the part of the household the ad failed to mention: the step-duckling.

Little Wentworth is one one of those obnoxious kids who thinks fun can’t be had without noise. You know, the kind that nature intended to be eaten. He wants to play “Indians” but Daffy refuses. It’s just not P.C. The wives feet convince him to give it a go, and he spends the next shot on the run from Wentworth’s cleaver. (And if you’re too busy laughing, you might miss Martha’s Jedi powers at work. Those bonbons just leap into her wings!) Daffy’s next assignment: well, there’s a carnival at the park, and Wentworth would really like to attend. Daffy says no, but money talks…

I don’t know what kind of games they were playing, but they kicked tailfeather! Balloons, canes, kewpie dolls and… boxes of popcorn I think. But he drops it all in fright at the sight of Wentworth holding a rifle. Sure, it’s a shooting gallery, but it’s a shooting gallery in the days of your grandparents. Those are probably real lead pellets they’re firing. Daffy aims (rifle pun!) to show the kid how it’s done. But Wentworth is either upset he’s not the one firing the weapon, or I dunno, maybe he just doesn’t like Daffy, so he slingshots the carny every time Daffy takes a shot. The carny threatens bodily harm should Daffy keep hitting him.

Daffy figures out the ruse, and only PRETENDS to shoot. Wentworth doesn’t though, and despite Daffy gleefully smiling at the carny, exactly what you think would happen, happens. Next time, fill the fair folk in on the details of your scheme. Beaten and dazed, Wentworth has to bring Daffy home, where Martha just assumes her new hubby has been hitting the sauce. Wentworth knows that good children don’t correct their parents, so he doesn’t.

The next day, Daffy is roped into helping Wenty light fireworks for the fourth. He gets caught in an explosion and knows who’s to blame: that stick of TNT that has webbed feet! He grabs one that is the same size, and gives it a good spanking before seeing the one he wanted run past. After another explosion, he finds a new task at hand: take Wentworth to the zoo. Daffy’s had it, and refuses, even though his soon to be ex-wife is threatening to yank every feather off his body. Daffy still take his leave, and I’d say he won in the end. He clearly got away with some feathers still intact.

Favorite Part: The little smiling glance Wentworth shoots at us while Daffy is refusing to play *throat clear* “Indians”. He’s known his mother longer than Daffy has, and he knows what she’s capable of.

Personal Rating: 3. Ordinarily, I’d give it a four, but Freleng must’ve really loved this plot line, as he’d use it again in the future. And it was a marked improvement. See you then!

Suppresed Duck

“Pardon, please.”

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8ltcih

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by DaveDetiege; Animation by Bob Matz, Manny Perez, and Warren Batchelder; Layouts by Dick Ung; Backgrounds by Ron Dias; Film Editor: Lee Gunther; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Merrie Melody released on June 26, 1965.

It’s Daffy’s final solo film and he’s going to spend it hunting. He’s excited about it; being on the other side and all. He wants himself a bear. But this forest is a lot more strict than the one’s Elmer used to hunt in. The forest rangers take their job seriously and mark designated boundaries for where you can and can not shoot. The bears rate an 8 on the anthropomorphic scale; being smart enough to talk, but still legally huntable. With Daffy bearing down on their backsides, they quickly take cover on the safe side of the line.

Daffy is more than willing to break the rules to get at those smug bear boars, but the ranger isn’t having it. Strangely enough, Daffy is drawn to scale with the human! So where did he get the adorably sized gun and hat? And more importantly, is Daffy fair game for the bears to shoot during his season? You know, this whole idea has the promisings to make a fascinating R-rated animated movie about “Zootopia” styled animals being allowed to kill each other only at specific times of the year, and having no choice but to starve if they fail. Somebody get on that and put me down as ‘creative consultant’.

Back to our featured attraction. Daffy tries to lure a bear over the line with a bacon lure. No bear can resist frying bacon! But I love how cautious he still is. Creeping up to the line, looking for hunters, barely sticking a foot in, finally crossing and doubling back almost instantly. But that bacon is a cruel temptress and he’s only ursine, so he eventually gives in to his urges and commandos his way over to the meaty treasure.

Just what Daffy wanted! He fires at the bear who is foolishly running deeper into the danger zone. (A hysterically dark joke would be some other hunter getting him. Bonus points if it was Elmer, of all hunters.) Daffy shoots some fur off before the bear remem-bears that, oh yeah, he’s a bear! And he force feeds Daffy his bullets. (Watch for the stray dot of brown that makes it onto the screen.)  Makes it kind of hard to believe this guy would care anymore about what side of the line he’s safe on. Daffy swears that he’ll be eating the bear tonight. Do… do hunters normally eat bear meat? Huh. Guess they can. I kinda want to try it now. (Of course, it’s completely feasible that a duck would also want to partake of such a meal.)

Daffy sneaks over the line in stump get-up, but the bear has been trained for this and sounds the alarm. The rangers aren’t ducking around! They open fire on Daffy with a tank and bomber! (And if Daffy makes it out of there alive, a hefty fine.) I love how calm the ranger is about reminding Daffy which side he’s supposed to stay on. Sounding less like he just tried to end the duck’s life, and more like Daffy took one too many cookies out of the jar. Guess it’s digging time! It’s legal to dig in the forest, right? (I’m not looking that one up too.)

Mr. Bear can hear Daffy digging, and uses his the smarts he earned in college to determine exactly where Daffy will emerge. (It’s really quite simple to surmise, really.) He sticks a shed full of dynamite on the emergence site, and stands back to watch the fireworks. Daffy loses all feathers below his bill and now has to reattach them, but finds he only had 512 of them. The rest of which got made into a necklace and head piece by that pesky bear. Resorted to barrel wearing, Daffy is all set to break the law and cross that line, but he’s too late. The hunting season is over, and the penalty for shooting a bear out of season just isn’t worth the hassle. Here’s hoping for Daffy’s sake that the bear won’t die before the next one starts.

Favorite Part: Daffy’s bullets are even willing to follow the rules as one stops short at the border and falls to the ground. A nice cartoony way of explaining why Daffy can’t just shoot the bear, and stay on his side.

Personal Rating: 3

Boston Quackie

“Come on out before I let daylight through ya!”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story Tedd Pierce; Animation by George Grandpre, Ted Bonnickson, Keith Darling, and Russ Dyson; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Bob Majors; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on June 22, 1957.

The titular “Boston Quackie” is one of those detective types who is a “friend to those who need no friends” and an “enemy to those who have no enemies.” It’s the second time of three that McKimson would have Daffy play detective, but while the first short was pretty timeless by not parodying anything specifically, this one’s title alone will probably send a few later generations to the Google search bar. (Assuming the younger generations are willing to give these old films a chance and realize that they hold up beyond remarkably well. I’m doing what I can.)

At the moment, Quackie is having a Parisian vacation with his girlfriend, Mary, and a dog that can’t keep his mouth from disappearing. (He’s just the chaperone.) But work will have to come before pleasure as Quackie’s boss, Inspector Faraway, shows up. Don’t know why Mary isn’t pleased to see him show up. He’s the kind of boss I’d invite to go on trips with me. (Of course I still need a girlfriend. Why do you ask?) Quackie’s got a job to do: deliver a package to the consulate in West Slobovia. (And do say “Hi” to Judd Fudd if you see him. Heard he was looking for lepus in those parts.)

Sounds so simple that even a duckling could do it. But spies will be hunting that parcel and- actually, one’s got it already. Time to give chase! Target: male with green hat. I’ve already got a police sketch drawn up.

Careful! I hear he’s a merry man!

Quackie follows the thief to the train station, and onto the most threatening locomotive this side of “Cuphead”. If the shrieking whistle doesn’t make your pants wet themselves, the endless eyes watching from the compartments will make it so. But that’s why Quackie is a detective, and I’m an amateur animation historian. He gets on board. (Watch out for that blue guy! I bet he’s a ghoul.)

There’s the thief! He’s just ducked into one of the cabins. Quackie drills a hole and points his gun. Give up the case or make out with the bullets! Your choice! And yet, despite those very reasonable choices, he chooses to pun the gun inside and shoot Quackie! Cheater! Oh wait. We got the wrong guy. This one is clearly wearing a top hat. And it’s not green.  A customary tip of the hat and this guy is one his w-GREEN!  I saw green on that head! Get him, Quackie! Be a hero!

Well, we can’t be quite sure who this mysterious man is, but he is willing to have Quackie join him for a drink. Rookie error! Reveal that hat, Quackie! And… he’s got a number of any hat BUT green under that top one. Well played, Barty Clubbin. Drink time! And I wanna break character to say how on top of things Daffy is during this scene. Shoots the guy poisoning his tea without looking and dumping the deadly drink into the nearest spittoon. (Even makes Barty flinch.) Still, he manages to subdue the detective with the ‘how many lumps do you want’ gag.

Now we’re sure this is our man! Chase time! It’s brief, but Quackie is outfoxed, stuffed in a mail sack, and left hanging on the nearest mail hook. Barty could get away right here, but he didn’t see the railway crossing, and is knocked off himself. Just in time for Farway and Mary to arrive, the latter knocking the thief out for good with her anvil-laden purse. Time to get that package where it belongs. Upon delivery, Quackie is aghast to find that he has just participated in an instant coffee run. But the consulate reveals it’s better than that: it’s a jar of instant woman! (Err… was that water he added?) He needed an escort, and Quackie delivered. The duck figures their could be a market for this stuff, but I’m not sure humanity is ready for it. I still remember the instant hole fiasco.

Favorite Part: When Quackie is checking the compartments, he finds a man about to be stabbed. It’s also said victim who pulls the privacy shade down.

Personal Rating: 3. I’ve never really heard of “Boston Blackie” before today, but I managed to make it through without scratching my head.

Mexican Joyride

“Let’sth consider the ‘Good Neighbor’ policy.”

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3yzde8

Directed by Arthur Davis; Story by Dave Monahan; Animation by Don Williams, Basil Davidovich, J.C. Melendez, and Herman Cohen; Layouts by Thomas McKimson; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on November 29, 1947.

Vacation is all Daffy’s ever wanted. He has to get away! I hear Mexico is lovely every time of year. So down he drives. It’s weird to not see him flying or hitchhiking. (You know, like how most birds do.) Upon arrival, it’s time to do what’s first on anyone’s mind after a traveling trip.

The first thing we want to know about! Eating! Mexico is well known for having delicious food. Enchiladas, tamales, tacos, burritos, serapes, huevos, and those little jumpy beans you probably wouldn’t try if you knew what they actually were. I’m getting hungry already! Daffy digs in, wondering why he’s heard people say that this food is spicy. He’s not having any problems. Unless you call a fireplace in the mouth a problem. (You do? I didn’t know that about you.)

Daffy begs for some liquid to soothe his scorched mouth, not yet aware that water will do do absolutely nothing. (Or was it known back then and just not acknowledged?) The bartender is happy to oblige, but grabs the tequila. Judging by the pile of stiffs, he still thinks this will be hilarious the tenth time. (It is. Don’t worry.)

Time for tourist activities. Bullfights sound exciting if you’re a psycho. So Daffy…

He’ll have a great time.

Or I’ve spoken too soon. Much like me, Daffy is constantly disappointed that the bull is failing to hit the evil human that is trying to kill an innocent and cute creature. But unlike me, Daffy’s complains that it’s the bull’s problem. And that’s more than a proud bovine can take. So he stomps into the stands to give the duck what for. Daffy fails to notice that the stands are clearing out until its too late. The bull will show Daffy by… making the duck fight… him. Well, things will probably turn out better for him than these guys:

Daffy tries to nail the pen shut with the bull outside, but the bull is helping. One of these two is going to leave the arena in pieces, and his horns and bulk say it won’t be him. But first, he must take a phone call. It’s Daffy giving a farewell message, and the game is on! When the bull charges Daffy’s cape, we fade-out for no real reason that I can see. Why not just do a quick cut? Then Daffy tries a trick that he knows works on birds: covering the bull’s eyes, so he thinks it’s night. (Another fade. Tricked me into thinking we had cut to a whole new joke.) Works until the bull hits a wall.

Time for a cartoon staple: hiding in one of three hiding places, with your pursuer checking all three. Things are made more fun this time, with Daffy popping up to claim to the bull that he isn’t under the last one to check. The bull thinks otherwise, but thanks to another staple: the vocal switch-around, Daffy has him claiming that his prey ISN’T under the last hat. And he’s willing to bet money on that. Daffy makes a tidy profit with the bull’s life savings. (Living through bull fights pays great.)

Since he can no longer face his friends and is now homeless, destitute and useless, (Daffy’s words not mine!) the duck tells him suicide is really the only viable option left. (No it isn’t. I used to look up to you, duck!) But when the bull misses, Daffy makes the mistake of giving him a tommy-gun. Oh, it’s not a mistake because convincing anyone to off themselves is the worst thing you can do don’t try and debate me, it’s a mistake because the bull comes to his senses and is now extra angry and wielding a tommy-gun.

Time to cut the trip short! Daffy runs back to his hotel for his stuff, loses the bull in the elevator, and drives for home, happy to be safe. We all know who’s riding in the backseat, but he’s staying silent for now. Just giving us a wink, and quietly plotting Daffy’s murder. (Which will get a whole lot worse if the bull finds those seats are made of leather.)

Favorite Part: After Daffy advises suicide. He’s already got a butcher shop set up. When life gives you hamburger, right?

Personal Rating: 3

People are Bunny

“Have a handful o’ blanks.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, Tom Ray, and George Grandpre; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on December 19, 1959.

Those born in 2010 C.E. and beyond might just never be able to understand the joy of actually watching T.V. None of this streaming crap; I’m talking about turning on the tube, flipping through the channels to find something, and either getting elated at your lucky find, or having to turn things off and read a book or play with your dog instead. As usual, we’ve sacrificed experience for ease, and while I can’t say Netflix doesn’t have a good many perks, it just isn’t the same.

But imagine how people like me must have felt in the fifties, when television was ruining the enjoyable trips to the motion pictures that used to be an occasional treat on par with visiting amusement parks and zoos. All of this tirade, just so I can point out that our short opens with Daffy watching television. Good thing his home has an island to keep the set functioning. The current show is “The Sportsman’s Hour” which is hosting a contest: be the first one to bring back a rabbit and win $1,000.00. That’s not too shabby. Say, doesn’t Daffy know a rabbit?

Daffy isn’t stupid enough to just outright tell Bugs to go with him to the studio, so he tries to sell the idea by offering him his extra ticket to said location. Bugs isn’t stupid enough to follow Daffy, instead claiming to be too busy for any fun today. Daffy makes him change his mind by taking a gun off the wall, and marching him to the studio. (Why does Bugs have two of those?) Upon reaching the place, Daffy sees exactly what kind of prizes this station can afford to give away. How’d that guy get the key to Fort Knox? And what’s his address? I’m suddenly in the mood to make a new best friend for one month!

Too bad Daffy is already busy trying to win a prize, or he could probably try for another. Wait, why give the benefit of doubt with that duck’s greed? He marches Bugs into a phone booth for safekeeping, and rushes to get himself a grab of the goodies. (Good thing nobody else was watching “The Sportsman’s Hour” or he’d probably get beaten to the punch.) While Bugs is winning call-in sweepstakes in the booth, Daffy has managed to become the contestant on “People are Phony”. (Not ‘Bunny’?) With a title like that, you’ll have enough material to reach “Sesame Street” levels of seasons.

The host, Art Lamplighter, (heh) tells us what Daffy is doing: going out into the world and helping an elderly women cross the street in 20 minutes. She isn’t Granny, but seeing as how this is a post-1950 world, you’d be forgiven for just assuming any elderly woman in the Looneverse was Granny. She also doesn’t want help crossing the street and beats Daffy the whole way. On the return trip, Daffy is run over, so Art declares him lost. (You know, when I was a contestant on this show, I helped an old lady cross a street and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.)

Daffy goes back to collect Bugs, who is still counting his winnings. He lures Daffy into the booth by saying the guy who gave him the dough might call back, and then imitating a ringing phone. (Woah! I didn’t know Bugs could make his arm disappear!) Daffy takes the bait, and the TNT receiver Bugs left for him. Bugs is now loose in the studio, and can disguise himself as an usher to send Daffy into the wrong rooms, or as a director on “Costume Show.” (Wow. That has ‘second season’ written all over it.) He gets Daffy in and in costume too: a rabbit costume.

Following stage instructions, Daffy walks out on the set of “The Sportsman’s Hour” with Bugs dressed as in Elmer attire. (I know Bugs is slightly taller than Daffy, but did the duck shrink in that suit?)Bugs wins another prize. Daffy reveals that he is actually a duck, and that suits the host just fine as the shortest rabbit season on record has just ended, and the shortest duck season has just begun. Fire away!

Favorite Part: Daffy inviting Bugs on the outing and the exasperated “Oh, boy!” and eye roll Bugs lets out. He knows him too well.

Personal Rating: 3

Don’t axe me

“What’s getting into these animuwls, today?”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Tedd Bonnicksen, George Grandpre, and Tom Ray. Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Bill Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by: Mel Blanc; Music Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on January 4, 1958.

Feeding time on Fudd Farm! First up, feeding the duck. Daffy is the self admitted pig who eats every bite of his meal, the dish it was served in, then grumbles about not having more. He’s also not pleased to see the local Barnyard Dawg be given a ham and not him. (Sounds like I’m indicating that Daffy is into vore.) He eats that too, and shows the dog his chicken impression: drumming the serving dish over the dawg’s head.

Elmer missed the theft, so he scolds “wover” for chasing the duck, and banishes the beast inside. It’s there where we see someone we’ve never seen before, and I’m not sure ever again: The Mrs., Eloise Fudd! I knew Elmer wasn’t gay! There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s misinformation. That’s what bothers me, you understand. She’s just got off the phone with the reverend, who is coming to their place for dinner. She just needs an idea of what to serve, and brother, does that dawg have just the “duckiest” suggestion!

Despite her stating that she loves charades, she proves to not be very good at it, as the dawg has to eventually tell her outright what she should cook. Luckily, she sees this as a good idea and tells her husband to kill the bird. Hilariously, Elmer is considering it a pleasure. I mean, you’re liable to go bankrupt feeding THAT duck on farmer’s salary. (You’d need to at least be a carpenter.) Daffy tries saving his neck by using the PETA spiel. Mentioning that SOME farmers raise birds from egg to chick to adult, just to kill and eat them. Almost like… dare I mention the word… farming!

But not good ole Elmer! Since he has no need for an axe, Daffy chucks it in the well. Barnyard retrieves it, and Daffy beans him with it for his troubles. Elmer decides to use a razor, as it is more discreet. (I mean, sure, but you got to be more precise.) Daffy calls his bluff, and the farmer claims he was just going to shave. (I’d be a little disturbed if my poultry started talking. Don’t eat speaking meat.) Daffy does the whole “slave shtick” again, with the same results. No buttering up will keep a head from rolling now! Daffy at least requests the axe be sharp. Get it done quick-like, you know. Elmer agrees, and Daffy has an excuse to grind the axe to near nothing. Fade-out on a giggling Elmer readying his gun!

Cut to dinner time, Eloise hopes their guest will enjoy the poultry dinner. Only now does he feel need to mention that he’s a vegetarian. Too bad the fade-out wasn’t a fake-out, as Daffy has already been shot, de-feathered, and put in the roasting pan. At least the only thing dead is his dignity.

Favorite Part: Eloise’s charade guessing leading her to believe “wover” is suggesting “woast dawg” for supper. I don’t want her on my team!

Personal Rating: 3

Tease for Two

“If you ask me, I’d say he is a very rude duck.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by David Detiege; Animation by Warren Batchelder, Bob Matz, and Manny Perez; Layouts by Dick Ung; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Lee Gunther; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Looney Tune released on August 28, 1965.

It’s the mid-sixties, it’s a Daffy cartoon, so he’ll be partaking in his usual feud with Speedy, no doubt? Actually, he’s not the featured rodent at all! Believe it, if you would be so kind, that Daffy is facing off against Mac and Tosh! Which surprises me, no end. What are the Goofy Gophers doing making any appearances after the original studio shut down? Whatever it was, they wouldn’t do it a second time.

I guess it just makes sense to have them here, as Daffy is following a stupidly easy map to gold, and Speedy is too domesticated to live in a hole in the ground. Daffy tells them to beat it, but they refuse to. (Politely, naturally.) They’ve got an honest-to-goodness deed to the property that says they are staying right where they are. Daffy chooses to plunge them out, rubs their heads together, (I don’t get it, but the action delights me for some reason,) and sends them off via can, mockingly repeating the farewell they gave him not a minute earlier with pitch perfect accuracy. (Both gophers are voiced by Mel here. He’s doing great, but Stan was simply wonderful as the other half.)

The two burrow back into their hole and leave a lit TNT stick for Daffy to find. (Mac jumps briefly during the countdown. Giddy, perhaps?) Daffy tries to tow them out via a rope tied to lettuce, but their vegetarian diet is doing wonders for their upper body strength, and they don’t budge; Daffy’s jeep’s frame gets ripped off the wheels. And they have more explosives to spare, leaving a bomb for Daffy to vacuum up. (Of course it’s lit. What uncouth creatures do you take these gophers for?) Daffy puts what he thinks is them in a trash can with a boulder on top, and the explosion sends the can over him, and the boulder on top.

Daffy next tries to flood them out, mistakenly thinking this kind of thing always works. But being more refined than Virgil and Ross, they simply cork the hose. All the water Daffy intended to send their way quickly builds up, and when it can go no larger, bursts, sending Daffy into the stratosphere. He gets hilariously poetic, musing about the silence up here, meets a friendly, passing cosmonaut, and is smart enough to realize that his reentry is going to burn. This whole sequence has raised the rating a number.

While Daffy isn’t looking, the two simply move the land-marker rock Daffy followed here in the opposite direction. Once he notices, he packs up his shovel and tries where he figures he should have been all along. (In typical Daffy function, he doesn’t even consider apologizing.) And to show how polite they really are, the gophers even throw a nugget for him to find. Their place IS loaded with the stuff, remember. Heck! They probably made the map as a way to make new friends and share happiness! (The greedy get the piss taken out of them first.) But since greed is a sin, they won’t be giving him more than the one piece. But they will humor him, and paint many of the plain rocks the same color. Man, these guys are pleasant!

Favorite Part: If not the whole space scene, then it’s after they first show the duck the deed. Giving him the polite version of ‘Get off our property!’: “It’s been so nice meeting you!” “Drop around again, sometime!”

Personal Rating: 3. I’m honestly surprised it took so long for Daffy to get paired up with this pair. The differing personalities scream comedy. Shame we couldn’t have seen it with a higher animation budget.

Well Worn Daffy

“I would walk a mile to punch a camel in the nose.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by David Detiege; Animation by Warren Batchelder, Bob Matz, LaVerne Harding, Norm McCabe, Don Williams, and Manny Perez; Layouts by Dick Ung; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Lee Gunther; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Looney Tune released on May 22, 1965.

It’s a one of those hot days that deserts are known for. You can tell by how wildly the sun is pulsating. Speedy is in the midst of dying of thirst with a couple of pals, Pedro and Jose. Just as they are about ready to give up all hope, they spot a well with an oasis around it. Plenty of water there, but it’s off limits as the ones claiming it are Daffy and his camel. They don’t show any proof that they own the place, but they have a gun with them. That’s pretty realistic.

This situation is rather tortuous. Not helping it any is Daffy purposely wasting the water in front of the dehydrated mice. (And even if he was willing to share, that would mean trying to get a drop away from that camel. You seen the intake on those things?) Speedy comes up with a clever plan: he gets Daffy to chase him while the other two make a dash for the H2O. It works decently, but they didn ‘t count on the guard camel actually being in the well. Speedy decides to just try again, not giving any indication that the camel has even left the well by this point.

Well, guess the camel is gone or drowned by this point as Speedy gets a dipper full of the life juice. Daffy manages to succeed in stopping him though, by shooting the container. That is pretty dang impressive seeing as it’s Daffy. And no, the camel is still alive. Speedy learns this when the dromedary succeeds to keep the water from leaving with a trip wire. (I don’t like his laugh. It’s kinda unnerving. And yet, it kinda sounds like what I think a camel would sound like if it could laugh. Which makes it all the more disturbing.)

Okay, so carrying any water away doesn’t seem to have any chance of success. Speedy tries siphoning. He gets Daffy from the hose, who lets them have more gunshots. (Speedy looks so unnatural running away slow and lumbery. Is the lack of water finally taking its toll?) Daffy loads up with all the water he and Camel Joe can hold, and to make sure the mice die, he leaves explosives around the well. Speedy ties them to Joe’s tail and the two run for their lives, losing their water reserves in the process.

Finally allowed to drink, the mice grow swollen on the precious resource. A desperate duck and camel soon come calling, begging for the rodents to spare a drink. (The camel is clearly faking to spare Daffy’s feelings. His hump isn’t even sagging.) Proving that being the “bigger man” is always figurative, Speedy sprays him with the hose.

Favorite Part: Joe saying that Daffy gives him a headache. He doesn’t enjoy hanging around the mallard, but why give up all the free water that comes with the job?

Personal Rating: 2