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August 28, 2015

The Five: Daffy Duck's greatest moments

by Adam Finley, posted Jun 4th 2006 7:04AM

daffy duckWhile each of the Looney Tunes characters had their own personality, even those personalities would differ depending on which era the cartoon was made, and who was directing. Porky Pig, for example, was often portrayed as the neurotic foil, but in later cartoons with Daffy Duck he was often the calm voice of reason. Daffy also differed greatly in personality from his early days under the supervision of Bob Clampett when he truly lived up to the name "daffy" to his eventual evolution into the selfish but lovable duck most people know him as today. Trying to keep these two sides of Daffy's psyche in mind, I've come up with five of what I think are his best shorts:

Duck Amuck (1953): "And on this farm he had an igloo...." This was one of my favorite cartoons growing up, and still is today. Daffy finds himself at the mercy of an unseen director who erases and paints in new scenery, erases Daffy himself, and even messes with the music soundtrack and Daffy's own voice. Al the while Daffy tries to reason with him, but to no avail. In the end it's revealed that the man with the magic pencil and paintbrush is actually Bugs Bunny.

Robin Hood Daffy (1958): In this episode, Daffy plays a rather inept Robin Hood who tries to convinces Porky Pig's Friar Tuck that he is indeed the one and only. He makes several attempts to prove his heroism, but only manages to crash into trees and rocks. The "fight" between Daffy and Porky on the log where Daffy repeatedly smacks himself in the face is one of the best slapstick moments ever.

Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century (1953): Daffy plays Duck Dodgers in this great science fiction spoof, with Porky as his eager (and much smarter) first mate. Daffy must set out to find Planet X and recover the coveted "shaving cream atom." According to Daffy, they will begin their journey by going "30,600 miles due 'up'." Porky suggests they simply follow the planets in alphabetical order. Marvin the Martian makes an appearance in this cartoon, as well, and there's plenty of great pseudo-scientific gadgets, such as Daffy's "Ultimatum Dispatcher " that fires a bullet that unfurls a sign reading, "Surrender, or be blown into 17,670,002 micro cells." Of course, this leaves Marvin no choice but to use his "Ultimatum Answerer" which fires a bullet that simply shoots Daffy in the face.

The Great Piggy Bank Robbery (1946): I'm an animation fan, but not an expert, so I can sometimes notice variations from one director to another, but not always. There is a pretty clear distinction, however, between how Bob Clampett approached Daffy Duck and how people like Chuck Jones handled him later. Under Clampett, Daffy was utterly and undeniable INSANE. This cartoon is a fantasy sequence in which Daffy imagines himself to be "Duck Twacy," trying to escape the clutches of a band of Chester Gould-type villains. I don't know if it's the best-written Daffy Duck cartoon, but visually it's nothing short of amazing.

Yankee Doodle Daffy (1943):  Definitely one of my favorite Daffy cartoons, the duck is running on all cylinders in this short, trying to convince talent scout Porky Pig that his tiny duck protege, "Sleepy LaGoof," has what it takes to be a star. The thing is, the kid just sits on the chair slurping on a lollipop while Daffy does all the performances, which includes riding Porky around like a horse. It's pretty much impossible to describe Daffy's antics in words, as he jumps from one persona to the next so randomly your brain can hardly keep up. Robin Williams only wishes he was this funny.

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What about the one where Daffy tries to sell Porky Pig all sorts of high-tech gadgets for his house? Love the closing line: "For a small fee I can sell you this blue button to get you down."

June 05 2006 at 12:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

One of my favs is the one where Porky is doing taxes and Daffy tries to invade his house instead of flying south for the winter.

June 05 2006 at 12:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'd even go for "best not planned as a trilogy but wound up as one"

For Rabbit Fire!(1951), Rabbit Seasoning(1952), Duck! Rabbit, Duck!(1953)

I simply bust out laughing all the way through all 3, in fact I even have them tied together in a custom video for my portable player just so they can brightne my days.

June 04 2006 at 9:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Adam Finley

Look for a post about cartoons featuring both Bugs and Daffy tomorrow. :)

June 04 2006 at 4:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike Hoffpauir

Need to do a best Bugs/Daffy one next. Got 2 faves there. The abomidable snowman "I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George" (I still quote that one) and the rabbit/duck season one

June 04 2006 at 3:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Down, down, down! Mine, mine mine! I'm rich! I'm a happy miser."

June 04 2006 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What about the short where Daffy is arguing with Bugs about whether its duckhunting or rabbithunting season, and then convinces Elmer Fudd to shoot him in the face? I don't know the name, but its hilarious!

June 04 2006 at 2:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's a shame these cartoons aren't on television anymore.

June 04 2006 at 1:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I too enjoyed Duck Amuck as a kid and still do come 30 years later.

June 04 2006 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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