Sunday, December 14, 2014

“Introducing Daffy Duck”


That's exactly what I was doing on Thursday evening, December 11, 2014 - introducing Daffy Duck.   

I've mentioned the "Horror and Sci-Fi Film Appreciation Society", hosted by Keith Crocker, that I attend on Thursday nights.  We watch actual film prints or DVD versions of related films, introduced by Keith, and later commented upon by the members. This past week we wrapped up a "dinosaur-centric" series that had featured the following:  

"Unknown Island" (1948)

"The Land Unknown" (1957)

And the ultra-classic "King Kong" (1933), which prominently featured dinosaurs.  


With the final entry in the series to be "Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster" (1971),  I suggested -- and Keith was open to including -- an all-time favorite short cartoon of mine, "Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur" (1939).


So, I brought my DVD copy of "Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur", and introduced the cartoon as follows:  

“Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur” (1939) 

This is a very early effort by the great cartoon director Chuck Jones, who will later guide Daffy through some of his best and most well-known cartoons. 

The Duck Season / Rabbit Season Trilogy, “Duck Dodgers in the 24 th and a Half Century” with Porky Pig as his eager young space cadet, and “Duck Amuck” where Daffy is at the mercy of an unseen animator who controls every facet of Daffy’s existence.    

It’s also an early outing for DAFFY too.  It is the SIXTH of about 130 Daffy Duck theatrical appearances (counting his own cartoons and those that were part of the Bugs Bunny series) and is a very different Daffy than the one you may be used to. 


He's still in a prototypical design, has a higher-pitched and more frenetic voice, and is pursued by a prissy caveman hunter and his dinosaur.  The caveman is voiced like Jack Benny - but is not drawn to resemble him.    It also has one of my most favorite endings in all of cartoons.    


Mel Blanc, as he always has, voices Daffy -- and an actor named Jack Lescoulie does the Jack Benny caveman. 


You will enjoy this one!   

And, enjoy it they did.  Unanimously.  And, I daresay, more so than "Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster".  (...Maybe if Raymond Burr was on hand, it might have helped things!) 


The expected "good time was had by all", except Daffy, the Dinosaur, and the Jack Benny Caveman - who [SPOILER ALERT] all end up dead! 


"Ya know, maybe that wasn't such a HOT IDEA, after all!" 


"Good Night, folks!"  

 

2 comments:

Dan said...

Joe:

One of the early greats! Also an early use of a familiar Chuck Jones convention: the long pan shot of directional signs, which can serve the dual purpose of humor and eating up footage while saving money on animation (which surely made Leon Schlesinger happy!) Of course this would repeat as a prominent sequence within Jones' "Hunting Trilogy" some years later.

My favorite of the sign sequence in Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur reads "With Cavemen, it's Duckies 2 to 1" which is a parody of an early Lucky Strike cigarette slogan: "People Choose Luckies 2 to 1. Ironically, Jack Benny's radio show would be sponsored by Lucky Strike five years later.

I'm a fan of both Mr. Duck and Mr. Benny, so this short is second only to 1959's The Mouse That Jack Built in which Jack and his cast recorded their dialogue and were superbly animated as mice by Robert McKimson's crew. I recall another animated Jack Benny showed up on The Flintstones in the time machine episode as Nero fiddling while Rome burned... possibly voiced by Jack's old friend Mel Blanc?

I will admit, when I saw the header image for this post, I thought you were diving into The Daffy Doc which was one of the few early shorts shown in the syndication package on NY's WNEW... and boy, in those pre-VCR days, I just WAITED for that one to show up! – Dan

Joe Torcivia said...

Dan:

“The Daffy Doc” image served the dual purpose of being a very early image of Daffy (though not quite reflective of “Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur”) and one that gives off a feeling of “being introduced” – to tie in with the post’s title pun.

Always loved Jack Benny too but, despite the greater adherence to “The Jack Benny Program” that was seen in McKimson’s “The Mouse that Jack Built”, I still think “Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur” was the far funnier Benny-tribute. Jack Lescoulie got more laughs out of “his” Benny voice than did the genuine article.

The signs were great, and were indeed an early manifestation of Jones’ use of signs as a comedic device – be they a humorous progression as here and in the “Duck Season / Rabbit Season” cartoons, or as a means of communication by an otherwise silent character like Wile E. Coyote. Lucky Strike, Wheaties, 7-Up, those slogans were a part of everyone’s lives, and were expertly played by Jones.

As already noted, everyone loved this cartoon, and it briefly led into a wider discussion of Leon Schlesinger – that he didn’t believe that a cartoon should have a director, and employed the title of “Supervisor” and, on the flip side, left his “directors / supervisors” alone and un-interfered with to create the best cartoons they could.

It was great fun – and shows how these cartoons were made for ALL audiences! An attitude I wish was more prevalent overall.