Birth of a Notion is a 1946-animated, 1947-released Looney Tunes (re-issued as a Blue Ribbon Merrie Melodies, with the ending theme song still being that of the Looney Tunes) cartoon featuring Daffy Duck, as well as a dog named "Leopold" and an unnamed mad scientist. Director Robert McKimson used his "Barnyard Dawg" character design as Leopold, while the scientist is a caricature—both visually and vocally—of character actor Peter Lorre. The title is a play on Birth of a Nation, but there is no other connection to that film.
Birth of a Notion is one of three shorts that had been scheduled for direction by Bob Clampett before he left Warner Bros. Cartoons; the other two were Bacall to Arms and The Goofy Gophers, both of which were finished by Arthur Davis. Mel Blanc voiced Daffy Duck, Leopold and Joe Besser Duck, while uncredited Stan Freberg voiced the mad scientist.
Daffy, not feeling like going to the trouble of flying south for the winter like other ducks, manages to con the rather simple-witted dog, Leopold, into letting him stay for the winter by pretending to have saved Leopold's life. Unfortunately, Leopold's master is a mad scientist (modeled after actor Peter Lorre) who needs the wishbone of a duck for his experiment.
Daffy, understandably, is not keen on this notion, but instead of finding another place to stay, he keeps trying to get rid of the scientist, while Leopold tries to save his master's life. At one point, Daffy throws a baseball bat at the scientist from behind, and Leopold grabs it in time to keep the impact non-lethal; however, his master misunderstands, taking the bat away and breaking it into many pieces with his bare hands, while quietly intoning "Don't you know that might make me very angry, and I would do terrible, horrible things to you!" before patting a terrified Leopold on the head and saying "I'm going to bed now, Leopold."
Daffy then attempts to kill the scientist while he's sleeping. But it backfires when the scientist wakes up and starts to go after Daffy. Meanwhile, Leopold feels all too left out of the picture.
Daffy finally leaves and Leopold left after him when his master had a sudden desire for a dog's wishbone. So Daffy goes to another house, only to find another duck (with a Joe Besser-like voice and characterization) already there. That other duck kicks him into the air (the Southern way). So Daffy decides to give in and fly south. On his flight, he is surprised to find he has company: Leopold, somehow aided by a fan strapped to his back, is flying south too.
- When this cartoon aired on the now-defunct WB! channel, Daffy's attempt to stab the mad scientist in his sleep was cut.
- Several older syndicated prints had the Blue Ribbon ending sequence replaced with one utilized by Associated Artists Productions, featuring Bugs Bunny busting out of the Looney Tunes drum while the 1937 Merrie Melodies closing theme plays under it; see The Up-Standing Sitter for more info.
- Directed by: Robert McKimson
- Story: Warren Foster
- Animation: Fred Jones, Rod Scribner, Richard Bickenbach, Cal Dalton
- Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling
- Birth of a Notion at Internet Movie Database