|Merrie Melodies (Daffy Duck/Bugs Bunny) series|
|Directed by||Charles M. Jones|
|Story by||Michael Maltese|
|Voices by||Mel Blanc|
|Music by||Carl Stalling|
|Layouts by||Maurice Noble|
|Backgrounds by||Philip DeGuard|
Warner Bros. Pictures|
The Vitaphone Corporation
|Release date(s)||February 28, 1953 (United States)|
Duck Amuck is a surreal animated cartoon directed by Chuck Jones and produced by Warner Bros. Cartoons. The short was released in early 1953 by The Vitaphone Corporation, the short subject division of Warner Bros. Pictures, as part of the Merrie Melodies series. It stars Daffy Duck, who is tormented by a seemingly sadistic, initially unseen animator, who constantly changes Daffy's locations, clothing, voice, physical appearance and even shape. Pandemonium reigns throughout the cartoon as Daffy attempts to steer the action back to some kind of normality, only for the animator to either ignore him or, more frequently, to over-literally interpret his increasingly frantic demands. In the end, the tormenting animator is revealed to be Bugs Bunny.
In 1994, it was voted #2 of The 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field, losing only to What's Opera, Doc?, also made by Chuck Jones and also written by Michael Maltese. It remains one of the most notable Warner animations, and has been inducted into the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
The short was included on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 1 DVD box set (with optional audio commentary by noted animation historian Jerry Beck) and the Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 1 Blu-ray box set. The short inspired the 2007 Nintendo DS game Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck.
The cartoon's title sequence and opening scene suggest Daffy Duck is to star as a musketeer, who boldly acts out an action scene with a fencing foil. As he thrusts the foil and advances, the background abruptly disappears, leaving a plain white screen. Confused by this, Daffy turns to the animator and asks him to complete the scenery. He walks off the screen, and the animator fills in a new background that has nothing to do with the previous scene. Daffy returns and starts to repeat his opening scene, but quickly notices the different background and leaves, returning in a different costume and altering his performance to match the new scene. The animator substitutes several different, unrelated backgrounds, each time prompting Daffy to change costumes until the background finally disappears completely.
Daffy then tries to reason with the animator that cartoons should have scenery. While he's talking, the animator erases him completely, then redraws him as a cowboy with a guitar. Daffy tries to play it but gets no sound. Holding up a sign asking "SOUND PLEASE!", his next attempts result in several random sound effects. Daffy also finds himself generating random sound effects for a moment before finally shouting angrily at the animator. After asking the animator just what was going on, Daffy demands some new scenery.
The animator draws a simple line-art background, then when Daffy asks for some color, paints Daffy himself in a bunch of random colors. Daffy yells, "NOT ME, YOU SLOP ARTIST!!", and the animator quickly erases his body and redraws him as a bizarre mismatched animal with a "screwball" flag on its tail. Daffy walks around and wonders to himself if he wasn't living up to his contract (and if he hadn't been keeping himself trim) and soon becomes suspicious of this form, before the animator draws a mirror nearby and reveals his form and he scolds the animator for making him hideous ("EEK! You know better than that!") and in response, the animator erases Daffy and the mirror. Daffy is redrawn as a sailor, and as he begins to sing "The Song of the Marines", the animator draws an ocean background around him, without a boat. Daffy promptly falls into the water and emerges on a distant island. He asks for a closeup, only to have the camera zoom up close to his eyes.
As he tries once again to negotiate with the animator to have an understanding, the screen frame falls on him. The animator draws a stick for Daffy to hold it up but it breaks and Daffy screams hysterically and rips apart the background, then in demanding to "get this picture started", becomes even more frustrated when the animator attempts to end the cartoon which prompts him to push the The End card away. Daffy apologizes to the presumed audience and dances for a moment while the film goes out of alignment, resulting in two Daffy Ducks on the screen. The two argue with each other and start to get in a fight, but the animator erases one of them just as the other takes a swing.
Daffy is then drawn into an airplane, which he excitedly flies around in until a mountain is drawn in his path. The plane crashes off-screen, resulting in Daffy flying on his own with only the windshield in front of him. He "bails" out of the remains of his plane and floats downward with a parachute, which the animator replaces with an anvil. Crashing to the ground, Daffy is seen hammering on the anvil while dizzily reciting "The Village Blacksmith". The animator replaces the anvil with an artillery shell, which explodes after a few more hammer strikes. Daffy finally snaps and angrily demands that the animator reveal himself. The animator draws a door in front of Daffy and closes it on him, then the camera draws back to reveal that the animator is Bugs Bunny at a drawing table, who says to the camera, "Ain't I a stinker?"
According to director Chuck Jones, this film demonstrated for the first time that animation can create characters with a recognizable personality, independent of their appearance, milieu, or voice. Although in the end, the animator is revealed to be Daffy's rival Bugs Bunny (who declares "Ain't I a stinker?"), according to Jones the ending is just for comedic value: Jones (the director) is speaking to the audience directly, asking "Who is Daffy Duck anyway? Would you recognize him if I did this to him? What if he didn't live in the woods? Didn't live anywhere? What if he had no voice? No face? What if he wasn't even a duck anymore?" In all cases, it is obvious that Daffy is still Daffy; not all cartoon characters can claim such distinctive personality.
In 1999 the film was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. This was the second of three animated shorts by Jones to receive this honor (the others are 1957's What's Opera, Doc? and 1955's One Froggy Evening). Jones has the distinction of being the only director (as of 2006[update]) with three animated shorts in the registry.
The cartoon's plot was essentially replicated in one of Jones' later cartoons, Rabbit Rampage (1955), in which Bugs Bunny turns out to be the victim of the sadistic animator (Elmer Fudd). A similar plot was also included in an episode of Baby Looney Tunes, in which Bugs was the victim, Daffy was the animator, and it was made on a computer instead of a pencil and paper.
In issue #94 of the Looney Tunes comic, Bugs Bunny gets his back at Daffy Duck by making him the victim, in switching various movie roles, from Duck Twacy in Who Killed Daffy Duck," a video game character, and a talk show host, and they always wound up with Daffy starring in Moby Dick (the story's running gag). After this, Bugs comments, "Eh, dis guy needs a new agent."
- Looney Tunes
- Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies filmography (1950–1959)
- Breaking the fourth wall
- Rabbit Rampage
- Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck
- Duck Amuck at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Duck Amuck at Internet Movie Database
- Duck Amuck at Keyframe - the Animation Resource
|Daffy Duck Cartoons