Sunday, 12 August 2012

188. Daffy Duck and Egghead (1938)

Warner cartoon no. 187.
Release date: January 1, 1938.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Tex Avery.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Daffy Duck, Turtle, Duck Catcher), Danny Webb (Egghead) and Ted Pierce (Silhouette Audience Member).
Story: J.B. "Ben" Hardaway.
Animation: Virgil Ross.
Musical Score: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Egghead is a duck hunter out for a duck but ends up pestered by Daffy Duck.

This is the first cartoon of the new year; 1938. Of course this cartoon is also-well known for being Daffy Duck's second appearance after Porky's Duck Hunt was successful in which more Daffy Duck cartoons would follow and the studio already found another star other than Porky. This is also the first cartoon where Daffy Duck is identified. Of course back in the 1930s and early years; Daffy Duck was just a mere screwball who would just pester the lives out of anyone and jump about being excited - before he then got toned down in the 1940s as he sort of became an everyman but of course he would still perform his "Hoo hoos" through the years.

Bugs Hardaway.
Egghead here has gone through another design as he has now got a very long nose; and even hair and caricatured as Joe Penner; and that is the design that Ben Hardaway and Cal Dalton much preferred when they made Egghead cartoons. Ben Hardaway appears to have returned to the staff after his stint directing some God-awful Buddy cartoons in 1934-1935; I believe he went off to Ub Iwerks afterwards but returned to Schlesinger sometime around 1937 or earlier as a story artist but is credited here on this cartoon. Of course; Bugs Hardaway was a nut for crazy characters and this probably shows his influence on Daffy Duck here; as well as the early prototype screwy Bugs Bunny cartoons; and let's not forget - Woody Woodpecker for Walter Lantz.

Before the establising shot of the cartoon begins; we find that a blue screen features these two nutshells; the first "nut" to pop out is Daffy Duck as he cheers towards the audience. The second "nut" to pop out of the shell is of course; Egghead as they are the two stars of this cartoon. I like how it is displayed at the beginning where those two characters are 'nuts' but evidently Daffy is even more nuts.

Egghead has already gone out of his shell where he is wearing hunting uniform and is holding onto his shotgun. Daffy turns to look at Egghead in which he makes a scared take until he "woos" out of the scene. Egghead then fires with his shotgun missing the target until he runs off after Daffy. The smoke from Egghead's shotgun then form into words as they read: DUCK SEASON OPENS TODAY. The opening shot was a rather good introduction to those characters; and of course it gives the chance for the audience to welcome Daffy Duck who would be the new star of the cartoon. The opening scene with Daffy and Egghead's introduction is Irv Spence's animation of course as he draws Daffy really looney-looking as well as his loosey-goosey animation. The screen then fades to a description card where it is a warning to the viewer: The events and ducks depicted in this photoplay are fictitious. Any similarity to actual ducks, either living or roasted is purely co-incidental. Of course those cautions are not even gags as they really were used back then in motion pictures but I guess that Avery might've been using it as a little bit of a joke since of course; this is just an animated cartoon and we know it is just fiction.

 The cartoon then finally starts to begin (after the established shot and note) where we view a pond at the sunrise and we notice that the sun continues to rise with that colour effect that was done pretty well and it is a pretty decent background. My guess is that this was one layout drawing of the pond but the effect was done maybe with the painter painting several versions of it getting lighter; just a thought. William Tell Overture is heard in the background here as it's a pretty popular Stalling cue when it comes to sunrise sequences.

Egghead then enters the scene as he is hiding under the cat-tail plants by the plant. He comments very quietly to the audience (and of course his voice is caricatured after Joe Penner), 'Gee it's awfully quiet. My goodness. I wonder if there are any more hunters out here this morning?' Egghead gets his answer when opposite Egghead is an entire group of hunters that are hiding just about everywhere that is directly opposite him. They all come out together as they shout, 'Oh yeeeaahhh!' and lower themselves down. Now that is a rather funny reference considering that they proved Egghead he wasn't the only one. But for the time it was released it would've been funnier because the 'Oh yeeeaah!' is a catchphrase from an old radio show called 'The Ken Murray Show' where it was said by Tony Labriola's character, Oswald. So even for a today audience watching this wouldn't even think that was a radio joke and consider that was such an original line from the staff on this cartoon. Egghead then starts to hear a duck quacking in which he starts to walk over with his gun pointed so he can shoot a duck.

Egghead then starts to move himself slightly to get himself at a better position to shoot the duck at the pond. At that shot; we find that there is a member of the audience who is standing up interrupting the sequence. The man in silhouette is of course story man Ted Pierce who is probably well known for being the person behind the silhouetted audience in these 1930s cartoons.

As he stands up, Egghead notices that he's intruding the quietness in which he shushes the audience member and tries to lower him down quietly, 'Sit down. There's a duck in here. Sit down!' The audience member then lowers himself down. Egghead then starts to try and position himself again to hunt for a duck; but then the audience member stands back up; in which Egghead gets annoyed again and tries to lower him down in a more assertive albeit quiet voice, 'Sit down! Sit down!' the audience member then takes his advice in which he lowers himself again. After getting back to position again, he then stands up but this time Egghead isn't taking any more delays in which he fires with his gun towards the audience members and shoots him in the chest. The audience member then starts to spin around after being shot until be falls to the ground. A rather grim ending to the gag but it is also very hilarious; even the fall itself. I love how that Egghead is basically an actor on stage and even gets distracted when someone in the audience stands up; and it goes to show that characters can be actors too which I think is very typical of Tex Avery as he loved to experiment with audience members interrupting the action. It makes the cartoon much more interesting to view and much more funnier. It would be great if actual footage of Ted Pierce pretending to be an audience member actually existed. I know that Michael Barrier actually has some dialogue that exists in this cartoon.

After Egghead pats his hands with effort; he then finally hears a duck quacking. Egghead then opens up the cat-tail leaves by him to look over for a duck. It turns out to be Daffy Duck (as he appears in the screen) in which he bites Egghead in the nose making a funny honking sound effect. Egghead then covers his nose, rather startled.

Egghead: That's duck's, crazy!
Daffy Duck: You tellin' me?

Daffy then starts to pinch Egghead on the nose again until he starts to act all excited by jumping around the pond whooping excitedly. Of course the whooping sounds were inspired by Hugh Herbert (Yes, I finally corrected his name). The animator of that particular scene where Daffy just jumps around the pond with excitement appears to be a conservative animator who was given a chance to animate something loose but it feels stiff but at least it would've given the audience a chuckle. After Daffy's crazy moment, he then lands into some cat-tail plants that are located in the middle of the plant. Egghead has already prepared himself for further plans in unsuccessful ways of catching a duck. The first attempt; Egghead has a box in front of him called ONE LOVE-LURE DECOY. Egghead then unwinds a female duck decoy which is meant as a distraction for Daffy Duck so he would come over with the decoy. Egghead then places the female decoy on the pond as it swims over to the cat-tail field where Daffy is hiding. The music played of where the decoy swims in the pond is The Lady in Red which is of course another popular Stalling cue mainly where it features a woman or female.

After the decoy has swum over as it can't be seen. We then start to hear Daffy quacking rather madly. Daffy swims over to the side of the pond where Egghead is standing in which Daffy pulls out a sign from under the water that reads T'Aint Funny McGee which is of course direct reference to Fibber McGee and Molly whenever McGee would tell a bad joke, Molly would reply 'T'aint funny, McGee'.

After the decoy trap has failed. Egghead then attempts to just shoot Daffy from under the water. Egghead points his gun to the water in which Daffy plops his head out from the water to which Egghead sinks his head under. Egghead then starts to feel something rather weird to his gun which is why he has that odd look on his face. He pulls his gun to find out that Daffy has tied the front part of his gun into a knot which comes to a surprise to Egghead. Egghead is frustrated that even his gun plan failed so he tosses that away. Egghead then decides to look under to see what Daffy is doing under there. Of course what Egghead finds is that Daffy is under there as he bites his nose. Obviously that is a Avery gag where Egghead just lifts the water like lifting a rug since being impossible though charming which Avery knew how to do. Daffy Duck, once again, jumps over the pond whooping happily and excitedly acting all looney. After a moment of acting wacky; Daffy then starts to jump to the front part of the audience as he breaks the forth wall commenting, 'I'm not crazy, I just don't give a darn!' then he starts to act all excited and looney again. There is a musical piece played in the background which I am unsure of since it's the same music heard to the first time Daffy jumps around the pond "hoo-hooing". I'm just not sure of the music.

After a wacky sequence; we then start to move onto another lengthy sequence where we find the first thing is Egghead looking for Daffy and Daffy jumps onto land. Daffy Duck is also holding onto Egghead's shotgun until they starts to overtake each hand holding on the shotgun until Daffy then snatches the shotgun and tosses it away. Egghead is holding his arm out with his fist clenched. Daffy punches his fist until it swings and hits Egghead's head.

That bit of timing where Egghead punches himself was rather funny; and I love how Egghead was drawn in this sequence all big-eyed and cartoonie - and that whole sequence was handled by Irv Spence. After a little battle towards each other, a turtle then turns up at the spot in which he breaks up the fight. 'Just a minute, chums!' the Turtle hear has a voice of the radio comic character Parkakarkus (and appears to be rather popular around this period). The turtle then hands out two pistols as he's the referee of Daffy and Egghead, 'Chose your weapon'.

The turtle then starts to ask Daffy and Egghead one at a time to turn around as they are going to perform a gun duel. I do like how the turtle just changes position of his shell so he can ask Egghead and Daffy to turn around. Daffy then peaks behind to look over in which the turtle replies angrily, 'Keep your nose out of people's business, ain't it?' Daffy Duck then stops turning. The turtle referee then asks 'Backs together' as Egghead and Daffy walk backwards to each other so they are touching each others backs.

The turtle then instructs Daffy Duck and Egghead to 'walk ten paces' he then asks for them to afterwards, 'turn and fire'. They then start to take steps as the turtle counts. The timing of when they walk on the spot (as the turtle counts and counts faster) is just very good timing as Irv Spence has really timed it well; and I do wonder what the exposure sheets for that would've looked like? The funny part was that Daffy cheats in the game in which he turns around quickly behind Egghead's back in which Egghead turns and fires. Instead of hitting Daffy as that was the initial plan, he instead then hits the turtle's shell. I like how that the bullet hits the shell in which it causes the turtle to hit his head against a tree. Spence finishes the sequence with the turtle hitting the tree; and then it's a different animator when Daffy hands over the cigar to Egghead; and of course it doesn't explode (if that was the plan).

What I almost forgot to mention was that notice how that even though Daffy is named; he still hasn't been completely finalised yet. His lisp hasn't been developed for this cartoon, and of course with design - the colours are wrong even though it was only his 2nd appearance and first colour appearance as we already completely notice that Daffy Duck has a blue ring around his neck and his beak is more yellowish than an orange-type colour so he hasn't been completely developed - other than being a screwball duck.

Egghead; infuriated with his plans then starts to toss the cigar away as he picks up his rifle and fires. As Egghead aims for Daffy as he fires; Daffy turns around whilst walking away as he finds that he is about to get shot by Egghead. He pauses him as he puts on an apple on top of his head for Daffy to aim for the target. Each step Daffy takes for him to close closer (we hear 'William Tell Overure' in the background).

The first attempt of when Egghead fires; the bullet misses Egghead in which it fires at a tree trunk causing a hole. On the second attempt (and Daffy steps in closer) the bullet then hits the water; and we start to find that Egghead is in fact a very bad aimer. Daffy walks up even closer; but once again Egghead misses again as he blows up a barn in the background which I think is very funny. Daffy gets even more annoyed at the fact that Egghead keeps on missing his target that he takes the apple off his head and walks over and stays about a centimetre away from Egghead's gun. He places the apple on top of his head and wakes for Egghead to fire. Egghead fires again, even aiming for the right position but he fails miserably. Daffy Duck then starts to remove the apple he had on his head; and he throws it out of the scene. He walks over to Egghead; he places a pencil case on his hand, then some blind glasses and a poster (with a rope attached to it around his neck) as the card reads BLIND. Of course that is a blind joke; and it may have been a little harsh by adding the glasses to with it; but it's still very funny that Daffy considers him blind because he keeps on failing at aiming for the apple. Daffy then starts to tut towards Egghead in a way to mock him, as he states about his "blindness"; 'Too bad. Too bad'. Even that comment Daffy makes is just friggin' awesome as he pretty much owned Egghead.

After that funny sequence with Egghead. Daffy then starts to walk over cheering happily and hooing excitedly. He then shouts out to the audience (in one of them Avery typical quotes), 'Hold your seats folks, here we go again'. He then starts to shout excitedly once more.

Daffy Duck then starts to go into song as he's singing a song about himself which is substitute lyrics to the song The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down. He starts off his song by singing, "My name is Daffy Duck / I worked on a Merry-Go-Round / The job was swell / I did quite well / Till the Merry-Go-Round". Daffy Duck then starts to shout excitedly as he bounces his rear end to the ground in beat (also very funny). He then walks over contenting his song, "The guy that worked with me / was a horse with a lavender eye / Around in whirls, we winked at girls / Till the merry-go-round broke down". Daffy Duck then starts to grab out a flute as he plays the flute in rhythm to the song.


After the flute playing; we find that there is a lilypad lying in the lake and a frog jumps onto it. Daffy then jumps over to the lilypad and he rides it in a Merry-Go-Round style. He continues his song, "Up and down and round we sped / The dizzy pace soon went to my head / Now you know why I'm dizzy / And do the things I do / I am a screw and you'd be too / If the Merry Go Round broke down". Daffy then starts to laugh excitedly with the song in which then he starts to go into finale. Daffy Duck then starts to go into the finale in which he sings, 'Yes the Merry-Go-Round bbbrrrrrooooookkkkkkeeeeeee..." and you will notice that when he is singing a long note on the word, "broke" his neck then stretches taller and we find that his neck is so tall that there are multiple blue rings around his neck which is a rather stunning bit of animation which was also cleverly animated, too. Daffy then finished the last word of the song, "...down" in which he sings that word very quietly which is the funny part of the finale. His lake reflection then starts to come out of the water to join Daffy Duck until both of them then dive under the pond for some fun. I find that that minute-song sequence is easily one of the best song adaptations in any Warner Bros. cartoon in my opinion; and I call it one of the highlights of this cartoon as Daffy is still in his excited mood and it's one of those song sequences that I actually NEVER get tired of watching because of its kooky animation by Irv Spence who animated that entire song sequence himself and also that I find the lyrics and theme very appealing and a clever parody to the 'Merry-Go-Round Broke Down' song. I find that it's very fun to listen to. Of course; since Daffy doesn't lisp in this cartoon, but a slight lisp can be heard here.

After the fun lengthy sequence with Daffy and his singing song; the action of the cartoon is then brought back as we find that Egghead hasn't given up on catching Daffy. He then pulls the blinds of the cat-tail plants as though they are a pair of blinds which I think was a clever thought-out gag. He looks over for Daffy Duck in the distance in which he shoots his gun after him with several bullets striking straight towards him.

Daffy notices that he is in trouble by the chasing by bullets in which he grabs out a scary mask to chase the bullets away. The bullets are of course scared of the monster mask in which they fun back and tuck inside Egghead's shotgun. I do like that sequence where the bullets just dive into his shotgun which is a funny gag; and the puzzled look on Egghead's face. For the third time so far in this picture Daffy Duck then starts to jump about excitedly over the pond in which he whoops very crazily. He hops onto a cat-tail, interrupting the action as he comments to the audience; 'Ain't I some cutey? I think I'll do it again. Ha-ha'; he jumps over the pond again once more repeating the whooping crazy action which of course would make an audience laugh since they would never see anything screwy in their life. Of course as you may expect, it's also the same music that Stalling has arranged for the shots where Daffy jumps around the pond excitedly but I'm not sure what the music is unless anybody could help me out in the comments.

Egghead is infuriated once more by his actions in which he then starts to think up ANOTHER plan. He grabs out a fishing reel in which attached to it are a pair of gloves. He places the reel by his shotgun (Avery has used that type of gag before in a cartoon) in which Avery has another trap. He uses a cat-tail to pull the gloves inside the shotgun.

Egghead then fires in which a pair of gloves come shooting out. A glove then grabs Daffy Duck by the neck and the other glove whacks him on top of the head knocking him unconscious. At last Egghead's trick has finally worked successfully in which he then grabs out a fishing net to trap Daffy Duck. Egghead then starts to cheer happily as he lifts his hat out and shouts out, 'Whoopee!' Egghead then starts to hear the sounds of a siren go on in which a van arrived at the spot which turns out to be a asylum ambulance. The duck asylum catcher then steps out to congratulate Egghead for catching Daffy Duck. Egghead is looking rather confused that he in fact not the only person who was hunting for Daffy Duck as he was also having troubles from the asylum, too which makes it a rather funny satire.


The duck catcher then walks over Egghead in which he thanks him by shaking his hand, 'Gee, thanks a lot, chum, for catching this goof'. The duck catcher then grabs the net with him as Daffy is still lying unconscious from the knockout. The duck catcher then asks Egghead; 'You know we've been after this guy for months. He's absolutely wing dingy, looney-tooney, and Oofty McGoofy. I feel sorry for the poor squirrel but I'm telling ya he's 100% nuts". Egghead then responds after listening to the duck catcher, 'Yeah?' The duck catcher responds, 'Yeah'.

Then the jokes is on Egghead once more as he's been double-crossed - by another screwy duck. The duck catcher then honks Egghead's nose in which Daffy Duck steps out of the net in which Daffy and the duck catcher beat up Egghead by kicking him. It turns out that they were both screwy ducks in which they jump over the lakes very excitedly and all over the place until they go all the way into the distance where they can't be seen. Egghead then starts to turn very angry until he goes over the edge and loses his mind completely. Egghead then starts to jump over to the lake and whoops around very excitedly duplicating every action of what Daffy Duck is doing; as well as the screwy duck. That is a very funny way to conclude the cartoon as our sympathies were to remain with Egghead but he fails so in the end in which he would have nothing to do but act screwy like Daffy Duck. It's a very funny conclusion to the cartoon, in my opinion as we know that Daffy Duck is the winner of this cartoon.


Overall comments: Even though being Daffy Duck's second appearance and also the first time he appears in colour - I find that this cartoon is in fact a very good Daffy Duck cartoon even though very early. I have to say that Daffy kicks ass when he is a screwball; at least in this short. It wasn't until maybe at least after a couple of cartoons he started to have more personality other than being a 100% screwball which I think was his best suited personality. Daffy hasn't been completely finalised as I said, and they didn't have a complete colour code for him until Daffy Duck in Hollywood. The gags in this cartoon I thought were very funny, and this whole cartoon was a very funny cartoon and believe me - it's one of the fewer 1930s WB cartoons that I can actually re-watch again so I consider this a very good cartoon in the 1930s. The song sequence as I say is very good; and of course with Daffy Duck singing it - I expect it to be good. A lot of those 1930s songs for those cartoons I actually tend to forget (even though it's of course mostly popular songs) but 'Merry-Go-Round Broke Down' was of course a popular song of the time in which Daffy Duck parodies it. It's probably the first WB cartoon where a character would parody a popular song in which it shows that Avery was already off the idea of making songs where it had to include a popular song in.

Of course for an audience watching this cartoon today; they may consider Daffy Duck to be 'mentally unstable' here as we might think he has an illness but don't forget that back in those days mentally ill people wasn't a huge awareness of its time and Daffy was just meant to be a screwball; and this was just brand new for an audience to see since they never saw something screwy in their life. What interests me is that fact even though Ben Hardaway wrote the screenplay for this cartoon, the ending of this cartoon would also be much more similar a year later in the original ending of Hare-Um Scare-Um.  Avery was definitely at the top of his game with this cartoon as it was successful from beginning to end as he featured gags and very good characters. It's a shame since Daffy Duck was created by Tex Avery himself and that this cartoon and 'Daffy Duck in Hollywood' he would just abandon the character afterwards in which Daffy then became a character mostly left to Bob Clampett; and then other directors would go on and use him.

3 comments:

  1. Of course it wasn't his first appearance as the Laserdisc version of 'The Golden Age of Looney Tunes' said.

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    1. It was Daffy's first Technicolor cartoon, and a.a.p. only had the rights to the pre-1948 colored stuff (Warner Bros., by way of Sunset/Guild and Seven Arts, owns the syndication rights to Daffy's very first outing, the black-and-white "Porky's Duck Hunt," released April 17, 1937).

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  2. The turtle is another version of :Parkykarkykas (as in "Porky's Hero Agency" and both voiced by Mel Blanc....other songs include "Traauma?"trad.((the song before "The erry go-Round Broke Down") anmd "Bob White" (WB reent) the final scene.

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