Wednesday, 12 December 2012

223. The Daffy Doc (1938)

Warner cartoon no. 222.
Release date: November 26, 1938.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig / Daffy Duck / Dr Quack), Robert Bruce (Daffy's Conscience) and Sara Berner (Duck receptionist).
Animation: John Carey and Vive Risto.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Daffy Duck has been fired as a doctor's assistant and is desperate to find a patient to cure - ill or healthy. Porky ends up being the victim.

It appears to be around this time whenever a B/W title (starring Porky) had a different title - they had to include 'featuring Porky'. Perhaps because they thought an audience would be worried that Porky isn't in the cartoon?

The cartoon already begins with the action going on in the credits - as we find a silhouette action scene of an ambulance with ducks driving the van which gives the pacing a rather neat effect. The silhouette fades out into the identification of the van and the ducks as we see they are evidently doctors.

After arriving past to the hospital (via long-shot) we then view the outside of the hospital that is named: "Stitch in Time Hospital" - with the motto reading 'As we sew - so shall ye rip'. In the opening shots of the cartoons it feels like Clampett is influenced by the techniques that Frank Tashlin would use - particularly the long-shots and the background shots of the hospital as it appears to be presented in serious shot pacing. From inside the hospital - we find that a female duck receptionists is using the phone, as a nurse walks through the corridor. Sounds like that is Sara Berner's own voice she is using and this would be the first she has performed for the WB cartoons. Another background shot we focus on the operating room door that reads: DR. QUACK assisted by DAFFY DUCK (ALSO A QUACK). Which is a rather funny pun that demonstrates on how wacky Daffy is.

Inside the operating room we find that Dr. Quack is working very hard on his operation with Daffy Duck standing beside him. Dr. Quack uses his hands to get Daffy over and remarks, "I must have it quiet" as he appears to have a Scottish accent. Daffy nods as he then grabs out some signs to warn an audience watching the operation to be performed to be quiet.

Daffy grabs out signs reading: Sssh, Hush 'Yo Mouf, then he flips another side where we find some Hebrew writing but he shakes it where the sign translates to Silence is Foo. The latter sign is a reference to a comic character named 'Smokey Stover' created by Bill Holman. The scenes where you notice the shots focusing on Daffy (not the close-ups of Dr Quack and Daffy) are no surprise as they are animated by Bobe Cannon. You'll notice his own trademarks in these cartoons where he doesn't appear to bother with lip sync and you can see that Daffy Duck has no lip synchs in his mouth whatsoever - and I have to say that truly bothers me. As much as I like Bobe Cannon's animation in some cartoons - I have to say that if anyone considers this to be "unique" or "experimental" then I don't care, because it looks shit with no lip-synch. Even that has bothered me when I was a kid watching the cartoon.

Dr. Quack gives Daffy a warning, "I want it to be so quiet - that you can't hear a pin drop". Being only a figurative what Dr. Quack said - Daffy decides to make a gag out of it. He grabs out his own hat where he apparently carries pins with him. What I fin rather odd is the fact that why are Daffy's gloves so weirdly drawn - the gross of it as well as the fingers make it feel like a horror show or some such...

Daffy then drops the pin where he already creates quite a buzz (and also vibration). Dr. Quack calls him over to cut out the nonsense and Daffy walks over to his table for assistance.

In this sequence animated by Bobe Cannon - Dr. Quack orders for the instruments to be needed with Daffy handing over the scalpel as his hands pops out for more instruments like chisels, needles, cottons, etc. The pacing then gets quicker and quicker as Clampett is making that sequence turn into comedy which is rather funny.

The amusing part is after the pacing gets quicker and quicker - Daffy finally turns nuts as he raises his hat and shouts, 'Hello, please to meet ya!' Why didn't those pins all down down on him? He ends up acting batty by handing out an awful lot of surgical instruments to Dr. Quack and he almost looses control on what he is supposed to use chronologically.

Of course those clear mistakes where they grab objects but those objects never seem to disappear what's on the table - they just satay there. This ends up causing Daffy to grab out the rest of the other instruments and he tosses them up into the air.

He acts rather wild and performs his looney routine where he jumps around whooping with excitement as the instruments fall to the ground. The scalpers then land on the table with a hammer landing on his head. He jumps out of his own uniform acting very crazy. Daffy walks over to a pumping machine and he notices the air bag and ends up punching it like a punching bag being very looney once again. This causes anger towards Dr. Quack as he grabs Daffy Duck rather firmly and he kicks him out of his operating room and sacks Daffy. Much to Dr. Quacks' anger he boots Daffy out as he shouts out "And stay out!" before he slams the door again resuming his work on the surgery in the operating room.

Daffy ends up having his own head caught inside the artificial lung machine and he accidentally turns it on. As it is turned on - it turns out that the machine ends up pumping and Daffy is squirming inside trying to break free. Apparently that gag has created some controversy - whereas at the time Clampett considered those machines to have been nonsense but later changed his mind of his opinion of the gag.

The animation on the artificial lung machine pumping has got some really good animation there - with the letters stretching, too. Daffy ends up having his head all inflated and deflated in this funny animated scene which was animated by Bobe Cannon who appeared to have animated a lot of Daffy's personality early on in the cartoon.

This also happens on his own body and feet too as he struggles to keep control of his own body. Then it even happens to his own gloves which makes the animated scene very funny to watch. Afterwards he tries to stop his own body - after he believes he has recovered - his gloves ends up moving up and down which makes the gag funnier and the animation more broad. Daffy's gloves then ends up bursting as he speaks out angrily, "Where does he get that stuff? Where does he get that stuff. He can't do that to me!" He hands out a sheepskin which is an amusing pun that means he has a college degree. He also brings out a license and the joke is he's holding a license plate. He then walks out of the scene as he is determined to find of a patient of his own. The way that he will deal with that is by whacking the patient with a mallet. This is probably the first time that we actually see Daffy Duck with a personality himself - he is shown as determined and at least: anger. Before that he was just some fuckin' lunatic splashing around on the lake doing feck all.

Afterwards - we find that Dr. Quack is still in the process of his operation and finally completes the operation. "That crazy duck!" he comments, "He does not realise the seriousness of this operation". He unveils and it turns out he was operating on a football. It definitely is worth a chuckle as it only turns out to be a football all that time.

That definitely shows Clampett coming up with looney ideas - even making it much more wackier with the whole audience cheering on the doctor playing football during the theme of 'Frat'.

Meanwhile Daffy is on the lookout for a patient determined to show he can fix an operation himself. As he looks outside the window - he finds the perfect spot. Enter Porky Pig (which is probably the first time he's entered a cartoon that late - and would be rather common in the '39-'41 Porky cartoons). I wonder if that scene was done by animator Izzy Ellis - the style looks similar although I'm not so convinced.

As Porky is in a cycle flipping his coin whistling merrily - Daffy steps behind ready to whack at him and to 'operate' on him. The lines on the pavement during the walk was a rather interesting effect animation wise even though it felt rather weird. As Porky and Daffy make a turn towards the block; Daffy hammers Porky off-screen and walks back with him knocked-out. I love how that Daffy is just using the injury bed to hold onto (and the other side not held onto) which is just rather goofy and its animation against gravity.

Meanwhile in the operation room - we find that Daffy has already got Porky into a hospital bed and is doing a thermometer reading in Porky's mouth. Daffy pulls the 'thermometer' out and it turns out to be a lollipop which is a typical 30s Clampett gag. Porky finally gets to speak as he tries to persuade Daffy out of hospital, "Hey listen, I'm fine I'm not sick, I'm healthy. I'm pink and--" I like how Daffy just jabs the lollipop straight back into his mouth to shut him up.

This is pretty much Norm McCabe's animation here as he was Clampett's main animator of the black and white cartoons and was given the acting scenes. At least McCabe (or if another animator) uses some lip-synch in Daffy's bill - even if it's not so great lip-synch. Daffy then suggests: 'Guess I'll have to call a consultation". He does that he whacking himself with the mallet and his own consciences then gather around to discuss how the 'illness' is to be done. Rather interesting animated sequence as Mark Kausler mentioned, animated separately with Daffy animated separately than his figures - hence why they're shown in 50% shades. Daffy realises the only saw he would sort it out is to saw him.

Daffy Duck walks over with a saw as he plans on sawing Porky - going beyond batty. Porky makes a take and he ends up dashing out of the scene - and is rather afraid of Daffy's action. Vive Risto is the animator of the following action scenes with Daffy chasing Porky with the saw and from the looks of his animated scenes - he appears to animate the characters rather off-model and much more freer.

Porky dashes out of the scene and he slams the door - but only to find that Daffy was hiding by the door and he shouts out "Hello chum" and then continues to chase after Porky. The chase only results in a fate where Porky and Daffy end up inside the artificial lung machine which is the main gag of the cartoon (and probably the best gag - in my opinion). They are then pushed out of the machine as both have their whole bodies inflating and deflating. Of course - that had to go to animator Bobe Cannon who did a fine job with the movement there.

Overall comments: This cartoon feels more or less that Daffy Duck is more of a star in this cartoon and much less on Porky. I mean, Daffy bears his own name in the title to show he is the star. I'm a little convinced around that point that Clampett is a little bit bored of directing the pig after directing him for more than a year. I can imagine it would possibly have originally been a Daffy Duck cartoon but Clampett had to add Porky in the cartoon - no matter how little he appeared; the rules were strict that he appeared in every 'Looney Tunes' cartoon. Daffy was already a new star by around that point as he was appearing in both colour and black-and-white cartoons but he would later be abandoned in the 'Merrie Melodies' for a few years. Clampett already showed some clear inspiration when he was making his own cartoons and knew how to make great gags out of him - like also in 'Porky and Daffy'. A shame he didn't make too much when making rather weak B/W cartoons - I guess he felt he needed Daffy without Porky; even though the black and white cartoons pretty much got Porky and Daffy together as they would be a famous pair for many years...

Also, speaking of personalities: this cartoon at least finally shows that Daffy Duck finally has some personality other than some screwball. In the first three cartoons he starred in - he was nothing but a screwball who would just pester whoever was a threat to him: first hunters, and then a fighter. Here, he expresses anger and greed of his job which he would later turn through evolution. This cartoon certainly is a first, there. Notice through design that Daffy probably looks the most off-model than before in other cartoons where he has a rather zigzag look on the ring of his beck - and also a much more wilder, crude design which stayed until at least 1940. With that aside; the animation of that cartoon was very funny and Clampett was very original with ideas and timing of the artificial lung gag which I thought was just genius.


  1. The iron lung gag was controversial because of the polio epidemic that happened around that time. An iron lung pretty much helps you breathe when a person loses muscle control.

    Also, I wouldn't refer to a certain technique as "50% shadows" but rather double-exposed shadows.

    1. I meant to say "when a person loses muscle control or when breathing exerts a person's ability to function."