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This has to be the wackiest Daffy Duck cartoon ever....maybe the
wackiest (and most clever) cartoon ever. There is no story; just Daffy
getting "jerked around," so to speak by the cartoonist drawing both he
and the background scenery.
For example, Daffy, dressed as a musketeer, sword in hand, yells "en guarde," and soon the screen is totally white in back of him. After a few seconds of silence, Daffy turns to the camera (us) and says, "Can we get some scenery here?" So, an artist paints us a rural picture. Daffy changes clothes and is a now a farmer. Suddenly it's a winter scene. Daffy stops and asks the not-seen cartoon artist, "Is it too much to ask to make your mind?" Now, he changes outfits again in a flash and is skiing.
This goes on and on, and then really weird things happen with the screen and with Daffy as he's erased, redrawn, erased, muted, given his voice back, etc. All of this is driving him crazy....and it's fun to watch because you have no clue what crazy things is going to happen next.
This is an incredible cartoon. If ever the word "unique" would be appropriate, it's here.
One of Chuck Jones' most beautifully crafted short cartoon pieces, Duck
Amuck is one of the first (or the first?) cartoons to work the element
of the theatre into an animated short. As Woody Allen did in Annie Hall
(though that was twenty-four years later), the filmmakers here create
that acknowledgment of there being an audience- and, more amusingly,
their acknowledgment of themselves being apart of the process. I'm
certain there were other animated shorts from Looney Tunes where a
character may have one or twice looked at the 'audience' and asked a
question or said a joke, but I'm also certain it wasn't done to such a
length as this. Quite possibly, this is one of the greatest
one-joke/in-joke stretches ever put on film.
At the start, Daffy Duck thinks he's about to be in a piece as a musketeer- that is, until the background is pulled right out from under him. He'll never get back to that background again, but Daffy will keep on trying to persuade the animator to bring back some sense into the works. By the end he's exasperated, and the joke comes full circle to be totally satisfying.
Throughout the short what keeps it so funny on repeat viewings is that the absurdities of each new backdrop and each run-in Daffy keep their validity. There's a lot of creative juice flowing through this one, and since the turns are unexpected on the first viewing, on the following ones you laugh at yourself for laughing at it again. Another plus is that Daffy Duck is a superb character when he's kept on his toes- like when he's put against a city backdrop that looks like it was drawn by a five-year old. He asks, "Now, how about some color, stupid!" And then is painted over in bizarre hues. The joke that follows that is one of Chuck Jones' most surreal executions.
Overall, a classic for its time, influential; on a level that will perhaps get the adults laughing more so than the kids, and for those in youth who discover it for the first time on TV or on the new DVD, it isn't old- this is the kind of sense of humor found on other modern cartoons (Simpsons, for example).
Already as a boy I could understand the humor in 'Duck Amuck' - but
not it's meta-ambitions! If I knew then how good this short movie is I
never ever let my father erase it!
Quotes like: "NOW WHAT?" and "Give me a close-up!" can't leave my head! Duffy (or Daffy) has since this movie always been my personal cartoon favorite.
Don't miss this incredible masterpiece, then you will miss one of the best movies ever made!!!
Rating: 10 of 10.
Duck Amuck is Daffy's frustrations of being trapped in an animated short that keeps changing scenery, has him playing a guitar with shooting sounds, fighting with himself in another frame, gets drawn in different sizes and colors, and basically is at the mercy of an unseen animator. This is Chuck Jones' and Michael Maltese's masterpiece of abstract animation. One of my favorite parts was at the changing scenery sequence when, after Daffy changes into a farmer outfit singing "Old McDonald Had a Farm" in front of a barn background, it changes into a winter scene with a snow-house as the duck then sings, "And on this farm he had an igloo..." LOL! At the end, the duck demands to know who is behind the whole thing. All I'll say is that person says, "Ain't I a stinker?" Duck Amuck is definitely worth seeing again and again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have a small list of films I think are essential viewing. This is on
it, only one of two allowed for that year.
Looking at my list, there are a few animated shorts, and I think that makes sense. Animators can play games with narrative that wouldn't read in conventional presentations.
This little think is only seven minutes long, but that space quite a few narrative folds are presented.
Daffy is forced to be someone different as the animator changes his context. This we saw decades before with "Sherlock Jr," but Keaton's identity didn't change so radically. Here, the identities are movie stereotypes, in fact stereotypes that only exist in movies.
But then Daffy is redrawn directly to be a different being, first in the same shape with different colors and then in a radically different shape, part flower. Flying from his tail/flagpole is a flag with a screw and a ball on it. Screwball comedy.
Then we play with the animator manipulating the camera, far and close. Remember that this was the period of Hitchcock's developments of camera awareness, and the short may well have played in front of "Dial M" or "Rear Window."
(Remember also that this was after the two similar cartoons that spoofed the rerelease of "Robin Hood," so the cartoon ABOUT movie notion was established.)
Then we have the noir black curtain falling on our duck, protected temporarily by a prop, but he fights back against noir, first against the black curtain itself and then its cause, an unresolved ending.
After this, we have the duck encountering a mirror image of itself and subsequently being destroyed, noir winning (as it always must). At this point in movie history, noir had.
And finally, we zoom back in narrative space to see the cartoonist who has been manipulating the cartoon by pencil, brush and eraser that we see as themselves drawn elements. And behold, we see the narrator is... a cartoon character!
Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.
Chuck Jones has to be the greatest Looney Tunes director ever, he directed
Whats Opera Doc, Rabbit of Seville and the classic Duck Dodgers, but this
surreal masterpiece is his pure genius. The cartoon focuses around Daffy,
who thinks he is in a Musketeer set, then as he progress left, the
background fades, leaving only Daffy hiding behind the frame of the film
asking where the scenery is.
From that moment, Daffy goes on to one wacky situation to another and so on. This episode producers one of the best lines ever said in a Looney Tunes cartoon
"Hey Come Here, Come Here, Give me a close up, A Close Up! (Screen Blackens except the top right corner). This is a close up? A CLOSE UP YOU JERK, A CLOSE UP!!!!!!!! (Camera zooms in)"
That line has got to be one of my favourites. SO is this cartoon
The Duck has been a favorite cartoon character of audiences from his
inception, but in Chuck Jones' hands, Daffy was at his greediest, all too
human like best (worst?).
In this cartoon, Daffy Duck is manipulated by some unseen, omnipotent force that keeps changing the scenery, the sound, and even the appearance of Daffy himself, much to his horror. The humor in most of the gags go deeper than the usual Warner Bros. cartoon, with claustrophobia, an exact duplicate of Daffy and instant deformity inflicted upon him has us laughing at our own fears.
But it's Jones' vision of Daffy that is the true star of this and many other of his cartoons. The other directors, the great Friz Freleng and the unfairly maligned Robert McKimson, never really had the grasp of the new Daffy Duck that emerged in the mid 40's, but he really was a new creation of Michael Maltese and Chuck Jones, only faintly reminiscent of the crazy antics that handlers such as Frank Tashlin, Tex Avery and Robert Clampett portrayed him as possessing. That old Daffy was wild and wacky and good, the new Daffy always has us humans at a disadvantage by making fun of our own weaknesses.
Daffy D'Artagnon strikes again! Except......where's the scenery? A
paintbrush adds scenery - but it's the wrong kind! So it's Daffy Duck,
farmer, and on this farm he had an igloo......duh? Skiing eskimo Daffy,
skiing right into Hawaii.....eeeeeeeeeeeee.
And so is Daffy Duck subjected to the whims of an offscreen animator, erased, redrawn, his voice changed, everything is done to him except the proper contextualization, which steadily drives Daffy bonkers. A demand for a closeup gets an iris-out, then we see just how bloodshot Daffy's eyes are.
A rubbery black background blob smothers Daffy, so he destroys it and demands the picture begin - so we iris out to THE END - NO! NO!!!!!!!
Two Daffys (the result of the film projector sticking between frames) nearly come to blows, then eventually we get the answer to the mystery that has Daffy yelling his lungs out - and the audience laughing at a film parody to end all such. It's been said this cartoon breaks the fourth as well as fifth and sixth walls - but they forgot to mention the seventh and eighth walls it breaks as well.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is no exaggeration to rate this the funniest cartoon ever made. Favorite moment: when Daffy is turned into some kind of a four legged polka dotted creature with a screwball flag on its tail and flower petals around its face. Second favorite moment: When Daffy sees himself in the mirror in this state. This scene always brings out wild, silly giggling in me Mozart would be proud of. The Fleischers did the intercession of the animator into the surreal cartoon thing before this. A lot of animators did. In fact, it's there all the way back in the cartoons of WIndsor McCay, Emile Cohl and J. Stuart Blackton. None of those animation giants ever came close to doing it as well and developing it so satisfyingly as Chuck Jones does here. Jones's level of surrealism puts colleague Bob Clampett to shame, and his timing here puts even mentor Tex Avery to shame. Those elements--imagination and timing--are what makes Duck Amuck rise above any other cartoon in sheer hilarity, and that includes the other Chuck Jones cartoons (Jones's Rabbit Seasoning comes close, though). There are wittier cartoons. There are more beautifully drawn cartoons. There are far more terrifying cartoons. There are cartoons that deeply move us. Well, poop on them. If an alien came down from outer space (other than Marvin the Martian) and wanted to know what an animated cartoon was like, I'd show him, her, or it Duck Amuck, And I've no doubt he, she, or it would be laughing his, her or its xnarf off. If it were possible, I'd give it 11 stars. No, I wouldn't. I'd give it 100.
In this cartoon an unseen animator is having fun with the Daffy Duck
character. The animator changes backgrounds, changes the clothes of Daffy,
and even changes Daffy from time to time. Every time the animator does this
Daffy has to act different. Daffy himself of course is commenting on all
this playing around. In the end he asks who is responsible and the cartoon
has a nice and very funny surprise for us.
This classic cartoon shows us the world of animation where everything is possible. The animator is not seen but his tools, like a pencil, are and that makes it very funny. Director Chuck Jones shows us Daffy and although he changes from time to time he always is Daffy. A great and hilarious cartoon.
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