Daffy Doodles (1946) Directed by Bob McKimson
This cartoon probably doesn’t belong on the list but it’s always been one of my guilty pleasures. Daffy is a graffiti vandal who paints mustaches on the faces of the ads all over town. At the same time, motorcycle cop Porky ends up with a painted mustache every time he comes close to nabbing Daffy! But Daffy isn’t entirely heartless. He even saves Porky’s life at one point (“Mighty sporting of the little black duck” declares Daffy!). Finally, when Daffy is ultimately hauled into court, he is found not-guilty of any crime by a jury full of mustachioed Jerry Colonnas!
I agree. The notion that Daffy Duck would develop an obsession with mustaches doesn’t make sense! But I don’t care! I love this cartoon. It’s laugh out loud funny!
A Pest in the House (1947) Directed by Chuck Jones
Daffy is a loud mouthed bellhop in a hotel managed by Elmer Fudd! When a large, belligerent guest threatens to punch Elmer in the nose if his sleep is disturbed, Daffy naturally concocts numerous silly ways to annoy the man. As a result, Elmer constantly gets punched in the nose! Finally, fearing another punch, Elmer tries to turn the tables by switching uniforms with Daffy. Unfortunately, he gets punched in the nose for his effort!
Daffy’s numerous attempts to disturb the bully are hilarious, while Elmer’s numerous attempts to evade the bully are tragic (and hilarious!).
Mexican Joyride (1947) Directed by Arthur Davis
In a bullring South of the border, Daffy befuddles an angry bull in numerous ways as he is chased around the ring. When daffy hands the suddenly despondent bull a revolver with which to commit suicide (definitely NOT a kids’ cartoon), Daffy begins to sharpen meat cleavers! But when he finds the bull is unscathed after pulling the trigger, Daffy suggests another try with a sub-machine gun (“Here Daniel Boone, try a few MORE shots!”). In the end, the bull turns the machine gun on Daffy and chases the duck clear out of town!
With this cartoon we enjoy the chase every bit as much as Daffy. And we can’t help but laugh as the duck prepares to slice the bull into just so many fillets!
Riff Raffy Daffy (1948) Directed by Arthur Davis
No matter where he goes, Policeman Porky is forced to chase away street bum Daffy. From park bench, to trash can, to tree stump, Daffy just can’t get any sleep with porky around. When Daffy starts snoozing in the display window of a department store, Porky pursues the duck throughout the store. After a few close calls with hunting weapons from the sporting goods department, Daffy tries to appeal to Porky’s parental instincts! But after Daffy introduces his duckling children (nothing more than a gaggle of wind-up toys), Porky responds by bringing in his own group of kids! Lo and behold, they’re also nothing but wind-up toys!
For once, Daffy is a sympathetic character. That’s why I love this cartoon. You just gotta root for him! Not only that, the wind-up ducklings are not to be missed!
The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950) Directed by Chuck Jones
In “J. L.’s” office, Daffy demands the starring role in “The Scarlet Pumpernickel,” a film of his own design. All the rote characters are on display in the period swashbuckler: Daffy is the Pimpernel. Porky Pig is “Lord Chamberlain.” Sylvester is the “Grand Duke.” And Elmer Fudd is Elmer Fudd! However, after describing the crazy adventure, Daffy can’t come up with an ending. Desperate, he recounts every sort of natural disaster he can think of, until he finally pulls out a gun to shoot himself! “It’s getting so you have to kill yourself to sell a script ’round here” declares Daffy (once again, definitely NOT a kids’ cartoon)!
Who doesn’t love a good parody of a familiar movie genre? And this film is one of the best. At the very least, it’s certainly one of the funniest!
Dripalong Daffy (1951) Directed by Chuck Jones
Daffy, the cliché Western hero, and Porky, the cliché Western hero’s cliché sidekick, plan to “clean-up” the lawless town of “Snake Bite Center.” Unfortunately for Daffy, gunslinger Nasty Canasta has other ideas!
After a fair amount of idiocy from Daffy, he challenges the gunslinger to a shoot-out at high noon. Fearing the worst, Porky intervenes to bring down the gunslinger in his own unique way; this finally allows Daffy to clean-up the town once and for all!
If you like The Lone Ranger, Red Ryder, or The Cisco Kid, you will love Dripalong Daffy. It’s a brilliant parody of Western films!
The Super Snooper (1952) Directed by Bob McKimson
Arriving at a strange mansion, hard boiled private eye Daffy Duck plans to investigate a murder. Unable to find any clues or evidence, he proceeds to concoct outrageous murder plots off the top of his head! Then, a body appears in the form of a very much alive, and ridiculously sexy, female duck. Even daffy thinks her behavior is suspicious (it may have something to do with the image of a marital ball ‘n’ chain reflected in her eyes). When Daffy decides to beat a hasty retreat, he doesn’t run off alone. The sexy female duck chases after him!
If you ever wondered why movie detectives seem to know so much, this cartoon explains it. Apparently, they’re just guessing! And all that guessing leads to endless laughter.
Duck Amuck (1953) Directed by Chuck Jones
This surrealistic masterpiece features Daffy as one of the Three Musketeers… That is, until the background scenery suddenly turns into farmland. OK… Daffy dons coveralls to become a farmer. Oh no… Now he’s on a ski slope. Then, he’s in a WW II fighter plane. The constant scene shifting continues thoughout the film. Backgrounds change, the sound goes haywire, and Daffy’s entire body is ultimately transformed into something from another planet! As soon as Daffy is returned to normal, the thoroughly exasperated duck loudly demands to know “who’s responsible for this?!” Indeed, who IS the stinker responsible for it?!
Bottom line: This film drives home the fact that cartoons are entirely removed from reality. But Daffy’s growing frustration is actually the funniest thing about it!
Duck Dodgers in the 24th ½ Century (1953) Directed by Chuck Jones
Inept space faring heroes Daffy Duck and space cadet Porky search the cosmos for “Planet X,” a major source of the shaving cream atom! However, when they finally locate the planet, Daffy finds Marvin Martian attempting to claim it for himself. Well…before you know it, the two antagonists are constantly trying to do away with each other! A classic case of losing sight of the goal in favor of the conflict, the film ends ironically for both Daffy and Marvin–and, oh yes, let’s not forget space cadet Porky…
Daffy has absolutely no clue about anything going on in this film. That’s why it’s so funny; the viewer would like to jump into the screen to slap some sense into the duck!
Robin Hood Daffy (1958) Directed by Chuck Jones
Friar Tuck Porky wants to join the famous Sherwood bandits. However, he simply can’t believe that the bumbling duck he has encountered in the forest is the real Robin Hood! Daffy, his pride exposed, is determined to prove that he is the famous outlaw. But Daffy being Daffy, every failed act of daring-do leaves him flat on his beak! Finally, as Porky wanders off to find the REAL Robin Hood, Daffy decides to take desperate measures.
Attitude is key. Primarily Daffy’s! His insecurity is so pronounced he is simply unable to avoid making a fool of himself; as a result, we get an outstanding cartoon!
Closing note: No, I did not forget. The great Bugs-Elmer-Daffy trio trilogy will be discussed in an upcoming commentary. Also, like you, I too love the brilliant Daffy Duck cartoon Book Revue (1946), directed by Bob Clampett. But since that film is a musical with limited characterization, I deliberately left it out. My decision may well be wrong but I stand by it. I took this route because Daffy isn’t really Daffy in the film. He’s Danny Kaye as done by Mel Blanc.
Blair Kramer is a widely published writer for various publications, including “Velocity: Chicago,” “A Guide to Art in Chicago,” “Comic Book Collector Magazine,” “American Metal Magazine,” and the “Jewish American Historical Society.” He also dabbles in screenplays and comic books. There are only two things in his life that he loves more than good movies. They are his wife and family.