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Daffy Duck's greatest hits

April 17, 1937 saw the premiere of the Warner Brothers cartoon "Porky's Duck Hunt," which was the debut of one of the most beloved of cartoon stars: Daffy Duck.

Conniving, selfish, hot-tempered, and remarkably immortal against shotguns and dynamite, Daffy would go on to appear in nearly 150 cartoons, many as the suffering foil of Bugs Bunny.

We mark the 79th anniversary of Daffy's first film appearance by looking back at his greatest performances.

"You Out to Be In Pictures" (1940)
Directed by Friz Freleng

This charming short combines live action footage with animation of Daffy and Porky Pig, who are mere working stiffs in a very real movie studio. Daffy is quite effective at persuading Porky to bow out of his contract, seeing a sweeter future for himself as a Warner Brothers star with that stuttering pig out of the way. But Daffy -- as usual -- gets his comeuppance.

A cameo appearance by Looney Tunes producer Leon Schlesinger gives audiences an idea of what the creative geniuses at Termite Terrace had to go up against.

"My Favorite Duck" (1942)

Directed by Chuck Jones

Daffy Duck often seemed to exist merely to make life miserable for Porky Pig. One of their best combative tales was this Chuck Jones treat about a camper who is tortured by a crazy duck hiding behind the illegality of duck hunting -- that is, until duck season begins.

"The Wise Quacking Duck" (1943)

Directed by Bob Clampett

Poor Mr. Meek, whose wife Sweetiepuss has charged him with bringing home a duck for dinner. But he picked the wrong little black duck to take his axe to. Warning: Lots of ketchup spilled in Daffy's "death" scene.

"Porky Pig's Feat" (1943)

Directed by Frank Tashlin

Daffy and Porky were often paired as partners, a la Abbott and Costello, stuck in ridiculous situations in which Daffy's lunacy only seems to make matters worse. In this short, Daffy and Porky are trying to skip out on a usurious bill from the Broken Arms Hotel, but they have to get past the hotel manager. Vocal artist Mel Blanc gets a great workout, in particular on the manager's fall down the stairs.

"Tom Turk and Daffy" (1943)

Directed by Chuck Jones

A turkey is fleeing a pilgrim with a blunderbuss (Porky Pig), and begs Daffy to protect him. We're not sure the turkey isn't safer with Porky.

"Nasty Quacks" (1945)

Directed by Frank Tashlin

A little girl's cute, darling baby duckling grows up to become the obnoxious Daffy Duck -- the worst house guest one could imagine. The long-suffering dad comes up with a brilliant plan to evict Daffy, but the tables are turned yet again -- leading to one of the best fade-outs in cartoon history.

"Baby Bottleneck" (1946)

Directed by Bob Clampett

Daffy and Porky are traffic managers at the baby factory trying to deal with screw-ups in the delivery of infant animals. Things get even screwier, leading to their being delivered (by rocket-propelled stork) to a gorilla mother in Africa.

"The Great Piggy Bank Robbery" (1946)

Directed by Bob Clampett

A delightful tribute to Chester Gould's Dick Tracy comic strip, in which Daffy plays Duck Twacy, a private detective on the trail of a piggy bank thief. The full cartoon is not online (not for free, anyway), but here is a clip in which Daffy meets up with a wild menagerie of criminal types.

"Daffy Doodles" (1946)

Directed by Robert McKimson

Daffy is a fiendish graffiti artist who paints moustaches on billboards, ads, even people. And Porky is the cop who will bring him to justice, no matter how many degrading pickles Daffy gets him into.

"The Ducksters" (1950)

Directed by Chuck Jones

If there is a quiz show more dangerous than the radio program on which contestant Porky Pig must answer questions posed by host Daffy Duck, the FCC will no doubt shut it down.

"Rabbit Seasoning" (1952)

Directed by Chuck Jones

Between 1951 and 1953, Chuck Jones conjured his great "Hunting Trilogy" ("Rabbit Fire," "Rabbit Seasoning" and "Duck Rabbit Duck"), in which Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck try to out-smart Elmer Fudd, and each other, in a bid to make it out of hunting season alive.

The best of these is "Rabbit Seasoning," in which Daffy not only has to worry about being on the wrong end of a shotgun, but being on the wrong end of a pronoun.

"Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century" (1953)

Directed by Chuck Jones

A wonderful science fiction adventure featuring Daffy Duck as the interplanetary explorer who has a run-in with Marvin the Martian while trying to claim Planet X, the only known source of illudium phosdex (the shaving cream atom).

"Duck Amuck" (1953)

Directed by Chuck Jones

The "Citizen Kane" of cartoons, as an unseen animator makes life more than miserable for the little black duck, all while poking fun at the very elements and technology of film (as seen in this excerpt).

"Show Biz Bugs" (1957)

Directed by Friz Freleng

Daffy and Bugs' rivalry -- and Daffy's questionable talent -- are fully on display as vaudeville artists. Daffy's attempts to one-up Bugs usually end in disaster, until he hits on a novel approach: blowing himself to bits.

In this scene Daffy tries to undermine Bugs' magician act by volunteering to go under the saw blade. Not a good idea!

"Robin Hood Daffy" (1958)

Directed by Chuck Jones

One of many Porky and Daffy cartoons in which Porky plays the laid-back sidekick of the hotheaded lead, this short features the pair as Robin Hood and Friar Tuck. Daffy's attempts to steal from the rich and give to the poor don't come off as planned.

In this scene, Daffy learns the hard way that swinging from trees isn't as easy as Errol Flynn makes it out to be.


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