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Case Number 19411: Small Claims Court

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Daffy Duck: Frustrated Fowl

Warner Bros. // 1944 // 120 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // August 4th, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge Clark Douglas is known to be a rather fowl-mouthed individual.

The Charge

Each cartoon is a feather in his cap, so to speak.

The Case

At first glance, Daffy Duck: Frustrated Fowl may look like an ordinary "Daffy Duck's Greatest Hits" compilation. Look a little closer and you'll discover the collection offers 15 vintage animated shorts that have never before been released on DVD. The following shorts are included:

• "Tick Tock Tuckered": Daffy and Porky have trouble going to sleep due to a series of unfortunate events. There's a particularly amusing little gag involving the novel The Maltese Falcon.

• "Nasty Quacks": Daffy proves to be a very obnoxious pet and gets involved in a series of confrontations with his owner. This particular incarnation of the character gets grating rather quickly. I've always found Daffy funnier as a put-upon figure of boiling rage. There is a fun section involving duck mating calls.

• "Daffy Dilly": Daffy hears about an ailing tycoon's offer to give one million dollars to any comedian who can make him laugh. Naturally, he accepts the challenge. Fun premise; too bad it's mostly a slapstick battle between Daffy and the tycoon's butler. Best line: "What's Humphrey Bogart got that I ain't got?"

• "Wise Quackers": Daffy Duck offers to become Elmer Fudd's personal slave. Alas, this is a particularly racist short in which Daffy Duck says, "Yes, Massa!" quite a lot and in which Elmer Fudd declares, "It would be awfuwwy nice to have my vewy own slave." Too bad, because there are a couple of genuinely witty moments buried within this ugly little cartoon.

• "The Prize Pest": Porky wins Daffy as a prize in a radio contest. Unfortunately, the prize turns out to be quite a punishment. The good old Porky/Daffy chemistry is on full display (even moreso than usual, as Daffy tries to seduce Porky at one point).

• "Design for Leaving": Daffy attempts to sell poor Elmer a variety of very unpleasant and less-than-useful mechanical devices. "Is there anything else we need to adwess, you smawty salesman?"

• "Stork Naked": The stork generally receives a pleasant reception from those he delivers babies to. Alas, Daffy Duck is not ready for kids. "We don't want any! Take it back!" A very amusing portrait of a despairing parent-to-be.

• "This is a Life?": Daffy Duck makes the mistake of assuming that he's being honored at a ceremony in which Bugs Bunny is in attendance. As usual, Bugs gets all the glory while Daffy fumes and plots revenge in the background. Best bit: Bugs offers his colorful version of the theory of evolution.

• "Dime to Retire": Porky makes the mistake of staying a hotel operated by Daffy. The nefarious duck spends his time creating a series of problems before forcing Porky to pay cash to have them fixed.

• "Ducking the Devil": Despite the flames in the title cards indicating that Daffy might be going to hell, it seems the title is referring to the Tasmanian Devil. Daffy ought to be running for his life, but the offer of a reward for Taz's capture makes Daffy greedy.

• "People are Bunny": A studio audience laughs at Daffy as the poor duck fails assorted game show challenges. Despite some fun Daffy/Bugs rivalry, this one's sorta lame.

• "Person to Bunny": A Person to Person parody featuring an Edward R. Murrow surrogate ("Edward R. Burrows") interviewing Bugs. Meanwhile, Daffy desperately vies for attention throughout the interview. Elmer Fudd gets in on the action, too.

• "Daffy's Inn Trouble": This time, Daffy and Porky are old-west rival hotel operators that do business right across the street from each other. I love the sign on Daffy's hotel door proclaiming, "Western spoken here."

• "The Iceman Ducketh": A game of cat and mouse (er, make that rabbit and duck) in the harsh arctic. Typical but reasonably entertaining stuff.

• "Suppressed Duck": Daffy gets involved in a deadly battle with a group of bears on a hunting reservation. As with many of the later shorts in this collection, this one relies pretty heavily on standard formula without offering the madly inventive wit of some of the earlier stuff.

The shorts haven't been restored on the level of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection selections, instead veering from great to middling over the course of the set. The earlier shorts tend to suffer from a lot of scratches and flecks, while the later entries (particularly the widescreen shorts) tend to look sharp and vibrant. There's a bit of color bleeding on occasion. Also is mostly fine, though there's some hiss and distortion here and there. No extras of any sort are included on the disc.

It's a mixed bag of shorts, but a worthwhile release for Looney Tunes completists looking to add some new titles. Parents should take the "intended for the adult collector" label on the back of the case seriously, as there are some very explicit instances of racism scattered throughout the collection (particularly in the almost so-racist-it's-almost-funny "Wise Quackers").

The Verdict

Some shorts are guilty, some aren't, but the collection is free to go.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Portuguese)
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Spanish)
• English
• French
• Portuguese
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 1944
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Animation
• Classic
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• None

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