Book Revue

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Book Revue
Looney Tunes (Daffy Duck) series
Bookrevue.jpg
Title card of the original print
Directed by Robert Clampett
Produced by Eddie Selzer (uncredited)
Story by Warren Foster
Voices by Mel Blanc (uncredited)
Sara Berner (uncredited)
Bea Benaderet (uncredited)
Richard Bickenbach (uncredited)
Music by Carl Stalling
(Music Director)
The Sportsmen Quartet (Singing Group)
Animation by Robert McKimson
Rod Scribner
Manny Gould
Bill Melendez
Layouts by Cornett Wood
Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard
Studio Warner Bros. Cartoons, Inc.
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s) January 5, 1946 (USA) (Original)
May 19, 1951
(Blue Ribbon Reissue)
Color process Technicolor
Running time 7 minutes
Language English

Book Revue (later re-issued on May 19, 1951, as Book Review[1]) is a Looney Tunes cartoon short featuring Daffy Duck, released in 1946, with a plotline that is a mixture of the plots of 1937's Speaking of the Weather, 1938's Have You Got Any Castles? and 1941's A Coy Decoy. It is directed by Bob Clampett, written by Warren Foster and scored by Carl Stalling. The Characters' voices were provided by Mel Blanc, Sara Berner, Bea Benaderet, and Richard Bickenbach, who were uncredited. As originally released, the title is a pun, as a "revue" is a variety show, while a "review" is an evaluation of a work (this pun is not retained in the reissue).

Plot[edit]

The cartoon starts out in the same, pastoral "after midnight at a closed bookstore" fashion of Frank Tashlin's trio of "books coming to life" cartoons, to the strains of Moonlight Sonata. A colorized version of the storefront from A Coy Decoy can be seen. Inside, an inebriated "cuckoo bird" pops out of a cuckoo clock to announce the arrival of midnight (and signaling the "cuckoo" activities to follow) and the books come alive. The cartoon's first lampoon and pun appears, a book collection called "Complete works of Shakespeare". Shakespeare is shown in silhouette while his literally-rendered "works" are clockwork mechanisms, along with old-fashioned "stop" and "go" traffic signals, set to the "ninety years without slumbering, tick-tock, tick-tock" portion of "My Grandfather's Clock".

Cut to a book titled Young Man with a Horn; a caricature of Harry James breaks loose with a jazz trumpet obbligato similar to James' "You Made Me Love You", in which he segues into the standard, "It Had to Be You", as a striptease is about to begin on the cover of Cherokee Strip. Book covers for The Whistler and The Sea Wolf show their characters whistling and howling at the off-screen action, Shakespeare's inner workings also break apart at the sight of the action. Henry VIII (designed to resemble Charles Laughton's portrayal of him) also gets excited at the sight of the striptease until his mother on the cover of The Aldrich Family calls for him. As she starts to spank Henry, "The Voice in the Wilderness", an emaciated Frank Sinatra caricature, appears gently singing "It Had to Be You" while being pushed along by an orderly. Henry's mother, along with other female book cover characters (such as bobbysoxer versions of Little Women, Mother Goose and Whistler's Mother on the cover of "Famous Paintings"), begin swooning for "Frankie".

Immediately thereafter, a jam session begins featuring Harry James, Glenn Miller on the cover of "BRASS" (who at one point rubs his trombone slide under W.C. Fields' nose), an Indian on the cover of Drums Along the Mohawk who morphs into Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman as the "Pie-Eyed Piper" (some mice yell "Yay, Benny!"), and a green Bob Burns on the cover of the Arkansas Traveller. Annoyed by the revelry, Daffy Duck steps out of the cover of a Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies comic book (in the background is a book by "Ann Anonymous" titled The Invisible Man: A Biography of Robert Clampett) and starts rifling through a trunk (Saratoga Trunk) for clothes. Just after Gene plays some notes on the buttons lining the corpulent stomach of Hudson's Bay, Daffy dons a zoot suit coat, gloves and a curly, blonde wig, as well as what appears to be a set of fake teeth (which explains why his trademark lisp is nowhere to be heard in this film).

Daffy orders for the music to "STOP!" and the jam session screeches to a halt. Standing in front of a book called "Danny Boy" with the classic Ukrainian tune Ochi chyornye as background music and the background becoming one with legible newsprint superimposed on silhouettes of urban buildings, Daffy (effecting Danny Kaye's fake Russian accent) says "pooey!" to swing music and jazz. He then starts reminiscing about his "native willage" (mispronouncing the 'v' in 'village') with its "soft music", "why-o-leens" (violins) and the "happy peoples sitting on their balalaikas, playing their samowars (misusing both terms) and also talks about a girl called Cucaracha, who he describes as "so round, so firm, so fully packed, so easy on the draw". Saying that "they would sing to him a little gypsy love song", Daffy breaks into his normal character and briefly sings "La Cucaracha" (including his "hoo-hoo" sounds). Daffy continues in his fake Russian accent as he sings Carolina In The Morning, inadvertently teasing the Big Bad Wolf, who at this point is still in the window of "Gran'Ma's House"; Daffy beats a hasty retreat to stage left. Meanwhile, Little Red Riding Hood, based on Margaret O'Brien, skips past Daffy and toward Gran'Ma's House. Realising the danger, Daffy puts himself between Red and the door, breaking into Danny Kaye's scat singing style to warn Red about the Wolf, including mock chewing on her leg for emphasis, not noticing the Wolf adding salt to his leg. Red runs away screaming and Daffy halfway notices the Wolf before returning to continue the biting, until Daffy realises otherwise (becoming a giant eye in a wild double take).

Daffy runs away, pursued by the wolf through Hopalong Cassidy, Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Petrified Forest. The police sergeant on the cover of the Police Gazette notices what's going on and alerts all other police officers. The Wolf ends up apprehended by the Long Arm of the Law and is placed before The Judge who declares the Wolf guilty and sentences him to Life in spite of his objections ("You can't do dis to me! I'm a citizen, see!"), though the Wolf makes his Escape soon after. Jimmy Durante, incongruously illustrating the cover of So Big, turns toward the Wolf, and his huge nose trips the Wolf, who goes sliding down Skid Row, nearly falling into Dante's Inferno. The Wolf scrambles to the top, but the Sinatra caricature reappears, held in the orderly's hands as if he were a doll. The Wolf, being in the grandma archetype, swoons and faints just as the female characters did and skids head first into the inferno.

The rest of the characters, including Daffy and Red, proceed to celebrate the Wolf's death by dancing to a swing version of Carolina in the Morning. Suddenly, the Wolf pops out of Dante's Inferno and shouts at the characters to "Stop that dancing up there! Ya sillies!", (just like Daffy had done earlier) which they do.

Influence[edit]

  • Later releases of the short had the title card replaced with Warner Brothers' "Blue Ribbon" title card on which the title was misspelled (see above). The original title card has since been located and the fully restored short can be seen on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Vol. 2 four-DVD box set, the Looney Tunes Spotlight Collection: Vol 2 two-DVD set and on the Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 2 Blu-ray set[1]
  • In 1994 it was voted #45 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field.[2]
  • In one episode of Animaniacs, Yakko Wakko and Dot held a Video Review after being released in a videostore. Just like the books, they run in and out of films and mingle with movie characters. Daffy Duck made a cameo in the episode.
  • In one segment of the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Inside Plucky Duck", Plucky performs Daffy's giant eye double-take (dubbed "a Clampett Corneal Catastrophe"), only to be stuck in eye form, unable to "de-take" until the segment's end.

Edited Version[edit]

The Uncle Tom's Cabin part had been edited out on Cartoon Network and The WB.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Book Revue (1946) - Trivia
  2. ^ Beck, Jerry (ed.) (1994). The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals. Atlanta: Turner Publishing.

External links[edit]