Daffy – The Commando
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|Daffy – The Commando|
|Looney Tunes (Daffy Duck) series|
|Directed by||I. Freleng|
|Produced by||Leon Schlesinger|
|Story by||Michael Maltese|
|Voices by||Mel Blanc|
|Music by||Carl W. Stalling|
|Animation by||Ken Champin
Manuel Perez (uncredited)
|Studio||Leon Schlesinger Productions|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures
The Vitaphone Corporation
|Release date(s)||November 20, 1943 (United States)|
|Running time||7 minutes 22 seconds|
Daffy – The Commando is a 1943 Warner Bros. cartoon directed by Friz Freleng, and starring Daffy Duck in the Looney Tunes series. As with many of the World War II-themed cartoons put out by the major studios, Daffy - The Commando was withheld from broadcast or video distribution after the war.
A German commander – Von Vultur – is fuming and spluttering furiously about how many American commandos have managed to slip into Germany undetected, while a snipet from Wagner's Das Rheingold plays on the soundtrack. He gets a telegram from the "Gestinko Gestapo", threatening him with his ‘ka-rear’ if he lets ‘vun’ more ‘kommando’ through (if you look closely, the apes are caricatures of Hitler, Hirohito and Mussolini, the last of whom is crossed out). The settings recalls WWI trenches more than any actual scene of WWII. Hearing an American warplane overhead, he calls in his servant – Schultz – whom he abuses by knocking him regularly over his helmet with a mallet. They run outside and use a searchlight to look for Daffy, who’s floating down on a parachute, whilst singing Billy Bennet's "She was Poor But She Was Honest" in a Cockney accent.
After a quick shout of "Put out those lights!" gets the searchlight turned off temporarily and allows him to land unseen, Daffy uses his fingers on the searchlight’s lens to make shadows of animated puppets and dancing chorus girls on the clouds to distract the Germans. When Von chases Daffy behind a curtain that says "asbestos", Daffy makes a face similar to the stereotypical Japanese faces used in cartoons at the time (see, for example, Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips), causing von Vultur to run off frightened.
Back at his bunker, Von is presented with a ticking time bomb from Daffy "as a little token of our esteem". He hands the bomb off to Schultz, who is literally blown through the roof. When Schultz falls back, Daffy stops von Vultur from hitting Schultz over the head with a mallet, and instead hits him. von Vultur (pausing briefly to salute a skunk with "Heil Hitler!") chases Daffy to a telephone booth, where he continues to make fun of him, such as nicknaming him "von Limburger" (after the infamously foul-smelling cheese).
Daffy then jumps in a plane, narrowly avoiding being shot by "a whole mess of Messerschmitts". When Daffy is shot down by Von Vultur, his plane is literally blown to pieces (its entire body progressively disintegrating and disappearing from back to front, eventually leaving just the engine and propeller), with Daffy still clinging to the controls. Daffy then runs into what he believes is a tunnel where he can hide, but it turns out to be the barrel of a huge howitzer cannon, and he’s then shot out by Von. However, Daffy flies unharmed (as a ‘human cannonball’) into Berlin, where (a largely rotoscoped) Adolf Hitler is making a public speech (although he‘s actually speaking in mock German and saying humorous phrases such as "Mein Heineken"). Daffy jumps up and whacks Hitler on the head with a mallet, causing the Führer to scream "SCHULTZ!!!" in pain.
The telephone booth scene
A scene where Daffy is on a pay phone as Von Vultur is trying to get into the booth has Daffy speaking to him in semi-correct German, while holding cue card-like signs with the dialogue translated for the audience (a classic example of "breaking the fourth wall"). In many public domain prints, the signs are illegible, but read as follows:
Daffy 1: "Kannst du nicht sehen das dieses Telefunken ist besetzt? Bleiben sie ruhig!" ("Can not you see this Telefunken is busy? Stay calm!")
Sign 1: ENGLISH TRANSLATION: "Can’t you see this telephone is busy? Wait your turn!"
Daffy 2: "Bitte, mein Herr, haben Sie ein Pfennigstuck?" ("Please, my lord, have you a one pfennig coin?") "Danke schön." ("Thank-you.")
Sign 2: "Got a nickel, bud?"
Daffy 3: "It’s all yours, Von Limburger!"
Sign 3: GERMAN TRANSLATION: "Ich bin fertig mit dem Telefonieren, Herr Von Limburger." ("I’m done with the telephone, Mr. Von Limburger.")
When Von Vultur enters the phone booth, he attempts to contact Schultz, but instead gets an operator, replying: "Ist dat you, Myrt?" This is a reference to the American radio comedy series Fibber McGee and Molly, which was popular at the time. Myrtle was the never-heard switchboard operator in the show ("Is that you, Myrt?" was a popular catchphrase in it that referred to her.)
This short, as well as a few other Warner Bros. shorts, is in the public domain. This is due to United Artists (successor-in-interest to Associated Artists Productions) neglecting to renew the copyright in time. It’s now featured in Bugs and Daffy: The Wartime Cartoons (1989) (MGM/UA), and then on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 6. An episode of “Futurama” uses a short clip of the short in the screen gag on the opening sequence.
- "Daffy the Commando (1943)". Allrovi. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
- Dunning, John (1998). On the Air : The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Rev. ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 251. ISBN 0-19-507678-8. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
- Film Superlist: Motion Pictures in the U.S. Public Domain by Walter E. Hurst. Per Looney Tunes in the Public Domain.