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The Ducktators is a Looney Tunes black and white cartoon that was produced by Leon Schlesinger Productions and was released in 1942 by Warner Bros.. Directed by Norman McCabe, the cartoon satirizes various events of World War II. The title is a pun on dictator.
The cartoon takes place on a farm, beginning with a few ducks, geese and chickens being shown. After a brief few moments, two ducks (who are expecting a duckling) go over to their unusually black-colored egg as it starts to hatch. Once the egg has hatched, a duckling with an Adolf Hitler appearance emerges and yells "Sieg Heil!" while giving the Nazi salute.
After time passes, the baby Hitler duck grows into adulthood, holding aggressive speeches toward other ducks and geese. One goose, representing Benito Mussolini, agrees with him and gives the Nazi salute. Afterward, a postcard from The Management of the Theatre that says "We wish to apologize to the NICE DUCKS and GEESE who may be in the audience" is shown (which possibly means that the "Nice Ducks and Geese" are German-Americans and Italian-Americans respectively). The Hitler duck then gathers up a group of soldiers to join him in his own Axis Powers Army, including a Daffy Duck-like character, who claims to be from South Germany. The Mussolini goose then delivers a speech to the only listener: a little chick who had been forced to stay and applaud. After these happenings, storm troopers are sent marching across the area, while the Dove of Peace, grieves at what is happening ("Have they forgot? 'Tis love that's right, and naught is gained by show of might.").
A group of chickens and the Mussolini goose are then seen at what appears to be a Peace Conference, in which the Hitler duck slaps the Mussolini goose for dim-wittedly taking part in it and puts the newly signed peace treaty through a shredder, whereupon everyone in the Peace Conference area brawl against each other.
Another duck with large teeth and round glasses holding the flag of the Empire of Japan, representing Hideki Tojo, is seen swimming across water and placing the flag (with the words "Japanese Mandate Island" written on the back of the flag) on a tiny island that turns out to be a turtle, who emerges from the water and chases the duck, beating him with the "Japanese Mandate Island" sign as he is now on the warpath against Tojo. The Japanese duck tries to get out of being beaten by flashing a badge that reads, "I Am Chinese," but to no avail. "And I'M mock turtle soup!" shouts the infuriated turtle (a subtitle below the badge states that it was made in Japan, which may explain why the turtle didn't buy the ruse).
The three (Hitler Duck, Mussolini Goose and Tojo Duck) are then seen marching across a field while singing a parody of "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe".
The Dove then tries to reason with the Axis Powers. However, they ignore him and trample him. His temper reaching breaking point, the Dove yells at the Axis Powers to "STOP!!". The Dove proceeds to combat against the Hitler duck, Mussolini goose and Tojo duck, as well as their storm troopers. With the help of a group of chickens, the baby chick who had been forced to cheer for the Mussolini goose earlier after being captured (how he was rescued is not explained), a crazy rabbit with a mustache (impersonating Jerry Colonna and possibly representing Joseph Stalin) wielding a large wooden hammer for a weapon and hiding in a barrel which he also uses for transportation and a human man carrying a sniper rifle that emerges from a poster that says "For Victory, Buy United States Victory Bonds" and fires at the fleeing axis powers, the Dove overthrows the Axis Powers and saves the day!
Years later, the Dove, now a brave war hero, gets married (although his wife is not seen or mentioned) and has two children (one named "Peace", the other named "Quiet"). The Dove explains to his children that even though he hates war, he chose to be brave and stand up against the Axis Powers. The Dove then points out to his children that his enemies (the Hitler and Tojo ducks and Mussolini goose) have been killed and are now moose-head trophies above his fireplace in beaten up appearances.
The final message of the cartoon states to the U.S. audience that if they wish to defeat the Axis Powers and bring peace to the world once again, all they have to do to ensure the country's victory is to buy United States Savings Bonds and Stamps.
The original duckling to hatch from the egg had a mustache and a Nazi emblem throughout the cartoon, indicating that the duck symbolized Adolf Hitler. The goose who helped the duck had an open Italian accent, and the chick at the end of one of his speeches could be heard yelling "Duce!" multiple times, indicating that this goose is Benito Mussolini. The third who was also a duck was using the flag of the Empire of Japan, and openly singing "The Japanese Sandman". The caricature is a reference to Japan in gestalt, but can be interpreted as referring specifically to either Hideki Tojo or Hirohito.
Changes in Sunset Productions version
The ending where the dove is sitting with his kids and points out that his enemies have been defeated (and are now moose-heads above the fireplace), followed by a notice to buy war bonds, has been rarely seen since the short was sold to Sunset Productions in the 1950s and syndicated through them (as Guild Films). As the cartoon is in the public domain, this edited version has frequently been found on VHS and DVD home video collections. However, on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 6 DVD set and the World War II cartoons special on the Cartoon Network show ToonHeads, the full ending is shown uncut and uncensored.
- The Ducktators is available (uncut) on Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 6, Disc 2.