Under the Counter Spy

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Under the Counter Spy
Directed byDon Patterson
Produced byWalter Lantz
Story byHomer Brightman
StarringDal McKennon
Grace Stafford
Music byClarence Wheeler
Raymond Turner
Animation byRay Abrams
Herman Cohen
Ken Southworth
Raymond Jacobs
Art Landy
Color processTechnicolor
Distributed byUniversal-International
Release date
  • May 10, 1954 (1954-05-10)
Running time
6' 23"
CountryUnited States

Under the Counter Spy is the 56th animated cartoon short subject in the Woody Woodpecker series. Released theatrically on May 10, 1954, the film was produced by Walter Lantz Productions and distributed by Universal- International.


A criminal known as "The Bat" (X 490231, alias Willy Garrity, alias Cornball Smith, etc.) unwittingly hides a top secret formula in Woody's house. The bird mistakes "Formula 7 3/8 (One Drop = 50,000 Horsepower)" for his "Redwood Sap" tonic and turns into a multicolored Superman, gaining super strength whenever he ingests it. The chase is on. The bat tries to kill Woody but his tricks backfire on him and the bat is captured.

Background music[edit]

The opera featured as a theme for Woody's first transformation is Richard Wagner's Lohengrin.


  • Under the Counter Spy is a parody of the television show Dragnet. The title is a pun on the work of a counterintelligence agent. The end of the short spoofs the Mark VII Limited production logo with the person accidentally striking his thumb with the hammer.
  • Aside from a tired version of his trademark laugh (performed by Grace Stafford), Woody does not speak in this film. Instead, Dal McKennon (as one of the short's three narrators) relays to the audience Woody's "thought dialogue." In a sense, this is the only time McKennon plays the woodpecker in the series (other than providing vocal effects). This also marks the first time Stafford did not provide any dialogue for Woody since 1952's Scalp Treatment.
  • The fictional agency "BFI" (a parody of FBI) bears the actual initials of a well-known waste-haulage company
  • The short opens with a disclaimer that parodies Dragnet's standard disclaimer:
The story you are about to see is a big fat lie.
No names have been changed to protect anybody!
  • The story is similar to that of the Donald Duck comic Super Snooper (1949). In both stories, the main character mistakes a secret potion for his medicine and gains superhuman powers.


  • Cooke, Jon, Komorowski, Thad, Shakarian, Pietro, and Tatay, Jack. "1954". The Walter Lantz Cartune Encyclopedia.