Duck Twacy

Created by E.C. Segar

"Snake Eyes! Agh! Eighty-Eight Teeth! Hammerhead! Oh, no, Pussycat! Pussycat Puss! Bat Man! Double-Header! P-p-picklepuss! P-p-p-pumpkin Head! Neon Noodle! Juke Box Jaw! Wolf Man!
You're all under arrest!"

"The Great Piggy Bank Robbery," a 1946 Lonney Tune cartoon short from Warner Bros. featuring Daffy Duck, is considered by many to be a classic, and it's not difficult to see why.

It's a witting, surealistic parody of film noir, hard-boiled private eye films and, of course, Chester Gould's popular newspaper strip featuring square-jawed cop Dick Tracy (Daffy's hero). Its seven minutes are crammed full of sight gags, colours that pop pop pop, and even cameos from Porky Pig, Sherlock Holmes and (in shadow, briefly) Dick Tracy himself!

This whimsical but knowing little gem kicks off with Daffy down on the farm reading the anxiously awaited latest issue of his favorite comic book, Dick Tracy (of course), only to accidentally knock himself out while fantasizing that he's fighting criminals.

Suddenly, he's dreaming of being DUCK TWACY, famous private eye, trying to solve the case of the missing piggy banks, prompted by the disappearance of hids own beloved cash-filled porker. Following the trail, he takes a streetcar (conducted by Porky Pig, in a non-speaking cameo role) to the gangsters' hideout (boasting a convenient flashing neon sign that reads "Gangster's Hideaway,", he confronts a rogue's gallery of grotesque criminals that outdoes Gould's own lineup of deformed lawbreakers.

Among the murderous miscreants Twacy faces are Neon Noodle (a crook made entirely of neon tubing), Snake Eyes (a thug with dice for eyes), Pumpkinhead (self-explanatory), Jukebox Jaws (a man with a jukebox for a head), Eighty-Eight Teeth (a man with piano keys for teeth), Bat Man (a giant baseball bat, not created by Bob Kane), and perhaps the best one: Rubberhead, a giant eraser who threatens Daffy to "rub out" Twacy completely from the cartoon.

But the fedora-sporting hard-boiled duck is not to be deterred. "You're all under arrest!" he announces.

Unfortunately for Twacy, they don't buy it and the chase begins, full of assorted cartoony violence, tilt-a-whirl camera angles and slashes of light and shadow that poke gleeful fun at the tropes of noir cinematography. The frantic chase finally skids to a halt, with our hero, displaying some seldom seen competence, trapping them all in a closet and blasting them all away with a Tommy gun.

Of course, Daffy gets his eventual comeuppance, waking up from his dream in a pig pen, smooching with a rather curvaceous sow.

THE EVIDENCE

  • "Scram, Sherlock. I'm working this side of the street."

-- Duck Twacy bumps into a Mr. Holmes of London

UNDER OATH

  • "...Bob Clampett's forever priceless The Great Piggy Bank Robbery is clearly a work of the highest cinematic poetry, for prompting the film's manic hilarity are a sequence of images that remain among the most indelible in cartoon history."

-- animation historian Steve Schneider, in The 50 Greatest Cartoons

FILMS

  • THE GREAT PIGGY BANK ROBBERY
    (1946, Warner Bros.)
    7:35 minutes
    Story by Warren Foster
    Directed by
    Robert Clampett
    Music by Carl W. Stalling
    Starring Mel Blanc as
    DUCK TWACY (voice)
    Also as
    Wolf Man, Rubber Head, Neon Noodle, Pig, 88 Teeth

RELATED LINKS

P.I. Spoofs and Callouts in Cartoons and Comic Strips

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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