Duck Amuck

Duck Amuck
Merrie Melodies (Daffy Duck/Bugs Bunny[1]) series
Directed by Charles M. Jones
Produced by Eddie Selzer
Story by Michael Maltese
Voices by Mel Blanc
Music by Carl W. Stalling
Animation by Ben Washam
Ken Harris
Lloyd Vaughan
Layouts by Maurice Noble
Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard
Studio Warner Bros. Cartoons
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
The Vitaphone Corporation
Release date(s) February 28, 1953 (United States)
Color process Technicolor
Running time 6:56
Language English
Followed by Rabbit Rampage

Duck Amuck is a surreal animated cartoon directed by Chuck Jones and produced by Warner Bros. Cartoons. The short was released in early 1953 by The Vitaphone Corporation, the short subject division of Warner Bros. Pictures, as part of the Merrie Melodies series. It stars Daffy Duck, who is tormented by a seemingly sadistic, initially unseen animator, who constantly changes Daffy's locations, clothing, voice, physical appearance and even shape. Pandemonium reigns throughout the cartoon as Daffy attempts to steer the action back to some kind of normality, only for the animator to either ignore him or, more frequently, to over-literally interpret his increasingly frantic demands.

In 1994, it was voted #2 of The 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field, losing only to What's Opera, Doc? Historians and fans consider Duck Amuck to be Daffy Duck's magnum opus, and What's Opera, Doc? to be Bugs's, so the positions at #2 and #1 are appropriate. The short was included on Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 1.

A Nintendo DS game, Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck was made after it.



A scene from Duck Amuck.

According to director Chuck Jones, this film demonstrated for the first time that animation can create characters with a recognizable personality, independent of their appearance, milieu, or voice. Although in the end, the animator is revealed to be Daffy's rival Bugs Bunny (who famously declares "Ain't I a stinker?"), according to Jones the ending is just for comedic value: Jones (the director) is speaking to the audience directly, asking "Who is Daffy Duck anyway? Would you recognize him if I did this to him? What if he didn't live in the woods? Didn't live anywhere? What if he had no voice? No face? What if he wasn't even a duck anymore?" In all cases, it is obvious that Daffy is still Daffy; not all cartoon characters can claim such distinctive personality.

Duck Amuck is included in the compilation film The Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Movie, along with other favorite Chuck Jones cartoons including What's Opera, Doc?

Mel Blanc performed the voices. It was directed by Chuck Jones with a story by Michael Maltese. The film contains many examples of self-referential humor, breaking the fourth wall.

In 1999 the film was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. This was the second of three animated shorts by Jones to receive this honor (the others are 1957's What's Opera, Doc? and 1955's One Froggy Evening). Jones has the distinction of being the only director (as of 2006) with three animated shorts in the registry.

The cartoon's plot was essentially replicated in one of Jones' later cartoons, Rabbit Rampage (1955), in which Bugs Bunny turns out to be the victim of the silly animator (Elmer Fudd). A similar plot was also included in an episode of Baby Looney Tunes, in which Bugs was the victim, Daffy was the animator, and it was made on a computer instead of a pencil and paper.

In Looney Tunes Comics Issue #94, Bugs Bunny gets his back at Daffy Duck by making him the victim, in switching various movie roles, from Duck Twacy in "Who Killed Daffy Duck," a video game character, and a talk show host, and they always wound up with Daffy starring in Moby Dick (the story's running gag). After this, Bugs comments, "Eh, dis guy needs a new agent."


Daffy Duck leaps onto screen dressed as a musketeer, but quickly finds the first of many conflicts with the unseen animator with the lack of a background. Asking the animator to create a background, Daffy finds several different unconnected scenery, causing him to change his outfit appropriately. He eventually finds the background missing again, and starts to rant only to be erased by the animator. He is redrawn as a cowboy with a guitar, but his attempt to play it fail when he finds there is no sound. Daffy attempts again but finds the music replaced with random sound effects. Daffy angrily shouts after sound returns, and commands him to draw some scenery.

The animator complies but then paints Daffy random colours after Daffy fails to be specific about what to paint. The animator then erases Daffy again and redraws him as a bizarre mismatched animal, eventually revealing his reflection to him in a mirror and erases him. The animator then redraws Daffy as a sailor on an ocean, but without a boat, Daffy tumbles into the sea and resurfaces on a distant desert island. Daffy shouts for the animator to give him a camera closeup, but is annoyed even further when the animator messes with the camera. Daffy attempts to come to an understanding with the animator, but the latter drops a black background on him. Daffy screams hysterically and rips apart the background just as the animator tries to end the cartoon.

Daffy defies him and apologises to the presumed audience, offering to do a jig. The animator then messes with the film itself, causing two Daffys to appear and get into a fight. One (the real Daffy) is erased whilst the other (the clone) is painted as an airplane pilot. Daffy excitedly flies about in the plane until the animator paints a mountain into his path. Daffy bails from the plane using a parachute, but the animator replaces it with an anvil, causing Daffy to crash to the ground. He hammers on the anvil whilst reciting The Village Blacksmith, the anvil replaced with an artillery shell which detonates. Daffy snaps and angrily demands to know who the animator is, only for the animator to draw a door which he shuts in Daffy's face.

The camera draws back, revealing Bugs Bunny to be Daffy's tormentor. He turns and smiles, with the line "Ain't I a stinker?"

See also


  1. ^ Until the end of the cartoon, Bugs is an unseen character.

External links

Preceded by
Fool Coverage
Daffy Duck Cartoons
Succeeded by
Muscle Tussle

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