SUMMARY: ‘Woman hater’ Daffy Duck is sent to take a message past the seductive Hatta Mari, a leggy pigeon who seduces wartime secrets out of carrier pigeons.
WHY IT’S HERE: Frank Tashlin’s ‘Plane Daffy’ is a wonderful wartime cartoon which is very definitely aimed at adults. Aside from containing three suicides and possibly the most cigarettes in any one scene in animation history, ‘Plane Daffy’ is based around the character Hatta Mari, a leggy blonde nazi pigeon who seduces military secrets out of carrier pigeons. This makes for an extremely sexually charged cartoon, quite literally in one case! Similar in many ways to the excellent Private Snafu cartoon ‘Rumours’ (which was written by Dr. Seuss), ‘Plane Daffy’ tells most of its story in rhyme, until Daffy finally arrives and the wisecracks get a little looser. Daffy, despite having top billing, doesn’t appear in the cartoon until it’s more than half way finished but when he does, he knocks the action up a notch from witty setup to lunatic conclusion.
Professing to be a woman hater (!), Daffy nevertheless succumbs to Hatti Mari immediately, resulting in the longest animated screen kiss I’ve ever seen. Tashlin, always the Warner director who owed the most to live action techniques, treats Hatta Mari as if she were a real life screen goddess, never missing a chance to present a titillating angle of her top-heavy figure! The sexual tension between her and Daffy adds a new angle to an age-old chase format and Tashlin’s direction is extremely energetic. Special mention must go to Warren Foster’s script, which not only features the excellent rhyming narration (“relaxes” is rhymed with “enemy axis”, to give but one example of the unpredictable wit on show) but several absolutely hilarious gags. My favourites involve a military-secret-dispenser and a fridge light. There are also lots of subtler in-jokes, such as the fact that Hatta Mari is not only a spoonerism of Matta Hari but also an old fashioned slang term for a loose woman (you get her pregnant, you hatta mari her! Get it?). ‘Plane Daffy’ is the Warner animation studio at its bawdiest and also, frequently, at its funniest.