SUMMARY: In the greatest of the ‘books come to life’ sub-genre of cartoons, Daffy Duck is dropped amongst the various literary creations and helps them take on the Big Bad Wolf.
WHY IT’S HERE: Of all the cartoons where books, magazines etc. come to life, Bob Clampett’s ‘Book Revue’ is by far the finest. The problem with many of these kind of cartoons is that they rely on cultural references that have been long forgotten, inescapably dating the picture. Although there are many references to popular books of the day in ‘Book Revue’, it manages to sidestep the detrimental dating effect thanks to Clampett’s typically engaging speedy pacing and the inclusion of Daffy Duck as a character. Daffy emerges from the cover of a Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies comic and proceeds to completely steal the cartoon away from all the witty book parodies. Ever the showman, Daffy opens with a Danny Kaye impersonation followed by the highlight of the cartoon, a phenomenal scat version of the Little Red Riding Hood Story. Mel Blanc must be given enormous credit for pulling this off so brilliantly but Clampett makes it all the better by matching this brilliant vocal performance with stunning visuals, including the infamous moment in which Daffy turns into a giant eyeball. This is the sort of joke no other director would even attempt and Clampett pulls it off with grotesque glee, ‘Book Revue’ is so much better than all other cartoons of its kind because it doesn’t get hung up on visual pun after visual pun. Instead, Clampett uses these books as the backdrop against which to stage a high speed chase. Unlike some of these reference heavy shorts, ‘Book Revue’ can be enjoyed whether you get the reference points or not. It’s a classic cartoon bursting with energy and ideas.