SUMMARY: Daffy Duck finds himself being manipulated by an unseen animator in this classic of animation.
WHY IT’S HERE: Where to begin with ‘Duck Amuck’? I guess I should begin by stating that not only is Daffy Duck my favourite cartoon character of all time but that I genuinely consider him to be one of the greatest comedians of all time, alive or animated. No matter which animator was drawing him, scriptwriter was writing for him or director was directing him, Daffy always elicits a positive reaction from me whether the cartoon in question is decent or not. In the case of ‘Duck Amuck’, “decent” is the understatement of the century! It’s a miraculous achievement which I never tire of seeing.
In ‘Duck Amuck’, Daffy battles with an unseen animator who deconstructs the film around him. Pencils, brushes and erasers intrude on Daffy’s world, changing the scenery and even the appearance of Daffy himself and Jones also introduces jokes involving sound, colour and camera positions. It’s an incredible premise which expands on earlier experiments with similar concepts like the Fleischer Brother’s ‘Out of the Inkwell’. The best part for Daffy fans like myself is that ‘Duck Amuck (until its final few seconds) is an entirely one-personality cartoon. It hinges on Daffy’s beautifully scripted monologue which makes the most of the characters distinctive turn of phrase and manic energy. Only Daffy could pull off a solo cartoon like this (as confirmed by ‘Rabbit Rampage’, an unsuccessful attempt to remake ‘Duck Amuck’ with Bugs Bunny in the central role). There’s plenty to please fans of most Daffy personas here. Although the greedy and selfish side of the little black duck is absent (making him all the more likable and therefore rendering the cartoon even more deliciously sadistic), his prominent ego is apparent from the opening frame and the manic energy of his early incarnation is quickly drawn upon as he becomes more and more frantic about the crumbling of his world. It’s a true tour de force.
I don’t think I have ever come across anyone who has a bad word to say about ‘Duck Amuck’. It is quite simply one of the most perfect cartoons ever made, perhaps the most perfect. It’s confirmation, if any was needed, of the genius of Chuck Jones and the comedic superiority of Daffy Duck over any of his animated associates.