Saturday, February 11, 2006
WB Animation: "Draftee Daffy"
The next cartoon in this animation-identification series is Bob Clampett's "Draftee Daffy" (1945). Again, some of the identification here was done with the help of an old usenet post by Greg Duffell.
This is the cartoon where Daffy is reading about Allied victories in WWII, praising the war effort, and wishing he could be part of it -- until the Little Man From the Draft Board arrives with his draft notice, upon which Daffy resorts to anything, even murder, to avoid military service. It's a very subversive cartoon for a major-studio release during the Second World War, making fun both of the draft and of pseudo-patriotism (Daffy's literally being an armchair warrior but doesn't want to actually go and fight); and it's also a very funny cartoon in the time-tested "everywhere you turn, he's there" genre (everywhere Daffy goes, the Little Man follows).
While the credit system at WB at the time allowed only one animator to be credited on each cartoon, there were at least four animators who worked on this one: Rod Scribner, Bob McKimson, Manny Gould, and one other animator Greg couldn't identify -- I'm going to hazard a guess that the fourth animator might have been Basil Davidovich, who worked on another cartoon for Clampett around the same time (before being transferred to Chuck Jones' unit); some of the animation of Daffy looks a bit like what Davidovich would later do for Chuck Jones and Art Davis. That's just my guess, though.
The film starts with Daffy walking across his house and celebrating the U.S. Army's "Smashing Frontal Attack On Enemy Rear." This long shot is animated by Manny Gould:
What Clampett often did was to let one animator do a long panning shot and then break it up with closeups animated by others. This is the case here, as we cut from Gould's animation to a shot of Daffy in front of a painting of General MacArthur; this shot, and the subsequent shot of Daffy pretending he's in combat, is done by Bob McKimson, with his elegant poses and attention to detail:
Now we're back to Daffy walking across the room, and Manny Gould is animating again, with his trademark broad, wild arm gestures:
Now comes a close-up of Daffy on the phone, animated by Rod Scribner. Evven when Scribner does a relatively restrained close-up, he squeezes and squashes a character's head like it's silly putty, and is more concerned with effective acting than making a character look pretty.
And then we go once again to Daffy walking across that room, until he realizes he's been drafted, and Manny Gould cuts loose with one of his favourite tricks, having characters shove themselves directly into the camera:
Rod Scribner now does the great squash-and-stretch sequence with Daffy looking out the window and seeing the Little Man From the Draft Board:
And Manny Gould takes over again for Daffy's wild run upstairs, and the scene where he puts on a fake beard and looks out the window again (only to find the Little Man wearing the same fake beard). Gould's wild takes are less about playing around with body shape than Scribner's are; he achieves a wild take by playing with perspective, in this case making Daffy's head and eyes bigger:
I'm guessing Basil Davidovich -- or if not him, someone other than Gould, Scribner or McKimson -- does the next scene with Daffy on the phone ordering a one-way ticket to the North Pole:
When Daffy is hiding in the closet (the Little Man, of course, is there too), several different animators work on it; this first bit may be Scribner:
The wild eye-take as Daffy realizes the Little Man is there is Manny Gould:
And when Daffy hands the Little Man a bomb, we have some more elegant drawing and carefully-worked-out arm gestures from Bob McKimson:
The next bit, with Daffy getting handed the bomb back to him by the Little Man, looks like that fourth animator whom I'm guessing to be Davidovich:
But the shot of the Little Man watching Daffy get blown up looks like Rod Scribner to me; look at the way his eyes and eyebrows are pushed almost to their limits, as if Scribner is trying to see how much he can manipulate a character's body without making him totally shapeless:
McKimson now does the scene of the Little Man bending over the prostrate Daffy; as Greg has pointed out, this is the kind of scene that McKimson usually handled, e.g. the scene with Elmer observing Bugs's fake death in "A Wild Hare."
For the scene of Daffy locking the Little Man in a safe and then flying off on a rocket, I'm once again going to guess Basil Davidovich:
But the final scene, in hell, is pure Robert McKimson, with Daffy doing the nonchalant "shrugging" gesture that McKimson was so fond of:
Is this a perfect analysis? "Well, now, I wouldn't say that." But it's a start. Anyone who has a better guess as to who that fourth animator was, feel free to chime in.