Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Daffy Duck's Quackbusters (1988)

The Bugs Bunny/ Roadrunner Movie (1979) started a series of Looney Tunes feature films. These films are often today called the compilation films. The reason for this is very simply. They use new footage to tie together old Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoon, creating a new feature length narrative. None of these films do this better than Daffy Duck’s Quack Busters. As a huge Looney Tunes fan, of course I love watching the classic short films used here. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies will always remain some of the greatest cartoons ever made, and they are such a joy to watch in this movie. However while not as brilliant as the short cartoons, the new footage here is quite good. I found myself laughing a few times at this story, and not just light chuckles either. The story here also brilliantly ties the cartoons into this story. The cartoons fit perfectly into the story and none of them feel like they are just there to fit another great cartoon in.

One of the things I love about this movie is that the shorts are not your typical best of Looney Tunes shorts. These is no Duck Amuck or What’s Opera Doc here. However this shorts are still complete classic shorts that hold up extremely well. The shorts include Daffy Dilly (1948), The Prize Pest (1951), Water Water Everyhare (1952), Punch Trunk (1953), Claws for Alarm (1954), Jumpin’ Jupiter (1955), Hyde and Go Tweet (1960), The Abominable Snow Rabbit (1961) and Transylvania 6-5000 (1963). A delightful line up if I do say so myself.

This film was the first of these compilation features to have the new footage not directed by one of the directors from the golden age of Looney Tunes. The directors were animation historian Greg Ford and cartoon director Terry Lennnon. These two had previously made a very funny theatrical Daffy Duck short called The Duxorcist (1987) (which was also used in this feature). While exploring the Warner Brothers vaults, Ford found several recordings Carl Stalling and Milt Franklin made for 1950’s Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. These scores where used as backing music for the new scenes making them feel more like the classic cartoons. These recordings were later used for the CD set, The Carl Stalling project. The animators of the new scenes for this movie where some of the best of the then current generation. These include Mark Kausler (Heavy Traffic (1973), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Looney Tunes Back in Action (2003)) Brenda Banks (Lord of the Rings (1978), American Pop (1981), The Smurfs (1981-1990)) Daniel Haskett (The Brave Little Toaster (1987), The Little Mermaid (1989), Toy Story (1995) and Darryl Van Citters (The Fox and the Hound (1981), Box Office Bunny (1990), The Tom and Jerry Show (2014-2019). Also animating on the new scenes was an old veteran Norm McCabe who was an animator and director during the golden age of Looney Tunes.

The only complaint I have about this film is that Mel Blanc’s voice has obviously aged (This and Who Framed Rodger Rabbit (1989) marked his last times voicing the Looney Tunes characters). With this it is all too easy to tell what new footage is and what is old due to the sound of his voice alone. Still the rest of the film is more than entertaining enough to make up for that.   

-Michael J. Ruhland

Resourses UsedThe Animated Movie Guide Edited by Jerry Beck

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