Created by E.C. Segar
“Snake Eyes! Agh! Eighty-Eight Teeth! Hammerhead! Oh, no, Pussycat! Pussycat Puss! Bat Man! Double-Header! P-p-picklepuss! P-p-p-pumpkin Head! Neon Noodle! Juke Box Jaw! Wolf Man!
You’re all under arrest!”
“The Great Piggy Bank Robbery,” a 1946 Looney Tune cartoon short from Warner Bros., directed by Robert Clampett and featuring Daffy Duck, is considered by many to be a classic, and after searching forever for it and finally locating a copy, it’s not difficult to see why.
It’s a witting, surealistic parody of film noir, hard-boiled private eye films and, of course, Chester Gould’s popular newspaper strip featuring square-jawed cop Dick Tracy (Daffy’s hero). Its seven minutes are crammed full of sight gags, colours that pop pop pop!, and even cameos from Porky Pig, Sherlock Holmes and (in shadow, briefly) Dick Tracy himself!
This whimsical but knowing little gem kicks off with Daffy down on the farm reading the anxiously awaited latest issue of his favorite comic book, Dick Tracy (of course), only to accidentally knock himself out while fantasizing that he’s fighting criminals.
Suddenly, he’s dreaming of being DUCK TWACY, famous private eye, trying to solve the case of the missing piggy banks, prompted by the disappearance of hids own beloved cash-filled porker. Following the trail, he takes a streetcar (conducted by Porky Pig, in a non-speaking cameo role) to the gangsters’ hideout (boasting a convenient flashing neon sign that reads “Gangster’s Hideaway,” where he confronts a rogue’s gallery of grotesque criminals that outdoes Gould’s own lineup of deformed lawbreakers.
Among the murderous miscreants Twacy faces are Neon Noodle (a crook made entirely of neon tubing), Snake Eyes (a thug with dice for eyes), Pumpkinhead (self-explanatory), Jukebox Jaws (a man with a jukebox for a head), Eighty-Eight Teeth (a man with piano keys for teeth), Bat Man (a giant baseball bat, not created by Bob Kane or Bill Finger), and perhaps the best one: Rubberhead, a giant eraser who threatens Daffy to “rub out” Twacy completely from the cartoon.
But the fedora-sporting hard-boiled duck is not to be deterred. “You’re all under arrest!” he announces.
Unfortunately for Twacy, they don’t buy it and the chase begins, full of assorted cartoony violence, tilt-a-whirl camera angles and slashes of light and shadow that poke gleeful fun at the tropes of noir cinematography. The frantic chase finally skids to a halt, with our hero, displaying some seldom seen competence, trapping them all in a closet and blasting them all away with a Tommy gun.
Of course, Daffy gets his eventual comeuppance, waking up from his dream in a pig pen, smooching with a rather curvaceous sow.
- “Scram, Sherlock. I’m working this side of the street.”
— Duck Twacy bumps into a Mr. Holmes of London
- “…Bob Clampett’s forever priceless The Great Piggy Bank Robbery is clearly a work of the highest cinematic poetry, for prompting the film’s manic hilarity are a sequence of images that remain among the most indelible in cartoon history.”
— animation historian Steve Schneider, in The 50 Greatest Cartoons
- THE GREAT PIGGY BANK ROBBERY
(1946, Warner Bros.)
Story by Warren Foster
Directed by Robert Clampett
Music by Carl W. Stalling
Starring Mel Blanc as DUCK TWACY (voice)
Also as Wolf Man, Rubber Head, Neon Noodle, Pig, 88 Teeth
- See Ya in the Funny Papers!!!
P.I. Spoofs & Callouts in Comics & Cartoons
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.