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|The Scarlet Pumpernickel|
The Scarlet Pumpernickel is an animated Warner Bros. Looney Tunes theatrical cartoon short released in 1950, directed by Chuck Jones and written by Michael Maltese. The cartoon was released at the same time as Cinderella, an animated feature film produced by Walt Disney. Although the title (invoking a type of bread instead of a flower) is a pun on The Scarlet Pimpernel, the Pumpernickel is given a portrayal closer to that of Robin Hood: after Daffy fails to perform a stunt, he mutters that "I'll have to check with Errol," and a costumed appearance more like Zorro, with cape, mask and sword, none of which the Pimpernel used. His alter ego the "Nobleman disguise" is, however, more in line with wealthy English fop Sir Percy Blakeney of the Pimpernel fame. In 1994 it was voted #31 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field.[Beck, Jerry (ed.) (1994). The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals. Atlanta: Turner Publishing.
The cartoon is a story-within-a-story. Daffy Duck is fed up with comedy and wants to try some more serious roles. He offers a script to the Warner Brothers executive "J.L.", called The Scarlet Pumpernickel, which he wrote himself (under the name "Daffy Dumas Duck." As Daffy reads the script to J.L., the cartoon cuts away to various scenes and then back to J.L.'s office. Each time, Daffy announces a page number. By the cartoon's end, the script has exceeded 2 thousand pages (movie scripts much in excess of 100 pages were usually rejected as too long back in those days). In this script, the clumsy Scarlet Pumpernickel (Daffy) must save the Fair Lady Melissa from being married to a man she does not love, the Grand Duke (Sylvester) under the Lord High Chamberlain's (Porky Pig) orders. Melissa loves Scarlet, but her happy mood is extinguished in a heartbeat when the Chamberlain orders her to "keep away from that masked stinker". The Chamberlain gets a brilliant plan and decides to marry Melissa to the Grand Duke in exchange for killing the Scarlet Pumpernickel. Toward the end, the Grand Duke and the Scarlet Pumpernickel engage in an intense duel, but no conclusive ending is given as to who ultimately wins the battle. Daffy, as the scriptwriter, overdoes the ending as an unlikely series of random and accelerating natural disasters, including skyrocketing food prices (most notably "kreplach").
- This is notable among Looney Tunes shorts for its unusually large cast of "star" characters (which, in addition to Daffy, Porky, and Sylvester, includes Elmer Fudd, Henery Hawk and Mama Bear from Jones' Three Bears series). The only well-known characters to not star in this cartoon (among those that had been in cartoons already) were Bugs Bunny, Foghorn Leghorn, Tweety Bird and Yosemite Sam (Foghorn was exclusive to Robert McKimson, the latter two were used mainly by Friz Freleng). Barrier, Michael. Audio commentary for The Scarlet Pumpernickel on disc two of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 1. Two major precedents were 1943's A Corny Concerto, directed by Tweety's creator Bob Clampett, which featured Bugs, Elmer, Porky, and arguably a younger Daffy in a parody of Disney's Fantasia, the other was 1947's Crowing Pains, directed by Robert McKimson, which featured Foghorn Leghorn, Barnyard Dawg, Henery Hawk and Sylvester.
- This cartoon is Henery Hawk's second appearance in a Daffy Duck cartoon, after 1948's You Were Never Duckier - notable for being the first "transitional" Daffy cartoon (from "screwball" to a greedy, self-centered character), the first cartoon in WB's own TV packages (cartoons released 8/1/1948 or later) to be released, and the first such cartoon to be reissued (only one of five without credits).
- This is only one of three cartoons that Melissa Duck stars in (the others being 1953's "Muscle Tussle" and the late 1980s cartoon short, "The Duxorcist"). She is Daffy's girlfriend in both. She has survived, however, and has become a regular on Baby Looney Tunes, the 2002 series that tells about the childhood of the Looney Tunes characters.
- This short was one of the few times that Mel Blanc voiced Elmer Fudd, who plays the role of an innkeeper here. Elmer was usually voiced by Arthur Q. Bryan, but since the character had only one line of dialogue, Mel Blanc was told to go ahead and imitate the Bryan's voice for the character. Blanc did not like imitating, however, believing it to be stealing from another actor.Michael Barrier. Audio commentary for The Scarlet Pumpernickel on disc two of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 1.
- This is one of the few cartoons that are set on the Warner lot in Burbank, California, and is also one of the few cartoons that have numerous references to the Warner Bros. co-founder, Jack Warner, who is called J.L. in this short (as is normally done in the WB cartoons when referring to the studio chief).
- The cartoon was reissued as a Merrie Melodies "Blue Ribbon" classic. The original opening (and closing) rings were replaced, but like the other later "Blue Ribbon" reissues (1956 onward), the original opening credits were intact. The "Blue Ribbon" opening rings are the ones featured on the DVD release, but the original closing rings were restored. However, there are still prints with the original opening rings.
- This is the only Chuck Jones-directed Porky/Sylvester cartoon in which the latter speaks. In the cartoons where Porky and Sylvester explore spooky settings (Scaredy Cat, Claws for Alarm, and Jumpin' Jupiter), Sylvester is a mute (additionally like this cartoon, Scaredy Cat also features a suicide gag that is often censored on TV).
- In this cartoon, Daffy's middle name is revealed to be Dumas, but Bugs said his middle name is Sheldon in The Looney Tunes Show.
In many re-airings of this episode, the short seems to be cut off after Daffy is seen catching for air after reading his play. The true ending of this short consists of Daffy attempting to commit suicde after the series of events that occured, but failing to do so and only shooting his hat. This scene is most likely cut off due to concerns of viewers attempting to repeat Daffy's actions or plainly because it was considered too violent. The edits are done in different ways depending on the channel;
- Cartoon Network/Boomerang: Two ways - in one, the cartoon fades to black with a fake fade-out and finishes after Daffy asks, "Is that all?" after J. L. expresses his blase attitude to the rising price of foodstuffs in Daffy's script. In another, after the fake fade-out, it returns briefly after this fade-out for Daffy, laying on the floor and then rising with a burned hat, to say, "It's getting so you have to kill yourself to sell a story around here.". Regardless of the edit, viewers could suspect that something is missing.
- ABC/CBS: Abruptly cuts off after the part where Daffy tells J.L. the scene about rising prices of foodstuffs.
- The Merrie Melodies Show: The part where Daffy shoots himself with the gun is replaced still shot of the hallway superimposed over (although the gunshot could still be heard).
- Nickelodeon: A slower shot of the hallway zoom-in (from the opening of the cartoon), but reversed so that camera backed away from it, was superimposed over the suicide gunshot.
|Henery Hawk Cartoons|
|1942||The Squawkin' Hawk|
|1943||Flop Goes the Weasel|
|1946||Walky Talky Hawky|
|1948||You Were Never Duckier • The Foghorn Leghorn|
|1950||The Scarlet Pumpernickel • The Leghorn Blows at Midnight|
|1952||The Egg-Cited Rooster|
|1955||All Fowled Up|