8 things you never noticed in the Daffy Duck classic ''The Scarlet Pumpernickel''
This beloved Looney Tunes short was a true rarity for a number of reasons.
In the pantheon of Daffy Duck cartoons, "The Scarlet Pumpernickel" sits high. It is one of the most memorable shorts with the Duck, a true showcase for his self-centered personality.
Like "Duck Amuck," it is a meta concept, treating Daffy as an employee of Warner Bros. studios desperate for bigger and better roles.
But this is no mere Daffy Duck cartoon. "The Scarlet Pumpernickel" is special because it brings together a rare cast of favorite characters, from the introduction to Daffy's "girlfriend" to some other seldom-seen pairings. Let's take a look.
1. Just one of three original shorts with Melissa Duck.
In modern Looney Tunes lore, Daffy's flame Melissa Duck plays a more prominent role. She's a lead character in Baby Looney Tunes, which aired in the early 2000s. However, in the original run of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts, Melissa, like the other female counterparts, is a rare sighting. A prototype of the character first popped up in "Nasty Quacks" (1945). "The Scarlet Pumpernickel" marked her debut by name. A few years later, she appeared in "Muscle Tussle"… and that was it for more than three-and-a-half decades, until she found a role in the revival "The Duxorcist."
2. Mel Blanc voiced Elmer Fudd, which was not the norm.
Arthur Q. Bryan was the go-to voice for Elmer. In this particular short, however, Elmer had a mere sliver of dialogue, so it was decided that Mel Blanc would handle it. However, Blanc bristled at imitating a colleague. He felt it to be a form of artistic theft, so explained Michael Barrier in the commentary track for "The Scarlet Pumpernickel" on Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 1 DVD collection.
3. "J.L." is Jack Warner
The concept of the cartoon is that Daffy, tired of comedy, wants to prove his thespian skills as a serious actor. So he had prepared a (lengthy) script to present to the studio boss, "J.L." That would be Jack L. Warner, head of Warner Bros. We even get a nice aerial view of the Warner Bros. lot, as it looked back then.
4. Daffy has a middle name.
On the first part of his script, we see Daffy's middle name: Dumas. This is clearly just a literary joke, a reference to Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Muskateers. In Baby Looney Tunes, Granny at one point calls Daffy "Daffy Horacio Tiberius Duck." About a decade later, in The Looney Tunes Show, Daffy has both middle names Armando and Sheldon. Does that officially make him Daffy Dumas Horacio Tiberius Armando Sheldon Duck?
5. This is the only time Sylvester speaks in a Chuck Jones cartoon.
What did Chuck Jones have against Sylvester? The animator previously paired Sylvester and Porky in the horror-themed shorts "Scaredy Cat" (1948), "Claws for Alarm" (1954) and "Jumpin' Jupiter" (1955). In those, Sylvester was a true scaredy-cat — and mute. Friz Freleng created the character, who gave the cat his most familiar traits. Robert McKimson faithfully used Sylvester, but Art Davis also made Sylvester a mute — and gave him a dopey, lisp-less voice in a different short.
6. It has a lot of rare pairings.
For fans of Looney Tunes characters, this is a true gem. It packs in character, who typically did not all cross over in such a way. "Scarlet Pumpernickel" is one of three cartoons to pair Sylvester and Daffy together (the other two being "It's Nice to Have a Mouse Around the House" and "A Taste of Catnip"). And speaking of Chuck again, this the only Chuck Jones cartoon in which Sylvester and Elmer are paired together — all of the other four were directed by Friz Freleng.
7. Jones snuck in another familiar fairy tale character.
Did you spot "Mama Bear" from The Three Bears in this? Chuck Jones used the classic fairy tale figures in "Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears" in 1944, and later in "What's Brewin', Bruin?" — as well as "The Bee-Deviled Bruin," "Bear Feat" and "A Bear for Punishment." This is Mama Bear's only solo appearance — she's typically with Papa ("Henry") and Junyer (or "Junior").
8. It's not the only Looney Tunes cartoon with kreplach.
Daffy's plot goes off the rails in the final act, with a volcano exploding and skyrocketing inflation. We see a plate with a single kreplach and a sign reading: "Kreplach $1,000.00 Each." What is a kreplach, you ask? They are an Ashkenazi Jewish food, similar to ravioli, traditionally eaten on holidays such as Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and Purim. In 1962, the food would return in "Shishkabugs," as Yosemite Sam is a chef cooking a meal for a king. He serves the royal "Prime Rib of Mutton au Jus with Kreplach Sauce Bordelaise."