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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Poe’s Saturday Cartoon: THE GREAT PIGGY BANK ROBBERY (1946)

THE GREAT PIGGY BANK ROBBERY is my favorite Warner Brothers cartoon. No other short in the studio’s long list of classics ever reached the surreal hilarity that this 1946 gem did. Directed by Bob Clampett, one of the directors who helped put the “looney” in Looney Tunes, the short features what I consider to be the best version of Daffy Duck. Unlike the crazy, off the wall Daffy from the late 1930s and early 1940s or the greedy, self indulgent version that Chuck Jones would develop in the early 1950s, the Daffy in PIGGY BANK seems to have a balanced control over his insanity. He’s the perfect character in the studio’s roster of cartoon stars to throw into a spoof of Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy comic.

Full of monstrous villains, phantasmagoric imagery and the rubbery animation style so prevalent in Clampett’s work in the mid 1940s, THE GREAT PIGGY BANK ROBBERY can best be described as a Looney Tunes cartoon on acid. No other Warner Brothers cartoon expect maybe Porky in Wackyland or The Big Snooze (both directed by Clampett), reached such dizzying levels of surreal greatness. One can really see the influence such surrealist artists as Salvador Dali had on Clampett’s work when watching the short. Daffy’s descent into the villain’s hideout and the final, violent encounter where the bad guys get their comeuppances are straight out of a psychedelic film noir.

Warren Beatty liked this cartoon so much that he requested it to be played before his own DICK TRACY in 1990. Disappointingly, Disney, who produced the film, wouldn’t allow it because it wasn’t one of their cartoons. What a shame, because it would have been great to see this one up on the big screen. Luckily, one can appreciate the madness that is THE GREAT PIGGY BANK ROBBERY right here on Plissken’s Grindhouse. My gift to you on Poe’s Saturday Cartoon.