One of my favorite cartoons of my dad’s is “The Great Piggybank Robbery.” It was released in 1946 and was his last Daffy cartoon before he left Warner Bros. My family is proud that this classic Looney Tunes cartoon is archived and preserved in the Library of Congress as one of the great cartoons of its time.
I remember the first time I attended the San Diego Comic Con there was an evening showing of favorite cartoons, which included TGPPR. It was one of the first times I’d seen dad’s work on the big screen. I sat in the dark grinning as the cartoon’s opening builds with Daffy anxious for the day’s mail. When it finally arrives and he rushes off to open up his coveted delivery, I will never forget the massive explosion of cheers when we see that Daffy is clutching a comic book.
Dad was a passionate fan and that passion for other creator’s work inspired various aspects of his stories. This cartoon centers around Daffy becoming Duck Twacy, the great duck-detective. Of course, Daffy’s take on Dick Tracey is wild and exuberant in a uniquely Daffy way.
In the 1980’s my brother and I had an opportunity to study an original nitrate print of “The Great Piggy Bank Robbery.” It was such a delight to examine dad’s work frame by frame and experience the cartoon in a way I never had before.
I had always loved the way dad packed such a great story into seven minutes, the fast pace thrill as Daffy encounters each villain at the Gangster’s Hide-out until he finally recovers his beloved piggy bank. But observing the story frame by frame I saw the cartoon in a new light: the explosion of color, the brilliant moments of exaggerated animation, eyes stretching across the screen, limbs spreading apart and snapping back. In this cartoon he pushed the limits of animation as if testing the audience to see if their imaginations could take it. Dad skillfully pulls us in and lets us briefly live in Daffy’s frenetic mind, and what a wild and fiercely imaginative place that is.
I have so many favorite moments in this cartoon but my favorite scene is the climatic meeting of all the villains at the hideout. I love the illustrations of the various characters; I love the wrestling with Neon Noodle which results in the “Eat at Joe’s” neon sign. I love when Daffy is blown out of the circle of angry mobsters right before being erased/rubbed out by Rubber Head. This is rich, heady stuff…not just for a cartoon, but for any film and it’s done with adept timing, performance and characterization. It’s a director’s tour de force and it personifies the colorful qualities that set dad’s work apart.
If you haven’t seen “The Great Piggy Bank Robbery” I encourage you to do it immediately. Put up your feet, open your mind and be prepared for the animated ride of your life. When it’s over take a moment to marvel that almost seventy years after it’s completion this cartoon is as hip and cool as anything currently out there.
Well done, dad. Well done.