Sunday, November 20, 2011


Daffy-blogging, essay 5 of 15 blog entries on
Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½th Century

Part One, The World of the Future

Electric arcs will be common in the future.  No worries though.
You can walk right through them.

Much future technology will be
based on the filament light bulb model.

While the term "Evaporator" may sound ominous, these inverted glass
bulbs are actually an early version of Star Trek's transporter chambers.

A view of the rocket cockpit of the future:  Note the keyboard and
the hanging ribbon microphone, ideal for radio use or for recording
voices for cartoons.

The TV of the future.  Outer space transmission apparently causes
static patterns characteristic of TV in the 50s and 60s.

Part Two, The World of the Past

July 25, 1953:  There’s rarely anything momentous about the release of a cartoon.  When Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½th Century hit the screens on the last Saturday in July 1953, people came to the theater to watch the feature film or, in some cases, the double feature.  The cartoon was just a minor accessory in the 1950s movie-going experience, along with the newsreel, the coming attractions, and the popcorn.

Denise Darcel, "the
French Marilyn Monroe."
The Hollywood movies released that month were standard fare.  The last half of July saw Richard Todd in the swashbuckler The Sword and the Rose, George Montgomery and Tab Hunter in Gun Belt, Denise Darcell (touted by Columbia as “the French Marilyn Monroe”) in Flame of Calcutta, Robert Mitchum and Linda Darnell in Second Chance, Willard Parker as Jesse James in The Great Jesse James Raid, Robert Taylor and Ava Gardner in Ride, Vaquero, and Kathryn Grayson as opera star Grace Moore in So This Is Love.

It’s a fairly good bet that Duck Dodgers outclassed them all.

Meanwhile, outside the theater…

Elizabeth II at her
Dwight D. Eisenhower was President in the United States, the Soviet Union was in a period of transition following the death of Josef Stalin in March, and Chairman Mao was firmly in charge in China.  Elizabeth II had been crowned Queen of England the previous month (June 2, 1953). 

In world news, the Korean War was stuttering to an indecisive close.  The day after Duck Dodgers opened, Fidel Castro launched the opening salvo in the Cuban Revolution.  In March 1953, James D. Watson and Francis Crick (with a major uncredited assist from Rosalind Franklin) had published their discovery of the double helix 
Mickey Mantle on the
cover of Time, June 1953.
structure of DNA.  Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made headlines by successfully ascending Mount Everest, reaching the top of the world on May 29.  On July 25, 1953, the #1 song on the hit parade was “I’m Walking Behind You” as performed by Eddie Fisher.

My parents were a few months away from their second wedding anniversary.  I was still seven years off and my first viewing of Duck Dodgers would have been…

I like to think that my first viewing of Duck Dodgers was on the TV at my grandparents’ house in Riverhead, NY sometime in the mid- to late 1960s.  When my cousins and I visited the house on summer weekends, Warner Bros. cartoons often seemed to be on the TV.  We all liked them but the biggest fan of all was my Uncle Ted.  He had a house-shaking laugh that was a perfect accompaniment to Bugs, Daffy, and Wile E. Coyote.  I’d like to think that was where I first saw Duck Dodgers—surrounded by family with Uncle Ted laughing loudest of all.  Those were good times.

A TV test pattern, often seen very early on Saturday mornings
before the cartoons came on.

Reference Sources
Chuck Amuck by Chuck Jones
Chuck Reducks by Chuck Jones
Hollywood Cartoons by Michael Barrier
Looney Tunes: The Ultimate Visual Guide by Jerry Beck
Warner Bros. Animation Art by Jerry Beck and Will Friedwald
7 Minutes by Norman M. Klein
That's All Folks by Steve Schneider
Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume One DVD set, Duck Dodgers commentary by Michael Barrier
Friends at the IMDb Classic Film message board including Rollo Treadway, Chloe Joe Fassbender, Illtdesq, and Fish Beauty
... and an occasional sneak glance at Wikipedia entries (but always double-checking everything!)

Watch Duck Dodgers...
Purchase Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume One DVD set at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Rent Disc Two of Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume One DVD set at Netflix or other rental service.

© 2011 Lee Price

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