March 7, 2018 posted by Devon Baxter

Robert McKimson’s “The Prize Pest” (1951)

We’re back to the animator drafts on Cartoon Research! This week we present a Porky and Daffy cartoon directed by Bob McKimson…

For Bob McKimson’s The Prize Pest, the unusual subject of schizophrenia is used as comedy fodder when Daffy Duck pulls a simple ruse on Porky Pig, based around the transformations of Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde, created by Robert Louis Stevenson. The jam session for this cartoon, as production #1188, might have occurred sometime around October 1949, based on the evidence that the story conference for the following production, Operation: Rabbit (#1189) occurred on November 3, 1949. If the jam session for Prize Pest did transpire around the month of October, it could be assumed the aura of the Halloween season sparked an inspiration to McKimson’s chief story man Tedd Pierce. Like the earlier Boobs in the Woods, this cartoon also marked some of the final fragments of depicting Daffy as a screwball character before his vain persona took full effect later in the 1950s.

Mel Blanc recorded his dialogue track for The Prize Pest on November 3rd, 1949, with Tedd Pierce uttering an incidental line as Wentworth J. Whistlestop, the contestant of the What’s the Name of Your Name program. The advent of television in American households flourished by the time this cartoon went into production— the draft indicates the game show in the opening scenes was originally intended as a television program, with the first two scenes credited to Emery Hawkins and Phil DeLara, respectively. Presumably as a cost-cutting measure, the program was ultimately changed to a radio broadcast. Blanc’s readings of the game show host are spirited and enthusiastic to the point where the performance yearns for animated movement. Porky’s look to the camera (possibly animated by Charles McKimson) in reaction to the ludicrous content of the program adds a nice layer in the opening shot.

Following the opening scenes, as animated by Emery Hawkins, Porky is chosen at random to receive a grand giveaway prize in front of his doorstep. Rod Scribner animates Porky’s grand prize—Daffy Duck, as he pops out of the gift box and quick in his defenses, grabbing Porky by the shirt and backing him up to a corner, after voicing his disappointment in winning a “genuine live” duck. Naturally, he becomes a nuisance upon arrival, in a section handled by Phil DeLara, when Daffy administers his own spatial arrangements, tossing Porky’s knick-knacks and furniture out of the window. Daffy acting as a “convertible” duck, running around the house with a retractable car top over him—a reminder on some of the last traces of Daffy’s eccentric behavior—irritates Porky enough to throw him out.

Daffy’s govern over Porky’s house takes a different approach, when he claims to turn into a “hideous monster” when he is mistreated. Rod Scribner animates the first transformation of Daffy gearing up to growl at Porky, after putting on fake fangs and simulating unkempt hair. Emery Hawkins animates Daffy surprising Porky, after reporting to the police about his presence in the house. Hawkins also handles a section where Porky offers a cigar to Daffy (whom he calls “Mr. Two-in-One”); in a great subtle touch, Daffy pulls back on disheveled feathers on his head, and regains back to his normal state in one graceful move.

John Carey is uncredited for his animation on the cartoon, which includes a gag lifted from an earlier McKimson cartoon, Hot Cross Bunny, when a spooked Porky emerges from the closet with a skeleton inside. It could be assumed that The Prize Pest was one of the last cartoons he animated on for Warners before his departure to Western Publishing into comic book work. In scenes 17 and 17A, when Porky sneaks away to make the telephone call to the police, there is an artist credited as “Jack” in the draft. Since John Carey was credited as “Jack” in the draft for Bob Clampett’s Get Rich Quick Porky (1937), these brief scenes could also be Carey’s work.

After Porky becomes aware of Daffy’s scheme, as animated by Rod Scribner in an extended sequence, he fashions a monster costume and terrifies Daffy to a point where his body falls to pieces and sends him scrambling away from the house, in one of his finest pieces of animation for McKimson. Carl Stalling’s original music cue, which underscores Daffy’s terror at his sight of the monster costume, was used as far back as Ted Esbaugh’s The Snowman (1932), near the end of the film.

For the compilation film Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters (1988), from Greg Ford and Terry Lennon, sections of this cartoon were used to fit the theme. Mark Kausler animated much of the bridging segments of Porky and Daffy, where he used the 1950s McKimson models from The Prize Pest, creating an almost seamless effect in replicating the film—the backgrounds are a close approximation, but Mel Blanc’s vocals are not sped up nor as energetic, given his age. Presented here are the wraparound segments (though, excuse the terrible frame pull-down issues):

Now, here’s the animator draft and breakdown video!

Please Note: I might need to hold out on next week’s post — this laptop is in need of repairs at the moment…

(Thanks to Michael Barrier and Keith Scott for their help.)


  • “For Bob McKimson’s The Prize Pest, the unusual subject of schizophrenia is used as comedy fodder when Daffy Duck pulls a simple ruse on Porky Pig, based around the transformations of Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde, created by Robert Louis Stevenson.”

    Multiple Personality Disorder is closer to the mark.

    • Indeed, or Dissociative Identity Disorder which it is called in psychiatry nowadays. Multiple personalities/identities has nothing to do with schizophrenia.

  • Cartoons like this contain my favorite characterization of Daffy, and showcase the great comedic chemistry between Daffy and Porky.

    Charles McKimson and Rod Scribner steal the show in this one. Emery Hawkins’s animation is surprisingly subdued in this one aside from the cigar scene where flashes of his trademark rubberiness come out.

    “Lucky Day” is one of my favorite songs used in Looney Tunes. So bouncy and catchy. [Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong decade…]

    Bit of trivia: Daffy’s “Hyde” persona was used in the SNES video game “Porky Pig’s Haunted Holiday”- his ability to scare Porky with those fake fangs launches him to higher platforms. The first time I played it, I burst out laughing because it came out of nowhere.

  • Porky’s monster costume looks like a Muppet.

  • John Carey is both “John” and “Jack” in the draft? Could “Jack” be an uncredited Jack Phillips?

  • When Porky emerges from the skeleton closet, you hear some backwards babbling. Reversed, it’s “Nothing to be afraid of! Nothing at all. Heh heh, nothing, nothing…”.

  • (1) Note the use of the NBC G-E-C chimes just at the start of the cartoon, when Porky is listening to the radio. Could well be one of the last usages of the chimes as a generic “radio” tipoff.

    (2) At the time the cartoon was in production, big money (and not terribly intelligent) game shows were all the rage, much to the chagrin of folks like Fred Allen, who was more or less driven off the air by “Stop the Music.” The inanity of the quiz show at the start of this cartoon is likely a reflection of that.

  • Robert McKimson during the late 40s-early 50s period really liked giving his brother the close-up scenes, just as Bob Clampett liked giving his close-ups to Robert, because of the precise animation the McKimsons turned out.

    While this cartoon does contain some of the last ‘crazy Daffy’ work, it also is one of the first to suffer from the McKimson unit’s early 1950s problem of seeming to have too much story and shifting plot points to work with, which tended to make the cartoons feel more grounded than the Jones and Freleng efforts in the years leading up to the 1953 shutdown (which was helped a little towards the end when the studio added Sid Marcus to split time with Tedd Pierce of stories)..

  • Was the Daffy/Porky headshot in the screenshot originally used in this cartoon or is it a recreated title?

    • It was originally used in the cartoon, before it was re-issued as a “Blue Ribbon” title.

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