Today we celebrate one of my favorite Tex Avery MGM cartoons – Lucky Ducky (originally released October 9th, 1948). It was a duck hunting cartoon (Porky’s Duck Hunt) eleven years earlier which Avery begat Daffy Duck. The success of that hunting film led to another (by Ben Hardaway), Porky’s Hare Hunt, which begat Bugs Bunny. Here Avery returns to the tried-and-true duck hunt premise with a surplus of classic gags and situations at – what I think is – the height of his abilities. The result is one of his classics.
The version of the cartoon posted above is the one that’s been in television distribution and home video circulation since its theatrical re-release on January 6th 1956. Because a vault fire in the 1970s destroyed the original negatives for MGM’s pre-1952 shorts – simply seeing the original versions of these films is gets harder and harder as the time go by. Nitrate prints of MGMs 30s and 40s cartoons, and original studio records, are all we historians have to go on – if we can find them.
Luckily, cartoon Researcher and fellow film collector Jim Tucker recently got his hands on a 35mm British Tech print of Tex Avery’s Lucky Ducky – and sent us the a report on it, with original titles posted below for comparison.
“It features an MGM ending I have personally never seen before. As you recall, the cartoon ends with 2-dogs sitting in a boat on a lake surrounded by hundreds of ducks all dancing in unison to a mambo beat. As the scene ends there is a very slow iris out while visually keeping time with the soundtrack. About when you think it’s all over, the MGM logo enters off screen from the right side and moves across the frame. As the logo is about to exit screen left, it suddenly snaps to the center still keeping time with the music. Avery’s gags are continued literally to the very end. Sadly this final topper is cut from reissue prints. The reissue prints iris out to static title cards. The music is there but the end cards are replaced.”
Click the thumbnails below to enlarge the original title frames from Tucker’s print of Lucky Ducky. Below that a few model sheets and the original “dialogue cutting continuity” documents filed for copyright purposes. Comparing documents like these agianst the versions of the films we have today allows us to know what (if any) changes were made for reissue.
(Thanks to Jim Tucker and David Gerstein)