The Scarlet Pumpernickel

The Scarlet Pumpernickel

Infobox Hollywood cartoon
cartoon_name = The Scarlet Pumpernickel
series = Looney Tunes (Daffy Duck)

caption = The title card of "The Scarlet Pumpernickel".
director = Charles M. Jones
story_artist = Michael Maltese
animator = Phil Monroe Ben Washam Lloyd Vaughan Ken Harris
voice_actor = Mel Blanc
musician = Carl Stalling
producer = Eddie Selzer
distributor = Warner Bros. Pictures
The Vitaphone Corporation
release_date = March 4 1950 (USA)
color_process = Technicolor
runtime = 7 minutes, 2 seconds
movie_language = English
imdb_id = 0042928

"The Scarlet Pumpernickel" is a 1948 animated Warner Bros. "Looney Tunes" theatrical cartoon short released in 1950, directed by Chuck Jones and written by Michael Maltese.

Although the title (invoking a type of bread instead of a flower) is a pun on "The Scarlet Pimpernel", the Pumpernickel is given a portrayal closer to Robin Hood: after Daffy fails to perform a stunt, he mutters that "I'd better check with Errol."

In 1994 it was voted #31 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. [Beck, Jerry (ed.) (1994). "The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals". Atlanta: Turner Publishing.]


The cartoon is a story-within-a-story. Daffy Duck is fed up with comedy and wants to try some more serious roles. He offers a script to the Warner Brothers executive "J.L", called "The Scarlet Pumpernickel", which he wrote himself (under the joke author name "Daffy Dumas Duck."

As Daffy reads the script to J.L., the cartoon cuts away to various scenes and then back to J.L.'s office. Each time, Daffy announces a page number. By the cartoon's end, the script has exceeded 1,000 pages.

In this script, the clumsy Scarlet Pumpernickel (Daffy) must save the Fair Lady Melissa, from being married to a man she does not love (the Grand Duke Sylvester) under the Lord High Chamberlain's (Porky Pig) orders. Toward the end, the Grand Duke and the Scarlet Pumpernickel engage in an intense duel, but no conclusive ending is given as the script devolves into random and accelerating natural disasters (including skyrocketing food prices) at the end.

The characters Daffy and Sylvester both speak in a similarly slobbery lisp, with Blanc's recordings of Daffy sped up as usual.

Production details

*This is one of the few "Looney Tunes" shorts to feature almost all of the "Looney Tunes" main cast. This cartoon's cast includes Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Sylvester, Henery Hawk and the Mother from The Three Bears. The only well-known characters to not star in this cartoon (among those that had been in cartoons already) are Bugs Bunny, Foghorn Leghorn, Tweety Bird and Yosemite Sam (Foghorn was exclusive to Robert McKimson, the latter two were used mainly by Friz Freleng). [Barrier, Michael. Audio commentary for "The Scarlet Pumpernickel" on disc two of the "".]

*This is only one of two cartoons that Melissa Duck stars in. She is Daffy's girlfriend in both. She has survived, however, and has become a regular on "Baby Looney Tunes", the 2002 series that tells about the childhood of the Looney Tunes characters.

*This short was one of the few times that Mel Blanc voiced Elmer Fudd. Elmer was usually voiced by Arthur Q. Bryan. But since Elmer had only one line in this film, Mel Blanc was told to go ahead and imitate the voice of the character. Mel Blanc did not like imitating, however, believing it to be stealing from another actor. [Michael Barrier. Audio commentary for "The Scarlet Pumpernickel" on disc two of the "".]

*This is one of the few cartoons that are set on the Warner lot in Burbank, California, and is also one of the few cartoons that have numerous references to the Warner Bros. co-founder, Jack Warner, who is called J.L. in this short (as is normally done in the WB cartoons when referring to the studio chief).

*Daffy identifies himself as "Daffy Dumas Duck", a reference to Alexandre Dumas, who wrote several swashbucking novels. The title of the episode is a pun on the "Scarlet Pimpernel" series by Baroness Orczy.

* The cartoon was reissued as a "Merrie Melodies" "Blue Ribbon" classic. The original opening (and closing) rings were replaced, but like the other later "Blue Ribbon" reissues (1956 onward), the original opening credits were intact. The "Blue Ribbon" opening rings are the ones featured on the DVD release, but the original closing rings were restored. However, there are still prints with the original opening rings.

*This is the only Chuck Jones-directed Porky/Sylvester cartoon in which the latter speaks. In the cartoons where they explore spooky settings, Sylvester does not speak as a scaredy cat (also, only he is aware of the danger the pair are in).


* The ending of the cartoon after Daffy pitches the scene where the price of food skyrockets (where Daffy acts out the suicide of The Scarlet Pumpernickel) is almost always edited on TV, but in different ways:
** On ABC, CBS, The WB!, and the syndicated run of "The Merrie Melodies Show," the part where Daffy pulls out a gun and says, "There was nothing for the Scarlet Pumpernickel to do but blow his brains out, which he did," cuts to a frozen shot of the outside of the office so the viewer doesn't see Daffy actually shooting himself, then cuts back to the end where Daffy says, "It's getting so you have to kill yourself to sell a story around here" before passing out again. [ Censored Looney Tunes: S ] ]
** On Nickelodeon, the scene is cut similarly to how ABC and The Merrie Melodies show did it, but what was superimposed over the gun-to-the-head gag was a repeat shot of the outside of the office, only shown in reverse.
** Cartoon Network's version had two ways of editing the ending. On a 1998 special about "The 50 Greatest Cartoon Shorts of All Time", the cartoon abruptly ended on the shot of the kreplach costing $1000 after Daffy is heard saying, "Is "that" all?" On normal showings on installment programs ("Bugs and Daffy", "The Looney Tunes Show", "The Chuck Jones Show", "ToonHeads", and "The Acme Hour"), the suicide gag is edited by showing an extended shot of the kreplach costing $1000 when Daffy says, "Is "that" all?", then the cartoon jumps to the scene where Daffy is on the floor, then rises up and says his final line.


The Scarlet Pumpernickel's basic premise would be replicated fifty years later in an episode of the "Duck Dodgers" television series, "The Mark of Xero".


External links

*imdb title|id=0042928|title=The Scarlet Pumpernickel
* [ The Scarlet Pumpernickel] uncut at AOL Video

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