Swashathon: Robin Hood Daffy (1958)


This is my contribution for the Swashathon hosted by Movies Silently.

Robin Hood Daffy (1958)

Robin Hood Daffy (1958, Warner Bros.)

This was another blogathon where I thought I would not have a title to contribute. Part of it had to do with the fact that Swashbuckling is such a niche that I didn’t think I’d have much to contribute as it’s not one I can claim any level of expertise in. I could’ve offered up for Kim but that would require a re-watch and it didn’t jibe with my schedule. That’s when on a double-check (triple-check? quadruple-check?) I noticed that Robin Hood Daffy was there and I just had to write about it. Any chance to discuss the Looney Tunes is a good one.

I know this short very well, as I know many, so it prompted me to look up the precise definition of swashbuckling as my understanding over-emphisized sword-play and I knew Daffy’s Robin Hood never had a sword.

The definition reads as follows:
1 a swaggering swordsman, soldier, or adventurer; daredevil.

Robin Hood Daffy (1958, Warner Bros.)

So there it fits.

As for the Looney rendering of the tale of Robin Hood there are some things that are worth noting without giving a blow-by-blow of a short that runs fewer than seven minutes.

Perhaps first and most importantly is the notion of cartoon casting. And by this I do not mean voice actors. For once Warner had Mel Blanc in the fold they knew they had a good thing and he was one-man show. What I mean is match the existing characters in a stable of cartoon talent as the parts in an adaptation, matching the correct types. Daffy as a hapless Robin and Porky as a jolly and sarcastic Tuck is perfect and offers a brilliant send-up of the Robin Hood tropes and story.

Another commonality this shares with other great Looney Tunes is the direction of Chuck Jones. Jones being one I so admired he was the first director whose writing I read, in Chuck Reducks.

Robin Hood Daffy (1958, Warner Bros.)

This short is also a reflection of my understanding of film progressing, or maybe it’s more proper to say it is an astute example of children’s innate ability to grasp adaptation and different renditions of similar material. What I mean is that Disney’s Robin Hood was at the time likely my favorite movie, and remains my favorite Disney film. They represent two drastically different approaches to the anthropomorphizing of the Robin Hood characters, in two different film forms, but use the same medium (animation). I loved them both growing up, much in the same way as I enjoyed the goofy 1966 Batman TV series as well as the 1989 Tim Burton film, and the new school. I later saw the Errol Flynn-starring Robin Hood in High School.

The gags are spectacular, and some are among my all time favorites such as Daffy’s minstrel song, “Ho, ho, very funny. Haha, it is to laugh”, “Yoicks! And away!”, and more.

The work is elevated to the level of genius in set-up (Tuck/Porky doesn’t believe Daffy is Hood). And then the payoff at the end. It so perfectly befits them both and should be known to children and film buffs everywhere if it isn’t already.

It’s An Honor Just To Be Nominated

Elizabeth Taylor and Roddy McDowall in Cleopatra (20th Century Fox)

“It’s a an honor just to be nominated” is a phrase that’s such a truism that it rings empty and hollow. In fact, you hardly hear it anymore, however, I do believe actors when they do say it. The fact is there are only so many Oscar nominations to go around such that many very, very talented people never even get so much as nominated. While some have one standout performance that grabs everyone’s attention. Below you will find a list that could be longer of some notable actors who never even were nominated for supporting or leading actor/actress prizes.

Pictured above is one of the more unfortunate cases: critics at the time and film historians agree that Roddy McDowall was a virtual lock for Best Supporting Actor in Cleopatra. However, a clerical error submitted him as a lead. Fox tried to rectify the mistake but the Academy wouldn’t allow it thus McDowall was not even nominated. An ad taken out by Fox apologizing for the oversight and commending McDowall’s performance was a poor consolation prize at best.

Best Non-Oscar Nominees

1. Christopher Lee
2. Bela Lugosi
3. Boris Karloff
4. Vincent Price
5. Edward G. Robinson
6. Mae West
7. Michael Keaton
8. Peter Lorre
9. Mel Gibson
10. Sonia Braga
11. Alan Rickman
12. Fernanda Torres
13. Roddy McDowall
14. John Barrymore
15. Joseph Cotten
16. Errol Flynn
17. Bob Hope
18. Lloyd Bridges
19. W.C. Fields
20. Lon Chaney, Jr.
21. Victor Mature
22. Conrad Veidt
23. Peter Cushing
24. Donald Sutherland
25. Eli Wallach
26. Robert Blake
27. Malcolm McDowell
28. Kurt Russell
29. Martin Sheen
30. Christopher Lloyd
31. Jeff Goldblum
32. Steve Buscemi
33. Kevin Bacon
34. Vincent D’Onofrio
35. Marilyn Monroe
36. Jean Harlow
37. Rita Hayworth
38. Myrna Loy
39. Hedy Lamarr
40. Tallulah Bankhead
41. Maureen O’ Sullivan
42. Betty Grable
43. Jane Russell
44. Jeanne Moreau
45. Barbara Steele
46. Mia Farrow
47. Margot Kidder
48. Jamie Lee Curtis
49. Meg Ryan
50. Ellen Barkin
51. Isabelle Huppert
52. Shelley Duvall
53. Madeline Stowe