Credits: Animation – C.L. Hartman, Layout – Paul Sommer, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Chopper – Vance Colvig; Robin, Cat – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Have you watched those horrible made-for-TV Popeye cartoons from the early ‘60s where a character is in one position and then when the scene cuts to a close-up, they’re in a completely different position? Rushed and sloppy, right? Well, there’s one of those in “Duck the Music,” with animation by C.L. Hartman, who worked on some of those god-awful Popeyes. These are consecutive frames. Even the bushes in the background disappear.
There are some amusing premises in this cartoon but I get fed up with the pity-party duck. “Woe is me. Woe is me!” Yakky moans, walking with his head down. Later in the cartoon: “I’m a disgrace to birdland. So long” and “You promised I could sing on TV. Oh, well. My dreams are shattered.”
The duck can’t handle it when he’s told he can’t sing. Oh, suck it up. So you can’t sing. Big deal. Move on. Honestly, what a whiner.
Mike Maltese finds ways for Chopper to manage to avoid telling Yakky his singing blows. I especially like the one toward the end. Chopper is about to punch the cat.
Chopper: Any last words?Fade in to the final sequence where Yakky is in an emptied out TV set, butchering “Camptown Races.” Cut to cats looking as horrified as you can in limited animation of 1961. Cut to Chopper with a nicely timed sight gag.
Cat: Go ahead. Get it over with.
(Yakky sings “Clementine”)
Cat: If you can honestly call that good singin’, eh, then you can punch me right in the nose.
Chopper: Uh....I couldn’t be that dishonest.
Chopper ends the cartoon by revealing he’s wearing ear plugs so he can’t hear the duck’s off-key shouts.
Colvig’s performance is pretty good here as he tries to hide his discomfort and avoid expressing how he really feels about Yakky’s caterwauling. And Jimmy Weldon’s off-key singing is good, too (you have to be able to sing to be able to sing off-key like he does).
Chopper (after beating up cat off-camera): What are you, a duck hater?
Cat: No, I’m a music lover. (Cat drops backwards to the ground with a thud).
Chopper: Uh, go look at the pretty flowers Yakky. You shouldn’t oughta see this.C.L. Hartman’s animation is really jerky in this in spots. The reason seems to be a combination of the cat’s limb movement and odd timing (by Paul Sommer?). The piece of footage below (close to the speed in the actual cartoon) has seven drawings. The second and third are held for two frames, the next (when the cat stares into the dog house) is held for eight, then the next two for two frames.
Cat: All of a sudden, there’s a duck in my mouth. Ha, ha, ha, ha.
(Chopper punches him in the snout)
Cat: How’s about that? All of a sudden, there’s a fist in my face. (Cat drops backwards to the ground with a thud).
Daws gives the cat a toned down version of his Jerry Lewis voice (without the inflections and syllable accents). The sound cutter wisely keeps Hoyt Curtin’s stock music (much of it from The Flintstones) off the soundtrack when Yakky is singing.