Original art by Andy Vanderbilt!
THE GREAT PIGGY BANK ROBBERY is my favorite Warner Brothers cartoon. No other short in the studio’s long list of animated classics ever reached the surreal hilarity of this 1946 gem. Directed by Bob Clampett, one of the directors who helped put the “looney” in Looney Tunes, the short features which I consider to be the best version of Daffy Duck. Unlike the crazy, off-the-wall Daffy from the late 1930s and early 1940s, or the greedy, self-indulgent version Chuck Jones developed during the early 1950s, the Daffy in PIGGY BANK has a nicely-balanced control over his insanity. He’s the perfect character in the studio’s long roster of cartoon stars to throw into a spoof of Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy comic.
Full of monstrous villains, phantasmagoric imagery and the rubbery animation style so prevalent in Clampett’s work of the mid 1940s, THE GREAT PIGGY BANK ROBBERY can be best described as a Looney Tunes cartoon on acid. No other Warner Brothers cartoon except maybe Porky in Wackyland (1938) or The Big Snooze (1946), both Clampett shorts, reached such dizzying levels of surreal greatness. One can really see the influence such surrealist artists as Salvador Dali had on Clampett’s work during his tenure at Warner Brothers. Daffy’s descent into the villain’s hideout and his final, violent encounter when the bad guys get their comeuppances are straight out of a psychedelic film noir.
Warren Beatty liked the cartoon so much he requested it to be played before his own live action version of DICK TRACY in 1990. Disappointingly, Disney, who produced the film, wouldn’t allow it as the short wasn’t one of their own. What a shame, as it would have been great for modern audiences to marvel at this one up on the big screen. For now, we will have to settle for small screen viewings and luckily the short is available out there on DVD and Blu-ray. So go raid your piggy bank and pick this one up fast before Neon Noodle beats you to it!