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 that of Robin Hood: after Daffy fails to perform a stunt, he mutters that "I'll have to check with Errol," and a costumed appearance more like Zorro, with cape, mask and sword, none of which the Pimpernel used. His alter ego the "Nobleman disguise" is, however, more in line with wealthy English fop Sir Percy Blakeney of the Pimpernel fame.
In a story-within-a-story, Daffy Duck is fed up with being overly type-cast for comedy and wants to try some more serious roles. He offers a script to the Warner Bros. executive "J.L.", called The Scarlet Pumpernickel, which he wrote himself (under the name "Daffy Dumas Duck." Daffy reads various scenes of the script to J.L. Each time, Daffy announces another page number.
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. Melissa loves Scarlet, but her happy mood is extinguished in a heartbeat when the Chamberlain orders her to "keep away from that masked stinker". The Chamberlain gets a brilliant plan and decides to marry Melissa to the Grand Duke in exchange for killing the Scarlet Pumpernickel. Toward the end, the Grand Duke and the Scarlet Pumpernickel engage in an intense duel, but no conclusive ending is given as to who ultimately wins the battle. Daffy, as the scriptwriter, overdoes the ending as an unlikely series of random and accelerating natural disasters, including skyrocketing food prices (most notably "kreplach").
When J.L. asks Daffy "Is that all?", a pressured Daffy then decides to end the story with the Scarlet Pumpernickel committing suicide by blowing his brains out (he even demonstrates so with a pistol, but merely misses as it just goes through his cap). After that, Daffy comments "It's getting so you have to kill yourself to sell a story around here!" before passing out.
The ending of the short after Daffy pitches the scene in which the price of food skyrockets (where Daffy acts out the suicide of The Scarlet Pumpernickel) is almost always edited on television, but in different ways:
- On ABC and the syndicated run of The Merrie Melodies Show, there is a frozen shot of the outside of the office at the point where Daffy shoots himself in the head so that the viewer doesn't see him actually doing it then cuts back to the interior of the office where Daffy says, "It's getting so you have to kill yourself to sell a story around here" before passing out again.
- On Nickelodeon, the scene is edited similarly to ABC's and the Merrie Melodies Show edit, but superimposed over the suicide gunshot visual is a repeat shot of the outside of the office, shown in reverse (whether or not this was a mistake is unknown).
- Cartoon Network once edited out the suicide gag by irising out after Daffy asks "Is that all?" when the cartoon aired as part of the channel's "50 Greatest Cartoons of All Time" marathon. Every other print after that edited the scene by freezing on the shot of the kreplach costing $1000 and once Daffy says, "Is that all?", it jumps to Daffy's "It's getting so you have to kill yourself to sell a story around here" line that ends the short, making it obvious to even the most naive viewer that something was edited.
- In a 13 July 2012 installment of Cartoon Network's Looney Tunes Show (not the 2011 animated sitcom, the anthology show of actual Looney Tunes shorts from the 1930s to the 1960s), the cartoon was re-edited. The suicide part was still cut, but it was cut the same way it was on the channel's "50 Greatest Cartoons of All Time" marathon (read: the cartoon ends after Daffy says, "Is that all?!"), only instead of an iris-out, it's a fade-out followed by the "That's All Folks!" card (thus answering Daffy's question very surreptitiously). As of 2014, the July 2012 edit is the version that airs whenever Cartoon Network airs its Looney Tunes block and is also the version that airs on Cartoon Network's sister channel, Boomerang.
- Main article: The Scarlet Pumpernickel (Transcript)
- This has an unusually large cast of "star" characters (which, in addition to Daffy, Porky, and Sylvester, includes Elmer Fudd, Henery Hawk and Mama Bear from Jones' Three Bears series).
- The only well-known characters to not star in this short (among those that had been in shorts already) were Bugs Bunny, Foghorn Leghorn, Pepé Le Pew, Marvin the Martian, Tweety and Yosemite Sam (Foghorn was exclusive to Robert McKimson, both Pepe and Marvin were used mainly by Chuck Jones, while the latter two were used mainly by Friz Freleng). Two major precedents were "A Corny Concerto" (1943), directed by Tweety's creator Bob Clampett, which featured Bugs, Elmer, Porky, and arguably a younger Daffy in a parody of Disney's Fantasia, the other was "Crowing Pains" (1947), directed by Robert McKimson, which featured Foghorn Leghorn, Barnyard Dawg, Henery Hawk and Sylvester.
- This short is Henery Hawk's second appearance in a Daffy Duck short, after "You Were Never Duckier" (1948) - notable for being the first "transitional" Daffy short (from "screwball" to a greedy, self-centered character), the first short in WB's own TV packages (shorts released 8/1/1948 or later) to be released, and the first such short to be reissued (only one of five without credits).
- This is one of only three shorts that Melissa Duck stars in (the others being "Muscle Tussle" (1953), and "The Duxorcist" (1987)). She is Daffy's girlfriend in both. She has survived, however, and has become a regular on Baby Looney Tunes (2002), that tells about the childhood of the Looney Tunes characters.
- This short was one of the very few times that Mel Blanc voiced Elmer Fudd, who plays the role of an innkeeper here. Elmer was usually voiced by Arthur Q. Bryan, but since the character had only one line of dialogue, Mel Blanc was told to go ahead and imitate Bryan's voice for the character. Blanc did not like imitating, however, believing it to be stealing from another actor, Michael Barrier, according to the audio commentary for "The Scarlet Pumpernickel" on disc two of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 1.
- This is one of the few shorts that are set on the Warner lot in Burbank, California, and is also one of the few shorts 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).
- The short was reissued as a Merrie Melodies "Blue Ribbon" short. The original opening Color 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, however, there are still prints with the original opening rings.
- This is the only Chuck Jones-directed Porky/Sylvester short in which the latter speaks. In the shorts where Porky and Sylvester explore spooky settings ("Scaredy Cat" (1948), "Claws for Alarm" (1954), and "Jumpin' Jupiter" (1955)), Sylvester is a mute (additionally like this short, "Scaredy Cat" also features a suicide gag that is often censored on TV). This is also the only time Sylvester speaks in a Chuck Jones-directed cartoon.
- In this short, Daffy's middle name is revealed to be Dumas, but Bugs said his middle name is Sheldon in The Looney Tunes Show.
- This short is one of only two shorts with Porky Pig and Elmer Fudd paired together, unseen. Also, the only cartoon where Sylvester and Elmer Fudd were paired together in a Chuck Jones short, the rest of the four were Friz Freleng.
- Though Sylvester's character designs varied slightly depending on the director, unusually in this short, Sylvester is slightly taller than Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig, while in other cartoons (such as "Kit for Cat", "Scaredy Cat, etc.) he is roughly the same height or slightly shorter.
- This is one the three cartoons to pair Sylvester and Daffy together, the other two are "It's Nice to Have a Mouse Around the House" and "A Taste of Catnip". It is also the only one of the three where both Daffy and Sylvester speak, in the other two, Sylvester is mute. Daffy and Sylvester would reappear together (with both Daffy and Sylvester given speaking roles) years after the classic era in the made-for-TV short "The Yolks on You", which was originally the first part of the 1980 TV special Daffy Duck's Easter Egg-citement.
- By the short's end, the script has exceeded two thousand pages. Movie scripts in excess of 100 pages were usually rejected as too long back in those days, and these days, most movie scripts accepted are between 90 and 120 pages. To top it off, reading an entire movie script, as Daffy does here, would be a bit excessive if one were to pitch a movie idea to a producer.
- In 1994 it was voted #31 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field.
- The premise of this short along with some of its scenes would be used in the 1980 Thanksgiving special, Daffy Duck's Thanks-for-Giving Special, but it doesn't show any scenes from the Scarlet Pumpernickel story. Instead, Daffy tries to pitch a new film idea to J.L., namely "Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24½th Century".
- Despite the fact that the original opening exists, the short was restored with the Blue Ribbon opening instead.
- A 16mm print with the original titles also exists.
- Barrier, Michael. Audio commentary for "The Scarlet Pumpernickel" on disc two of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 1
- Beck, Jerry (ed.) (1994). The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals. Atlanta: Turner Publishing.
- The Scarlet Pumpernickel on the SFX Resource Wiki
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