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The Ducktators is a Looney Tunes black and white cartoon that was produced by Leon Schlesinger and was released in 1942 by Warner Bros. Directed by Norman McCabe, who would later direct Tokio Jokio (1943) too, The Ducktators satirizes various events of World War 2. The title is a pun on dictator.
The Ducktators is a classic example of wartime propaganda. It is notable for being a satirical allegory of dictatorship portraying Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Emperor Hirohito (or Hideki Tojo) as ducks and geese who take over a farm, while a dove of peace feels powerless to stop them. The trio run amok in the farm yard spreading lies and bullying the other animals. Near the end, after being trampled in a failed attempt to end the ducktators' reign peacefully, the dove of peace gets upset, and wipes the floor with them all.
The dove of peace is a controversial character. He most probably represents the U.S.’s British allies. The dove of peace says "Have they forgot? 'Tis love that's right, and naught is gained by show of might." This is clearly a caricature of the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, whose ineffectual policies emboldened the Axis leaders. Chamberlain is remembered for prematurely declaring that his appeasement of Hitler in the 1938 Munich Pact (here represented by a barnyard "Peace Conference") had secured "peace for our time." Later on, the wimpy Dove morphs into a pudgy, victorious Winston Churchill. The crazy rabbit with a long mustache at the end of the cartoon possibly based on Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Overall, The Ducktators is a fascinating example of contemporary U.S. feelings towards its European allies.
The cartoon draws to a patriotic close as the dove of peace sitting on an armchair, reminiscing the tale with pride to his kids. The final message of the cartoon states to the audience that if they wish to defeat the Axis Powers and bring peace to the world once again, all they have to do is to ensure the country's victory by buying United States Savings Bonds and Stamps. This is a wonderful positive propaganda piece that was designed to solidify everyone behind the war effort.
The Ducktators remains quite possibly McCabe's strongest cartoon he directed. He nails every piece of political satire down to a tee, and for anyone that studies or has some extensive knowledge in World War 2 history, the parody is timeless. The concept of the political satire, with political figures playing as ducks and geese works wonderfully as a cartoon plot. Mel Blanc's use of vocal caricature on the ducktators are wonderfully exaggerated, and appealing; a rare gift you'll find little of nowadays.
The ending with the U.S. Savings Bonds and Stamps poster has been rarely seen since the short was sold to Sunset Productions in the 1950s and syndicated through them (as Guild Films). (We uploaded to YouTube the original, uncut version of the cartoon.)
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND / CONTEXT
During active American involvement in the Second World War (1941–45), propaganda was used to increase support for the war and commitment to an Allied victory. Using a vast array of media, propagandists instigated antipathy for the enemy and support for America's allies. Patriotism became the central theme of advertising throughout the war, as large scale campaigns were launched to sell war bonds, promote efficiency in factories, reduce ugly rumors, and maintain civilian morale.
As in Britain, American propaganda depicted the war as an issue of good versus evil, which allowed the government to encourage its population to fight a "just war," and used themes of resistance in and liberation to the occupied countries. In 1940, even prior to being drawn into World War 2, President Roosevelt urged every American to consider the effect if the dictatorships won in Europe and Asia.
Films intended for the public were often meant to build morale. They allowed Americans to express their anger and frustration through ridicule and humor. Many films simply reflected the war culture and were pure entertainment. Others carried strong messages meant to arouse public involvement or set a public mood. Animation was increasingly used in political commentary against the Axis powers.
The Ducktators | World War 2 Era Propaganda Cartoon | 1942
NOTE: THE VIDEO REPRESENTS HISTORY. SINCE IT WAS PRODUCED DECADES AGO, IT HAS HISTORICAL VALUES AND CAN BE CONSIDERED AS A VALUABLE HISTORICAL DOCUMENT. THE VIDEO HAS BEEN UPLOADED WITH EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. ITS TOPIC IS REPRESENTED WITHIN HISTORICAL CONTEXT. THE VIDEO DOES NOT CONTAIN SENSITIVE SCENES AT ALL!