"La Ballade des Dalton" ("The Ballad Of The Daltons")
is the second animated adaptation in the Lucky Luke
series, after Daisy Town (1971)
. The film was released in 1978 by the same company that made The Twelve Tasks of Asterix (1976)
, which also explains why the plot is kind of similar.
The Daltons are informed that their uncle has died. They will enherit his fortune if they murder the judge and all the jury members that sentenced him to the gallows. To make sure that they fulfill this will they will be accompanied by Lucky Luke, seeing that he is the only honest man that he has ever known. If they fail their mission all the money will go to charity.
The people they have to kill are (in order of appearance):
1. Ming Li Foo - A Chinese laundryman. Luke motivates the Daltons to wash their clothes first. While they are in the nude Ming Li Foo flees out of the store. Since they are naked they ask Luke to chase Ming for them. After a martial arts fight sequence Luke can inform Ming to fake his own death before the Daltons are back.
2. Thadeus Collins - A jail warden, whose entire prison population tunneled out of freedom. He feels he treated them too nice and thus commits suicide by blowing his jail up.
3. Snake Feather - A Native American witch doctor. He gives the Daltons some magic mushrooms, causing them to hallucinate a bizarre dream sequence. When they awake Luke informs them that they have already killed him.
4. Dr. Aldous Smith - A traveling quack doctor whom the Daltons force to drink his own medicine. He drops dead, though he actually just fainted because he was not used to drinking water.
5. Tom O' Connor - An old timer who supposedly disappeared into his gold mine. Luke meets him beforehand and explains the situation. The Daltons search from him in a mine-cart leading to a chase scene that resembles a rollercoaster ride. When they find the old timer, he acts like a ghost and convinces them that he has been dead for many years.
6. Sam Game - A former gambler who saw the light and became a clergyman (even though he still uses and references gambling terms in his sermons.). He is killed in a game or Russian roulette, which, of course, turns out to be faked.
7. Bud Bugman - A train driver. The Daltons try to kill him by derailing the train he is riding on to a different direction.
8. Mathias Bones - An undertaker, accompanied by a vulture. The Daltons ambush him by shooting him dead from his carriage.
This trope provides examples of:
- All Chinese People Know Kung-Fu: Ming Li-Foo.
- Asian Speekee Engrish: Ming Li-Foo.
- Back from the Dead: The Daltons assume they have killed all the people on their list, but all of them are in fact still alive.
- Ballad of X: "The Ballad of the Daltons".
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
- The Daltons poke their tongues out at the viewers when the narrator explains how evil they are.
- While in the desert Ratanplan assumes the Daltons stole the scenery.
- Busby Berkeley Number: The Daltons' dream sequence has a direct shout-out to the famous diving scene.
- The Cameo: Dr. Aldous Smith is a caricature of W.C. Fields.
- Chinese Launderer: Ming Li-Foo.
- Cool Pet: The undertaker owns a vulture.
- Crossing the Desert: The Daltons have to cross a very hot desert in order to find a Native American.
- Dream Sequence: The Daltons' dream.
- Disney Acid Sequence and/or Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The Daltons are given magic mushrooms by a Native American and thus have a wonderful dream sequence where they imagine themselves to be Hollywood musical stars.
- Everybody Lives: For a film where many characters get murdered or commit suicide there's only one real death in this movie and it happens off screen before the story got started: the Daltons' uncle.
- Faking the Dead: Lucky Luke helps all the Daltons' victims to fake their own death in order to have them escape.
- The Gambling Addict: Sam Game, a former gambler who became a clergyman, but still references gambling terms in his sermons.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The Daltons' hallucination is caused by a Native American giving them peyote/magic mushrooms.
- Gold Digger: Tom O' Connor, who is also a Grumpy Old Man.
- Longer-Than-Life Sentence: The Daltons are serving a 4200-years hard labor sentence
- Magical Native American: Snakefeather, who has magic mushrooms and apparently has a mushroom cellar below his tipi.
- Matchlight Danger Revelation: The Daltons dig a tunnel to escape and end up in the dynamite storage building, where they unbeknownst strike a match.
- Mushroom Samba: Causes the Daltons' dream sequence.
- Naked People Are Funny: The Daltons strip naked while waiting for their clothes to be washed.
- National Stereotypes:
- Non-Fatal Explosions: For all the Stuff Blowing Up in this film nobody dies.
- Rollercoaster Mine: The Daltons try to find an old-timer by climbing into a mine-cart and have a rollercoaster ride. Also note that this is six years before Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) made it a trope!
- Russian Roulette: Sam Game choses to play this game.
- Spoofing In The Rain: During the Daltons' dream they have a sing-and-dance routine where they spoof Singin' in the Rain, while wearing raincoats and dancing in the rain.
- Suicide as Comedy:
- Jail warden Thadeus Collins blows himself up along with his prison.
- Sam Game decides to play a game of Russian roulette.
- Talking Animal: Compared to the previous Lucky Luke movie Daisy Town (1971) Jolly Jumper and Rantanplan are now talking animals.
- Thirsty Desert: The Daltons cross one.
- Unexpected Inheritance: The Daltons will receive Uncle Henry's fortune On One Condition: that they murder the jury and judge who sentenced him to death by hanging. If they fail, the fortune will go to charity.
- Values Dissonance: Lucky Luke is still seen smoking here, a habit he would quit nine years later and didn't showcase in the 1980s Hanna & Barbera animated series. Also Ming Li Foo and Snake Feather are racial stereotypes that come across as a bit more uneasy nowadays.
- Wardens Are Evil: Averted. Thadeus Collins was actually too nice to his prisoners, causing them to leave his jail.