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Western Animation / Punch Trunk

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"Punch Trunk" is a 1953 Looney Tunes Cartoon directed by Chuck Jones.

A boatload of bananas from Africa comes with an unexpected passenger: a full-grown bull elephant, only five inches high, which inadvertently causes mass hysteria and panic around a city.

Used in Daffy Duck's Quackbusters.


"Punch Trunk" provides examples of:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The headline reporting on the mass hysteria created by the elephant sightings is "Picayune Pachyderm Panics Populace."
  • Agent Mulder: The bird bath owner, the daughter/Genevieve, and the moderator, Mr. Pratt, all immediately believe the elephant is real when they see it for the first time, but they have trouble convincing others.
  • Agent Scully: The orderlies who take away the bird bath owner, Genevieve's mother Marsha, and "prominent scientist" Robert Bruce Cameron are all convinced the elephant is a hallucination or dream, as elephants five inches tall don't exist in nature. Marsha changes her mind when she sees the elephant for herself, but the orderlies and Robert Bruce Cameron remain none the wiser.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: This is the response given by the orderlies when they take away the man who claims to have seen the tiny elephant in his birdbath:
    Man: But I did! I did see an elephant in my birdbath!
    Orderly: Sure, sure, I know. I keep a giraffe in mine.
  • Animals Not to Scale: A full-grown bull elephant only five inches tall is the focus of this short.
  • Artistic License Law Enforcement: A man calls the police to report there's a tiny elephant in his birdbath, which results in him being deemed insane and taken away. In reality, you can't have someone committed to an asylum just because they said something ridiculous; such decisions need to be made by a medical professional. Realistically, the call would be mistaken for a prank and the man would have been fined.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The mother (a.k.a. Marsha) facing the viewers when she comments in short on her daughter (a.k.a. Genevieve) watching too much television. Genevieve, in turn, shrugs at the viewers while her mother takes her back to bed.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: The bird bath owner who has this moment in reaction to looking out his window and in disbelief to find a mini elephant in the bird bath.
  • Conjoined Eyes: The blonde woman doing laundry when she sees the minuscule elephant and twice with Mr. Pratt, the moderator. His eyes become this before making an announcement about Dr. Robert Bruce Cameron's comments, then his eyes conjoin again afterwards, and he faints. Also, the circus cat upon realizing what he caught wasn't a mouse.
  • Delayed Reaction: The tiny elephant has somehow managed to get itself into a chain of elephants walking with trunks holding tails (how is a Riddle for the Ages since it's hanging several feet in the air!). The chain has gone a few steps before the elephant behind it realizes what's in front of it and has a Jaw Drop.
  • Faint in Shock: Characters who do this towards the diminutive pachyderm include the dock worker, the mother (Marsha), and Mr. Pratt.
  • Freudian Couch: A woman is lying on the couch at her therapist. The therapist sees the elephant and quickly switches places.
    Therapist: I think it all began when my father refused to take me to the circus...
  • Hilarity Ensues: There's no plot, just a tiny bull elephant in public, and people who can't believe their own eyes freaking out about it. The jokes pretty much write themselves.
  • Mistaken for Bad Vision: A man who's just bought new glasses sees the tiny elephant, then goes back to the optometrist to punch him in the face.
  • Mistaken for Insane: A man calls up the police department when a 5-inch-tall elephant takes a bath in his birdbath. However, when help arrives, it's not to get rid of the elephant but to have the man committed and taken away, believing that he's nuts.
  • Narrator: Heard at the beginning of the short, narration provided by Robert C. Bruce.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: A little girl sees the elephant inside her doll house and feeds it cake. Her mother thinks she's just pretending, until she sees the elephant for herself.
  • One-Shot Character: That five-inch-tall elephant, among others.
  • Pink Elephants: A drunk man sees the tiny elephant, prompting him to scold it for being late, and even comments that it's usually pink. He's one of the few characters in the short to not react to the elephant with stunned shock or terror.
  • Pun-Based Title: A pun on "Punch Drunk".
  • Random Smoking Scene:
    • A dock worker who's the first to see the diminutive elephant.
    • The mother, Marsha, who takes a smoke while reading a book.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The elephant, thanks to a combination of its tiny size and its usually helpful behaviour (holding out clothes pegs for the woman hanging laundry out to dry, carrying the microphone from Robert Bruce Cameron back to Mr. Pratt, etc.).
  • Shared Mass Hallucination:
    • An expert appears on TV to dismiss the tiny elephant sightings as this, but is undercut by the elephant wandering into the studio.
    • When this short was used in Daffy Duck's Quackbusters, this was remade into a Nightline-like news segment with Daffy himself as the expert. It ends similarly, with the Ted Koppel Expy howling in laughter as Daffy is rendered a public laughingstock.
  • Shout-Out: The mother who sees the elephant in her daughter's dollhouse shouts "John!" as she faints, followed by her husband shouting "Marsha!" This is a reference to the Stan Freberg soap opera spoof "John & Marsha".
  • Skeptic No Longer: The mother/Marsha, after the elephant/Teeny appears right before her very eyes.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The drunk barfly simply chides the tiny elephant for being late. When he turns back, he mutters, "He always used to be pink!"
  • Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises: The instance of the majority of the characters upon seeing the elephant.
  • Wild Take: The common reaction to the elephant.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: A terrified man sees the elephant in his bird bath and calls the police. He is arrested and put in a straitjacket when they arrive.
    Man: But I did! I did see an elephant in my bird bath!
    Asylum Worker: Sure, sure, I know. I keep a giraffe in mine!
  • You Watch Too Much X: A little girl tells her mother that there's an elephant in her dollhouse. The mother rolls her eyes and says, "Too much television," and puts her back in bed.

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