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Western Animation / The Ducktators

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The Ducktators is a 1942 Wartime Cartoon released by Warner Bros. and directed by Norm McCabe, who would later direct Tokio Jokio (1943) too. It's notable for being a satirical allegory for World War II depicting Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Hideki Tojo as ducks and geese who take over a farm, while a peace dove (possibly based on U.S. President Roosevelt) feels powerless to stop them. Near the end, after being trampled in a failed attempt to end the Ducktators' reign of terror peacefully, he decides to muster up the courage to defeat them. The short ends with a propaganda message to buy more war bonds and join the army.

Since the end of World War II it has seldom been seen on TV due to being an Unintentional Period Piece. As a result it has fallen into Public Domain. It's mostly interesting for historians or people interested in war time cartoons.


This cartoon provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adolf Hitlarious: Hitler is shown as an angry duck who makes a fool of himself.
  • All Asians Look Alike: To avoid being beaten up, the Tojo duck tries to invoke this trope by claiming he is Chinese instead of Japanese, but his badge has a subtitle saying Made in Japan, which prevents the turtle from buying the ruse.
  • America Won World War II: The cartoon is obviously aimed at a U.S. audience, even with shouts like "Remember Pearl Harbor!" near the end. The Japanese are also the first ones to be beaten up.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Mussolini goose is big, Hitler duck is thin, and Tojo duck is short.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The black duck claiming to be from "South Germany" winks to the audience after saying his line.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Axis are defeated extremely easily in the end. They all patiently wait until the dove comes to beat them up and they all fall down after only one good punch.
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  • Cut Short: Some very old prints of this cartoon cut out the part where the Axis leaders' heads are shown stuck to a wall, and end rather abruptly after the rabbit punches out everybody with a hammer.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The cartoon is in black-and-white.
  • Everybody Smokes: The father duck hands out cigars to celebrate the birth of his child.
  • Feathered Fiend: Hitler duck, Mussolini goose and Tojo duck, the titular "Ducktators".
  • Gratuitous German: While all other languages in this cartoon are mostly gibberish Hitler's father does speak one actual German line: "Ach, mama, was ist los?" (translation: "Oh, mother, what's the matter?")
  • Heroic Resolve: Only when the peace dove is trampled by Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo does he finally snap and fight back.
  • Hurricane of Puns:
    • The title.
    • The storm troopers walk in an actual storm cloud. One of them even gets hit by lightning.
    • When Hitler orders everybody to "Sieg Heil" one soldier claims: "I'm a sick hailer too!", while coughing and looking delirious.
    • The Tojo duck is introduced as "making a silly Axis of himself".
    • The Gestapo head quarters has the title Gestinko Gestapo.
  • I Lied: Hitler signs peace treaties, but puts them in a shredder, then beats up everybody in the room.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo sing about invasions to the tune of "One, two, buckle my shoe".
  • Japan Takes Over the World: The Japanese duck puts a sign with "Japanese mandate island" on the back of a turtle.
  • Lemony Narrator: The narrator has a very dry, sarcastic tone.
  • National Stereotypes:
    • The black duck claiming to be from "South Germany" is an Afro-American man from the Deep South.
      • This joke actually becomes 10 times funnier when South Germans in real life are ACTUALLY stereotyped to be rural hicks like their southern American counterparts. A German unfamiliar with American stereotypes would still find the joke funny for unintended reasons.
    • The Mussolini goose gives a speech with "a lotsa Italian-a accentuations" and lists things like "tutti frutti", while the aria from Gioachino Rossini's The Barber of Seville plays in the background.
    • The Tojo duck is caricatured as a small pathetic wimp with rounded glasses, Asian Buck Teeth and an Asian Speekee Engrish accent. He sings "I'm The Japanese Sandman", apologizes insincerely for infuriating the turtle and rubs his hands wickedly.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Subverted. The Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo birds all get beaten up and their heads are stuck on the wall.
  • No Fourth Wall: A title card comes up with the note "Apologies to all the NICE DUCKS and GEESE who may be in the audience", meaning that the writers and animators are genuinely sorry for mocking the Germans and Italians.
  • Propaganda Machine: This is a straight out US propaganda cartoon.
  • Public Domain Animation: The cartoon has fallen into the public domain.
  • Pun-Based Title: "The Ducktators" instead of "The Dictators".
  • Satire: The cartoon is a satirical allegory of World War Two.
  • Shout-Out: The rabbit with a moustache who says: "Busy little bee, aren't I?" is a caricature of comedian Jerry Colonna.
  • Standard Snippet:
    • The title music is "Oh, du Lieber Augustin", often played whenever Germans are around in old cartoons.
    • When Mussolini speeches the "Figaro" chorus from The Barber of Seville can be heard.
    • The Tojo duck sings "I'm The Japanese Sandman".
  • Human Head on the Wall: Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo are subjected to the avian equivalent of this trope, and this is presented as good triumphing over evil.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: The Axis are depicted as barnyard ducks and geese.
  • Time Marches On: Although the defeat of the Axis powers is predicted almost correctly, the Allied forces had a lot more trouble defeating them in real life. Here, Japan is defeated first and in one good blow, but in reality it was the last of the Axis countries to surrender.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The peace dove once he musters the courage to take on the Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo birds head-on.
  • Turtle Island: The Tojo duck mistakes a turtle for an island.
  • War Is Glorious: The cartoon tells the audience that they can enlist in the army to make the defeat of the Axis come true.
  • War Time Cartoon: One of the most famous.
  • Yellow Peril: Implied. Hitler and Mussolini, who are very obviously caricatured as themselves, are followed up by a card that says "we like to apologize to all the nice ducks and geese in the audience", which shows the audience that they are not representative of all Germans and Italians. The Tojo duck arrives only after the apology and, unlike the other two, is presented as a racial caricature that just happens to be wearing his real life counterpart's military hat.


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