Two by Two (1966)

I got into a discussion with a friend last week about the horrible theatrical cartoons of the 1960s. I call them “drive-in cartoons” because I see no use for them except to be filler at drive-in theaters, allowing time for kids to get concessions or for teenagers to make-out before the main feature. Almost all 1960s Walter Lantz cartoons, Terrytoons and later Warner Bros. cartoons (the Larriva Road Runner and Daffy-Speedy crap) fall into this definition. Most would include the Paramount cartoons into this club. I don’t, but here’s one that’s pretty bad – and a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

Two By Two has the distinction of being the cartoon that got Howard Post fired from his position as head of the Paramount Cartoon Studio. It wasn’t the abysmal quality of the film, the awful character designs or the lame jokes. It was the fact that he was spoofing a story from the bible; it offended someone (A Paramount exec? An exhibitor?) and got him canned. Personally, I’m offended that the highly creative Post – whom I am a huge fan of – conceived such a poor rip-off of Daffy Duck (aka “Quacky Whack”). At one point, Quacky impersonates God… perhaps this what ticked off the Paramount brass? Shamus Culhane (Post’s successor) says in his book that Paramount was pressuring him to create a “Bugs Bunny” type cartoon. Perhaps Post was simply trying to give his bosses what they wanted… unfortunately, he failed quite miserably. Here… you be the judge:


  • Barbara

    I’d like to know more about the discussion, and less about the terrible cartoon. Those “drive in fillers” exist today, they’re called feature animation

  • Ryoka

    Charming!

  • quack-up

    I actually found this cartoon to be kinda of funny, besides the fact of the rip-off of Daffy it is.

  • http://invaderpetblog.blogspot.com Brandon

    When hearing the duck’s voice, I couldn’t help but think how it reminds me of Sid the Sloth’s from Ice Age.

    WHY are there modern-day “nimrods” in Noah’s time?

  • Bugsmer

    That was bizarre! Who knew that the Paramount mountain is actually Mount Ararat?

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    Erm…I …really…didn’t find it all that horrible. Yep, the character is a bad Daffy wannabe and the designs are not great (but I don’t find horrible either) but I thought the gags were ok, if not fantastic. It’s not great or anything but it has some entertaining value IMO.

    Of course it lacks the energy and fun of a Looney Tunes cartoon, among other qualities.

  • Stephen

    Wow…another train wreck from Paramount. They might have been better off adapting the Danny Kaye musical, Two by Two, instead.
    Post’s cartoons are marginally better than the last Kneitel ones, but they mostly fall far short of adequate. The only good gag was the menorah appearing over Noah’s head, and even that some people might find offensive.

  • http://elekiddo.blogspot.com Alex Irish

    This got Post fired? But other cartoons have done versions of the ‘Noah’s Ark’ story from Genesis. See ‘Fantasia 2000′ and the Disney short on the same subject (1959). This is pretty tame. That’s beside the point of how lame the limited animation is in this, however.

  • Steven

    The menorah gag was a bit offensive, and isn’t it odd that a duck would be afraid of the water? This wasn’t the worst cartoon I have seen by any means, but I only watched it to see what was so bad about it.

  • John

    The cartoon’s really no more offensive using the Noah’s Ark theme than “Sink Pink”, which D-FE put out the same year. It is overly talky in the middle part of the cartoon, but thanks to Paramount’s decision to sell off all their characters for quick cash, the Paramount cartoons from 1965-67 are probably the most interesting of any of the still-surviving studios, because they didn’t have any regular characters to work with, even if the results were wildly inconsistent.

    (And as far as the Daffy rip-off, Warners would pay Paramount back two years later when Alex Lovy made “Big-Game Haunt” featuring Spooky, the friendly ghost. At least “Two by Two is better than that one.)

  • Gabe

    It may have been the duck impersonating the voice of God that cost Post his job. This same joke was cut by the CBS censors from the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour a few years later, so doing a wacky, reverb supreme being was not yet deemed Kosher family entertainment. And that last blast from the hunter would have sunk Noah’s boat. Quacky Whack sounds like Daffy after fifty packs of unfiltered Camels.

  • http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/ Michael Sporn

    Interesting the Shamus did two half-hour shows about Noah’s Ark. Either film could have used a Quacky Whack. I have a lot of artwork I’ll some day post from those shows.

    By the way the copyright date on this film reads 1964. Pre Beatles, as opposed to post.

  • http://ramapithblog.blogspot.com David Gerstein

    Weak, lame cartoon. But unfortunately, it’s more successful as a Daffy short than any Warners produced after about 1962.

  • Mike Fontanelli

    Is this where Queer Duck comes from?

  • http://yeldarb86.deviantart.com Mr. Semaj

    Culhane’s story about the suits wanting a copycat of a pre-existing character was the first thing I thought of when I heard about this. If that were the case with Post (and it was more than likely the common practice with Kneitel and Sparber), then maybe Paramount didn’t know what they really wanted, if neither option pleased them. Culhane chose to ignore orders and just focus on making good cartoons.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    “That was bizarre! Who knew that the Paramount mountain is actually Mount Ararat?”

    That same gag was done about 17 years earlier in the Screen Song “The Big Drip” where the animals landed the ark on a mountain that zooms out to be the Paramount logo (though in subsequent NTA prints it’s removed as usual).

  • troy joseph reyes

    i never where the blame actually rests with this, the animator or the executive.the cartoon is mediocre,the offensiveness is in the mind of the viewer, maybe both were wrong? that being said,i wouldnt have fired him over it.

  • Donald Benson

    I have to say this was more entertaining than a lot of its contemporaries.

    Religious sensibilities aside, the nerviest gag was, after setting up the story as duck seeks mate, paying off an unrelated gag with two wolves (a couple safely on the ark) finishing an explicit duck dinner. I wonder if we were supposed to connect that to the duck being mateless at the end.

    The duck didn’t remind me specifically of Daffy; he felt like a totally generic wise guy animal. Later toons were full of them as Daffy, Pink Panther, Woody Woodpecker and others began to drift to the level of interchangeable TV characters, and new creations simply followed that blanded-out template.

  • dr. giraud

    I remember, as a wee lad in the late 1960s, seeing Woody Woodpecker cartoons at the drive-in.

    Agree that this Whacky Quack toon was better than any of the DFE or W7 Daffy-Speedy cartoons, though it’s not great.

  • vzk

    We have come a long way from then till the blasphests of South Park and Family Guy.

    The design of the duck looks too modern for its time IMO. I thought it was from an Oh Yeah cartoon.

  • Ryan

    Dunno, I enjoyed it. The part where he launches his own ark, which sinks, so he drinks the champagne? Fun stuff. The bit with the vulture dragged on a bit, but overall – is this really the worst?

  • http://2dwannabe.blogspot.com robcat2075

    If I had a time machine I’d like to take the SouthPark pilot where Jesus and Santa Claus get into a fist fight back to the 60′s just to see what sort of hysteria it could create. I’d combine it with footage of John Lennon saying the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus” and put it on the Jumbotron at a George Wallace rally.

    But if Post got fired for Quacky Whacky I’d guess it was more of a pretense than the actual reason.

    Bill Cosby’s comedy albums of the time had an extended “Noah” satire routine on them at the time, and he prospered.

  • Ed

    Meh. Neither bad nor good. It looked little better than H-B Tv animation, and not much at that!

  • Ad

    The God impersonation was actually the best thing in this cartoon

  • Gary Flinn

    So it seemed proper that new Paramount owner Gulf+Western euthanized the cartoon studio as even Ralph Bakshi couldn’t save it.

  • RobEB

    I actually loved the gag where Quacky saws his way onto the ark and encounters two wolves who just finished a duck dinner. All that’s left is the carcass, with two little webbed feet intact! HA!

  • http://yowpyowp.blogspot.com Don M. Yowp

    Is the hunter supposed to be someone at the Paramount Studio? He looks so different than Noah; he’s drawn like a caricature.

    I liked the idea of a duck using a fake duck call instead of his own voice to find a girl duck.

  • marji

    Say what you will about its quality, this bravely goes a long way toward explaining why there are no ducks around today.

    I am amused that this is the second lazy-white-duck-on-the-ark story that’s been animated, involving a bad-luck-in-love theme. Glad Donald’s story ended more happily.

    I am also a big fan of the hunter gag in this, implying that this man just goes around maliciously shooting at animals with some sort of befouling dirt-gun that doesn’t really kill anything.

  • Marty26

    I’ll admit that the hunter kind of had a funny running gag (especially at the end, where it’s revealed that he himself knew of the Great Flood and built his own rowboat). Otherwise, this is a pretty lousy cartoon. And yes, dare I say it’s worse than the DFE Daffy/Speedy cartoons?

  • http://www.classicparamountcartoons.blogspot.com ParamountCartoons

    If Quacky Whack was a bit entertaining, I wish Paramount would have ripped off Looney Tunes to the extent that they made characters such as “Benny Bunny” and had some creator’s intials for a new Paramount subisidary logo on a star spinning with “Merrilly We Rolly Along” or “Merry Go Round Broke Down” on the opening titles of cartoons made SHORTLY AFTER GULF-WESTERN’S AQUISITION.

    And don’t forget outsourced-animated TV productions such as CHEW-CHEW BABY’s “Chew-Babia” (a spoof of Taz-Mania), “Noveltoon Nicktiny Adventures” (Tiny Toons), and Cartooncraziacs (Animaniacs), and “The Quacky Whack Show” (Plucky Duck Show).

    But the one cheap thing that I have to admit is a re-used gag from “The Big Drip” (Famous Screen Song)- The mountain isn’t just any mountain, it’s the Paramount Mountain!