In 1994 it was voted #2 of The 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field, behind only What's Opera, Doc?.
According to director Chuck Jones, this film demonstrated for the first time that animation can create characters with a recognizable personality, independent of their appearance, milieu, or voice. Although in the end, the animator is revealed to be Daffy's friend and rival Bugs Bunny (who famously declares "Ain't I a stinker?"), according to Jones the ending is just for comedic value: Jones (the director) is speaking to the audience directly, asking "Who is Daffy Duck anyway? Would you recognize him if I did this to him? What if he didn't live in the woods? Didn't live anywhere? What if he had no voice? No face? What if he wasn't even a duck anymore?" In all cases, it's obvious that Daffy is still Daffy; not all cartoon characters can claim such distinctive personality.
Duck Amuck is included in the compilation film, The Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Movie, along with other favorite Chuck Jones cartoons including What's Opera, Doc?
In 1999 the film was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. This was the second of three animated shorts by Jones to receive this honor (the others are 1957's What's Opera, Doc? and 1955's One Froggy Evening). Jones has the distinction of being the only director (as of 2006) with three animated shorts in the registry. Daffy Duck and the black blobAdded by SunOyunThe cartoon's plot was essentially replicated in one of Jones' later cartoons, Rabbit Rampage (1955), in which Bugs Bunny turns out to be the victim of the silly animator (Elmer Fudd). A similar plot was also included in an episode of Baby Looney Tunes, only Bugs was the victim, Daffy was the animator, and it was made on a computer instead of a pencil and paper. The framing material for Daffy Duck's Easter Special was similar to Duck Amuck, with Daffy once again being tortured by an unseen animator.
In Looney Tunes Comics Issue #94, Bugs Bunny gets his back at Daffy Duck by making him the victim, in switching various movie roles, from Duck Twacy in "Who Killed Daffy Duck," a video game character, and a talk show host, and they always wound up with Daffy starring in Moby Dick (the story's running gag). After this, Bugs comments, "Eh, dis guy needs a new agent."
The cartoon's title sequence and opening scene feature Daffy Duck as a musketeer, who boldly acts out an action scene with a fencing foil. As he thrusts the foil and advances, the background abruptly disappears, leaving a plain white screen. Confused by this, Daffy turns to the animator and asks him to complete the background. He walks off the screen, and the animator fills in a new background that has nothing to do with the previous scene. Daffy returns and starts to repeat his opening scene, but quickly notices the different background and leaves, returning in a different costume and altering his performance to match the new scene. The animator substitutes several different, unrelated backgrounds, each time prompting Daffy to change costumes until the background finally disappears completely.
Daffy then tries to reason with the animator. While he's talking, the animator erases him completely, then redraws him as a cowboy with a guitar. Daffy tries to play it but gets no sound. His subsequent attempts result in several random sound effects. Daffy also finds himself generating random sound effects for a moment before finally shouting angrily at the animator, demanding some new scenery.
The animator draws a simple line-art background, then when Daffy asks for some color, paints Daffy himself in a bunch of random colors. Daffy yells, "Not me, you slop artist!", and the animator quickly erases his body and redraws him as a bizarre mismatched animal with a "screwball" flag on its tail. Daffy walks around and talks in this form for a moment, before a nearby mirror reveals his form and he demands the animator erase it ("EEK! You know better than that!"). Daffy is redrawn as a sailor, and as he begins to sing "The Song of the Marines", the animator draws an ocean background around him, without a boat. Daffy promptly falls into the water and emerges on a distant island, asks for a closeup, then finds himself in such an extreme closeup that his eyes fill the screen.
As he tries once again to negotiate with the animator, a black curtain falls on him. Daffy screams hysterically and rips apart the background, says "All right, let's get this picture started!", then becomes even more frustrated when the animator tries to end the film. Daffy apologizes to the presumed audience and dances for a moment while the film goes out of alignment, resulting in two Daffy Ducks on the screen. The two argue with each other and start to get in a fight, but the animator erases one of them just as the other takes a swing.
Daffy is then drawn into an airplane, which he excitedly flies around in until a mountain is drawn in his path. The plane crashes offscreen, resulting in Daffy flying on his own with only the windshield in front of him. He "bails" out of the remains of his plane and floats downward with a parachute, which the animator replaces with an anvil. Crashing to the ground, Daffy is seen hammering on the anvil while dizzily reciting "The Village Blacksmith". The animator replaces the anvil with an artillery shell, which explodes on the next hammer strike. Daffy finally snaps and angrily demands that the animator reveal himself. The animator draws a door in front of him and closes it on him, then the camera draws back to reveal Bugs Bunny at a drawing table, who says to the camera, "Ain't I a stinker?"