The Million Hare

“He probably thinkth he’s miles ahead of me.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Dave Detiege; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, George Grandpre, and Keith Darling; Layouts and Backgrounds by Robert Gribbroek; Effects Animation by Harry Love; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Bill Lava. A Looney Tune released on April 6, 1963.

Bugs was quite the wealthy actor, back in the day. Just look at the setup on his TV antennae! Probably has ever channel available at the time. When he invites Daffy over for a vacation, all the duck wants to do is vegetate in front of the tube. That’s sorta like I was as a kid. Just replace ‘watch TV’ with ‘read all their books.’ Don’t look at me that way! They had more “Calvin and Hobbes” collections than I knew existed! Bugs is kinda against brain atrophy, but Daffy isn’t budging, so Bugs just joins in.

The program airing at the moment is called “Beat Your Buddy.” Don’t worry! It’s only as violent as one makes it. It goes like this: the host reaches into what is called a buddy barrel and pulls out D̶i̶d̶d̶y̶ K̶o̶n̶g̶  two names. The two mentioned on those scraps of paper must then race each other to the studio to claim their prize. Beautifully showing off the follies of man and how any one of us would probably kill our best pal for financial security. If networks could afford a show that would get sued every week, there’d be new episodes to this day.

Surprise, surprise! The two names drawn are Bugs and Daffy. And Daffy wastes no time getting started. He’s been preparing for this day all season. Bugs is slower, more amused than anything that the two were picked. And maybe confused? How are they getting the names? Just pushing a phone book through a deli slicer? What if you weren’t aware your name was called? Do they have cameramen that could fill you in? What if you really didn’t want to compete? What if one of the names drawn belonged to someone who was working on the show? What if I continued with the plot?

First obstacle is a lake. Daffy takes a motor boat, and when Bugs arrives he reattaches the rope tied to it to the pier. Maybe sabotaging Daffy intentionally, or not. Daffy and the motor rip through the boat, and go along under the water and ground before blasting into the air. Trying to work with this, Daffy tries to go forward, and immediately crashes into a tree. (Great timing.) By this time, Bugs has crossed the lake as well and hops along with springs on his feet. Does that count as cheating? Can you cheat at all if you started from the same place? Well, almost the same. Daffy was slightly farther from the finish then Bugs was.

Daffy takes a shortcut, which probably also isn’t cheating. And neither is trying to sabotage the other racer. Boosts those ratings. I do like how there’s just a key stone to remove in case you need to start an avalanche. You know, to make sure the rocks don’t fall on anybody? Except yourself, of course. Whoever thought this brilliant idea up, made sure the rocks would fall on top of the key stone puller. Bugs is ahead again. Daffy tries to use a tree to sling himself farther, which works for about all of two seconds before he crashes into a cliff face, and Bugs catches up again. Daffy is still able to run ahead, but because he doesn’t take his eyes off Bugs, he runs off the road. Bugs addresses the question I was asking the first time I viewed this: why doesn’t Daffy fly? (He’s forgotten he can.)

Bugs manages to get to the building the studio is in first. Just needs to make it to the top floor. Daffy plans to use a jet pack to get him up there first, but I think they still made it roughly the same time, as when Daffy flies back out, he’s got Bugs in his clutches. They fly through a china shop, hilariously breaking nothing, before they turn right around and do it properly. Emergency hos-pit stop…al. (Almost was clever.) Hey, I just thought of another question about this show! Does it have a time limit? I mean, I don’t know how long it would take to dress their injuries, but Daffy has a cast and cane, and Bugs is now in a wheelchair. Were viewers at home still enthralled?

It’s a good thing the studio building has elevators, so Bugs still has a chance. It’s a close call photo finish, but, yes, Daffy wins! He actually won! Actually… Bugs doesn’t really have a good “track record” for races, does he? Daffy asks for his prize and he gets it: it’s called a ‘million box.’ It’s called that because it has 1,000,000 little boxes inside! (Although, I did some multiplication and estimating, and have concluded that there’s really only a little more than 7,000 in there. Better get your lawsuit on.) Daffy proves what a good friend he is by opting to donate his prize to Bugs. That’s the sign of a real, honest and true buddy, seeing as each of the little boxes had a dollar inside. When asked to say more, Daffy can only bray. Looks like Bugs can upgrade his television again!

Favorite Part: Listen closely to the host when he explains what little rules this show has. I purposefully didn’t mention it earlier, but he really does say you stand to win “the million box.” It’s not his fault Daffy misheard.

Personal Rating: 3

Compressed Hare

“You are game, aren’t you?”

Directed by Chuck Jones; Co-Director: Maurice Noble; Story by Dave Detiege; Animation by Ken Harris, Richard Thompson, Bob Bransford, and Tom Ray; Assistant Layout: Corny Cole; (Great name.) Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard and William Butler; Effects Animation by Harry Love; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on July 29, 1961.

Wile E.’s latest scheme has him leaving a phone in front of Bugs’s hole and giving him a call. Wile E. states that he is the new neighbor, and could really use a cup of carrots for a stew he’s making. Ever the agreeable sort, Bugs complies. Of course, upon knocking on the door, Wile E. grabs him and ties him up. Ever the unflappable sort, Bugs doesn’t worry at all. He goes as far as to hold down the rope so Wile E. can tie a bow, and uses his ears to flavor the broth.

Still, his kindness has its limits, and he has to decline a stay for lunch. Wile E. isn’t letting him go, so Bugs hops in place and gets one of Wile E.’s wine bottles to pop its cork into his eye. (Genius that he is, I’m guessing Wile E. is an expert winemaker.) Wile E. ducks the next one, but who do you think taught Basil of Baker St. everything he knows? Bugs knew the cork would bounce around the kitchen, setting off a chain reaction that would ultimately cause Wile E’s fold-out bed to fall on him. Done with hopping corks, Bugs hops home.

Wile E. tries to vacuum up his prey, but gets a decoy made out of bombs, instead. Keeping in character, he’s not even mad. He’s admires Bugs’s chutzpah. Still, dinner plans must be kept, and the cunning canine next pours quick drying cement into the hole. Bugs molded it into a pillar, and sticks it back in Wile E.’s path. Both of them making puns about the situation. (These guys. These are the guys I want to be like when I mature.) Time for our finishing gag. And it’s a great one!

Wile E. gets his paws on a ten-billion volt magnet, several dynamos, and an iron carrot. If he can get Bugs to eat that, then the multiverse’s most powerful magnet will reel him in like a dead pike. Bugs just pretends to eat the carrot because he’s not a neanderthal this time. Wile E. falls for it, because even the biggest geniuses can be fooled. He turns on the device and starts attracting the carrot, and Bug’s mailbox, iron, pans, etc.

Then the gag grows to Tex Avery levels! Horseshoes, barbed wire, cars, Eiffel towers… If it’s metal, it’s migrating. And in true Avery fashion, the gag can still go farther. Satellites and rockets are also pulled in. All that metal, and rocket fluid. Something’s going to give! Bugs admires the fireworks that the camera doesn’t show us. (*humph*) You know, Russia may have beat us to putting dogs in orbit, but as Bugs points out, who put the first coyote up there? That’s right: U.S. (Hope you enjoyed hearing Wile E. speak. Barring a failed television pilot, he wouldn’t talk again for decades.)

Favorite Part: As perfect as the ending was, my favorite part is the look Bugs gives up when he sees Wile E.’s mailbox labeling him as a genius. Bugs is NOT amused. Even goes so far as to mock him. (“Are you in, genius?”)

Personal Rating: 4. This was a whole point better than the last team-up of these two. So glad to hear Bugs act like the full-grown bunny he is.

Hare Trimmed

“I can see you through the key hole!”

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8j11gb

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, and Arthur Davis; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on June 20, 1953.

We started this fun themed month with a ghost story, then moved on to real life horror, and now I’ll continue this trend with a cartoon featuring costumes. Maybe next week I’ll discuss “The Cookie Carnival.” Wouldn’t that be a shake-up?

Sam takes note of the local news. Namely, there’s a widow that’s inherited 50 million big ones. And he can’t help but feel that anyone having just lost a loved one should immediately replace what’s missing. You know, he’s single. A suspicious Bugs can’t help but see what the little guy is up to, and finds Sam in the next scene with flowers and candy. He’s got marriage on his mind. Bugs might just need to intervene.

Said widow is Granny (that newspaper photo didn’t do her justice), who has so much cash, she literally sets some aside to burn. (Whoever her husband was, his death clearly didn’t affect her too much. In fact, how do we know this isn’t the first time she’s gotten in such a rewarding situation? I’m worried about you, Sam.) She answers her door to find Sam trying to woo her, and she lets him chase her. But she must put their fun on a brief hiatus as there’s yet another knock.

It’s Bugs dressed as the marquee of Queensberry… rouge, I think. Putting on his best Pepe Le Pew impression, he also gets to chase the flirty Granny around. Sam isn’t pleased and slaps Bugs with his glove. Bugs (and his disappearing/reappearing hat) returns the favor but he bothers to put a brick in his, first. Time for pistols at ten paces. Bugs, ever ten paces ahead, counts out as many steps between nine and ten as he needs to get Sam to walk out into the path of an incoming bus.

When Sam comes banging at the door again, it is answered by Bugs in Granny garb. And Sam refers  to “her” as “Emma.” Could this be Granny’s real name? If it isn’t, what is it with Sam and girls named Emma? Sam gets to chase again, but “Emma” ends things quickly with a piano to the face. It’s then that the real Emma (?) finds him and sets him in a chair while she fixes him some coffee. The other one reaches him first and does the ole ‘giving lumps when asking for lumps’ bit.

When Gremma returns, Sam kicks the coffee out of her hands sending her running for the gun that I’m guessing she’s already used before SOME WAY. Sam realizes that he may have just kicked away the easy life, and follows begging for forgiveness. He gets Bugs (still in disguise) to forgive him and he then suggests they elope, much to Sam’s glee. When they’re walking down the aisle, Bugs’s dress gets caught on a snag and tears off revealing his hairy legs. Leading to a great line from the priest: “Do you, Sam, take this woman… woman?”

That comment gets Sam to look over his bride once more and instantly get cold feet. He flees the wedding, leaving Bugs crying crocodile tears. (Who are all those people they invited anyway? I don’t recognize anybody but me.)

Favorite Part: The animation of Sam and later Bugs chasing Granny. I can’t explain it, but it slays me. And I wish I had an opportunity to chase someone like that without warranting a call for help.

Personal Rating: 4. Granny is probably at her best here. Fun to see her having so much fun.

Rabbit’s Feat

“‘Rabbitus idioticus deliceeous’. Er, I believe that- that’s the scientific term.”

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8b73uz

Directed by Chuck Jones; Animation by Ken Harris and Richard Thompson; Layouts and Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on June 4, 1960.

A Bugs/Wile E. picture that is light on the fun mechanical gags in order to focus more on the dialogue. Could that be because Michael Maltese was no longer writing for Chuck, having moved on to Hanna Barbera by this point?

That wily ole Wile E. He’s tracking rabbit to get himself something to munch.  He finds Bugs asleep in his crib, sucking his thumb. Let that be an indication of what’s to come. I think Chuck was trying to hearken back to Bugs’s wackier days, but to me, he just comes across as that little kid who thinks he’s the funniest thing on two legs and is in actually annoying and obnoxious, but you’re the adult so you have to pretend that he speaks in fluent comedy gold and you’ve got no choice but to encourage him, even though it would be doing the world a favor to tell him to shut his lips. Doesn’t mean Bugs is painful to listen to or watch, but I’m not finding myself laughing at his antics all that much.

Wile E. sets up a picnic and Bugs comes to join. Proving his intellect once again, Wile E. actually wanted this to happen, as he bundles Bugs in the blanket in order to transport him to the cooking pot. Once there, Chuck has Bugs dust off the old “screaming in agony to unnerve his tormentor” chestnut. Wile E. catches on fairly quick and then catches Bugs lounging outside the containment unit he is supposed to be in. Bugs responds in a way I never would have seen coming, no matter how much weed was injected into my veins: “Daddy! You’re back from Peru!”

Ties back to the kid again, who also thinks random is inherently funny. (Which it can be, but it takes skill to pull off and I’m still not sure how one can describe the proper method.) It is pretty funny, but it comes so far out of left field that I’m want to question, rather than giggle. (But I am smiling at Wile E.’s great poses. They make the picture.) Bugs is able to escape after Wile E. falls into the pot, failing an opportunity to lunge at him since Bugs ducked at the last second. Time to do some plotting.

In a very meta sense, Wile E. starts musing about gags that could feature in this cartoon, but don’t. Bugs slipping in behind him, and giving his two cents. Wile E. ultimately figures he’ll lace him some carrots full of dynamite. Bugs screams, scaring the coyote, and escapes again. Wile E. decides to settle on a gun. Bugs steps right up to him, and flips the gun barrel any way he pleases. Even at Wile E. But those brains, man. Wile E. doesn’t fall for it even when he didn’t see Bugs point it at him. He keeps pointing back to Bugs. Bugs responds by pulling away that little tip that determines which part of the gun is the front. Wile E. takes a gamble, and loses. (Brains and luck are not interchangeable terms.)

Wile E. throws an active grenade down Bugs’s hole, and blocks any possible exit. Bugs screams once more, causing the coyote to fly up and back down, just in time to catch the brunt of the explosion. He identifies himself as a vegetarian now. And reinstates the ‘Mud’ moniker.

Favorite Part: Wile E.’s line: “It is obvious, that is no ordinary rabbit.” Everyone should say this when introducing Bugs to new generations.

Personal Rating: 3. Bugs may be getting on my nerves a tad, but I know he’s just trying to mess with a predator. Still, I’d say this is the weakest of his co-starring with Wile E.

Prince Violent*

“I see you’ve never dealt with a viking.”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Co-Director: Halwy Pratt; Story by Dave Detiege; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Virgil Ross, Art Davis, and Bob Matz; Layouts by Willie Ito; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on September 2, 1961.

*If you’re watching this short on TV, it’s called “Prince Varmint” because… kids won’t get the reference to “Prince Valiant”? Granted, I’ve never read it, but I’ve always known about it. Maybe Hal Foster didn’t like the pun? Either way, I like the original title better. If only because it doesn’t get name dropped twice in the picture. Feels forced.

The locales had best barricade themselves in the only nearby castle, Sam the Terrible the terrible viking has just landed and is clearly having the time of his life in the role. He follows the people into their castle before they can raise the drawbridge, and it’s only a matter of time before he breaks down what little doors they have left. Having witnessed this, Bugs, ever altruistic anymore, gets into costume, follows Sam and rather easily throws him out. (Treating the guy like an errant trick-or-treater.) Time for Sam to spend the rest of the cartoon breaking back in.

He goes big, elephantine even. He gets one of those European elephants that totally existed trust me on this, so he can bust his way into the fortress. Bugs paints a phony door, and the proboscidean hurts himself. And when Sam tries to be Sam and berate the beast, it reminds him who’s the largest living land mammal, and throunces him. Since the walls are too thick for even nature’s best bulldozer to break through, the elephant just throws boulders over the parapets. Bugs stops him with pepper. (Did his ears shrink?)

The two decide to be smart and hide from view until Bugs declares the bridge safe to lower. They charge, forgetting that flimsy wood and nails were never meant to carry at least 10,000 lbs. Oh, wait. I guess as a zoologist, I should say 4535.924 kilograms. (But as a writer, I can’t help but notice how clunky that looks.) Seems their running out of ways to approach, but Sam, always learning from his mistakes decides they’ll sneak in via the back. He uses the elephant as a raft, forgetting that such animals are fairly adept swimmers, but this way means Bugs can shove a cork in the trunk without being seen.

The elephant flees back to shore, forgetting that he could just stick his mouth out of the water and breathe that way. But more confusing? Why is he afraid of Sam now? We already saw that this was a beast not to be trifled with. Did Sam threaten to wait until his tusks grow in, then kill him and sell them to the Chinese? Whatever the reason, Sam chases him off and tells him to stay gone. And I just fell like the reactions should have been swapped. Have the elephant get sick of Sam’s abuse, and turn on him before leaving. Makes more sense.

Sick of playing around, Sam grabs all the explosives he has on hand to blow his way into the stronghold. As he lights the fuses, he fails to notice that the drawbridge can raise in the opposite direction as well. A risky gamble the people are betting on here, as they’re still inside. I guess they figure Sam will die and the only other casualty will be the door? But he doesn’t die this time, it just roughs him up a lot. Even took his mask off. But he regenerates it and finally gets inside. Oh-ho boy! What he’s going to do with the women and chickens…

Uh-oh. Looks like he’s already rueing the today he offended Ali Phunt, as the elephant (Oh, snap! I get it!) has joined the other side and doesn’t fear Sam at all again, chasing him off with a club. Should be a happy ending, but Sam vows to return, and I have a hunch Ali’s services will only last as long as the free peanuts.

Favorite Part: The boat on the title card. I’m glad one of the shields is the W.B. shield. I wouldn’t have ever thought of that. Wait, if that’s my favorite part, then how low will the score-?

Personal Rating: 2. It’s just a weaker retread of “Knighty Knight Bugs“. And I’ve got a feeling this was one of the first shorts Mel recorded for after his coma. A good chunk of Bugs’s lines sound stilted and bored, almost as if Mel was hurting himself as Sam, and everyone decided his first takes for Bugs would suffice as the only takes.

People are Bunny

“Have a handful o’ blanks.”

Directed by Robert McKimson; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Warren Batchelder, Tom Ray, and George Grandpre; Layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by William Butler; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on December 19, 1959.

Those born in 2010 C.E. and beyond might just never be able to understand the joy of actually watching T.V. None of this streaming crap; I’m talking about turning on the tube, flipping through the channels to find something, and either getting elated at your lucky find, or having to turn things off and read a book or play with your dog instead. As usual, we’ve sacrificed experience for ease, and while I can’t say Netflix doesn’t have a good many perks, it just isn’t the same.

But imagine how people like me must have felt in the fifties, when television was ruining the enjoyable trips to the motion pictures that used to be an occasional treat on par with visiting amusement parks and zoos. All of this tirade, just so I can point out that our short opens with Daffy watching television. Good thing his home has an island to keep the set functioning. The current show is “The Sportsman’s Hour” which is hosting a contest: be the first one to bring back a rabbit and win $1,000.00. That’s not too shabby. Say, doesn’t Daffy know a rabbit?

Daffy isn’t stupid enough to just outright tell Bugs to go with him to the studio, so he tries to sell the idea by offering him his extra ticket to said location. Bugs isn’t stupid enough to follow Daffy, instead claiming to be too busy for any fun today. Daffy makes him change his mind by taking a gun off the wall, and marching him to the studio. (Why does Bugs have two of those?) Upon reaching the place, Daffy sees exactly what kind of prizes this station can afford to give away. How’d that guy get the key to Fort Knox? And what’s his address? I’m suddenly in the mood to make a new best friend for one month!

Too bad Daffy is already busy trying to win a prize, or he could probably try for another. Wait, why give the benefit of doubt with that duck’s greed? He marches Bugs into a phone booth for safekeeping, and rushes to get himself a grab of the goodies. (Good thing nobody else was watching “The Sportsman’s Hour” or he’d probably get beaten to the punch.) While Bugs is winning call-in sweepstakes in the booth, Daffy has managed to become the contestant on “People are Phony”. (Not ‘Bunny’?) With a title like that, you’ll have enough material to reach “Sesame Street” levels of seasons.

The host, Art Lamplighter, (heh) tells us what Daffy is doing: going out into the world and helping an elderly women cross the street in 20 minutes. She isn’t Granny, but seeing as how this is a post-1950 world, you’d be forgiven for just assuming any elderly woman in the Looneverse was Granny. She also doesn’t want help crossing the street and beats Daffy the whole way. On the return trip, Daffy is run over, so Art declares him lost. (You know, when I was a contestant on this show, I helped an old lady cross a street and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.)

Daffy goes back to collect Bugs, who is still counting his winnings. He lures Daffy into the booth by saying the guy who gave him the dough might call back, and then imitating a ringing phone. (Woah! I didn’t know Bugs could make his arm disappear!) Daffy takes the bait, and the TNT receiver Bugs left for him. Bugs is now loose in the studio, and can disguise himself as an usher to send Daffy into the wrong rooms, or as a director on “Costume Show.” (Wow. That has ‘second season’ written all over it.) He gets Daffy in and in costume too: a rabbit costume.

Following stage instructions, Daffy walks out on the set of “The Sportsman’s Hour” with Bugs dressed as in Elmer attire. (I know Bugs is slightly taller than Daffy, but did the duck shrink in that suit?)Bugs wins another prize. Daffy reveals that he is actually a duck, and that suits the host just fine as the shortest rabbit season on record has just ended, and the shortest duck season has just begun. Fire away!

Favorite Part: Daffy inviting Bugs on the outing and the exasperated “Oh, boy!” and eye roll Bugs lets out. He knows him too well.

Personal Rating: 3

Knights Must Fall

“You can’t tell a knight from a day without a program.”

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5keart

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, Manuel Perez, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Voice Characterization by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on July 16, 1949.

Bugs lives in medieval times, when it wasn’t odd to see a rabbit as a squire, I suppose. But manners still existed, and Bugs doesn’t show a very good example of them, as he sticks what leftover carrot parts he didn’t want to eat into the suit of Sir Pantsalot. (His name really is Pantsalot.) If you want to over analyze things, as humans typically do, that action can be interpreted as Bugs calling Pantsy ‘garbage’. With honor at stake, the knight challenges to bunny to a duel, and he accepts.

The name of the game is jousting. The two combatants will charge each other from the mount of their choosing with their lances. Bugs rides an adorable little donkey that will now be known to you as ‘Jacques.’ They don’t really stand a chance. Either getting knocked apart, or just having the lance whittled down to splinters. And since everyone expects one of the two on the field to die at any time, it’s a fast-running sport and that means it’s halftime. We’re playing the “Rubber Band’s” one-hit wonder. A true blast from the past!

After the festivities, we rejoin the rivals who have moved on to clubs by this point. I think Bugs has tried to win the fair way long enough. Trick time! And a spring is just what he needs to fling Pantsy’s morning star back in his face. (Is that the right term? Even though it has no spikes?) But what really turns the tables is Bugs hiding where the sun don’t shine, so it’s always knight: inside Pantsalot’s armor. And he’s got a needle. After the poking, he gets his adversary to chase him into a manhole cover. (These times are well known for their sewer systems.) Victory!

Is what I’d be saying if Bugs had won yet. For Pantsalot has brought his reserves, and they are going to take the rabbit on all at once. (It’s only fair to fight fire with cheating.) Bugs isn’t going to be cowed like that, and quickly fashions a tank for Jacques to carry and they ride head on into the fray. And somewhere, I’m sure heralds still sing and shout, but there’s a lack of joy in Drop Seat Mannor, for Sir Pantsalot has been knocked out. Him and all his toadies. I like to think Bugs indirectly killed them. That is the point of a joust, after all, right?

And making the best of a bloody situation, Bugs makes a used armor lot out of all the leftover shells. Once more sticking his refuse into what once held a man named Pantsalot. That’s just cold.

Favorite Part: Bugs knocks on Pants’s helmet, saying that the guy knows who he is; he was here last night with Joe. Which leads to three zingers mashed together: the knight’s goofy smile, Bugs saying the guy really should have known better, and the hatch disappearing for a brief moment.

Personal Rating: 3

Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips

“COME AND GET ME!”

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8adyx1

Supervision by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy; Musical Direction by Carl Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on April 22, 1944.

Before I get to a personal story before I get to today’s post, I just want to remind you that war is awful. You know that already, I’m aware. Still, I just want it said that during times of war, we say and do things that we will come to regret. Things that are hurtful and we should be ashamed of, but still be strong enough to admit these bad things happened and not hide from our past.

Before I get to today’s post; a personal story about me and this short. It was just another high school day, another U.S. history class and one difference: a student teacher. He was going to talk about wartime propaganda and said he was going to show us this particular cartoon as an example. I’m a pretty introverted, shy, slightly misanthropic individual, so you better believe it was a big deal that I blurted out: “You’re so cool!”

He never played the cartoon. He didn’t say he changed his mind, he didn’t claim he couldn’t find it, he didn’t leave after that day so he had more chances. He just never brought it up again and never showed any cartoons in its place. I don’t remember his name. I don’t remember his face. All I know is I made a mistake: I told a man he was cool, when he was not. And I’ll never be able to apologize to him for my mix-up. If that man is you, I offer my sincerest apologies and hope you didn’t wind up passing on any genes to any unsuspecting offspring. Now let’s get to what you actually are here to read about:

START OF THE POST RIGHT HERE! Bugs is afloat in a crate somewhere in the Pacific. When he spots land, he gleefully heads on over. He comments on the peaceful serenity that surrounds him before reality bites hard. WWII is still in swing and this island is already occupied by hurtful, incorrect Japanese stereotypes. And since Bugs isn’t drawn in such a disrespectful manner, he must be on an opposing side. Shame this must happen, but war is war (is hell).

Bugs manages to fool a man by dressing as a Japanese general. The bowing commences, but give Freleng’s crew a small point for showing that our adversaries aren’t brain dead imbeciles, as the one onscreen very quickly realizes that this general before him is really Bugs Bunny. He even reveals the charade is up by spouting off his own “What’s up, doc?” Bugs takes off in nearby plane with the soldier right behind. But Bugs is fast, and lands and ties a rope to the other plane, stripping it of most of its body. And because it is war, he gives the parachuting man an anvil, sealing his fate.

Bugs happily marks his victory on a tree when he sees his next foe: a sumo wrestler. (I admit, I admire Bugs responding by painting another victory tally. That is bass.) The wrestling match goes about as well as you would think. We in the future know that Bugs can never win these kind of things with his “muscles” alone. He must dress as a geisha in order to get the drop on the big guy. (Since Bugs already has buckteeth, it’s only a smidgen less insulting than the rest of the cartoon.)

Two down, how many more to go? A whole lot of them judging by the boats being unloaded on the island. A brilliant plan must be wielded to get Bugs out of this predicament. A plan involving ice cream! That’s actually perfect as everyone loves ice cream! So Bugs gives the people frozen treats with real grenade filling! I mean, he sells them the stuff because he’s going to purchase a war bond. That’s my attempt of making some light of this scene, as Bugs lays down some downright nasty insults to the poor guys. Isn’t taking their lives enough? A lot of families are about to be changed forever. (And poor Mel. While I have no doubt he regretted saying these lines, I would like to see a quote from him saying that.)

What’s done is done. Bugs has killed a minimum of 62 soldiers who were just pawns in this horrible game, same as him. I understand that he is trying to bolster morale for his country, but I wish he never had to in the first place. Well, at least he can relax now, right? A quiet, peaceful island to forget the atrocities of the world is what everyone secretly desires, right? Big wrong. Bugs hates tranquility! (I believe it. You seen the adventures he has on a yearly basis?) He’s ecstatic to find an American ship in the water and calls for their attention.

Then he sees another local: a fetching doe that doesn’t seem too harassed by Bugs enthusiastically running after her. The short ends and we can exhale in relief knowing that this was as bad as things got in Bugs’s theatrical career.

No! NOOOOOO!

*long heavy sigh* Some other month, perhaps.

Favorite Part: Bugs letting us know that he’s just waiting for the deserted island that will inevitably pop-up, because deserted island’s tend to pop-up in these kind of pictures. He’s that kind of savvy.

Personal Rating: 1. A few okay at best jokes can’t deliver enough merit for me to tell average viewers to hold their noses and muck their way through.

Hare-less Wolf

“Heywhat’salltheexcitement?”

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8bep6u

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Art Davis and Virgil Ross; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Boris Gorelick; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc (Uncredited: June Foray); Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on February 1, 1958.

Charles M. Wolf enjoys his life. Most wolves have to worry about hunting versus starving. Getting shot at by humans. Pounded by sheepdogs. Not Charles. He can sit on his tail and watch all the television he wants. Well, that’s the dream, anyway. The woman of the cave isn’t about to let lazy wolves lie, and tells him to go catch a rabbit for supper, as there’s no other food in the cave. (They’ve already eaten all the bats and olms.) Frightened, Charles takes his gun and his leave.

Bugs asks the wolf what he’s doing. And… Charles has no idea. Seems constant television is actually detrimental to to the brain, and like all lessons in life, Charles has learned it too late. Bugs is able to take a guess that since he has a gun, he must be hunting and Charles remembers that he is! … But what was he hunting? (Wonder if Charles is related to this guy. Wonder why Friz likes forgetful lupines so much.) He muses over a few choices, before Bugs guesses the correct one. Rabbit? That’s the ticket. And give Charles his due. Once he remembers, he takes shots at Bugs. Too bad he misses.

While chasing the prey, Bugs stops and asks what he’s chasing. Now that’s a good question! And while Charles has good answers, none of them are right. Bugs answers for him again, then trips him. Safe in his hole, Bugs flat out hands Charles a grenade, complete with instructions. He follows them, but does each step as he goes. I love how worried he grows as he reads that he has had ten seconds to throw the explosive, and they’re about spent. (Although, I timed him. He clearly had 24.)

Then there’s a gag that seems out of place. Charles just following a lit fuse to an explosive. Shouldn’t he have forgotten what he’s chasing again, and Bugs would tell him it was that? And he’d be all, “That doesn’t sound right.” But Bugs would tell him it’s what he was chasing, and the poor guy would follow the trap. He doesn’t even say something like “What’s this?” It just seems out of character. He’s forgetful sure, but I don’t think anyone’s attention span could be deterred that easil-I’m bored of typing today. I’m taking off early.

Fine. But I get next week off!

Bugs constructs a phony door on a piece of wood dangling off a cliff. And reminds Charles that he’s going to break it down, should it remain closed. (See? That’s how Charles should get started on asinine tasks.) He breaks it down, and falls down, too. Angered, he runs all the way back up to Bugs. Bugs asks him what he wants. Charles doesn’t know. It’s one of those questions we’ve all got to ask ourselves, and now is his time.

Come nightfall, he’s still at it. Working his way through every species of the animal kingdom. There’s only a couple million. He’ll be done in a few weeks. (Unless he starts thinking of all the extinct ones. Then he’s doomed to die out here.)

Favorite Part: After Bugs asks Charles what he is doing the second time, the smug smile he has on his face. It says “I’m a prick, but I do have fun.”

Personal Rating: 1? No, that’s not right. 2? No, not a two. 87,000,000,000? Nah. That can’t be right. …

Oh yeah! A 3! Yeah!

… Now what was I rating again?

Hare Brush

“Brudder, you got yourself a preposition.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, Art Davis and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Music by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on May 7, 1955.

Observe the E.J. building. HQ of Elmer J. Fudd the millionaire. (I hear he has a mansion AND a yacht.) He owns plenty of businesses too, so he’s done very well for himself. But owning all this takes a lot of pressure, and sooner or later, something’s gotta crack. Sadly, it was Elmer’s brain. Now, he thinks he’s a rabbit! He hops on all fours, eats carrots, and even makes the same noises rabbits make: Ehwhatsupdoc. This has his board members worried, and they decide he needs professional help.

They send him to the Fruit Cake Sanitorium. (It’s the best they can do with the lousy pay Elmer’s been giving them lately.) Now, I don’t know anywhere near close enough to be considered a psychiatrist, but is indulging in the patient’s delusions really how you want to start? Look at the guy. He’s even dressed like a rabbit now. (And if you know anything about what rabbit’s eat, you should be very concerned right about… now.) It’s then when Elmer notices another rabbit outside the window. He easily lures his fellow lagomorph inside with the promise of bushels of carrots.

Said rabbit is Bugs who is fooled into thinking Elmer J. Fudd the millionaire is one of his own. Since the window is now open, E.J.F. the M. bolts. (Probably to check on his mansion and his yacht.) Bugs finds the place comfortable enough. Comfy bed, plenty of carrots, a rabbit could really learn to love it here. Now the doctor enters. Getting a look at Bugs has him claiming this as the most severe case yet. (So tell me, “doc” whose name is on that M.D. in your office? And why do your pants keep changing color?) He assures “Mr. Fudd” that while there is nothing wrong with being a rabbit, being a millionaire is even better. (You’ll get a mansion and a yacht!)

Thanks to modern medicine and verbal conditioning, Bugs leaves the place as Elmer J. Fudd, Millionaire. He owns a… yeah I’m sick of that too. I apologize. It’s Wednesday, and that is the day when Mr. Fudd goes hunting. Bugsmer is all for it, and in the woods he finds the perfect target: Fudds Bunny. Let the chase begin! Bugsmer thinks he’s got the rabbit cornered in a cave, but it’s really a bear. Running for his life, Fudds tells him to play dead. Always works. Too well, for the bear decides to dig him a grave. And since they’re atop a cliff, down the hunter goes.

When hunter finally finds hunted, victory is most definitely assured. That’s when a man taps Bugsmer’s shoulder asking if he is Elmer J. and you know the rest. The hunter affirms that he is, and the man reveals himself to be here to take him away. Seems even millionaires aren’t immune to the certainties of life, and Mr. Fudd has a good number of back taxes to his name. Bugsmer is dragged away, leaving Fudds to his freedom in the forest. Which leads us to the biggest question: was this Elmer’s plan from the beginning? (Smart AND rich. You don’t see that combo much anymore.)

Favorite Part: When Elmer first sees Bugs outside and get his attention. Bugs asks if Elmer is trying to get his attention and when Elmer confirms, Bugs gives him the (hare) brush off. That’s probably the most human thing he’s ever done!

Personal Rating: 4. Wow, has Freleng and his unit improved since last time! Far more interesting story, plenty of time for Blanc and Bryan to imitate each other’s characters, a brilliant way to shake up the standard plot; you’d find it hard to believe that Friz ever disliked Elmer.