Hare Trimmed

“I can see you through the key hole!”

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.

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.

Wild and Woolly Hare

“You been eatin’ onions.”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Virgil Ross, Gerry Chiniquy, and Art Davis; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on August 1, 1959.

Today’s short takes place in one of those sepia-town tones. The buildings are sepia. The ground is sepia. The sky is sepia, and yes, I’m sepia too. (Probably should get that looked at.) But the big news is that Yosemite Sam is coming to town. And he’s actually going by that name in this short. Most folks in the Fat Chance saloon want nothing to do with the guy, and flee. Only Injun Joe is willing to take a shot at taking a shot. (No, it’s not that one.)

Sam’s on his way! (And they only show his shadow, as if we don’t know what he looks like. Maybe you could get away with such a gag in 1948 at the latest, but anyone intentionally watching this short knows what to expect.) Joe asks a man to hold his beer while he attends to their guest. A guy who has hair growing on his eyeballs. (Probably should get that checked out.) We don’t see the outcome, but we hear gunfire and Harry Ayes decides to have the free beer that was so graciously donated to his cause.

Sam enters the place, boasting about his power and giving anyone crazy enough to try it, a chance to challenge him. Enter Bugs, in full cowboy getup. (It’s surreal for me to see Bugs wearing pants. Dresses suit him much more.) He’s not taking Sam seriously, and proves his own abilities with a gunshot that ricochets around the town before parting Sam’s hair down the middle. Oh, it. Is. ON! Always one for trying new things, Sam agrees to give the gentlemanly duel routine a go. Bugs trails him, so even when Sam jumps the countdown, he misses the target right in front of him. (I like Bugs’s little nose kiss. It’s funny.)

While bullet exchanging commences, Sam comes to the realization that the train he is planning to rob is passing by. He’ll be back later, but Bugs won’t as the rabbit plans to save the train. He gets on board and Sam decides to tackle him head on. Finding his own locomotive ahead, he starts her up and tells Bugs he better sto-op! Bugs isn’t one to ruin a good game of chicken on the railroad, and both turn up the speed. Intense stuff!

Sam is quickly losing his cool, Bugs isn’t. Give Sam some credit though, he never even attempts jumping. He braces for impact. (So. Bass.) Bugs doesn’t crash as his train can extend over the smaller one. Sam finds himself going off an unfinished rail into the drink below. True to his word, Bugs saved the train. Our hero!

Favorite Part: Sam challenges Bugs to shoot holes in an airborne can. Bugs tosses the can up, aims, aims, aims, and fires when his gun points at Sam’s face. (He misses the can too.)

Personal Rating: 3

Rabbitson Crusoe

“♫ Once I had a secret love… ♫”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Virgil Ross, and Art Davis; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Music by Milt Franklyn. A Looney Tune released on April 28, 1956.

20 years is a long time to survive on your own, but that is exactly what Robinson CaruSam has had to do the past couple decades. He’s been shipwrecked on a tiny couple of islands. The largest portion of which, is where he sleeps, cooks, and keeps a lookout for rescue. The smaller one is where his food source comes from: a lone coconut tree. This is where things get difficult, for patrolling the waters is a hungry shark that lacks pectoral fins going by the name of Dopey Dick. (Which sounds like a villain you’d see in an ad for E.D.)

Maybe his disability has forced the fish to hunt easier prey, maybe a certain crocodile got him hooked on the taste of man flesh. Whatever the reason, the shark has been trying to get his jaws on Sam everyday for twenty years. He gets his chance whenever the man needs to get food off the tree, or grab some supplies from his wrecked ship, seeing as how the only way to get to them is via some small stones. For the past twenty years, Sam has been able to keep alive by making it to land, grabbing a mallet or bat, and beating Dick back into the sea.

Now, Sam has been on an all coconut diet for the past ten years. (Just kidding. It’s been twenty still.) He’s become quite the expert at preparing the fruit a myriad of different ways. But the problem with coconuts is no matter how you prepare them, they still end up tasting like coconut. (That and the milk changes color once it’s in the glass.) I’m impressed Sam was able to last twenty years before cracking. Enter Bugs, also playing a castaway. He’s a meaty prize well worth the trouble, so Sam calls for the rabbit to come over to his island.

Bugs finds himself in a pot, and does he like it? No, he does not. He pours water on the fire, which means Sam is going to have to get to the wrecked ship to get another match. This means another round of Dick dodging. Sam is able to distract him with a bone, get his match, and return to his pot. Where Dick was waiting for him. (Why Sam hasn’t just tried eating the shark by this point…) Bugs has hidden himself on the ship, and Sam attempts at getting there are thwarted by the Dick of the deep. (Why Sam isn’t using his weapons…)

Sam does get Bugs back in the pot once more, but the rabbit spies a tidal wave. Even if Sam did believe him, it wouldn’t make any difference: the entire island is now underwater. Luckily for Bugs, the pot floats. And luckily for Sam, Bugs is willing to save him from death by Dick. Seeing as how Sam isn’t really in a position for negotiating, he agrees to Bugs’s terms. Namely, rowing the two of them to San Francisco.

Favorite Part: Sam saying that dinner will be ready in a few minutes, barring accidents. That’s when Bugs puts out the fire. But watch Sam’s face. As soon as he hears Bugs take something out of the soup, he is horrified. The rabbit wouldn’t…

Personal Rating: 3. It could have been longer, and I’m kinda bummed we didn’t get a short of a shipwrecked sailor and a starving shark. Both wanting the other, but staying safe as long as they don’t leave the land/sea.

Captain Hareblower

“I’m taking over your ship!”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Manuel Perez, Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, and Art Davis; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Irv Wyner; Voice Characterizations by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on February 16, 1954.

The final of the three shorts featuring Yosemite Sam as a pirate. The first one was spectacular. The second one was very funny. This one manages to squeak by with a sea average. I apologize on its behalf.

Pirate Sam, (that’s really what he’s going by today) has his sights set on a ship just begging to be plundered. He’s got quite the reputation it seems, as just announcing his arrival is enough to send everybody on board overboard. Save for Bugs who was hanging out in a crate of carrots. Since he doesn’t know the meaning of this “surrender” word, he can’t very well do it, and decides to fight.

Sam gets cannoned to the face no matter how sneaky, slowly and slyly he sails. And Bugs isn’t above sneaking over to the opposing ship to get an extra shot on his assailant. While he’s loading the cannon, no less. Sam tries this trick out himself, but Murphy’s law is on the rabbits side, so it still doesn’t work. Even sending a keg of TNT with a sail fails, as Bugs has an electric fan to blow it right back.

Sam finally decides to just board the other ship and take it over, but Bugs has already vacated to the crows nest. Sam fails to chop him down, so he chooses his only other option and climbs up. Bugs dives into the water. Sam dives into a rock. Then its time to reuse the best gag from “Buccaneer Bunny.” The one where Bugs tosses matches into the powder room. It’s obviously not as funny here. Not just because we’ve seen it, but Bugs and Sam are on opposite ships. Part of what made the original work so well was Bugs acting like a total smug badass, totally confident that any misfortunes will only befall on Sam.

The new wrinkle they did add is Sam coming over to Bugs’s ship to do the same to his powder room. Bugs doesn’t react at all, causing Sam to flee for the horizon. (I do like how fast he left. That’s a great shot.) Bugs shows us that his powder room only contains the talcum variety, and that variety doesn’t explode. The following explosion makes me me doubt his validity.

Favorite Part: Sam trying to deliver a bomb underwater. (His eyebrows change color as he suits up.) Not only does the fuse stay lit with no explanation, but Sam is swallowed by a dolphacuda and when the explosion happens, all that is left is a skeleton. But the eyes are still in their sockets. (That’s disturbingly hilariously creepy.)

Space Jam A New Legacy (First Thoughts)

“You remember fun, don’t you, doc?”

As the title suggests, these are just my first thoughts about this film. A synopsis, complete with annoying jokes, limited information, and inflations to my own ego will happen someday in the future. Not today, for it is the present.

Very short version of this post: 🙂

Long version of this post: I expected this movie to be fun. Not good, bad, great, or abysmal. Just fun. And I got exactly that. Let’s be real. Even the first S.J. wasn’t really all that great. (Something I’ve come to grips with long since I blogged about it.) Neither of them have a great story, these films are just an excuse to have cartoons play basketball. (And sell W.B. merchandise on the side.)

Speaking of weak story, I won’t lie: this film has got one of those. LeBron is just playing the “father who wants his progeny to be like him, despite the kid’s protests to do something else.” Seen it. And yeah, the man isn’t a superb actor. (At least he is able to admit it in the film.) Still, I feel he does better than Jordan did. He definitely emotes more. As opposed to Michael looking dead inside. (Really. How could you not go “Looney” getting to meet animation’s greatest characters?)

But as week as the story is, (and some might disagree with me on this) it’s leagues better than the first one’s. Having the Tunes exist in a digital world makes much more sense than being underground. And for that matter, LeBron’s actor/son’s conflict actually gets some sort of payoff. Unlike Michael’s actor/son who mopes a bit, cheers up upon finding his dad was kidnapped by animated characters, then disappears until the denouement.

And the crossover aspect! If you can fathom the idea of someone never seeing “Ready player one” or any “Avengers” movie, then you can probably believe me when I say I was getting goosebumps when all of Warner’s properties gather to watch the game. But there’s a downside to that too. After they assemble, they don’t do anything. Yes, they’re the audience, but the original film let its audience react a bit more. (The most we get here is a pout from King Kong.)

For that matter, the original utilized the Tunes universe just a bit better. The team you see in all the advertisements? That’s pretty much all we get. Marvin and K-9 get a little screen time, when everyone sans Bugs is coerced into seeing what other worlds they can explore there’s a group shot of many minor characters. It just goes by so fast one can’t enjoy it. (I was able to see Rocky, Muggsy and Playboy.) And Canasta appears in the “Mad Max” universe. That’s it.

Wasted potential there. Why couldn’t they join the rest of the crowd for watching?Too expensive to animate? Which reminds me, the animation was gorgeous. Not spectacular. There’s nothing on the levels of “Fantasia” or “Spirited Away.” But what we get is a real treat. Vibrant, bouncy, and looney. Just what I expected and wanted. But that’s the 2-d stuff. How was the 3-d?

I won’t lie. It looks good. And that’s a relief considering how computer generated animation trying to look like it really exists ranges from nightmare inducing:

“I’m the reason animated spider’s are drawn with simple mouths!”

To laughably pathetic.

“Did I miss the auditions for “Pan’s Labyrinth”?”

The voice acting was nice as well. Zendaya Maree Stoerme Coleman did pretty good as Lola. Heck, if I didn’t know going in, I would’ve figured Ms. Bunny was being voiced by a 25 years older Kath Soucie. And the basketball stars voicing the villains did an admirable job. And mentioning the villains, I thought they were a lot of fun. Even if super-powered mutant basketball players feels strangely familiar.

“Good news, everyone! The public no longer has to remember us via “Pixels!”

It’s a good thing they were a joy to watch, as they don’t get nearly as much screen time as the Monstars. And one of them appears too late, and disappears too fast. Why wasn’t he there from the start? Oh, and while I’m discussing the villains: I found Don Cheadle entertaining, but not Pete. He did nothing to further the story. Completely superfluous. But the Minions have made it so animated films won’t sell if there isn’t at least one tiny, annoying, comic relief character that wouldn’t be missed if cut out completely.

The weakest part of the film in my opinion? The ending. I won’t spoil it here, but it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, and seemed to wrap up a bit too fast. Lucky for me the fun stuff starts a lot quicker than its predecessor, so I don’t feel like there was a bunch of wasted time squeezing the entertaining middle.

And that pretty much wraps up my first thoughts after my first viewing of the first “Looney Tunes” film I’ve been able to see in theaters. My rating is just a few more lines down.

Short version of this post: I quite enjoyed it.

Favorite Part: Really, I did get chills seeing such a large crossover of properties. It might change in the future, but it’s the winner for now.

Personal Rating: I’ve been seeing fairly negative reviews from other people. I however, feel that if you go in expecting to see a movie that is more “fun than substance,” you’ll have a good time. (It’s the film equivalent of a lollipop.) Therefore, I grant it a 3 for the basic crowd, and a 4 for my fellow Looney-tics. (Yes, really.)

Devil’s Feud Cake

“You’ve got a date with that unmentionable place!”

Directed by Friz Freleng; Story by Friz Freleng and Warren Foster; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Virgil Ross, Bob Matz, Art Leonardi, and Lee Halpern; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin and Irv Wyner; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on February 9, 1963.

You can smell the Deja-vu with this one. At least, if this isn’t your first, twelfth, or three-hundred, fifteenth Warner Bros. cartoon. But if you are at 316 or higher, then there’s a good chance you’ll recognize previous works that have been crammed together here.

Our story starts with 1952’s “Hare Lift.” (A short I’ve yet to talk about at this writing.) It’s old footage, new lines. That’s all you need to make a brand new cartoon. (I’m not trying to sound bitter. I just naturally am.) It plays out similarly to the original, with a bank-robbing Sam mistaking Bugs for a pilot, and forcing him to fly a plane. Only this time, when things look dour and Sam opts to bail, his parachute does not work. (And you can see the immediate drop in animation quality. It makes me want to cry.)

As everyone knows, when you fall out of a flying plane with no parachute, you die. And as some people know, if you sinned as much as Sam did, you ain’t going to paradise in any sense of the word. Sam finds himself in Hell, and in the presence of Satan. Sam isn’t pleased with his predicament, but as Cuphead players know, the devil is willing to make deals. And he’s got one that he thinks Sam could pull off, judging by his records.

It’s like this, see: Satan wants Bugs. Because… Satan just wants everyone and anyone down there? Is Bugs just going to hell anyway, but he just doesn’t die? I can believe that…

Yeah, it makes perfect sense.

That’s the deal, then. Sam kills Bugs, Bugs goes to hell, Sam I guess reincarnates and gets another chance at the pearly gates. Sam goes back to Earth and sees a theater marquee. Looks like Bugs is performing in “Ben Hare.” (A title I’m honestly surprised they never used yet.) Sam gets himself some Roman attire of his own, and goes to deliver on his deal.

Turns out that Bugs is performing for quite the lavish theater. They can afford live lions. Which means we get reused animation from “Roman Leigon-Hare.” You’d expect Sam to meet his end with the lions like the last time, but they instead just continue to chase him outside. (Not sure how we got here. We were clearly in a theater, not an amphitheater.) He comes to a cliff. Seeing as how he’s going to die regardless, Sam chooses to off himself, rather than give the cats the satisfaction.

He’s back in front of Lucifer. The goat-man is beginning to re-think his decision to use Sam, but the human-man begs for another chance. Satan is easily convinced, and Sam goes back again. No explanation, he’s just in “Sahara Hare“. Oh, wait, there IS an explanation: Bugs is in this desert. (No explanation for that. You’re getting greedy.) Things play out similar again, with speedy camels and Bugs taking refuge in an outpost. The difference here is it just takes one cannon shot to off Sam once again.

Back in hell, Satan is actually willing to give Sam ANOTHER chance. (He’s the worst prince of darkness ever!) Sam though, has reached his limit. He decides that the devil can do his own dirty work, and happily adapts to his new “living” quarters. (I guess Freleng really loved this concept, seeing as how the plot would get reused in “The Looney, Looney, Looney, Bugs Bunny Movie.”)

Favorite Part: They reused the escalator/moving sidewalk from “Satan’s Waitn’.” Nice callback.

Personal Rating: 1. I’m sorry, but the sum of its parts are not greater than or equal to the originals. Watch them, not this.

Mutiny on the Bunny

“He’s not long for this world.”

Directed by I. Freleng; Story by Tedd Pierce; Animation by Gerry Chiniquy, Ken Champin, Virgil Ross, and Arhthur Davis; Backgrounds by Paul Julian; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Looney Tune released on February 11, 1950.

What a great start to this cartoon! A man escapes from a ship known as the “Sad Sack”

Aren’t you clever? Smarta$$.

It’s his line that lets you know you’re in for a good time. “I was a human being once.” One of the best things said by man or toon on screen. (I’ve used it before. Sadly, instead of laughing, people ask what I mean. I hope whoever lives on my home planet rescues me someday.) Said man was the prisoner of Shanghai (Yosemite) Sam. A man who likes to have a one-person crew to do everything on the ship that he feels is beneath him. With the guy gone, looks like Sam will need a new one.

What luck! Bugs Bunny is hanging around this place. (I’m calling it the “Whaztup Dock” Applaud now.) Sam, acting like a barker, offers a free cruise around the world. Seems legit. Bugs accepts and happily boards the ship. As he waves farewell to the crowds. (Read: one mouse) Sam strikes, and a dazed Bugs ends up rowing the ship (the sails are just for show) with a ball and chain on his leg.

He complains. The best joke in the picture happens right afterwards. Words do it no justice, so I’ll let you watch for yourself.

You seen it? It was a gut-buster, right?

As the crew, Bugs is ordered to swab the deck. He does the classic “Oh no I’m not” bit, and, surprisingly, loses. (It always helps to shake up the formula a bit. Well done, everyone!) He gets his revenge by writing unflattering comments about his captain on the deck. Angered, Sam takes the mop himself to remove the graffiti. Bugs enjoys his short break before Sam wises up and points a gun in his face.

Bugs claims the ship is sinking, and since Sam is the captain, he has to go down with the ship. As captain, Sam makes Bugs captain. Under the new command, Bugs still refuses to let Sam escape. Women and children first, you know. (Why is that the rule? Is it just common courtesy? Or are men not worth saving? *thinks about the various guys I’ve met in life* Yeah, it’s a good rule.) Sam has to sacrifice his dignity, and dress in a wig to get out alive. Bugs also insists he take a baby along with him. (It’s an anchor, but Sam doesn’t realize that until he is in the water.)

Once back on board, he steals what Bugs claims is a treasure map. Sam follows the clues to the promised riches. (Keep your eyes open and you might see one of Sam’s disappear for a millisecond. I love these tiny errors.) He finds the spot and digs. On a wooden ship. In the middle of the ocean. Which is going to cause it to sink. Which it d-

He fixes the hole, and shoves off once more. Bugs is clearly not worth the trouble, so Sam is going to cannon him to death. He takes aim, but Bugs moves. The ship gets another hole that Sam has to fix. So the solution is simple: aim UP this time. It works in theory, but gravity ruins things and the ship goes down for the third time. Sam fixes it again, but Bugs attaches a rope to the vessel. This strips most of the wood, and it sinks again. Sam calls it quits. In turn, Bugs gets the cruise he wanted via a rowboat. Sam is the one doing the rowing this time. I bet they’ll end up great pals.

Favorite part: The joke I wouldn’t spoil is tempting, but I think I love that one fellow’s quote much more. It could be used in several literary classics.

Personal Rating: 4

Lighter than Hare

“We’ve been invaded!”

Lighter Than Hare

Directed by Friz Freleng; Animation by Virgil Ross, Art Davis, and Gerry Chiniquy; Layouts by Hawley Pratt; Backgrounds by Tom O’Loughlin; Film Editor: Treg Brown; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Milt Franklyn. A Merrie Melody released on December 17, 1960.

This is a weird one. By that title and that quote, you’d be sure this was a Bugs/Marvin picture. But it’s Bugs and Sam! Sam is an alien now. And you can’t claim he’s someone similar in voice and appearance, he flat out calls himself “Yosemite Sam of Outer Space.” (Because there’s a Yosemite outside of Earth?) Sadly, it’s just a generic Bugs short. I think Freleng just liked Jones’s martian and decided to do something similar.

So, we’ve got spaceman Sam; what is he doing coming down to our planet? Just the typical “bring back an Earth creature” thing every alien species that doesn’t want us dead, does. He chooses a rabbit, that lives in a garbage dump. (Not sure WHY Bugs is living there. I suppose it is a place hunters won’t try to bother him) Sam (who looks a bit like a pikmin) sends a robot to bring the rabbit back. In turn, Bugs uses it as a trash can. Which I guess destroys it, as Sam immediately tries a new tactic.

His next plan is to send a demolition squad to destroy the creature. (Good thing Earth has millions of species to choose from. Might I suggest a potato?) Bugs now notices he is having a close encounter of the second kind, and ducks into a shelter. The robots load it up with bombs, but Bugs managed to escape and sticks a magnet in the shelter, leading the bots to their doom. Robots are clearly going to be of no help. Sam decides to try his own luck.

He has an indestructible tank, but I don’t know what he was planning to do with it, as Bugs uses his own contraption to stick him with a TNT stick. Time to make a getaway! Good thing there was a set of rail tracks next to the dump. Bugs leaves on a handcart with Sam in pursuit. This is also one of those times that Bugs is able to spin in ears to possess the power of flight. Sam can keep pace with his jet-pack, but only as long as Bugs doesn’t replace it with another explosive.

When he hits his limit, Sam aims all his firepower at Bug’s hole, and demands his surrender. Bugs instead sends out a decoy with a bomb attached, and Sam takes his leave. Later that night, Bugs has his radio tuned into the frequency of the aliens and hears his prank pay off. Having had his fun, he tunes in for a little “Amos ‘n’ Andy.”

Favorite Part: One of Sam’s robots is clearly on loan from Marvin. It sounds just like him. And if you could give a robot a voice, you’d choose your own. Wouldn’t you?

Personal Rating: 3

A Connecticut Rabbit in King Arthur’s Court (A.K.A. Bugs Bunny in King Arthur’s Court)

“Never again do I take directions from Ray Bradbury.”

Produced, Directed, and “Plagerized” by Chuck Jones; Music by Dean Elliot. A TV special released in 1978.

Bugs is on his way to Georgia for a peanut festival. But somehow, he has burrowed his way into medieval England. (Which he mistakes for Pittsburgh, due to all the smoke.) Said smoke is coming from a dragon which is being chased by Elmer as a knight. Finding the tracks leading to Bugs, he concludes that the dragon is a shapeshifter. He takes Bugs as a prisoner. They ride: to Camelot! But there aren’t any jovial singing knights here. Just the king and his knights. The king in fact looks a lot like Daffy. And Merlin looks an awful lot like Yosemite Sam. (Also, I think he stole Yen Sid’s hat and dyed it black.) Elmer offers up his catch to the king. Merlin suggests they kill the “dragon.” Not really caring about any of this, the king permits it. Bugs is set to be roasted, when he realizes that this all seems like some kind of Mark Twain story. He asks the varlet, (played by my pal Porky, who for some reason is having an even more difficult time speaking than usual) what day it is and finds that its the day that a solar eclipse happened. He demands to be set free, or he’ll blot out the sun. And boy is it ever an eclipse. One can even see the stars. The king is horrified and offers half his kingdom to the rabbit to undo his work. Bugs complies. Once gone, the king thanks Bugs and offers him something even better than half of his kingdom. A whole 32nd of it! Bugs declines and only asks that he be given a dragon. The king complies, Merlin is angry, and Fudd is convinced this was all a trick. So what did Bugs want with a dragon? He decided to open up his own armory, and uses the dragon’s flame to create steam, which in turn he uses to make electricity. Turns out Bugs was way ahead of all those types who needed to know how to train their dragons. They act just like any other animal. Feed them, and they’ll spend most of their time sleeping. (Yes, he alludes them to cats, but that sounds like pretty much every animal ever to me.) Being a rabbit, he specializes in armor for animals. Foxes, (why not?) Deer, (which he says can be outfitted for moose and elk as well. I should hope so. Since those ARE deer. Also antelope.) Tweety birds, (pratical) Mice, (it even has a little “S” on the chest. Wonder what that stands for) Cats, (to not play favorites, and besides it offers protection from dogs) Flies, (which Porky does point out is going to hamper the animal’s flying skills. Which will leave it as nothing more than a walk.) Roosters, (to prevent people from chopping off their heads. Everyone loves eating rooster meat) Rattlesnakes, (which don’t need armor, but hate being left out) and Porcupines. (Because it’s not like they have quills or anything. Also, he struggles to say it, while Porky has absolutely no problems) But his practice is put on hold, as Elmer finds his dragon and attacks. When Bugs goes to confront him, Elmer assumes Bugs is just in his rabbit form again and challenges him to a duel. Bugs and Porky versus Elmer and Merlin. And the king is loving every minute of it. They start off jousting. Bug’s lance is so long that he pole vaults over Elmer and chases Merlin into a moat. Charging again, he uses a magnet to remove Fudd’s armor, and he ends up chasing Merlin into the moat. Elmer fires an arrow, but Bug redirects it and it chases Elmer and Merlin into the moat. Then the two use a catapult, but Bugs launches the rock back with a spring and the two end up in the moat once more. (And Bugs calls Merlin out on using a cannon, seeing as gunpowder is yet to be invented.) As he leaves for a coffee break, he finds what he believes to be a carrot peeler. It’s really Excalibur and Bugs is recognized as the true king. Porky bows. Elmer and Merlin also bow to the true cartoon king. And the current king even willingly hands over his crown. (A duck as king really is ridiculous.) And so Bugs just adapts to living in a different century. All hail King Art-Hare! (The pun IS mightier than the sword!)

Personal Rating: 3