Video Release of the Cartoon (Video Studio, Video's Year of Release)
FF - Friz Freleng / CJ - Chuck Jones / RM - Robert McKimson Directors not listed above are those who had directed three Bugs cartoons or fewer and will be credited in their respective shorts' synopses
Video titles in red are out of print. Titles in black or presented as entire ordering links are still in print. Links will go to the releases' respective product pages on Amazon. Since most out-of-print titles are offered either new or used by Amazon's individual sellers, order links are provided for most (just click on the video's release information). We also recommend eBay for your out-of-print needs. When you shop online for older videos, do take caution and know exactly what you are buying, as many sellers usually aren't sure what they're selling!
All releases listed here are in the NTSC color format, the North American standard. All titles are VHS unless noted.
An ad appearing in the Ottawa Citizen in Ottawa, ON on April 7, 1950.
Hurdy-Gurdy Hare (1950)RM
Bugs decides to go into the hurdy-gurdy business, but he fires his little monkey helper for stealing from the till. The monkey tells his father, Gruesome Gorilla, who then goes after Bugs throughout a Manhattan apartment complex.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Monkey, Gruesome Gorilla
A sort of urban follow-up to Gorilla My Dreams that sadly doesn't contain either the joy or drama of the earlier film. The motivation behind the central conflict--Gruesome is after Bugs because his monkey(!) offspring was fired for stealing--is a little unfocused, while Gruesome doesn't seem to pose as big of a threat as he should, a flaw made worse by some rather stilted gorilla animation (especially for the McKimson unit at this time). Bugs has a couple of fun asides and the ending is nice and goofy (particularly as Gruesome breaks into people's apartments to collect money), but the rest of the short suffers from a severe lack of energy.
The middle entry in the "Yosemite Sam at sea" trilogy, it's an entertaining short but nevertheless pales in comparison to Buccaneer Bunny and the later Captain Hareblower. The pacing is a bit sluggish in the beginning (save for the manic appearance of the escaping slave who screams, "I was a human being once!"), but it picks up once Bugs starts causing antics on Sam's ship. The repeated shots of Sam fixing the ship and then relaunching it each time are memorable, but the true highlight is him posing as an old lady in order to board a lifeboat first (a ruse that is then topped by Bugs's "baby" anchor).
An ad appearing in the Vernal Express in Vernal, UT on July 27, 1950.
Homeless Hare (1950)CJ
Bugs objects to the building of a skyscraper over his hole, but the construction foreman tries to stifle him. Bugs fights back. Features Bugs's only attempt at the "dazed walk around a construction site" gag.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny
John T. Smith: Construction Worker
Underrated gem from Chuck Jones, full of some sharp dialogue and actions from a perfectly outraged Bugs. Mel Blanc is in fine form, giving some real bite to Bugs's one-liners. The foreman's little silent lackey almost steals the show, as he provides a nice sedate middle ground between the two extremes of the central conflict; Jones in this period was a master at making the small incidental characters shine without micromanaging the attention given to them. Bugs's various defiant nicknames for the worker ("Hercules," "Toodles") are a scream, as is an all-too-brief moment where he dresses up as the landowner and orders a ridiculously high wall to be built. If the short has any one major flaw it's Bugs's centerpiece wander through the construction site. Though well animated, its crafting doesn't really contain the inherent peril or drama that makes these kinds of sequences entertaining to watch. Jones would do much better with this premise in 1958's Cat Feud.
An ad appearing in The Daily Illini in Champaign, IL on April 25, 1950.
Big House Bunny (1950)FF
Trying to escape hunters, Bugs finds himself inside Sing Song Prison, where prison guard (Yosemite) Sam Schultz believes him to be an escaped convict. The gag in which Bugs leads Sam into a guillotine is almost always cut from television.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Warden
It's Bugs Bunny behind bars! The concept of Bugs being incarcerated was almost never attempted, and Friz Freleng wisely chose to execute it with Bugs being wrongly detained as opposed to him being an actual criminal who was serving time and trying to escape; it's a less sympathetic situation if the character is knowingly trying to break the law. This also marks the first time Sam is put in a position of actual authority, an idea that would be explored in later films. Though he was originally created to be an outlaw or otherwise villainous character, making Sam an authority figure adds a new (completely ridiculous) dimension to his overall evolution. The character's personality is what defines him now, not his specific guise; his inherent temper and stubbornness only lead to occupational incompetence. The warden adds yet another new element because now Sam has to answer to a superior, no longer making Bugs the sole source of his humiliation. All of this makes for a wonderfully funny cartoon, with the standout scene being Bugs challenging Sam to a classic "you wouldn't be so tough without that uniform" prison yard fistfight (complete with Bugs striking an antiquated fisticuffs pose), only to switch clothes with him and cause Sam to be locked up as a result. The farce is furthered when Bugs reappears as a corrupt guard to offer "prisoner" Sam an escape route. Sam immediately falls into his role as a convict despite all logic, and that is the beauty of the Bugs and Sam relationship: Bugs is constantly setting the parameters of their interaction, and Sam's emotional response makes him go along with it before he has a chance to think twice.
An ad appearing in the Ogdensburg Journal in Ogdensburg, NY on September 23, 1950.
What's Up Doc? (1950)RM
Robert McKimson's truly outstanding account of Bugs's life story, as Bugs tells it over the phone to the Disassociated Press. Bugs recounts his beginnings as a chorus dancer ("Oh, we're the boys of the chorus, we hope you like our show....") to his fateful meeting with comedy legend Elmer Fudd. Features Bugs singing the title song.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Director
Arthur Q. Bryan: Elmer Fudd
Dave Barry: Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Bing Crosby
There is so much going on in this short that it's amazing that McKimson was able to execute it all so perfectly. It's a daffy spoof of the Yankee Doodle Dandy-style biopic, finally realizing the "Bugs's life story" picture that A Hare Grows in Manhattan promised. The nods to real-life showbiz are witty without turning it into a "Hollywood caricatures and references" cartoon, while Bugs's sudden and unexpected rise to fame with his signature phrase is a pretty sly satire of the character's actual introduction in A Wild Hare and the subsequent explosive audience reaction. Elmer is also pitch-perfect as a hammy, unfunny vaudeville star, and the scene in which he dismisses the likes of Jolson and Jack Benny is a fantastic bit of character animation. But Bugs is clearly the star and he shines throughout, particularly in the chorus dances and of course during the centerpiece "What's Up, Doc?" musical number.
An ad appearing in The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, AL on January 28, 1951.
8 Ball Bunny (1950)CJ
Left behind by the circus, Playboy Penguin comes across Bugs's hole. Guessing that the mute Playboy is lost, Bugs has to figure out on his own where he comes from. Bugs reads that penguins live in the South Pole, so he takes his little pal down south on a global adventure. Features Humphrey Bogart's final animated appearance in a Warner Bros. cartoon.
Fun, charming sequel to Frigid Hare, this time with Bugs acting a little more noble than he did in the previous film. The gags are strong, and Bugs and Playboy invoke a cute sort of Laurel and Hardy relationship. The Bogart appearances mark something of an end of an era: it's one of the final instances of the "random movie star caricature" cameos that were so prevalent in the studio's cartoons in the 1930s and particularly the 1940s; but it is also one of the last attempts at what could perhaps be referred to as the "Mynah Bird gag," where a running gag involves a character who's otherwise unrelated to the plot yet nevertheless figures prominently in the final gag and/or climax. Warner Bros. shorts would have a little more of a linear structure going forward as the studio settles in for the long middle-of-the-road decade that would be the 1950s.
An ad appearing in The Winona Republican-Herald in Winona, MN on June 16, 1951.
Hillbilly Hare (1950)RM
While vacationing in the Ozarks, Bugs is mistaken for a feuding rival of brothers Curt and Pumpkinhead Martin. Features the frantic "Grab a fencepost, hold it tight, whomp your partner with all your might..." squaredance.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Curt Martin
John T. Smith: Pumpkinhead Martin, Sourbelly Trio Squaredance Caller
Is it possible for a film to be saved by one, final scene? On the surface the cartoon isn't anything out of the ordinary; just Bugs squaring off against a couple of mountain men in typical "feuding families" fashion. The gags in the first half are only mildly humorous but at least go by quickly, with maybe the wittiest exchange being Bugs asking Pumpkinhead "And just who might you be?" only to hear, "I might be Teddy Roosevelt, but I ain't!" The standout sequence is unquestionably the third act, in which Bugs takes over calling a squaredance, forcing the brothers to dance with pigs, yank on each other's beards, and bang their heads on the ground. Skillful timing is matched with frantic animation and a stellar performance from Mel Blanc. It's silly, energetic, and rightly famous.
An ad appearing in the Vernal Express in Vernal, UT on February 15, 1951.
Bunker Hill Bunny (1950)FF
During the Revolutionary War, Bugs and (Yosemite) Sam von Schamm the Hessian fight over control of Bagel Heights.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam
"Good" (Boxoffice, October 14, 1950)
Very decent, enjoyable Friz Freleng effort that doesn't necessarily disappoint but nevertheless lacks the zip of previous Bugs and Sam cartoons. There's a certain energy missing from the gags, with the pacing being a little more leisurely than the setting calls for (considering that the cartoon is depicting a war battle and all). The short still has its moments, though, including a ridiculous sequence in which Bugs and Sam continually charge past each other in order to seize the other's fort. Freleng continues developing Yosemite Sam by now depicting him as a villainous figure throughout history, a concept that would help the series survive and thrive through the decade (eventually resulting in an Academy Award).
An ad appearing in the Rome News-Tribune in Rome, GA on January 26, 1951.
Bushy Hare (1950)RM
A stork accidentally picks up Bugs and takes him to a mother kangaroo in Australia, where a wild Aborigine hunter goes after him. When the short is rarely shown, sometimes a spear-jabbing scene is shortened in the hope of making the native seem less sadistic.
"This has a wealth of imagination and is really funny" (Boxoffice, November 18, 1950)
Despite a somewhat slow start, Robert McKimson delivers an energetic, entertaining cartoon. It could very well have settled on simply being a retread of Gorilla My Dreams, but the central chase livens things up considerably, giving Bugs a couple of great defiant moments. "Nature Boy" is a fun, savage villain, never letting his guard down the way other Bugs adversaries do and almost serving as a prototype to McKimson's most famous creation, the Tasmanian Devil. If the short suffers anywhere it's ironically in Mel Blanc's usually excellent vocal performance; apart from Nature Boy's various screams and grunts, the other character voices share a stuffy, almost whiny quality to them. An extremely rare misstep for the master.
An ad appearing in The Winona Republican-Herald in Winona, MN on May 4, 1951.
Rabbit of Seville (1950)CJ
Chuck Jones's operatic classic in which Bugs lures Elmer into a stage performance of The Barber of Seville. For such a lyric-friendly musical cartoon, it should be noted that Elmer only has two lines (one of which is just him yelping in pain).
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny
Arthur Q. Bryan: Elmer Fudd
"Good" (Boxoffice, January 27, 1951)
"You're so next!" Chuck Jones offers his first of a number of outstanding musical cartoons he will produce throughout the decade, not to mention the first of his two grand opera cartoons. But while the later What's Opera, Doc? excels in terms of spectacle and design, this one gets the edge when it comes to gags. Bugs as a barber is merciless to Elmer, hacking at him one moment and then mocking him the next ("Although yer face looks like it might have gone through a machine."). The numerous beauty salon and pampering gags come fast and furious, and Bugs simultaneously plays his part in the opera well while also remembering that his real-life role is to torment, humiliate, and baffle his attacker (while in a daze, Elmer even tips him!). Arthur Q. Bryan gets in a random line as Elmer, but Mel Blanc completely dominates the cartoon, providing one of his best Bugs performances ever. What's Opera, Doc? will end up being a tribute to the art form; this one is a farce, and what an excellent farce!
An ad appearing in The Winona Republican-Herald in Winona, MN on February 26, 1954.
Hare We Go (1951)RM
Bugs helps Christopher Columbus prove to Queen Isabella that the world is round, so Chris takes him on his voyage as a lucky mascot. But the crew soon believes that rabbits are a jinx.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Christopher Columbus, King Ferdinand, Bald Sailor, Crewmen
Bea Benaderet: Queen Isabella
"Good" (Boxoffice, February 17, 1951)
Very solid entertaining cartoon from Robert McKimson. Nothing too spectacular going on, but the hits far outweigh the misses, resulting in one of the last few decent shorts from McKimson before his work took on an erratic, you-never-know-what-you're-gonna-get quality. Depicting Columbus as a stereotypical Italian wiseguy is amusing, while any potential offense at such a characterization is diffused by pushing it to the most ridiculous extreme: Chris's expletives are nothing more than names of pasta dishes and the most explicit threat he can muster is repeated utterings of "'At's a-matter for you?!?" Bugs has a few choice moments, including throwing a baseball to show that the Earth is round and later sassing a big bald sailor by referring to him as "Curly." Perhaps the weakest sequence is when a starving Columbus imagines Bugs as a roasted chicken (complete with a missing head and exposed bones) and then chases him across the ship; thankfully it doesn't last long.
An ad appearing in the Tri City Herald in Kennewick, WA on December 24, 1952.
Rabbit Every Monday (1951)FF
In a unique twist, Yosemite Sam is hunting for a rabbit, and he even threatens audience members to not warn Bugs. Bugs, meanwhile, is singing an ode to carrots, unaware that he will soon have to lure Sam into his own oven.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Audience Member
"Good...this has some amusing moments" (Boxoffice, April 21, 1951)
Sam is cast almost a little too generically here (he's a hunter now?), but this is still a very funny, very underrated effort from Friz Freleng. Sam's introduction, forcing an audience member (modeled by Tedd Pierce) back into his seat at gunpoint, is hilarious and one of the character's defining moments. Bugs's own solo moment--in which he sings "Oh carrots are divine, you get a dozen for a dime, it's magic..."--is whimsical, touching, zany, and rightfully iconic. The middle of the short is a tad unfocused, but things get back up to speed once Sam takes Bugs back to his cabin. There is a real feeling of peril as Bugs is forced into an oven, which is immediately nullified the second he crawls out to start fetching items like a fan, ice, and folding chairs, suggesting a party going on inside. Bugs is in complete control and Sam always plays right into it, even when it makes absolutely no sense.
An ad appearing in The Star (Port St. Joe) in Port St. Joe, FL on July 25, 1952.
Bunny Hugged (1951)CJ
In a sorta sequel to Rabbit Punch, Bugs is a pro-wrestling mascot who decides to help his boss when the latter's faced with the Crusher. Disguised as the Masked Terror, Bugs tricks the wrestler into thinking that he split his pants and into running into a safe door. "Yeah...I was just passing by, dyuhhh...."
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Ring Announcer
John T. Smith: The Crusher
"Good" (Boxoffice, April 21, 1951)
It is impossible to review this short without comparing it to the earlier, and in many ways superior, Rabbit Punch. The gags all work just fine--in fact, Bugs making the Crusher believe his pants are ripped is a far more effective ruse than "breaking" the Champ's leg in Punch--but there's a certain tameness that waters everything down a bit. Bugs seems to be more concerned with actually winning the match than he is with outsmarting the Crusher. Rabbit Punch was all about spoofing the conventions of the sport of boxing, while this short is happy merely presenting a slightly goofy wrestling match. The Crusher lacks the Champ's fearsomeness but is nevertheless an amusing antagonist, and his dazed "just passing by" stumble is priceless.
An ad appearing in The Telegraph-Herald in Dubuque, IA on October 20, 1952.
The Fair Haired Hare (1951)FF
Yosemite Sam has built his home over Bugs's hole, so Bugs takes him to court. The judge decides that Bugs and Sam must live together, and whoever dies first gives the house to the other.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Judge
"Good gags" (Boxoffice, June 2, 1951)
On the surface it's the standard "bad guy wants to kill good guy to get inheritance/land/etc." comedy plot, but Friz Freleng makes it work by giving the antagonist a better motivation than just pure greed; Sam doesn't feel that he's in error and merely wants Bugs off his supposed property. Bugs is a tad too passive in the lead-up to the living arrangement (considering how aggressive he was to defend his home in, say, Homeless Hare), but he thankfully redeems himself in the second half once Sam starts plotting against him. Sam meanwhile is especially hilarious as he tries to be simultaneously inviting and conniving, as most evident when he secretly poisons Bugs's carrot juice and threatens him at gunpoint to drink it (only to politely add, "It's good for you!"). A very casual pace and modest background design give the short a nice "homey" feeling, though the climax needed a bigger and better punchline.
"Very good...the dialogue is very funny" (Boxoffice, June 30, 1951)
And here we are, the first of the trio of Chuck Jones films casually known by such names as "the hunter's trilogy," "the wabbit season trilogy," etc., followed a year later by Rabbit Seasoning and then Duck! Rabbit, Duck! a year after that. The word "classic" doesn't seem to do this initial entry any justice. There is so much going on here: Elmer's character and personality both get revitalized; Bugs receives a major new adversary in the form of Daffy; and we're introduced to perhaps the most revolutionary cartoon character grouping since Mickey, Donald, and Goofy first teamed up over a decade before. It also seems to have the most belly laughs among the three films in the trilogy with some wonderfully constructed gags by Mike Maltese, who also provides a few silly random quips such as having Bugs refer to Daffy as "Laughing Boy." Practically every scene is rightfully iconic, from Bugs and Daffy's initial "Rabbit season/duck season" back-and-forth to an amazingly meta moment where the characters dress up as each other, allowing Mel Blanc to outdo himself by performing impersonations of his own voices while in character! The short also adds a new dimension to Daffy's personality, forcing him to live in the shadow of another character as they try to achieve the same goal; he's now outclassed and he knows it, and it frustrates him to no end. Both characters act out of survival, but while Bugs surveys the situation first to know exactly how to manipulate it, Daffy carelessly jumps right in like a bad comedian who has over-rehearsed his routine. He's too busy playing to Elmer to realize that the real threat--and the real one he needs to outsmart--is Bugs. That is the genius of this interpretation of Daffy: he's not so much fighting for his physical survival as he is from letting Bugs take his position as the Looney Tunes stable's biggest con man. It's cartoon Darwinism. Some fans like to give Jones flak for supposedly introducing this "villainous" version of Daffy, but really it's just the natural result of the character's evolution under all of the directors: Clampett made him a sneaky coward in Draftee Daffy, Freleng a jealous opportunist in You Ought to Be in Pictures, and McKimson an incompetent braggart in The Up-Standing Sitter. To single Jones or this short out is being a little blind to history.
An ad appearing in the Greensburg Daily Tribune in Greensburg, PA on July 3, 1951.
French Rarebit (1951)RM
Bugs winds up in Paris, where two competing chefs see him as a tasty gourmet treat. Bugs is caught in the middle as each chef tries to beat the other.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Francois
Tedd Pierce: Louis
Harmless but rather mediocre cartoon, which would sadly becoming the norm for Robert McKimson going forward. The two chefs' designs are downright ugly and overly detailed, two qualities unhelped by some surprisingly lazy animation by the usually capable McKimson crew. Bugs gets in a couple of choice lines (including encouraging one chef to tweak the other's "little pink to-ma-to nose"), but the gags are generally too weak and often miss their mark.
An ad appearing in the Niagara Falls Gazette in Niagara Falls, NY on September 4, 1951.
His Hare Raising Tale (1951)FF
Bugs is telling stories to his nephew Clyde, including his turn as a baseball player (Baseball Bugs), a boxer (Rabbit Punch), a vaudeville performer (Stage Door Cartoon), an Air Force pilot (Falling Hare), and an astronaut (Haredevil Hare).
"Good" (Boxoffice, September 8, 1951)
It's the first ever Bugs Bunny clip show, and that's about the only noteworthy thing that can be said about it. These kinds of cartoons, sometimes referred to as "cheaters," typically lack the energy of the very films they compile, and they really need to offer something extra-special in order to elevate themselves above the status of the proverbial budget-savers that they are (Freleng's later This Is a Life? would be a prime example of doing it correctly). The framing scenes are bland and often lack continuity (Bugs randomly mentions the Foreign Legion at one point without any context), while Clyde dances close to the edge of being extremely annoying. The clips are all from a fine batch of Bugs's 1940s films, but their use and editing are a little haphazard; what exactly is the point of using excerpts of Falling Hare or Haredevil Hare if you're going to edit out the Gremlin or Marvin the Martian?
An ad appearing in The Winona Republican-Herald in Winona, MN on July 16, 1953.
Ballot Box Bunny (1951)FF
Honest (Yosemite) Sam is running for mayor, and he promises to rid the country of every last rabbit. Outraged, Bugs decides to run against him. Features what is believed to be the first appearance of the "Those Endearing Young Charms" gag in a theatrical short.
"Very good" (Boxoffice, November 24, 1951)
The idea of Yosemite Sam running for political office (and on a heinous platform, yet!) is just too good to pass up, and Friz Freleng delivers with what is easily one of the most entertaining entries in the series. Sam is a scream to watch as he shifts back and forth between villainy and phoniness, bashing Bugs on the head with a club before announcing "And besides, I love babies!" The gags all work, and Bugs takes a very active role in humiliating and outwitting Sam as opposed to simply letting his anger get the best of him. The final scene--almost always edited for television--is dark, goofy, and surprisingly unique. Outstanding Bugs and Sam cartoon.
An ad appearing in The Telegraph-Herald in Dubuque, IA on May 7, 1953.
Big Top Bunny (1951)RM
Bugs joins a circus as a performing rabbit, but a Russian acrobatic bear named Bruno the Magnificent becomes jealous of the new star.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Bruno, Colonel Korny
Robert McKimson struck gold five years ago with Bugs tormenting a circus lion in Acrobatty Bunny, and he attempts to follow it up here by putting Bugs in the show himself. Unfortunately, the jokes are predictable (and at times even repetitious) and Bruno just isn't that entertaining or interesting of an antagonist. Despite McKimson's general directing flaws, he usually knew how to turn large animals into fearsome threats. Bruno here is just a blowhard; one never fears for Bugs's safety, and it becomes a very tame conflict. Clearly the biggest highlight is a sequence in which Bugs and Bruno attempt to one-up each other in a high-diving act, resulting in the bear smacking his head on a block of cement from a thousand-foot leap. It's a fun "Bugs outsmarting the bad guy" moment, but it's not enough to save this extremely average short.
An ad appearing in The Winona Republican-Herald in Winona, MN on July 3, 1953.
Operation: Rabbit (1952)CJ
Bugs's new desert neighbor, Wile E. Coyote, boasts that he will be able to catch Bugs because he is a genius. Wile E. uses a pressure cooker, an explosive female rabbit decoy, and even nitro-glycerin-filled carrots. The first film in which the coyote speaks.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote
"Lots of imagination went into this Technicolor cartoon and lots of laughs come out of it" (Boxoffice, April 19, 1952)
Three years after he was first introduced in Chuck Jones's Fast and Furry-ous, the luckless coyote seen chasing the Road Runner is now given a name, voice, and personality...and Bugs is given a hilarious new villain to square off against. (It could probably be argued that Wile E. here was intended to be a separate character from the originally nameless coyote of the Road Runner films, but both incarnations would blend together to the point where the bird's adversary would start speaking and bragging about being a "super genius" in 1962's The Adventures of the Road Runner.) At a time when Bugs's antagonists were getting bigger and fiercer and were trying to use their size and strength to intimidate him, Jones tried to offer an alternative with an enemy who is convinced he will be able to outsmart Bugs with the greatest of ease. The comic irony in this short, of course, is that Wile E. prides himself on being such a genius and coming up with all these seemingly elaborate traps, yet Bugs constantly dupes and defeats him through simple trickery--presenting a stick of dynamite as a pen or dragging the coyote's shack onto a railroad track. Like in the Road Runner series, the physical pain of defeat is second to the humiliation the character endures. Fantastic first encounter of two beloved cartoon characters.
An ad appearing in The Winona Republican-Herald in Winona, MN on June 26, 1953.
Foxy by Proxy (1952)FF
A gigantic mass of dogs is out fox-hunting, and a big slow-witted mutt tries to keep up. Bugs, disgusted by the hunters, decides to have some fun with the dogs.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Hunting Dog
Stan Freberg: Dumb Dog
Such a weird cartoon. One cannot help but wonder if it had originally been intended as a remake of Tex Avery's Of Fox and Hounds (from which the opening scene was taken) before shoe-horning Bugs into the story. The animation of the mob of hunting dogs is nice and goofy and makes for a funny running gag (no pun intended), but so many other elements work against the short. Bugs's involvement is curious and lacks any personal motivation other than vague outrage, and at one point he even tries to elude the dogs as if he really were a fox--why even bother making this a Bugs cartoon in the first place then? The big dumb dog sounds and acts a little too much like Stan Freberg's Junyer Bear but without the childlike innocence or charm; even the big "it's funny because he's an idiot" moments don't really invoke the kind of joy or laughter that Junyer's similar behavior would. Friz Freleng would utilize Freberg much better in the Goofy Gophers shorts and then in 1957's Three Little Bops.
An ad appearing in the Rome News-Tribune in Rome, GA on March 30, 1952.
14 Carrot Rabbit (1952)FF
Chilacoot (Yosemite) Sam is a gold prospector who finds out that Bugs easily finds gold whenever he gets a "funny feeling." Sam offers a "partnership" with Bugs, who then leads Sam on a wild goose chase across the country.
"Good...amusing" (Boxoffice, June 21, 1952)
Decent, but slightly generic, Yosemite Sam effort, with Sam providing some fun reactions and one-liners ("I must've dug straight to Chi-nee!"). The animation of Bugs getting his "funny feeling" is a delight to watch, as it is such a burst of energy from the normally reserved Freleng crew. Bugs himself is in fine form with his ruses for Sam, letting us know very early on that he's onto Sam with a nod that could have been detrimental to the cartoon under another director. The short could have played out just fine on its own if Bugs had been seemingly oblivious to Sam's intentions--a la Tex Avery's Droopy cartoons where he squares off against Spike--but that one little extra acknowledgement is key because Sam is so over-the-top with his phoniness. Bugs is not only saying right then and there that he's nobody's fool, but he's also inviting us to play along with him in a "Get this guy" kind of way. The cross-country chase is a fun sequence, while the final gag is randomly goofy but seems almost a little out of place for this cartoon.
An ad appearing in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Sarasota, FL on February 1, 1953.
Water, Water Every Hare (1952)CJ
During a heavy downpour, Bugs is fast asleep. But his rabbit hole floods, sending his mattress out floating past a castle, where an evil scientist ("Boo") needs a living brain for his robot creation. When Bugs wakes up, he has to elude the scientist's hairy monster, Rudolph (Gossamer).
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Gossamer, Mouse
John T. Smith: Evil Scientist
"One of the best of the Bugs Bunny Technicolor cartoons" (Boxoffice, June 28, 1952)
Obviously a sequel to the similar Hair-Raising Hare, even going so far as duplicating the earlier film's centerpiece beautician scene, but the short's eerie mood and atmosphere help give it an identity of its own. The gags here are more sci-fi in nature than Hair's focus on horror-movie tropes. Gossamer (undergoing a color change from orange to more defining red) is very fun to watch in this one, offering some great reaction poses. The tiny green scientist is a spooky character and much more effectively menacing than the Peter Lorre scientist from the first cartoon. (Some fans are convinced that his voice is meant to be modeled after Vincent Price, but it seems doubtful; apart from 1940's The Invisible Man Returns, Price didn't start making horror films let alone become an icon of the genre until after this short was released.) The final ether-fueled slow-motion chase is entertainingly weird and fits in with the cartoon's dreamlike quality.
An ad appearing in The Winona Republican-Herald in Winona, MN on February 10, 1955.
The Hasty Hare (1952)CJ
Commander X-2 (Marvin the Martian) and K-9 are instructed to bring an earth creature back to Mars. They find Bugs, who thinks that the two are out trick-or-treating. Bugs is able to briefly pit the martians against each other. For reasons unknown, an innocuous line about turkey farming is usually missing from the television version.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Marvin the Martian, I. Frisby
"Fair" (Boxoffice, August 30, 1952)
The Bugs/Marvin dynamic that we first saw four years ago is finally matched with the pace and energy that made Chuck Jones's 1950s shorts so remarkable. Bugs exercises his wits against Marvin a little better now that the martian is on the rabbit's home turf, resulting in a talkier film than Haredevil Hare. K-9 is wisely kept silent this time out, while Marvin's voice and mannerisms have been perfected (despite some fans' insistence, Marvin is only referred to as "Commander X-2" in this film, not Haredevil Hare). Some of the one-liners and non-sequiturs miss their marks ever so slightly, but Bugs's ruses make all the difference--including wearing a teacup and saucer on his head to "transform" into an intergalactic train conductor and later confidentially informing Marvin of K-9's supposed mutiny plans (a sequence that includes some fantastic poses). Bugs's climactic trip through the cosmos in Marvin's ship, dragging numerous celestial bodies along with him, is a wonderful bit of comic absurdness.
An ad appearing in The Owosso Argus-Press in Owosso, MI on October 1, 1952.
Oily Hare (1952)RM
A rich Texas oilman finds a hole without oil gushing out, but it's in fact Bugs's rabbit hole. The oilman and his silent sidekick Maverick try to evict the bunny.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Orvil Rich
Marian Richman: Operator
"Succeeds in being only fairly funny because of a lack of gags" (Boxoffice, August 23, 1952)
Mediocre cartoon with a thin premise. Robert McKimson tries his hand at coming up with a Yosemite Sam-type character and fails miserably (he would have slightly better success at the end of the decade with Blacque Jacque Shellacque in Bonanza Bunny). The short's main problem is its concept: Orvil Rich is too dim to pose any kind of real threat to Bugs, making him come off as merely loud and buffoonish (and really, mostly more twangy than loud). Maverick is a quirky little character and the idea of Rich's stretch limo being so long that it needs its own telephone operator is good and corny, but the short's plot is too dumb for these little touches to save it. The backgrounds and character designs are too good for this cartoon.
"Good...clever" (Boxoffice, December 13, 1952)
One of the defining Bugs and Daffy cartoons; the wittier and more cerebral sequel to Rabbit Fire. The previous film went for the bigger, heartier laughs; this one goes for the more psychological humor. Daffy isn't perturbed by being outsmarted so much as he is in the way Bugs outsmarts him, turning the "Rabbit season/duck season" exchange of the first cartoon into a ridiculous argument over semantics. Daffy is so much fun to watch in this one because he's simultaneously trying to beat Bugs at his own game while also showing disgust at the usual Bugs-versus-Elmer dynamic. He's annoyed at the seemingly low-brow levels of trickery Bugs uses to outsmart Elmer and then gets outraged all over again that Elmer is actually duped by them! He's trying to get his foot into an act that he feels is beneath him, allowing him to act as a subtle commentator on the Bugs/Elmer series ("Surely you're not going to be taken in by that old gag??"). Michael Maltese's wordplay alone would have made the short a classic (Daffy refers to Elmer as "Hawkeye" after being on the receiving end of his rifle numerous times), but Chuck Jones masterfully keeps the pace moving so that it doesn't bog down into characters merely having a conversation. It's a Bugs Bunny cartoon for the intellectuals in the audience--and it's a masterpiece!
An ad appearing in The Star (Port St. Joe) in Port St. Joe, FL on July 1, 1954.
Rabbit's Kin (1952)RM
A small, hyperactive rabbit needs Bugs's help to avoid the slobbish Pete Puma (Stan Freberg). It seems the puma has a weakness for cups of tea and lumps of sugar.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Little Rabbit
Stan Freberg: Pete Puma
This short is proof positive that when Robert McKimson has a strong enough concept, he can deliver big time. Pete Puma deservedly steals the picture here, helped in large part by the showstopping performance by Stan Freberg (who was usually underutilized in McKimson shorts). The characters are funny, the gags are funny, and the climax is funny. Easily one of the director's best from the decade.
An ad appearing in The Winona Republican-Herald in Winona, MN on July 25, 1953.
Hare Lift (1952)FF
Bank robber Yosemite Sam sneaks into an airplane, where visitor Bugs is looking around. Assuming Bugs is the pilot, Sam forces him to take off. He soon regrets it.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam
"Amusing cartoon" (Boxoffice, February 14, 1953)
A sort of inverse of Falling Hare, only this time Bugs is tormenting someone else on a plane--and, key to the humor, the victim this time is asking for it. A couple of the plane gags are retreads from the earlier film (which isn't too surprising, since both shorts were written by Warren Foster), while the new material holds its own very well, including a sequence involving an automatic-pilot robot that bails out. The real delight in the short is watching Yosemite Sam's nerves unravel, from his stubborn refusal to offer Bugs a heartfelt apology as they're crashing to the ground to his ludicrous attempt to force Bugs to learn to fly at gunpoint ("Read faster or I'll blast your head off!"). The pacing is a tad casual and the final gag is a bit lame, but the end result is another fun battle between Bugs and Sam.
An ad appearing in The Ludington Daily News in Ludington, MI on February 11, 1953.
Forward March Hare (1953)CJ
Bugs believes that he has been drafted, so he goes through basic training and constantly irritates his sergeant. In a very bizarre gag of self-reference, the sarge doesn't believe that the talking rabbit in front of him is "Private Bugs Bunny," so he jokingly responds that he is "Sergeant Porky Pig."
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Sergeant, Draftee, Army Doctor, Army Optometrist, Colonel, General, Soldiers
John T. Smith: Drill Sergeant
"Good. There is a lot of real humor" (Boxoffice, February 28, 1953)
"Fair. A few laughs" (Boxoffice, April 25, 1953)
Oddly weak Chuck Jones effort. Bugs is uncharacteristically too stupid throughout, from not recognizing someone else's name on the draft envelope to a general dimness in his assignments. Jones tries to play it all off as Chaplinesque but fails. The drill sergeant is big and gruff but not menacing and doesn't even pose any real threat--making him not only an ineffective adversary but also undeserving of being on the receiving end of Bugs's antics. The plot's resolution is abrupt (the sergeant only suddenly realizes that Bugs is a rabbit) and the ending is silly but unsatisfying (Bugs's entire fate is a result of ineptitude on everyone's part but his own). The animation is nice and many of Mike Maltese's gags do work (and those that don't probably would have with another character), but both Jones and Maltese would do much better.
An ad appearing in The Acton Free Press in Georgetown, ON on December 3, 1953.
Duck Amuck (1953)CJ
Bugs makes a cameo appearance in this Chuck Jones masterpiece depicting Daffy at the mercy of a ruthless animator.
Mel Blanc: Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny
"Good...some of this is hilarious" (Boxoffice, May 2, 1953)
Revolutionary cartoon that doubles as a classic comedy and an inventive character study. Daffy does more here than merely interact with the animator in a charming Out of the Inkwell/Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid manner; he reacts and becomes incensed by what he's being subjected to, essentially making Chuck Jones and his crew the adversaries of the picture. Simply fiddling around with the backgrounds and settings wouldn't necessarily be funny on its own (see the later Rabbit Rampage) if not for Daffy at the center. He tries so hard to be a trooper at first but quickly sees that it's a losing battle, and his reactions to his changing environment are priceless ("And on this farm he had an igloo..."). As each element of film production gets in the way--from sound design to cinematography--Daffy's temper quickly erodes and he begins setting himself up for the fall, becoming his own worst enemy (both figuratively and then literally!). Perhaps the centerpiece to this mayhem involves Daffy critiquing a satirically "simple" line-drawing background (complete with a building labeled "store" and a "honking" static car) only to be redrawn as a goofy-looking, flowered-headed, bird-marsupial creature. The final gag is ingenious and appropriate without betraying any single character. Easily one of Daffy's finest films.
An ad appearing in The Daily Illini in Champaign, IL on June 3, 1953.
Upswept Hare (1953)RM
Elmer unknowingly uproots Bugs when he digs up a rare flower and replants it into the botanical garden in his high-rise apartment. When Elmer discovers Bugs, he orders the rabbit to leave. Bugs gets uppity, and the two compete over who is the "better man."
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny
Arthur Q. Bryan: Elmer Fudd
Tiring Robert McKimson cartoon chock full of ugly character designs (particularly on Elmer) and erratic animation that comes off as unartistic overacting. Bugs's motivation for taunting Elmer is weak at best: Elmer isn't hunting him or keeping him against his will a la Hare Tonic. Bugs just wants to ridicule him, but the problem is that Elmer doesn't understand that he's being humiliated. He's getting clobbered and flattened in each of their challenges, but he's not showing any signs of embarrassment; he really thinks he's winning the overall battle. Meanwhile Bugs is intentionally coming off as a loser with no ultimate payoff; no "Elmer turning into a sucker" moment. It's unfunny and doesn't go anywhere. Poorly executed film.
An ad appearing in The Winona Republican-Herald in Winona, MN on May 18, 1955.
Southern Fried Rabbit (1953)FF
On his way to Alabama, Bugs finds a Southern soldier (Yosemite Sam) guarding the Mason-Dixon line. A sequence in which Bugs dresses up as both a slave and Abraham Lincoln is almost always cut for television broadcasts.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam
"Good. Another amusing Bugs Bunny cartoon" (Boxoffice, July 4, 1953)
Thoroughly entertaining cartoon in the most absurd way. Sam's presence as a middle-aged Civil War commander in present day defies logic (and when challenged on it, Sam's wonderful answer is "I'm no clockwatcher!"), but it works wonderfully. It fits his character to be historically and chronologically inept, to be put in a misguided position of armed authority, and to again be fighting for the losing side of a historic war. A later moment provides an additional twist of humor as Sam puts on a sincere "gentle" voice in order to sound like a Southern gentleman to Bugs's plantation belle disguise. Bugs himself is in fine form throughout, even offering what would become a Looney Tunes mini-staple with "I wonder why they put the South so far south." Bugs showing up (almost immediately) as a slave is rather cheap and gratuitous, but thankfully it's quickly followed by his inspired Lincoln portrayal. All of this is played against some beautifully rendered backgrounds, including a great image of the Mason-Dixon line that literally divides the sky between the drab gray of the North and the lush blue of the South.
An ad appearing in the Sarasota Journal in Sarasota, FL on July 16, 1953.
Hare Trimmed (1953)FF
Yosemite Sam reads that a local widow (Granny!) has inherited fifty million dollars, so he goes a-courting. Bugs hears about this and, not trusting Sam, decides to help Granny by posing as another suitor.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Minister
Bea Benaderet: Granny
"Very good" (Boxoffice, June 27, 1953)
Underrated gem from Friz Freleng with hysterical moments from the opening establishing shot (with the score's delightfully podunk version of "The Arkansas Traveler") to Bugs's final punchline. Yosemite Sam truly shines here as he shifts back and forth between being a conniving schemer and a phony romantic. The cartoon is full of some great one-liners, including two from Sam as he's plotting his post-marriage financial plans (the classic "When I get my hands on that money, I'll buy the old ladies' home and kick the old ladies out.") and later when he's in a punch-drunk daze after being run over by a bus ("Ooo, what a night!")--to say nothing of Granny's own utterances such as the absurd "Nothing like this has happened to me since the boys got back from Gettysburg!" Bugs's actions against Sam are classic moments, the animation is downright masterful (dominated by some Virgil Ross artwork that would miraculously survive to become essential study references for students of character animation), and the story and gags progress naturally without a single misstep.
An ad appearing in the Waycross Journal-Herald in Waycross, GA on July 23, 1954.
Bully for Bugs (1953)CJ
Chuck Jones's classic finds Bugs ending up in a bullfight arena, where a massive bull gets in the way of his map-reading.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Bull (gulping)
"Very good" (Boxoffice, August 22, 1953)
Essential Bugs Bunny viewing and essential Chuck Jones viewing. So many things work here it's difficult to know where to begin, from the bullfighting prologue with a pompous matador (who even sneers at the camera) to Bugs's sincere indignation ("Stop steaming up my tail!" he yells while slapping the bull across the face). We get not one but two classic Bugs catchphrases showing up again, as he not only misses the left turn at Albuquerque but also declares that "this means war." The bull both looks and acts goofy and gives as good as he gets, creating a good comedic balance throughout the short. Some of Bugs's one-liners and hijinks are rightfully iconic, including the beautifully timed "Mexican Hat Dance" number. Tight Jones pacing throughout matched with great character animation. Energetic and truly funny cartoon.
"Good" (Boxoffice, October 31, 1953)
The "rabbit season trilogy" comes to a respectable if not excellent close. Chuck Jones and Mike Maltese try hard to retain the energy that made Rabbit Fire and Rabbit Seasoning seem so effortless, but there's a faint air of derivativeness that dampens the action--the wordplay and battle of wits displayed here are good but no match to what happened in the short's predecessors. The dialogue is fun but a tad convoluted, a sign of how this specific series would have devolved had it continued. The increased implausability of the jokes is what nevertheless make them work, though, capped with an inevitable "season" gag that perhaps the whole trilogy was leading to. Bugs, Daffy, and Elmer would be teamed up in various settings in the future (with the same expectation of wordplay), but never more perfectly than in these three films.
An ad appearing in the Rome News-Tribune in Rome, GA on February 26, 1954.
Robot Rabbit (1953)FF
Farmer Elmer orders a pest-controlling robot and programs it to go after Bugs. Features a unique twist on Bugs's crossdressing habit, as he dresses up as a female robot.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Donkey
Arthur Q. Bryan: Elmer Fudd
"Imaginative and funny" (Boxoffice, January 30, 1954)
Very enjoyable Bugs/Elmer short from Freleng, whose tight direction keeps a great deal of story moving along briskly. The robot is an interesting villain, as it poses a significant threat to Bugs and allows him to try some new tricks previously unused on adversaries--causing it to rust, throwing a wrench into its gears, etc. Despite the focus on the robot, the shining moments belong to Elmer, who starts the cartoon by leading an enjoyable sing-along of "In a Little Red Barn" and then--when thinking he has shot and killed Bugs--joins our hero in an increasingly ridiculous chant of "The wabbit kicked the bucket!"
An ad appearing in The Alfred Sun in Alfred, NY on June 3, 1954.
Captain Hareblower (1954)FF
It's Bugs vs. Pirate (Yosemite) Sam on the high seas. Amused by the fact that he's up against a rabbit, Sam's victory is halted by cannons and another mad dash to the powder room to pick up a lit match.
"Good" (Boxoffice, February 20, 1954)
Fantastic final entry in the "Yosemite Sam at sea" trilogy. Everything works here: Bugs is entertaining being more aggressive than smart-alecky, Sam is at his ineptly devious best, and Friz Freleng's gag timing is pitch-perfect--all making for a great, funny, action-packed cartoon. Obviously there are traces of Buccaneer Bunny on display, but the concept is more refined than remade. Even the powder-room scene isn't just a beat-for-beat replay (Sam's "waiting it out" faces are actually funnier here), and this one has the added bonus of Sam trying the same trick on Bugs. Naturally he fails, but Freleng nevertheless provides a memorable surprise ending.
"Fast-moving, funny film" (Boxoffice, April 24, 1954)
Eight years after the classic Racketeer Rabbit, Friz Freleng lets Bugs take another crack at some gangsters. It's a tamer outing in comparison, but it's still enjoyable. Rocky's characterization is refined a bit from when he appeared in Golden Yeggs and Catty Cornered, making him a little more diminutive and reserved but still an intimidating foe. Mugsy is a fun upgrade from the nondescript goons in the previous films, but unfortunately he also turns the Rocky element from "imposing gangsters" into a more standard "bad guy and dumb henchman" role. Bugs isn't given much to do until the climax, which is a retread of the "hide me" scene in Racketeer Rabbit with a slightly better resolve. The ending is a little unclear (was Bugs a detective all along, or did he become one?) and it would have been nice if Bugs gave the hoods a little more of a run for their money, but all in all it's still a good effort.
An ad appearing in The Post in Ellicottville NY on July 21, 1954.
No Parking Hare (1954)RM
Bugs's hole is once again in the way of a construction worker's plans, this time to build a freeway. This short was usually heavily edited for time and content on ABC.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny
John T. Smith: Construction Worker
A sort of follow-up to Chuck Jones's Homeless Hare, but done in more of a blackout-gag style. The construction worker here is far less menacing-looking than that in the previous film (is it even supposed to be the same character?), with a blocky mid-50s McKimson design that results in some pretty stilted animation. Bugs doesn't take too much of an active role; he just sort of lazily lets the worker's schemes fall apart around him. Some of the gags work and some don't, but Bugs does get in the occasional funny one-liner ("I hear ya knockin' but ya can't come in!"). Rather ordinary, and unfortunately unimpressive, cartoon.
An ad appearing in the Niagara Falls Gazette in Niagara Falls, NY on September 8, 1954.
Devil May Hare (1954)RM
While Bugs is spring cleaning, the Tasmanian Devil is on the loose! Bugs talks Taz out of eating him and "helps" him catch a variety of "animals," including a chicken made out of bubble gum and a raft made up like a pig. The Devil's first appearance.
One of Robert McKimson's last truly outstanding cartoons, helped in large part by the introduction of what would inarguably become his most famous creation. Somewhat shorter and grumpier than he would eventually be depicted, this early version of Taz is a funny character; mindlessly reckless while also throwing out the random, grumbly one-liner ("What for you bury me in the cold, cold ground?"). Bugs's pranks against the beast are inventive and result in some pretty memorable reaction shots of the Devil (Applause would even produce a PVC figurine of Taz as a raft in the mid-90s). Taz and his mate meeting, falling in love, and then immediately bickering is an amusing sequence, and Bugs marrying them and sending them off on their honeymoon is a unique, satisfying ending. Very strong, very entertaining debut of a character who unbeknownst to anyone was destined for superstardom.
An ad appearing in The Winona Republican-Herald in Winona, MN on April 13, 1956.
Bewitched Bunny (1954)CJ
As he's reading the story, Bugs witnesses Hansel ("Hansel? Hansel??") and Gretel enter the house of Witch Hazel (in her first appearance). Bugs shows up as a truant officer to ask why the children aren't in school.
Somewhat mild fairy tale spoof from Jones, helped in large part by a few tongue-in-cheek touches and a fast-paced climatic chase sequence. Depicting Hansel and Gretel as gluttonous German children is a pretty snarky characterization, and of course the running gag over Hansel's name is a deserved highlight. Witch Hazel couldn't have asked for a better debut cartoon, with some devious voicing by Bea Benaderet and wonderfully busy animation by the Jones crew--this is a character who moves every which way (no pun intended) and is a delight to watch in action, especially at a time when animation in general started becoming more reserved and limited. The final gag is a bit lame and hasn't aged well, but the rest of the short is funny and timeless.
An ad appearing in the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal in Lockport, NY on September 13, 1954.
Yankee Doodle Bugs (1954)FF
Bugs helps his nephew Clyde study for his history test, explaining how rabbits (coincidentally, all ancestors of Bugs) helped shape American history.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Clyde Rabbit, Manhattan Indian Chief, Benjamin Franklin, Colonial Dockworker, King George III, George Washington
Bea Benaderet: Betsy Ross
Apart from Bugs's narration tying it all together, this is essentially a series of comedy vignettes about the Revolutionary War, done in almost a Mr. Peabody/Sherman or Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America style (a half-decade before either of those existed, mind you). A couple of the puns are a little hokey (Manhattan being sold literally for a song via sheet music and carpet tacks being used to "tax" tea), but they go by quickly. Clyde is thankfully less annoying here than he was in His Hare-Raising Tale, and he gets in a good final moment. There are a number of great reaction poses (such as from the blasted-upon Redcoats) as the character animation from Freleng's unit is starting to become more and more stylized. Perhaps the cartoon's funniest sequence doesn't involve Bugs at all: the frost-bitten soldiers at Valley Forge firing at an ice cream truck.
An ad appearing in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle in Brooklyn, NY on December 31, 1953.
Lumber Jack-Rabbit (1954)CJ
Bugs wanders into Paul Bunyan's territory, where he discovers a "carrot mine" (actually, just a giant carrot). Bunyan's dog tries to get rid of the tiny rabbit. The original studio's only cartoon produced in 3-D.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Smidgen
John T. Smith: Narrator, Paul Bunyan
After the short's signature 3-D effect with the zooming WB shield, it doesn't offer much. It's definitely more cute than funny. Jones seems more interested in creative staging than he does in experimenting with the 3-D technology, resulting in a less gimmicky but also far more pedestrian film. Bugs gets in one good line ("I'll be scared later. Right now I'm too mad.") but otherwise just scampers in and around large items--the sort of thing Sniffles would have done if such a cartoon had been made fifteen years earlier. Even Smidgen the giant dog is a very indistinct character despite his size, more just a milder version of Jones's Frisky Puppy. A very weak ending that goes for the tired "dogs like trees" joke caps off a very routine cartoon from a director that was doing anything but in this period.
An ad appearing in The Summer Illini in Champaign, IL on August 1, 1955.
Baby Buggy Bunny (1954)CJ
Notorious infant-like criminal Ant Hill Harry (alias "Baby Faced Finster") has just robbed a bank, but the money is left in a runaway stroller and ends up in Bugs's hole. "Finster" soon shows up, pretending to be an abandoned orphan. Became newly famous in 2006 when the plot and key visual elements were ripped off for the Wayans brothers' comedy Little Man.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Ant Hill Harry, News Anchor, Desk Sergeant, Clancy
A nicely staged, dramatic bank robbery sequence kicks off a very entertaining, underrated Chuck Jones cartoon. The short is chock full of great character animation by the usual Jones crew, a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that the studio shut down for six months while this cartoon was in the middle of production. "Finster" as a baby criminal provides a number of funny visuals, from his rhythmic cigar-puffing while hatching a plot to the signature image of him shaving in Bugs's bathroom (while a creative shot of Bugs peering through his bathroom keyhole is almost too good for this cartoon). The third act, in which Bugs finally catches on and delivers "Finster" his comeuppance, is a hilarious sequence that almost borders on comic sadism--since on the surface it looks like Bugs Bunny is beating up a baby! During all the mayhem, Bugs even gets in a bafflingly silly non sequitur: "Oh dear, I do believe I've forgotten my fudge!" Very satisfyingly funny cartoon.
An ad appearing in The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, AL on December 25, 1955.
Beanstalk Bunny (1955)CJ
Daffy is Jack, who had just sold his cow for some beans. Feeling gypped, he tosses the beans aside...right into Bugs's rabbit hole. The two find their way up the beanstalk, where Elmer the giant wants to "gwind your bones to make me bwead."
It's the first Bugs/Daffy/Elmer cartoon since the "wabbit season trilogy," and it's a triumph! There's a lot going on here, as the first two minutes cram in Daffy breaking the fourth wall to make observations about the fairy-tale conventions (considering Daffy never really starred in any such spoofs), an impressively fearsome introduction of Elmer as the giant, and some quick wordplay between Bugs and Daffy over which one is the "Jack" of the story. Elmer swings back and forth between being menacing and simple-minded, allowing him to be much more of a threat than he was in the hunting films. Bugs and Daffy work so well together that the scenes where they team up are almost more enjoyable than when they're at odds, with one highlight being a spectacularly posed and acted pantomime sequence of the two of them trapped under glass. Thoroughly funny cartoon from Chuck Jones at his peak.
An ad appearing in the Elmira Star-Gazette in Elmira, NY on May 20, 1955.
Sahara Hare (1955)FF
Bugs is lost on vacation again, this time ending up in the Sahara Desert. Meanwhile, Riff Raff (Yosemite) Sam finds footprints all over his desert, so he chases Bugs to a desert stronghold. Daffy makes a cameo appearance at the end.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Daffy Duck
Very funny slapstick-filled cartoon from Freleng. The idea of Yosemite Sam as a sheik is absurdly inspired, but the short also unknowingly marks a bit of a turning point in the Bugs/Sam series. With this entry, a number of cartoons will take on a formulaic quality, foregoing the humor of Sam's personality and temper by merely putting him in a costume and having him try to enter a location Bugs has secured in a series of blackout gags. A fun concept on the surface, but really no different than Sylvester trying to get into Tweety's cage on a larger scale. This cartoon's concept will essentially be repeated soon after in Knighty Knight Bugs, Horse Hare, and Prince Violent. Also introduced is another recurring element for Sam cartoons, giving him a mount or vehicle that doesn't start or stop when he needs it to; this time it's a camel, who at least provides a memorable hump gag after Sam knocks him out.
An ad appearing in the Yonkers Herald Statesman in Yonkers, NY on November 5, 1956.
Hare Brush (1955)FF
Millionaire Elmer J. Fudd (owner of a mansion and a yacht) thinks he's a rabbit, so his company sends him to a mental hospital. A wandering Bugs is invited in by Elmer and, due to a case of mistaken identity, Bugs is thought to be Elmer. A psychiatrist hypnotizes Bugs into also believing that he is really Elmer, so later when a cured "Elmer" goes hunting, he comes across a certain "wabbit."
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Dr. Oro Myicin, Fudd Corporation Chairman of the Board, Chauffeur, IRS Special Agent, Board Members
Arthur Q. Bryan: Elmer Fudd, Board Members
Enjoyable, underrated role reversal comedy, something the studio thankfully did only rarely. The nut-house set-up goes on a bit long, but afterward it's full steam ahead with the expected beats--Bugs and Elmer saying each other's signature lines, revisits of older routines (such as playing dead during a bear chase), etc. The characters' relationship gets a little simplified for the sake of slapstick (the switched-roles gags are definitely more physical in nature than they were in, say, The Hare-Brained Hypnotist), but the fast pace and tight Freleng direction keep things moving briskly. Milt Franklyn's almost abrasive score gives the short an appropriately unnerving feeling. Elmer's final line suggesting that he may not have been crazy after all is a nice touch, but it doesn't say anything about the reversed dynamic leading up to it, making it a tad anticlimactic.
An ad appearing in The Alfred Sun in Alfred, NY on November 24, 1955.
Rabbit Rampage (1955)CJ
In this sequel to Duck Amuck, Bugs is harassed by an unseen animator who manipulates his surroundings, his wardrobe, and even his character design!
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny
Arthur Q. Bryan: Elmer Fudd
Frustratingly boring, unnecessary entry from Jones. The idea of a Bugs Bunny version of Duck Amuck might have sounded attractive on paper, but its execution is lazy. Bugs supposedly knows the identity of the antagonist at the start but he still goes through the motions--why? In Duck Amuck Daffy was at least under the impression that the animator was still attempting to do his job. What made the earlier film so entertaining was how Daffy reacted to his circumstances; his personality shined through despite all the changes. Here, Bugs doesn't really respond in any way that's true to his character--it could be anyone at the mercy of the animator. Ben Washam gets a point or two for animating the entire film himself, but otherwise this is such a wasted opportunity.
An ad appearing in The Rusk Cherokeean in Rusk, TX on June 21, 1955.
This Is a Life? (1955)FF
Elmer is the host of a biography program that will take a look at a celebrity in the studio audience. Daffy (who sits next to Granny throughout the cartoon) thinks it will be about him, but alas it's Bugs's life that Elmer will be looking at, via scenes from Bugs's past films. A certain "varmint" also shows up as a voice from the past, making it his first pairing with Elmer.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Show Announcer
Arthur Q. Bryan: Elmer Fudd
June Foray: Granny
"Cheater" cartoons aren't supposed to be this good! Bugs is great in this, Elmer is even better, Daffy is in top narcissistic mode, and we're treated to Elmer and Yosemite Sam teaming up for the first time to scheme against Bugs. The older clips (from A Hare Grows in Manhattan, Hare Do, and Buccaneer Bunny) are used quicker and better than those in Freleng's previous clip show, His Hare-Raising Tale. Bugs's humble reactions to all the attention on him is charming without coming off as cocky, and his monologue about the origin of life is a highlight. Granny's appearance in the audience is a nice surprise, while her responses to Daffy's complaints and sarcastic remarks are a scream--it's a shame this character dynamic wasn't explored again in the classic era. Arthur Davis is at his peak as a Freleng animator, giving the characters a sharp fluidity and dimension as the rest of the studio's look was getting flatter and more streamlined. And of course, the climax of Daffy getting in the way of Elmer and Sam's attempt to get Bugs is the perfect capper to a fun cartoon.
An ad appearing in the Binghamton Press in Binghamton, NY on May 2, 1956.
Hyde and Hare (1955)FF
Bugs moves in with the kindly old man who feeds him carrots in the park, but unbeknownst to the rabbit the man is actually Dr. Jekyll! Bugs also meets Mr. Hyde, who Bugs tries to "protect" the doc from.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Dr. Jekyll
Friz Freleng's horror comedies weren't as moody as Chuck Jones's or as absurdist as Tex Avery's at MGM, but the director's expert timing make the scares as effective as the gags. The initial set-up is a bit clumsy--though depicting Bugs scurrying about on all fours to appear like a "timid woodland creature" is a nice, silly moment--but things get going once it's revealed exactly who Bugs's benefactor is. The transformation from the mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll into the gruesome Mr. Hyde is a great bit of animation, and Bugs's petrified-looking take as Hyde approaches him for the first time is priceless. The back-and-forth-transformation running gag is handled well throughout the short, thankfully never dragging down the increasingly manic pacing (Carl Stalling's music for the gag, though, does sadly get more intrusive each time). Although the central conflict of sorts doesn't really get resolved, the cartoon ends on a cool, funny, creepy note with Bugs obliviously becoming Hyde.
An ad appearing in The Gazette in Three Oaks, MI on May 31, 1956.
Knight-Mare Hare (1955)CJ
While Bugs is reading Tales of Knighthood and Gallantry, he is konked on the head by an apple and ends up in Camelot a la A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Bugs dodges a duke and a dragon and wanders into the home of Merlin the sorcerer, who hopes to turn Bugs into a pig.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Sir Oh of Kay, Dragon, Merlin, Farmer
Very talky, listless Chuck Jones cartoon, one that certainly wouldn't do his hero Mark Twain proud. A couple of the gags work--including Bugs merely tripping the charging knight on his horse--but they are padded with way too much filler; a sequence of Bugs attempting to pick up a heavy sword goes on far too long, for example. Some of the Tedd Pierce-penned wordplay is too lame to even groan at, such as Bugs referring to his friends as "Count of Basie" and "Duke of Ellington" or him thinking that Merlin the sorcerer makes sauce (as in "sauce-erer"). This is also the point where Jones is starting to get a little too clever for his own good, with a visual "poof" sound effect written out in Old English spelling and font being one of the more pretentious touches. Bugs does a funny take for a "was it all a dream?"-type ending, but it hardly makes up for the mediocre story that preceded it.
An ad appearing in The Star (Port St. Joe) in Port St. Joe, FL on May 30, 1957.
Roman Legion-Hare (1955)FF
Nero (looking very much like Charles Laughton) wants a victim to feed to the lions, so he sends out his Captain of the Guards (Yosemite Sam) to find one. The Captain soon comes across an inquisitive Bugs, but then has to escape from the lions at every turn.
One of the more inventive "costumed Yosemite Sam" cartoons of the decade, as soon as one accepts the insanely goofy idea of a bandit-masked Texan employed as a Nero-era Roman guard. Sam's cluster of guards are a nice if underused touch, slightly reminiscent of the mass of hunting dogs from Foxy by Proxy. The lions pose a great comic threat as they're simultaneously drawn funny and menacingly, and there is some wonderful animation of them as they continually attack Sam (including one moment where he's trying to literally stuff them down a manhole). Bugs has a good line or two and generally moves the plot along, but most of the gags are centered around Sam at the mercy of his own temper and incompetence.
An ad appearing in the Tri City Herald in Kennewick, WA on April 1, 1956.
Bugs' Bonnets (1956)CJ
In a study on how clothing affects one's behavior, Bugs and Elmer are at the mercy of a number of windblown hats, causing them to think they're pilgrims, Indians, soldiers, old ladies, boy scouts, mobsters, cops, judges, and--finally--a bride and groom.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Gentleman
Arthur Q. Bryan: Elmer Fudd
Robert C. Bruce: Narrator
One of the nicer animated Bugs/Elmer shorts of the era, one that leans more toward being goofy than funny. The premise makes absolutely no sense, but it works because of the cartoon and characters' commitment to it. Tedd Pierce offers a couple of good throwaway jokes in the dialogue, such as the man in the prologue screaming "Kill the women and children first!" while dressed as a pirate and Bugs as a game warden asking Elmer, "What's the idea shooting sergeants out of season?" Elmer has a few choice moments throughout, as his guises make him shift back and forth between postions of power and cowardice. Bugs's various impressions are also funny, with Blanc mixing the rabbit's Brooklynese inflections with the various characters he's depicting. Strangely, perhaps the least inspired bit of the whole cartoon is the idea of ending it with Bugs and Elmer getting married, which is almost becoming a cliché in of itself.
An ad appearing in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Sarasota, FL on November 4, 1956.
Broom-Stick Bunny (1956)CJ
On Halloween, Witch Hazel is asking her magic mirror who is the ugliest one of all. Just then, a trick-or-treating Bugs shows up dressed as a witch, and Hazel invites him in to get rid of the competition. An uncomfortable amount of animation was reused in the 1966 short A-Haunting We Will Go.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Magic Mirror
June Foray: Witch Hazel
Enjoyable spooky cartoon made during a period where Chuck Jones was still able to match style with substance. The Warner studio's shift toward flatter, UPA-inspired backgrounds complement the story well, giving Hazel's house a moody storybook quality. Bugs conversing and reacting under a static witch mask provides a fun visual, as is his weepy-eyed expression when trying to soften up Witch Hazel. Speaking of which (heh heh), Hazel is more menacing here than she was in Bewitched Bunny, and her animation is even broader and more outrageous than in the previous film. June Foray completes the characterization by taking over as Hazel's voice, making it a bit more gravelly than what Bea Benaderet was going for. Tedd Pierce's writing provides some clever wordplay (Hazel asking Witch-Bugs, "Who un-does your hair?") and an appropriately creepy moment with Hazel sobbing over her long-lost pet tarantula--and of course, like in many Pierce-penned cartoons, the hormone-fueled ending is both inappropriately random and hilarious.
An ad appearing in The Daily Illini in Champaign, IL on April 28, 1956.
Rabbitson Crusoe (1956)FF
Shipwrecked on an island, Yosemite Sam's time is divided between escaping a shark named Dopey Dick and growing sick of coconuts. Bugs soon drifts toward the island, and Sam has dinner plans in mind for his guest.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Dopey Dick
Despite a unique opening and some literary allusions, what results is a pretty routine Yosemite Sam cartoon. Most of the gags surrounding Sam come from Dopey Dick chasing and trying to eat him as opposed to Sam letting his temper get the best of him, though Sam does have a funny little meltdown early on over his hatred of coconuts. Bugs has little to offer here, mostly letting Dick do the heavy lifting against Sam. There is the occasional good line ("Shuddap and start simmering!"), but a general tedium throughout and a weak ending drag the whole thing down.
An ad appearing in the Vernal Express in Vernal, UT on June 21, 1956.
Napoleon Bunny-Part (1956)FF
Bugs arrives in a castle in France (and, apparently, back in time), where Napoleon is strategically planning a war. When Bugs, thinking it's a board game, messes around with the map, Nappy sends his guard (looking very much like Mugsy) after him, hoping to send the rabbit to the guillotine.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Napoleon, Guard, Sanitarium Worker, Pierre
Napoleon and his palace provide little more than a backdrop for typical Bugs antics against a rather ordinary, small, bombastic Friz Freleng villain (see Which Is Witch, etc.). If this had been made maybe five years later, Freleng probably would have just cast Yosemite Sam in the role of Napoleon. The writing is a bit all over the place, with an awkward overuse of Bugs calling the dictator "Nappy" on one end and then a great line about Napoleon patenting his battle plan as a board game on the other. Napoleon's Mugsy-like guard is a fun addition, but it's really nothing we hadn't already seen (and done better) in Bugs and Thugs. The central chase just sort of peters out before going straight to the execution scene, which at least provides Bugs with a funny moment trying to sell the executioner on blades for the guillotine. The ending going for the old "crazy people think they're Napoleon" cliché is a lazy but relatively harmless climax--the surprise twist is a unique spin, but it's not enough to save a rather unenthusiastic cartoon.
Bugs & Friends (WHV Japan Laserdisc, 1998)
An ad appearing in The Michigan Daily in Ann Arbor, MI on August 7, 1956.
Barbary-Coast Bunny (1956)CJ
Bugs finds a huge boulder of gold while burrowing, but Nasty Canasta steals it from him. Bugs (dressed as a hick) tracks Canasta down to San Francisco, where he has opened up a casino. Canasta tries to hustle Bugs in a series of "games."
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny
Daws Butler: Nasty Canasta
Very average Chuck Jones cartoon that starts fast and strong (Bugs literally tunnels right into the gold as soon as the credits end!) but then kinda stalls out. Nasty Canasta's redesign is a big misstep, defanging the clearly menacing presence he was in Drip-Along Daffy--while Daws Butler's performance of the character is odd; it sounds like he's trying to go for a sort of On the Waterfront-era Marlon Brando impression but without the toughness. The second act's major problem is that despite Canasta getting his comeuppance in various ways, Bugs himself isn't doing that much to enact it. Slot machines and even Canasta's handgun are merely working in Bugs's favor; apart from maybe being the better poker player, Bugs isn't engaging in any tricks or smart-aleckness to humiliate the villain. It all makes for a somewhat unsatisfying conclusion, as Canasta doesn't seem to be aware that the one winning him over is the rabbit he robbed in the beginning. The poker wordplay is cute, and Bugs's reveal of his winning hand is nicely done, but it comes a bit too late to make up for the other lame gags. The ending goes for the obligatory "carrot/karat" pun, but the fact that Bugs was more interested in money than the actual vegetable says a lot about how misguided this one was.
An ad appearing in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal in Spartanburg, SC on July 6, 1958.
Half-Fare Hare (1956)RM
Bugs hops a train to Chattanooga, where Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton are starving hobos. They try to boil the rabbit, all the while escaping a railroad dick.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Conductor, Railroad Dick
Daws Butler: Ralph Kramden, Ed Norton
Why does this one exist?? It's possible that the Jackie Gleason and Art Carney caricatures (as ugly as they are) were a scream when the cartoon came out, but depicting their specific Honeymooners characters as train hobos still doesn't make a lick of sense. It's oddly gratuitous, not nearly as ingenious as Robert McKimson's own Honey-Mousers trilogy or even the off-screen Norton cameo in Freleng's A Bird in a Bonnet. Illogical set-up aside, the writing is generally weak all around. Bugs's actions toward Ralph and Ed are tepid at best, while smoke from the train's engine leads to a tired and labored Los Angeles/smog gag, a genre of joke that was already wearing out its welcome (complete with Bugs using a weird intentional mispronunciation of the city's name--was that ever a thing, too?). A brief highlight comes from Bugs shouting like a little kid "Mama, look at the funny fish!" after filling Ralph and Ed's boxcar with water. A painfully lame ending and clunky animation from the rapidly deteriorating McKimson unit complete the half-baked Half-Fare Hare.
An ad appearing in The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, AL on May 16, 1957.
A Star Is Bored (1956)FF
Disgusted with being a janitor while Bugs is a star, Daffy auditions to be an actor. However, he is hired just to be Bugs's stunt double. Another rare combination of Bugs, Daffy, Elmer, and Yosemite Sam--in fact, the final time all four would appear in the same theatrical cartoon during the studio's classic era.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Casting Director, Director, Production Assistant
Arthur Q. Bryan: Elmer Fudd
June Foray: Loly
Hilarious cartoon that serves as a prime showcase for the 1950s Daffy. As much as some fans like to criticize Chuck Jones for more or less introducing the "mean" version of Daffy, Friz Freleng really perfected the trait of him being a jealous show-biz personality. Freleng is able to find comedy in the superficial world of the entertainment industry without turning it into an inside Hollywood joke, making this a good companion piece to the director's This Is a Life? and even his earlier You Ought to Be in Pictures. If not for Daffy's unchecked ego throughout, his repeated humiliation as Bugs's double (and the hits involved) would come off more sadistic than funny--thankfully, one never feels sorry for Daffy only because of his inflated sense of talent and importance (even making fun of Bugs's acting as the two switch places). Moments of Daffy interfering in the filming of Bugs and Elmer's scenes are inspired, as he's so caught up in his obsession over Bugs that he thinks by "entering" the picture being filmed he'll somehow be able to exact some long-lasting harm on the wabbit. The film-production gags are wonderfully absurd, particularly a scene where Bugs's tailspinning airplane pauses in mid-air to allow Daffy to take Bugs's place for the crash. The final gag has a slight echo of Duck Amuck but is funny enough to stand on its own.
An ad appearing in The Rhinelander Daily News in Rhinelander, WI on May 4, 1957.
Wideo Wabbit (1956)RM
Bugs answers an audition ad for station QTTV, which is looking for a rabbit to be shot by sports host Elmer Fudd. Bugs leads Elmer on a chase through various television studios, with Bugs acting as both Groucho and Liberace.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, QTTV Director, Elmer Fudd (shrieking)
Arthur Q. Bryan: Elmer Fudd
Daws Butler: Bugs Bunny (while imitating Groucho Marx and Art Carney)
"Tell me, Mr. Fudd, have you stopped beating your wife?" One of the better Robert McKimson cartoons of the period, hampered only by the director's typically casual pacing and rather ordinary visual design (save for a very unique tweed pattern on the station director's sportsjacket). McKimson really took to television as a source for parody in a way Jones and Freleng never did, and the spoofs of specific shows are clever and to the point without being too labored. Bugs shines in his various guises, with his Liberace impression becoming rightly famous--and of course, Bugs-as-Groucho hosting You Beat Your Wife provides the short's most memorable scene (despite its extreme political incorrectness). Elmer has a good moment or two here as well, and at least his motivation this time comes from being a phony TV host (his "instructional" guide to hunting a rabbit involves giving his prey a cue?). The final gag is a tad lame (a second Groucho disguise in the same cartoon?), but McKimson still had the ability as a director at this point to nevertheless make everything come together neatly. Unfortunately there are only darker days to come for his work.
An ad appearing in the Alton Evening Telegraph in Alton, IL on June 15, 1957.
To Hare Is Human (1956)CJ
Wile E. Coyote is back after Bugs, and this time the genius is using a super computer for ideas, which include breaking into Bugs's rabbit hole a la a cat burglar and booby-trapping Bugs's carrot patch.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote
Serviceable sequel to Operation: Rabbit, though a bit light on the "battle of wits" aspect of the former. The use of a computer as a plot device in a cartoon was pretty revolutionary for 1956, and the switch-based interface Wile E. uses offers some silly throwaway gags (such as suggesting "in mud" as a possible home for a prey). Mel Blanc gives a great song-filled performance as Bugs, including a daffy rendition of "Sweet Georgia Brown" and a sort of parody of "Time Waits for No One" about carrot-picking. The key difference between this and the earlier film is how Wile E. keeps getting defeated. Most of Wile E.'s schemes are based on using gadgets and traps similar to the Road Runner series, but the execution is where they pay off--such as him dressing up as a burglar and erecting a window to break into in order to then crack open the combination lock on Bugs's hole as if it were a wall safe. The eventual gags have less to do with Bugs actually outsmarting him than they do with mere Road Runner-like skewed physics--toaster springs are powerful enough to throw grenades back into his face, a rope won't release a boulder when it's supposed to, etc. The surprise reveal at the climax nevertheless makes for a satisfying ending to an enjoyable picture.
An ad appearing in The Evening Review in East Liverpool, OH on April 2, 1958.
Ali Baba Bunny (1957)CJ
Bugs and Daffy are tunneling to Pismo Beach, but instead they end up inside a sultan's treasure cave. Trying to get in to chop the intruders is Hassan the guard.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Hassan, Sultan, Genie of the Lamp
A Chuck Jones classic! Daffy practically steals the show, as his greed and cowardice are on full display to move the plot along. Hassan is an entertaining villain--his large, imposing character design allows for some fun touches, perhaps none more than his hilariously befuddled looks while forgetting the phrase "open sesame" and then switching back to a menacing figure when he finally gets into the cave. Mel Blanc's Daffy performance here is among his best as the duck, with his comically disgusted delivery of "What a way for a duck to travel! Underground!" and the various manic iterations of Daffy's signature "It's mine, all mine..." rants. Mike Maltese offers some of his cleverest one-liners in a Bugs cartoon, from an iconic variation of the wabbit's already trademark greeting ("What's up, duck?") to Bugs's inane "Ickity ackity oop" incantation while posing as a genie (which itself leads to Daffy's even funnier mocking of it) to Daffy indifferently responding to a real genie's wrath with "Consequences schmonsequences, as long as I'm rich." One of the quintessential Bugs shorts of the 1950s.
Taz is back! Reportedly at the insistence of Jack Warner himself, Robert McKimson reintroduces what would become his most famous and beloved creation. This film is more of a straight-up standard chase cartoon than the previous Devil May Hare, doing away with the idea of Bugs pretending to help Taz catch prey in exchange for more common chase slapstick. Ironically, this simpling of the premise helps better solidify Taz's personality as a mindless hunter and eating machine, eschewing his witticisms from the last short. The introductory list of animals that devils are known to eat is expanded, allowing for some funny mispronunciations from Bugs and the great throwaway-gag inclusion of people on the menu. Bugs tricking Taz by forcing him to recount the list of animals he eats is a clever moment, while the rabbit's various reaction poses to the beast are fun visuals. And of course, the main highlight is Bugs's "wild turkey surprise" ruse, complete with him posing as an Italian waiter and singing "Atsa Matta" (originally written by Michael Maltese for the Charlie Dog short A Hound for Trouble). Very enjoyable cartoon, sadly one of the last few from McKimson.
An ad appearing in The Marion Star in Marion, OH on January 8, 1959.
Piker's Peak (1957)FF
In the Alps, Bugs and Yosemite Sam race each other to the top of the Schmatterhorn for a prize of fifty-thousand cronkites.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Mayor, St. Bernard
Middling Friz Freleng entry that again finds Yosemite Sam in a foreign locale. It's not a bad cartoon, just nothing we haven't seen before or better, as the overall tone is a weird cross between 14 Carrot Rabbit and Mutiny on the Bunny. The setting provides little more than some quick fractured-German dialogue and a fun running gag with a town band. There are some clever moments, though, such as Sam fiddling with a Swiss Army knife, a chase sequence with a runaway boulder, and a key scene of a St. Bernard mixing a martini for himself instead of saving Sam from an avalanche. But unfortunately there is a distinct lack of enthusiasm throughout--even the climax amounts to Sam merely chasing Bugs through a dense fog. Probably the weakest Bugs/Sam cartoon so far.
An ad appearing in The Stanford Daily in Stanford, CA on April 4, 1958.
What's Opera, Doc? (1957)CJ
Chuck Jones's masterpiece in which Elmer (with his spear and magic helmet) hunts Bugs to Wagnerian opera. Features the two performing the song "Return My Love," with Bugs dressed as Brunhilda on a giant white horse.
This is perhaps the most reviewed, discussed, analyzed, critiqued, and lauded seven minutes of theatrical animation (definitely of Warner animation). Thankfully, after all this time it still lives up to the hype. Almost every line of dialogue and every shot has become iconic in its own right; nobody can hear the melody of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" without thinking "Kill the wabbit" (and if they say that they can, then they're lying). Mike Maltese provides a simple, witty script that satirizes the conventions of opera while also remaining true to the characters, with a couple of choice moments being Bugs and Elmer's back and forth about the latter's "spear and magic helmet" and a final line that's simultaneously depressing and firmly tongue-in-cheek. There is an elegance to Chuck Jones's direction, helped in large part by his animation crew--movement is done with such fluidity that all the action plays out like an extended dance. A slip of Bugs's foot is all the transition needed to move him from atop a wooden post to ascending a long staircase; it's a motion that could have been so clumsily telegraphed by another director. And while Mel Blanc is in top form as Bugs, Arthur Q. Bryan gives the finest performance of his entire career as Elmer, offering a whole range of emotions rarely seen in the character (save for Blanc taking over for the ridiculous crescendo scream of "SMOG!!!"). Of course, the not-so-unsung hero to the whole picture is designer Maurice Noble, whose use of vibrant colors (especially during Elmer's final "storm" sequence) gives the proceedings a look unlike anything seen in the Warner films at the time. It's easily the finest cartoon ever produced by the Jones unit and one of the final true triumphs of the Warner studio.
Enjoyable follow-up to Bugs and Thugs despite its origins as a remake of a completely unrelated film. Freleng's usual mid-50s crew members offer some impressive character animation for both Rocky and Mugsy, who are usually seen a little more restrained in their other pictures. Rocky's various reactions to Bugs's gaslighting are funny and nicely timed--funnier than those of Mike the bulldog in Stooge for a Mouse (his cigarette springing to life as if awakened, etc.), while his outbursts to Mugsy also have more comic anger to them than Mike's did in the previous film, including a remarkably menacing delivery of "I don't know how yas done it but I KNOW YAS DONE IT!" by Mel Blanc. Bugs's motivations for getting involved are a little weak, but Freleng gives him enough of a prankish bite to avoid depicting him as mild-mannered as he sometimes is when he's playing a do-gooder. Rocky and Mugsy's climactic fight is well staged, which is all the more amazing since most of the action is being conveyed through the movement of a giant magnet. The final gag is a bit lame but harmless--considering the remake nature of the whole cartoon, it seems to be another example here of execution outweighing inspiration.
An ad appearing in the Utica Daily Press in Utica, NY on May 29, 1958.
Show Biz Bugs (1957)FF
Bugs and Daffy are dancing on stage at a concert hall in this Friz Freleng classic, but of course Daffy soon turns it into a performing competition. Became the basis for the opening theme and bridging sequences of The Bugs Bunny Show.
Phenomenally funny short! Friz Freleng's comic timing is at its peak, knowing exactly how long to hold Daffy's various slow burns without belaboring gags. Each of Freleng's animators have a chance to shine, such as in Gerry Chiniquy's beautiful "Tea for Two" dance sequence (which is so well done it doesn't even matter how curious of an act it would be for two comedic film stars), Art Davis's character animation as Daffy screams and rants at Bugs, and Virgil Ross pretty much doing everything else! The gags that are reused from other cartoons are augmented by Daffy's inflated ego and self-importance; it's not merely funny enough that he fails at training pigeons (a bit originally from Curtain Razor), but he sells his humiliation with an awkward tap-dance off the stage (which is then punctuated by a perfectly timed tomato to the face). Mel Blanc offers a comically sympathetic performance as Daffy, perfectly conveying just how exasperated the duck is at the supposed injustices thrown at him (such as muttering the classic line "There can only be one explanation for white tile in a dressing room...")--yet also adding some real menace as Daffy heckles Bugs while the rabbit is sawing him in half ("His turban is a fake, too! Just a hotel towel!"). Some more older bits are dusted off such as the reliable "Those Endearing Young Charms" gag, albeit this time on a xylophone (made all the more memorable by Daffy screaming insults at Bugs off-stage), and the climactic "magic act" from Curtain Razor. The latter is improved by Daffy narrating the proceedings as he goes, creating dramatic tension as it builds up. The ending is of course classic--heck, the whole cartoon is a deserved classic.
An ad appearing in The Stouffville Sun-Tribune in Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON on June 30, 1960.
Rabbit Romeo (1957)RM
Elmer's Uncle Judd has sent him Millicent, a female Slobovian rabbit. Since Slobovian rabbits get desperately lonely, Elmer decides to find Milly a "playmate" and talks a freezing Bugs into coming home with him.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny
Arthur Q. Bryan: Elmer Fudd
June Foray: Millicent
One of a trio of cartoons resulted from the mismatched pairing of director Robert McKimson and writer Michael Maltese (the other two are the forgettable Foghorn Leghorn outings Fox-Terror and Weasel While You Work). Maltese seems to be phoning it in a little, eschewing the wordplay and physical gags he specializes in for Bugs merely acting nervous and detached, while McKimson no longer has the chops to add energy to what little proceedings are there. Millicent is an unpleasant character, invoking no sympathy as she throws her tantrum in Elmer's house. June Foray does her stock Russian voice, but it's such a lifeless performance, hindered in part by some lazy fractured-English dialogue as "seek-and-go-hide" and referring to an old-world marriage dance as "Slobovian rock and roll." There are a couple of fun touches--such as a fish committing suicide off-screen after kissing Millicent and Bugs's panicked look when yanked from under a closed door--but it's not nearly enough to save the utter blandness of this lame cartoon.
An ad appearing in The Pantagraph in Bloomington, IL on May 2, 1958.
Hare-Less Wolf (1958)FF
Absent-minded Charles M. Wolf is sent out by his wife to get a rabbit for dinner, but when he catches up with Bugs he seems to have trouble remembering what he's looking for.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Charles M. Wolf, Baseball Announcer
June Foray: Mrs. Wolf
Amusing cartoon, but one that unfortunately gets old fast. Charles M. is a fun but largely one-note villain (with traces of the forgetful Big Bad Wolf in Red Riding Hoodwinked, but it doesn't seem as if it's supposed to be the same character). Half of the gags directed at him are very generic in nature, including a curious scene where Bugs forces him to follow an extremely long TNT fuse--it really could have been any hunter after Bugs at this point, let alone a wolf, and let alone one with short-term memory problems. Mel Blanc gives a charming performance as Charles, even chuckling to himself when he's trying to think of the animal he's hunting--and also offering a delightfully perplexed read of the line "Now, why was I trying to catch a train??" after he's run over by one. Bugs is a bit underutilized here, though he does get in a good moment by excitedly asking the wolf why he's running with a gun ("Robbers? Call to arms?"). By the end of the picture, he just more or less gives up on Charles and goes to bed--a funny meta kind of joke, but definitely indicative of the lack of creativity involved.
An ad appearing in The Anniston Star in Anniston, AL on July 1, 1958.
Hare-Way to the Stars (1958)CJ
One morning a groggy Bugs climbs into a rocket that's blasted into space. The rabbit ends up on a bizarre suspended glass-plane planet, where Marvin the Martian is hoping to blow up the earth with his Illudium Pew-36 Explosive Space Modulator. Bugs steals the device, so Marvin sends his squad of Instant Martians after him.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Marvin the Martian, Mission Control
It's been a while since we've had a great Bugs Bunny comic adventure! The premise is sort of a rethinking of Haredevil Hare, but with all the improved skill the Jones crew had picked up over the last decade, from faster pacing to sharper dialogue to more action-packed animation--to say nothing of Maurice Noble's ingeniously designed "floating" space city. Chuck Jones himself thankfully hasn't yet crossed that fine line between what's witty and what's pretentious, and this cartoon could have easily been a disaster if Jones had made it, say, just three years later. Marvin is so entertaining in this because the menace comes from his subtlety--he's so calm and matter-of-fact about his intentions and motives for blowing up the earth that it's hilariously chilling. The Instant Martians, borrowing the design of the invading alien from Jumpin' Jupiter, are creepily fun henchmen, leading to a classic chase gag or two. Mike Maltese's writing is at is peak, providing a pleasant mix of silly throwaway lines (such as Bugs referring to Marvin's helmet as a spittoon) and some downright clever dialogue (Marvin's fan-favorite concern of "Where's the 'kaboom'?? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering 'kaboom'!"). A classic ending with an equally memorable closing line caps off one of the last truly excellent shorts Jones would deliver during his time at Warner Bros.
An ad appearing in The Stouffville Sun-Tribune in Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON on April 23, 1959.
Now, Hare This (1958)RM
The Big Bad Wolf's nephew wants to hear some fairy tales, but Uncle Big Bad has an idea to instead "play" the stories in order to lure Bugs to him. Bugs plays along by dressing up as Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Big Bad Wolf, Nephew
Dreary, boring cartoon. The wolf and his nephew are apparently the same characters last seen six years ago in the enjoyable one-shot The Turn-Tale Wolf, only drastically redesigned in that chunky limited style the McKimson unit adopted after the 1953 shutdown. The pacing is way off; very sluggish considering the action involved--Bugs just casually strolls into scenes and explains everything he's doing. Too many moments humorlessly grate on one's nerves: Bugs's "zipping" in and out of his rabbit hole while he's talking, Wolf and Bugs doing an Art Carney-like "hoo-hoo-hoo" one right after the other, and an extremely lame play on words is the basis for the final gag. There are a couple of very quick, fun touches--Bugs's silly "I'd rather have carrots than fish" song, the constantly changing sign on the wolf's house, and the wolf momentarily squatting down to say Mama Bear's storybook line--but these are so very few and far between to save this disaster. As Bugs himself said, "I just want to see if he's got any moxie on the ball. Otherwise, I won't bother with him." Agreed; don't bother.
An ad appearing in The Daily Illini in Champaign, IL on March 6, 1959.
Knighty Knight Bugs (1958)FF
"Only a fool would go after the Singing Sword," says Bugs the Round Table jester, so King Arthur sends his fool out to do so. But Bugs has to get past the Black Knight (Yosemite Sam) and his sneezing "idjit dragon." This Friz Freleng short is the only Bugs cartoon to win an Academy Award.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, King Arthur, Sir Osis of Liver, Sir Loin of Beef, Gerry the Idjit Dragon
Classic later entry in the Bugs/Sam series, with expert direction from Friz Freleng and beautiful design by Hawley Pratt. Ridiculous premise aside, Bugs is at his comic-adventure-hero best here, while Sam makes an appropriately cast villain. The sneezing dragon (momentarily christened "Gerry" when Warner Bros. was attempting to market him for a toyline in the late '90s, based on an animation drawing signed by Gerry Chiniquy) is a nice change of pace from the usual steeds Sam gets flustered by, allowing for a couple of silly moments and giving Mel Blanc an opportunity to comically complain about dragons with Sam's angry cowboy slang. The lone drawback is that though it's a handsome cartoon and Freleng and his crew are at the top of their game, it's more charming than funny. Many of the gags are blackout fare typical of the "historical version of Yosemite Sam trying to get into a building" cycle of the late '50s, with two specific gags repurposed from Sahara Hare. It's fantastic that a Bugs Bunny cartoon finally won an Oscar after almost two decades, but such an honor should have come sooner for any of the better pictures that preceded this one.
An ad appearing in the Bradford County Telegraph in Starke, FL on October 29, 1959.
Pre-Hysterical Hare (1958)RM
While being chased by Elmer, Bugs falls into a cavern, where he finds an old film documenting the life of prehistoric man. Bugs watches it, seeing Elmer Fuddstone go after the Saber-Tooth Rabbit. Impressionist Dave Barry performs Elmer, the first time the character appeared in a prominent role not voiced by Arthur Q. Bryan. The only Bugs short in the small collection of Warner Bros. cartoons utilizing a canned score assembled from Capitol Records cues under the management of John Seely.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Film Narrator
Dave Barry: Elmer Fudd
This is for anyone who ever wondered what a Bugs Bunny cartoon would be like in the later Depatie-Freleng era of the studio. Canned music, listless Robert McKimson direction, recycled gags and footage, stiff animation, weak ending--the only thing missing is Gonzales Gonzales voicing an incidental character. There is a dreary ugliness to the entire picture's look that goes beyond mere stylization; Elmer in particular suffers from a rather bug-eyed character design. Disconnected lines of dialogue border on non sequiturs (Fuddstone complains that saber-toothed Bugs is laughing after simply saying "What's up, Doc?"), while a scene of prehistoric Bugs loading a prototypical hunting rifle and lighting it like a stick of dynamite is lame and tedious at best. Dave Barry gets a lot of flak for his Elmer voice--and no question, it is an atrocious characterization (he doesn't even bother to mispronounce the word "room")--but given the awkward dialogue it's doubtful even Arthur Q. Bryan could have done much better with it. Ironically, early on Bugs assumes the caveman film must have been "a real stinker" to have been buried in the woods--the same should have been done with this one. Perhaps the worst Bugs Bunny cartoon ever.
An ad appearing in The Deseret News in Salt Lake City, UT on January 22, 1960.
Baton Bunny (1959)CJ
Bugs conducts the Warner Bros. symphony's performance of Van Suppe's "Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna," but a fly and some loose cuffs get in the way. Chuck Jones co-directs with Abe Levitow, making this the first Bugs cartoon to have a unit animator directing.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Bum
Charming cartoon that serves as a nice complement to Chuck Jones's earlier musicals and even Friz Freleng's Rhapsody Rabbit. Chief Jones animator Abe Levitow co-directs here and helms a number of other shorts throughout the year while Jones was busy producing the "Gateways to the Mind" episode of The Bell Laboratory Science Series, and for the most part it's a good fit. There is a distinct edge to Levitow's style, utilizing a sort of hyper-exaggerated version of Jones's look with excessive detail on eyes and extremities; resulting in Bugs having a somewhat "frazzled" look throughout. Levitow's visual style is so prevalent throughout this cartoon that it's actually hard to discern what exactly Jones contributed; one can only assume the senior director was more involved in timing and gag structure. Sure enough, the only sequence that looks to be clearly done by Jones is the nicely staged "cowboys and Indians" finale, which is much funnier than it has a right to be. None of this is meant to be a knock on Levitow, of course, as the rest of the short is thoroughly entertaining, especially the second act involving Bugs's difficulty with his cuffs. There is a grace to Bugs's annoyances and reactions, playing with the music (which is in effect a second character) to the point where it becomes a comic ballet. One of Milt Franklyn's final triumphs as the studio's musical director, and one that makes the shorts of the coming decade all the more depressing to watch.
An ad appearing in the Traverse City Record-Eagle in Traverse City, MI on June 4, 1960.
Hare-Abian Nights (1959)
Bugs burrows his way into a sultan's palace, where he is forced to tell entertaining stories of his travels. The stories start to resemble clips from Bully for Bugs, Water, Water Every Hare, and Sahara Hare. Chuck Jones animator Ken Harris directs, the first time in a decade that someone other than Jones, Friz Freleng, or Robert McKimson was completely at the helm.
The Chuck Jones unit tries its hand at a budget-minded "cheater" cartoon, with animator Ken Harris taking the reins from a still-overworked Jones. The framing isn't any more imaginative than Bugs narrating clips, not nearly as enjoyable as the cheaters done by Freleng at the time or even the odd one or two McKimson would attempt. The opening sequence with the Sultan rejecting a couple of acts has a nice moment or two, but it's a long way to go just to get to some hastily edited clips from three infinitely better cartoons, while the film's excessive talkiness doesn't play to Harris's strengths as the unit's go-to action animator. More disappointingly, one of the studio's all-time top animators doesn't show any particular directing style of his own, with visuals and timing coming off merely like a lukewarm Jones effort--the difference between this short and those of unit colleague Abe Levitow are like night and day; but in all fairness, Harris is given absolutely nothing to work with here. Sam showing up at the end is a fun surprise but he is ultimately wasted, and the use of the tiring "uncooperative animal/door/mechanism" gag as the film's climax is questionable. Cheaters don't have to be this lame.
An ad appearing in the Bradford County Telegraph in Starke, FL on April 28, 1960.
Apes of Wrath (1959)FF
A pixilated stork has lost a baby gorilla, so he knocks Bugs out and delivers him to a gorilla couple. Daffy makes a cameo appearance.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Stork 672, Elvis Gorilla
June Foray: Mrs. Gorilla
A somewhat milder remake of Robert McKimson's classic Gorilla My Dreams, less dramatic but equally hilarious. Elvis here is less fearsome and more comically designed than Gruesome Gorilla was back in Dreams, but he's definitely a more entertaining villain--him running over to give bananas to fellow gorillas a la new-baby cigars is a particularly sweet touch. June Foray, meanwhile, gives the mother gorilla her typical "gruff housewife" voice; the character itself is a refreshing x-factor in what could have otherwise simply been a back-and-forth between Bugs and Elvis. The slapstick is a bit mindless but relatively fun to watch--Bugs getting a bucketful of water after intentionally whining for a drink is a silly example. Freleng's underused drunk stork is a welcome addition to the plot, and the surprise end gag is infinitely better than the orgy of violence that capped off Gorilla My Dreams.
An ad appearing in the Bradford County Telegraph in Starke, FL on May 26, 1960.
Backwoods Bunny (1959)RM
While burrowing in the Ozarks, Bugs attracts the attention of two buzzards, "Pappy" and Elvis (both voiced by Daws Butler). Elvis goes after Bugs, but gets slowed down when he has to count to four.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny
Daws Butler: B.O. Buzzard, Elvis Buzzard
Stunningly average cartoon. Robert McKimson's first time having Bugs burrow his way into an adventure, and it's a far cry from the type of on-location cartoons Jones and Freleng produced or even McKimson's own Ozark-themed Hillbilly Hare from the beginning of the decade. Tedd Pierce's gags are all over the place, and the occasional one-liner (chiefy Bugs's opening "I zigged when I shoulda zagged!" comment) doesn't do too much to elevate his writing. Pappy and Elvis have the potential to be interesting villains, but neither the writer or director seem to have a handle on them (and merely a coincidence, but this is the third Bugs cartoon in a row with an Elvis Presley reference). Elvis sees through Bugs's country-girl disguise but can't tell the difference between a hose and a snake, so is he clever but lazy or merely stupid? Pappy's lethargy provides a good moment or two (such as complaining that he can't turn his head to look into his binoculars), but the bulk of the cartoon is essentially a half-hearted hunting story. Perhaps the short's saving grace is the "four" climax; it's not side-splittingly hysterical, but it's more satisfying than the rest of the picture.
Looney Tunes Video Show #4 (WHV Canada, 1982)
An ad appearing in the Bradford County Telegraph in Starke, FL on May 19, 1960.
Wild and Woolly Hare (1959)FF
Yosemite Sam storms into the Fat Chance Saloon to challenge anyone to "slap leather," but is immediately stifled by a cool, lounging Bugs. After a humiliating gunfight, Sam has to leave to rob a train, but Bugs also rides off to save it.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Cowboy, Scared Cowboy, Poker Player, Injun Joe, Old Timer, Beer Moocher
Arguably Friz Freleng's last bonafide classic for Warner Bros. Yosemite Sam is back to basics here; no international locale, no historical setting, just a loud gunslinger whose ego and temper keep getting the best of him. The lead-up to his introduction is well executed, from the various cowpokes swapping stories to his shadowy walk up to the saloon door (and of course, topped by a perfect comic reaction to an off-camera murder). Bugs has a cool, laid-back, western hero look throughout, and his gags aimed at Sam both verbal ("You've been eatin' onions!") and physical are wonderfully in character. The genius in Freleng's direction of the slapstick is the sheer anti-violence of it--Sam gets repeatedly shot in the face but he's not blackened or full of holes, just frazzled and humiliated. The climactic game of train-chicken is nicely staged, with Freleng building comic tension as the locomotives gain speed--not to mention Sam's petrified look as he defiantly blows his engine's whistle. One of the quintessential Bugs and Sam cartoons.
Yosemite Sam: The Good, the Bad, and the Ornery(WHV, 1992)
An ad appearing in the Bradford County Telegraph in Starke, FL on September 15, 1960.
Bonanza Bunny (1959)RM
In 1896, Bugs wanders into a saloon in the Klondike with a bag of "little yellow rocks," which catches the eye of Canadian outlaw Blacque Jacque Shellacque. Jacque tries to steal Bugs's bounty, but he gives Bugs a "fair" chance at winning it back. Includes footage from Drip-Along Daffy.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Blacque Jacque Shellacque, Prospectors, Malibu Saloon Bartender, Oatmeal
Robert C. Bruce: Narrator, Prospectors
More late '50s mediocrity from Robert McKimson, though admittedly slightly more entertaining than what has been coming out of his unit lately. The picture's main flaw is it can't decide if it wants to be a "Bugs outsmarting a crook" story in the vein of Barbary Coast Bunny or merely a derivative Yosemite Sam affair, so it sort of muddles back and forth between the two concepts. The gags are serviceable if becoming a tad clichéd; nothing too original or mind-blowing going on here, while the idea of Bugs being unable to simply walk out of a public place gets tiring after his third attempt. Blacque Jacque Shellacque is clearly the funniest of this wave of new Bugs villains that McKimson had been trying out, but that's still not saying much. Tedd Pierce seems to be going through the motions as writer on these cartoons, and it's becoming clearer that Warner Bros. is about to lose one of its chief gagmen to burnout.
Bugs & Friends (WHV Japan Laserdisc, 1998)
An ad appearing in the Bradford County Telegraph in Starke, FL on April 27, 1961.
A Witch's Tangled Hare (1959)
Witch Hazel is about to boil Bugs, who escapes into Macbeth's castle. Inside, Bugs and Hazel reenact Romeo and Juliet, with William Shakespeare seemingly watching from a distance. Directed by Abe Levitow.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Sam Krubish
June Foray: Witch Hazel
Probably the weakest of the shorts Abe Levitow directed (or co-directed) at Warner Bros. but still enjoyable. The cartoon is heavy on visual style, which helps carry Mike Maltese's rather inconsistent dialogue. There are a few good lines, but the jokes that fall flat are given too much breathing room, leaving the audience to have to linger on a jab at women drivers and the groan-inducing "to be or not to be" closing line. Levitow's gift for extreme comic posing comes in handy during a silly "cackle-off" between our leads, especially Bugs's seizure-like gyration (punctuated with a mocking "Top that, Lollobrigida!"). Unfortunately no one moment particularly stands out; the debatable "highlight" being the Romeo and Juliet scene, with Witch Hazel in full costume and bad stage makeup. It feels like such a missed opportunity--instead of just a chase cartoon it would have been wonderful to see an entire short with Bugs and Hazel spoofing The Bard's plays. It certainly would have been right up the highbrow Jones unit's alley, possibly even serving as a Shakespearean equivalent to What's Opera, Doc?
An ad appearing in the Niagara Falls Gazette in Niagara Falls, NY on July 27, 1960.
People Are Bunny (1959)RM
Television station QTTV will give a thousand dollars for the first rabbit brought in for the hunting season, so Daffy decides to bring Bugs in at gunpoint. But once Daffy gets distracted by the game shows going on, Bugs leads a chase through the studio.
Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sportsman's Hour Host
June Foray: Old Lady
Daws Butler: Art Lamplighter, Phone Jackpot Host
Robert McKimson's first pairing of Bugs and Daffy is decent if a bit underwhelming. He definitely has the character dynamic down and knows how to use Bugs against Daffy; it's just the premise that doesn't work all that well. The People Are Phony sequence goes on incredibly too long, while Daffy in general just comes off as extremely unlikable. There are a couple of good throwaway gags here and there--including an increasingly ridiculous parade of prizes coming out of one studio--but for every one of those we're then stuck with something like a tired "rabbits are good at multiplying" joke. The cartoon's whole second half is lifted from McKimson's own Wideo Wabbit, a just barely three-year-old film that was still in general release at the time (and wasn't all that great of a picture anyway). A lame closing exchange spoils what would have otherwise been a clever final gag. Things will only get worse for the director (and the studio) in the coming decade.
A Night at the Movies 1959: The Young Philadelphians(WHV, 1982) Bugs & Friends (WHV Japan Laserdisc, 1998)