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Thursday, December 04, 2014

Bugs Bunny Makes War


Chuck Jones' BB More Sinned Against Than Sinning In Long-Haired Hare (1949)

Directing Chuck Jones was by most accounts doing better work for Bugs Bunny, at least calming him somewhat and devising opponents who have retaliation coming, unlike straw men we tended to sympathize with over the rabbit. I'm always refreshed when Bugs gets the worst of it: am I alone in wanting to see him taken down pegs? In this case, it's opera singer "Giovanni Jones" who picks the fight, even as Bugs annoys with his backyard concertizing. "Of course, you realize this means war" became cue for mirth among Bugs-watchers then and, perhaps, now (do we laugh as much as did '49er's?). Somewhere I heard that BB purloined that line from Groucho. True? There's an interesting gag where Bugs assumes bobby-soxer disguise, fast-prattling over "Frankie" and "Perry" in a baggy shirt and too much lipstick. Guess Warner artists were old enough by now to be disdainful of teen girls slobbering over croon idols. Certainly Frank Sinatra himself came in for withering caricature whenever his enervated figure showed up in a WB short. Another that gets a rib, and had before, is Leopold Stokowski, a real-life cartoon irresistible to spoofers. Most of us know the Hollywood Bowl thanks to so many cartoons being set there. Face color change Giovanni Jones endures as he strains to sing under Bugs' baton is back to something like 1949 appearance thanks to Blu-Ray rescue by Warners.

8 Comments:

Blogger Tom Ruegger said...

IMO, the perfect (or "poifect") Bugs Bunny cartoon, from opening banjo to "good evening friends" banjo finale.

11:03 AM  
Blogger MDG14450 said...

I think Friz Freling created Yosemite Sam to give Bugs an adversary who was less a pushover than Elmer Fudd. Jones used an assortment of wrestlers, magicians, etc. to do the same.

Is this the first cartoon to use to emphasize silence?

11:23 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Groucho did use the line in "A Night At The Opera" and there is a YouTube clip that shows both it and your cartoon. It's one of my favorites precisely because of "Leopold."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjIZwv5aENQ

11:40 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

"Of course, you realize,this means war," is spoken by Groucho Marx in DUCK SOUP.

Bugs was a combination of Clark Gable (IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT where Gable chews on a carrot) and Groucho.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Randy said...

Long-Haired Hare was a staple of ABC's Saturday morning Bugs Bunny show, throughout its various incarnations. However, by the time network sensibilities got through editing the cartoon to remove anything they considered unacceptably violent, the only attack left that the opera singer made on Bugs was the first one, destroying the rabbit's banjo. For that sole transgression, bringing down the Hollywood Bowl on the poor guy's head seemed excessively hyper-sensitive on Bugs's part.

ABC also removed the bobby soxer/"Can I have your autograph?" scene.

Such were the drawbacks of seeing vintage cartoons via hyper-conscientious network television.

Warner seems to have lost interest in their cartoon library. We're lucky they got many of their best titles out before that happened.

4:41 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Donald Benson looks back at how Bugs Bunny has dealt with loss:


A favorite touch in that cartoon is Bugs's appealingly oddball taste in popular songs and instruments, which cause trouble precisely because Giovanni Jones finds those tunes TOO catchy. Similar plots with other characters tended to pit a musical character against another character trying to sleep.

Bob Clampett did "Falling Hare", where Bugs gets the worst of it from a plane-wrecking little gremlin. Clampett reportedly called it a failure because people expect Bugs to win, but for my money Bugs Bunny raging against a tiny unflappable foe is prime stuff. And the cartoon does end with Bugs and gremlin simply stopping and tossing a gas ration joke to the camera.

There were also three (I think) cartoons where Bugs raced against the laconic Cecil Turtle. It's Bugs's vanity that leads to the contest, but it never plays out according to Aesop. In one, Bugs is swindled by a small army of ringers; in another Bugs gets the works from the Rabbit Mafia who mistake him for Cecil. The one time Bugs does win, Cecil tricks him into bragging about his speed in front of a traffic cop. Again, a lot of the laughs come from the normally laid back rabbit agitated to the point of hysteria by an even more laid-back little adversary.

7:21 PM  
Blogger b piper said...

I have to agree with Mr. Ruegger --- to me this is the quintessential Bugs Bunny cartoon, the indomitable rabbit as everyman hero. Mention has been made of Gable and Groucho as inspirations for Bugs, but I'd add Milton Berle. Berle wasn't yet the superstar that TV would make him but he was well known through burlesque and movies and the resemblance is (to me) obvious.

1:42 PM  
Blogger rnigma said...

Chuck Jones would rework this as the Tom & Jerry cartoon "The Cat Above and the Mouse Below." (In fact most of his T&Js reused stories he did better at Warners.)

I wonder who provided the voice of Giovanni Jones? He earned his paycheck holding that note for the crashing climax.

6:56 AM  

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