Every February, The Brattle Theatre presents the Bugs Bunny Film Festival and last night I took in their All Bugs Review. Bugs Bunny is not my favorite Looney Tunes character — that would be Pepe Le Pew — but he was featured in these 11 classic comedy capers (dig that alliteration).
The Rabbit of Seville (1950) — Bugs and Elmer Fudd face off on stage in the classic opera with Bugs continually forcing Elmer into the barber’s chair for abuse. Probably the highlight of the night, so why did they show it first?
A Star is Bored (1956) — Daffy Duck gets a job as Bugs Bunny’s stunt double, meaning basically anytime something too dangerous for Bugs is about to happen, Daffy is inserted into the scene to suffer from the disaster. It’s funny for it’s parody of Hollywood divaism, but I’ve never really been into the Bugs-Daffy rivalry, and the jokes get repetitive.
Bugsy and Mugsy (1957) — Two hoods are hiding out upstairs from Bugs and Bugs plays tricks on them to make the little smart guy (Mugsy) mistrust the big dumb guy (Rocky). Some classic physical humor including Bugs putting skates on Rocky and then dragging him across the room with a giant magnet to repeatedly smash into Mugsy.
Forward March Hare (1953) — Bugs is accidentally drafted into the army and although he tries to serve his country, he repeatedly messes things up and causes his drill sergeant to be repeatedly demoted. Lots of sight gags with Bugs in oversized fatigues among big, beefy army guys. This cartoon is an oddity in that Bugs is the dupe who keeps goofing up instead of his typical wiseguy role.
Hare Lift (1952) — In typical nonsensical fashion, Bugs Bunny is checking out the world’s largest airplane (which parked over his hole) when bank robber Yosemite Sam arrives and forces Bugs to fly it. The best part is when Sam pushes the robotic pilot button, the robot runs out, grabs a parachute and jumps from the plane.
My Bunny Lies Over the Sea (1948) — Bugs ends up in Scotland where he falls into a series of sterotypic ethnic jokes. Actually, it’s pretty funny when he attacks a Scotsman with bagpipes because he thinks it’s a little old lady being attacked by a monster. The Scotsman of course challenges him to golf, and a series of golf jokes ensue.
Knights Must Fall (1949) — In a medieval romp, Bugs and his tiny burro take on Sir Pantsalot of Drop Seat Manor in a jousting match.
Hillbilly Hare (1950) — This time Bugs ends up in the Ozarks for some more stereotypic humor. The funniest sequence is when Bugs becomes a square dance caller and forces the hillbilly brothers into a series of slapstick dance moves.
Big House Bunny (1950) — Bugs Bunny tunnels into the Sing Song Prison and battles it out with warden Yosemite Sam who keeps getting in trouble with his boss for all his apparent screwups. Cabinboy at Wuzzon? writes in everyone loves a hanging about discomfort with a joke on the gallows which leads into a discussion of which forms of capital punishment you can laugh at.
Rabbit Every Monday (1951) — Bugs versus Yosemite Sam again, this time in a hunting caper (was Elmer Fudd on vacation). Funny bits include Sam getting caught up in a chewing gum bubble which doesn’t wipe off right away in typical cartoon fashion.
Devil May Hare (1954) — The Tasmanian Devil makes his debut and Bugs tries to help him find something to eat (so that he doesn’t eat Bugs). I never got much into the Tasmanian Devil although his grunts and dimwittedness are at their best here. Perhaps this explains how Taz despite appearing in just a half-a-dozen films appeared on all those t-shirts, posters, and Warner Bros. marketing materials in the 1980’s & 90’s.
Some classics, some not, but all funny stuff including several cartoons I don’t recall from my many childhood years of cartoon watching.