Movie Review: The Twelfth Annual Bugs Bunny Film Festival!

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.

Boston Athenaeum Lecture Series: Libraries and Copyright

Last night I attended a lecture called Libraries and Copyright: Hands Off, That’s Mine! Who Owns What And For How Long? at Boston Public Library’s Raab Lecture Hall. The lecture is part of a series Current and Back Issues: Persistent Themes in the Library, part of the bicentennial events of the Boston Athenaeum (despite this, all the lectures take place at the BPL). Speaking last night were Meredith McGill of Rutgers University and Dr. Siva Vaidhyanathan of New York University. The Boston Athenaeum’s William Strong moderated the discussion.

I don’t have much to write about the lecture, because:

  • A. I didn’t take notes (it was too dark).
  • B. I have a mind like a sieve and can’t remember anything.
  • C. I nodded off for a bit of the lecture (this is NO REFLECTION ON THE QUALITY OF THE SPEAKERS, it was just dark and I was sleepy).

McGill spoke first offering an historic perspective of copyright in the 19th Century. Apparently for the first century or so after the ratification of the Constitution, the United States did not recognize international copyright. As a result, books published in Europe were reprinted in the United States off in densely-printed, two-column per page format much like a magazine. The idea was to sell cheap copies of great European writing to encourage the ideal of civic republicanism. As Vaidhyanathan stated later, US legal views on international copyright didn’t change until the economic shift where US publishers became the primary source of printed materials for export.

Vaidhyanathan focused more on contemporary issues in copyright. Specifically, he talked about how copyright changed from protecting the consumer (providing quality literature for readers to help create Madison’s civic republicanism) to protecting the author and corporations. In the question and answer period after the lecture a lot of the audience were concerned with Google Books. Specifically what does Google owe to the public (answer: nothing, they just provide things that will drive people to their site to create revenue). Also there’s a lot of concern that institutions like University of Michigan Libraries just gave away a lot of their resources to Google, did not incorporate library ethics and scholarly concerns into the contracts, and pretty much bargained from a position of weakness when they did not have to.

And that’s about all that I remember. I’ll be looking around to see if anyone else who attend this lecture writes about it and post some links.