Monday, 12 September 2016

An Early Elmer Fudd Loss

Bugs Bunny wasn’t exactly wild in “A Wild Hare” but his personality is fully-formed in the cartoon and set the pattern for all that followed.

Bugs got awfully chatty in the 1950s—no doubt because writers like Warren Foster and Mike Maltese could come up with clever dialogue—but in this cartoon, Bugs doesn’t speak for a good couple of minutes as director Tex Avery lets subtle movement drive the humour.

A good example is at the opening of the cartoon where Bugs’ fingers behave like humans in swiping Elmer Fudd’s carrot bait and then discover his hunting rifle. The next sequence has no dialogue, either, as the unseen Bugs and Elmer play tug-of-war with the gun. Bugs lets go of the gun. Notice how Elmer almost tumbles over backward, losing his balance. Warners animation had come a long way since Buddy five years earlier.

Elmer realises his gun has been tied up in a bow. The take isn’t as crazy as Avery’s bug-eyed wolf at MGM a couple of years later, but it’s still effective.

You can see the annoyance in Elmer.

He tosses away the gun and it’s on to the next gag.

Virgil Ross, Sid Sutherland and Bob McKimson are among the animators in this great cartoon; Ross was the only one to get screen credit.


  1. The great thing about the combined scenes is that for 90 seconds -- before we ever see or hear Avery's Bugs Bunny for the first time -- personality-wise Tex and his animators already have established him as Bugs Bunny just from the bits with the hands, the carrot and the shotgun. When he finally does talk to Elmer, Mel's low-keyed Bronx-Brooklyn voice just completes the package. That's personality animation that's several million light years from Buddy, even though they're only separated by five years in real time.

  2. It reminds me very much of 1920s comedies where a character would feel around and test something out (with the gag capped with a cop being grabbed). It's a subtle humour that Avery pretty much abandoned at MGM; he didn't spend a lot of screen time on one gag.