Monday 15 October 2012

If My Friend Rocky Was in There

A lot of cartoons used the idea of crooks giving up to police so they wouldn’t be abused any more by the main character. None did it better than Bugs Bunny’s “Bugs and Thugs” (released in 1954), which was a reworking of the earlier “Racketeer Rabbit”. It’s the one with the famous scene where Bugs hides the crooks in an oven, turns on the gas and then pretends to be an Irish cop, asking “Would I throw a lighted match in there if my friend was in there?”

Friz Freleng’s animators could produce really subtle expressions and there are some fine ones in this scene. But my favourite part is the brushwork and the multiple eyes as Bugs changes places as he switches roles. Give credit to Art Davis and his assistant.

You know the scene. The “cop” is at the door. Bugs races to the oven to play himself.

Here he is changing spots to be the cop again. These are consecutive frames. They take up less than a second of screen time.

Bugs finishes his line as the cop and backs up, getting set to twirl into position as himself.

Bugs always has a great look of joy when he’s pulling a fast one.

We can’t skip the match part. See Bugs’ expression and how he anticipates the explosion. The drawings start on twos, the last three last only one frame each.

The animators may be Freleng’s best crew, even with Gerry Chiniquy gone. They’re Davis, Virgil Ross, Manny Perez and Ken Champin.

1 comment:

  1. This is also one of Friz's earliest toe-dippings into UPA Land with Mugsy and to an even greater extent, the designs on the cop, which are actually better than the pill-head designs Hawley Pratt would come up with after the studio's post-3-D restart. Where Friz and Foster improve on Maltese's original gag is the added stupidity factor of Mugsy wanting to be jammed into the oven (allowing Bugs one of his best-ever asides to the audience) and the slow build-up to the explosion.

    The original's pacing is breathtakingly fast, as most of the 1946 Warner efforts were, but the dual-role gag goes by too fast to really milk all the comedy out of it, and Bugs handing Rocky I his 'watch' for safe-keeping means you have to now make Rocky too dumb to recognize a cartoon bomb when he sees it. With Rocky II and Mugsy, the gas-match-BOOM! all are set up where they can't see it, and the blast is immediate, so Bugs (and the audience) doesn't have to wait for the final result to play out.