Wednesday, 28 August 2013

298. Ceiling Hero (1940)

Warner cartoon no. 297.
Release date: August 24, 1940.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Tex Avery.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Pilot) and Robert C. Bruce (Narrator).
Story: Dave Monahan.
Animation: Rod Scribner.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Set in an aircraft over at Mid-west America; a group of aviators mess around with particular gags which is pulled sequence after sequence.

The opening title is a rather decent piece of decorum where a plane flies into the scene during the opening credits. Title parody of the 1936 Warner Bros. film Ceiling Zero, Tex Avery once-again punches out another spot-gag which involves the particular activities in aviation. Tex's spotgag, however, relies on a heavy use of effects animation, mostly of the flying scenes of the plane; with mechanically animated scenes to make the sequences and gags work.

Tex's has already become used to animating meticulously and realistically to Tex's demands, and this time their artistic skills is put to difficult use.

A lot of particular examples are scattered all throughout the cartoon which I will link and explain particular animated sequences, as well as my overall input of the overall short. Considering there is a lack of documentation of animator drafts for the Warner drafts; one might assume the entire aviator and aircraft scenes would have been done by an effects animator; although its plausible to say even his usual animators could have had a shot, even though it's not certain for sure.

There is without doubt the real star of the short is narrator Bob Bruce, himself, who of course is the very popular narrator for the spotgags at Warners. Whilst in a typical spot-gags; a couple of one-liners and punchlines would be provided by Mel Blanc, Bruce's voice dominates the entire cartoon, with only one voice of the test pilot quoting Mr. Kitzel, "Mmm, could be!".

I'm not too sure of the test pilot's voice whilst he directs signals on the plane during the climatic sequence, though it surely can't sound like Mel Blanc, but its certainly used as a satire where the voice is referencing the Calling All Cars radio programme.

Of course, Bruce's voice had a very natural flair when providing these narrations as he could break into all kinds of emotions depending the climax and the mood of the sequence. In the cartoon's fewer funnier moments, the final sequence of where a new plane is tested.

The narrator calls the assignment to be very dangerous with the test pilot being assigned to best the aviation. Robert C. Bruce even naturally adds in a personal comment, 'Good luck, old man' where he knows the right touches. Just as the short reaches its climax and flying higher and higher in the sky, even passing the 'Los Angeles City Limits',  the plane only reaches to the very limit of its speed and distance from the ground the plane crashes. Note the exaggerated figure of the jump from 100,000 to 200,000,000 in the speed limit...thats Tex for ya. Back to Bruce's contributions, just as the plane crashes back to the aviation site; the narrator wonders in panic, believing such unfortunate events have been led so spontaneously; he just cries: 'What happened? He crashed. This is terrible! Is he hurt? Is he killed? Is he killed? Is he??" just before the aviator slips out the Mr. Kitzel reference.

Possibly worth to mention the Test Pilot gag at the back of his shirt; which of course references the movie itself which was directed by Victor Fleming in 1938; who would go on to have a sensational peak the following directing much of The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind; and Test Pilot of course featured the main star of his buddy: Clark Gable. Tex and Clampett at least used a few of those subtle references for the time, which would be plainly obvious...but more obscure to outsiders now.

As spotgags tend to usually work with a lot of particularly dated references; the billboard gag which reads Next Time Take the Train itself is a dated billboard reference of Southern Atlantic; which was particularly notorious in the U.S.; and it is possibly most notably referenced in the 1939 adaptation film Of Mice and Men, distributed by Hal Roach Studios; as well as seen in a promotional image.

Considering how planes were at its very early stages for being used as passenger planes, rather than aviation planes; Tex kicks in a few gags, where of course passenger planes were considered 'new', whereas its very common today.

He kicks in some particularly very corny gags such as a 'cabin cruiser' where Johnny Johnsen designs a canon on top of a plane which makes the concept just look particularly cheesy and lame.

I'm not particularly sure about the 'Joe's Lunch' reference; though it occurs in an advertisement plane; and 50 cents were considered affordable, as well as a good deal to purchase dinner at a restaurant. Tex Avery himself already gets the knack of creating gags which have a lot of restaurant references, which are particularly very dated in today's standards. Another example, asides the advertisement plane is when a firework explodes with the words reading: Eat Tony's Hot Dogs. Of course, it's different from the usual Eat at Joe's running-gag.

To make the plane gags work through the film; Tex goes through particularly challenging assignments in challenging the scenes, which looks rather mechanical looking. He uses a lot of unique film staging, as well as unique animation which shows how he stood out a lot further than than his peers.

Tex times and plans out an established birds-eye view shot of the plane in silhouette travelling through the road. The narrator mentions the plane travels through several highways; which he turns into as a visual pun.

The pilot of the plane is the point of view shot for when the plane travels through the road; and makes a turning point. A particularly challenging job for Johnny Johnsen as well as the layout artist. Animating it would have been particularly tricky; though it might have been controlled by an effects animator; where the plane dodges through the cars. The gag itself isn't particularly very strong at all. It runs like a 'auto-pilot' and it doesn't particularly have a good punchline. So much complicating and hard work technically on a weak gag. It feels more like a animated test on how to animate a plane's manoeuvre.

Tex creates even more mechanically animated sequences which takes a methodical and meticulous approach to animating the scene. In the scenario, there are two stunt pilots as the narrator explains. Both planes are forming a knot through the dust in the cloud. The gag gets exaggerated even further when the knot becomes dimensional, that it comes attached to the plane; leaving it dangling.

It couldn't have worked better in terms of the construction and pacing of the scene. Another example of Tex's mechanical timing is the looping the loop sequence as the plane loops around at a air base.

Just after the loop; the pilot steps out of the base; and then begins to loop around the sky physically. This scene would have been assigned to a character animator of Tex's unit; its still mechanically timed much like how Tex's single shots of the plane flying; as the drawing has to be particularly tight, and it has to be staged right for the gag to be accepted. Sorry if the GIF seems particularly dodgy; but I want you to get the general idea of Tex's approach to timing from that scene.

Following on, Tex creates another create gag visually which requires strong effects animation, but most importantly, the mood of the background paintings which have been painted wonderfully by Johnny Johnsen. Asides from the corny windshield gag from the pilot; the plane then arrives towards the 'Sunny California' is a particularly funny and touching Depression-era gag. Of course, the state was funny but metaphorically during the Depression as California was considered a state full of hope and opportunity amongst migrant workers. The backgrounds showed good emphasis on how it was particularly gloomy from outside California; by splitting the moods of the atmosphere in half; which makes the gag itself appear a little wacky in a subtle way.

In conclusion to Ceiling Hero, despite the gags, the mechanical timing as well as Tex's climax; it is really all what adds up to Tex's approach to spot-gags except this short is just a lot less watchable than his other spot-gags. It is very routined in terms of story: it is just a string of gags with a corny climax and ending punchline, with no occurring gag sequence, just a bunch of aviation gags (hit and miss) just tossed in to make up a 8 minute and 44 second cartoon. It lacks a lot of effort as a cartoon, though artistically a lot of of effort has been put into by his animators as well as in layout and backgrounds. Johnny Johnsen's backgrounds have a particularly glamorous appeal as usual, and the layouts are a delight. The gags, though are mostly very weak; which ranges from very corny like the blind-stick gag; as well as the particularly visually appealing, but very dull gags like the birds-eye view shot of the plane's silhouette flying through the highway. This is a particularly dull Tex Avery effort which shows how in his career for Warners, he's overdoing the travelogues. He saves up a lot of time for the character animation; as much of the short features a lot of effects animation on the plane, background shots and particularly less on the aviators animation. This is a short particularly lacking the Tex Avery charm, a cartoon which I feel was just forced, and effortless.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

297. Patient Porky (1940)

Warner cartoon no. 296.
Release date: August 24, 1940.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Bob Clampett.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig/Cat/Whispering Owl/proto-Bugs/Rochester Elevator Boy) and Sara Berner (Receptionist).
Story: Warren Foster.
Animation: Norm McCabe.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: At a local hospital; a cat patient spots an unwell Porky, and the cat goes his looney ways in attempting to dissect Porky amateurishly and incoherently.

The title card of course, shows an silhouette of an emergency van rushing frantically; evidently taken from the opening of The Daffy Doc, except; it is only presented as a still..which makes the title card for the former a lot more effective. As a matter of fact; much of the cartoon itself recycles particular elements from The Daffy Doc, which repeats particular formulas. Not counting the particular reused animation, the cat patient really plays the role of Daffy Duck from the previous cartoon, and Porky Pig plays the victim of a patient with a stomach-ache, and so the cat attempts to dissect Porky..which is noticeably similar to the screen grabs above.

During the operating room with the audience watching an audience being performed; Clampett also uses the same scenario from 'Daffy Doc' though it is switched over towards near the end of the short.

The opening shot of the long-shot sequence of the hospital is also taken directly off The Daffy Doc particularly with the receptionist on the phone. The receptionist on the phone is responding to particularly very lame puns such as "Sir Gerry" (surgery), as well as other names such as "Mr. Cyclops".

Clampett mainly is engaged with particularly unfunny puns throughout the cartoon; as the opening title card, for example mentions as a parody, 'Adapted from the famous book "The Pains Came" which is an obvious, though an amusing pun for The Rains Came. I was particularly usual for this era where Clampett would like to just poke fun for the sake of it where he'd come up with a ridiculous parody title for a book; and try too hard on that gag.

Other notable puns appear through the cartoon; as the name of the owl doctor near the beginning of the short is titles Dr. Christ Chun; which is a direct, lame pun pulled off from the show Dr. Christian, which was a popular radio show broadcast by CBS which ran for 17 years between 1937 to 1954.

More puns which could loosely appear in a Tex Avery spot-gag; features particular patients in the ward. A sickly owl is in bed, and his ailment is 'loss of voice', but as for the symptom: 'He just doesn't give a hoot!'...rather generic, I'd say.

Mel Blanc, though pulls off a great performance of the owl who responds to the doctor, 'I can't talk above a whisper'. Dr. Chris Chun responds, 'You can't what'..and the owl bellows: 'I CAN'T TALK ABOVE A WHISPER'...which is a great satirical scene full of energy as well as looney-tooney. The next gag featuring the dog with a cast, calling for the doctor's attention, is another gag which feels set-up as a very Avery-ish spotgag. He inspects the bone, and admits it is 'knitting up'; where the X-Ray reveals the bones formed as hands knitting back together.

The cat himself also gives himself a pun-like name to disguise Porky as a qualified doctor, named Dr. Chilled-Air; which is referencing Dr. Kildare. The character is very funny another trickster which has a very Clampett-esque personality which he used in his characters, where he is portrayed as nuts and mischievous.

A couple of Clampett's gag also appear to work rather cleverly and subtle in some cases. During the elevator sequence with a Rochester parody of the elevator boy, which takes place in the opening, he does through the first three floors chronologically in the form of the first three letters of the alphabet.

 In the first floor, he lists out particular places for treatments beginning with the letter 'A': ague, asthma, anemia, arthritis, etc.; with the second floor, starting with 'B': beriberi, biliousness, bronchitis, bends, etc.

He exaggerates it even further to the letter 'C' before breaking off with his standard 'Mmm-mm'. Clampett also puts another pun rather visually and wonderfully when the proto-Bugs Bunny, if you insist on that being, rushes to the hospital hallway of a blackboard which has recorded the number of births for particular animals, with rabbits standing out a lot more with 490. The proto-Bugs rushes out as he remarks 'Not anymore', and adds up to 750; which is an amusing, subtle pun of how 'rabbits multiply'.

If you look carefully at the design of Bugs over at the blackboard; the 'prototype' Bugs actually shows a slight combination of the Bob Givens design which was used from A Wild Hare as well as using the voice which was used in Hare-Um Scare-Um as well as hopping around like a lunatic in a Hardaway style.

Porky doesn't appear in the cartoon until much later on; which is almost the constructed in the same sense as The Daffy Doc; which doesn't include Porky until half-way. Instead of being healthy, Porky enters the hospital actually feeling unwell with a stomach ache. He has eaten too much birthday cake at a party, and feels poorly.

Clampett gives Porky some slightly longer screen-footage time where Porky steps in through the remainder part of the cartoon; particularly in close-ups (likely animated by Norm McCabe) where he is portrayed as unwell, though this action remains very much precise from 'Daffy Doc'

...where he attempts to avoid being cut in half by the wacky cat. The whacky cat himself has a similar persona towards Daffy Duck from the former cartoon; where it is evidenced from the line as he grabs Porky and shouts, 'Hey, look fellas, I got a patient! I got a patient!'; in a looney-tooney matter. Even earlier in the cartoon he tricks hippo patient from by tickling and disturbing him as he places the tip of his finger to roll through his stomach.

Clampett still is engaged with a popular song chorus during the climatic sequence which does weaken the cartoon's atmosphere where the Clampett energy; deteriorates into a useless vocal groups who sing in substitute lyrics from We're Working Our Way Through College...which is particularly frustrating when watching a Clampett cartoon from a particular era where a lot of his energy and effort was lacking.

During the final shots where Porky is about to be dissected from a particularly phoney operation; which results in the cat being almost insane enough to kill Porky; he proceeds to rush out. The final moments of the cartoon, has a particularly Tashlin-esque inspiration from the 1930s cartoons he directed where the characters proceed to rush out in quick paced editing. The shot in particular, frame-grabbed, shows how Clampett has given the animation speed a much more solid and exaggerated feel; where Porky is just a mere airbrush effect. The total amount of frames of that one shot is only 16; which sums up to one feet of animation; which is still less than one second.

After proceeding into the house; Clampett reaches to the final conclusion; which although is particularly looney, but very sadistical, as Porky's plan to halt the operation with a sticker reading 'Do Not Open 'Till Xmas'. Confused, the cat responds: 'Christmas?!' as he proceeds to rush next to Porky in bed, and decides 'I'll wait'..where you feel particularly sorry for Porky in an amusing matter.

In conclusion; Patient Porky, is sort-of a remake of a Clampett effort, The Daffy Doc. The concept is generally similar to both cartoons, although the gags as well as the situations work particularly differently. The cat, is indeed a patient, but without any reason, decided to dissect poor Porky feeling unwell, which takes the short to the extreme. The previous cartoon, is without doubt very much superior to this cartoon; whereas this short only clocks in at just 6 minutes, making it particularly very short in terms of its total time. In all, I find it is a particularly better effort for Clampett's 1940 entries; as the cat was particularly amusing, even with a similar Daffy Duck persona, as well as the sleazy Mel Blanc voice..though the amusing character as well as the delivery ends up deteriorate into lame puns as well as the very brief song sequence. Not a bad Clampett effort, overall.

Monday, 19 August 2013

296. Ghost Wanted (1940)

Warner cartoon no. 295.
Release date: August 10, 1940.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Chuck Jones.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Tex Avery (Laughing Ghost).
Story: Dave Monahan.
Animation: Bob McKimson.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: A junior little ghost finds an advertisement to scare ghosts out of a haunted house, but fails so, when a larger, screwy ghost proves to scare him first.

To readers reading about the cartoon; here is a slight synopsis; before we can break down into the rest of the analysis for the cartoon.

A young boy ghost, aspires to become a spooky ghost; as it is already evident from a book he is reading in how to become a spooky ghost, by reading the illustrations as a guide. After practicing some ghost poses to scare people; he comes across an ad where he spots a job to haunt a house over at 1313 Dracula Drive, and experience isn't the ad's requirements.

After changing into his own blue ghost uniform to get a better revealing look, he makes his way to the haunted mansion, which is located at the highest point of an isolated mountain. Where, before to his knowledge, it is occupied by a beefy ghost; who knows of another intruder and intends to trick it.

The tricks then follow through into several long sequences; particularly when the ghost encounters the beefy, invisible ghost smoking cigarettes, which begin to taunt him, scaring scared of his own kind.

It also follows through with a 'boo' sequence, which scares the little ghost, and it follows straight into a climax with the firecrackers. The beefy ghost attempts to scare him with an explosive firecracker; but it backfires; when a mysterious match erupts the mass amount of firecrackers in his pant flaps which then results into a frantic sequence around the haunted house, scaring the little ghost back home.

Chuck Jones, according to Milt Gray, had written to an animation union newsletter in the late 1970s; where he bashed towards Paramount Studios, claiming he had created the infamous Famous Studios character: Casper the Friendly Ghost, with the source being this cartoon. Of course, this was the time when Chuck's ego had been growing, creating his own interpretation of Warner's history, his love for Mark Twain, and he uses his ego to attempt to be an animation dictator.

Evidently, Chuck's ego kicked in with that nonsense; and using the source of this cartoon itself proves how inaccurate it is for a variety of reasons:

First, Casper was created by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo the 1939 book The Friendly Ghost which predates this cartoon, and second; the character resembles little to nothing of the Casper character. Thirdly, Chuck had nothing to do with the creation of the character, and of course, never worked for Famous Studios, located over at the East Coast.

Sure, the ghost character Chuck created in this cartoon may resemble the cutesy and conceptual feel of Casper; but all in all, the ghost character is really just another knock-off of Chuck's Disney-ish characters encountering perilous events. Chuck Jones presents this ghost as a silent character, much like any of Chuck's characters he was making in this particular in this era; and quite possibly throughout his career considering a majority of his characters were mimed...which definitely supports the dis-integrity of Chuck's claim.

Chuck's approach towards the character designs for the ghost aren't particularly very appealing if you compare Casper; particularly in terms of facial proportions. To give the character a slightly more dapper designed; other than just a spirited, ghostly body; he adds a pants flap his rear end; as well a short part of curly hair on his head.

Casper also has two different colours for his ghostly flesh; where it is shown the 'blue' outfit would be considered a more believable look. As for the pants flap; Chuck Jones also gives the idea the ghost is merely just invisible, as how many would view a ghost; and the body and proportions are all just from a suit.

Story construction for Ghost Wanted is very basic and constructed in a Disney-formula style. It ends particularly like a Disney short, where a character would run away afraid. To a small extent, it carries out similar patterns from a previous cartoon about ghosts, Lonesome Ghostswhich was produced from the Disney studios. In the Disney cartoon, going by contrasts: 

Mickey's trio are ghost exterminators, and are given a phoney prank call from a gang of ghosts who plan to trick the trio with paranormal activities. 

In this cartoon, the boy ghost aspires to be a spooky ghost, as evident from the book he is reading, as well as applying for an advertisement to haunt a particular ghost, but finds it is already occupied by a older, bigger ghost who is willing to prank practical jokes on a meek, little ghost; but just lacking comical gags in contrast to LonesomeI believe the whole concept would've been either coincidental, or having subtle inspiration, due to Chuck following the path to Disney formula. With the ghosts from Disney being just a group of pests, the ghost here presents a very beefy ghost; which is used for comical purposes; particularly when Tex Avery is the attributed voice of the ghosts, and the effective laughter which is evident.

Chuck Jones already shows some slight progress and experiment in trying in some of the typical humour in the Warner cartoons here. The ghost, is presented as a buffoon type-persona, beefy, and completely jolly; which you could consider to be a Tex Avery influence. Avery's contribution as the voice for the big ghost certainly is one factor, as his infectious laughter makes him appear very foolish; even though the ghost isn't near as funny as the Father Bear from The Bear's Tale. He typically bursts out with laughter with particular lines which as a Tex punch to it, 'That's a killer!'.

The dynamite segment towards the end of the cartoon, is another fine example of Chuck's very slow try for some comic timing, even though it turns out as a little sluggish, and the speed isn't particularly too convincing. After the dynamite goes off, the big ghost goes off like a comet; where the ghost's frantic run turns into a glow; which occurs throughout the chase sequence.

The GIF posted to the right shows a rather amusingly staged scene of the chase occurring through the house, which creates a charming effect.

Chuck's demanding quality in terms of layout, art direction as well as animation stands out rather noticeably throughout the cartoon. The layout artist creates a very convincing layout towards the beginning where the little ghost approaches to the castle which is on top of a mountain, which gives the staging a lot more drama, and a darker atmosphere in colour.

Parts of it have some live-action influence particularly with the ghost walking up towards the mountain, towards the house. He also communicates through visuals of the action to create an alarming tone to the cartoon; particular when the invisible ghost puffs the words 'Boo' which was formed from cigarette smoke, as well as a telegram which was used as a gag purpose. The background artist (possibly Paul Julian), throughout the short, gives the haunted house a particularly very dark and disturbing atmosphere inside where it would imply haunted houses are frightening and dark, which can, in some aspects, give the rest of a cartoon a particularly cold look in colour, despite the action.

On the animation side, Chuck plans out a particularly very challenging assignment for one of his animators, where the main ghost; appearing invisible with the leftovers of his hat as well as the cigarette and smoke...which was cleverly well as adding personality to the laughing ghost as he asks the ghost, 'Okay, bud, scare me. Let's see the scare!' and pours out laughing.

Chuck's posing is noticeable on a couple of scenes, particularly when Casper looks blankly at the dynamite in front of him towards the end of the cartoon, and Chuck's timing is very solid as the ghost slowly creeps away from the dynamite stick and zips out of the scene. Chuck also gives away some subtle poses in the takes of the young ghost during the scare sequence from the big ghost, where he exaggerates the posing, by widening the eyes, and creating more shock on the ghost which feels particularly human.

Watching the cartoon as well as looking at the animation, Chuck's cartoon style alters in this cartoon, compared to the other cartoons he worked on prior that. He gives the characters in this short a particularly looser feel in his drawing, particularly with the signature mouths, as well as the eyes which are noticeable in Chuck's style of the cartoons he directed in that decade. It's particularly noticeable on the big ghost, who certainly has a very Jones-esque design.

Being a Jones cartoon from the standpoint he preferred to make; you know of very little references which appear in his cartoons; though subtle ones appear in the newspaper ads from a Saturday Evening Ghost paper which is a pretty obvious giveaway of the popular American magazine, Saturday Evening Post, which is a little cutesy pun.

'1313 Dracula Drive' is the chosen name for the haunted house; where '1313' would create superstition, as well as an alliterated street by adding Dracula's name to make the cartoon's theme appear as dramatic, though in a harmless effect. Not particularly amusing at all, though the little bits of information where a little intriguing, and rather typical for cartoons.

To reach to a conclusion, Ghost Wanted is a fitting combination of what Chuck was typically creating in the cutesy, style as well as a potential touch for comedy. Of course, the comic timing isn't particularly established very well in this cartoon, whereas it could have worked funnier, but this is still particularly early days for Chuck. Tex Avery as the ghost is a particularly fitting touch, and particularly a unique turn towards Chuck's career. The firecrackers were a particular highlight of the cartoon, where Chuck's comic timing was particularly charming, though the sense of speed isn't yet as believable...also slightly a little edgy for Chuck where he uses a small touch of cartoon violence, which wasn't particularly viral in the early 40s or 30s cartoons.

The humour not yet being establish would still be attributed to Chuck's slow timing, which still has not been mastered. It is still easily recognised as a Disney-ish Jones short, considering it centres on a particular little ghost who aims to scare ghosts, but gets out-spooked by a larger ghost, and rushes down. It is very basic, though the potential humour is a good bracer for what is yet to come. It's also worth noting this is the last animation credit for Bob McKimson for the Jones unit, though this evidently doesn't affect Chuck a great deal, considering he had Ken Harris as a top animator, and knew how to get the best out of his animators.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

295. A Wild Hare (1940)

Warner cartoon no. 294.
Release date: July 27, 1940.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Supervision: Tex Avery.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Arthur Q. Bryan (Elmer Fudd) and Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny/Skunk).
Story: Rich Hogan.
Animation: Virgil Ross.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: In Bugs' debut short, Elmer Fudd is hunting 'wabbits' in the middle of the forest, he targets a particular rabbit, but that rabbit proves to become too smart for Elmer.

The moment the followers of this blog have possibly been waiting for, in a long time: it's time to review the first 'official' debut of everyone's beloved WB star: Bugs Bunny. He would go on to become greatly appreciated and loved globally, and remains so today. At this point, Porky Pig was still the main star of the Warner Bros. cartoons, and at that point, the studio had already been knocking around with a few cartoons about a rabbit..who was considered to have potential as a star. His Brooklynese accent patterned after Frank McHugh's New York accent, his fast wits, and self-esteem would be just the perfect match for the rabbit character, which Tex Avery gave him in A Wild Hare. In contrast to the similar designs, Bugs has a much more appealing design by Robert Givens, as well as Bob McKimson; he is much more sleeker; and a more appealing than the Charlie Thorson rabbit.

Not to mention, Chuck Jones and Ben Hardaway had played around with the Bugs character, and had played a small part to the creation, but a contribution as big to what Tex Avery did for this cartoon. Tex Avery truly was the creator of Bugs Bunny to that effect. To any commenters, please, no exhaustive debates about 'who created Bugs?'. Originally, Tex had wanted to call the new-star character: Jack E. Rabbit, as he believed Bugs Bunny was too cutesy; even though the name got the popular vote, and a name we all love, whereas "Bugs Bunny" is too generic. Of course, being the hit it was in its day, and without doubt encouraged Schlesinger to produce more Bugs Bunny cartoons; and the short would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short.

The notorious opening begins; with such great suspense and foliage backgrounds by Johnny Johnsen. Elmer's established hunting pose is incredibly spot-on and full of suspense. He creeps through the woods, and the opening is all full of suspense, including Stalling's great use of synchronising the steps to the music, which creates good tension.

In close-up; Elmer then lets out the magic quotes, we all attribute to Elmer: "Be very, very quiet. I'm hunting wabbits!". Bob Givens has also redesigned Elmer to look a lot more Dopey-ish from Snow White; and makes Elmer the character everyone recognises from a design standpoint.

Previously, Elmer had the personality and the Bryan touch, but in terms of design resembled a lot more like Egghead. Elmer proceeds to hunt, and lo and behold: spots rabbit tracks.

"Oh boy, wabbit twacks!" and then we hear his infamous laughter..which is another key trademark to his personality. Just as Elmer is getting lucky; he follows the tracks to discover a rabbit hole; which he points out an laughs. "Wabbits love carrots!". He picks up a carrot from under his pocket and places it by the rabbit hole; before he proceeds to hide by a tree. The opening sequence of Elmer Fudd, alone, greatly establishes his character personality as a hunter, and a a great turning point where his hunting skills would turn to failure because of a particular witty rabbit.

A part of Bugs making his first screen appearance; his arm then reaches out of the rabbit hole; aware of the scent of a carrot placed by him. The hand movements of the animation, being animated very realistically and wonderfully, then moves around looking for the carrot's location. Obviously, not identifying itself completely, where the carrot was set up as bait by Elmer.

Bugs then feels the carrot with his middle finger, to measure and analyse the object. He grips his middle finger onto the carrot, sliding it up and down, analysing the texture and shape; knowing it is already a carrot.

Already knowing its a carrot; he quickly grabs the carrot into the hole. Elmer rushes towards the rabbit hole, at gunpoint, hoping to fire at Bugs' arms. Bugs' hand appears out of the rabbit hole; vaguely aware of another object near his residence.

He feels the texture and shape of the gun, knowing it is nothing shaped of a carrot, he flicks the gun with his finger three times: metal. His hand makes a take, and falls back down. He places a mostly-finished carrot on top; at gun point. Attempting to take it, but threatened at gunpoint; he makes finger-walks with his finger, and quickly snatches it away; with Elmer missing Bugs. The hand movement is incredibly well-animated, and it is all wonderfully acted, which is without doubt, a tough assignment.

After being outwitted by Bugs at this stage; Elmer makes a double take as he then places his gun straight towards the rabbit hole, ready to fire straight at him. Just as he is about to fire; he gets a jerky feeling where Bugs, off-screen, tugs at his rifle; and Elmer struggles to pull his shotgun. After he succeeds, his shotgun turns into a knot.

Tex's comic timing of the rifle turned into a knot could not have been timed better, for a 1940 cartoon at the Schlesinger studio. It's delivery is very wacky, and typical of his timing, which is a great satire towards poor Elmer, where it implies he is such an amateur.

Elmer tosses his shotgun out of the way, and doesn't give up on Bugs as he proceeds to dig his way through the rabbit hole; with a hope of luck. Over at the next rabbit hole, Bugs Bunny's head then spins around and is first laid eyes to the audience for the first time. He watches Elmer dig under the hole, and proceeds to take advantage of him.

He watches Elmer dig his way through; as he then knocks on Elmer's head, eating his carrot. Just then, his first line, is his most famous line, the line which this blog has been looking forward to: 'What's up, doc?'. Accoding to Tex, it was a catchphrase he used at high-school; as it was considered a popular phrase in Dallas. Elmer, already gullible, hushes Bugs as he whispers: 'There's a wabbit down there. And I'm twying to catch it'. For a audience watching the cartoon in 1940; it would've been a hilarious setup considering how Elmer is easily manipulated by Bugs' wits; not thinking of Bugs Bunny as a rabbit for one minute.

Just as Elmer proceeds to dig; Bugs kneels beside him, eating his carrot and not feeling threatened at all by a simple-minded hunter. He asks casually, 'What d'ya mean, wabbits?'. Elmer pauses and attempts to explain a rabbit to him: 'Wabbits, wabbits! Y'know, with big wong, ears!'.

The next shot, animated and acted wonderfully by Rod Scribner, features Elmer sign-languaging the rabbit's ears; with Bugs Bunny displaying the ears, 'Oh like this?'. Elmer continues to explain, 'Uh-huh. And a wittle, white, fwuffy tail'.

Bugs shows off his tail for Elmer, to help his hint. Elmer jumps up and down softly, 'And he hops awound and awound!'. Then Bugs demonstrates, as he hops around Elmer in circles, already making it too obvious he's a rabbit, with Elmer totally ignorant of his specie. Elmer, watching Bugs Bunny hopping around, then breaks it out to the audience, 'Y'know I bewieve this fewwa is a R-A-B-B-I-T'..the dialogue where he spells out 'rabbit' is a good little touch, as well as the wink, which is a funny forth-wall scene implying he has already figured out he is a rabbit, which took his time.

After hopping around; Elmer then stops Bugs and realises: 'Pardon me, but you know, you look just like a wabbit'. Just then as Bugs remarks calmly, he calls Elmer for attention. 'Listen doc, now don't spread this around, but confidentially..I AM A RABBIT!'. Great delivery in the dialogue as well as Mel Blanc's yell.

A deliberate Avery setup where he just points out the obvious towards Elmer, a little frustrated of his total ignorance. The deliberate setup and suspense in the dialogue makes just the funny result. Just then, Bugs then hides behind a tree and yells 'Last look!'.

Elmer creeps up behind the tree, to look for Bugs but then Bugs creeps from the other side of the tree covering his eyes, and playing 'Guess who?'. The first guess by Elmer, is Hedy LeMarr; as he just names off celebrities off his head; with Bugs shaking his head. He continues to list out: Carole Lombard, Rosemary Lane as well as Olivia de Havilland (for what its worth, still alive). At this point Bugs gives a hint: 'Uh-uh, but you're getting warmer'. Elmer, stumped then realises, 'Say, you wouldn't be that screwy wabbit would ya?'. Bugs responds, quoting Kitzel, 'Mmm, could be'. Kisses Elmer, and scampers off. A great little sequence where Bugs manipulates Elmer once more, into a children's game.

After he scampers off, Bugs Bunny jumps back into his rabbit home; and Elmer chases after him, as he cusses 'Doggone, you ol'mean wabbit!'. In a great close-up of Bugs under the rabbit hole; he grabs Elmer and kisses him on the lips.

An example of Bugs kissing Yosemite
For what its worth, and to any fanboys wanting to start stupid threads about 'Is Bugs gay?'. No, it was derived from Charlie Chaplin films where a person would kiss their enemy to confuse or embarrass them. Friz Freleng even quoted:

"It got laughs every time. That was a characteristic of Bugs. Bugs was an aggressive character and he embarrassed the little guy, Elmer Fudd, by kissing him. I don't remember how the gag started, but we thought it was funny. At that time, it was comedy. That's all I ever thought about it. Whoever thought of a 'homosexual' context at the time? It never even 
entered our minds."

Elmer then wipes his lips, and vows to outwit Bugs, 'I'll get that wabbit, I'll set my wabbit trap!'. A while later, Elmer then finishes up setting up his rabbit trap; where he places a carrot with a box on stands, all set up to trap Bugs; as well as pointing out a sign reading 
'Carrots' to persuade Bugs.

Elmer then whispers towards Bugs to catch his attenion, 'Here wabbit, wabbit!' he calls out. Bugs pops out of the rabbit hole with his attention caught on the whispers, as well as a joyful face when he spots carrots nearby a rabbit hole. 

Elmer hides behind a tree, as he believes Bugs has caught the trap once he listens to the bell ringing of a trap alert. Elmer rushes over to the box, and he picks up what he believe is the rabbit. Elmer pulls out a skunk, fooled by Bugs but hasn't overcome or realised the prank. 

He believes he has outwitted Bugs, where he speaks to him, standing by a tree very casually. Bugs nods every time Elmer believes he states, such as 'Too smart for you, wasn't I? I finally caught ya didn't I?'. Noticing Bugs standing by the tree, he makes a double take; in which he looks at the skunk. Smugly, the skunk responds; 'Confidentially, you know...?'. The character acting of Elmer carefully lifting the skunk's tail done is brilliantly acted by Virgil Ross; as Elmer then turns his gun towards as he threatens to shoot him at gunpoint. Bugs then drops the gun, and agrees to make a deal with Elmer: 'Okay doc, I had my fun, see. To show ya I'm a sport, I'll give ya a good shot at me'.

Bugs then puts Elmer in a position to shoot Bugs, and Bugs walks over towards a tree where he then gives a signal wave towards Elmer, 'Okay, let it go'. Just then, as Elmer then positions himself with his gun, ready to fire at Bugs. Bugs is holding his ears with his fingers, from the sound of fire guns. Stalling creates some good build-up in the music as the shooting is about to occur.

Bugs looks upwards; hearing the sound of birds chirping merrily, above in a point-of-view shot. It would've worked funnier as a gag without the incredible detail used in decorum as well as the suspense. 

Anyhow, it is a very typical Avery gag which is presented as very subtle, and the self-awareness of Bugs having bird droppings land on his head is particularly amusing. After hearing the sounds of birds dropping; Bugs then halts the intense buildup; with his hands: 'Woah hold it!' which creates a lot of appeal as his hands move towards the camera in perspective. He moves himself away from the tree at a good angle, as it he gives the 'Okay' signal towards Elmer, and already knowing that Elmer would miss a shot at Bugs. 'Okay, let it go' signals Bugs. Elmer positions his shotgun, and he fires his gun where he jerks from the reaction, which is some very funny comic timing.

Just then, Bugs then goes into a fake death sequence where he covers his chest with his arms, being melodramatic of his 'supposed death'. He collapses to the ground where he then coughs up, losing his consciousness to keep breathing. Wonderful character animation by Bo McKimson, who makes Bugs' supposed death rather believable as well as bringing in emotions towards Elmer and Bugs.

He coughs, 'This looks like the end. Ohh, I can't hand out much longer. I'm all washed up. Ooh, everything's getting dark, etc!' Elmer holds onto Bugs, where he immediately is saddened by Bugs' performance that he feels rather sorry and spiteful of himself for 'shooting' Bugs. 

He then coughs up and shouts out what are his supposed last magics, 'Goodbye, pal' before he plays dead. Motionless, Elmer then tries to shake Bugs to retrieve his consciousness but fails, 'Mr. Wabbit, say something! Speak to me!'. He tries over towards a tree blaming himself for shooting Bugs, as he cries: 'I'm a muwdewer!' and he continues on sobbing. Just then, as Elmer continues to cry; Bugs slowly opens up one eye, and looks at Elmer sobbing by a tree. He sees that Elmer behind a tree is another chance to prank him again, as he stands up and walks towards Elmer.

Whilst Elmer is crying by a tree; Bugs then gets prepared to get back at Elmer, big time. He takes a big swing of his foot where he plans to kick him in the rear end. The cycle of his foot swinging in a airbrush effect is so wonderfully cycled, and it has a lot of appeal, that it's worth to be shown as a animated GIF.

After he kicks him in the booty, the gag turns into a 'ring the bell' type gag; where Elmer hits on top of the tree, and drops back down. Treg Brown makes the gag evident as Elmer hits the branch with a bell sound, and then Bugs hands him a cigar, which would usually happen in carnival games. 

Bugs then tiptoes out of the way. Just then, Elmer then starts to snap and bellow 'Aww! Wabbits! Guns! Wabbit-twaps!' and then he walks out of the forest bellowing 'Wabbits!' as he screams. A much more wilder reaction for Elmer, in contrast to Elmer's Candid Camera. In the final shot, animated by Scribner, Bugs then chews on his carrot with some funny expressions drawn by the man himself. He then remarks the last line regarding Elmer, 'Can ya imagine anybody actin' like dat? Y'know, I think the poor guy's screwy'. For the last charming moment, he uses his carrot to play the flute to The Girl Who Left Behind Me as he walks back to his rabbit hole, as the cartoon ends.
Overall comments: A great new step and future for the Schlesinger Studio? Why am I writing out the obvious? Not only was the short very groundbreaking for being the first official Bugs Bunny cartoon, but it was also very groundbreaking in terms of character personalities, where Bugs picks on the foolish Elmer which he takes as an advantage. Tex would continue to play around with the dumb/smart persona; where he would use Bugs Bunny in a fox costume for Of Fox and Hounds, as well as the qual in The Crackpot Quail before Bugs was given that persona permanently. This is also a good, new establishment for Elmer Fudd, considering how previously he was seen as a harmless animal photographer, as well as playing historical characters in satires by Freleng. Here, Elmer is portrayed as a hunter for animals, which we all see Elmer for. 

Also, it feels a lot like Avery is going through a very different approach in terms of humour. Of course, you get a few gags here and there, particularly with the bird gag, although Tex really does play with character personality as gags so wonderful, that it makes the situations a lot more believable and hilarious. Not to mention from earlier, the character personalities and relationships between Elmer and Bugs have been completely well established, as its particular character acting that hasn't been explored from the Schlesinger writers before, which makes it a different level in some aspects. Of course, Bugs' instincts were used before; whereas in It Happened One Night; Clark Gable's character had a witty Bugs persona. Of course, Bugs would be experimented a few times afterwards; particularly with the following cartoon: Elmer's Pet Rabbit, where he would have a Jimmy Stewart impression, but this short definitely gives Bugs an established personality, and an appearance which would make him a huge star.