Sunday, March 23, 2008

You're So Next...

Perhaps the greatest seven minute opera ever filmed: Chuck Jones' "The Rabbit of Seville".Hard to list all the great bits in the 7:31 running time of this classic. Is it the samurai frenzy of Elmer's first shave? The repeated gag that puts poor Fudd back in the barber's chair over and over again? The climactic "can-you-top-this" exchange that begins with Elmer chasing Bugs with a fire ax and culminates with Groom Bugs dropping Bride Elmer two stories into the "Marriage of Figaro" wedding cake?

Interestingly - and this may have something to do with my own thinning thatch - I think my personal favorite begins about 5:14 as Bugs waltzes his hapless opponent into the stage barber chair for the, what, fifth time? The inspired tonsorial mayhem goes on for over a minute until Bugs applies the hair tonic and the "Figaro Fertilizer" and the astounded Fudd sits up to watch his head sprout hair.

Or so he thinks.

Jones - who was probably the Warner's director most responsible for the "look" we who grew up with the Looney Tunes characters associate with the wascally wabbit (although Bugs' personality has always owed more to Tex Avery, the director who more than anyone defined what a "Bugs Bunny cartoon" was and is) - was at the height of his craft in 1949. The Warner Bros. animators were at the top of their game. For proof, look no further than the terrific interplay of expressions at the very end of this scene: Fudd first excstatic and then, as the flowers sprout atop the new "hair", furious. Bugs watching his work with a sort of smug satisfaction until the punch line, when he reacts to Elmer's rage with a typically exaggerated Tex Avery/Warner's "take" - here's Tex's Wolf reacting to the appearance of Red Hot Riding Hood:The Peeper loves this cartoon, but not as much as he enjoys "Bully for Bugs" - I think it's the graphic violence of the latter.Enjoy.


atomic mama said...

I love watching this - it had been too long, so thanks for that! I immediately had follow it up by seeking out my other fave - "What's Opera, Doc?" Bugs and Elmer and Wagner - brilliant stuff.

walternatives said...

Thanks for this treat. Nice to watch Bugs & EF with my first cup o' joe.

I'm inspired to search for my fave cartoon now - Foghorn Leghorn.