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October 4, 2015

The Five: Bugs Bunny's greatest moments

by Adam Finley, posted Jun 3rd 2006 6:59AM

bugs bunnyBugs Bunny is by far the most unflappable character in cartoons, an insouciant thorn in the side of anyone who seeks to do him harm, and the only one able to maintain his cool while everyone around him is going insane. I've come up with five of my favorite Bugs Bunny shorts of all time, and it wasn't easy. I managed to pare the list from eleven down to seven, and finally, down to five. Here they are:

What's Opera, Doc? (1957): "Spear and magic helmet?" A later entry into the Looney Tunes library, this has come to be recognized as one of the best animated shorts of all time. The basic plot of Elmer hunting Bugs and Bugs thwarting his every attempt is still evident here, but it's amplified by the great musical score, Maurice Noble's amazing background art, and a tragic love story that's actually rather touching in its own unbalanced way. I also love this exchange between Elmer (as Siegfried) and Bugs (disguised as Siegfried's love interest, Valkyrie Brunhilde):

Elmer: [singing] Oh Brunhilde , you're so lovely.

Bugs: [singing] Yes I know it, I can't help it.

Hillbilly Hare (1950): 

Bugs: And just who might you be?

Hillbilly: I might be Teddy Roosevelt, but I ain't.

This is probably my favorite Bugs Bunny short of all time, especially the last couple minutes when Bugs leads two dim-witted hillbillies on a sadistic square dance that has them punching one another, yanking on beards, being put through a baling machine, and finally, sailing off the edge of a cliff. There's some great voice acting by Mel Blanc when Bugs becomes the square dance caller and affects a corny southern drawl, and the slapstick is made even funnier by the fact that the two men feel an obligation to do whatever Bugs sings to them, even if it means bodily harm.

Rabbit of Seville (1950): The first cartoon on this list where Bugs plays an effeminate barber. The cartoon begins with Bugs being chased by Elmer and ducking into a nearby theater. Before Elmer knows what's going on, he finds himself on the set of Rossini's "Barber of Seville" opera, with Bugs playing the barber ("Yoooou're so next!"). There's very little dialogue in this cartoon, a testament to how well-animated these characters were and how their actions alone could carry a cartoon. I loved the part where Bugs makes a salad on Elmer's head, and the rapid fire scene towards the end in which Elmer and Bugs each threaten one another with bigger and bigger cannons until it inexplicably culminates in Elmer donning a wedding gown and the two getting married on stage (and then blown up).

Water, Water Every Hare (1952): I don't know if this is the first appearance of the big orange monster with sneakers, but it's a good episode either way. Bugs Bunny's rabbit hole has become flooded, but Bugs is too busy sleeping, underwater, to notice. He even sleepwalks to his water cooler, while still underwater, and gets a drink. Eventually the water rises and Bugs is washed away on his mattress to a the fortress of a mad scientist who decides he wants to use Bugs' brain for his giant robot. When Bugs decides to bolt, the scientist sics his monster on him. In one of Bugs' finer moments, he begins to do the monsters hair (because he's such an innnnnteresting monster). The scene is incredibly funny, but what really sells it for me is the way the monster spreads the bobby pins apart with its teeth, as if it's had its hair done numerous times before. The final slow-motion chase between Bugs and the scientist after they both inhale ether is very creepy and surreal.

Bewitched Bunny: (1954): I can sum up why this is one of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons with one word: "HAWN-sel?" Oh yeah, and the phrase "your mother rides a vacuum cleaner" is pretty good too, especially when spouted by two German kids through a mouthful of chocolate. In this one, Bugs finds himself stumbling into the story of Hansel and Gretel. He manages to help the kids escape, but then must deal with Witch Hazel, voiced by June Foray, a renowned voice actor who also provide the voice of Granny, as well as Rocky in Rocky and Bullwinkle, among several others.

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D.B. Siebert

"HAWN-sel?" Help - why the emphasis and repetition re 'Hawnsel' and 'Hansel'? Is there an inside joke I'm missing? or is the name just supposed to be funny? I've been searching the Web for an answer. And, while I'm at it......where does the phrase "you may fire when ready, Grizzly" come from?

August 07 2006 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Julio Rivera

I love Bugs Bunny, but I want to know is the name of the cartoon that he was against a robber that possed as a baby. I say this because, the movie, Little Man, is very similar to that cartoon. I think that is not right to steal an idea like that. Please e-mail me with the name of that episode.

Thank you,

Julio Rivera

July 14 2006 at 4:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Firecracker, firecracker, siss-boom-bah
Bugs Bunny, Bugs Bunny, RAH-RAH-RAH!!!

Hillbilly Hare is one of my faves, but I will walk around the office randomly singing, "Speaw and magic helmet?" :)

June 07 2006 at 12:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As for the Orange Monster . . . His name is Gossamer and he's only been in two (2) shorts (I'm fairly certain).

I used to have a Gossamer Watch so I made sure I knew his name :).

Also you should have put which one were actually academy Award winners (just for reference). I'm not going to but I know off and that both Rabbit of Seville and What's Opera Doc were nominees if not actual winners.

June 05 2006 at 11:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No 'Herr Meets Hare'?

June 04 2006 at 10:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Adam Finley

Oh, yeah, and "Knighty Knight Bugs" was on my original list before I had to cut it down to five. So that would have been my Yosemite Sam choice, Adam. :)

"Bully for Bugs" was another one I had to lose. I'm telling you, getting it down to just five was really hard. :)

June 04 2006 at 9:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Adam Finley

As far as June Foray not playing Witch Hazel, that could very well be true, but IMDb says it was her. Of course, IMDb isn't always correct, either.

And I didn't forget "Rabbit Seasoning," I'll be mentioning that in an upcoming post where I talk about cartoons featuring both Bugs and Daffy.

June 04 2006 at 9:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tina M.

What great memories the list and all the comments gave me! I love the one where bugs gets stuck with the little penquin and keep running into the guy asking for spare change....i think it might be Humphry Bogat....its been so many years since I've seen it....anyway he's trying to return the little guy home....or how about when bugs and daffy go on vacation and they "must of took a wrong turn at Cucamonga". Can anyone reccomend a good dvd to buy with all these great cartoons?

June 04 2006 at 2:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I also like the baseball one ("1st base, Bugs Bunny; 2nd base, Bugs Bunny"). But I'm surprised you don't have any with Sam. I always thought Bugs was at his funniest opposite Yosimite Sam. The one in the old West is great. Sam asks if he wants to draw poker, so Bugs draws a fireplace poker - "Say, that is a fine drawing."

Or the one with they race to the top of the mountain. Sam keeps falling back down the mountain into town, and the band plays everytime he rolls back into town as if to celebrate his return. Hilarious.

Or the one where Sam has to be nice to Bugs to get his inheritance. But Bugs won't get out of the bathroom so Sam cuts a hole in the floor in hopes Bugs will fall through. Of course, Sam falls through and does the mock cussing all the way down.

June 04 2006 at 1:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All good choices, but no list, even of 5, is complete without "Rabbit Seasoning" or one of the other shorts that involved Rabbit Season, Bugs, Daffy, and Elmer.

June 03 2006 at 10:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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