Bugs Bunny: Superstar
|Bugs Bunny Superstar|
|Directed by||Larry Jackson|
|Produced by||Larry Jackson|
|Narrated by||Orson Welles|
|Music by||Ian Whitcomb|
|Edited by||Brian King|
|Distributed by||United Artists (Original)
Turner Entertainment (Warner Bros.)
Bugs Bunny: Superstar is a 1975 Looney Tunes documentary film, narrated by Orson Welles and produced and directed by Larry Jackson. It was the first documentary to examine the history of the Warner Bros. cartoons, and includes nine Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons which were previously released during the 1940s (and thus, it can also be considered to be an anthology film):
- What's Cookin' Doc? (1944), directed by Bob Clampett
- The Wild Hare (a.k.a. A Wild Hare) (1940), directed by Tex Avery
- A Corny Concerto (1943), directed by Bob Clampett
- I Taw a Putty Tat (1948), directed by Friz Freleng
- Rhapsody Rabbit (1946), directed by Friz Freleng
- Walky Talky Hawky (1946), directed by Robert McKimson
- My Favorite Duck (1942), directed by Chuck Jones
- Hair-Raising Hare (1946), directed by Chuck Jones
- The Old Grey Hare (1944), directed by Bob Clampett
Bugs Bunny: Superstar also includes interviews with some legendary Warner Bros. animation directors of that period: Friz Freleng, Tex Avery and especially Bob Clampett, who has the most screen time. Some contemporary critics pointed out that Clampett's important role, as one of the primary developers of the early Warner cartoons, was slanted to some degree, due to his prominent presence in this film. Clampett, whose collection of drawings, films, and memorabilia from the golden days of Termite Terrace was legendary, provided nearly all of the behind-the-scenes drawings and home-movie footage for the film; furthermore, his wife, Sody Clampett, is credited as the film's production co-ordinator. In an audio commentary recorded for Bugs Bunny: Superstar, director Larry Jackson claimed that in order to secure Clampett's participation and access to Clampett's collection of Warners history, he had to sign a contract that stipulated Clampett would host the documentary and also have approval over the final cut. Jackson - who claimed that Clampett was very reluctant speaking about the other directors and their contributions - intended to interview Robert McKimson, Mel Blanc, and Chuck Jones for the film, but all three were ultimately not involved, for various reasons.
The documentary infuriated many of the Warner Bros. artists, as Clampett liberally took credit for many of the Warners creations. Clampett implies that he was the creator of Bugs Bunny, claiming that he used Clark Gable's carrot-eating scene in It Happened One Night as inspiration for the character. Furthermore, Clampett takes credit for drawing the model sheet for the first Porky Pig cartoon, I Haven't Got a Hat (1935), even though it was actually drawn by Friz Freleng. Subsequently, Chuck Jones, who already had a strong dislike for Clampett, left out Clampett's name in the 1979 compilation film The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie when Bugs discusses his fathers (where Chuck and other Warners directors were being listed), and his 1989 autobiography Chuck Amuck.
Bugs Bunny: Superstar was the first of a series of Warner cartoon compilation movies released in the 1970s and 1980s. However, as a documentary, it does not fit the mould of the totally animated Warner Bros. compilation movies that began with 1979's The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie. This film was not included because it was not produced by Warner Bros. (it was produced by Hare-Raising Films) and the cartoons were controlled by United Artists at that time as part of the Associated Artists Productions library of pre-1950 Warner Bros. films. The former a.a.p. library was later owned by MGM/UA Entertainment Co. and then Turner Entertainment Co.
It was re-released on DVD on November 14, 2006, as a two-part special feature in the box set Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 4. Most of the cartoons were previously released as separate, refurbished entries in the DVD collection. This film is presented pretty much "as is", unrestored with some age-wear apparent here and there. Most of the prints of the cartoons used were the Turner "dubbed versions", replacing the original prints from the 1975 release. The Old Grey Hare on the DVD used an original a.a.p. print (as part of the a.a.p. open soundtrack can be heard at the beginning of that cartoon) to preserve the final gag involving the "That's all, Folks" title card, which was lost in the Turner dubbed version of that cartoon. I Taw a Putty Tat is the other that was sourced from an a.a.p. print as the Turner dubbed version, which has an edit to remove a blackface gag. As of 2014, What's Cookin' Doc? and I Taw a Putty Tat are the only two cartoons from this film that have not been restored and remastered by Warner Bros. to be independently released on DVD.
- "Bob Clampett Superstar". What About Thad?. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
- You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story (2008), p. 255.
- WB retained a pair of features from 1949 that they merely distributed, and all short subjects released on or after September 1, 1948; in addition to all cartoons released in August 1948.