Bugs Bunny Rides Again

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Bugs Bunny Rides Again
Merrie Melodies (Bugs Bunny) series
Bugs Bunny Rides Again02.JPG
Bugs Bunny is about to give Yosemite Sam the "shaft" in more ways than one.
Directed by Friz Freleng
Produced by Edward Selzer
Story by Tedd Pierce
Michael Maltese
Voices by Mel Blanc
Music by Carl Stalling
Animation by Gerry Chiniquy
Manuel Perez
Ken Champin
Virgil Ross
Layouts by Hawley Pratt
Backgrounds by Paul Julian
Studio Warner Bros. Cartoons
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
The Vitaphone Corporation
Release date(s) June 12, 1948 (1948-06-12)
Color process Technicolor
Running time 7 minutes 11 seconds
Language English

Bugs Bunny Rides Again is a 1947 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies short, released in 1948, directed by Friz Freleng, and written by Tedd Pierce and Michael Maltese.[1] The short is both part of the Western and a parody of the genre's conventions.[2]

Voice characterizations are performed by Mel Blanc. The cartoon features Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam. This is a sequel, of sorts, to the pair's first encounter in 1945's Hare Trigger. The title is a typical Western reference, as in "The Lone Ranger rides again", and also suggests a reference to the 1940 Jack Benny comedy, Buck Benny Rides Again.

Plot[edit]

After opening credits underscored by the William Tell Overture (as with The Lone Ranger), the music segués into a lively instrumental of Cheyenne as the action begins. The opening scene features a typical Old West frontier town with the self-contradictory name of Rising Gorge. Bullets are firing from every window across the street into every other window across the street. A hail of bullets flies down one street until a traffic light turns red and the bullets hover in mid-air while a second hail of bullets shoot by on the perpendicular street. The light changes back and just as the first hail of bullets is about to start, a lone bullet "runs the red light" at even higher speed, holding up the first stream. After it passes, the first hail continues.

The scene then cuts to the Gunshot Saloon with the slogan of 'Come in a get a slug', and Western saloon-type piano music plays Cheyenne in the background. Inside, two men are standing at a bar. One man is about to drink a shot of whiskey; the second man takes out his gun and shoots the first man. The first man throws his glass into the air and the second man catches it. A scream is heard and Yosemite Sam enters the bar. All of the patrons are afraid of Sam, yelling his name in terror while the underscore plays Der Erlkönig (as is often the case for villains in Looney Tunes). Sam says, "Yeah, Yosemite Sam. The roughest, toughest, he-man stuffest hombre whose ever crossed the Rio Grande... And I don't mean Mahatma Gandhi! (Certain versions of the cartoon censor the line.[3] Instead, Sam says "And I ain't no namby pamby!"[4]) Now all of you skunks clear out of here!" After firing his guns, all the patrons run out, followed by a real skunk which looks similar to Pepe le Pew who retorts, "My, weren't there a lot of skunks in here?" Sam turns around to see a man trying to sneak out. Sam fires his guns at the man, who then turns into a firing range walking dummy, making a "ding" every time he is hit, with a score board above keeping tally. After that, Sam asks, "Now be there any livin' varmint who aims to try to tame me?" Spying Bugs Bunny, he asks again, "Well, be there?"

No one dares to challenge Yosemite Sam except Bugs, sporting a cowboy hat and rolling a cigarette. After a brief silence, Bugs replies ... "I aims ta ...". In a scene using a genre cliché, the two slowly pace against each other while their spurs jingle.[5] Bugs breaks the fourth wall and says to the audience, "Just like Gary Cooper, huh?",[5] and then draws a carrot instead of a gun. The comparison to Cooper is a reference to the actor's starring roles in the Western genre.[2] Sam then uses the cliché phrase, "this town ain't big enough for the two of us!"[2] Bugs tries to rectify that by running off-screen and, to sound effects of hammers and saws and music from the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Sonata Pathétique, quickly constructs a background of modern skyscrapers in the town. This panorama view of a modern city is in effect a visual pun. The cliché phrase is given a literal interpretation, and in response the town is enlarged and modernized.[2]

When Sam declares that "it's still not big enough!", then they then pull out guns. Sam starts with a six-shooter, and Bugs tops it with a "seven-shooter".[2] They keep pulling guns, one each a shot larger than the other, until Sam pulls out a 10-shooter. Bugs responds with a pea shooter,[2] which he proceeds to use. Sam orders Bugs to "Dance!" while firing at his feet. This was another familiar cliché of the genre, and audience expectations would be for Bugs to attempt to evade the bullets by hopping "from one foot to another". The trope is subverted when Bugs grabs a cane and straw hat from off-screen, and starts a tap dancing routine.[5][6] It is the routine Bugs first exhibited in Stage Door Cartoon (in which a prototype of Sam appeared). When Bugs finishes his number, he says "Take it, Sam!" and the villain is tricked and forgets himself. He dances to the same music, imitating Bugs' previous performance.[5][6] The source of the music is not actually specified on screen.[5] Sam is tricked into dancing into an open mine shaft,[6] nearly getting hurt in the process. This gag is also featured in the 1991 cartoon (Blooper) Bunny.

When Sam returns to the surface, Bugs dares him to cross a line drawn with his foot. "OK, I'm a-steppin'!" Bugs continues this schtick all the way out of town to the edge of a cliff, where the unobservant Sam steps over the line and plummets toward the ground far below. (This gag would be recycled in High Diving Hare and Invasion of the Bunny Snatchers.) The fall from a cliff was itself a cliché of animation, though it receives a refreshing variation. Suddenly stricken with guilt, the speedy hare dashes down a roadway, beats Sam to the ground and lays down a mattress, telling the audience, "Ya know, sometimes me conscience kinda bodders me ... but not this time!" as he pulls away the mattress at the last minute.[2] Sam smashes into the ground (off-screen) and the already pint-sized bandit has been vertically flattened to a hat with legs, but he still comes up firing.

A horseback chase scene ensues, to the tune of the William Tell Overture, as the two ride on horses that are proportional to their own sizes (or lack thereof). Bugs leads Sam into a tunnel, and again showing extraordinary construction talents, has time to don a painter's cap and build a brick wall at the other end, which Sam smacks into. After more chasing, Bugs stops the chase and points out that they are getting nowhere and are right back where they began ("Hey, wait a minute, Sam! We ain't gettin' nowheres! We're right back where we started!"), and Sam agrees.

The two decide to settle their differences "like the Western pictures" by playing cards,[2] with the loser being forced to leave town ("Gin rummy's mah game, Sam"). Sam tells Bugs to "cut the cards", which he does using a meat cleaver, a joke previously seen in a Harpo Marx gag in the 1932 film Horse Feathers, a Curly Howard gag in 1936's Ants in the Pantry - and probably a lot older than that. With a new deck, Bugs tricks Sam into playing a card that gives Bugs the win {"GIN! You lose!!"}.

Bugs tries to get Sam to take the train out of town. The two of them arrive at the strain station and discover that the passenger car is the Miami Special, full of beautiful, swimsuit-clad women. Accompanied with a rendition of Oh You Beautiful Doll fit for a striptease number, the plot twist completely changes the tone.[2][5] Bugs fights with Sam to board the train, and prevails as usual. In the final shot, he leans out the train window, his face covered with lipstick from kisses, and hollers a line similar to one from Hare Trigger: "So long, Sammy, see ya in Miami!" The cartoon is ended by the strains of Aloha 'Oe.

Animator Breakdown[edit]

(Courtesy of Mike Kazaleh)
Opening: Bugs and Sam - "You're getting outta town": Virgil Ross
"Alright you wise guy, DANCE": Ken Champin
Shoedance sequence: Gerry Chiniquy
"Poor little maroon, so trusting, so naive": Champin
Sam stepping over the lines - falling down cliff: Manny Perez
Bugs running down cliff - throws mattress away: Champin
Horse duel sequence; card game: Chiniquy
"Have a nice trip, etc." - Ending: Perez

Music[edit]

As a director, Friz Freleng favored using "one gag after the next", instead of clearly defined segments of exposition, climax, and conclusion to the narrative. In consequence, Carl Stalling did not come up for a single, unified scores for each of Freeleng's films, but rather with short musical cues accompanying and fitting each scene or gag. A total of 18 such cues appear in this short.[5]

The title music is a short sample of the William Tell Overture (1829) by Gioachino Rossini.[5] The establishing shot for the unnamed western town of the film is accompanied with a sample of Cheyenne (1906) by Egbert Van Alstyne and Harry Williams.[5] The establishing shot for the saloon and its customers is accompanied with a sample of Navajo (1903), also by Van Alstyne and Williams.[5] The entry of Yosemite Sam is accompanied by a sample of Der Erlkönig (1821) by Franz Schubert.[5] When Bugs Bunny emerges as the only one willing to stand against Sam, the music is a sample of Yosemite Sam, a song created by Stalling himself.[5] When Sam and Bugs start their duel, the music is a sample of Inflamatus, a section of the Stabat Mater (1841) by Rossini.[5] When Sam states that the town is not big enough for the two of them, the music is a sample of Sonata Pathétique (1799) by Ludwig van Beethoven.[5] The dancing scene is set to the tune of Bugs Bunny Rides Again, and the fall of Sam down the mine shaft to the tune of Wise Guy. Both were compositions by Stalling himself.[5] When Sam rages following his fall, the music is a sample of the Götterdämmerung (1876) by Richard Wagner.[5] When the two rival exit the town, the music is a sample of Fighting Words by Stalling, while the horse chase is set to another sample of the William Tell Overture. When the two rivals agree to play cards, the music is The Loser by Stalling.[5] Part of the card playing is set to a sample of My Little Buckaroo by M.K. Jerome and Jack Scholl.[5] The victory of Bugs and the rash towards the train station is set to another sample of Cheyenne. The scene with the bathing beauties is set to the tune of Oh, You Beautiful Doll (1911) by Nat Ayer and Seymour Brown.[5] When Bugs subdues sam, the music is Miami Special by Stalling. Finally, the train leaves to the tune of Aloha ʻOe (1878) by Liliuokalani.[5]

In part, Stalling relied on the musical codes of the Western genre. Cheyenne, My Little Buckaroo, Navajo, and the William Tell Overture were already strongly associated with the genre and familiar to audiences. Their tunes already evoked images of the Old West, cowboys, and cattle through this association.[5] Der Erlkönig, the Inflamatus, and the Sonata Pathétique had no such association, but all fit the function of generic dramatic or agitated music used in genre films.[5] In contrast, the titular tune of Bugs Bunny Rides Again has nothing to do with westerns. It is styled after the music of vaudeville shows.[5] The dance style used is "soft-shoe" tap dancing, a "leisurely cadence in soft-soled shoes" which was popularized through use in vaudeville shows.[6]

Censorship[edit]

  • When this cartoon aired on the Arabic dub of Cartoon Network, the end where Bugs forces Yosemite Sam into the train only to fight each other after finding out that it's full of sexy swimsuit-clad women heading for Miami was edited to remove the shot of the sexy, swimsuit-clad women lounging around (as nude and near-nude depictions of a woman's body is considered taboo in Arabic countries that have Islam as its main religion).
  • On the defunct WB! network, the beginning gun and bullet gags have been cut.
  • In the original cut, Yosemite Sam's line after he introduces himself was, "...and I don't mean Mahatma Gandhi." When Gandhi was assassinated in 1948, the Blue Ribbon Merrie Melodies reissue version changed the line to, "...and I ain't no namby-pamby."[1] The "namby pamby" line is the one commonly seen on television (particularly on The WB and the Ted Turner-owned channels TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, and Boomerang) and was released on the second volume of Golden Collection DVD set.

Previous film references[edit]

  • The animation of Bugs rolling his cigarette before excepting Sam's invitation to face off was re-used from "Hare Trigger."
  • The animation by Gerry Chiniquy of Bugs's soft shoe seems to be partially reused from "Stage Door Cartoon."

Availability[edit]

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Bugs Bunny Rides Again". www.bcdb.com, August 31, 2013
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Wells (2002), p. 45-47
  3. ^ Wells, Paul (2002). Animation: genre and authorship. Wallflower Press. p. 46. ISBN 1-903364-20-5. I don't mean Mahatma Gandhi (a line later re-dubbed because of its potentially insensitive representation of Gandhi, and racist connotations in relations to 'Indians', both from Asia and North America) 
  4. ^ Friedwald, Will (1981). The Warner Brothers cartoons. Scarecrow Press. p. 134. ISBN 0-8108-1396-3. ...and I don't mean Mahatma Gandhi!," while others have him saying "And I ain't no namby pamby! 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Goldmark (2005), p. 39-42
  6. ^ a b c d Lewis (2013), p. 106

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Buccaneer Bunny
Bugs Bunny Cartoons
1948
Succeeded by
Haredevil Hare
Preceded by
Along Came Daffy
Yosemite Sam cartoons
1948
Succeeded by
High Diving Hare