Case of the Missing Hare
|Case of the Missing Hare|
|Merrie Melodies series|
Title Card to Case of the Missing Hare
|Directed by||Charles M. Jones|
|Produced by||Leon Schlesinger|
|Story by||Tedd Pierce|
|Voices by||Mel Blanc|
|Music by||Carl W. Stalling|
|Animation by||Ken Harris
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures
The Vitaphone Corp.
|Release date(s)||December 12, 1942|
|Running time||8 min, 11 sec|
Case of the Missing Hare is a 1942 Warner Bros. cartoon in the Merrie Melodies series, directed by Chuck Jones and starring Bugs Bunny. The title is a typical play on words, and although it suggests a mystery story, it bears no apparent relationship to the plot line.
This is one of the few cartoons where Bugs Bunny does not say his catchphrase, "Eh, what's up, Doc?", as well as being one of few cartoons in the character's filmography to fall into the public domain, due to the failure of the last copyright holder, United Artists Television, to renew the original copyright within the allotted 28-year period.
A magician named Ala Bahma is nailing self-promoting posters on every conceivable surface, including a tree in which Bugs is living. He protests having his home encroached and his right to private property compromised, until the magician apologies and offers Bugs blackberry pie. The rabbit's expression momentarily changes to joy as Ala Bahma magically brandishes a pie from underneath his cloth, then splatters it in Bugs's face. As the magician walks away saying "What a dumb bunny!", Bugs, with the bits of filling and crumbled crust from the pie on his face, calmly turns to the audience and, having decided that it is time to pay Ala Bahma back, says his famous Groucho Marx-inspired catchphrase: "Of course you realize, this means war!"
For the rest of the film's storyline, Bugs enacts his revenge in the theater where Ala Bahma is performing. The rabbit wreaks havoc during the magician's prestidigitations by heckling him, upstaging him, and interrupting his performance with a mixture of comic violence and his own bizarre cartoon magic. After his revenge, he brandishes his own pie. He says to the audience, quoting Red Skelton's "Mean Widdle Kid", "If I dood it, I dit a whippin'... I DOOD IT!" and splatters the pie in Ala Bahma's face. Bugs sings "Aloha 'Oe" on a ukelele as he descends into the hat upon iris-out.
Background artists Gene Fleury and John McGrew reduced most of the backgrounds to the film to patterns (stripes, zig-zags, etc.) and colored cards. The result was outlandish but Fleury recalled Leon Schlesinger congratulating them. In the theater setting of the film, these backgrounds could be rationalized to represent stage flats.
Michael S. Shull and David E. Wilt consider it ambiguous if this cartoon contain a World War II-related reference. Bugs Bunny pronounces the phrase "Of course you realize, this means war" in a gruff voice that may have been intended as an imitation of Winston Churchill.
For unknown reasons (possibly time constraints), TBS cut several shots in the beginning where Ala Bahma's posters are plastered all over trees and telephone poles 
The Case of the Missing Hare is available, uncut and restored, on Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 3.
- Barrier, Michael (1999), "Warner Bros., 1941-1945", Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199839223
- Shull, Michael S.; Wilt, David E. (2004), "Appendix E.", Doing Their Bit: Wartime American Animated Short Films, 1939-1945, McFarland & Company, ISBN 978-0786481699
- Case of the Missing Hare at the Internet Movie Database
- Case of the Missing Hare at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Case of the Missing Hare is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
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