Falling Hare

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Falling Hare
Merrie Melodies/Bugs Bunny series
Falling hare title card.jpg
Title card
Directed by Robert Clampett
Produced by Leon Schlesinger
Story by Warren Foster
Voices by Mel Blanc
Music by Carl W. Stalling
Studio Leon Schlesinger Productions
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
The Vitaphone Corporation
Release date(s) October 30, 1943 (USA)
Color process Technicolor
Running time 8 min. (one reel)
Language English

Falling Hare is a 1943 Merrie Melodies cartoon directed by Robert Clampett, starring Bugs Bunny. As with many Bugs Bunny cartoons, the title is a play on words; "falling hair" refers to impending baldness, while in this cartoon's climax the title turns out to be descriptive of Bugs' situation (a hare falling / crashing to earth). Recorded on September 27, 1943.

Plot synopsis[edit]

This cartoon opens with the title credits over the strains of "Down By The Riverside", then into an extended series of establishing shots of an Army Air Force base, to the brassy strains of "We’re In To Win" (a World War II song also sung by Daffy Duck in Scrap Happy Daffy a year before). The sign at the base reads "U.S. Army Air Field", and below that is shown the location, the number of planes and number of men, all marked "Censored" as a reference to military secrecy. Beneath those categories, the sign reads "What men think of top sergeant", which is shown with a large white-on-black "CENSORED!!", as the language implied would not pass scrutiny by the Hays Office.

Bugs is found reclining on a piece of ordnance next to what is recognizably a Douglas B-18 Bolo bomber, idly reading Victory Through Hare Power (a parody of the extremely influential book Victory Through Air Power and its Disney film adaptation)[1] and laughing uproariously at the book's claim that gremlins wreck American planes with "di-a-bo-lick-al sab-oh-tay-jee" (diabolical sabotage). He immediately encounters one of the creatures, who is experimentally striking the unfused nose of the bomb Bugs is sitting on with a mallet to the tune of "I've Been Working on the Railroad". In response to Bug's "What's all the hubbub, bub?" (note that this is usually the kind of situation in which Bugs would say the catchphrase “What's up, Doc?,” but Bugs does not utter that line anywhere in the film), the gremlin replies in a nasal voice, "These Blockbuster bombs don't go off unless you hit them ju-u-u-u-st right." Noticing the gremlin's lack of success, Bugs offers to "take a whack at it" in a whispering voice, but comes to his senses an instant before striking the detonator, screaming "What am I DOING?!! " Bugs asks the audience sotto voce, "Say, could that been a... gremlin?" The gremlin, perched on Bugs' cheek the whole time, shouts in his ear, "It ain't Vendell Villkie!"

The Gremlin ties up Bugs' ears leaving him confused and hits his foot with a monkey wrench. Bugs recovers and gives chase only to be clobbered on the head by the gremlin with the monkey wrench, causing him to temporarily lose his ability to think clearly and faint. The gremlin then pulls out Bugs' tongue and releases it, rolling up like a loose roller shade. Bugs then rouses himself and chases the gremlin who still has the monkey wrench, only to get clobbered on the head with it. Bugs soon finds himself fighting a losing battle with the gremlin inside a flying but unpiloted bomber. The gremlin continues to beat on Bugs throughout the film, either by kicking him, clobbering some part of Bugs with the monkey wrench, or otherwise giving him grief, taunting Bugs following two of his "hits" on Bugs by "laughing" the first seven notes of Yankee Doodle once both are aboard the aircraft. Bugs then charges the gremlin and goes all the way outside, suddenly realizes he's in mid-air, stops suddenly and realizes the gremlin has made a “jack-ass” out of Bugs. When Bugs (in an apparent violation of even cartoon physics) zooms back inside the aircraft, he slides out the other side by slipping on a series of banana peels the Gremlin has strategically placed on the cabin floor of the aircraft mid-flight. The gremlin slams the second door shut, but hears pounding on it and open the door to find a comically aged through terror Bugs, his heart pounding with 4F labeled on it[1] (the term refers to a military draftee rejected for being physically unfit). The gremlin then pries Bugs off the door with a bar, slamming the rabbit into a wall where he is flattened into a coin shape, then dropped through the bomb bay doors and caught by his feet on a wire between the doors. He sees the Gremlin in the cockpit at the controls, flying toward a pair of skyscrapers. Bugs rushes into the cockpit, takes control of the airplane and flies between the towers vertically, emerging in a "victory roll".

In the finale, the plane goes into a tailspin (ripping apart during its descent, with only the fuselage remaining), making Bugs visibly airsick; the airspeed indicator's spinning numbers escalate wildly into the tens of thousands of miles an hour (this was mainly for comic effect, as supersonic flight had not yet been achieved and no sonic boom was heard), briefly pausing to state, "Incredible Ain't It???"—but comes to a sputtering halt (with sound effects by voice actor Mel Blanc, borrowing from his portrayal of the Maxwell automobile on the radio show The Jack Benny Program) about six feet before hitting the ground, hanging in mid-air, defying gravity.

Bugs and the Gremlin break kayfabe (as well as, again, the fourth wall) and address the audience. The gremlin apologizes for the plane having "run out of gas". Bugs chimes in and just as he speaks, the camera pans to the right, revealing a wartime gas rationing sticker: "You know how it is with these 'A' cards!"[1]

Production[edit]

  • Falling Hare went into production under the title Bugs Bunny and the Gremlin. Walt Disney was developing a feature based on Roald Dahl's novel Gremlin Lore, and asked other animation studios not to produce any films involving gremlins. However, Warner Bros. was too far into production on this cartoon and Russian Rhapsody to remove the references to gremlins, so Leon Schlesinger merely re-titled the cartoons as a compromise.[1]

Release and reception[edit]

  • Bugs' Gremlin nemesis makes two reappearances in the 1990s cartoon Tiny Toon Adventures. In the episode "Journey to the Center of Acme Acres" the gremlin appears (with several look-alikes) as the cause of earthquakes in Acme Acres after their gold is stolen by Montana Max. In the special "Night Ghoulery" a singular gremlin antagonizes Plucky Duck in the segment titled "Gremlin on a Wing", a spoof of the Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet". It also made a brief cameo in the Animaniacs episode "Plane Pals" as a passenger.
  • When Bugs says "I'm only 3 1/2 years old" (not in a child's voice) and rolling on the floor flat as a pancake, it was used in the Tiny Toon Adventures episode: "Who Bopped Bugs Bunny?"

In popular culture[edit]

The climactic scene in "Falling Hare" is described in detail in the novel The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.

Sources[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Shull, Wilt (2004), p. 61

External links[edit]

Preceded by
A Corny Concerto (not explicitly billed a Bugs Bunny cartoon)
Bugs Bunny Cartoons
1943
Succeeded by
Little Red Riding Rabbit