|Merrie Melodies (Bugs Bunny) series|
|Directed by||Robert Clampett|
|Produced by||Leon Schlesinger|
|Story by||Lou Lilly|
|Voices by||Mel Blanc
Sam Wolfe (uncredited)
|Music by||Carl W. Stalling|
|Distributed by||The Vitaphone Corporation|
|Release date(s)||June 24, 1944(USA premiere)|
|Running time||8 minutes 01 seconds (uncut version) 7:44 (theatrical version)|
Hare Ribbin' is a 1944 animated short film in the Merrie Melodies series, directed by Robert Clampett and featuring Bugs Bunny. The plot features Bugs' conflict with a red-haired hound dog, whom the rabbit sets out to evade and make a fool of using one-liners, reverse psychology, disguises and other tricks. It was released in theaters by Warner Bros. Pictures on June 24, 1944. The title is a pun on "hair ribbon".
The short opens with a dog with a Russian accent (a la Bert Gordon's "Mad Russian") hunting for a rabbit by sniffing a trail. He happens upon Bugs who begins to torment the dog. This prompts a chase, which leads to a nearby lake where the rest of the story continues. Most of the action takes place underwater.
Eventually, after a few gags, the dog corners Bugs and demands he give him a rabbit sandwich. Bugs obliges, and the rabbit places himself between two giant slices of loaf bread with his legs curled next to his body. The dog takes a bite and Bugs screams and fake his death. The dog becomes instantly grief-stricken and sobs, declaring that he should be the one to die. With this statement, Bugs springs back to life asking, "Ehhhh...do you mean it?", and obliges the dog's death wish (see Edited versions below) The dog falls to the ground, Bugs plants a flower on his chest and dances away into the distance. As the cartoon is about to "iris out" the dog sits up (revealing that he is still alive), holds the iris before it closes, and declares "This shouldn't even happen to a dog!". He then lets the iris go, but it closes on his nose in the process, making him yelp in pain.
Michael S. Shull and David E. Wilt consider it ambiguous if this cartoon contain a World War II-related reference. While underwater, Bugs disguises himself as a mermaid. The dog transforms into a torpedo to pursue "her".
The two alternate versions of the ending were based on the perception of someone that Bugs could not be seen killing another animal. This someone was perhaps a studio administrator.
The opening gag of this cartoon in which the dog sniffs around Bugs' armpits and then exclaims "B.O!" (body odor) in a voice similar to that of a foghorn is a parody of a then popular radio ad for Life Buoy Soap.
This cartoon short holds the distinction of having two endings, both of which are too violent by today's standards to be shown on children/family-friendly television:
The general release ending: the Russian Dog, distraught over Bugs' "death" and guilt-ridden, wishes he were dead too, and Bugs obliges by giving the dog a gun so he can shoot himself in the head—once played in theaters to a general audience, is now commonly cut from television versions on network TV and cable TV such as Cartoon Network, Boomerang, TBS, TNT, The WB, although it does air uncensored (as recently as 2015) on the Canadian cable channel Teletoon Retro. This ending was also aired uncensored on an episode of Cartoon Network's The Bob Clampett Show, as well as the Cartoon Network's New Year's Day Looney Tunes marathons in 2009 and 2010. The edit occurs between the scene where Bugs says "Do you mean it?" and the dog laying down, making it seem as if the dog had dropped dead out of guilt without shooting himself.
The "director's cut" ending: the Russian Dog, distraught over Bugs' "death" , wishes he were dead too, and Bugs obliges by pulling out a gun and shooting the dog through the mouth. Bugs then dances away, and the dog gets up to deliver the last line: This shouldn't happen to a dog". was never shown in theaters or on television, despite that the episode of Cartoon Network's The Bob Clampett Show that aired "Hare Ribbin" with its general release ending mentioned that "Hare Ribbin" had an alternate ending (this one) that was never shown, and due to its violence, never will be. The director's cut version was first discovered on the fifth volume of the "The Golden Age of Looney Tunes Volume 5" laserdisc set and the entire cartoon with the director's cut part is now on the fifth volume of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD set as a special feature.
On a related note, the "general release" version has an additional scene between Bugs turns himself into a "rabbit sandwich" when cornered and the dog mowing down half of the sandwich and apparently bisecting Bugs in the process, where Bugs looks to the camera and briefly lifts up the top portion of the sandwich to reveal he simply tucked himself in far from the position of the dog's mouth. This was presumably added in to assure the audience that Bugs wasn't actually in any real danger of being killed, but Bugs was actually in real danger of being killed in the "director's cut" version.
"The Golden Age of Looney Tunes Volume 5" laserdisc set has the "director's cut" version of this cartoon, unrestored. The fifth volume of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD set has the original cut of Hare Ribbin, restored and remastered, and the director's cut as a special feature, unrestored and unremastered (you can tell the difference between both cuts by the tinting of the color).
- Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons, by Jerry Beck and Will Friedwald (1989), Henry Holt, ISBN 0-8050-0894-2
- Looney Tunes Golden Collection, DVD set.
- Cohen, Karl F. (2004), "Censorship of Theatrical Animation", Forbidden Animation: Censored Cartoons and Blacklisted Animators in America, McFarland & Company, ISBN 978-0786420322
- Shull, Michael S.; Wilt, David E. (2004), "Appendix E.", Doing Their Bit: Wartime American Animated Short Films, 1939-1945, McFarland & Company, ISBN 978-0786481699
- Cohen (2004), p. 36-37
- Shull, Wilt (2004), p. 216
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