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|Looney Tunes (Bugs Bunny) series|
Title card of Long-Haired Hare.
|Directed by||Charles M. Jones|
|Produced by||Eddie Selzer (uncredited)|
|Story by||Michael Maltese|
|Voices by||Mel Blanc
Nicolai Shutorev (uncredited)
|Music by||Carl Stalling|
|Animation by||Ken Harris
|Layouts by||Robert Gribbroek|
|Backgrounds by||Peter Alvarado|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Release date(s)||June 25, 1949 (USA premiere)|
|Running time||7 minutes 36 seconds|
Long-Haired Hare is a Warner Brothers Looney Tunes theatrical cartoon short released in 1949, directed by Chuck Jones and written by Michael Maltese. In addition to including the homophones "hair" and "hare", the title is also a pun on "longhairs", a characterization of classical music lovers. Nicolai Shutorov provides the singing voice of Giovanni Jones.
Bugs is happily minding his own business, playing a banjo and singing "A Rainy Night in Rio." Nearby, a burly, blond-haired opera singer named Giovanni Jones rehearses "Largo al Factotum" from The Barber of Seville. Overhearing Bugs, he absent-mindedly finds himself singing along in operatic style: "What do they do in Mississippi when skies are drippy?". Realizing that he accidentally switched genres, Giovanni loses his temper over his rehearsal being interrupted in this manner. Giovanni angrily confronts Bugs and breaks the banjo strings and the banjo itself in half, crushing the neck and then slamming the body over Bugs' head. ("Music-hater," Bugs incorrectly guesses.)
As Giovanni practices again, he hears Bugs singing "My Gal Is a High-Born Lady" and playing a harp. He tries to ignore Bugs, but again ends up singing and dancing along: "one and two and three and four, she dances all day long". Giovanni angrily confronts Bugs once again. He grabs Bugs by the throat, puts him in the harp, and crushes his neck inside the harp like a vise. ("Also a rabbit-hater," Bugs counters.)
As Giovanni tries to sing again later, the sound of a Sousaphone seems to come out of his mouth. The sound is coming from Bugs playing "When Yuba Plays the Rhumba on the Tuba". Though the rabbit promptly ducks into his hole, Giovanni reaches down into the Sousaphone, pulls him out, ties him by his ears to a tree branch, and yanks him down so that he bounces up and down beneath the branch, bonking his head repeatedly. As Giovanni walks away, an enraged Bugs decides its time for payback, and says his famous line: "Of course you know, this means war!"
Bugs exacts his revenge against Giovanni though a series of public humiliations during his concert (seemingly at the Hollywood Bowl). First, Bugs vibrates the roof of the concert hall to disrupt the singer's vocals. Then he hammers it so Giovanni moves across the stage and falls and gets trapped into a tuba. Bugs pulls him out and takes him backstage. Next Bugs sprays Giovanni's throat with "liquid alum" which shrinks his head as well his voice.
Next, Bugs dresses up as a teenage bobby soxer and asks Giovanni for an autograph, only the pen is a stick of dynamite. After the off-screen explosion, Giovanni steps out to the stage with a singed face and evening wear torn to shreds. He takes a couple of bows and then collapses.
During the concert's final act, Bugs poses as the highly respected Leopold Stokowski to take over the conducting duties, even breaking the baton and using his hands instead. Bugs makes Giovanni sing various notes, including a very low note. After accepting brief applause (which is instantly stopped when he raises his hand), Bugs cracks his knuckles, winds up his fists, and conducts Giovanni into holding a singular high G note until Giovanni can hardly endure the strain. His face turns different colors as he squirms and unravels his formal wear. Bugs leaves his glove hovering in the air and steps outside to order a pair of earmuffs which are delivered instantly after Bugs places the order in the mailbox. Bugs returns to the stage to find Giovanni has obeyed the glove and is still singing the high note but is now thrashing about on the floor banging his fists, his face still turning various colors. Finally, the top of the concert hall's shell shatters and tumbles down on top of Giovanni.
For the encore, a roughed-up Giovanni (whose hair is now reddish) appears out of the rubble to take a bow. Witnessing one last piece of the amphitheater balanced on a steel beam above Giovanni, Bugs again cues the singer to close out his performance with the high note so that the piece falls and crushes him off camera. Satisfied with his victory, Bugs removes his wig and ends the performance by playing the Vaudeville-era four-note tune, "Good Evening Friends", on a banjo.
The film's musical score includes original music by Carl Stalling, but a significant proportion of the score is pre-existing music, including several operatic pieces. The soundtrack includes Gioachino Rossini's "Largo al factotum" from The Barber of Seville; Arthur Schwartz's "A Rainy Night in Rio"; Barney Fagan's "My Gal is a High-Born Lady"; Herman Hupfeld's song "When Yuba Plays the Rumba on the Tuba" – played by Bugs on a tuba; Gaetano Donizetti's aria "Chi Mi Frena In Tal Momento" from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor; Richard Wagner's prelude, 2nd theme from Act III of Lohengrin; Franz von Suppé's overture from Die schöne Galathee; and the melody to "It's Magic." This last piece is also used in the cartoon Transylvania 6-5000. The Fagan 1896 song had a racially stereotyped subject and lyrics. The author of the re-written lyrics used in the cartoon might be Carl Stalling or Michael Maltese. The Donizetti piece, actually a sextet, seems to have been a favorite of Warner music arranger Carl Stalling, and is also used in Book Revue and Back Alley Oproar.
Giovanni Jones' singing voice remained uncredited and unknown for many years. It was since revealed to have been provided by baritone Nicolai G. Shutorev (1914-1948). That is noted in the commentary voice-over provided on the DVD.
Also noted on the DVD commentary is Bugs Bunny's conducting performance as "Leopold", as a send-up of conductor Leopold Stokowski's energetic style, including his shunning the baton: Bugs makes a point of snapping the baton in half and discarding it. As Bugs enters the concert hall wearing a Stokowski-like hairpiece, the orchestra members begin whispering among themselves, "Leopold! Leopold!" The DVD commentator also notes that Stokowski conducted many performances at the Hollywood Bowl, where the second half of this film is set. Though Stokowski was, at the time, one of the best known conductors in the world, the most famous film in which he appeared, Fantasia (1940), was an embarrassment to Warner Brothers' rival Walt Disney Productions that did not earn back its cost until 1970.
According to Daniel Goldmark, the first two minutes of the cartoon establish a struggle between classical music and popular music. Giovanni acts as if protecting the world of "good" music from the ignorant masses which Bugs represents. The folk melodies which Bugs sings are features as infectious and treated as disease by Giovanni, acting as a representative of the musical establishment. Each time that Giovanni finds himself singing to one of Bugs' songs, his first reaction is shock, followed by fury that he is wasting his voice on less refined music. Goldmark finds similarities with The Band Concert (1935), where Donald Duck insists on playing Turkey in the Straw and infuriates Mickey Mouse.
Bugs is established as an anti-aesthete first by his initial choice of musical organ, the banjo. Secondly, he performs in a backwoods setting, as opposed to Giovanni's modern house. Thirdly, he sings from memory while Giovanni uses sheet music. He is also implied to be an untrained musician, contrasting with the trained Giovanni. A further contrast is implied through the geographic origin of their songs. Bugs sings American popular songs, while Giovanni' repertoire is Western European in origin.
The orchestral musicians featured in the short have little to no personality. Their identity depends only on their instrument. Chuck Jones would follow this idea with similar personality-less depictions in the Rabbit of Seville (1950) and Baton Bunny (1959). This contrasts with orchestra-driven animated shorts by other creators.
By assuming the position of the conductor, Bugs places himself at the top of the musical hierarchy. He forces Giovanni into an improvised vocalization which spans his entire range and an exercise of all his technical skills. He then forces Giovanni to hold a painful long high G, which brings the Hollywood Bowl crashing down on the singer. Bugs assumes the stereotypical attributes of famous conductors, displaying majesty, arrogance, and tyrannical behavior. He also follows the dress code of the concert hall by wearing white tie and tails, formal wear which is still associated with performers.
- On ABC, the entire bobby soxer sequence (with Bugs dressed as a bobby soxer giving Giovanni Jones a dynamite stick as a pen while getting his autograph) is cut.
- On CBS, in addition to the ABC cut, all three times Bugs gets beaten up by Giovanni for interrupting his singing (smashing Bugs' banjo over his head after crushing it to pieces; slamming the harp shut on Bugs' neck; pulling Bugs through his tuba, then tying Bugs' ears to a tree branch, pulling his feet and snapping him back and forth so his head repeatedly strikes the branch) are cut, giving no reason for Bugs to ruin Giovanni's concert.
- Long-Haired Hare is available, uncensored, uncut and digitally remastered, on the 'Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 1 DVD set, Disc 1. It is available in high-definition on the Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 2 Blu-ray set, Disc 1.
- Goldmark, Daniel (2005), "Corny Concertos and Silly Symphonies: Classical Music and Cartoons", Tunes for 'Toons: Music and the Hollywood Cartoon, University of California Press, ISBN 9780520941205
- Goldmark (2005), p. 114-125
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