|Merrie Melodies (Bugs Bunny) series|
|Directed by||I. Freleng|
|Produced by||Edward Selzer (uncredited)|
|Story by||Tedd Pierce
|Voices by||Mel Blanc|
|Music by||Carl Stalling
Jakob Gimpel (piano)
|Animation by||Manuel Perez
|Layouts by||Hawley Pratt|
|Backgrounds by||Terry Lind|
|Studio||Warner Bros. Cartoons|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures
The Vitaphone Corporation
|Release date(s)||November 9, 1946|
|Running time||7 min (one reel)|
Rhapsody Rabbit is a 1946 Merrie Melodies animated short subject, featuring Bugs Bunny and directed by Friz Freleng. The short was originally released to theaters by Warner Bros. Pictures on November 9, 1946. This short is a follow-up of sorts to Freleng's 1941 Academy Award-nominated short Rhapsody in Rivets, which featured the "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" by Franz Liszt. The "instrument" used to perform the Hungarian Rhapsody in Rhapsody in Rivets is a skyscraper under construction, while this short features Bugs Bunny playing the piece at a piano, while being pestered by a mouse.
The cartoon opens with a bar of "Merrily We Roll Along", followed by a segment of the "lively" portion of Wagner's Siegfried funeral march, as Bugs walks onstage to applause and prepares to play the grand piano. Throughout the cartoon he runs through a large assortment of visual gags while continuing to play the Hungarian Rhapsody. The first gag involves an apparent (off-screen) audience member who coughs and hacks loudly just as Bugs is poised to play. When it happens a second time, Bugs pulls a revolver out of his tailcoat and shoots the audience member. After blowing the smoke from the barrel and returning the gun to his pocket, Bugs resumes his concert.
Although the film is mostly pantomime, Bugs speaks a few times (voice of Mel Blanc). At one point he is interrupted by the ring of a phone, timed to echo a short fluttering strain that Bugs is playing at that moment. The phone is inside the piano: "Eh, what's up doc? Who? Franz Liszt? Never heard of him. Wrong number." When playing a notable triad in the middle of the piece, which happens to be the same triad notably used in the unrelated Rossini aria "Largo al factotum" (from The Barber of Seville, which would be spoofed in a later Bugs cartoon), Bugs accompanies his piano playing by singing, "Fi-ga-ro! Fi-ga-ro!"
A mouse appears and pesters Bugs the rest of the way, although the first ("slow") half of the piece is played nearly "straight", with just a few small gags. Bugs stops at the very short pause in the piece, acknowledging the applause of the audience. Before he can begin the "fast" part of the piece (where the gags accelerate), the mouse instigates a major musical shift, to a "Boogie-woogie" number. Bugs joins in, although he eventually traps the mouse (which responds by playing "Chopsticks" while still trapped) and seemingly disposes of the pest with dynamite; when the mouse begins quietly playing "Taps" and stops 1 note short, Bugs peeks inside and the mouse "plays" the final note by hitting Bugs with a mallet. Bugs then returns to playing the Rhapsody. As the pace picks up, he speaks to the camera (for the last time in the cartoon): "Look! One hand! ... NO hands!" The camera pulls back, and he is deftly playing the piano keys with his toes.
Nearing the end of the Rhapsody, he is in shock after turning to the finale page which consist of scrambled, quick playing, nearly impossible to read notes after which he takes off his shirt, oils his hands, and prays. Then, preparing to play the intense part, he is startled to hear the frenzied finalé playing, behind him. It is the mouse, complete with tie and tails, playing a toy piano that plays like a normal-sounding piano. Cut back to Bugs after the full-orchestra finalé, and he disgustedly plays the three single notes that actually end the piece, and then mutters inaudible profanity which can be lip-read.
The same year Warner Bros. released Rhapsody Rabbit, MGM produced a Tom and Jerry short The Cat Concerto. Both shorts used near identical gags, and they even used the same piece by Franz Liszt. Even the ending is similar, Tom is also upstaged by Jerry. Both Warner Bros. and MGM accused each other of plagiarism, after both films were shown during the 1947 Academy Awards ceremony. Technicolor was accused of sending a print of either cartoon to the competing studio, who then allegedly plagiarized their rival's work. By pure co-incidence, as of 1997 both shorts are under ownership of Turner Entertainment and Warner Bros. (Both were part of the pre-1986 MGM library, and Rhapsody Rabbit being part of it via sales to a.a.p. and its successor companies).
The short is available on disc 4 of Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 2, with an optional commentary track by musical historian Daniel Goldmark. Also, it is available on disc 2 of Looney Tunes Spotlight Collection Volume 2.
- The part where Bugs shoots a man in the audience who cannot stop coughing was removed when the cartoon aired on The WB. This gag is also seen on the Pink Panther cartoon Pink, Plunk, Plink.
- Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies filmography (1940–1949)
- List of Bugs Bunny cartoons
- Canned Feud with the unnamed mouse
- Lil'Red Rodent Hood with unnamed mouse
- Convict Concerto, a Woody Woodpecker cartoon
- The Cat Concerto, a Tom and Jerry cartoon
- Pink, Plunk, Plink, a Pink Panther cartoon
The Big Snooze
|Bugs Bunny Cartoons