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|Merrie Melodies/Bugs Bunny series|
|Directed by||Bob 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
|Running time||8 minutes (one reel)|
Falling Hare is a 1943 Warner Bros. propaganda cartoon directed by Robert Clampett, and starring Bugs Bunny in the Merrie Melodies series. 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’s situation (a hare falling / crashing to earth).
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 two months 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 a bomber plane, idly reading Victory Thru Hare Power (a spoof of the 1942 book) and laughing uproariously at the book’s claim that gremlins wreck American planes through "diabolical sabotage." He immediately encounters one of the creatures, who is experimentally striking the unfused nose of a bomb Bugs is sitting on with a mallet to the tune of “I've Been Working on the Railroad”. Bugs casually asks the gremlin what he’s doing. The gremlin replies that blockbuster bombs like the one in question do not detonate unless they’re struck with perfect precision. Noticing the gremlin’s lack of success, Bugs offers to help him. But after taking the mallet and raising it in preparation to strike the bomb, Bugs suddenly comes to his senses and refrains from following through milliseconds from striking it, screaming "WHAT AM I DOING!" as he does so. He then ponders if the creature in question was a gremlin. The gremlin replies as loud as he could: "It ain’t Vendell Villkie!"
The Gremlin ties up Bugs’s ears leaving him confused and hits his foot with a monkey wrench, further taunting Bugs by "laughing" the first seven notes of Yankee Doodle once aboard the aircraft. Bugs recovers and gives chase, repeatedly getting slighted by the gremlin, which includes repeated strikes with a monkey wrench and the "laughed" musical taunt. Bugs chases the gremlin inside a bomber, and finds himself locked from the outside. Then the gremlin takes the plane to the air, unbeknownst to Bugs. Bugs manages to burst out of the plane’s exit door, narrowly escaping plunging to his death when he realizes the plane is airborne. He manages to get back in, only to slide right out the other door due to strategically placed banana skins; when the gremlin opens the door again, he finds Bugs (who has apparently and humorously aged several years through sheer terror) clinging to it with his heart beating "4F" (Army code for drastically limiting medical condition, hospitalization required). His cat-and-mouse game with the gremlin continues, until Bugs realizes that the Gremlin is flying the plane toward a pair of skyscrapers. Bugs rushes into the cockpit, takes control of the airplane, rolls it vertically and flies through an extremely narrow slot between the towers to avoid what seemed to be an inevitable impact.
The plane goes into a tailspin, its wings ripping off during its descent, with only the fuselage remaining, making Bugs both airsick and terrified. However, the plane sputters to a halt, half a short distance above the ground and hanging in mid-air, defying gravity. Both Bugs and the Gremlin then address the audience: the gremlin apologizes for the plane's fuel depletion, while Bugs points to a wartime gas rationing sticker and says: "Yeah. You know how it is with these A cards!"
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 The Gremlins, 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.
Release and reception
Elements from the short have been used in other Warner Bros works.
- Black-and-white footage from the cartoon was featured in the second trailer for Gremlins 2: The New Batch (directed by Joe Dante). Though no footage was used in the theatrical cut of the film, a clip from the cartoon appeared in the VHS version.
- The Gremlin nemesis makes two reappearances in the “Tiny Toon Adventures”. In "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 "Plane Pals" (episode from “Animaniacs”) as a passenger.
- The scene in which a flattened Bugs mutters "I’m only 3½ years old" and rolls on the floor flat as a pancake, it’s used in "Who Bopped Bugs Bunny?" (episode from “Tiny Toon Adventures”).
This cartoon had a scene where a 2-engine USAAF bomber was flown directly at a skyscraper in what looked to be a certain impact. Two years after its release, a USAAF B-25 Mitchell bomber was inadvertently flown into the Empire State Building on a foggy day.
In popular culture
The climactic scene in Falling Hare is described in detail in the novel The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.
- Shull, Wilt (2004), p. 61
- Army Regulation 40-501: Standards of Medical Fitness (pp75,84)
- (An 'A card' was the lowest priority, entitling 3-4 gallons of gasoline per week)
- "Gremlins 2: The New Batch". Movie-Censorship.com. 2010-05-11. Retrieved 2015-08-08.
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (February 2008) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
- Shull, Michael S.; Wilt, David E. (2004). "Seeing Red, White 'n' Blue:1943". Doing Their Bit: Wartime American Animated Short Films, 1939-1945. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0786481699.
- Van Ripper, A. Bowdoin (2002). "Acceleration". Science in Popular Culture: A Reference Guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0313318221.
A Corny Concerto (not explicitly billed a Bugs Bunny cartoon)
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Little Red Riding Rabbit