Falling Hare

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Falling Hare
Merrie Melodies/Bugs Bunny series
Falling hare title card.jpg
Title card
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
Release date(s) October 30, 1943 (USA)
Color process Technicolor
Running time 8 min. (one reel)
Language English

Falling Hare is a 1943 Warner Bros. 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).

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 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 Through Hare Power[1] and laughing uproariously at the book’s claim that gremlins wreck American planes through 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. 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. Bugs recovers and gives chase, repeatedly getting slighted by the gremlin, which includes repeated strikes him with a monkey wrench. 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. His cat-and-mouse game with the gremlin continues, until Bugs that the Gremlin is fling the plane toward a pair of skyscrapers. Bugs rushes into the cockpit, takes control of the airplane and performs an aileron roll, flying between the towers.

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 halt a short distance above the ground, hanging in mid-air, defying gravity. 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: "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]

Because of the cartoon’s public domain status, it can be found on budget compilations in lower quality prints, while Warner Home Video issued a restored print on Vol. 3'.[citation needed]

When the Southern Television broadcast interruption occurred in the United Kingdom, the interruption ended shortly before the start of this episode.[citation needed]

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 none was used in the final cut of the film itself.
  • 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 3 1/2 years old" and rolls on the floor flat as a pancake, it’s used in "Who Bopped Bugs Bunny?" (episode from “Tiny Toon Adventures”).

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.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Inline citations[edit]

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

General references[edit]

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