Little Red Riding Rabbit
|Little Red Riding Rabbit|
"Red" about to get even "redder". Animation by Virgil Ross
|Produced by||Leon Schlesinger|
|Story by||Michael Maltese|
Mel Blanc (first time solely credited)
|Music by||Musical direction:|
Carl W. Stalling
Milt Franklyn (uncredited)
|Animation by||Character animation:|
Manuel Perez (solely credited)
A.C. Gamer (solely uncredited)
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
The Vitaphone Corporation
|7 minutes 4 seconds|
Little Red Riding Rabbit is a 1944 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies cartoon, directed by Friz Freleng, and starring Bugs Bunny. It is a sendup of the Little Red Riding Hood story, and is the first time in which Mel Blanc receives a voice credit.
Little Red Riding Hood is depicted as a typical 1940s teen-aged girl, a "bobby soxer" with an extremely loud and grating voice (inspired by screen and radio comedian Cass Daley, provided by Bea Benaderet). After she sings the first verse of "Five O'Clock Whistle" in the opening to establish this fact, Bugs pops out of her basket to ask where she's going. She replies that she's going to "bring a little bunny rabbit to [her] grandma ta HAVE."
With this part of the story set up, the wolf is now introduced. The wolf switches a "Shortcut to Grandma's" sign, so that Red has to take an unnecessarily long mountain path, while the wolf uses the genuine shortcut – literally a few short steps to the house. Seeing a note pinned on the door that Grandma isn't home (apparently, Grandma is a "Rosie the Riveter" type who's working the "swing shift" at Lockheed), the wolf sneaks inside and dresses like Grandma, only to find that three other wolves are similarly dressed and all waiting in the bed for Red! The wolf (voiced by Billy Bletcher) growls for the others to "COME ON! COME ON! Take a powder – this is MY racket!" The other wolves leave, grumbling to themselves, and a small wolf who was hiding under the pillow, sheepishly follows suit, too. Once in bed, the wolf waits for Red to arrive. But in a twist, the wolf isn't interested in eating Red, but rather the rabbit she is bringing to Grandma.
Red arrives and begins her "Grandma, what big eyes you have" spiel, but is impatiently interrupted by the wolf who quickly shuffles her out the door and tries looking for Bugs in the basket. Bugs, of course, quickly gets the better of the wolf and runs around the house, with the wolf in hot pursuit. Along the way, Bugs subjects the wolf to the famous lots-of-doors in-and-out routine (which will be repeated in Buccaneer Bunny). The wolf, however, is constantly interrupted by Red, who continues her lines from the actual story. The wolf begins to flirt with her in a faux French accent, then suddenly yells at her to get out.
When cornered by the wolf, Bugs mimics the wolf's speech and gestures, irritating him and eventually distracting the wolf into singing Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet. Bugs manages to get a glowing coal from the fireplace and sends the wolf screaming in pain to the ceiling by scorching his backside. When the wolf comes down, Bugs has a large shovelful of hot coals waiting for him. However, the wolf manages to catch his feet on the ends of two benches just in time, doing the "splits". Instead of simply kicking one of the benches away, Bugs proceeds to dump heavy weights into the wolf's arms. After clearing out just about everything in the house (except the kitchen sink), Bugs is about to apply the coup de grace on the wolf – by placing a small olive branch on top of the mass of junk and furniture the wolf is holding – when Red reappears, bellowing "Hey, GRANDMA!" (By now, Red has managed to comment on the wolf's big eyes, big nose, big ears and sharp teeth, and one wonders what she was planning to say next.)
By this time, even Bugs has had enough of Red's interruptions, prompting him to say, "I'll do it, but I'll probably hate myself in the morning." He descends the ladder, and out of frame, there's a shuffling noise... and now RED is the one trying to avoid getting her bottom scorched, holding the weights and assorted junk, while Bugs and the wolf, arms around each other's shoulders, share a carrot and self-satisfied looks, and await the inevitable.
- Mel Blanc as Bugs Bunny
- Billy Bletcher as Big Bad Wolf (uncredited)
- Bea Benaderet as Little Red Riding Hood (uncredited)
Little Red Riding Hood is depicted as a spindly-legged, obnoxious and loud-mouthed teenage bobby-soxer. Granny is working the swing shift at the factory, and the Wolf is more interested in eating Bugs rather than eating Red. The Wolf in fact kicks Red out of Grandma's house. He and Bugs are engaged in games of chasing and toying with each other. Their games are constantly interrupted by Red who knocks on the door to ask the wolf the appropriate questions of the standard storyline. The Wolf and Bugs are sufficiently irritated to keep her suspended over burning hot coals. She is punished for her "crime" of being obnoxious.
Warner Brothers often parodied Disney cartoons. Billy Bletcher parodied his own Disney performance in this cartoon, voicing Big Bad Wolf, just as he did in Walt Disney's Academy Award-winning classic, Three Little Pigs and its later spinoff, The Big Bad Wolf, the latter of which also incorporated the story of Little Red Riding Hood.
Like other Bugs Bunny shorts released during World War II, this film features "a more violent rabbit with a more sadistic and mocking agenda".
This was not the only depiction of Little Red Riding Hood in an animated short. Others include Little Red Riding Hood (1922) and The Big Bad Wolf (1934) by Walt Disney, and Little Red Walking Hood (1937), Red Hot Riding Hood (1943), and Little Rural Riding Hood (1949) by Tex Avery.
Friz Freleng had already directed four fairy-tale films: Beauty and the Beast (1934), The Miller's Daughter (1934), The Trial of Mister Wolf (1941), and Jack-Wabbit and the Beanstalk (1943). He would go on to direct Red Riding Hoodwinked (1955).
- Beckett, Sandra (2008). "Epilogue". Red Riding Hood for All Ages: A Fairy-tale Icon in Cross-cultural Contexts. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 978-0814333068.
- Beckett, Sandra (2008). "Little Red Riding Hood". In Haase, Donald (ed.). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales: G-P. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0313334436.
- Sandler, Kevin S. (1998). "Introduction". Reading the Rabbit: Explorations in Warner Bros. Animation. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0813525389.
- Zipes, Jack (2011). "Animated Fairy-Tale Cartoons:Celebrating the Carnival Art of the Ridiculous". The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-Tale Films. Routledge. ISBN 978-1135853952.
- Zipes, Jack (2011). "The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood Revisited and Reviewed". The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-Tale Films. Routledge. ISBN 978-1135853952.
- Beckett (2008), p. 209
- Zipes (2011), p.141
- Zipes (2011), p.64
- Sandler (1998), p.7
- Beckett, Haase (2008), p. 587
- Zipes (2011), p. 402
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