Little Red Riding Rabbit
|Little Red Riding Rabbit|
|Merrie Melodies (Bugs Bunny) series|
"Red" about to get even "redder". Animation by Virgil Ross
|Directed by||I. Freleng|
|Produced by||Leon Schlesinger|
|Story by||Michael Maltese|
|Voices by||Mel Blanc (first time credited)
Billy Bletcher (uncredited)
Bea Benaderet (uncredited)
|Music by||Carl W. Stalling|
|Animation by||Manuel Perez
|Studio||Leon Schlesinger Productions|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures
The Vitaphone Corporation
|Running time||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 go through a long mountain path, while the wolf uses the real shortcut – a few short steps to the house. Seeing a note 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 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 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 brings to Grandma.
The wolf quickly shuffles Red out the door and tries looking for Bugs in the basket. Bugs, however, 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 asking the questions from the actual story. The wolf then yells at her to get out.
When the wolf corners Bugs, Bugs mimics the wolf, eventually distracting him into singing "Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet (With the Blue Ribbons on It)". 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 coals waiting to scorch the wolf. 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 an olive branch on top of the mass of junk and furniture the wolf is holding – when Red comes back in, bellowing "Hey, GRANDMA!" (By now, Red has already questioned the wolf on his big eyes, big nose, big ears and sharp teeth, and one wonders what she was planning to ask 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, out of frame, there's a shuffling of the furniture... and now RED is the one trying to avoid getting scorched, 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 an obnoxious and loud-mouthed bobby-soxer. She is also spindly-legged. 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 Little Red out of Granny's house. He and Bugs are engaged in male 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. 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
- Little Red Riding Rabbit at the Big Cartoon Database
- Little Red Riding Rabbit on IMDb
- Little Red Riding Rabbit on the Internet Archive
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