Long-Haired Hare

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Long-Haired Hare
Long-Haired HareTitle.jpg
Title card
Directed byCharles M. Jones
Produced byEdward Selzer
(uncredited)
Story byMichael Maltese
StarringMel Blanc
Nicolai Shutorov (uncredited)
Music byCarl Stalling
Animation byPhil Monroe
Ben Washam
Lloyd Vaughan
Ken Harris
Layouts byRobert Gribbroek
Backgrounds byPeter Alvarado
Color processTechnicolor
Production
company
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
The Vitaphone Corporation
Release date
June 25, 1949 (1949-06-25)
Running time
7 minutes 36 seconds
LanguageEnglish

Long-Haired Hare is a 1949 American animated short film directed by Chuck Jones and written by Michael Maltese. It was produced by Warner Bros. Cartoons and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures as part of the Looney Tunes series, and was the 60th short to feature Bugs Bunny. In addition to including the homophones "hair" and "hare", the title is also a pun on "longhairs", a characterization of classical music lovers.[1] Nicolai Shutorov provides the singing voice of Giovanni Jones.

Plot[edit]

On a hillside, Bugs is singing "A Rainy Night in Rio"[1] on a banjo. In a nearby house, a burly, blond-haired opera singer named Giovanni Jones rehearses "Largo al Factotum" from The Barber of Seville.[1] Overhearing Bugs, he absent-mindedly begins singing along in operatic style. Realizing his mistake,[1] Giovanni loses his temper over his rehearsal being interrupted in this manner. He reacts by going to Bugs on the hill and grabbing the banjo from him, popping the strings, then splitting it in two. He crushes the neck into the banjo body, turns it over to dump out the neck pieces then slams it over Bugs' head. ("Music-hater," Bugs opines.)

As Giovanni practices again, he overhears Bugs singing a variation on "My Gal is a High-Born Lady" on a harp. He tries to ignore Bugs, but he ends up both singing along in operatic style and dancing along.[1] Becoming furious again, he retaliates by going to Bugs and resting his arm on the harp's center pole as he glares at Bugs and breathes heavily. When Bugs notices and asks what the problem is with his famous question: "Eh, what's up doc?" Giovanni sticks Bugs' neck between the harp's strings and then treats it like an accordion, pulling its bottom part close to the ground and its base, then pushing the bottom part back to crush the instrument with Bugs trapped in it. ("Hmm, also a rabbit-hater — oh, well," Bugs counters.)

Giovanni tries to start singing once more, but the sound of a sousaphone seems to come out of his open mouth when he tries to sing the first note. The sound is coming from Bugs playing "When Yuba Plays the Rhumba on the Tuba" on a sousaphone.[1] Bugs ducks into his hole after seeing Giovanni approach to punish him again for interrupting his rehearsal, the bell of the sousaphone getting stuck in the hole's small opening, but the singer simply pulls Bugs out through the sousaphone. Then, he ties Bugs' ears to a tree branch and pulls him down so that he bounces repeatedly beneath the branch, bonking his head on it several times, as Giovanni walks away in anger, certain that he's made sure Bugs will not interrupt his rehearsal any further. After this, a now-incensed Bugs decides it's time for payback against Giovanni for his actions and says one of his other famous lines: "Of course you know, this means war!"[1]

Bugs exacts his revenge against Giovanni through a series of public humiliations during his concert (seemingly at the Hollywood Bowl). First, Bugs causes the roof of the concert hall to vibrate, temporarily disrupting the singer's vocals. Then he hammers it so that the violent shuddering causes Giovanni to bounce across the stage, until he falls off and becomes trapped in the orchestra's tuba. Bugs rescues him and takes him backstage. Next, Bugs sprays Giovanni's throat with "liquid alum" which shrinks his head, as well as his voice, as he sings the "Figaro" part.

Bugs dresses up as a teenage bobby soxer and asks Giovanni for an autograph ("Frankie and Perry just aren't in it!") —except the pen is a stick of dynamite. After the off-screen explosion, Giovanni steps out to the stage with a singed face and evening wear torn to shreds. He takes a couple of bows and then collapses.

During the concert's final act, Bugs poses as the highly respected Leopold Stokowski, prompting the musicians, Giovanni, the conductor, and the audience to immediately snap to attention, show reverence, and acknowledge him with repeated astonished cries of "Leopold!", as Bugs takes over the conducting duties and the original conductor respectfully hands the reigns of the performance over to him.

Bugs casually snaps the baton evenly in two and tosses the pieces aside, and then, using his hands instead (as did the real Leopold), Bugs makes Giovanni sing various different notes, including a very low D. Bugs, after accepting brief applause (which is instantly stopped when he raises his hand), cracks his knuckles, winds up his fists and, after scowling angrily at a nervous Giovanni, ready to deliver the finisher for his revenge against the singer, conducts Giovanni into holding a singular high G note until Giovanni can hardly endure the strain. Giovanni's face turns various colors as he squirms and his formal wear unravels.

Bugs leaves his glove hovering in the air and steps off of the stage to order a pair of earmuffs, which are delivered almost instantly to Bugs after he places the order into the mailbox. Bugs takes the earmuffs out of the package, puts them on, and then returns to the stage where Giovanni has obeyed the glove and is still holding the high note, now on the floor from the strain. Bugs puts his hand back in his glove to continue conducting Giovanni to hold the note himself, as the strain of holding the note causes Giovanni to start thrashing about on the floor banging his fists, his face continuing to turn various colors. Finally, the top of the concert hall's shell shatters and tumbles down on top of Giovanni.

As the audience applauds Bugs, who removes the earmuffs and bows to them, a roughed-up Giovanni (whose hair is now reddish) appears out of the rubble to take a couple of bows himself. Noticing one last piece of the amphitheater balanced on a steel beam above Giovanni, Bugs cues the singer to close out his performance with an encore of the high note. This causes the piece to fall and crush him in offscreen. Satisfied with his victory, Bugs removes his wig and ends the show by taking out another banjo and playing the Vaudeville-era four-note riff, "Good Evening Friends".

Music[edit]

The film's musical score includes original music by Carl Stalling, but a significant proportion of the score is pre-existing music, including several operatic pieces. The soundtrack includes "Largo al factotum" from Act I of Gioachino Rossini's The Barber of Seville; Arthur Schwartz's "A Rainy Night in Rio"; Barney Fagan's "My Gal is a High-Born Lady"; Herman Hupfeld's song "When Yuba Plays the Rumba on the Tuba" – played by Bugs on a Sousaphone; the sextet "Chi mi frena in tal momento" from Act II of Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor; the 2nd theme from the Prelude to Act III of Richard Wagner's Lohengrin; the overture from Franz von Suppé's operetta Die schöne Galathee (The Beautiful Galatea); and the melody to "It's Magic." This last piece is also used in the cartoon Transylvania 6-5000. "My Gal is a High-Born Lady" is given alternate lyrics, as Barney Fagan's original 1896 song had a racially stereotyped subject and lyrics. The author of the re-written lyrics used in the cartoon is most likely Carl Stalling or Michael Maltese. The Donizetti piece, originally a sextet that comprises part of the opera's Act II finale, seems to have been a favorite of Warner music arranger Carl Stalling, and is also used in Book Revue and Back Alley Oproar.

Giovanni Jones' singing voice remained uncredited and unknown for many years, but the DVD commentary identifies him as baritone Nicolai G. Shutorov (1914-1948). Hare was the only known film role for Shutorov, who had otherwise worked in Hollywood as a choral singer.[2]

Also noted on the DVD commentary is Bugs Bunny's conducting performance as "Leopold", as a send-up of conductor Leopold Stokowski's energetic style, including his shunning the baton: Bugs makes a point of snapping the baton in half and discarding it. As Bugs enters the concert hall wearing a Stokowski-like hairpiece, the orchestra members begin whispering among themselves, "Leopold! Leopold!" The DVD commentator also notes that Stokowski conducted many performances at the Hollywood Bowl, where the second half of this film is set. Stokowski was, at the time, one of the best known conductors in the world through personal appearances, recordings, and radio, and also took part in several motion pictures including One Hundred Men And A Girl and Carnegie Hall; however, the most famous film in which he participated, Fantasia (1940), was a difficult production for Warner Brothers' rival Walt Disney Productions that did not earn back its cost until 1970.

Analysis[edit]

According to Daniel Goldmark, the first two minutes of the cartoon establish a struggle between classical music and popular music. Giovanni acts as if protecting the world of "good" music from the ignorant masses which Bugs represents. The folk melodies which Bugs sings are featured as infectious and treated as disease by Giovanni, acting as a representative of the musical establishment.[1] Each time that Giovanni finds himself singing to one of Bugs' songs, his first reaction is shock, followed by fury that he is wasting his voice on less refined music.[1] Goldmark finds similarities with The Band Concert (1935), where Donald Duck insists on playing Turkey in the Straw and infuriates Mickey Mouse.[1]

Bugs is established as an anti-aesthete first by his initial choice of musical organ, the banjo. Secondly, he performs in a backwoods setting, as opposed to Giovanni's modern house. Thirdly, he sings from memory while Giovanni uses sheet music. He is also implied to be an untrained musician, contrasting with the trained Giovanni. A further contrast is implied through the geographic origin of their songs. Bugs sings American popular songs, while Giovanni's repertoire is Western European in origin.[1]

The orchestral musicians featured in the short have little to no personality. Their identity depends only on their instrument. Chuck Jones would follow this idea with similar personality-less depictions in the Rabbit of Seville (1950) and Baton Bunny (1959). This contrasts with orchestra-driven animated shorts by other creators.[1]

By assuming the position of the conductor, Bugs places himself at the top of the musical hierarchy. He forces Giovanni into an improvised vocalization which spans his entire range and an exercise of all his technical skills. He then forces Giovanni to hold a painful, long high G, which brings the Hollywood Bowl crashing down on the singer.[1] Bugs assumes the stereotypical attributes of famous conductors, displaying majesty, arrogance, and tyrannical behavior. He also follows the dress code of the concert hall by wearing white tie and tails, formal wear which is still associated with performers.[1]

Availability[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Goldmark, Daniel (2005), "Corny Concertos and Silly Symphonies: Classical Music and Cartoons", Tunes for 'Toons: Music and the Hollywood Cartoon, University of California Press, ISBN 9780520941205

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Goldmark (2005), p. 114-125
  2. ^ "Entertainment". The Berlin Sentinel. 1945-10-20.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-08-11. Retrieved 2016-09-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Bowery Bugs
Bugs Bunny Cartoons
1949
Succeeded by
Knights Must Fall