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Director: Douglas McCarthy
Release Date: August 25, 1995
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Tweety, Laszlo, Penelope Pussycat, Pepe le Pew a.o.
Rating: ★★★

‘Carrotblanca’, as the title implies, is a parody on the classic feature ‘Casablanca’ (1942) and appears on several DVD releases of that film.

The short, however, originally was shown theatrically, accompanying the live action feature ‘The Amazing Panda Adventure’ in North America and the animated feature ‘The Pebble and the Penguin’ internationally. Thus, the film is a clear product of the cartoon renaissance, reviving many characters from the classic Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies.

The most familiar faces have the starring roles, so we watch Bugs Bunny as Rick Blaine, Daffy Duck as Sam, Yosemite Sam as ‘General Pandemonium’, Tweety as Ugarte, Sylvester as Laszlo, Penelope Pussycat as Ilsa, and Pepe le Pew as Captain Louis. Also visible are e.g. Foghorn Leghorn, Sam Sheepdog, Porky Pig, the Crusher, Beaky Buzzard, Miss Prissy, Giovanni Jones and Pete Puma. Strangely absent are Elmer Fudd on the Looney Tune side, and Signor Ferrari on the Casablanca side.

The short compresses the original movie into a mere eight minutes, and parodies many of its classic scenes, including the flashback scene. As expected, the result is rather silly, but unfortunately not very funny, as somehow most of the gags fall flat (it doesn’t help that Tweety goes into a Peter Lorre impersonation four times). The film remains at its best when parodying the feature, but as soon as the cartoon characters go into their own routines the results get unpleasantly stale. Thus the film is more a product of nostalgia than one breathing new life into the decades old characters.

Thus ‘Carrotblanca’ may not be an essential film, yet it’s still a fun watch, I guess more for Looney Tunes lovers than Casablanca lovers. If anything, the short showed that the characters still had potential to entertain, a notion Warner Bros. cashed on with the feature length ‘Space Jam’ (1996).

Watch ‘Carrotblanca’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Carrotblanca’ is available on several Blu-Ray and DVD editions of ‘Casablanca’

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: April 21, 1945
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam
Rating: ★★★★½

Hare Trigger © Warner Bros.‘Hare Trigger’ introduces that tiny yet explosive adversary to Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam.

His introduction music is Franz Schubert’s Erlkönig, and train robbery is his profession. However, on the train he encounters Bugs, who gives the short-tempered bandit a hard time.

The cartoon contains a shot of an über-cool Bugs rolling a cigarette, a gag repeated and improved on in ‘Bugs Bunny Rides Again‘ (1948). The short  also contains live action footage in the ‘club bar’ wagon.  The gun drawing scene is a highlight, as is Yosemite Sam’s death scene, which bugs invokes with ketchup. The cartoon ends brilliantly with a tongue-in-cheek cliffhanger.

According to Freleng he needed a stronger adversary to Bugs than Elmer Fudd ever was, and Yosemite Sam perfectly fitted the job. He was a delightful opponent to Bugs Bunny, and he became Friz Freleng’s favorite bad guy, lasting until 1964, and starring 31 cartoons in total, nearly all with Bugs Bunny. Perhaps Freleng was so fond of the character because he was partly based on Freleng himself.

In any case, he soon took Sam out of his Western origin, making him a.o. a pirate (‘Buccaneer Bunny‘, 1948), a foreign soldier (‘Bunker Hill Bunny‘, 1950) and a sheik (‘Sahara Hare’, 1955). Free from his Western origins Yosemite Sam could be Bugs Bunny in every country and every period of time, and in this respect he anticipates the Little Guy, the Pink Panther’s adversary, who also sprouted from Friz Freleng’s imagination.

Watch ‘Hare Trigger’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 32
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Unruly Hare
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Hare Conditioned


Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: April 22, 1950
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam
Rating: ★★★★★

Big House Bunny © Warner Bros.To escape some hunters, Bugs Bunny hides inside a prison, where Sam Schultz (Yosemite Sam) is a prison guard.

What follows is a great series of prison gags, including two morbid ones resulting in Sam hanging on the gallows and being electrified in an electric chair. Throughout the cartoon the warden keeps calling for Schultz, not unlike the Nazi officer in the Ernst Lubitsch feature ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ (1942).

‘Big House Bunny’ is full of excellent gags and Freleng’s timing is superb throughout, making ‘Big House Bunny’ one of those little known masterpieces.

Watch ‘Big House Bunny’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Big House Bunny’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 71
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Homeless Hare
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: What’s Up, Doc?

Director: Chuck Jones
Airing Date: February 23, 1978
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam
Rating: ★

Bugs Bunny in King Arthur's Court © Warner BrothersThe Looney Tunes Television Specials were a series of 25 minute long television programs running from 1976 to 1989 and revisiting the classic Warner Brothers characters in all new material. They were produced by either Chuck Jones’ studio or De Patie-Freleng.

‘Bugs Bunny in King Arthur’s Court’ is the fourth within the series, and produced and directed by Chuck Jones. The story is loosely based on Mark Twain’s ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’ from 1889, as Jones readily admits in the opening titles. It features Bugs Bunny as himself, Elmer Fudd as a knight, Daffy Duck as a very unlikely King Arthur, Yosemite Sam as Merlin, and Porky Pig as an anonymous soldier.

Although Jones’s mastery shines through at times, the episode is a sad caricature of the old cartoons. Just nothing seems right. The designs are weak, especially that of Yosemite Sam (not a Jones character), who is too small compared to the others. Moreover, the timing is remarkably slow, and there’s way too much dialogue, slowing down the animation. The gags are further hampered by Dean Elliott’s terrible, partly electronic music. Even Mel Blanc’s voices are poor: his imitation of Arthur Q. Bryan’s voice of Elmer Fudd is nothing like the real thing, and Porky Pig simply stutters too much.

The episode’s trite story is expanded over 24 minutes, while, considering its flaws, it would already have been difficult to remain interesting within seven minutes. The result is a 24 minute long bore. The 1970s were the middle ages of animation, indeed…

Watch ‘Bugs Bunny in King Arthur’s Court’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: May 8, 1948
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam
Rating: ★★★★

Buccaneer Bunny © Warner BrothersAlready in his third cartoon Yosemite Sam is used outside his original Western setting, and changed into a timeless adversary of Bugs Bunny.

In ‘Buccaneer Bunny’ he’s a 18th century pirate called Seagoin’ Sam. This idea of Sam as a timeless foe was a masterstroke, and in the following years, Sam would be Bugs Bunny’s nemesis in a wide variety of settings, like the American war of independence, the Sahara desert, ancient Rome and the middle ages.

‘Buccaneer Bunny’ is a wonderful start of this series, consisting of wonderful gags, including a beautifully timed multiple door gag. Bugs Bunny also does a great Charles Laughton parody, disguising as captain Bligh, as portrayed by Laughton in ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ (1935).

Watch ‘Buccaneer Bunny’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 49
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Rabbit Punch
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Bugs Bunny Rides Again

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date:
 May 2, 1953
 Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam

Southern Fried Rabbit © Warner BrothersWhen his home country looks like a desert and he becomes short of carrots, Bugs migrates to Alabama.

Unfortunately, the ‘Mason Dixie Line’, the border between the North (desert) and the South (beautiful green landscape), is protected by Southerner Sam, who isn’t aware that the civil war has ended ages ago. This preposterous idea leads to great gags involving several impersonations by Bugs, a.o. of Abraham Lincoln.

Watch ‘Southern Fried Rabbit’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 98
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Upswept Hare
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Hare-Trimmed

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date:
 October 6, 1951
 Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam

Ballot Box Bunny © Warner BrothersSam is running for mayor. One of his election promises is “to rip the country of every last rabbit”. This prompts Bugs to fight Sam with his own weapons, running for mayor, too.

Their election campaigns are far from fair and lead to a string of blackout gags. At one point we watch Bugs imitating Theodore Roosevelt, and there’s a great ant gag, which is accompanied by ridiculously sounding sped-up classical music. But the short’s highlight may be the piano gag, in which Bugs has to play a tune to ignite a bomb. However, Bugs repeatedly plays the wrong note, so Sam plays it for him… In the end of the cartoon the two rivals discover that the citizens have elected a “mare”. This prompts them into playing Russian roulette…

‘Ballot Box Bunny’ is an inspired and funny cartoon, even if it does not belong to either Bugs’s or Freleng’s greatest.

Watch ‘Ballot Box Bunny’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Ballot Box Bunny’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 85
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: His Hare Raising Tale
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Big Top Bunny

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date:
 September 9, 1950
 Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam

Bunker Hill Bunny © Warner BrothersIn ‘Bunker Hill Bunny’ Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam (as Sam von Schamm, the Hessian) enact the war of independence of 1776 with only the two of them, stuck in two fortresses.

With this simple premise Friz Freleng shows how one can make great comedy out of a very limited setting. The result is a cartoon full of excellent blackout gags, which are simply hilarious because of Friz Freleng’s superb comic timing. Again and again Sam hits the dust. It even contains a gag in which Bugs has no part in Sam’s self-destruction at all!

Watch ‘Bunker Hill Bunny’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Bunker Hill Bunny’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 75
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Hilbilly Hare
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Bushy Hare

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: April 30, 1949
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕

High Diving Hare © Warner BrothersBugs is presenting a vaudeville show in some western town.

Yosemite Sam especially visits his show to see the high diving Fearless Freep. Unfortunately, Freep is delayed by a storm and can’t come to perform. The disappointed Sam urges Bugs to take Freep’s place.

What follows is a masterful series of gags, which all end with Sam falling from the ridiculously high platform. At one point Freleng doesn’t even bother to point out how Bugs makes Sam take the plunge once again. As if it’s a natural law, Sam will fall anyway. Bugs, on the other hand, defies the law of the gravity. But you know, he tells us at the end, he never studied law…

Penned by storyman Tedd Pierce, this wonderfully hilarious cartoon takes a single idea from Freleng’s earlier ‘Stage Door Cartoon‘ (1944) and milks it brilliantly to a superb finale. Freleng’s timing rarely was so effective as in this cartoon, and it must rank among his all time best.

Watch ‘High Diving Hare’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘High Diving Hare’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 59
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Rebel Rabbit
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Bowery Bugs

Director:Friz Freleng
Release Date: June 12, 1948
Stars: Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕

Bugs Bunny rides again © Warner BrothersBugs Bunny dares to resist Yosemite Sam in this Western entry, which is both delightfully classic and totally absurd.

For example, when Yosemite Sam exclaims that ‘The town is not big enough for the two of us’, Bugs responds by building an enormous block of skyscrapers in a few seconds! Its finale, too, is hilarious. When Bugs tries to board an unwilling Sam on a train leaving town, they discover this train’s going to Miami and is full of dames in bathing suits. Then they both want to board it! Needless to say our hero wins the day.

‘Bugs Bunny Rides Again’ is a brilliantly hilarious cartoon full of great and flexible animation, and undoubtedly one of Bugs Bunny’s finest entries. The short reuses some footage of a dancing Bugs from ‘Stage Door Cartoon‘ (1944).

Watch ‘Bugs Bunny Rides Again’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 50
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Buccaneer Bunny
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Haredevil Hare

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