Rabbit Fire

Rabbit Fire

Infobox Hollywood cartoon
cartoon_name = Rabbit Fire
series = Looney Tunes (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck)


caption = Title card from "Rabbit Fire".
director = Charles M. Jones
story_artist = Michael Maltese
animator = Ken Harris
Phil Monroe
Lloyd Vaughan
Ben Washam
voice_actor = Mel Blanc
Arthur Q. Bryan
musician = Carl W. Stalling
producer = Eddie Selzer
studio = Warner Bros. Cartoons
The Vitaphone Corporation
distributor = Warner Bros. Pictures
release_date = May 19, 1951 (USA)
color_process = Technicolor
runtime = 7 min (one reel)
movie_language = English
followed_by = "Rabbit Seasoning" (1952)
imdb_id = 0043953

"Rabbit Fire" is a 1950 "Looney Tunes" cartoon starring Bugs Bunny, directed by Chuck Jones and written by Michael Maltese. The short, also starring Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd, is notable for being the first film in Jones' "hunting trilogy"—the other two films being "Rabbit Seasoning" and "Duck! Rabbit, Duck!". It is also the first film to feature a feud between Bugs and Daffy. Produced by Edward Selzer for Warner Bros. Cartoons, Inc., the short was released to theaters on May 19, 1951 by Warner Bros. Pictures and is widely considered among Jones' best and most important films. The title is a play on "rapid fire". The film marks a significant change in Daffy's style, away from the "screwball" and toward the "foil" for Bugs' jokes.

Plot

The short starts out like many Bugs Bunny cartoons do: Elmer Fudd follows a trail of "wabbit twacks" left by a rabbit he presumes to be Bugs Bunny. It turns out, however, that the tracks are being left by Daffy Duck, who, using the feet from a rabbit costume, makes the prints lead right up to Bugs' rabbit hole. "Survival of the fittest," Daffy tells the audience as he runs to hide, "...and besides, it's fun!"

When Elmer appears, Bugs informs him that the hunter cannot legally shoot the rabbit, since it is Duck Season. Daffy emerges from his hiding place, screaming that Bugs' claim is "an inmitigated feraberication. It's Wabbit Season." The argument then continues:

:Bugs: "Duck season!":Daffy: "Wabbit season!":Bugs: "Duck season!":Daffy: "Wabbit season!":Bugs: "Duck season!!":Daffy: "Wabbit season!!":Bugs: (reversing the flow) "Wabbit season!":Daffy: "Duck season!!!":Bugs: "Wabbit season!!!":Daffy: "I say it's duck season, and I say, FIRE!"

Elmer then obliges and shoots the duck's bill causing it to spin and then resting back where it was again. Uninjured, yet embarrassed, Daffy starts the argument back up again. :Daffy: "Let's try that again.":Bugs: "Okay.":Daffy: "I'll" start it this time.":Bugs: "Right.":Daffy: (grabs Elmer's rifle and points it to Bugs) "Wabbit season!":Bugs: (pushing Elmer's rifle towards Daffy) "Duck season.":Daffy: (puts the rifle in front of Bugs again) "Wabbit season!!":Bugs: (spins the rifle clockwise and aims it at himself, again reversing the flow) "Wabbit season.":Daffy: (grabs the rifle and pulls it toward himself) "Duck season!! "FIRE!!!"

Once again, Elmer obliges and shoots Daffy's bill 180 degrees out of position to the back of his head. And once again uninjured, Daffy suggests Bugs start the argument again.:Daffy: "Okay, this time, "you" start it.":Bugs: "Whatever you say." (aims Elmer's rifle at himself) "Wabbit.":Daffy: (takes the rifle and points it at himself) "DUCK!! 'FIRE!!!"

This time, the shot causes Daffy's entire head to flip upside-down. Daffy walks away, disoriented.:Daffy: "What's the matter? Everything's upside-down! That's strange. I can't make heads or tails of things."

Elmer yells at Daffy to come back, and tries to shoot him with his rifle, only to hear it click.:Elmer: "Well, whaddya know! No more buwwets!":Bugs: "No more buwwets? Hey, laughing boy!" (points to Elmer) "No more buwwets!":Daffy: "No more buwwets?" (grabs the rifle) "Here, lemme see that thing." (holds the rifle up and looks into the barrel) "Hmmm..." (rifle goes off):Elmer: "Well, whaddya know! One buwwet weft!":Bugs: "One buwwet weft? Hey, laughing boy! There was...":Daffy: (with bullet lodged in the feathers of the top of his head as they're barely still attached to his scalp) "I know! I KNOW!! (looks disgustedly into camera as picture fades to black before next scene)

Bugs nails a sign to a tree that reads "DUCK SEASON OPEN", then sneaks offscreen. Daffy happens by and notices.:Daffy: "Devilishly clever..." (notices Elmer approching) "Uh, oh!" (runs off screen)Elmer continues walking until he runs into Daffy (who is disguised as a rabbit).:Daffy: "What's up, Doc? Having any luck on those ducks? It's duck season, you know!Bugs then approches disguised as a duck.:Bugs: "Just a darn minute! Where do you get that "Duck Season" stuff?"With a look of confidence, Daffy points offscreen.:Daffy: "Says so right over there on that sign, you're so smart."The sign now reads "RABBIT SEASON OPEN".:Daffy: (still with a look of confidence) "You know what to do with that gun, doc..."Elmer shoots Daffy in the bill, blowing his disguise off from the neck up. Elmer has a look of surprise on his face. Daffy quietly stares at the triumphant Bugs with a look of embarrassed fury.

:Daffy: (approaches Bugs angrily) "You're despicable..." Bugs and Daffy then begin reading cookbooks on how Elmer can prepare rabbit or duck delicacies.:Elmer: "I'm sowwy fewwers, but I'm a vegetawian. I just hunt for the sport of it."

Bugs and Daffy suddenly become angry. "There's other sports besides hunting, you know!" Bugs yells. Daffy comes into shot wearing a tennis outfit and wielding a racquet, calling "Anyone for tennis?". Elmer answers by shooting Daffy again, then goes after Bugs who scolds Elmer for trying to shoot rabbits with an elephant gun. When Bugs suggests that he go after an elephant, a huge pachyderm suddenly appears out of nowhere and warns Elmer (imitating Joe Besser): "You do and I'll give you such a pinch!". He pounds Fudd into the ground and walks off.

An visibly irate Elmer starts the hunt again for both "that scwewy wabbit and that scwewball duck". They appear with Bugs dressed as a pretty female hunter with Daffy as her dog, but are exposed after Daffy bites Elmer's leg ("Jeffrey you naughty bow-wow! Stop that!") and Bugs' ear pokes out of the blonde wig he is wearing. The argument continues near a tree with signs. Bugs and Daffy keep pulling sign after sign (with "RABBIT SEASON" in orange and "DUCK SEASON" in lighter yellow) until, in a notable and comical twist, it turns out to be "ELMER SEASON" (the sign featuring Elmer's face above said text, also resembling a Wanted poster), prompting the hunter to run and Bugs and Daffy to don hunting gear and inform the audiences to be "vewwy, vewwy quiet...we're hunting Elmers!" Then Daffy laughs like Elmer, which ends the short.

Reaction

"Rabbit Fire" is generally considered among Chuck Jones' and Michael Maltese's best works, and is noted for its use of dialogue gags in lieu of the physical gags more typical in animation. Besides the two sequels to this film, a number of other notable Jones shorts, including "Beanstalk Bunny" and "Ali Baba Bunny", paired quick-witted Bugs and self-serving Daffy with (or rather against) each other.

The "duck season/rabbit season" argument from this short became one of the most notable references of the "Looney Tunes" franchise, and has been analyzed both by scholars and by Jones himself (though it should be noted that this gag was actually used by Daffy against Porky 6 years earlier in the cartoon "Duck Soup to Nuts"). According to an essay by Darragh O'Donoghue, "Rabbit Fire" "stands in close relation to human experience, striving and generally failing to grasp an elusive quarry or goal." [http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/cteq/03/28/chuck_jones/whats_opera_doc_rabbit_fire_feline_frameup.html Darragh O'Donoghue's review] of "What's Opera, Doc?", "Rabbit Fire", and "Feline Frameup". "sensesofcinema.com"] . Richard Thompson said that in the film, there is "the clearest definition of character roles: Elmer never knows what's going on; Bugs always knows what's going on and is in control of things; Daffy is bright enough to understand how to be in control, but never quite makes it." Jones himself refers to "Rabbit Fire" as a "corner" picture, among his works that, "as in turning a corner in a strange city, reveal new and enchanting vistas."

The short earned an honorable mention for animation historian Jerry Beck's list of "The Fifty Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1000 Animation Professionals". Its 1952 sequel, "Rabbit Seasoning", made the actual list at number 30. The style, setup, and plot of "Rabbit Fire" were adapted into the opening sequence of Warners' 2003 film "".

Production details

In two interviews conducted years after this cartoon was originally released, director Chuck Jones fondly recalled voice artist Mel Blanc improvising hilariously as Daffy when he was trying to think of another word besides "dethpicable". However, in the finished film, only the words from [http://www.michaelbarrier.com/Home%20Page/RabbitFireScript.htm the original dialogue script] actually appear. Historians believe that Blanc did indeed improvise, as Jones remembered, but that Chuck Jones decided to use what was originally written instead. [ [http://www.michaelbarrier.com/Home%20Page/WhatsNewArchivesJan08.html#youredespicable "You're Despicable!"] - "michaelbarrier.com". Retrieved 2008-01-16.]

"Rabbit Fire" and its two sequels often have two characters in the same frame for some length of time — an atypical aspect of the "Hunting" trilogy. In order to keep budgets under control, most Warner Bros. cartoons would cut back and forth between characters, rather than put two or more in the same shot. [Michael Barrier's audio commentary for Disc One of "" (fy|2005).]

Interestingly, while the film is introduced by the "Looney Tunes" music "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down", the opening card indicates a "Merrie Melodies" "Blue Ribbon" release, and the end card is "Merrie Melodies", replacing the original orange-red "Looney Tunes" title sequences.

This marked the first cartoon where Bugs and Daffy "starred" and appeared "together". While Bugs had made a cameo in "Porky Pig's Feat" (which co-starred Daffy and Porky Pig), this was the first where "both" were stars.

Censorship

*Network television channels (particularly ABC, CBS, WB, FOX, and the syndicated "Merrie Melodies Show") have edited this cartoon (and the other two cartoons in the "hunting trilogy"—"Rabbit Seasoning" and "Duck! Rabbit, Duck!") to remove the many times Daffy is shot in the face by Elmer. While ABC and "The Merrie Melodies Show" would simply replace each occurrence with a frozen shot of Bugs looking on while the gunshot can be heard, CBS and WB would cut the entire scene of Daffy getting shot (sound and all).
*Nickelodeon has aired the other two Hunting Trilogy cartoons with the scenes of Daffy getting tricked into being shot by Elmer intact. However, the Nickelodeon version edited "Rabbit Fire" to remove the "No More Bullets" gag (where Elmer seems to have run out of ammunition, Daffy stares down the barrel of the shotgun and discovers the hard way that there was "one buwwet weft", with the large slug left lodged in his dangling scalp).

Influences in other media

*The back-and-forth-and-reversed gag from this short is referenced in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", where Eddie Valiant tricks Roger Rabbit into having a glass of whiskey in the same way Bugs tricks Daffy into getting shot.:Roger: "I don't!":Valiant: "You do!":Roger: "I don't!":Valiant: "You do!":Roger:"I don't!":Valiant: (reversing the flow) "You don't!":Roger: "I do!":Valiant: "You don't!":Roger: "I do!!":Valiant: "You don't!":Roger: "Listen, when I say I do, that means I do!" (he chugs the drink)
*An episode of the FOX sitcom "Married...With Children" has a part where Al (Ed O'Neill) and Jefferson (Ted McGinley) argue over the answer to a sports trivia question and get into the same back and forth reversed gag as the one seen in this cartoon.

*Twice, on the sitcom "My Wife And Kids", and the cartoon "Johnny Bravo", the trick is used, with the winner being referred to as having "Bugs Bunnied" the loser.

Credits

*Produced by: Edward Selzer
*Directed by: Chuck Jones
*Story: Michael Maltese
*Music: Carl Stalling
*Animation: Ken Harris, Phil Monroe, Lloyd Vaughan, Ben Washam
*Background: Philip DeGuard
*Layout: Robert Gribbroek
*Voice Characterisions: Mel Blanc

References

Notes

ources

* Jones, Chuck (1989). "Chuck Amuck : The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist". New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0-374-12348-9.
* Jones, Chuck (1996). "Chuck Reducks : Drawing from the Fun Side of Life". New York: Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-51893-X.
* Thompson, Richard (Jan-Feb 1975). "Film Comment".

External links

*
* [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DuckSeasonRabbitSeason Duck Season and Rabbit Season] on the TV Tropes Wiki


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