Every Bugs Bunny Ever: The Unruly Hare (1945)

2023 marks the 85th Anniversary of Bug Bunny’s first animated appearance in 1938’s “Porky’s Hare Hunt.” Debuting originally as Happy Rabbit, Bugs eventually became one of the most iconic animated characters of all time. In honor of the landmark anniversary, we’re discussing every animated appearance by Bugs Bunny. We’re big fans of Bugsy and we hope that you are, too.

Follow us on this massive journey where we discover and re-discover Every Bugs Bunny Ever.

The Unruly Hare (1945)
Directed by Frank Tashlin
Written by Melvin Miller
Music by Carl W. Stalling
Animation by Cal Dalton

Frank Tashlin is a director who just gets comedy. He understands the silliness, the ebbs and flows, the timing, the motion. That’s why “The Unruly Hare” is so good, I presume. At the end of the day, it’s another average Bugs vs. Elmer adventure, but Tashlin’s direction is very good, probably as good as Chuck Jones or Bob Clampett. It’s too bad I’ve barely heard about him at all whenever reading about Termite Terrace and great animation directors. This is Tashlin’s only real time being credited as director, sadly, which is a shame because he’s a damn good director. Tashlin has delivered on some great poppy fifties and sixties comedies like “The Girl Can’t Help It,” “Who’s Minding the Store?”, and “The Disorderly Orderly.”

Along with his animation credits, he also directed some golden age Warner Bros. shorts featuring Porky Pig and Daffy, including “The Stupid Cupid.” Again, there’s nothing particularly unique or new when it comes to “The Unruly Hare” and as long as you go in expecting just some good old fashioned gags and go arounds with Bugs and Elmer, you’ll leave generally pleased. I think it’s one of the funnier Bugs and Elmer shorts in a massive library of them, as Elmer is about as rotten as ever despite just being a character who is doing his job and nothing else. This short is centered on the building of the railroads as Tashlin takes us through a sequence of scenes involving railroad workers (cleverly shrouded in shadows, wink wink) building and laying down the rails.

We then meet Elmer Fudd, played once again by Arthur Q. Bryan. Fudd is a surveyor for a railroad company and as the company is building the rails, the construction just so happens to be intruding on Bugs’ home. Things are made worse by Elmer’s insistence on singing “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” so loud it grates on Bugs, who so happens to be singing “You Must Remember This.” From there the short takes off as when Elmer is using his theodolite scope to survey the land giving Bugs the opportunity to prank him. Often cut from syndicated airings, Bugs beings throwing up cheese cake pictures in front of the lens prompting Elmer to whistle like a wolf. After giving chase Bugs tricks Elmer once again holding a match up making the woods look like they’re on fire.

I don’t know if that’s how that works, but Elmer nearly kisses Bugs only seconds earlier, so he isn’t exactly a mental giant. One of my favorite gags of any interaction from Bugs and Elmer involves the mid-way point where Elmer has Bugs at gun point. Bugs turns declaring: “Only a big fat rat would shoot a guy in the back.” Elmer, of course, shoots him in a cloud of smoke, turning to the audience proclaiming “So I’m a Big Fat Wat!” To re-iterate, “The Unruly Hare” is really just another Bugs and Elmer romp, it’s nothing too spectacular. But it’s gets from point A to point B very well with some great comedy and some classic voice work from Arthur Q. Bryan and Mel Blanc.

It even injects some classic war time commentary as Bugs encourages civilians to reduce any unnecessary travelling, all while walking off in to the sunset with a bindle sack.

Even when he’s fighting for his life, ol’ Bugs cares about his country.

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