Every Bugs Bunny Ever: Knights Must Fall (1949)

Knights Must Fall (1949)
Directed by Friz Freleng
Written by Tedd Pierce
Animation by Ken Champin
Music by Carl Stalling

There’s a lot of really good material here in “Knight’s Must Fall,” probably one of the two times Bugs Bunny comes face to face with a knight. I personally prefer “Knights Must Fall” over “Knighty Knight Bugs” but not because of Yosemite Sam. While the latter is very good in its own right, I just found the former to be so much funnier and more creative gag wise. Sure, the writers recycle Bugs’ classic “That’s the ol’ Pepper, boy!” gag but this time while jousting the black knight, but the creative and hilarious gags outweigh the small caveats, in the end.

Tedd Pierce is able to do so much with this setting, staging some great gags with the medieval setting, the concept of the knights, and turning the black knight’s armor in to a place where some of the funniest bits are staged. The Black Knight is one of the funnier one and done villains who spends a lot of time being outwitted by Bugs who always manages to find his way in to his suit and wreak havoc. The funniest bits involve Bugs lewdly suggesting to the Black Knight “You remember me! I was here last night, with Joe!” only for him to open his helmet.

Bugs then hilariously turns to the audience proclaiming “Now, he should know better than that.” There’s also the instance where Bugs is at the bottom of the armor with a sewing pin. Despite knight’s nodding not to, Bugs pokes him prompting him to screech in pain and smack in to the ceiling in his underwear. “Knights Must Fall” has a three act structure that works surprisingly well within its time frame. First there’s the jousting scene, then there’s the combat sequence, and finally the big over the top final gag involving Bugs battling a slew of assorted menacing knights.

The set up involves Bugs standing in line as a squire with the knights and dumps his finished carrot in to the back of the black knight’s armor. So offended is he that he challenges Bugs to a duel. Bugs accepts and the pair engage in classic knight combat involving jousting and combat. Of course, things are exaggerated three fold with a slew of great sight gags and running jokes. There’s Bugs inexplicably riding a donkey while the Black Knight rides a steed, there’s Bugs crumpling the Black Knight’s helmet and unscrewing it. He tops it off by quipping “Lookit the new Dick Tracy character: Accordion head!”

Even the smaller bits like Bugs tickling the Black Knight with a riveting gun, and calling the Black Knight “Sir Doc” are just downright hysterical. As is the trend with the Looney Tunes shorts, the artists (this time Paul Julian) opt for simplistic and more abstract backgrounds than realism. The whole medieval backdrop is more simplified with geometric blocks with solid colors and no shading of noticeable detail. That thankfully doesn’t detract from the activity on screen but instead adds to the sense of wackiness and hilarity when all is said and done. It’s too bad we never got to see Bugs’ small donkey sidekick again as he seemed to be working in sync with Bugs most of the time and successfully contributes to helping Bugs look like the ultimate underdog.

“Knights Must Fall” is a great shift in to a completely different setting and circumstance which usually works very well for Bugs.

I’d put it in my top twenty five Bugs Bunny shorts, easily.

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