Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Gandhi Joke Restored

The original "Mahatma Gandhi" joke from "Bugs Bunny Rides Again" (redubbed when the film was reissued after Gandhi's death) has been on YouTube for a while, but I decided to try and dub it back into the full cartoon. The change in sound quality is pretty obvious, but at least it's there.

I've said this before, but to me the key thing about Yosemite Sam and some of Freleng's other Bugs Bunny villains is that everyone, except for Bugs, is afraid of him. This cartoon has perhaps the most elaborate example of that along with "Wild and Wooly Hare" a decade later. When Sam appears, all the non-Bugs characters freak out and leave (well, they have to -- a short cartoon can afford to have only two or three characters on screen most of the time). Freleng balances this out by showing us immediately that Sam is a tiny man who thinks he's the biggest, toughest man in the world; this makes it funny that all these people are afraid of him. Sam is not scary to us -- that would make the cartoon less funny -- but he is scary to everyone who is not Bugs Bunny.

That gives Bugs a certain heroic quality without making him a goody-two-shoes. He is not particularly brave, or good; he's just the only person in the cartoon who is smart enough to see Sam for what he is (or Rocky and Hugo in "Racketeer Rabbit," or Rocky and Mugsy, or the Gas House Gorillas): an idiot who is only a threat to anyone who believes he's a threat. That's the biggest difference between Sam and Red Hot Ryder in Clampett's "Buckaroo Bugs." Sam and Red Hot are more or less equally stupid, but it's more fun to watch Sam get taken down by Bugs, because Sam is so full of himself and because everyone else buys into Sam's belief in his own toughness. He's a typical authority figure, and Bugs is the only person in the world who dares to point out that the authority figure is just a silly little man.



Oh, and this cartoon contains one of Carl Stalling's more obscure classical-music references: the music playing as Bugs and Sam have their showdown ("just like Gary Cooper, huh?") is the "Inflammatus" from Rossini's Stabat Mater. (Not exactly a rare piece, but not hugely well-known, especially in 1947.)



15 comments:

Mattieshoe said...

>>That's the biggest difference between Sam and Red Hot Ryder in Clampett's "Buckaroo Bugs." Sam and Red Hot are more or less equally stupid, but it's more fun to watch Sam get taken down by Bugs, because Sam is so full of himself and because everyone else buys into Sam's belief in his own toughness.<<


I see what you're getting at, But I still disagree that a Freling cartoon could ever be as "fun" to watch as a Clampett cartoon

Thad said...

Thanks Jaime, for writing that. Now my upcoming LOONEY LOONEY LOONEY BUGS BUNNY MOVIE DVD review will look unoriginal since you covered some of the same points I will.

J Lee said...

Freleng and Mike Maltese really defined who Bugs is and how he reacts to provocations in their cartoons between 1942-45, moreso than any of the other three units (though Jones did set up his own workable template with Tedd Pierce in "The Case of the Missing Hare).

Friz's cartoons in general demanded more logical justifications for their characters' actions than the other directors, which is in part why his cartoons were never as wild as Clampett's. But as a comic hero demands a logical justifications for his actions, or you end up with the problem Clampett had in 1944, which was having a rabbit with unlimited firepower unleashing his wrath on a bunch of mental gnats, which makes your 'hero' far less likable to the audience (it also explains why Friz was irked at Elmer and created Sam. He may not be much smarter than Fudd, but his aggreessive stupidity gives Bugs a justification for his actions).

Rick Roberts said...

"Freleng and Mike Maltese really defined who Bugs is and how he reacts to provocations in their cartoons between 1942-45, moreso than any of the other three units"

I don't agree. Friz really didn't do anything much outside how Bugs started out but he added his own conservative style. That isn't a bad but I prefer Bugs being a playful and egotistical kid as Clampett portrayed him.

"Sam and Red Hot are more or less equally stupid"

Red Hot I considered far more stupid. He didn't even begin to contemplate he was being had until the very end of the cartoon.

Jamie, I agree with you on the Sam/Bugs relationship and I think that's why Sam was his best adversary no matter what they do.

J Lee said...

"I don't agree. Friz really didn't do anything much outside how Bugs started out but he added his own conservative style. That isn't a bad but I prefer Bugs being a playful and egotistical kid as Clampett portrayed him."

Clampett's early cartoons with Bugs and his final one, "The Big Snooze" are playful. The ones in 1944 are wild without attaching a justification for being as wild as they are (Bob was sharing Warren Foster with the Frank Tashlin unit at the time, and IMHO, while Foster knew how far to take Bugs before pulling back, Lou Lily and the others in Bob's story crew didn't, and the result was literally overkill, as in the "Hare Ribbin'" ending that had to be reanimated by McKimson).

Freleng's cartoons were all about motivation, which meant there were no flights of fancy like in the Clampett shorts, but the cause/effect scripts he worked out with Maltese became pretty much the default type of story you think of in an average Bugs Bunny cartoon (that doesn't mean there can't be well-made variations, but they're still variations on what the studio eventually decided worked best with the character).

Jim B. said...

Rick said:
> That isn't a bad but I prefer
> Bugs being a playful and
> egotistical kid as Clampett
> portrayed him.

Well, Clampett once said "Confidentially, I AM the wabbit!"

Rick Roberts said...

but they're still variations on what the studio eventually decided worked best with the character"

And that is when Bugs devolved. He had to win all the time. First he had to be humurous as he did it but after a while, there was no effort. He was simply reduced to showing signs and making smug expressions. Under the Clampett cartoons, he did stuff because it was funny. He dosen't need any motivation because he's an ass hole. Avery started him that way and Clampett carried on that legacy of the character. Now I love the early Jones Groucho Marx Bugs. Also his early Daffy Duck but I speak of later with the whole "wabbit season" stuff.

Jim B.:

Cool.I didn't know he said that.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

And that is when Bugs devolved. He had to win all the time. First he had to be humurous as he did it but after a while, there was no effort. He was simply reduced to showing signs and making smug expressions.That's a bit of an exaggeration -- maybe it applies to the '60s Bugs, but not to the Bugs from the Rabbit Season trilogy (who teams up with Daffy for sections of "Rabbit Fire") and certainly not to the Freleng Bugs of the '40s, who has a lot of different facets to his character and a lot of different motivations going on at once (he's doing good, but he also enjoys the mayhem).

But I feel the same way about Clampett's Bugs, who I think is too smug and unfunny in his sense of superiority to his victims, as John K does about the "Rabbit Fire" Bugs, so de gustibus.

Rick Roberts said...

"but not to the Bugs from the Rabbit Season trilogy (who teams up with Daffy for sections of "Rabbit Fire")"

Only the bits inbetween where had no choice but to team up with Daffy or put on a disguise. Most of that trilogy, Bugs didn't do much and Daffy,who is another character that devolved during the 50's, was dumb and angry.

"certainly not to the Freleng Bugs of the '40s"

No I don't think that of the Freleng Bugs either but I don't find his take nearly as funny as Clampett's or early Jones.

"who I think is too smug and unfunny in his sense of superiority to his victims"

I don't think he's as nearly as smug as Jones' rabbit. I like it when Bugs makes fun of the villians but it's all in good fun.

Thad said...

I am SO sick of reading about BUCKAROO BUGS. Regardless of Bugs' character, the plot is stupid, the gags are lame, and the animation is overly recycled. If there was a computer program where you could have the characters replaced with Freleng unit models, nobody would be talking about it. (Likewise, if you used the same program to replace ANGEL PUSS' models with those from the Clampett unit, you'd hear how it's a "celebration of differences.)

Thad said...

But... HARE RIBBIN' is one of those cartoons I could watch every day of my life and never get tired of it. So go figure.

Rick Roberts said...

"the plot is stupid"

Why ?

Mattieshoe said...

"who I think is too smug and unfunny in his sense of superiority to his victims"


Funny you should say that, as Clampett was really the only person on the Warner Staff liberal enough to let Bugs be the victim in some of his cartoons. (Tortoise Wins By a Hare, Falling Hare)


And I see what you mean, Bugs gets brutal in some of Clampett's cartoons. But, as Clampett said, in the times America was looking for an icon to beat up on the characters who represented our enemies.


Bugs is Playful in Clampett's cartoons (and in subsequent director's 40s cartoons) He's always just having too much fun messing with his adversary for us (or me anyway) to feel the spite in his character. He's with us. I never emphasize with the adversaries of bugs in those cartoons, because I'm having too much fun seeing the characters interact and seeing some of the most lively characters in cartoon history.


This doesn't mean I can't enjoy any other director's cartoons. I enjoy some of Jones' later Bugs cartoons. even though his personality seems alot less passionate and alive (but I guess that was just a showing of the times)

J Lee said...

Actually, all of the major directors at Warners did cartoons where Bugs comes out on the wrong side at the iris out, all the way from Avery's "Tortoise Beats Hare" in 1941 to McKimson's "Dr. Devil & Mr. Hare" in 1964. But other than Jones' "Rabbit Rampage" Clampett was the only one who would treat him as a patsy from start to finish in a cartoon -- the others would nomally only take him down at the closing of the cartoon

(Bob's Bugs from "What's Cookin', Doc?" -- his only '44 cartoon where the rabbit isn't overly sadistic -- has an unsurpressed egotism that could have easily been used by Jones point for point a decade later for a similar cartoon with Daffy in the title role. When the other directors allowed Bugs' big ego to show, it was usually played as an affront to the cartoon gods, as his adversary of the day would immediately spring back to life or gain the upper hand. It works in "WC,D?" because Bugs' only adversary is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and his own ego, but it's not a rabbit you want to see all the time, because in the Warner cartoon universe Giant Ego + Braggadocio = Epic Fail, and while seeing Bugs lose is a change of pace, it's not something audiences want to see with any regularity).

buzz said...

I don't recall ever seeing the "censored" version on TV; the Mahatma Gandhi line was always in whenever I saw it as a kid.

This cartoon has my favorite Yosemite Sam line: "I'm thinkin'! I'm thinkin'! (pause) And my head hurts."

One this that does surprise me is getting away with a punchline to a notorious dirty joke (re the skunk's somewhat fey "My, there were an awful lot of skunks in here").