Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More Fun From The Golden Age of Cartoon Censorship

One of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons as a kid was "Hare-Less Wolf," featuring the return of the absent-minded, borderline brain-damaged wolf Friz Freleng had introduced in "Red Riding Hoodwinked." I still like it, and wish it was available in some format (I've never been able to see a version with the opening credits); the wolf is a funny character, and his design makes the best possible case for Hawley Pratt's bizarre, ultra-angular post-1955 design style. It's kind of like one of those early '40s Bugs cartoons where he goes up against a complete, overmatched idiot like Red Hot Ryder; even the frequent quotations of "He's a horses ass" on the soundtrack give it kind of an early '40s feel, though Bugs is obviously a much tamer character here than he was in those early cartoons.

What I didn't know as a kid was that the version I watched on ABC had already been cut by two minutes. Or at least, this version -- from an earlier incarnation of ABC's Bugs Bunny Saturday morning show -- contains two minutes of stuff that wasn't in the print I remember seeing.

And here's the version I grew up with. They cut three entire scenes for sinful violence: the one with Virgil Ross animating the old reliable "shooting at a tin can and 'accidentally' shooting the other guy" gag, the scene with the grenade gag, and the dynamite scene. And they also eliminated the wolf saying that he hates his wife. Because this would teach kids that it's all right to say bad things about an abusive spouse, and we can't have that.

As you can see from the logo, this is the version of this cartoon that was sent to the Teletoon Retro channel, so this is still the mutilated version that is being shown after all these years.


zgeycp said...

Good lord, they completely neutered it. Thanks for sharing the full cartoon!

Bugs really isn't spending a lot of energy on this one - I get the impression he's just whiling away a lazy afternoon.

Thad said...

Some of the animation is kinda stiff and ugly, but the comic timing is pretty spot on. The grenade gag feels like the sort of thing Family Guy might do... except this is actually funny. (The wolf pulling out the clock makes it perfect.)

J Lee said...

I thought when they started doing cartoon swaps with the syndicated, Fox and Nick WB package in the late 80s and early 90s, this cartoon should have come off the Saturday morning package, since the censors there were far more touchy about what our nations yutes would see than the other channels.

Friz and Foster obviously wanted to see where they could take the wolf character from "Red Riding Hoodwinked" in this cartoon, and really do a nice job having fun with incipient dementia, considering how dangerous it is to have Bugs go after an adversary who is basically sympathetic (even more than his treatment of Ryder, Bugs' actions against Wile E. in "Hare-Breath Hurry" shows the dangers of having the rabbit pick on a sympathetic adversary and not doing it right).

The other fun part of the grenade gag is the fact that Charles M. also reads the (over) part in the instructions. Great vocal inflection by Mel here.

Speedy Boris said...

It's a crime this isn't on DVD yet. A crime, I tell you!

BTW, check out the always gorgeous Boris Gorelick backdrops.

Brent McKee said...

Inevitably it is what doesn't get cut that reflects the stupidity of the censoring classes. Charley Wolf can gleefully empty his gun at Bugs so long as he misses, but let Bugs to the "tin can gag" and it gets cut. It's verbotten to show the grenade bit or the TNT gag, but perfectly fine for Charley to be shown standing waiting to be hit by a locomotive. If we are to believe that kids are influenced by cartoons, it is far more likely that they will have the opportunity to stand on railway tracks in front of an onrushing train than it is that they will be in the position to pull the pin on a hand grenade (and indeed they got the business with the hand grenade wrong - as long as you haven't released the handle the grenade is safe even with the pin pulled).

Heaven knows what happens with the "Rabbit Seasoning" trilogy - there' be more on the cutting room floor than on the screen, to the point where you could run all three in less time than you'd need to run one of the uncut versions.

Rick Roberts said...

This just proves once again of the nessecity of the Golden Collection continuing. Before the DVD series started, I never realized how many gags I was missing.

Snowed In said...

Not to nitpick, but the uncensored version looks as if it came from a CBS airing.