The title is a play on "a wild hair", the first of many puns between "hare" and "hair" that would appear in Bugs Bunny titles. The pun is carried further by a bar of "I'm Just Wild About Harry" playing in the underscore of the opening credits.
Elmer approaches one of Bugs' holes, puts down a carrot, and hides behind a tree. Bugs' arm reaches out of the hole, feels around, and snatches the carrot. He reaches out again and finds the business end of Elmer's shotgun. His arm quickly pops back into the hole before returning to drop the eaten stub of Elmer's carrot before apologetically caressing the end of the barrel. Elmer shoves his gun into Bugs' hole, with a tug of war resulting in the barrel being bent into a pretzel.
Elmer frantically digs into the hole while Bugs emerges from a nearby hole with another carrot in his hand. He lifts Fudd's hat and raps the top of his head until Elmer notices, then chews his carrot a bit before delivering his definitive line, "What's up, Doc?" Elmer explains that he's hunting "wabbits", and Bugs chews his carrot while asking what a wabbit is. Bugs teases Elmer by displaying every aspect of Fudd's rabbit description until Elmer begins suspecting that Bugs is a rabbit, saying to the audience "You know, I beweive this fella is an R-A-B-B-I-T." Bugs draws Fudd close and says, "Listen, Doc, don't spread this around, but, uh... confidentially..." before yelling "I AM A 'WABBIT'!" (a variation of Mischa Auer's line "Confidentially, she stinks" from 1938's You Can't Take It with You, a then-well-known catchphrase used in other Warner Brothers cartoons).
Bugs hides behind a tree, then sneaks up behind Elmer, covers his eyes and asks "Guess who?" Elmer tries the names of contemporary screen beauties whose names exploited his accent ("Hedy Wamaw" for Hedy Lamarr, "Cawowe Wombawd" for Carole Lombard, (in the Blue Ribbon reissue, it's replaced by Barbara Stanwyk) "Wosemawy Wane" for Rosemary Lane, and "Owivia de Haviwand" for Olivia de Havilland) before he arrives at "Say, you wouldn't be that scwewy wabbit, would you?" Bugs responds "Hmm..... Could be!", kisses Elmer, and dives into a hole. Elmer sticks his head into the hole and gets another kiss from Bugs, so wet that Elmer needs to wipe his mouth for a bit before deciding to set a trap. Bugs puts a skunk in the trap and Elmer assumes that he's caught the rabbit. Fudd blindly grabs the skunk and carries it over to the watching Bugs to brag to the bunny about how he outsmarted him. As Elmer comprehends the situation, Bugs gives him a smooch on the nose. Fudd looks at the skunk, who winks and nudges Elmer while saying "Confidentially... uh, hmm, you know..." Fudd winces and gingerly sends the skunk on his way.
Bugs then offers to let Elmer have a free shot at him. After Elmer fires, Bugs fakes an elaborate heart attack death scene and plays dead, leaving Elmer sobbing. Bugs then sneaks up behind the despairing Fudd, kicks him in his rear, shoves a cigar into his mouth, and tiptoes away, ballet-style.
Finally, the frustrated Elmer, driven to distraction by the rabbit's antics, walks away sobbing about "wabbits, cawwots, guns", etc. Bugs asides to the audience, "Can ya imagine anybody acting like that? Ya know, I think the poor guy's screwy!" Bugs then begins to play his carrot like a fife, playing the tune "The Girl I Left Behind Me," and marches with one stiff leg towards his rabbit hole, as with the fifer in the painting The Spirit of '76.
On the Radio
In a rare promotional broadcast, "A Wild Hare" was loosely adapted for the radio as a sketch performed by Arthur Q. Bryan and Mel Blanc on the April 11, 1941, edition of The Al Pearce Show. The sketch was followed by a scripted interview with Leon Schlesinger.
Although the script is available for public online viewing, as of June 2020 no recording of the broadcast is known to exist.[citation needed|date=]
What's up, Doc?
- Bugs' nonchalant carrot-chewing stance, as explained many years later by Chuck Jones, and again by Friz Freleng and Bob Clampett, comes from the movie It Happened One Night, from a scene where Peter Warne (played by Clark Gable) is leaning against a fence eating carrots more quickly than he is swallowing (as Bugs would later often do), giving instructions with his mouth full to Ellie Andrews (played by Claudette Colbert), during the hitch-hiking sequence. This scene was so famous at the time that most people immediately got the connection.
- The line "What's up, Doc?" was added by director Tex Avery for this short. Avery explained later that it was a common expression in Texas where he was from, and he didn't think much of the phrase. But when this short was screened in theaters, the scene of Bugs calmly chewing a carrot, followed by the nonchalant "What's Up, Doc?", went against any 1940s audience's expectation of how a rabbit might react to a hunter and caused complete pandemonium in the audience, bringing down the house in every theater. Because of the overwhelming reaction, Bugs eats a carrot and utters some version of the phrase in almost every one of his cartoons after that, sometimes entirely out of context as compared to this original use.
- (1986) VHS - Viddy-Oh! For Kids Cartoon Festivals: Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd Cartoon Festival Featuring “Wabbit Twouble” (unrestored, Blue Ribbon)
- (1990) VHS - Bugs Bunny Collection: Here Comes Bugs (Blue Ribbon)
- (1992) LaserDisc - The Golden Age of Looney Tunes, Volume 1 (Blue Ribbon title) and Volume 4, (Recreation Rings, same as Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 3)
- (1992) VHS - The Golden Age of Looney Tunes, Vol. 2: Firsts (Blue Ribbon)
- (2003) DVD - Torrid Zone (Blue Ribbon, USA 1995 Turner dubbed print)
- (2005) DVD - Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 3, Disc 2,What's Up Doc? A Salute to Bugs Bunny documentary (unrestored, borrowed title card from "A Gander at Mother Goose" with edited production No., original titles)
- (2006) DVD - Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 4, Disc 1, through Bugs Bunny Superstar (same as Torrid Zone)
- (2008) DVD - Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Academy Awards Animation Collection (restored)
- (2010) DVD - The Essential Bugs Bunny, Disc 1 (restored)
- (2012) DVD - Bugs Bunny Superstar (restored)
- (2012) Blu-ray, DVD - Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 2, Disc 1 (restored)
- (2020) Streaming - HBO Max (restored)
- (2020) Blu-ray - Bugs Bunny 80th Anniversary Collection, Disc 1 (restored)
- In the original version, during Bugs' game of "Guess Who?" with Elmer, Elmer's second guess was "Carole Lombard." (Carole Lombard was a blond, comic actress of the 1930s and 1940s who died in a plane crash in 1942). In the re-release of this short, "Carole Lombard" was replaced with "Barbara Stanwyck" (who was still alive at the time of the rerelease). The "Barbara Stanwyck" version is the one shown a lot on American television (mostly in syndication and on the Ted Turner-owned networks TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, and Boomerang) and most home video, LaserDisc, and DVD releases. The original "Carole Lombard" version was thought to be lost forever, until it appeared on TNT's 1990 special What's Up, Doc? A Salute to Bugs Bunny. However, the "Carole Lombard" version was not given a home video release until years later, as part of The Essential Bugs Bunny DVD and the Looney Tunes Platinum Collection, Volume 2 Blu-Ray. The "Carole Lombard" version is also available on the Bugs Bunny 80th Anniversary Collection Blu-Ray and is currently streaming on HBO Max.
- Despite the discovery of the original titles in 1993, Turner Broadcasting sourced the Blue Ribbon print for its 1995 USA and EU dubbed prints. The Turner networks continue to air the 1995 EU Turner dubbed print.
- For the second LaserDisc version, though the original titles were found, the "original" opening Color Rings were borrowed from "A Gander at Mother Goose", albeit with the production number 9617 slapped in on the opening, hence why you see it not move during the opening. The Blue Ribbon opening audio was used for this prototype. The actual original opening rings and opening cue were not restored until 2007.
- Originally, the opening shield was the one seen on "Ghost Wanted", and later on. The opening rings for the Wild Hare were the only one to have the then-new opening shield, and the MCMXXXX copyright. Subsequent cartoons after this one would have MCMXL as the copyright year instead.
- This short has a slightly different opening cue.
- When this short was re-released as a Blue Ribbon, the title was changed to "The Wild Hare".
- "A Wild Hare" is credited by many film historians to be the first "official" Bugs Bunny short. Various directors at the Warner Bros cartoon studio had been experimenting with cartoons focused on a hunter pursuing a rabbit since 1938, with varied approaches to the characters of both rabbit and hunter.
- Although the animators continued to experiment with Elmer's design for a few more years, his look here proved the basis for his finalized design.
- Bugs is unnamed in this short, but would be named for the first time in his next short, "Elmer's Pet Rabbit", directed by Chuck Jones. The opening lines of both characters—"Be vewy, vewy quiet, I'm hunting wabbits" for Elmer, and "Eh, what's up Doc?" for the rabbit—would become catchphrases throughout the other shorts.
- The short was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons. Another nominee was "Puss Gets the Boot" (the first Tom and Jerry cartoon), directed by William Hanna and produced by Rudolf Ising. Both nominations lost to "The Milky Way", another MGM Rudolf Ising production.
- The design and character of Bugs Bunny would continue to be refined over the subsequent years, but the general appearance, voice, and personality of the character were established in this cartoon. The animator of this cartoon, Virgil Ross, gave his first-person account of the creation of the character's name and personality in an interview published in Animato! Magazine, #19 (1989).
- This and "Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt" were the only Bugs Bunny shorts that ended up in the a.a.p. package to be reissued as Blue Ribbons (excluding cartoons which Bugs makes cameo appearances such as "Odor-able Kitty" and "The Goofy Gophers"). This is because WB started making theaters pay more to show Bugs Bunny cartoons (excluding reissues) than other WB cartoons.[citation needed|date=]
- After the cartoon was re-released, a 16mm Eastmancolor negative of the original titles was later found in ownership by a private collector, since latter companies Turner Entertainment, The Golden Age of Looney Tunes Volume 4, and Warner Bros., Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Academy Awards Animation Collection Disc 2, asked to borrow or right out purchase the copy. With the second restoration, Warner Bros. did a full remastering process of the soundtrack, plus the restoration of the original negative itself. The DVD was released in United States markets in 2008.
- This is the only Elmer Fudd cartoon directed by Tex Avery.
- Original script. Al Pearce Show. tobaccodocuments.org (April 11, 1942). Archived from the original on 30 July 2010. Retrieved on June 26, 2010.
- "A Wild Hare" trivia at the Internet Movie Database.
- It Happened One Night film review by Tim Dirks, Filmsite.org.
- Adamson, Joe (1975). Tex Avery: King of Cartoons, New York: De Capo Press. Template:OCLC
- Barrier, Michael (2003), Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age, Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-516729-0
- Adamson, Joe (1990). Bugs Bunny: 50 Years and Only One Grey Hare. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 978-0-8050-1190-6
- Blanc, Mel; Bashe, Philip (1988). That's Not All, Folks!. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-39089-5 (Softcover), ISBN 0-446-51244-3 (Hardcover)
- 1940 academy awards. Retrieved on 2007-09-20.
- "Termite Terrace Tenancy: Virgil Ross remembers".
Elmer's Candid Camera
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Elmer's Pet Rabbit