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Friday, November 9, 2012

"Bugs Bunny Superstar:' Bugs Bunny and Orson Welles Togetrher Again

Warner Archives has given pop culture fans an especially awesome treat in the form of the recently released DVD 1975 documentary "Bugs Bunny Superstar." This top-notch production meets the test for an exceptional documentary in that it entertains and informs. 

My only complaint is that this film firmly implanted the "overtures curtain lights" theme song from the Bugs Bunny '70s series in my head. (The documentary does not include that song and accompanying dance by the Looney Tunes character.)

Criticizing this Orson "Charles Foster Kane" Welles narrated film for the title indicating that it is all about everyone's favorite wascally wabbit would be akin to my getting upset because the Ben and Jerry's seconds that were my special treat during grad school were no good because they had too many Oreos, Heath bars or other fixins. In both cases, the flub is a bonus.

It is worth noting as well that, forgetting about the unfortunate Gallo wine commercials, Welles' well-known integrity and deep appreciation for true art likely motivated his participation in this production.

This 90 minutes of pure joy includes nine truly classic Merry Meolodies or Looney Tunes cartoons and both home movies and caricatures of the Warner Brothers animators who created Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, et al. cavorting around and generally loving life in the animation studio that they lovingly dubbed "Termite Terrace" in reference to the building's shoddy construction.

Interesting tidbits include tales of Warner Brothers stars such as Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney dropping by Termite Terrace to see the animation geniuses at work, brief glimpses into the origins of Bugs Bunny and his animated pals, and Clampett gleefully discussing the work that he and fellow animation god Tex Avery created together.

The nine cartoons ae great examples of the indescribably good Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies seven-minute wonders. Clampett points out that he and team created far more drawings for each short than animators typically drew for a 20-minute Saturday morning cartoon show. The backgrounds from some of  these are easily as good as ANY Disney film from ANY era.

"Rhapsody Rabbit" is the most noteworthy of the handful of Bugs Bunny cartoons in the group of nine. Like a few other Warner Brothers cartoons from the same period, it centers around classical music. ("Kill the wabbit; kill the wabbit" anyone.) In this case, Bugs Bunny puts his own wacky spin on performing a piano recital.

What makes this cartoon special for me is that I think that it is the only time that I have seen a tormenter make Bugs Bunny a foil. The wiseguy in this case is a mouse who lives in the piano that Bugs Bunny is playing.

The Daffy Duck/Porky Pig cartoon "My Favorite Duck" is unusual in that it is the only time that I can recall seeing said duck and pig in adversarial roles, rather than playing an Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy like team that spent most of the seven minutes getting scared out of their wits.

This offering is also one of the funniest of the entire set. I do not want to ruin it for anyone by writing more. 

An almost as rare feature of "Duck" is that it brings the already highly surreal elements of these cartoons up another notch by taking Daffy out of his animated world in much the same way as in the true Daffy Duck classic "Duck Amok" that most festivals of these cartoons include.

The bottom line is that buying "Bugs Bunny Superstar" should be a no-brainer for anyone who likes any of the classic Looney Tunes characters or simply appreciates good-quality animation. I can think of a few people who can anticipate having this set under their trees.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding Bugs Bunny or his friends is encouraged to email me. That's all folks!