Falling Hare

From Loonipedia

Falling Hare is a Merrie Melodies cartoon produced by Leon Schlesinger, directed by Robert Clampett, and animated by Rod Scribner.

Premise[edit]

The title Falling Hare is another play on words. The word "hair" and "hare." As "falling hair" refers to impending baldness, while in this cartoon's ending, the title turns out to be descriptive of Bugs' situation (a hare falling/crashing to earth). Recorded on September 27th, 1943, it is a cartoon featuring Bugs Bunny and a gremlin . This cartoon is now in the Public Domain. Within the cartoon are several contemporary pop culture references, now dated, including to Wendell Willkie, John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice & Men and the folk songs Yankee Doodle, I've Been Working on the Railroad" and the Russian folk song Dark Eyes. In addition, the Gremlin's behavior is possibly an homage to Bob Clampett's version of Daffy Duck (for example, he is seen in one scene riding an invisible bicycle, one of Daffy's old trademarks, among other acts). The Gremlin holds the distinction, along with Cecil Turtle, the unnamed mouse from Rhapsody Rabbit and the fly from Baton Bunny, of being one of the very few antagonists to actually outsmart and rattle Bugs. Bugs' Gremlin nemesis makes two reappearances in the 1990s cartoon Tiny Toon Adventures. In the episode Journey to the Center of Acme Acres the gremlin appears (with several look-alikes) as the cause of earthquakes in ACME Acres after their gold is stolen by Montana Max. In the special Night Ghoulery a singular gremlin antagonizes Plucky Duck in the segment titled "Gremlin on a Wing", a spoof of the Twilight Zone episode Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. It also made a brief cameo in the Animaniacs episode Plane Pals as a passenger.

Storyline[edit]

This cartoon opens with the title credits over the strains of "Down By The Riverside", then into an extended series of establishing shots of an Army Air Force base, to the brassy strains of "We’re In To Win" (a World War II song also sung by Daffy Duck in Scrap Happy Daffy a year before). The sign at the base reads "U.S. Army Air Field", and below that is shown the location, the number of planes and number of men, all marked "Censored" as a reference to military secrecy. Beneath those categories, the sign reads "What men think of top sergeant", which is shown with a large white-on-black "CENSORED!!", as the language implied would not pass scrutiny by the Hays Office. Bugs is found reclining on a piece of ordnance, idly reading Victory Through Hare Power (a parody of the extremely influential book Victory Through Air Power and its film adaptation) and laughing uproariously at the book's claim that gremlins wreck American planes with "di-a-bo-lick-al sab-oh-tay-gee" (diabolical sabotage). He immediately encounters one of the creatures, who is experimentally striking the bomb Bugs is sitting on with a mallet to the tune of "I've Been Working on the Railroad". In response to Bug's "Eh.... what's all the hubbub, bub?" the gremlin replies, "These Blockbuster bombs don't go off unless you hit them ju-u-u-u-st right." Noticing the gremlin's lack of success, Bugs offers to "take a whack at it" in a whispering voice, but comes to his senses an instant before striking the detonator, screaming "What am I doing?!" Bugs asks the audience sotto voce, "Say, do youse t'ink dat..., Hey, could there's been a ........ gremlin?" The gremlin, perched on Bugs' shoulder the whole time, shouts in his ear, "It ain't Vendell Villkie!" The Gremlin ties up Bugs' ears leaving him confused and hits his foot with a mallet. Bugs being angry, and tries to find the gremlin, which is then hits Bugs on the head with the mallet causing him to faint. The gremlin then pulls out Bugs' tongue and releases it. Bugs then chases the gremlin with the mallet only to get hit on the foot again with it. The gremlin continues to outsmart Bugs throughout the film, frequently hitting him with a mallet or otherwise giving him grief, following two of his "hits" on Bugs by "laughing" the first seven notes of Yankee Doodle once aboard the aircraft, to taunt Bugs. Bugs soon finds himself fighting a losing battle with the gremlin inside a flying but unpiloted bomber (resembling a Douglas B-18 Bolo). Bugs then charges the gremlin and goes all the way outside, suddenly realizes he's in mid-air, stops suddenly and transforms into a donkey lettered with the then-hyphenated word, "JACK-ASS". When Bugs comes back inside from being outside by slipping into the banana peels of the aircraft mid-flight, his heart is pounding, with 4F labeled on it (the term refers to a military draftee rejected for being physically unfit). Bugs is flattened into a coin shape, then is dropped through the bomb bay doors, where he is caught by his feet on a wire between the doors. He sees the Gremlin flying toward a pair of twin towers and quickly rushes into the cockpit, takes control of the airplane, and flies between the towers vertically, emerging in a "victory roll." In the finale, the plane goes into a tailspin (ripping apart during its descent, with only the fuselage remaining), and the altimeter briefly reminds Bugs, "Incredible Ain't It???", but comes to a sputtering halt (with sound effects by voice actor Mel Blanc, borrowing from his portrayal of the Maxwell automobile on the radio show The Jack Benny Program) about six feet before hitting the ground, hanging in mid-air, defying gravity. Bugs and the Gremlin now seem to be on friendly terms as they both address the audience. The gremlin apologizes for the plane having "run out of gas". Bugs chimes in and just as he speaks, the camera pans to the right, revealing a wartime gas rationing sticker: "You know how it is with these 'A' cards!"

Trivia[edit]

That unexpected gag probably resonated well with the audience (for its time). The "A" card, under the reverse-psychology of the rationing scheme, was the least generous of the classifications, limiting the bearer to minimal gasoline purchases; the "Is this trip really necessary?" gag was also related to gas rationing of the period. A similar gag was pulled in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, during the scene where the spy car stops in mid-air because it ran out of gas. However, it soon crashes after Kate mentions that reality doesn't work like that.

Availability[edit]

This cartoon is found on Vol. 3 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection. It has also been found in cheaper V.H.S. and D.V.D. releases as it was once part of the public domain along with a number of other Looney Tunes cartoons.