Herr Meets Hare
Herr Meets Hare is a 1945 Merrie Melodies cartoon directed by Friz Freleng. This short, coming a few months before the collapse of the Third Reich, was one of the last major wartime cartoons from Warner Brothers. Herr Meets Hare also set up for two important facets of Bugs Bunny: It was the first time that Bugs would realize he "should have made a left toin at Albukoykee", and the extended dance sequence in the middle of the film would later be retooled by Chuck Jones into his Bugs Bunny cartoon What's Opera, Doc?.
The cartoon opens with a faux Walter Winchell voice discussing the end of Germany, saying that "Germany has been battered into a fare-thee-well", and musing about where the high leadership, and "Fatso" Göring in particular has gone. The scene soon cuts to the Black Forest, where Hermann Göring, in bemedalled lederhosen, is "soothing his jangled nerves" marching while on a hunt. Nearby, a familiar furrow in the ground appears, with a hole at the end.
Bugs pops out of the hole, and bemused, asks Göring about the directions to Las Vegas, oblivious to his location. Göring replies "Las Veegas? Why, there is no Las Veegas in Chermany!" (Variants on this comment would be used in later cartoons as the lead-in to the joke that Bugs while tunneling did indeed turn wrong somewhere in New Mexico, usually by not taking a left turn at Albuquerque, this cartoon being the first time Bugs uses the line, "I KNEW I 'shoulda' made that left 'toin' in 'Albakoikie'"). For once genuinely alarmed by his mistaken destination, Bugs hightails it, saying "'Joimany'? Yipe!", with Göring chasing after him shooting at him with his musket.
A few chase gags go by in which Bugs insults the integrity of Göring's medals by bending one with his teeth. Göring, suckered into bending one himself, declares them ersatz and mumbles all sorts of anti-Hitler sentiments ("Oh, how I hate that Hitler swine, that phony führer, that..."). Bugs masquerades as Hitler using a bit of mud, and faces the surprised Göring. Göring disappears offscreen in a flash to change into his Nazi uniform adorned with all sorts of medals. After the usual Nazi salute, Bugs berates him in fake German as he strips Göring of his medals (Klooten-flooten-blooten-pooten-meirooten-tooten!) and even his belt, causing Göring to "kiss" in reverence, saying in order: "Look! I kiss mein Führer's hand. I kiss right in Der Fuehrer's Face!" The joke being the wildly popular song of the time of the same name by Spike Jones. Afterwards, Göring exclaims, "Oh, I'm a bad flooten-boy-glooten!", a variant on Warner cartoons' frequently-cited Lou Costello catchphrase, "I'm a baaad boy!". Later, when the gig is up, Bugs rides in on a white horse, dressed as Brünhilde, from Wagnerian opera, to the tune of the "Pilgrims' Chorus" from Tannhäuser (opera)|Tannhäuser. Göring, entranced, responds by dressing up as Siegfried. The two dance, before Bugs once again makes a fool of Göring and escapes (a scene later re-used in the Bugs and Elmer Fudd cartoon What's Opera, Doc?).
Eventually, Göring captures Bugs,(Using a hawk. "Do you think he'll catch me, doc?" "He'll have you back here faster thank you can say Schicklgruber." Alois Hitler|Schicklgruber was the original surname of Adolf Hitler's father, Alois) and brings him back to Adolf Hitler (who is playing solitaire), where he identifies him as "Bugsenheimer Bunny" (as opposed to "Weisenheimer" or "wise guy") to der Führer. During this final sequence, realistic hand prints are visible on a wall map. These prints represent a signature of background artist Robert Gribbroek, who is not credited in this film. As Herr Hitler talks of the great rewards he's going to pile upon Göring for this act of heroism, he opens the bag to reveal Bugs dressed as Joseph Stalin—complete with an enormous pipe—staring back at him. Bugs's Stalin impersonation reminds viewers that, during World War II, the Soviet Union was allied with the U.S. and other nations against Nazi Germany, although there was much U.S. opposition to Communism both before and after the war. Göring and Hitler flee. As the cartoon ends, Bugs glances back at the camera and asks, in a Russian accent, citing a (Raleigh) cigarette ad catch-phrase of that era: "Does your tobacco taste different lately?"
Like other American movies, Herr Meets Hare was available to German prisoners of war in the United States. The Germans did not like it; prisoner of war Hans Goebler said, "You saw Hermann Goering standing there full of decorations, then all of a sudden a rabbit showed up and took all the decorations off, and stuff like that. And we didn't care for that."
As with many of the World War II-themed cartoons put out by the major studios, Herr Meets Hare was placed under an unofficial ban from broadcast or video distribution by Warner Bros. and other rights-holders (including "Turner Broadcasting" and "Time Warner"). In 2001, Cartoon Network had planned on showing each and every Bugs Bunny cartoon made so far as part of its yearly "June Bugs" festival. However, AOL Time Warner refused to allow the broadcast of Herr Meets Hare, on the grounds that the cartoon was offensive (by today's standards) as it dealt with the "Nazis" in a joking manner. The cartoon did see limited broadcast (unlike more objectionable cartoons such as Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips) on a special one-hour episode of ToonHeads about cartoons from the WWII era (coincidentally, Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips was shown, albeit in clips while a voiceover explained how grotesque and cruel the Japanese stereotypes in cartoons tended to be in that era). It has also appeared on "Turner Classic Movies"' 'Cartoon Alley as recently as January 20, 2007.
- Herr Meets Hare is available (uncut and digitally remastered) on Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 6, Disc 2.