Rabbit of Seville
Rabbit of Seville is a 1949 Warner Bros. Looney Tunes theatrical cartoon short released on December 16th, 1950. It was directed by Chuck Jones and written by Michael Maltese. The short was re-released on January 18th, 1969 as a Blue Ribbon Merrie Melodie (the short was left unchanged except for the addition of a W7 logo to replace the original WB logo; the W7 Looney Tunes opening and closing may have also been used in place of the originals).
The production code for it's 1950 release is 1138; the production code for it's 1969 re-release is 7301.
The cartoon, in a plotline reminiscent of Stage Door Cartoon, features Bugs Bunny being chased by Elmer Fudd into the stage door of the Hollywood Bowl, whereupon Bugs tricks Elmer into going onstage, and participating in a break-neck operatic production of their chase punctuated with gags and accompanied by musical arrangements by Carl Stalling, focusing on Rossini's overture to The Barber of Seville.
Stalling's arrangement is remarkable in that the overture's basic structure is kept relatively intact; some repeated passages are removed and the overall piece is conducted at a faster tempo to accommodate the cartoon's standard running length. In 1994 it was voted #12 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. The cartoon is available on Disc 1 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 1.
The cartoon opens with people filing in to see "The Barber of Seville". In the back of the theater, Bugs is chased by Elmer and runs through an open back door. Elmer, now behind the curtain, doesn't see it rise when Bugs raises the curtain. The conductor, after a brief confused look at his watch, shrugs, then starts the orchestra, which causes Elmer to turn wide-eyed towards the audience. Bugs then steps out from behind a stage door, dressed in a barber's outfit and ropes Elmer into getting a shave, rendering him "nice and clean, although [his] face looks like it might have gone though a machine".
Before Bugs' third go-round with Elmer's scalp, he gives one of his feet a pedicure with a can opener, hedge clippers, file and red paint. This is followed by growing a beard on Elmer's face and shaving it with a miniature mower, and finally beauty clay for the face which Bugs handles like cement. Then it's back to the scalp as Bugs massages it with hair tonic first, then adds "Figaro Fertilizer", causing hair to grow from Elmer's head which sprouts into flowers. A short 'arms chase' ensues as a result where Bugs and Elmer chase each other off stage with bigger weapons (first axes, then guns, then cannons). Finally, Bugs ends the chase by offering flowers, chocolates and a ring to Elmer, who ducks offstage and comes back as the blushing bride. The tune then briefly switches to the "Wedding March" by Mendelssohn, before finishing with Bugs carrying his 'bride' up a long flight of stairs, through a false doorway (opening up onto thin air), and drops Fudd down into a wedding cake labeled "The Marriage of Figaro". Bugs then looks at the camera, smirks, and says, "NEXT!"
- The "Barber of Seville" poster that appears at the start of the film features three names: Eduardo Selzeri, Michele Maltese and Carlo Jonzi, which are Italianized versions of the names of the producer (Eddie Selzer), writer (Michael Maltese) and director (Chuck Jones) of the film.
- In one shot of the scene where Bugs massages Elmer's head in time to the piano melody, his hands are drawn with five digits instead of the usual four (in other words, he has five fingers as what a real life human would have) to match the hand of a piano player.
- The ABC airing of this cartoon mutes out some of the sound effects of Elmer shooting in the beginning of the cartoon. The shot of Bugs slashing Elmer's face with a razor was also cut by replacing it with a cropped shot of Bugs holding a mirror (which appeared after Elmer got slashed) and grimacing in disgust while the sound of the slashing played as normal. Also cut was the segment where Bugs ties Elmer's gun into a knot. It skips from the shot of Bugs doing a provocative thrust backwards towards the camera to the shot of Elmer being flung back into the barber chair, attempting to suggest some continuity between the two.
The cartoon is available on Disc 1 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 1
- Lawrence Van Gelder, With That Wascally Wabbit, That's Not All, Folks, NY Times, October 22, 1999
- Richard Freedman, What's Opera, Doc?, Adante Magazine, March 2002
- "Rabbit Of Seville Production Information". bcdb.com, March 27, 2010
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