Sunday, 26 August 2012

199. Porky's Hare Hunt (1938)

Warner cartoon no. 198.
Release date: April 30, 1938.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Ben Hardaway.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig / Rabbit).
Story: Howard Baldwin.
Animation: Volney White.
Musical Direction: Carl W. Stalling.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).
Synopsis: Porky is hunting for a rabbit - but ends up being menaced by a white one.

This cartoon at least shows some importance considering that this is the first cartoon to feature what is called the "proto-type Bugs Bunny". It wouldn't become until at least two years later when Bugs Bunny made his first and true ever appearance in A Wild Hare. Bugs Hardaway is responsible at least for the development of Bugs Bunny (even though his name comes into it) but I'd say Tex Avery is still the responsible creator of Bugs Bunny as he made his first proper cartoon and even made him a winning character with a more appealing personality while Bugs Hardaway was just making his earlier versions just a rabbit version of Daffy Duck - to put it that way. Also, Chuck Jones also had at least some involvement in these early Bugs appearances but I guess not as much as Tex or maybe Hardaway.

Note that this is the first directed Hardaway cartoon that he made for Warner Bros. about three years directing some god-awful Buddy cartoons. He returned to the studio for the second time - presumably as a story writer but then he managed to get a director's position again but this time paired up with Cal Dalton. I wonder why Hardaway was the only credited director here. Dalton-Howard were already co-directors (based on the credits). Could Schlesinger be attempting to start a 5th unit but meant Howard leaving with Bugs pairing with Dalton?? Who knows? What even interests me was that some of Tashlin's animators appeared to have went over to Dalton-Howard's (or Hardaway's) unit to animate on their cartoons. I guess because Tashlin had the Freleng animators and Tash's old animators went over to Hardaway-Dalton but I'm not sure.

The cartoon begins after we hear the titles to the song - A Hunting-We-Will Go that is heard. There are a bunch of rabbits in the crop fields as they are chewing on some carrots feasting themselves. A gunshot is then fired at the spot but the rabbits don't take the firing seriously so they continue munching their carrots. More gunshots then start to hear in which a white rabbit then approaches (the proto-Bugs) then arrives at the scene and shouts, "Jiggers, fellas!". All of the other rabbits then flee.

Porky then arrives at the scene in his hunting uniform as he has his hunting retrieving dog with him sniffing for some rabbit tracks. Standing behind Porky is the same rabbit who warned the other rabbits about the scene. As Porky is still hunting out for some hares to shoot - he then asks for his dog to "shush" at the spot. Standing behind Porky the whole time features the white rabbit as he is planning on a type of trick towards Porky. The dog walks out of the scene sniffing for tracks but the white rabbit continues to stand behind him until Porky turns around believing there is a rabbit behind him. After a couple of attempts of trying to find him - Porky then starts to shoot for any rabbit near him by shooting the entire crop fields that features smoke covering the entire fields. After the smoke has cleared away we find that the white rabbit is standing in a further distance and shouts, 'You've missed me' in which he starts to chuckle in what became a characteristic one in these early proto-Bugs cartoons but even sort of formed into Woody Woodpecker. Porky then spots the rabbit at the spot in which he orders his dog (called Zero) to go and chase the rabbit. The fact that Porky missed after making a shooting spree at the fields is funny as how could he have missed?

Zero then runs away at the spot as he is going to chase after the white rabbit. As Zero is chasing and finding the rabbit. The rabbit is hiding under a chopped down tree trunk but the dog sniffs to find the tracks. The dog then sniffs inside the trunk to find evidence - then turns around to find the rabbit but then leaps out. The white rabbit then leaps out of the trunk which is slightly amusing and it makes Porky's dog Zero a pretty useless hunting dog.

After the rabbit jumps out and chuckles - he then grabs out a toy rabbit as he unwinds it to make it move as a booby trap to trick the dog. Zero is still sniffing along to see if there are any rabbits and he encounters the toy rabbit mistaking it as a real one. As he believes he found one - he jumps behind the rock with sheer confidence for the toy rabbit to approach. After that (and for some reason in the copy I'm watching it in - the screen goes off for a few seconds and then back to the film - around 1:30). I really hate that fuckin' copy that is only available on the Internet - at least it's coming to DVD on the Platinum Collection restored and remastered. Unfortunately it looks like after the screen returns with the film footage that there was about 5 seconds of the actual cartoon cut. It's pretty much what is possibly featured that the dog attempts to trap the rabbit toy but even the toy cons him by kicking him away. After the dog then watches what he is seeing - he then jumps up to the toy rabbit and ends up attacking it off-screen. After a dust of cloud appears to cover the violence - it turns out to the dog that it was a trick set up by the rabbit. It turns out that the dog already has a spring caught on his nose from the gadgets as he drums his fingers to the ground scowling at the dummy that was set up for him.

After the trap has failed on Zero the dog - Porky then starts to hunt out for the rabbit as he has his shotgun to help hunt for it. The funny gag that appears then turns up when even Porky's shotgun comes to life as even it starts to sniff like a tracking dog which is presented as believable albeit amusing. As the rifle is sniffing out for some rabbit fur and a real rabbit - the white rabbit pops out of the hole of a tree and shakes some pepper for the rifle.

After shaking the pepper we then discover that the rifle then starts to sneeze and after sneezing the shotgun fires. The gun then fires at a tree because of the reaction and it's even a funny gag itself which makes the situation a rather cartoony one. After it fires - it turns out that he has shot a tree in which it turns out that all of the tree has been blown off but the rabbit is still inside, though crouching to protect himself. After the rabbit has regained consciousness - he gets back up and halts Porky from shooting him. "Hold it chief!" he shouts. The rabbit is carrying with him a bottle which is a pun of a product of hair remover but called "Hare Remover". After the rabbit then bites the cork off the bottle - he guzzles down the entire bottle in which he vanishes. Porky walks over to try and feel the rabbit as the bottle is still floating in the air. After Porky keeps looking around the bottle then smashes Porky as he sits down rather dazed. Suddenly there already appears to be a top-hat lying outside the garage (with no reason to be out there or even in the woods). The rabbit pops out with clear visibility and shouts "Here I am, fat boy". I even like that quote to call him - as the rabbit continues to chuckle.

Porky then turns over as he finds that the rabbit has re-appeared in which he then makes a turn around as he starts to shoot straight at the rabbit. The rabbit then goes into this spastic movements where he dodges the bullet every time. The timing there is very cool as he just dodges the bullet each time and I see some improvements on Hardaway even in the cartoons he made compared to what he made in 1935.

After shooting many bullets but just fails to miss - it turns out that Porky is standing on a field covered with cartridges. After shooting continuously - Porky runs out of ammo but pants after firing as he sweat "Phew". The rabbit also pants after he keeps moving spastically dodging every bullet successfully. The rabbit sweats but then starts to hear the sound of a dog barking. After he hears he then grabs out a cape that came from under the magician's hat - and there appears to be a out-of-nowhere explanation in the woods sequence since why would a magician or a magician's hat be in the woods - there must be an explanation; not as if it just is in the woods. The rabbit then holds onto a cape where the dog has to at least pass as it forms into a type of bullfighting sequence where the bulls have to dodge past the red cape. The amusing part is that when the dog is barking at the rabbit; he starts to scrape his paws in the ground a bull and go charging which is why it's shown here in this cartoon.

As the dog just charges to the cape that the rabbit is holding - the dog just charges through in which Zero ends up smacking into a barrel that is leaning by a tree. Some pretty neat timing on the tree-smacking scene. The rabbit troubles at his shenanigans but continues the trick which results in the dog dashing past but runs into a log. The dog is caught inside the log and struggles to get out.

After the dog then manages to squeeze himself out of the log he wriggles his face dazed but turns back to the rabbit. The dog then continues to bark towards the rabbit as he comments on that scene, 'Some fun, huh, kid?' as he chuckles again. After the dog then runs into the cape again - it turns out that the rabbit already has finished the trick as the dog is caught inside the cape. The rabbit then starts to roll up the cape like a rug in which from my point of view it looks like a dynamite stick. As the rabbit can also do tricks we watch the entertaining magic sequence as the rabbit has already shown that the dog is still in there but shoots the dog straight out like shooting a pea out of a peashooter. That type of bullfight gag was seen already a year later in Picador Porky - an Avery cartoon and I imagine that Hardaway was influenced by that gag from that cartoon.

After the rabbit then shoots out the dog from the peashooter - Zero then ends up flying towards Porky and smacks straight at him. After Porky then gets smacked by the dog caused by the rabbit -- they make a turn to see what is going to happen next. It turns out that then the rabbit laughs at the scene and ends up laughing in that characteristic laugh that would later become famous in the Woody Woodpecker cartoons; and that laugh even goes back as far as the proto-Bugs cartoon - a laugh invented by Hardaway - if you think about it although unless one of the story/gagmen could've pitched that idea.

"Don't put me worrying, chief, I'm just a cryful pixilated" - says the rabbit. He laughs again in which he starts to spin his ears around as his head looks like in that airbrush effect the wings of a helicopter which was a clever concept and even cleverly animated. The rabbit then starts to fly up in the air as his head pops out of the airbrushed wing and he shouts "Look out for all, here I come" and chuckles again. I do wonder though if that was a reference to anything as well. The rabbit then starts to make a dive towards Porky and his dog Zero in which it results for Porky and his dog to duck as the rabbit flies straight past with his ears being the wings. Porky and his dog watch as the rabbit then swings past right through then again before it is safe for them to stand back up.

Porky and his dog then stand back up sweeping themselves in which Porky also sweats:

Porky Pig: Sure glad to get rid of that dope.
Rabbit: That's what you think.

The rabbit thens starts to laugh heartily as he jumps up at one tree which appears to be a movement for when the rabbit has a screwy moment as he swings around from tree to tree. It's sort of like copying what Avery did when Daffy had his screwy moment by just jumping about in the lake acting all excited. Porky then calls for his dog, Zero, to go over and chase the rabbit in which there is a decent layout and staging effect when the dog chases after the rabbit in a long shot and then through a path to go and find the rabbit. The rabbit just bounces along very happily and crazily as the dog is still chasing after him. The rabbit then manages to discover his hiding location successfully and hides in there. Porky then walks over to see the commotion -- the dog then hisses Porky over and points directly that the rabbit is hiding inside these logs where it is like a small hill. Porky then whispers to the dog's ear, 'You stay here while I go around the other side' in which Porky then walks over to the other side to try and capture the rabbit and have him cornered.

As Porky walks over the other side of the logs -- he spots the rabbit sitting by the log munching on carrots knowing that he can't possible get caught. As Porky walks closer and closer to the rabbit with a shotgun  - he points his gun straight at him. "Now let's see you get out of this, wise guy?!" - the rabbit then starts to talk back trying to defend himself by talking Porky out of it. "Don't shoot!" he exclaims. He then begs his life not to get killed in which he shouts "I'll talk".

The rabbit still tries to back himself up as he exclaims that he has a wife and family as he hands over a photograph to prove his marriage. The photograph features him as well as his wife and hundreds of bunnies in the background of the picture. Porky doesn't give two shags when he looks at the picture and tosses it away to point his gun towards the rabbit.. The fact that the rabbit has a family as well as lots of children amuses me a little as how could they managed to cope with feeding so many bunnies - hee hee? "You can't stop me" he stutters to the rabbit as he is cornered against a tree. Porky then tries to shoot by firing his bullets but finds that he hasn't any ammo. He then struggles to shoot out more ammo to try and shoot the rabbit to his death.

As Porky then struggles to shoot more bullets to kill the rabbit - the rabbit realises that his life is safe for now and safe enough to trick Porky. "Won't shoot, huh?" the rabbit comments curiously. He then walks over to comment; 'Sure it won't shoot?' but Porky keeps on turning around trying to fix the ammo inside the gun himself. The rabbit then walks over to Porky in which he then starts to question him for hurting a rifle and realises that he's the tougher guy.

He then comments over to Porky, 'Your rifle could've hurt somebody with that thing'. The rabbit then starts to ask for a hunting license. Porky then looks over his pockets to try and find his hunting license and manages to pick out one from one of his pockets and hands it over for evidence. The rabbit then rips up the license in half and shouts 'Haven't got one now!' as he laughs heartedly and jumps about with excitement. The way that the rabbit even came up with that idea was just very funny since he just bullies Porky by ripping his license is just very funny satire and I love how that Porky suffers through that humiliation. The hunting license gag would sort of be a reused idea later in the 1950 cartoon Boobs in the Woods where Daffy Duck asks Porky for a number of licenses except it's the same concept but the gag was just written very differently.

The rabbit then starts to jump about with excitement in which he then starts to flip his own ears as he ends up flying with them which was the same gag that we saw earlier on in the cartoon. As the rabbit is still flying up in the air - Porky then grabs out a rock from the ground and comes up with the great idea to toss the rock high in the air and hit the rabbit so he can fall down easily - which is a clever concept for the gag.

The rabbit then starts to crash to the ground like an airplane but then ends up crashing into a haystack pile. Porky walks over to the haystack and shouts over to his dog, "I got him, Zero. I got 'em!" The rabbit then starts to fake his own tragic death by covering his chest in which he tricks Porky pretending as though he's dying. He then speaks in a gaspy voice "You got me". After he almost then starts to gasp to death - he immediately stands on his two feet as he comments to Porky; 'Of course, you know, this means war!' as he then walks away playing the flute to the scene The Girl I Left Behind Me as he walks around the haystack playing it. That line "Of course you know this means war" is just a very famous Bugs Bunny line that we've heard him say over the years other than 'What's up, doc?' so it's clearly evident as this makes it the first prototype Bugs Bunny cartoon and how that Hardaway sort of was involved in developing the creation of Bugs Bunny even though he wasn't officially the "creator" of the rabbit. (But the time 'Of course you know this means war' may be famous but not many folks realise it came from a line by Groucho Marx in 'A Night at the Opera'). Porky then tosses his own hat to the ground as he grumbles 'He can't get away with that!' in which he stomps his hat and he dashes off to chase after the rabbit.

The rabbit that is playing the flute to the theme The Girl I Left Behind Me then walks down the path still playing the theme but then starts to walk even further playing it faster before Porky then chases after him with 'Yankee Doodle' played briefly in that part. The rabbit then starts to make an escape through a small cave planted by rocks. Porky then looks through the caves in which he tries to come up with a plan on how to capture the pesky rabbit.

Porky then looks over at what he has discovered in which he finds that he has a box of explosives with him which would be great for him since he could explode the rabbit to smitherings. Porky reaches into his pocket as he grabs out a matchstick and he lightens the firecracker. Porky then tosses it inside the cave as he covers his own ears in case of the reaction from the explosive. After Porky then covers his ears from the banging - the rock then starts to pop out of the caves in which it then results in an explosive reaction that then covers up from the screen which is a rather funny sequence as Porky has failed BIG time.

After the screen then fades out - we then view to find that Porky is inside hospital as he is lying inside a hospital bed, still alive, though injured from the reaction of the dynamite. The rabbit then walks over at the scene in which he has carried with him some posies to give to Porky in a polite and civilised matter. Porky then stutters pleased, 'Thanks'. The rabbit then asks about Porky's health, 'How do you feel?' Porky responds to that he would be out of the hospital in a couple of days which is good news for Porky.

It then turns out that the rabbit isn't through with Porky yet and still has one last menacing trick onto him. "A couple of days?! That's what you think!" he then starts to whack Porky in which he starts to pull the weight that appears to pick up Porky from the bed to try and injure poor Porky even more. Porky then stays still from the comeback by the rabbit. The rabbit then jumps out of the hospital window as he chuckles very excitedly and then bounces outside along the hill until the cartoon then comes to its finish.

Overall comments: Now that Ben Hardaway has managed to earn his seniority at the studio again being a director (though I don't know if he directed it on his own). This cartoon is sort of just like a remake of Porky's Duck Hunt but instead of Bugs Hardaway just using Daffy for this cartoon - he insisted on making a new rabbit character again who would evolve into Bugs Bunny. Of course - I still think that 'Porky's Duck Hunt' is the more superior carton than this cartoon but I find that this cartoon has its importance too since even though it's just a rabbit disguised as Daffy Duck - it would still evolve into Bugs Bunny though much later on. According to Martha Sigall - it was enough to please the audience in the theatres in which more "rabbit" cartoons were made and even Chuck Jones directed two of the prototype Bugs cartoons which appears to be very rarely spoken about with his involvement in that.

My overall impression of this short is that if it's JUST going to feature Porky being menaced by a pesky white rabbit then I find that the cartoon just goes on for TOO long with that effect. It could've started off with a nice sequence before the hunting but I feel that with just the rabbit acting like a menace did slow down the cartoon and there really was no climax in the cartoon at all until towards the end when Porky's accident arrived at the spot with the dynamite. Other importance of this rabbit is that the laugh from the rabbit would even gain fame much later on but at the Walter Lantz Studio when Woody Woodpecker would be born and Hardaway would've given that laugh to the screwy woodpecker. Funny how that laugh even evolved at a different studio and makes the Warner history much more interesting to study.


  1. “Of course you know this means war!” is actually a Groucho Marx line from A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1935).

  2. I thought it was "Duck Soup" that coined the phrase.

  3. Who's Howard Baldwin? That's another one-time writer credit for Warners, in 1938, no less.