Wagnerian Wabbit
January 17, 2016 8:56 PM   Subscribe

 
Elmer Fudd's voice actor being a singer is something I never thought of, and it's a tribute to his talent that he can sing well while still sounding like a dopey dumb dumb. Kind of like how Barry in High Fidelity or Bubbles in Trailer Park Boys are played by professional musicians in real life but they do such good jobs playing their characters as dummies that you are surprised when they can actually sing.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:49 PM on January 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


Arthur Q. Bryan deserves a lot of credit he didn't get, as did any of Looney Tunes/Merry Melodies' other voice actors from the time when only Mel Blanc could negotiate a contract that got his name onto the credits: most notably the recently departed Stan Freberg and the still-kicking-at-98* June Foray.

*and still doing Granny and Witch Hazel AND Rocky the Flying Squirrel as recently as 2014.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:25 PM on January 17, 2016 [13 favorites]


Once in a while chance throws together an astounding assemblage of talent into one place at one time, and they create miracles. PARC in the 70's and 80's, for instance. The Lockheed Skunk Works in the 50's and 60's.

Termite Terrace in the 1940's is another example.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:25 PM on January 17, 2016 [14 favorites]


I've mentioned before that I was fortunate to see Chuck Jones in person when he was interviewed as part of an animation festival in the '80s... interviewed by his personal friend, Ray Bradbury. From the 11th row, it was obvious that when he smiled, Chuck's patchy grey beard gave him an uncanny resemblance to Bugs Bunny.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:22 PM on January 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


"Looney Tunes historian" is an actual job? And no one told me?! I mean, I know I've wasted my life to date, but I didn't know I've wasted it to such great degree.

I'm stunned that it took so long for "What's Opera, Doc?" to become beloved. That it wasn't worshiped at once. It's difficult to believe there was a time when cartoons weren't taken seriously.
posted by bryon at 11:33 PM on January 17, 2016 [19 favorites]


Watching "Long-Haired Hare" recently, I was struck by how casual its reference to Leopold Stokowski is--a reference soon to be recognized only by specialists.

Is "What's Opera, Doc?" the only Bugs Bunny short in which Elmer Fudd accomplishes his goal?
posted by praemunire at 11:35 PM on January 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I read that when they recorded Mel Blanc doing the voice of Bugs Bunny, they speeded it up a bit when mixing the sound track. Otherwise it would have sounded like Sylvester ("without the slobber", as Blanc himself put it once in an interview).

For normal dialogue that's OK, but I've always wondered how they handled it for the cartoons where Bugs was singing. Did they record the music, play it back slowed down to let Blanc record his singing, and then speed it back up to normal?

(An interesting piece of trivia: they didn't have any kind of magnetic recording back then; no tape recorders or anything like that. When they did sound recording, they recorded it on the sound track of movie film. To play it back or use it later, they had to develop that film.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:29 AM on January 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's the floating glove.
posted by clavdivs at 12:31 AM on January 18, 2016




Worth viewing for the beauty of Maurice Noble's work alone.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:01 AM on January 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


One of the things I love about Bugs Bunny is how they got his cross-dressing totally under the radar because, well, it was a cartoon rabbit. By this point they straight up did it well, and let the rabbit become a prima ballerina because he was wearing an appropriate get-up. (Not to mention the scene where he bats his eyes at Elmer.)
posted by graymouser at 3:27 AM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can't get over how much Bugs Bunny in drag looks likeClaudette Colbert.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:13 AM on January 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's the horse's side eye.

I am not an opera fan and once as an adult had to sit through some Wagner because I was trying to appear worldly on a date.

Asked why I was smiling throughout, I lost the guy for good when I told him the only way I got through it was to picture it all as a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:34 AM on January 18, 2016 [12 favorites]


"Jerry Beck, Loony Tunes Historian"

I WANT THAT JOB!!!!

Sadly, I am completely unqualified, other thank having watched a crap load of cartoons
posted by Frayed Knot at 5:56 AM on January 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Watching "Long-Haired Hare" recently, I was struck by how casual its reference to Leopold Stokowski is--a reference soon to be recognized only by specialists.

I always assumed it was a reference to Stokowski's appearance in Disney's Fantasia -- the Termite Terrace crew poking fun at the high-culture pretensions of Disney.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:08 AM on January 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


You're the horse's side-eye, the floating glove
Over-swagged columns, the singing Fudd
Perfection in fish-dive, fire, lightning and SMOOOOOG!
The Wagnerian Wabbit I want to snog
posted by Devonian at 6:14 AM on January 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


That horse is exactly why we must support the arts. Sure, you get 90% crap, but the occasionally something like that happens and it's all worth it.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:16 AM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


As someone with the surname Cole, I really enjoyed that one of the animators was named Corny Cole. It seems appropriate, somehow, in the best possible way.
posted by wintermind at 6:46 AM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I always assumed it was a reference to Stokowski's appearance in Disney's Fantasia -- the Termite Terrace crew poking fun at the high-culture pretensions of Disney.

Both. Stokowaski was a well known name and his appearance was a fast way to say "This is an orchestra conductor," and of course they were spoofing off of Fantasia.

I know that topical gets a lot of criticism for not being funny once the topical element fades, but I think people miss that it still can be, because WB cartoons were loaded with them. Remember Pepé Le Pew saying "So long, so firm, so fully packed?" That was a tag phrase in advertising for Lucky Strike cigarettes. Pepe was himself a spoof of Pepé le Moko, a jewel thief in the 1938 movie Algiers -- the famous 'Come with me to the Casbah" is a line that appears in the trailers for that movie.

A number of cartoons had "PUT OUT THAT LIGHT!" a reference to WWII nighttime blackout laws. "Of course, you know, this means war!" had been uttered by another famous wisecracker first. Another war references was "Was this trip really necessary?", a rather well known campaign against wasting gas. "Monsters are the cwaisist people..." is a direct reference to Lew Lehrer, who narrated comical shorts for Fox Movitone. If "Honey Badger" had happened in the 1940s, Lew Lehrer would have been the guy narrating it.

"He don't know me very well, do he?" is a old Red Skelton line.
posted by eriko at 7:21 AM on January 18, 2016 [12 favorites]


...AND flared nostril. I feel like if I don't say that it will be bugging me all day.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 7:23 AM on January 18, 2016


Is "What's Opera, Doc?" the only Bugs Bunny short in which Elmer Fudd accomplishes his goal?

If memory serves me correctly, in "Hare Brush," Fudd successfully turns the tables on Bugs. His character is a millionaire whose handlers are worried at his mental state because he dresses and acts like a rabbit. He tricks Bugs into a psychiatrist's care in which he (Bugs) is mesmerized into believing he is Elmer, complete with a hunting scene in which their traditional roles are reversed. Finally the IRS shows up to haul Elmer!Bugs off for nonpayment of taxes. Elmer gets the last word: "I may be a scwewy wabbit, but I'm not going to Awcatwaz!"
posted by Gelatin at 8:07 AM on January 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


My name is Elmer J Fudd. I own a mansion and a yacht.
posted by DanSachs at 8:29 AM on January 18, 2016


My name is Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire, I own a mansion and a yacht.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:36 AM on January 18, 2016 [8 favorites]


Again.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:37 AM on January 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


"Looney Tunes historian" is an actual job? And no one told me?! I mean, I know I've wasted my life to date, but I didn't know I've wasted it to such great degree.

That Looney Tunes historian was, I think, in contact with my partner about his collection, because my partner has a MASSIVE collection of just about every cartoon made by a major studio since the 20s on disc.

I think the best detail out of this was that the animators would churn out a Road Runner cartoon in 3 weeks to free up 2 extra weeks for big cartoons like this. Great detail!
posted by xingcat at 8:38 AM on January 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


My name is Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire, I own a mansion and a yacht.
posted by wabbittwax at 11:36 AM


Eponysterical!
posted by Gelatin at 8:39 AM on January 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Where can I get some ALUM? Seems like it would be perfect for pranks around the office!
posted by thelonius at 8:44 AM on January 18, 2016




One other place where Elmer gets the last laugh --
There's a sequel to Duck Amuck, Rabbit Rampage, where it's Bugs Bunny who's getting crap from the animator instead. At the end of Duck Amuck it turns out that Bugs Bunny is at the drawing board; at the end of Rabbit Rampage, it's Elmer Fudd.

Also I forget how it ended, but there's a cartoon that pokes fun at the notion that a person's attire or uniform affects his behavior and how he sees himself by having a hat truck overturn and sending hats floating down over the woods everywhere. Bugs and Elmer end up variously affected by the headgear falling on their heads randomly, and one of the situations has Bugs wearing a hunter's hat and Elmer with rabbit ears, and the two basically reverse roles for a bit.
posted by JHarris at 9:01 AM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Reportedly, this is the Road Runner cartoon that they rushed through in three weeks to make time for What's Opera, Doc?
posted by Shmuel510 at 9:19 AM on January 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


I know that topical gets a lot of criticism for not being funny once the topical element fades, but I think people miss that it still can be

I don't want to live in a world where overwrought melodramatic conductors aren't funny. That's the difference between pieces like these and the lazy modern habit of substituting a reference for a joke (looking at you, Joss Whedon): there's a layer of comedy beyond the reference itself.

All of this reminds me that the annual Bugs Bunny festival at the local theater is less than a month away!
posted by praemunire at 9:46 AM on January 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


there's a layer of comedy beyond the reference itself

This is so true. I loved Bugs Bunny as a kid in the '80s because the rabbit was doing funny things, things that were silly on their own merits. I respect Bugs Bunny as an adult because I've seen more of the source material that it's drawn from and the references often work on three or four levels at once. (And yet it's still funny.)
posted by graymouser at 9:58 AM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Where can I get some ALUM? Seems like it would be perfect for pranks around the office!


ACME, I'm sure.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:02 AM on January 18, 2016 [10 favorites]


Every once in a while when it's stormy I'll bust out "NORF WINDS BWOW!" without even thinking and my kids will look at me funny.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:04 AM on January 18, 2016 [8 favorites]


If you swatted a fly (or something similarly trivial) around my family, you were likely to get serenaded with, "OH MIGHTY HUNTER OF GREAT FIGHTING STOCK!"
posted by Wolfdog at 11:07 AM on January 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also "KILL DA WABBIT!"
posted by gottabefunky at 11:10 AM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well, I'll be. I'm pretty old, and I thought Blanc did Elmer Fudd.
posted by Trochanter at 12:18 PM on January 18, 2016


Our bass player wrote a whole song about Long-Haired Hare and Leopold Stokowski: Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives, "Leopold"
posted by dfan at 2:07 PM on January 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Awesomeness. Thanks so much for posting this.
posted by Empty Planet at 2:54 PM on January 18, 2016


I'm known, within our group, for sometimes randomly going "LEOPOLD? leopold! LEOPOLD?!" etc. in a hushed voice.
posted by JHarris at 3:09 PM on January 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


dfan, that's good, but I really like you guy's song Time Cube!
posted by JHarris at 3:17 PM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think Looney Tunes was a big start to my appreciation of classical music.
(although I was in my 30's before I realized where this theme came from- Bugs was always in a happy mood when that music was playing)
posted by MtDewd at 3:36 PM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is an extra in the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 2 box set, which features multiple commentary tracks and other interesting features. I have been known to pull out those DVDs whenever I'm getting over a bad cold. For that matter, Jerry Beck has a book with a synopsis of every Warner Brothers cartoon.
posted by fedward at 4:09 PM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


the annual Bugs Bunny festival at the local theater

The highlight of and the only day we get out of our pajamas during February break!! (Side complaint: WHY is there a February break? WHY? Why? What mad idiot thought, "Yeah, let's make parents take a week off when it's BELOW ZERO daily and have everyone stay at home?" Why can't we just plow through it and get off a week earlier in June, huh?)
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:06 AM on January 19, 2016


Friends description of Walt Disney World:

With my sphere and Magic Kingdom!

Your sphere and Magic Kingdom?

Sphere and Magic Kingdom!

Magic Kingdom?

Magic Kingdom!

Magic Kingdom...

Yes, MAGIC KINGDOM! AND I'LL GIVE YOU A SAMPPPLEEE!!!

it's a small world after all, it's a small world after all....

Bye!
posted by eriko at 5:01 AM on January 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Asked why I was smiling throughout, I lost the guy for good when I told him the only way I got through it was to picture it all as a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

No, the way to get through Wagner is to learn the story from Anna Russell first.
posted by dnash at 8:17 AM on January 19, 2016


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