Michael Maltese (story), Chuck Jones (director) Wearing of the Grin / 1951
Michael Maltese (story), Chuck Jones (director) Rabbit Seasoning / 1952
Michael Maltese (story), Chuck Jones (director) Duck Amok / 1953
Michael Maltese (story), Chuck Jones (director) One Froggy Evening / 1955
With the death of film animator and director Chuck Jones on February 22, 2002, I decided to revisit several cartoon works by him, a joyful task which reminded me of my childhood, and gave me the opportunity to really watch these innovative and, often, abstract works of art.
[singing to Elmer outside the barbershop]
Bugs Bunny: How do?/Welcome to my shop/Let me cut your mop/Let me shave your crop/Daintily, daintily... Hey, you!/Don't look so perplexed/Why must you be vexed?/Can't you see you're next?/Yes, you're next, you're so next!
With manic shifts in character and scene, the two undergo battles of rising barber chairs, a scalp-massage timed to the music of Rossini, and numerous other hilarious interruptions as the befuddled conductor and orchestra blithely play on. As in other Jones cartoons, Bugs shifts in and out of gender, here ending the eternal battle between him and Elmer, briefly, by marrying him!
Bugs Bunny: Would you like to shoot me now or wait till you get home?
Daffy Duck: Shoot him now! Shoot him now!
Bugs Bunny: You keep outta this! He doesn't have to shoot you now!
Daffy Duck: He does so have to shoot me now!
Daffy Duck: I demand that you shoot me now!
[Elmer shoots him.]
Daffy Duck: Let'sth run through that again.
Bugs Bunny: Okay.
[in a flat tone]
Bugs Bunny: Wouldja like to shoot me now or wait till you get home?
Daffy Duck: [flat tone] Shoot him now, shoot him now.
Bugs Bunny: [flat tone] You keep outta this. He doesn't hafta shoot you now.
Daffy Duck: [with sudden passion] Ha! That's it! Hold it right there!
Daffy Duck: Pronoun trouble.
Daffy Duck: It's not: "He doesn't have to shoot "you" now." It's: "He doesn't have to shoot "me" now." Well, I say he does have to shoot me now!
Daffy Duck: So shoot me now!
[Elmer shoots him]
Duck Amok (1953) is perhaps the quintessential Jones film. Here a slightly paranoid Daffy is delighted to have captured a role as a slightly mad musketeer, but the moment he attempts to enter the set, the scenery shifts, first to a farm, then to an igloo, later a Polynesian paradise, each with its own music. As he absurdly attempts to play along, things become even more impossible as, first the sound, then the scene, and, finally, he himself disappears. "Where am I?" he existentially pleads, trying to return the story to some semblance of order before being mixed and matched with all sorts of other figures dressed in outlandish mixes of costumes. A final frame reveals that the mad animator of this piece is none other than Bugs Bunny.
December 27, 2002