Friday, October 19, 2012

Blink and You Miss It: The Tex Avery Riots!

We interrupt our series of New York Comic Con posts for an important DVD-related announcement!

A definite crown jewel of the LOONEY TUNES PLATINUM COLLECTION (Blu-ray) VOLUME TWO, released October 16, 2012, was the completely restored version of the early “Proto-Bugs Bunny” cartoon “Hare-Um Scare-Um” (1939) directed  by Ben (“Bugs”) Hardaway and Cal Dalton. 

To my knowledge, this version has NEVER been seen before the release of this DVD set – and is very much worth the price… never mind that you get more than 50 great looking cartoons and loads of Extra Features (new and recycled from earlier LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTIONS) to boot! 

The version we’ve seen on TV for decades is also available for comparison – on the DVD of the George Raft / William Holden / Humphrey Bogart film “Invisible Stripes” (also 1939), as part of the excellent “Warner Night at the Movies” Extra Feature that I’ve raved about in previous Warner Bros. film DVD reviews… like THIS ONE. 

Curious bugger that I am, I pulled out the “Invisible Stripes” version for a comparison with the PLATINUM COLLECTION version – and found there to be a difference in running time of 7: 40 vs. 8:09! 

…And, yes, there’s an ending you’ve never seen before!  That’s all I’ll say! 

Also, via the magnificent clarity of Blu-ray, we are able to see DETAILS in the newspaper in which would-be rabbit hunter “John Sourpuss” (Where did I get that name from, as it not actually mentioned in the cartoon itself? …Maybe in some book?) reads of the soaring meat prices that prompt the fateful hunt, that contributes greatly to the gestation of what may arguably be the single greatest animated character of all time.     

“MEAT PRICES SOAR – Consumers also sore!” 

We’ve always seen that, but blink and you miss most (or all) of this: 

Below the “Meat” headline:  Butchers demand a living wage.  Chicago… Jun.. 5… The Butchers’ Union voted today upon a thirty-three percent raise on all beef and pork, which will go into effect – Continued on Page 11.”  (…I didn’t know they could do that?  Where are all those Free-Market Advocating, Union-Busting politicians when you need them?)

Above that headline is the “Daily News” masthead, with little boxes containing Weather – Yes and No… and Merry Melodies are your best entertainment”.  [ Yes, “Merry” is spelled WRONG for “Merrie Melodies”!]
WHO'S "incidental", Doc?

Ben (“Bugs” – for whom the Bunny is eventually named)  Hardaway is also pictured as Happy Hardaway [undecipherable] …ing handicapper

Perhaps also contributing to the record meat prices is this item: Freight Tie Up Looms as Car Space at Premium.  Hog Hollow, Mo.  Owing to the large number…” 

There’s an odd item headlined: Lu-Cavett Named in Shake-Up  (Anyone know what that meant?)   

But, we’re really here to highlight THIS WONDERFUL ITEM: 

Hundreds Hurt in Rioting!  Hollywood, Cal

Rioting broke out today at the Looney Tune Cartoon Studio when Tex Avery was caught dealing from the bottom of the deck. 

All able police men were called to quell the savage fighting.  Many were reported to be in a bad way. 

When Avery was apprehended the [becomes undecipherable]”

Ironic that Tex Avery would be the one to refine “Bugs’s Bunny” into the “Bugs Bunny” we know and love today with “A Wild Hare”, a year later in 1940. 

Also, could this be the first on-screen naming of “Tex Avery”?  In his earlier cartoons, he was more typically known as “Fred Avery”. 

…And “Blink and You Miss It”! 

BONUS OBSERVATION on “Hare-Um Scare-Um”:  On LOONEY TUNES PLATINUM COLLECTION (Blu-ray) VOLUME TWO, “Hare-Um Scare-Um” is immediately preceded by “Porky’s Hare Hunt” (also by Hardaway), where Porky Pig hunts the wacky white-proto-rabbit. 

A highlight of “Hare-Um Scare-Um” is the song that Proto-Bugs sings about being crazy.   During which he delivers the lines:

Nuthin’ ever wrong,

Life was just a song,

“ ‘Till that Looney Tune came along.”

He denotes a billboard with the image of Porky Pig, that says: “Looney Tunes starring Porky Pig.  That’s All Folks” – and tears down and shreds the bill with Porky’s image. 

…Until seeing these directly back-to-back, it never occurred to me that the crazy rabbit was referring to (and maybe even lamenting) his debut appearance in “Porky’s Hare Hunt”. 

That’s easy to miss, even without blinking! 


ramapith said...

"...would-be rabbit hunter 'John Sourpuss' (Where did I get that name from, as it not actually mentioned in the cartoon itself?"

Hey, how'd I miss this? Sourpuss gets his name from WB studio publicity and movie reviews at the time of the cartoon's release. We were discussing some of this a few years ago, at the time I first blogged about the original ending.

Joe Torcivia said...

Yes, David… Now that you mention it, I’m sure that’s where I heard it.

Thanks for solving that mystery! You’re a regular “Paul Murry Mickey Mouse”… or Scooby-Doo!

(…And, in MY book, that’s a compliment!)