Webster

The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Elmer Fudd "I'm hunting Wabbits"

I decided to continue with my "Cartoon" post, I have been doing the background on the "classics".  I will add some more modern cartoons in subsequent postings.  I had to look at my prior postings, for some reason I was going to run "Sylvester the cat" but I had already done him, so I looked at the pantheon of characters from "Looney Tunes" and decided to go with "Elmer".   Now Elmer has a rough reputation, his likeness is used to deride politicians and we in the 2nd Amendment community use the term "Fudds" to describe occasional hunters and others that would sell out our 2nd amendment rights because to them the 2nd Amendment is about hunting only.   I often wondered of "elmer" was a subtle dig at the Human Race where the animals win instead.


Elmer J. Fudd/ is a fictional cartoon character and one of the most famous Looney Tunes characters, and the de facto archenemy of Bugs Bunny. He has one of the more disputed origins in the Warner Bros. cartoon pantheon (second only to Bugs himself). His aim is to hunt Bugs, but he usually ends up seriously injuring himself and other antagonizing characters. He speaks in an unusual way, replacing his Rs and Ls with Ws, so he always refers to Bugs Bunny as a "wabbit". Elmer's signature catchphrase is, "Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet, I'm hunting wabbits", as well as his trademark laughter, "huh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh".


The best known Elmer Fudd cartoons include Chuck Jones' masterpiece What's Opera, Doc? (one of the few times Fudd bested Bugs, though he felt bad about it), the Rossini parody Rabbit of Seville, and the "Hunting Trilogy" of "Rabbit Season/Duck Season" shorts (Rabbit Fire, Rabbit Seasoning, and Duck! Rabbit, Duck!) with Fudd, Bugs Bunny, and Daffy Duck.

In 1940, Elmer Fudd's first true appearance: a Chuck Jones short entitled Elmer's Candid Camera. The rabbit drives Elmer insane. Later that year, he appeared in Friz Freleng's Confederate Honey (where he's called Ned Cutler) and The Hardship of Miles Standish where his voice and Egghead-like appearance were still the same. Jones would use this Elmer one more time, in 1941's Elmer's Pet Rabbit; its other title character is labeled as Bugs Bunny, but is also identical to his counterpart in Camera. In the interim, the two starred in A Wild Hare. Bugs appears with a carrot, New York accent, and "What's Up, Doc?" catchphrase all in place for the first time, although the voice and physique are as yet somewhat off. Elmer has a better voice, a trimmer figure (designed by Robert Givens, which would be reused soon later in Jones' Good Night Elmer, this time without a red nose) and his familiar hunting clothes. He is much more recognizable as the Elmer Fudd of later cartoons than Bugs is here. In his earliest appearances, Elmer actually "wikes wabbits", either attempting to take photos of Bugs, or adopting Bugs as his pet. The rascally rabbit has the poor Fudd so perplexed that there is little wonder as to why Elmer would become a hunter and in some cases actually proclaim, "I hate wittle gway wabbits!" after pumping buckshot down a rabbit hole.

Elmer's role in these two films, that of would-be hunter, dupe and foil for Bugs, would remain his main role forever after, and although Bugs Bunny was called upon to outwit many more worthy opponents, Elmer somehow remained Bugs' classic nemesis, despite (or because of) his legendary gullibility, small size, short temper, and shorter attention span. In Rabbit Fire, he declares himself vegetarian, hunting for sport only.
Elmer was usually cast as a hapless big-game hunter, armed with a double-barreled shotgun (albeit one which could be fired much more than twice without being reloaded) and creeping through the woods "hunting wabbits". In a few cartoons, though, he assumed a completely different persona—a wealthy industrialist type, occupying a luxurious penthouse, or, in one episode involving a role reversal, a sanitarium—which Bugs would of course somehow find his way into. In Dog Gone People, he had an ordinary office job working for demanding boss "Mister Cwabtwee". In another cartoon (Mutt in a Rut) he appeared to work in an office and had a dog he called "Wover Boy", whom he took hunting, though Bugs did not appear.

Several episodes featured Elmer differently. One (What's Up, Doc?, 1950) has Bugs Bunny relating his life story to a biographer, and recalling a time which was a downturn for the movie business. Elmer Fudd is a well-known entertainer who, looking for a new partner for his act, sees Bugs Bunny (after passing caricatures of many other famous 1940s actors (Al Jolson, Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, Bing Crosby) who, like Bugs, are also out of work). Elmer and Bugs do a one-joke act cross-country, with Bugs dressed like a pinhead, and when he does not know the answer to a joke, Elmer gives it and hits him with a pie in the face. Bugs begins to tire of this gag and pulls a surprise on Fudd, answering the joke correctly and bopping Elmer with a mallet, which prompts the man to point his rifle at Bugs. The bunny asks nervously: "Eh, what's up doc?", which results in a huge round of applause from the audience. Bugs tells Elmer they may be on to something, and Elmer, with the vaudevillian's instinct of sticking with a gag that catches on, nods that they should re-use it. According to this account, the common Elmer-as-hunter episodes are entirely staged.

One episode where Bugs "lost" in the hunting was Hare Brush (1956). Here, Elmer has been committed to an insane asylum because he believes he is a rabbit (though it is also revealed that he is a millionaire and owns a mansion and a yacht). Bugs Bunny enters Fudd's room and Elmer bribes him with carrots, then leaves the way the real rabbit entered. Bugs acts surprisingly (for him) naïve, assuming Elmer just wanted to go outside for a while. Elmer's psychiatrist arrives, and thinking Fudd's delusion has affected his appearance, drugs Bugs and conditions him into believing that he is Elmer Fudd 'after which Bugs starts wearing hunting clothes and acting like Elmer, hunting the rabbit-costumed Fudd, who is in turn acting like Bugs. Their hunt is cut short when Bugs is arrested by a government agent as Elmer Fudd is wanted for tax evasion. After Bugs is hauled away trying to explain that the rabbit is Elmer Fudd, Fudd breaks the fourth wall and tells the audience "I may be a scwewy wabbit, but I'm not going to Alcatwaz" as he hops away as if he had planned the whole thing.
Elmer Fudd has occasionally appeared in other costumes, notably as Cupid. He tries to convince Bugs about love, but Bugs is reluctant, thinking to himself "Don't you look like some guy who's always after me?" and pictures the Elmer in hunter's clothes. The Cupid Elmer plots to get even with Bugs, using his love arrows to make Bugs fall in love with an artificial rabbit at a dog track. Elmer also appeared in this form opposite Daffy Duck in The Stupid Cupid (1944).
The Bugs–Elmer partnership was so familiar to audiences that in a late 1950s cartoon, Bugs' Bonnets, a character study is made of what happens to the relationship between the two when they each accidentally don a different selection of hats (Native American wig, pilgrim hat, military helmets, bridal veil and top hat, to name a few). The result is comic mayhem; a steady game of one-upmanship that ultimately leads to matrimony.

He nearly always vocalised consonants [r] and [l], pronouncing them as [w] instead (a trait that also characterized Tweety Bird) when he would talk in his slightly raspy voice. This trait was prevalent in the Elmer's Candid Camera and Elmer's Pet Rabbit cartoons, where the writers would give him exaggerated lines such as, "My, that weawwy was a dewicious weg of wamb." to further exaggerate his qualities as a harmless nebbish. That characteristic seemed to fit his somewhat timid and childlike persona. And it worked. The writers often gave him lines filled with those letters, such as doing Shakespeare's Romeo as "What wight thwough yonduh window bweaks!" or Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries as "Kiww the wabbit, kiww the wabbit, kiww the wabbit...!" or "The Beautifuw Bwue Danube, by Johann Stwauss", Stage Door Cartoon's line "Oh, you dubbuh-cwossing wabbit! You tweachewous miscweant!" or the name of actress "Owivia deHaviwwand". Elmer's speech impediment is so well known that Google allows the user to change the search engine language to "Elmer Fudd." Comedian Robin Williams often refers to the impediment as "Fudd syndrome" whenever he accidentally slips up and replaces an "l" or "r" with a "w" sound in a word.

Part of the joke is that Elmer is presumably incapable of pronouncing his own first name correctly. Occasionally Elmer would properly pronounce an "r" or "l" sound, depending on whether or not it was vital for the audience to understand what the word was. (For example, in 1944's The Old Grey Hare, he clearly pronounces the "r" in the word "picture".) Usually, Elmer pronounces the "r" and "l" when one of those letters is in the last syllable of the word (such as "rascal", which he says as "wascal"). This doesn't occur in one-syllable words like "last" ("wast") or in common words like "hello" ("hewwo").

   
Elmer Fudd made appearances in several television specials in the 1970s and 1980s, and some cameo roles in two of the Looney Tunes feature-film compilations.
Elmer would also appear frequently on the animated series Tiny Toon Adventures as a teacher at Acme Looniversity, where he was the idol and favorite teacher of Elmyra Duff, the slightly deranged animal lover who resembles Elmer in basic head design, name and lack of intellect. On the other hand, a younger version of him makes a single appearance in the episode Plucky's Dastardly Deed, and is named "Egghead Jr", the "smartest kid in class".
Elmer also made cameos on Animaniacs, one in Turkey Jerky, another in the Pinky and the Brain short, Don't Tread on Us.
Elmer also had a guest starring appearance on Histeria! in the episode "The Teddy Roosevelt Show", in a sketch where he portrayed Gutzon Borglum. This sketch depicts Elmer/Gutzon's construction of Mount Rushmore, accompanied by Borglum's son Lincoln, portrayed by Loud Kiddington. Elmer made another appearance on Histeria!, this time in his traditional role, during a sketch where the bald eagle trades places with the turkey during Thanksgiving weekend, featured in the episode "Americana".
Fudd also appeared on The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries in the first season episode A Ticket to Crime as detective Sam Fudd; at the end he took off his clothes and turned into Elmer.

Elmer appears as part of the TuneSquad team in Space Jam. In one part of the game he and Yosemite Sam shoot down the teeth of one of the Monstars dressed in black suites while Misirlou is heard in the background.
Elmer took on a more villainous role in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, in which he is a secret agent for the Acme Corporation. In his scene, Elmer chases Bugs and Daffy through the paintings in the Louvre museum, taking on the different art styles as they do so. At the end, Elmer forgets to change back to his normal style after jumping out of the pointillism painting Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, allowing Bugs to easily disintegrate Elmer by blowing a fan at him.
A four-year-old version of Elmer was featured in the Baby Looney Tunes episode "A Bully for Bugs", where he kept taking all of Bugs' candy, and also bullied the rest of his friends. He was also shown with short blond hair. He appeared in most of the songs.
 23 minute cartoon
An even more villainous Elmer appeared in two episodes of Duck Dodgers as The Mother Fudd, an alien who would spread a disease that caused all affected by it to stand around laughing like Elmer (a parody of the Flood in Halo and the Borg in Star Trek).
In Loonatics Unleashed, his descendant, Electro J. Fudd, tried to prove himself the universe's greatest hunter by capturing Ace Bunny, but settled for Danger Duck instead. Elmer himself also makes an appearance in the form of a photo which shows he presumably died at the hands of a giant squirrel.


In December 2009, Elmer made an appearance in a Geico commercial where the director tells him to say rabbits instead of "wabbits". He was again voiced by Billy West.
Elmer Fudd appears in several episodes of The Looney Tunes Show as a television reporter.
On June 8, 2011, Elmer starred in the 3-D short "Daffy's Rhapsody" with Daffy Duck, that short was going to precede the film Happy Feet Two but was instead shown with Journey 2: The Mysterious Island


The search engine Google has been translated into many languages, some of them for sheer comedic purposes. One of the novelty languages is "Elmer Fudd." Comedian and actor Robin Williams also performed a famous sketch where he sang the Bruce Springsteen song "Fire" as Elmer Fudd.

In the film Fletch Lives, the eponymous character (while in disguise) gives his name as "Elmer Fudd Gantry".




2 comments:

  1. My favorite!!!! Be vewy vewy quiet...I am hunting bunny wabbits.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mr. G.:
    You covered these classics EXTREMELY well.
    What's Opera Doc? is one of THE best, and Duck Dodgers always gets me laughing.

    I also like the one with Bugs, Daffy and Elmer...and the "dispute" over WHAT (hunting) SEASON it is...!
    All this cartoon violence, and NONE of us turned out near as bad as kids are today.
    Now THAT is truly "classic".

    Excellent post.

    Roll safe out there.,

    ReplyDelete