I agree with Auden. It’s why I love Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Wile E Coyote and the Roadrunner, Pepe le Pew, pretty much all of the Looney Tunes characters (except Speedy Gonzales, that little Mexican mouse is racist as all hell, so you won’t find him in this collection).
There are some days in your life you just never forget. One of the happiest days of my life was spent with my sister in a casino in Reno, Nevada. We didn’t have much to do since we were both kids. All of the adults in my family wanted to gamble. No one wanted to babysit. They handed us a wad of cash and told us to amuse ourselves for a few hours. I don’t remember how they made out at the tables, but my sister and I got super lucky. There was a theater in the casino playing Looney Tunes short films — one after the other after the other. We snuggled into our seats, ate popcorn and candy, sipped soda, and laughed our little asses off for two hours. To this day we both recall the tiny perfection of that afternoon. Shared laughter is a powerful thing.
I think it’s safe to say we all need more laughter in our lives. So here you go! This Saturday morning cartoon marathon will throw you back to childhood so fast you just might taste cereal. Enjoy!
1. What’s Opera, Doc?
You know we had to start with this one. It’s the classic! Based on Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” and directed by the genius Chuck Jones, this is possibly the best Bugs Bunny cartoon ever. (And for many of us this was our introduction to opera.)
2. The Rabbit of Seville
Another one directed by opera-lover Chuck Jones, this one’s a send-up of Rossini’s “Barber of Seville.” And naturally, Bugs does another drag routine. (I’m not sure, but I think Bugs Bunny is why I love a good drag queen show.)
3. Long-Haired Hare
Doing his best impression of the long-haired and wildly gesticulating conductor, Leopold Stokowski, Bugs Bunny torments a pompous opera singer and nearly kills the poor bastard in the most charming and delightful way imaginable.
4. “Wild Hare”
Okay! Enough of the opera inspired ones. This was the very first appearance of Bugs Bunny. For a few years Warner Bros. had been fiddling with a rabbit character with no luck. Then along came Bugs Bunny, given life by genius voice artist, Mel Blanc, and faster than you can say John Wayne, a new American legend was born.
5. Bedevilled Rabbit
What has two legs, spins like a whirling dervish, speaks only in grunts, and eats anything it can get its hands on? I’ll give you a hint it’s not your drunk-ass roommate coming home at 3 a.m. Yes! It’s the Tasmanian Devil! The craziest creature on two legs … that’s not Gucci Mane.
6. Of Rice and Hen
Time to turn our attention to my man, Foghorn Leghorn. Bombastic, self-inflated, and always ingratiating himself with all the notorious smarm and charm of a bellicose Southerner, Foghorn Leghorn is a good example of what it means to be so wrong you’re right. He wins you over with the same sort of backwards likability of a John Goodman character in a Coen Brothers movie.
7. Lovelorn Leghorn
When Prissy the Hen goes husband-hunting, she decides Foghorn Leghorn is the one for her. But when he’s reluctant to enter a life of matrimonial bliss she resorts to violence and coercion. When that doesn’t work, the barnyard Dog gets in the act and helps her capture the rooster of her dreams. (Keep an eye out for the book Prissy is reading, “Living Alone and Hating It.” You see? There’s nothing new under the sun.)
8. The Martian Hare Way To The Stars
I’ve got three words for you that should bring a smile to your face: Marvin the Martian. Don’t know about you but I love that little ambitious world-destroyer.
“Where is the kaboom! There was supposed to be an Earth-shattering kaboom!”
9. Prince Varmint
Yes! The angriest, roughest, toughest, root’nest, toot’nest, fastest gunslinger to ever draw an animated breath. He may be the cartoon embodiment of what Shakespeare meant when he penned “sound and fury signifying nothing.”
Returning with another gem from Yosemite Sam, this is the one that gave us the king who demanded, “Hasenpfeffer! I would like to eat Hasenpfeffer!”
After Bugs Bunny comes to the door of the castle’s kitchen asking to borrow a cup of sugar, and once Yosemite Sam learns what Hasenpfeffer is, and well, naturally he goes after that rabbit with the manic energy of Robin Williams doing improv comedy on blow.
11. Gee Whizzzz
Almost always entirely dialog-free, more violent than some action films, and featuring desert backgrounds rendered in the angular surreal style of Chuck Jones, the Wile E Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons are perfect symphonies of violence and desire.
12. Stop, Look and Hasten
Another Wile E Coyote and Roadrunner cartoon, and this one has all the classic touches: the freeze-frame intros with fake Latin classifications (Hotroddicus Supersonicus), the epic chases, the Acme products and of course the continual failure of Wile E Coyote. And honestly, don’t we all occasionally relate to the limitless frustrations, the desperate gnawing hunger, technological incompetence and just plain bad luck of Wile E Coyote? (Or is it just me? Whatever.)
13. Dime to Retire
This one takes some of the piss out of the American tradition of making a sucker pay at every turn. Similar to Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny, in terms of their relationship, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig are another perfectly paired odd couple. Every time they’re together in a cartoon, Daffy torments the stuttering pig, and treats him like a pathetic porcine punk-ass. Yet, there’s always something so deliciously amusing about their dance of anger and irritation.
14. Rabbit Seasoning
“Rabbit Season!” “Duck Season! Fire!”
This is probably the most famous wordplay in the canon of Warner Bros. cartoons. The reason is obvious. Daffy Duck. Despite having all of the qualities of the worst cokehead you’ve ever met, when you see the looks on his face after he’s been shot for the fifth and sixth time, or hear the sound of his casual exasperation as he insists he and Bugs go back over their exchange so he can figure out where it went wrong, these are the moments when you can’t help but love Daffy.
15. Ali Baba Bunny
Another pairing of Bugs and Daffy; this time the two partners are traveling together to Pismo Beach. Yet, somehow they get lost.
“I bet we shoulda turned left at Albuquerque…”
When they see that they’ve tunneled into Ali Baba’s cave of gold and treasure, naturally, the world’s most selfish duck tries to keep it all for himself. And you know that shit ain’t happening because Daffy Duck’s never gonna win. He is the Chicago Cubs of cartoon characters.
16. Fair Haired Hare
Yosemite Sam is who I think of when I’m stuck in rush hour traffic in Los Angeles. If my irritation/frustration had a spirit animal, it would be Yosemite Sam.
“Ah hates rabbits.”
17. Bugs and Thugs
The ‘30s and ‘40s gangster movies were often made silly with their self-serious tough guys, and of course, this makes them perfect fodder for Bugs Bunny. In this one, they send-up every gangster movie trope there was. Grabbed by a pair of bank robbers by accident, Bugs drives them into the arms of the law by just being Bugs.
18. A Hare Grows in Manhattan
Hollywood is full of shit. No, it is I live there. And as it turns out, it’s always been that way. In this one, Bugs gives a celebrity interview to a gossip columnist, and along the way the cartoon mocks all the self-important Hollywood clichés about actors, actresses, publicity and the lies they tell us. But Bugs also gives us a sweet look at his early years.
19. Duck Amuck
Without being grand about it, this piece of brilliance by the director, Chuck Jones, deconstructs the whole notion of animation (or metaphorically, life itself) as an artist’s hand (or the hand of Fate or God) rearranges Daffy Duck’s everything. Stuck in two-dimensions, Daffy is defenseless as the artist’s hand erases Daffy’s backgrounds, changes his appearance, jumps him through location after location, and basically messes with just about anything that can be altered for the cantankerous duck. And Daffy takes it because there’s not a damn thing he can do about it. Such is life.
20. The Man of a Thousand Voices
After all our laughs and face-cracking smiles, it’s time we meet the man behind the cartoons, the voice of nearly every Warner Bros. cartoon character you know and love, Mel Blanc. This documentary celebrates the immeasurably rare talent of the man of a thousand voices. And he was one of the coolest, kindest, gentlest, most generous people we’ve ever had on this planet. If you have the time the doc is worth a watch. Dude was a sweetheart, and hearing about his life story will most likely give you a grin.
The genius of Loony Tunes and Merrie Melodies is how the cartoons tease our worst human failings of personality and make us laugh at ourselves, they are universally loved around the globe regardless of culture, and stay with you like great art. Sometimes, we all need a giggle.