Warner nearly single-handedly invented the cartoon medium as we know it today with the advent of their various Bugs Bunny and associates cartoons. Ever since the early 1930’s these characters have become an indelible part of the American pop culture. Their images became an important part of the World War II effort and even helped to put a face on the issues of the Great Depression. They represent one of the richest histories in animation, second only to Walt Disney. There are some, I’m sure, that would argue they might even belong in front of Uncle Walt. When I was growing up in the 1970’s, I had no idea I was enjoying cartoons and characters that were already 40 years old. The truth is that my grandfather had been a fan of these same cartoons when he was a kid. Today the Warner cycle of Loony Tunes cartoons is over 70 years young. Things might have changed with the passing of Mel Blanc, who provided most of those familiar voices for much of that time, but Bugs and the gang are still out there and going strong.
Which brings us to The Looney, Looney, Looney, Bugs Bunny Movie, which arrived in theaters in 1981. While the film wasn’t a huge box office success, it was pretty cheap to make. The film was made up of bits and pieces from various Looney Tunes shorts. The featured shorts included: Knighty Knight, Bugs, Hare Trimmed, Sahara Hare, Wild And Wooly Hare, Roman Legion-Hare, Golden Yeggs, Catty Cornered, The Unmentionables, Three Little Bops, Birds Anonymous, Show Biz Bugs, and High Diving Hare. All of these shorts were from the time period between 1949 and 1957. The shorts were edited into an opening and a three act film. The cartoons are not necessarily shown in their entirety and are used to create these three separate stories. There is new material that was created more to bridge the shorts and act as a wraparound for the whole affair.
Satan’s Waitin’: Bugs and Sam are rivals for the rich recently widowed Granny. The two end up traveling through time and space as they battle for the widow and her loot.
The Unmentionables: Bugs is Elegant Mess, a fed brought in to bring down the Rocky Gang. This is the most awkward of the segments and jumps themes quite a bit to include Sylvester and Tweety in a kidnap scheme and Daffy in a riff on The Goose Who Laid The Golden Egg story.
The Oswald Awards: This is the Loony Tunes version of The Oscars. The characters compete for various awards, which really serves only as an excuse to run some shorts segments and fill time.
The movie is presented in a non original full frame aspect ratio. I say non-original because the 1981 release was in 1.78:1, but it is true that the original shorts were all full frame. I can only assume the new material was cropped for the DVD release. The problems don’t really end there. You can clearly see many examples of print damage throughout the running time. Colors are actually pretty good, and the new and older material blends rather flawlessly. This doesn’t look as good as the recent collections of restored shorts. That’s really your best bet, not this presentation.
The mono audio track represents what the film likely offered in theaters in 1981. It carries the dialog just fine, although there is some rather annoying higher frequency distortion. It’s all a little “cupboard’s bare” kind of presentation.
There are additional shorts provided.
Box Office Bunny: An appropriate short, this 1990 cartoon deals with a multiplex being built over the rabbit hole of one Bugs Bunny. It features Elmer and Daffy.
From Hare To Eternity: This 1997 short was created as a tribute to director Friz Freleng and featured Bugs and Sam.
Pullet Surprise: Another 1997 release, this was a typical chicken tale featuring Foghorn Leghorn.
The movie is a harmless and often charming collection of Loony Tunes moments that were probably worth more in 1981. Today there are some awesome DVD collections out there, and it’s easier to get and enjoy these shorts in their original conditions. “That’s all, folks.”