Shorts, A Tiny Blogathon: What’s Opera Doc?

 

Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!

Okay, anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a huge Looney Tunes fan — so how happy am I to be writing about “What’s Opera, Doc?” for this Tiny Blogathon? Well, I’m smiling right now — and I haven’t even begun watching the cartoon yet!

Elmer Fudd sings I'm going to kill the wabbit, Chuck Jones Exhibit Museum of Movie ImageThe determined Elmer Fudd… declaring “I’m going to kill the wabbit!

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So, why do I love this cartoon? This wonderful little Chuck Jones masterpiece elevates the classic Bugs Bunny / Elmer Fudd storyline into a majestic operatic drama — yet it is soooo cleverly done, that it is also incredibly silly (in the best sense of the word) and laugh-out-loud funny. It has it all — it’s got drama, it’s got wuv (oops, I mean love), it’s got ‘tragedy’… it’s got arias, recitatives — and even a ballet! What more could you want from a cartoon opera? :)

Background Info: What’s Opera, Doc? (1957) is widely considered Chuck Jones’ magnum opus. It condenses Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle (14 hours of opera) plus parts of The Flying Dutchman, Tannhauser, and Rienzi into a six-minute cartoon. It parodies the use of classical music in Disney’s 1940 feature Fantasia, and its humor comes, not from the ‘gags’, but from the incongruity of the characters’ personalities in the setting.

Starring:

  • Bugs Bunny: the Wabbit, and in disguise, as Valkyrie Brunnhilde (voiced by Mel Blanc)
  • Elmer Fudd: the demigod Siegfried (voiced by Arthur Q. Bryan except for the word ‘SMOG’ which was voiced by Mel Blanc)

Production:  What’s Opera, Doc? took longer than any other cartoon Jones made for Warner Brothers. Jones would usually make about 300 character layout drawings for a cartoon, but he made nearly 500 for this one, with an additional 1,500 rough sketches. (source: The Museum of the Movie Image)

Accolades:

  • In 1992, What’s Opera, Doc? became the first animated short to be selected for preservation in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. Later, two more Chuck Jones’ shorts (Duck Amuck and One Froggy Evening) were also inducted, making Jones the only animator with three shorts in the Registry.
  • In 1994, What’s Opera, Doc? was named the #1 greatest cartoon of all time by 1,000 members of the animation field (The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals

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And, now for my favorite part, some screen grabs and quotes:

What's Opera Doc, opening scene(the majestic opening scene)

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What's Opera Doc, opening scene 2(then we pan down to see…)

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What's Opera Doc, Be vewwy quiet. I'm hunting wabbits!Elmer: Be vewwy quiet. I’m hunting wabbits!

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what's opera doc, wabbit tracksElmer: Wabbit tracks!

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What's Opera Doc, Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit!Elmer: Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit!

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What's Up Doc, Kill the wabbit???Bugs: Kill the wabbit???

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What's Opera Doc, Elmer and BugsElmer: Yoho-towho! Yoho-towho! Yoho-towho! Yoho…

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What's Opera Doc, Oh mighty warrior of great fighting stock, might I inquire to ask, ehh, What's Up Doc?Bugs: Oh mighty warrior of great fighting stock, might I inquire to ask, ehh, What’s Up Doc?

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What's Opera Doc,  I'm going to kill the wabbit!Elmer: I’m going to kill the wabbit!

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What's Opera Doc, Oh mighty hunter, t'will be quite a task. How will you do it, might I inquire to ask?Bugs: Oh mighty hunter, t’will be quite a task. How will you do it, might I inquire to ask?

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What's Opera Doc,  I will do it with my spear and magic helmet!(the recitative…)

Elmer: I will do it with my spear and magic helmet!
Bugs: Your spear and magic helmet?
Elmer: Spear and magic helmet!
Bugs: Magic helmet?
Elmer: Magic helmet!
Bugs: Magic helmet.

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What's Opera Doc, Yes, magic helmet and I'll give you a sample.Elmer: Yes, magic helmet and I’ll give you a sample.

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What's Up Opera, Bugs Bunny in rain

What's Opera Doc, lightning strikes

What's Opera Doc, Yes, magic helmet and I'll give you a sample.Bugs: Bye-yeee!

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What's Opera Doc, That was the wabbit!Elmer: That was the wabbit!

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What's Opera Doc, Elmer chasing Bugs(and the chase begins)

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What's Opera Doc, Bugs running from Elmer

until…

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What's Opera Doc, Elmer stunned as he sees the lovely Brunhilde (bugs bunny)(Elmer sees…)

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What's Opera Doc, long shot of bugs bunny as Brunhilde(the wovely Bwoon Hilda)

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What's Opera Doc, bugs bunny as Brunhilde

what's opera doc, Oh Bwoon Hilda, be my love.Elmer: Oh Bwoon Hilda, you’re so wovely.

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what's opera doc, bugs bunny as brunhildeBrunnhilde: Yes I know it. I can’t help it.

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Oh Bwoon Hilda, be my love.Elmer: Oh Bwoon Hilda, be my love.

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what's opera doc, ballet, elmer and bug

what's opera doc, ballet, elmer and bug

what's opera doc, ballet, elmer fudd

what's opera doc, ballet, bugs bunny

what's opera doc, ballet, elmer fudd(the beautiful ballet :)

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what's opera doc, bugs runs up stairs to temple

what's opera doc, return my love, elmer fudd sings(and now, the aria…)

Elmer: Weturn, my wove. A wonging burns deep inside me.

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what's opera doc, return my love, bugs bunny

Brunnhilde: Return, my love. I want you always beside me.

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what's opera doc, return my love, elmer singingElmer: Wove wike ours must be…

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what's opera doc, return my love, bugs bunny singingBrunnhilde:  Made for you and for me

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what's opera doc, aria Return My Love, duet with elmer fudd and bugs bunnyBrunnhilde and Elmer: Return. Won’t you return my love. For my love is yours.

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what's opera doc, bugs bunny loses wig and helmet

what's opera doc, bugs bunny loses wig and helmet(uh-oh…)

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Elmer: I'll kill the wabbit! Elmer: I’ll kill the wabbit!

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I'll kill the wabbit! Awise storm! North wind bwow! South wind bwow! Elmer: Awise storm! North wind bwow! South wind bwow! Typhoons! Huwwicanes! Earthquakes! SMOG!!!

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what's opera doc, lightningElmer: Strike Lightning! Strike the rabbit!

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What have I done? I've killed the wabbit.Elmer: What have I done? I’ve killed the wabbit.

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Poor wittle bunny. Poor wittle wabbit. Elmer: Poor wittle bunny. Poor wittle wabbit. (sobbing)

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what's opera doc, ending scene

what's opera doc, ending scene 2

what's opera doc, Well, what did you expect in an opera, a happy ending?Bugs: Well, what did you expect in an opera, a happy ending?

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 And last, but certainly not least, some of my prized photos:

Whats Opera Doc Color Guide, Chuck Jones ExhibitElmer and Bugs Color Guide by Chuck Jones and Maurice Noble (The Chuck Jones Exhibit at The Museum of the Moving Image, Fall 2014)

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What's Opera Doc, Brunhilde, Bugs Bunny, sketch Chuck Jones ExhibitCharacter Layout Drawing for Bugs as ‘Brunnhilde’ (The Chuck Jones Exhibit at The Museum of the Moving Image, Fall 2014)

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What's Opera Doc, Elmer Fudd singing Bwoon HildaCharacter Layout Drawing of Elmer as ‘Siegfried’ singing ‘Bwoon Hilda’ (The Chuck Jones Exhibit at The Museum of the Moving Image, Fall 2014)

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What's Opera Doc, character layout drawing, Chuck Jones ExhibitCharacter Layout Drawing for Elmer carrying the ‘dead’ Bugs  (The Chuck Jones Exhibit at The Museum of the Moving Image, Fall 2014)

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what's opera doc, background drawingsBackground Layout Drawings:  Background Drawing/Design by Maurice Noble and Background Painting by Philip DeGuard (The Chuck Jones Exhibit at The Museum of the Moving Image, Fall 2014)

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Chuck Jones sketch from Smithsonian Institute Museum of American History“Spear and Magic Helmet” sketch (The Smithsonian Institute Museum of American History, Fall 2012)

what's opera doc, chuck jones sketch, smithsonianBugs as ‘Brunnhilde’ sketch  (The Smithsonian Institute Museum of American History, Fall 2012)

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Producer-director-artist Chuck Jones sits at the drawing table in his southern California home, 1999And, just because… Chuck Jones and some of his creations

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A Big Thank You to Movies Silently for hosting this Tiny Blogathon.  Please don’t forget to check out the other fabulous Blogathon entries!

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

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7 Responses to Shorts, A Tiny Blogathon: What’s Opera Doc?

  1. Perfect!

    Every once in a while the hubby and I will re-enact “What’s Opera, Doc?” for the amusement of our children (no matter that they are now in their 20s). He does a great Elmer Fudd! That’s why I married him.

  2. John Grant says:

    Splendid stuff . . . and many thanks for the reminder. I’m overdue for a rewatch of this.

  3. Emily says:

    Love this short. Not only is it hilarious, it’s also beautiful to look at.

  4. Thanks so much for joining in! I loved the sketches and the background information on this short. My family still occasionally shouts “With my spear and magic helmet!” to one another. ;-)

    • Annmarie Gatti says:

      Thanks so much for running this marvelously fun Blogathon. It was such a pleasure to re-visit this cartoon again… I just LOVE it and was chuckling the entire time I was writing it, not to mention the fact that I kept singing “kill the wabbit’… I think I’m going to have to buy the DVD set now (twist my arm) :)

  5. Thanks for these memories from childhood. I remember first seeing this when I was small, and was quite puzzled by the set. But I grew to love it more each time I saw it. I share your enthusiasm!

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