Hare Force (1944)
Directed by I. Freleng
7 min.; U.S.A.; Color; Mono
I'm not an expert on animation but, I am a lifelong fan. When I discovered that the Friz Freleng Blog-A-Thon was today I screened a favorite Warner Bros. cartoon and just had to post something because after reading the other entries in the Thon I discovered that I've also been a fan of Freleng while yucking it up over the years.
Feleng's 1944 cartoon Hare Force opens on a freezing winter's night. An unlucky pooch named Sylvester has his cozy place in front of the fireplace (not to mention his bed and blanket) snatched from him by his well-meaning owner, a kind-voiced old woman, and given to found-freezing-on-the-doorstep Bugs Bunny. The woman heads off to bed, and Sylvester's mind immediately turns to thoughts of violence as a means to see the return of his luxuries. I love this simple sequence (see below) for some reason and the crude renderings of the rabbit in Sylvester's murderous thoughts seem to forecast Matt Groening's style on Life in Hell.
As it happens, Sylvester merely kicks Bugs out instead of murdering him. He soon has second thoughts because he fears that Bugs is freezing to death outside (wha?), and the dope searches for him while Bugs sneaks back inside. The rest of Hare Force follows a pattern of Sylvester kicks Bugs out into the cold/Bugs returns the favor. Each method of eviction grows increasingly creative; director Friz Freleng has a knack for repetition, varying the gag slightly each time so that it never grows stale.
In the end, Sylvester and Bugs learn to share the warmth of hearth and home with each other. But, someone has to pay so the old lady ends up being the one left out in the cold (photo right). Do Bugs or Sylvester show regret or remorse for taking the kindhearted old lady's home from her? Nothing doing, brother! Bugs' closing line is the famous, "gee, ain't I a stinker?"
Hare Force is funny and the action never drags. Bugs, the little stinker, is in mischievous character, and when he sings "As Time Goes By" (via the superlative voice of Mel Blanc) you've got a cartoon worthy of repeated viewing. But, are Freleng and writer Tedd Pierce, working during WWII and after the Great Depression, also making a comment about human nature in the cartoon? Are they saying that when asked to share our first reaction is anger? That we have violent thoughts about our fellows? That we'd steal in order to secure shelter? Is it warning us against offering help to strangers because we’ll only live to regret it? Nah, it's just a funny cartoon, mac, strictly meant for laughs. Some gag, isn’t it?
Find more Friztastic Fun at the Friz Freleng Blog-A-Thon.