Acrobatty Bunny (1946)

Director: Robert McKimson
Animation: Art Davis, Richard Bickenbach, Cal Dalton, I.Ellis (uncredited)
Layout and Backgrounds: Cornett Wood & Richard H. Thomas
Voice Characterisation: Mel Blanc
Musical Director: Carl W Stalling
Cast: Bugs Bunny, Nero the Lion
Date of release: June 29, 1946

After the first two Robert McKimson directed cartoons, I wasn’t holding out a great deal of hope for this one, but I was delightfully surprised. It’s a beauty.

The look, the backgrounds, the sound, the writing is fantastic. Most of all the characters, Bugs and Nero are so beautiful together.

The cartoon opens with a beautiful circus background by Richard H. Thomas with carny men, hammering in tent pegs. We see a clever shot of a discarded carrot bouncing with each hammer blow, by a familiar open rabbit hole. We follow the hole down into the comfortable abode of Bug Bunny, who is awakened from his sleep by the hammering. Suddenly Bugs’ warren shakes violently and Bugs falls out of bed. The circus folk have dragged a lions cage over the rabbit hole. There is a nice sequence where Nero the lion sniffs at the hole, so violently that Bugs is physically sucked backwards and forwards, like a piston across his home. He takes a twisting and turning elevator to the surface and steps out straight into the lion’s mouth. Bugs looks down into the Lions throat and shouts “Pinocchio!” Fantastic!

Bugs confronts “Nero” and they take it in turns to roar at each other. Some great animation here. There appears to be a rather sly jokes tucked away in this exchange where Bugs appears to stick two fingers up at Nero, while randomly agreeing that there are “two sides to everything”

The two take it in turns locking themselves inside and outside Nero’s cage, including a fine sequence where Nero enlists the help of an elephant, who is ultimately and predictably scared away by wind-up mouse that Bugs just happens to have in his pocket. Before Nero chased Bugs to a caravan where the rabbit appears dressed as a clown. What follows is pure gold. Bugs, starts laughing and his clowning is so infectious Nero starts laughing as well. Soon they are both convulsed in laughter before Bugs brings it all crashing down by whacking Nero in the face with a wooden mallet. Fun while it lasted!

The couple end up inside the big top, chasing each other on the trapeze. Some nice perspective backgrounds and beautifully timed sequences where exchanges are made at the apex of the swing. Finally Nero ends up being fired from a cannon. The barrel ends up like a grass skirt around a dazed Nero’s waist, while Bugs plays the Hawaiian ukelele to close the cartoon.

A great short.

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