High Diving Hare

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 31, 2015

This is the apotheosis of the WB/classic cartoon gag film. It’s all in the diving board, and the diving board is about all there is. They go up seven times, and then a half time, and another time again. And, of course, they go down. That’s about it! And it’s all that’s needed too. What an amazing movie!

High Diving Hare is a superb example of how the cartoons scorn physical science. Or at least Bugs does. I have more Bettelheim thoughts. Sam’s a frontier rube, an American philistine. He’s an arbitrary, self-serving and demanding adult. He is wildly Id-driven. The direst of adults, in other words. But not only, not even necessarily. Those qualities also describe a willful little child. It’s a powerful combination, something of a dream come true for the child who is always being acted upon. But beware!

Sam, as always, intends to get his way. And he has a gun. (Oops! He’s also an affectionate and cautionary caricature of a certain kind of certain-amendment-fetishizing American libertarian!) “Fearless Freep” is an entirely felicitous character name.

The bonus material finds Freleng discussing how lean and minimal cartoons could be. The American Revolution is two cannons and two forts. This way lay modernism, even Beckett’s reductions and absurdities. How many hunter pictures can you make, asks Friz? Well, as many as you’d like. Also, Freleng reminds us that Sam is bascially a moustache with a nose, a pure comic abstraction.