Hillbilly Hare

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 13, 2015

Bugs is taking a vacation in the Ozarks, which is so peaceful, so far from harm or accident or evil. Ah…

The hick design here is plain amazing, starting out by going way too far, and then proceeding to go way too far on top of that. Fearless stuff, which also, somehow, ends up being sweet and uplifting. (And this is McKimson; once again, reputations count, but you never can tell.) Must be the gratuitous violence. “Just call me freckles.” “Hold the phone, long ears.” Look at that tracking shot! “On account of I sees his footy prints.”

I find the explosive hut bit to be kind of dud-ded. On the other hand, Bugs goes on to do quite a bit of effective cross-dressing. Get a load of the fringe on his collar—they’re prefiguring Lee Remick, circa 1957/A Face in the Crowd. Yikes! This is the seven minute cartoon as unleashed id. Bugs as jail bait! It’s inappropriate unto scandalous, and hilarious.

Now we go to this jukebox, which somehow sprouts a square dance band, the hayseediness of which exceeds even the design of the immortally christened Curt and Punkin’head Martin. There’s a spectacular segue now as Bugs changes his costume yet again, and now takes over this dance call. His subsequent performance deserves to be transcribed, maybe even cross-stitched and hung on the wall. “…Grab a fence post and hold it tight/whomp your partner with all your might…” The supporting sound effects are beautiful.  A hay bailer!

For all the mayhem, these lads continue to do every single thing that they’re told to do. This is a nice illustration of Bergson’s thoughts on comedy, on absurd self-mechanization. You could even extrapolate on the workings of power, ideology, hegemony. It’s not just absurdity, though, not just cruelty. They duck their heads and lift their tails and avoid damage, for a second. Then, notice the actual, real beauty of the near-conclusion. “Corn in the crib pen, wheat in the sack/Turn your partner, promenade back.” Agriculture! The sweat of the face, but the blessing of bread to follow! Then, of course, Bugs sends them over that cliff. Really lovely.