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Herr Meets Hare

Herr Meets Hare is a 1945 Merrie Melodies cartoon directed by Friz Freleng. This short, coming a few months before the collapse of the Third Reich, was one of the last major wartime cartoons from Warner Brothers. Herr Meets Hare also set up for two important facets of Bugs Bunny: It was the first time that Bugs would realize he "should have made a left toin at Albukoykee", and the extended dance sequence in the middle of the film would later be retooled by Chuck Jones into his Bugs Bunny cartoon What's Opera, Doc?.

Synopsis

The cartoon opens with a faux Walter Winchell voice discussing the end of Germany, saying that "Germany has been battered into a fare-thee-well", and musing about where the high leadership, and "Fatso" Hermann Goering in particular has gone. The scene soon cuts to the Black Forest, where Goering, in bemedalled lederhosen, is "soothing his jangled nerves" marching while on a hunt. Nearby, a familiar furrow in the ground appears, with a hole at the end.

Bugs pops out of the hole, and bemused, asks Goering about the directions to Las Vegas, oblivious to his location. Goering replies "Las Veegas? Why, there is no Las Veegas in Chermany!" (Variants on this comment would be used in later cartoons as the lead-in to the joke that Bugs did indeed turn wrong somewhere in New Mexico, usually by not taking a left turn at Albuquerque). Once, he made a wrong turn at Des Moines. For once genuinely alarmed by his mistaken destination, Bugs hightails it, saying "Joimany? Yipe!", with Goering chasing after him shooting at him with his musket.

A few chase gags go by in which Bugs insults the integrity of Goering's medals by bending one with his teeth. Goering, suckered into bending one himself, declares them ersatz and mumbles all sorts of anti-Hitler sentiments ("Oh, how I hate that Hitler swine, that phony fuhrer, that..."). Bugs masquerades as Hitler using a bit of mud, and faces the surprised Goering. Goering disappears offscreen in a flash to change into his Nazi uniform adorned with all sorts of medals. After the usual Nazi salute, Bugs berates him in faux German as he strips Goering of his medals (Klooten-flooten-blooten-meirooten-tooten!) and even his belt, causing the latter to exclaim "Oh, I'm a bad flooten-boy-glooten!", a variant on Warner cartoons' frequently-cited Lou Costello catchphrase, "I'm a baaad boy!". Later, when the gig is up, Bugs dresses up as Brünhilde, from Wagnerian opera. Goering, entranced, responds by dressing up as Siegfried. The two dance, before Bugs once again makes a fool of Goering and escapes (a scene later re-used in the Bugs and Elmer cartoon What's Opera, Doc?).

Eventually, Goering captures Bugs, and brings him back to Adolf Hitler (who is playing solitaire), where he identifies him as "Bugsenheimer Bunny" (as opposed to "Weisenheimer" or "wise guy") to Der Führer. As Herr Hitler talks of the great rewards he's going to pile upon Goering for this act of heroism, he opens the bag to reveal Bugs dressed as Joseph Stalin—complete with an enormous pipe—staring back at him. Goering and Hitler flee. As the cartoon ends, Bugs glances back at the camera and asks, in a Russian accent, citing a cigarette ad catch-phrase of that era: "Does your tobacco taste different lately?"

Controversy

As with many of the World War II-themed cartoons put out by the major studios, Herr Meets Hare was placed under an unofficial ban from broadcast or video distribution by Warner Bros. and other rights-holders (including Turner Broadcasting and AOL Time Warner). In 2001, Cartoon Network had planned on showing each and every Bugs Bunny cartoon made so far as part of its yearly "June Bugs" festival. AOL Time Warner refused to allow the broadcast of Herr Meets Hare, on the grounds that the cartoon was offensive (by today's standards) as it dealt with the Nazis in a joking manner. The cartoon did see limited broadcast (unlike more objectionable cartoons such as Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips) on a special one-hour episode of ToonHeads about cartoons from the WWII era (coincidentally, Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips was shown, albeit in clips while a voiceover explained how grotesque and cruel the Japanese stereotypes in cartoons tended to be in that era). It has also appeared on Turner Classic Movies' Cartoon Alley as recently as January 20, 2007. This cartoon can currently be found on the Bugs & Daffy: The Wartime Cartoons VHS, the video website Youtube, and will be on DVD (uncut and digitally remastered) as part of the sixth Looney Tunes Golden Collection set.

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