Sunday, April 04, 2010

HAPPY EASTER: "Easter Yeggs" (1947)

The kids are all asleep now? Good! Let's all watch a cartoon made the way cartoons were made back when the used to make cartoons the way cartoons ought to be made!

Easter Yeggs (1947) is a 1946 Looney Tunes animated short originally released theatrically on June 28, 1947. Story by Warren Foster, with Layouts by Cornett Wood, and Backgrounds by Richard H. Thomas. Animation by Charles McKimson, Dick Bickenbach, and I. Ellis. Directed by Robert McKimson. It is that director's second Bugs Bunny effort (following the previous year's Acrobatty Bunny), and his first Bugs & Elmer cartoon. (Arthur Q. Bryan plays Elmer; all other voices are by Mel Blanc.)

The title is a play on "Easter eggs" and on "yegg", a slang term for a burglar or safecracker.

This was the 500th cartoon short released by Warner Bros., they would release exactly 500 more after this.


Bugs Bunny finds the Easter Bunny (also called the "Easter Rabbit" throughout this cartoon) sitting on a rock, crying. The Easter Bunny tells Bugs that his feet are sore, so he cannot deliver the Easter eggs. Bugs takes up the job, not knowing that, every year, the Easter Bunny gets some "dumb bunny" to do his work for him.

The first house the "joyous bunny" visits bears a name by the door: Dead End Kid, and the mean little red-haired kid who lives inside throws the egg at Bugs' face, bites him and beats Bugs up before body slamming him on the floor. Bugs loses his cool and grabs the kid's arm. Unfortunately, Dead End Kid screams and three huge thugs rush in on Bugs while aiming guns at him. Bugs barely escapes the hail of bullets. When Bugs rushes back to the Easter Bunny telling him he quits, the Easter Bunny gets him to "try once more".

Unfortunately, the next house is that of Elmer Fudd, the veteran wabbit-hater. Fudd sets up an elaborate welcome and, disguised as a baby, hides his gun in a bassinet and climbs in. Just then Bugs arrives, but this time he's prepared for toddler resistance: he cracks the egg in Elmer's hands. Thus commences the classic chase until Bugs manages to sic Dead End Kid on Elmer (who beats Elmer on the head repeatedly with a hammer). Finally, Bugs plants a bomb painted like an easter egg and leaves it for the Easter Bunny. When he picks it up to finish his job, Bugs lights the fuse, proclaiming to the audience "it's the suspense that gets me," and the bomb explodes on the Easter Bunny, leaving the hapless hen-fruit handler hanging high up in a tree. Bugs' parting shot: "Remember, Doc, keep smiling!" The cartoon irises out as Bugs starts laughing.

Annotations and subreferences

* The main titles are set to the quaint old pop-tune "Some Sunday Morning".

* Despite the obvious Easter theme, the cartoon was released in June.

* The Easter Rabbit's despondent voice and his therefore ironic catch phrase, "Keep Smiling!", are a takeoff of a character created by Mel Blanc for George Burns and Gracie Allen's radio show during the 1940s; Mel's character was called "The Happy Postman".

* The funny little snicker used first by the Easter Rabbit, and then by Bugs at the end of the cartoon, "A-heh-heh!" is borrowed directly from Blanc's other employer, Jack Benny.

* Carl Stalling's scoring of this cartoon includes a rendition of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" to accompany Fudd's welcome of the "Technicolor hen fruit" courier.

* Dead End Kid and his complaint, "He bwoke my widdow awm!!", is a takeoff of Red Skelton's popular radio character Junior the Mean Widdle Kid. Blanc would use a similar line with Tweety Bird in A Tale of Two Kitties: "Aw, da poor putty tat - he cwushed his widdow head!"

* Fudd's "Dick Twacy hat" refers to the popular comic-strip character from mid-20th-century America.

* This cartoon has even been seen aired (and vocally redubbed) in China, along with Gorilla My Dreams.

* The Dead End Kid would reappear in The Tiny Toons Spring Break Special in a cameo appearance where he attacks Ross Perot.


The song Bugs sings was a tune previously sung by the prototypical Bugs Bunny in Hare-um Scare-um. Partial lyrics in Easter Yeggs:

Here's the Easter Rabbit, hooray!
The happy Easter Rabbit, hooray!
I am getting Looney Tuney, touched in the head
This whole thing is gooney, I should-a stood in bed.

Partial lyrics in Hare-um Scare-um:

I'm going cuckoo, woo-woo!
Here comes the choo-choo, woo-woo!
I'm so gooney Looney Tuney, touched in the head
Please pass the ketchup, I think I'll go to bed

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