BOOTLEG FILES 651: “Rabbit Every Monday” (1951 animated short with Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam).
LAST SEEN: On DailyMotion.com.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On VHS and LaserDisc only.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It was never released on DVD or Blu-ray.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It could happen.
Believe it or not, a surprisingly substantial number of classic Bugs Bunny cartoons were never released on DVD or Blu-ray. We’re not talking about the politically incorrect shorts that have been kept of circulation for very obvious reasons, but the knockabout cartoons that were a staple of kiddie television for decades and were part of the initial VHS and LaserDisc release of the old-time Warner Bros. output.
One of Bugs Bunny works not on DVD or Blu-ray is the 1951 “Rabbit Every Monday.” It may not be a classic of the genre, but it has enough goofy charm to generate smiles and light chuckles.
“Rabbit Every Monday” – the title is a riff on the then-popular film “Chicken Every Sunday” – opens in a forest clearing where Bugs Bunny is spinning three carrots on a rotisserie. We don’t see Bugs at first because the rotisserie is above ground and he is in his residential hole, with an outstretched arm reaching from below ground to turn the carrots over a flame. Bugs sings a parody of the tune “It’s Magic” from the Warner Bros. feature “Romance on the High Seas,” focusing his lyrical fervor on his meal by crooning “Oh carrots are divine, you get a dozen for a dime, it’s magic!” When Bugs finally emerges, he embraces a cooked carrot with romantic passion and takes it below ground while cradling it in his arms.
Into this world comes Yosemite Sam, stalking ominously while holding a hunting rifle. Sam is taking on the role that Elmer Fudd usually holds – but while Elmer is a benign nitwit who stupidly imagines himself to be a great sportsman, Sam is a sociopath who is only interested in killing. Indeed, his fury is so pronounced that he is willing to murder a member of the cinema audience watching the cartoon – depicted as a silhouette in the lower right corner of the screen, a gag stolen from Olsen and Johnson’s “Hellzapoppin’” – because Sam fears the viewer is on his way out of the auditorium to warn Bugs Bunny of his approach. Sam then faces the camera and directly threatens the viewer to stay seated and quiet, or else he will use his rifle for homicidal purposes. “And I’ll do it, too!” he warns ominously.
With no great problem, Sam locates Bugs’ hole and sticks his rifle into the ground. But Bugs is oblivious to this intrusion – still singing, his hands come up through the rifle and begin to cook Sam’s nose as if it was a carrot. He then pulls Sam through the rifle into the ground. An off-key note is hit and Sam yells, quickly jumping above ground to complain that Bug bit his nose. Sam sticks the rifle into the ground and orders Bugs to come up. Bugs emerges through the gun, pausing to chew his carrot and ask, “Eh, what’s up, doc?”
Sam orders Bugs out of the gun, but the wise-guy rabbit refuses. Sam releases a gun shell with Bugs packed inside of it, and then Sam bellows, “Now start prayin’, cuz I’m a-blowin’ ya to smithereenies at the count of ten!” As Sam counts to ten, Bugs pulls out a wad of bubble gum, chews it rapidly and plugs it into the opening of the rifle. Sam shoots his weapon, but it backfires and he finds himself encased in a large bubble of gum. As the soundtrack plays “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles,” Bugs casually blows the oversized bubble away and Sam finds himself going over a cliff. Sam frantically blows from inside the bubble to elevate his gummy prison into the air, but Bugs pulls out a pin and deflates the bubble, causing Sam to fall to the ground and bounce repeatedly due to the sticky gummy residue on his body. Sam chases Bugs back to his hole and throws a rock at him, but the gum on Sam’s hands causes the rock to ricochet back into his face.
Sam furiously grabs a shovel and digs up the opening of the hole, finally capturing Bugs. Sam takes Bugs to his cabin and hangs the rabbit upside down by his ankles while preparing a wood-burning stove. Bugs throws Sam’s hat into the stove, but he retrieves a burning wood log and wears it by mistake. After correcting his error, Sam orders Bugs into the stove. But to Sam’s dismay, Bugs keeps emerging to gather party necessities such as a bottle opener, cracked ice, chairs, and he even empties full ashtrays into Sam’s hat. Every time Bugs emerges from the stove, old-time party music is heard. When Bugs emerges with lipstick kisses on his face and invites Sam to join him because “the girls are asking” for him, Sam straightens himself out and rushes into the stove. Bugs laughs at being able to easily trick Sam and throws more wood into the stove’s fire – but when he gets a pang of conscience and asks Sam to come out, Bugs is shocked to see a real party is going on (a scene from the live-action “Romance on the High Seas”). Bugs rejoins the stove party, peeking out briefly wearing a hat and waving a party favor while declaring, “I don’t ask questions, I just have fun!”
By contemporary touchy-touchy standards, the cartoon’s indiscriminate use of guns and the incendiary humor of forcing someone to go into a burning stove does not fit into the too-safe confines of today’s E/I children’s programming. And, truth be told, the interactions between Bugs and Sam were never as viscerally appealing as the Bugs-Elmer battles – for all of his violent tendencies, Sam’s basic stupidity rendered him incapable of enacting genuine wreckage and ruin. Whereas Bugs turned the predator-prey continuum upside down by forcing comeuppance on the hunter Elmer, Bugs was merely disposing of a loudmouth annoyance when Sam was his foe.
“Rabbit Every Monday” had the unique distinction of being the first cartoon to be broadcast on the inaugural episode of television’s “The Bugs Bunny Show” in 1960. It was available on VHS and LaserDisc in the early 1990s, but today it can be found on DailyMotion.com – Warner Bros. swept YouTube of its copyright-protected work, but the studio seems to be oblivious of DailyMotion.com.
Whether “Rabbit Every Monday” gets the DVD and Blu-ray treatment remains to be seen. While not a gem, it doesn’t deserve to be left on the grey fringes of digital entertainment.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: While this weekly column acknowledges the presence of rare film and television productions through the so-called collector-to-collector market, this should not be seen as encouraging or condoning the unauthorized duplication and distribution of copyright-protected material, either through DVDs or Blu-ray discs or through postings on Internet video sites.
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