Friday, January 9, 2009
Elmer Fudd Picture
Elmer J. Fudd is a fictional cartoon character and one of the most famous Looney Tunes characters. He has one of the more disputed origins in the Warner Brothers cartoon pantheon (second only to Bugs Bunny himself). His aim is to shoot Bugs, but he usually ends up seriously injuring himself. He has a speech sound disorder that makes his tongue slur.
In 1937, Tex Avery introduced a new character in his cartoon short Egghead Rides Again. Elmer's friendly ancestor Egghead has a bulbous nose, funny/eccentric clothing, a voice like Joe Penner, and an egg-shaped head. Many cartoon historians believe that Egghead evolved into Elmer over a period of a couple of years. Egghead made his second appearance in 1937's Little Red Walking Hood and then in 1938 teamed with Warner Brothers' newest cartoon star Daffy Duck in Daffy Duck and Egghead.
Egghead continued to appear in a string of cartoons in 1938: The Isle of Pingo Pongo, Cinderella Meets Fella, and A-Lad-In Bagdad. In A Feud There Was (1938) Egghead made his entrance riding a motorscooter with the words "Elmer Fudd, Peacemaker" displayed on the side, the beginning of that name. Egghead alternates from having a Moe Howard haircut to being bald and wearing a brown derby, a baggy suit, and a high-collared shirt. His voice, laugh, and mannerisms are very much like those of Joe Penner. Egghead is thought to be the prototype of Elmer Fudd. Egghead himself returned decades later in the compilation film Daffy Duck's Quackbusters. More recently, he also made a cameo appearance at the end of Looney Tunes: Back in Action and was also given in his own story, which starred him alongside Pete Puma, in the Looney Tunes comic book.
Egghead has the distinction of being the very first recurring character created for Leon Schlesinger's Merrie Melodies series (to be followed by such characters as Sniffles, Inki, and even Bugs Bunny), which had previously contained only one-shot characters, although during the Harman-Ising era, Foxy, Goopy Geer, and Piggy each appeared in a few Merrie Melodies.
In the 1939 cartoon Dangerous Dan McFoo, a new voice actor Arthur Q. Bryan was hired to provide the voice of the hero dog-character and it was in this cartoon that the popular "milk-sop" voice of Elmer Fudd was created. Elmer Fudd has long since remained the antagonistic force in many of the Bugs Bunny cartoons. Egghead was voiced by Mel Blanc, later Cliff Nazarro and finally Arthur Q. Bryan. Later he is voiced by Joe Alaskey, then Tom Kane and finally Billy West.
In 1940, Egghead/Elmer's appearance was refined giving him a chin and a less bulbous nose (although still wearing Egghead's clothing) and Arthur Q. Bryan's "Dan McFoo" voice in what most people consider Elmer Fudd's first true appearance: a Chuck Jones short entitled Elmer's Candid Camera. The Bugs Bunny prototype drives Elmer insane. Later that year, he appeared in Friz Freleng's Confederate Honey (where he's called Ned Cutler), The Hardship of Miles Standish and Jones' Good Night Elmer where his voice and Egghead-like appearance were still the same. Jones would use this Elmer one more time, in 1941's Elmer's Pet Rabbit. The other title character here is labelled as Bugs Bunny, but is also identical to his counterpart in Camera. In the interim, the two starred in A Wild Hare. Bugs appears with a carrot, New York accent, and "What's Up, Doc?" catchphrase all in place for the first time, although the voice and physique are as yet somewhat off. Elmer has a better voice, a trimmer figure and his familiar hunting clothes. He is much more recognizable as the Elmer Fudd of later cartoons than Bugs is here.
Elmer's role in these two films, that of would-be hunter, dupe and foil for Bugs, would remain his main role forever after, and although Bugs Bunny was called upon to outwit many more worthy opponents, Elmer somehow remained Bugs' classic nemesis, despite (or because of) his legendary gullibility, small size, short temper, and shorter attention span. Somehow knowing not only that Elmer would lose, but knowing how he would lose, made the confrontation, counterintuitively, more delicious. Despite being the antagonist, Elmer lacked the malice of a true villain.
Elmer was usually cast as a hapless big-game hunter, armed with a double-barreled shotgun and creeping through the woods "hunting wabbits." In a few cartoons, though, he assumed a completely different persona — a wealthy industrialist type, occupying a luxurious penthouse, or, in one episode involving a role reversal, a sanitarium — which Bugs would of course somehow find his way into.
Several episodes featured Elmer differently. One (What's Up, Doc?, 1950) has Bugs Bunny relating his life story to a biographer, and recalling a time which was a downturn for the movie business. Elmer Fudd is a well-known entertainer who, looking for a new partner for his act, sees Bugs Bunny (after passing caricatures of many other famous 1940s actors who, like Bugs, are also out of work). Elmer and Bugs do a one-joke act cross-country, with Bugs dressed like a pinhead, and when he does not know the answer to a joke, Elmer gives it and hits him with a pie in the face. Bugs begins to tire of this gag and pulls a surprise on Fudd, answering the joke correctly and bopping Elmer with a mallet, which prompts the man to point his rifle at Bugs. The bunny asks nervously: "Eh, what's up doc?", which results in a huge round of applause from the audience. Bugs tells Elmer they may be on to something. According to this account, the common Elmer-as-hunter episodes are entirely staged.
One episode where Bugs "lost" in the hunting was Hare Brush (1956). Here, Elmer has been committed to an insane asylum because he believes he is a rabbit. Bugs Bunny enters Fudd's room and Elmer bribes him with carrots, then leaves the way the real rabbit entered. Bugs acts surprisingly (for him) naïve, assuming Elmer just wanted to go outside for a while. Elmer's psychiatrist arrives, and thinking Fudd's delusion has affected his appearance, drugs Bugs and conditions him into believing that he is Elmer Fudd ("I am Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht") after which Bugs starts wearing hunting clothes and acting like Elmer, hunting the rabbit-costumed Fudd, who is in turn acting like Bugs. Their hunt is cut short when Bugs is arrested, as Elmer Fudd is wanted for tax evasion. After Bugs is hauled away, Fudd breaks the fourth wall and tells the audience, "I may be a scwewy wabbit, but I'm not going to Alcatwaz."
Elmer Fudd has occasionally appeared in other costumes, notably as Cupid. He tries to convince Bugs about love, but Bugs is reluctant, thinking to himself "Don't you look like some guy who's always after me?" and pictures the Elmer in hunter's clothes. The Cupid Elmer plots to get even with Bugs, using his love arrows to make Bugs fall in love with an artificial rabbit at a dog track. Elmer also appeared in this form opposite Daffy Duck in The Stupid Cupid (1944).(Wikipedia)