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Bugs' Bonnets is a 1956 Merrie Melodies cartoon, directed by Chuck Jones, written by Tedd Pierce, and released by Warner Bros. Pictures. It features the voice talents of Mel Blanc, providing the voice of Bugs Bunny, as well as the uncredited performances of Arthur Q. Bryan (Elmer Fudd) and Robert C. Bruce (narrator).
At the beginning, the narrator explains how clothes strongly affect people's behavior. For an example, a typical Businessman's suit is replaced with a pirate outfit, making him act like one ("Batten down the keelhaul! Kill the women and children first! BLOOD!! GORE!!"). The narrator then adds how sometimes one piece of clothing, like a hat, can change somebody's behavior. We next see Elmer Fudd in "boring regular old fashioned every day clothes," and have his bowler hat replaced with a hunter's cap, which makes him act like a hunter ("Bang! Bang! Bang! Come out of your holes, you cowardwy wabbits... and I'll bwow you to smitherweenies!!"). The scene then focuses on him chasing Bugs, wanting to see the color of Bugs' "spurting blood."
To allow the audience to explore this phenomenon some more, a truck for the "Acme Theatrical Hat Co.", going uphill, allows its loose doors to fly open, which in turn, allows all the hats inside to fly out all over the valley. An army helmet lands on Bugs' head, bearing Technical Sergeant stripes. Bugs suddenly adopts the authoritative behavior of such, berate Elmer for hunting rabbits instead of the enemy, and orders Elmer "forward march!" off the river bank, where many of the hats are.
Upon emerging from the river, Elmer comes up wearing the hat, glasses and corncob pipe of General Douglas MacArthur, paraphrasing his famous line by saying, "I have wetuwned!" When Elmer starts menacingly approaching him, Bugs quickly digs a hole into the ground and loses his sergeant helmet, which now straddles the rabbit hole. Elmer slips under water for a second, coming up wearing his hunter's hat again.
Bugs emerges from burrowing under a game warden hat. Elmer shoots at the sergeant helmet, thinking Bugs is wearing it. Bugs, now a warden, chastises Elmer for shooting sergeants out of season. A gust of wind blows both hats away. A pilgrim hat lands on Elmer, who finishes his explanation: "I was just shooting turkeys for the first Thanksgiving dinner." Meantime, an Indian headdress lands on Bugs, who adopts a stereotyped Indian war whoop, takes the gun away from Elmer, and a short-lived chase ensues.
During this, the hats fall off; Elmer, returning to his original form, takes his gun back from Bugs, and gives chase; the chase continues to a busy highway. Bugs scampers across, with Elmer stuck on other side. Suddenly, a little old lady's bonnet lands on Elmer, making him act like one. Meantime, a Boy Scout hat lands on Bugs. Bugs helps Elmer cross the street. A passing car spins them both around, the hats fly off, and the chase resumes.
Elmer blasts away at a crevice where Bugs is hiding. When Bugs comes behind Elmer from the other side of the rock, the rabbit is wearing "gangster" fedora in the vein of Edward G. Robinson, and starts to threaten Elmer. Right then a cop's hat lands on Elmer, who then starts to kidnap Bugs; the "gangster" slips him $10,000 as a bribe. Elmer initially refuses the bribe, but before he can hand it back, Bugs' hat is replaced by a British judge's wig. In response to Elmer's "bribe", Bugs sentences Elmer to "only" 45 years at hard labor, out of consideration to his family.
Shortly after Bugs walks away, lamenting how he can't abide a dishonest police officer, Elmer calls out, "Oh, Judge, wiww you mawwy me?" Elmer is now wearing a bridal hat. A top hat falls on Bugs, and he accepts the proposal. As with Rabbit of Seville, the "Wedding March" by Felix Mendelssohn plays in the underscore, as Bugs is carrying Elmer toward a cottage. Bugs says to the audience, "Ya know, I think it always helps a picture to have a romantic ending."
- On the ABC version of this cartoon, the part where Elmer becomes a Pilgrim after a Pilgrim hat falls on his head and Bugs becomes an Indian after an Indian wig falls on his head was cut. Also: the part where Bugs acts like a mobster (after a mobster's fedora falls on his head) was shortened to remove the part where Bugs blows cigar smoke in Elmer's face.
- On the CBS version of this cartoon, the part where Bugs (as a mobster) blows cigar smoke in Elmer's face was cut.
- On the Cartoon Network version of this cartoon (until 2001; the cartoon has aired uncut since), the scenes where Elmer assumes General Douglas MacArthur's personality after he dons a general's hat with a pipe attached to it at the brim and the scene where Bugs acts like a mobster (after a mobster's fedora falls on his head) were edited to remove the short scenes of Elmer and Bugs respectively smoking from the pipe and cigar. Also cut was the entire part where Bugs becomes a game warden who accuses Elmer of shooting out of season and before Elmer can answer, has a Pilgrim's hat fall on his head and reply that he's shooting turkeys for the first Thanksgiving dinner, after which an Indian's wig (consisting of long black hair done in braids and two feathers on top) lands on Bugs' head and Bugs begins acting like a stereotypical Native American. These two parts were later reinstated in January 2001 during the Cartoon Network Super Bowl parody special, "The Big Game: Bugs vs. Daffy".
- The now-defunct WB network aired all the parts cut from ABC, CBS, and Cartoon Network intact. However, the WB had its own set of edits for this cartoon:
- The line "Kill the women and children first!" during the beginning where the narrator shows how a normal man's personality can be changed if he wore something different (in this case, pirate regalia) was muted.
- Elmer's line, "Come out and wet me see the cowor of your spurting blood!" and Bugs' line, "My spurting blood?! Yipe!" were also muted.
- The entire scene where Bugs (as a mobster) bribes Elmer (as a police officer about to arrest mobster Bugs) with money, then when a judicial wig falls on Bugs' head, he becomes a judge and accuses policeman Elmer for taking a bribe was removed.
Reaction to the film has been mixed. Animation historian Michael Barrier said of the film in a  magazine essay over Chuck Jones:
The preciosity that destroyed some of Jones' earliest cartoons . . . giving them a mincing, self-conscious quality . . . shows up [in] Bugs' Bonnets, a dreary exposition on the notion that the hat one wears shapes one's personality.
- ↑ Notice that, when Elmer starts to explain ("Well, you see, sir, I..."), he enunciates the R in "sir". Arthur Q. Bryan's proper pronunciation of rs and ws was an unusual and recurring phenomenon in this film.
- ↑ Elmer enunciates the r in "first" and "turkey" properly.
- ↑ Bugs' Bonnets at the Internet Movie Database
- ↑ Funnyworld
- ↑ Barrier, Michael, "Jones: 'Night Watchman' to 'Phantom Tollbooth'". Funnyworld No. 13 (1971).
- ↑ imdb.com - DVD details for Bugs' Bonnets
- Bugs' Bonnets at SuperCartoons.net
- Bugs' Bonnets at B99.TV
- Bugs' Bonnets @ the Internet Movie Database
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