Rabbit Fire is a 1950 animated Looney Tunes cartoon starring Bugs Bunny, directed by Chuck Jones and written by Michael Maltese. The short, also starring Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd, is notable for being the first film in Jones' "hunting trilogy," the other two being Rabbit Seasoning and Duck! Rabbit, Duck!. It is also the first film to feature a feud between Bugs and Daffy.
Produced by Edward Selzer for Warner Bros. Cartoons, Inc., the short was released to theaters on May 19, 1951 by Warner Bros. Pictures and is widely considered among Jones' best and most important films.
The film marks a significant change in Daffy's style, away from the "screwball" and toward the "foil" for Bugs' jokes. However this is the only one of the hunting trilogy where they attempt to work together to rid themselves of Elmer.
Daffy Duck lures Elmer Fudd to Bugs Bunny's burrow, and watches from aside when Elmer attempts to shoot Bugs. But Bugs informs Elmer that it isn't rabbit season, but instead duck season. Daffy emerges, irate, and attempts to convince Elmer that Bugs is lying. Their conversation breaks down into Bugs leading Daffy to admit it is duck season by a number of verbal plays.
Their conversion breaks down into Bugs leading Daffy to admit it is duck season by a number of verbal plays and reverse psychology, for example:
Bugs: "Duck season!"
Daffy: "Wabbit season!"
Bugs: "Duck season!"
Daffy: "WABBIT SEASON!"
Bugs: "Duck season!!"
Daffy: "WABBIT SEASON!!"
Bugs: (reversing the flow) "Wabbit season!"
Daffy: "DUCK SEASON!!!"
Bugs: "Wabbit season!!!"
Daffy: "I say it's duck season, and I say FIRE!"
Once Daffy admits it is duck season, Elmer fires his shotgun at Daffy, causing the duck to suffer a temporary setback before he tries again. This repeats multiple times during the short, with Daffy trying different ploys to get Elmer to shoot Bugs, but Bugs continues to outwit him. After Daffy is shot for the third time, he walks away. Elmer tries to shoot him, but no more shells come out of his gun. Thrilled, Daffy comes back and grabs Elmer's gun to make sure, only to be shot with the last shell.
Daffy then sees a sign that Bugs has nailed to a tree saying "Duck Season Open". As he sees Elmer approaching, he disguises himself as Bugs, telling him that it's duck season. Bugs then appears disguised as Daffy, complete with webbed feet and fake bill, and asks Daffy why he thinks it's duck season. Daffy points at the tree where he previously saw the "Duck Season Open" sign. However, the sign nailed to that tree now reads "Rabbit Season Open", implying that Bugs replaced the signs. Elmer, of course, shoots Daffy. After Daffy gets blasted, he goes up to Bugs and says, "You're desthpicable!" The two walk away, getting out of their costumes as Daffy rants to Bugs how despicable he is. Bugs then begins to read duck recipes from a cookbook and Daffy does the same with a rabbit recipe cookbook. Elmer tells them he's a vegetarian and only hunts for the sport of it (although, in previous episodes, it has been stated that he was hunting Bugs for rabbit stew or the like). Outraged, Bugs gets in Elmer's face and claims "Oh, yeah? Well, there's other sports besides huntin', ya know!?" Daffy then offers to play tennis. Elmer blasts him again, then begins shooting and chases both of them all the way to the rabbit hole. Bugs comes out of his hole and accuses Elmer of "hunting rabbits with an elephant gun", suggesting Elmer shoot an elephant instead. Just as Elmer is considering it, a huge elephant appears from literally nowhere, threatens Elmer in a Joe Besser voice ("You do and I'll give you SUCH a pinch!") and preemptively pounds him into the ground before striding off.
Elmer finally loses patience and decides to take out both Bugs and Daffy. Daffy comes into the scene, disguised as a hunting dog and Bugs comes in as a lady hunter. Elmer, however, sees through their disguise and threatens to shoot them.
The cartoon climaxes when Elmer finds the two arguing by a tree with a sign that starts with the words "Rabbit Season"; Bugs and Daffy continue to pull off the sign to alternatively reveal it is "Duck Season" or "Rabbit Season" until they hit a final sign, proclaiming it to be "Elmer Season". The tables turned, Bugs and Daffy, dressed as hunters, begin to chase Elmer, telling the audience to be "vewwy, vewwy quiet...we're hunting Elmers!" with Daffy imitating Elmer's laugh.
- Only one in the trilogy to be reissued.
- Only cartoon in the trilogy where Daffy wins with Bugs.
- While this cartoon was restored to DVD and Blu-ray, it was one of the cartoons that is in low-pitched.
- The part where Bugs and Daffy argue with the Rabbit Season/Duck Season signs is used in two Cartoon Network bumpers during the Powerhouse era (the "Powerhouse Era" is the era in which Cartoon Network's programming consisted of classic theatrical shorts from Warner Bros., MGM, Hanna-Barbera, and Fleischer Studios, with the Warner Bros. shorts being most frequent -- so called because the famous snippet from Raymond Scott's Powerhouse can be heard in bumpers and promos);
- In one, the scene plays as normal, until they hit a final sign, proclaiming it to be the Cartoon Network logo (the Elmer Season sign is replaced using digital editing). The bumper fades-out once Bugs and Daffy stare at Elmer.
- In another, the Rabbit Season/Duck Season signs are replaced by "The Daffy and Bugs Show" and "The Bugs and Daffy Show" (courtesy of digital editing) and Bugs and Daffy's lines are re-dubbed (most likely voiced by Jeff Bergman) where Daffy argues "Daffy and Bugs!" and Bugs argues "Bugs and Daffy!". Bugs and Daffy continue to pull off the sign to alternatively reveal it is "The Bugs and Daffy Show" or "The Daffy and Bugs Show" until they hit a final sign, proclaiming it to be "The Elmer Show! Also Starring A Rabbit And A Duck" (again the Elmer Season sign is replaced using digital editing). The tables turned, Bugs and Daffy stare at Elmer, then it cuts away to a promo of The Bugs n' Daffy Show.
- Along with its two sequels, on ABC, CBS, the syndicated and Fox network versions of The Merrie Melodies Show, and WB, multiple scenes where Elmer fires his rifle upon Daffy's head and beak were edited to avoid showing the gunshots. While the ABC and WB version replaced the actual shots of Elmer firing at Daffy's head with a still shot of Bugs Bunny looking off-screen (or, in the case of the end of Rabbit Seasoning, freeze-framed on the shot of the cabin when Elmer and Daffy go inside) and had the audio play normally, CBS and WB spliced out any and all scenes (both visual and audio) of Daffy getting shot, which made Duck! Rabbit, Duck! particularly choppy and incoherent.
- On Nickelodeon's "Looney Tunes on Nickelodeon" compilation show, the gun scenes for Rabbit Seasoning and Duck! Rabbit, Duck! were left uncensored, but one scene in Rabbit Fire was cut: Elmer running out of shells, Daffy looking inside the gun to see if there really are no more shells, then the last shell getting shot at Daffy.
- VHS - Daffy Duck: The Nuttiness Continues...
- VHS - From Hare to Eternity
- DVD - Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 1, Disc Two
- Blu-Ray/DVD - Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 2, Disc Two