Friday, January 6, 2017

Original Production Animation Drawing of Bugs Bunny from "The Unmentionables," 1963

Original production animation drawing of Bugs Bunny in graphite, red, and yellow pencils from "The Unmentionables," 1963, Warner Bros. Studio; Numbered 13 lower right; Production numbers upper left; Size - Bugs Bunny: 6 x 2 1/4", Sheet 10 1/4 x 14"; Unframed.

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During the golden age of American animation, the "Merrie Melodies" were a series of comedy short films produced by the Warner Bros. Studios. As with its parent series "Looney Tunes," "Merrie Melodies" featured some of the most famous cartoon characters ever created including: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and Elmer Fudd.

"Merrie Melodies" was originally produced by Harman-Ising Pictures from 1931-1933, and then Leon Schlesinger Productions from 1933-1944. Schlesinger sold his studio to Warner Bros. in 1944, and the newly renamed Warner Bros. Cartoons continued production until 1963. "Merrie Melodies" was outsourced to DePatie-Freleng Enterprises and Format Films from 1964 to 1967, and Warner Bros. Cartoons resumed production for the final two years.

Close up of  the original production animation drawing of Bugs Bunny.

Three of the "Merrie Melodies" films (Tweetie Pie, Speedy Gonzales, and Birds Anonymous) won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and another three (Duck Amuck, One Froggy Evening, and What's Opera, Doc?) have been inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

Close up of the production number.

"The Unmentionables," 1963 is an animated short film in the "Merrie Melodies" series produced by Warner Bros. Cartoons, Inc. The film was directed by Friz Freleng and would be the last Bugs Bunny cartoon that he directed in the classic era of "Looney Tunes." "The Unmentionables" stars Bugs Bunny with Rocky and Mugsy (in their final appearance), and it spoofs "The Untouchables;" then a popular television crime drama. Mel Blanc is the voice of all the characters; however there is a wonderful impression of Walter Winchell's frantic narration performed by Ralph James. This was one of the few instances where someone other than Mel Blanc was credited with a voice role in a Warner Bros. cartoon. The title of the short has a double meaning, because it is also a synonym for "underwear."

Close up of the production numbers.

The story is set the roaring 1920's and begins with Bugs Bunny, in the role of crime fighter Elegant Mess (a reference to Eliot Ness), tasked as an undercover federal agent and charged with bringing Rocky and Mugsy's criminal gang to justice. At a birthday party for Rocky, Bugs Bunny (disguised as a flapper) pops out of the birthday cake and begins to dance the Charleston. A chase ensues throughout the ACME cereal company. The cast of cartoon characters in the film include: Bugs Bunny, Rocky, Mugsy, Snitch, Agency Director, Jack "Legs" Rhinestone, "Baby Face" Half-Nelson, "Pizza-Puss" Lasagne, "Pistol-Nose" Pringle, and "Teeth" Malloy. The short was animated by Virgil Ross, Gerry Chiniquy, Bob Matz, Art Leonardi, and Lee Halpern.

This is a wonderful full figure drawing of Bugs Bunny in the role of Elegant Mess, dressed and disguised as a flapper from the 1920's. The drawing is annotated, in red pencil by the Warner Bros. Ink and Paint Department, with number codes corresponding to paint colors that were to be used in painting the corresponding animation cels in the scene. This is a rare and important drawing from an outstanding "Merrie Melodies" cartoon short, and a great addition to any animation art collection!