Bugs Bunny: Superstar
|Bugs Bunny Superstar|
|Directed by||Larry Jackson|
|Produced by||Larry Jackson|
|Narrated by||Orson Welles|
|Music by||Ian Whitcomb|
|Edited by||Brian King|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
Bugs Bunny: Superstar is a 1975 Looney Tunes documentary film narrated by Orson Welles and produced and directed by Larry Jackson. It was the first documentary to examine the history of the Warner Bros. cartoons, and includes nine Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons which were previously released during the 1940s:
- What's Cookin' Doc? (1944), directed by Bob Clampett
- The Wild Hare (a.k.a. A Wild Hare) (1940), directed by Tex Avery
- A Corny Concerto (1943), directed by Bob Clampett
- I Taw a Putty Tat (1948), directed by Friz Freleng
- Rhapsody Rabbit (1946), directed by Friz Freleng
- Walky Talky Hawky (1946), directed by Robert McKimson
- My Favorite Duck (1942), directed by Chuck Jones
- Hair-Raising Hare (1946), directed by Chuck Jones
- The Old Grey Hare (1944), directed by Bob Clampett
Bugs Bunny: Superstar includes interviews with some legendary Warner Bros. animation directors of that period: Friz Freleng, Tex Avery and most prominently Bob Clampett. Clampett, whose collection of drawings, films, and memorabilia from the golden days of Termite Terrace was legendary, provided nearly all of the behind-the-scenes drawings and home-movie footage for the film; furthermore, his wife, Sody Clampett, is credited as the film's production co-ordinator. Robert McKimson, Mel Blanc, and Chuck Jones were intended to be interviewed for the film, but all three were ultimately not involved for various reasons.
Bugs Bunny: Superstar was the first of a series of Warner cartoon compilation movies released in the 1970s and 1980s. However, as a documentary, it does not fit the mold of the totally animated Warner Brothers compilation movies that began with 1979's The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie. Bugs Bunny: Superstar was not considered a "canon" compilation movie because it was produced by Hare-Raising Films, rather than by Warner Bros.
Contemporary critics pointed out that Clampett's important role as one of the primary developers of the early Warner cartoons was noticeably slanted due to his prominent presence in this film. In an audio commentary recorded for the 2012 DVD release, director Larry Jackson claimed that in order to secure Clampett's participation and access to Clampett's collection of Warners history, he had to sign a contract that stipulated Clampett would both host the documentary and have approval over the final cut. Jackson further claimed that Clampett was very reluctant to speak about the other directors and their contributions.
The documentary infuriated many of the Warner Brothers artists, as Clampett liberally took credit for several iconic Warner characters. Clampett implied that he was the creator of Bugs Bunny, claiming that he used Clark Gable's carrot-eating scene in It Happened One Night as inspiration for the character. Clampett further took credit for drawing the model sheet for the first Porky Pig cartoon I Haven't Got a Hat (1935), even though it was actually drawn by Friz Freleng. Subsequently, Chuck Jones, who already had a strong dislike for Clampett, pointedly left out Clampett's name in the 1979 compilation film The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie when Bugs discusses his "fathers" (i.e. Jones and other Warner's directors), and similarly omitted any mention of Clampett in his 1989 autobiography Chuck Amuck.
Bugs Bunny: Superstar was first released in theaters in late 1975. At the time of the film's release, the rights to the individual cartoons themselves were controlled by United Artists as part of their acquisition of the pre-1950 Associated Artists Productions (AAP) library Warner Bros. films. The former AAP library was later owned by MGM/UA Entertainment Co., and still later by Turner Entertainment Co., and finally by Time Warner in 1996.
It was re-released on DVD on November 14, 2006, as a two-part special feature in the box set Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 4. While most of the individual cartoons had been previously released as separate, refurbished entries in the Golden Collection, Bugs Bunny: Superstar was completely unrestored, with some age-wear apparent from the original film stock. All but two cartoons were replaced by "dubbed versions" created by Turner Entertainment in 1995. The Old Grey Hare used an original AAP print (evidenced by the AAP opening soundtrack) to preserve the ending gag involving the "That's all, Folks" title card, which was lost in the Turner dubbed version. I Taw a Putty Tat was also restored to the AAP print, as the Turner dubbed version contained an edit to remove a blackface gag.
On November 15, 2012, Warner Home Video released the documentary on DVD as part of the Warner Archive Collection.
- "Bob Clampett Superstar". What About Thad?. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
- You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story (2008), p. 255.
- WB retained a pair of features from 1949 that they merely distributed, and all short subjects released on or after September 1, 1948; in addition to all cartoons released in August 1948.
- Bugs Bunny: Superstar at the Internet Movie Database
- Bugs Bunny Superstar at the TCM Movie Database
- Bugs Bunny Superstar at AllMovie