I am still working on recording my many VHS tapes of classic warner cartoons to DVD, and I decided to do Bugs Bunny as a separate series, because I taped the entire "June Bugs" marathon the Cartoon Network ran for a weekend in 2001, and since it was chronological, I have been using it as a guide and replacing the TV versions of cartoons with better copies if I have them.
Having gotten through the last of the last in the Bugs series, (and that includes TV cartoons and 90's theatrical specials), I have to say that from 1959-1964, if you watch the films chronologically, it is possible to watch Bugs Bunny die. First came the real-life deaths of Elmer Fudd actor Arthur Q. Bryan. Then came the death of music composer Milt Franklyn. Then came a car wreck that reduced Mel Blanc to a body cast. From late 1959 to 1964, these factors combined to spell death for Bugs Bunny, and it's apparent on-screen.
Franklyn's death was worst of all for Friz Freleng and his signature character, Yosemite Sam. Freleng was a master of timing because he timed his cartoons to music, and when the music was no longer a factor thanks to Franklyn's incompetent successor, Bill Lava, Friz (and Sam) were sunk.
In this first of a series of posts, let's take a look at what I consider Yosemite Sam's last hurrah...(aside from one other cartoon I'll get to next.) It's Friz's 1960 "Horse Hare". Franklyn was still in the game, a good story by Michael Maltese helps, and the gags and dialogue are excellent. Sadly, Native American stereotypes have kept this film off TV and video for several years. But enjoy it anyway, it only gets worse from here, as we examine: YOSEMITE SAM'S JOURNEY TO HELL!