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The Heckling Hare (1941)

Approved | | Family, Animation, Short | 5 July 1941 (USA)
This time Bugs is chased by hunting dog Willoughby.


(as Fred Avery)



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Uncredited cast:
Tex Avery ...
Willoughby (voice) (uncredited)
Bugs Bunny (voice) (uncredited)


Bugs is being chased again, this time by a dog named Willoughby. The clumsy mutt is incredibly stupid, literally falling for Bugs' cons again and again. Bugs becomes a bit overconfident in his dealing with the dog, though, and finds himself falling for his own tricks. In the end, cartoon logic wins out over the laws of gravity--or does it? Written by Mike Konczewski

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis






Release Date:

5 July 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Une vie de lapin  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The first Warner Bros. cartoon to feature a Bugs Bunny variant intro. In this cartoon, a smaller Warner Bros. shield zooms in with Bugs reclining on top of it, eating a carrot. He notices the audience looking at him, frowns, and pulls down the Merrie Melodies title as if it were a window shade. See more »


As Bugs and Willoughby fall screaming off a cliff, the carrot Bugs is holding vanishes for a few shots then reappears. See more »


Willoughby: [Willoughby digs his hand through a knothole in a tree Bugs jumped into who then drops a tomato into Willoughby's hand causing him to think he killed Bugs] I... I crushed him!
[Starts sobbing]
Willoughby: I've done a bad thing, I crushed him, I crushed him!
[Cries hysterically]
Willoughby: [Places flowers at Bugs' hole as he turns to the audience] Flowers
Willoughby: rest in peace, poor little bunny.
Bugs Bunny: [Grabs the flowers while talking in a falsetto voice] For me doc?, oh you darling
See more »


Edited into Bugs Bunny Classics (1989) See more »


A-Hunting We Will Go
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Willoughby outfoxed by his prey
14 June 2008 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Bugs Bunny sure was a mischievous rascal, particularly in his early years. A smug, conceited and pitiless little fiend, Bugs often appeared to take a near-sadistic pleasure in tormenting his enemies. Of course, that he is the "prey" works considerably in his favour, and audiences will always continue to cheer him on, as nobody likes to see a cute little wabbit become a hunter's next meal. But the most interesting aspect of these cartoons is how the writers cunningly invert the usual scenario, with Bugs, in effect, becoming the hunter of the story, though we instinctively continue to celebrate his successes. Willoughby the hunting dog may be an exceedingly dim-witted canine, perhaps even bordering on mental retardation, but the audience considers him fair game for Bugs' farcical style of bullying. Just why is Bugs the hero in this cartoon, and, indeed, in most of his cartoons? A worthwhile counterpoint to this trend is in Tex Avery's 1941 short 'Hare Beats Rabbit,' starring Bugs and Cecil B. Turtle, in which the bigheaded rabbit is decisively beaten in a foot-race by the quietly-deceitful reptile.

These tantalising questions aside, Tex Avery's 'The Heckling Hare (1941)' provides some solid entertainment, which is the real reason why we're watching it. After Willoughby (voiced by Avery) catches Bugs' scent at the entrance of a rabbit-hole, he goes into digging-overdrive, and is so focused on the task at hand that he fails to notice the rabbit (Mel Blanc, as always) idling above him with a carrot between his teeth. Numerous outrageous chase sequences ensue, one ending in the depths of a river and another in a thousands-of-metres plummet from a ridiculously-high cliff. There is some very convincing personality animation in the sequence where Willoughby believes himself to have crushed Bugs to death with his own hands, and he touchingly collapses into tears as he lays a bouquet of flowers at the entrance to the rabbit-hole. Bugs, displaying that uniquely-compassionless streak of his, thinks nothing of this emotion and merely exploits it for some further humiliation.

'The Heckling Hare' moves at a brisk pace for seven minutes, and continues at this pace until the closing seconds, when it forgets to add an ending. In actual fact, the cartoon's conclusion was severely truncated by producer Leon Schlesinger, who allegedly felt that the final punchline ("Hold on to your hats, folks. Here we go again!" as the pair fall off another cliff) would somehow be perceived by audiences as having undesirable connotations. This lack of resolution blemishes the film to an extent; I liked the idea of the unusually-protracted freefall, but I was waiting for another good idea to bookend the gag, and it never came (perhaps the instantaneous brakes were a spoof of traditional cartoon physics, abused so frequently for comedic effect). In any case, Avery was aghast at the changes made to his cartoon, and he stormed out of the studio. He eventually wound up with the fortunate folks at MGM, with whom he worked until 1953.

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