A sheepdog thwarts the efforts of a thieving wolf whose tricks include altering the time clock, hiding in a bush, imitating Pan, digging a tunnel, unleashing a wildcat and disguising himself as the dog's coworker.
In an unusual opening for a cartoon, Bugs wanders onto the screen during the credits and reads them aloud, mispronouncing all the names. When he gets to the title, he is enraged, and calls the crew "...all a bunch of joiks!", then adds, "And I oughta know. I woik for 'em." To regain his honor, Bugs challenges Cecil "Toitle" to a race. Cecil calls all his look-alike cousins who live along the race course, and they bedevil Bugs by constantly appearing ahead of him, making him think he's losing at every turn. The rabbit crosses the finish line only to find Cecil waiting there, wondering what took him so long. Thus begins a grudge match continued with rematches in _Tortoise Wins By A Hare (1943)_ and Rabbit Transit (1947). Written by
[after reading title]
"Tortoise Beats Hare"? Why those stupid joiks don't know what they're talking about! And I outta know, I woik for 'em!
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Bugs Bunny walks out on screen and reads the credits aloud, mispronouncing all the names. He becomes furious when he finally reads the title proclaiming his defeat for the entire audience to see. He then rips up the title screen, and the background appears. See more »
Despite not being terribly well-versed in American animated shorts, I have already seen and enjoyed Wilfred Jackson's 'The Fox and the Hare (1934),' an amusing adaptation of Aesop's classic fable, in which cockiness leads to defeat, and perseverance proves invaluable ("slow and steady wins the race"). This Disney Silly Symphonies short was spoofed in 1941 by Tex Avery at Warner Bros., in a film titled 'Tortoise Beats Hare,' featuring Bugs Bunny and (in his cartoon debut) Cecil Turtle. The short opens in an interesting fashion, as Bugs while chomping down on a carrot ambles into the opening credit screen, casually mispronounces the name of each crew member, and splutters the title of the film. Determined to prove his superiority to as sluggish a creature as a tortoise, Bugs tears away the credit screen and stamps towards Cecil's home, and the tortoise agrees to a race in his own lazy drawl.
This, however, is where Avery turns the fable on its head. Not content with playing it fair and recognising, no doubt, that his opponent is not stupid enough to fall asleep underneath a shady tree Cecil calls up a few of his identical-looking friends and sets about baffling and humiliating an increasingly-exasperated Bugs. With tortoises positioned at periodic intervals along the racetrack, the zippy rabbit finds himself unable to outrun his dawdling opponent, and is driven crazy trying to understand how the tortoise keeps turning up ahead of him. Interestingly, in a break from the typical story, both racers exhibit a considerable amount of arrogance, and the harmless-looking Cecil, having implemented his cunning plan, at one point turns to the audience and remarks "we do this kinda stuff to him all through the picture!" With a suitably cynical outlook on sporting ethics, Avery appears to be telling us that "slow and steady" can't guarantee a gold medal, but cheating certainly can.
Mel Blanc, as usual, provides the voices for each of the film's characters, though his characterisation of Bugs Bunny is slightly different to what I remember I can't quite put my finger on it, but the disparity is there. However, this only being Bugs' third appearance (following 'A Wild Hare (1940)' and 'Elmer's Pet Rabbit (1941)'), I can certainly appreciate that both Avery and Blanc were still toying about with ideas and details in order to perfect the character. Though not a perfect animated short I think I prefer the corresponding Silly Symphony in comparison 'Tortoise Beats Hare' is an enjoyable alteration of a predictable formula, and Bugs Bunny, rather than being the character who dishes out the pranks, is given a healthy dose of his own medicine. I wonder if he managed to get his ten dollars back?
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