Wonderful seven-minute Warner Brothers cartoon released December 16, 1950, parodying opera (specifically Rossini's opera The Barber of Seville) with Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. My all-time favorite Looney Tunes cartoon, and rated one of the fifty greatest cartoons ever in The 50 Greatest Cartoons, edited by Jerry Beck, and the 1998 and 1999 Cartoon Network Greatest Cartoons programs.
It was directed by Chuck Jones; produced by Edward Selzer; story by Michael Maltese; animation by Phil Monroe, Ben Washam, Lloyd Vaughan, Ken Harris, and Emery Hawkins; layouts by Robert Gribbroek; Backgrounds by Philip DeGuard; voice characterization by Mel Blanc; and musical direction by Carl Stalling.
The setting is, as usual for these two characters, Bugs running from Elmer the hunter. In this case, Bugs runs into the backstage area of an outdoor theater (which quite resembles the Hollywood Bowl) where the orchestra is already tuning up for a performance of The Barber of Seville. (A signboard lists the opera's featured cast as Eduardo Selzeri, Michele Maltese and Carlo Jonzi, references to Edward Selzer, Michael Maltese and Charles "Chuck" Jones.) Elmer stands onstage behind the curtain, trying to figure out where that rabbit got to, and the curtain rises (as Bugs has flicked the switch for it). The conductor looks at his watch, shrugs, and gets the orchestra to start; the music jolts Elmer into turning around and seeing the musicians and audience behind him.
Bugs appears from a door in the scenery, wearing a white barber's coat, and begins to sing.
Welcome to my shop,
Let me cut your mop,
Let me shave your crop!
Daintily . . .
(to Elmer) Hey you!
Don't look so perplexed,
Why must you be vexed,
Can't you see you're next?
Yes, you're next,
You're so next."
(Carrying Elmer into the "barbershop set")
"How about a nice close shave,
Teach your whiskers to behave,
Lots of lather, lots of soap,
Please hold still; don't be a dope.
Now you're ready for the scraping
There's no use to try escaping,
Yell and scream and rant and rave,
It's no use; you need a shave!"
(Bugs shaves Elmer with a straight razor; Elmer yells "Ooh!
Ow! Ooh! Ooh! Ow!" in rhythm with the music. Bugs holds up a mirror.)
"There, you're nice and clean,
Although your face
Looks like it might have been through a machine."
(Elmer leaps out of his chair and runs for his shotgun, dropped outside; Bugs disappears.
Elmer growls, "Ooh, wait until I get that rabbit," and Bugs appears disguised as a female in a hooded robe and lipstick.
"What would you want with a rabbit?
Can't you see that I'm much sweeter?
I'm your little senoriter,
You are my type of guy --
Let me straighten your tie
(he is actually bending the barrels of Elmer's shotgun
and tying them in a knot)
And I shall dance for you."
Bugs' dance involves snipping with scissors where a more traditional dance might have castanets, and he cuts off the buttons on Elmer's suspenders. Elmer's trousers fall down to reveal flowered boxer shorts. Elmer blushes lobster red, yanks his pants up, and then notes the tail peeking out from Bugs' robe. Firing the knotted shotgun at Bugs causes nothing but a recoil that pushes Elmer back into the barber's chair. (I've seen TV broadcasts where the actual firing of the gun is clipped out and Elmer springs back into the chair for no visible reason.)
Bugs appears again in the barber's coat and silently massages Elmer's head in time with the music. Then he starts producing fruits and vegetables and piling them onto Elmer's head to form a salad. Again, Elmer is furious upon seeing this, and runs with a straight razor after Bugs, who now appears as a snake charmer with a turban and basket containing not an actual snake but an electric razor on a cord which goes after Elmer until "killed" with a blast from the gun.
Bugs flees Elmer by getting into a barber chair and pumping the lever to make it rise far higher than one would think possible, but Elmer follows in another chair, shooting all the way. Bugs cuts the rope holding up a sandbag so that it falls in Elmer's lap, pushing his chair back down (and twirling it around so that Elmer is dizzy past all recognition). He hands Barber Bugs a tip as he manages to stand up, and Bugs pushes him toward a revolving door out of the barber shop, which spins Elmer right back in. Bugs takes the hands of the limp Elmer and dances him back to the barber chair.
This time, Bugs cuts off the toe of Elmer's boot to cut his toenails (and then cover them in red paint), makes Elmer's face grow a beard so that he can cut it off with a miniature lawnmower, and then covers Elmer's entire head with a "beauty clay" which hardens until it has to be cracked with a hammer and chisel. He then massages Elmer's scalp quite thoroughly with "Figaro Fertilizer." (In the sequence where we see a close-up of Bugs's hands massaging Elmer's scalp to the notes of the piano solo, they are deliberately drawn with five fingers rather than the four normal for cartoon characters, and for Bugs in the rest of this cartoon, so they can believably follow the tune.)
When Bugs holds up a mirror for Elmer this time, Elmer briefly appears to be growing hair (the amazed joy on Elmer's face on seeing this is priceless) until, in keeping with the "fertilizer," the tips of the black "hairs" sprout flowers. Elmer passes out with shock for a second and then dashes after Bugs with an axe; Bugs runs offstage to come back with a bigger axe; Elmer comes back with a pistol; Bugs with a rifle; Elmer with a cannon; Bugs with a larger cannon; Elmer with a still larger one. (I've also seen the appearance of the guns and cannons cut out of TV broadcasts.)
Suddenly, Bugs returns not with a weapon but with flowers, candy, and an engagement ring. Elmer dashes off to reappear in a wedding gown and veil. Bugs similarly reappears in a tuxedo. The pair are shown saying vows in front of someone (whose face is not shown) before Bugs carries Elmer up multiple flights of stairs and over a threshhold -- only to drop him there so that Elmer falls (several stories) into a giant wedding cake labeled The Marriage of Figaro. (Elmer lands head-first, and his legs sticking out reveal that he was wearing long pants and boots under the wedding dress.)
Bugs, back in barber's coat, looks at the camera and crunches a carrot as he calmly says, "Next."
Adamson, Joe. Bugs Bunny: Fifty Years and Only One Grey Hare.. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1990.
Beck, Jerry, and Will Friedwald. Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1989.
Beck, Jerry, ed. The 50 Greatest Cartoons as Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals. Atlanta: Turner Publishing, 1994.