For the existence of one of the funniest cartoons ever made, we owe a debt of gratitude to one of the most humorless men in cartoon history.
Edward Selzer was the uncredited producer of late-era Warner Bros. cartoons. Chuck Jones was not wild about the man, especially when Selzer graciously accepted the Academy Award for For Scent-imental Reasons (1948), the first Pepe LePew cartoon, which Selzer adamantly assured Jones would be a bomb.
One day at Termite Terrace, Jones was killing time drawing a caricature of a bull. Selzer walked by, saw Jones doodling, and told Jones that bullfights aren’t funny. (Selzer should have told that to the Fleischer Brothers, who used that very premise for their Popeye cartoon Bulldozing the Bull 14 years earlier.)
Jones quickly decided that if Selzer found bulls unfunny, there must be a gold mine of humor in them.
By that time in his career, Jones had already decided that Bugs Bunny was funnier when he was psychologically motivated, rather than being Groucho Marx-crazy from the get-go. So once the bull gave Bugs a reason to declare, “Of course ya know, this means war!”, then the cartoon was off to the races.
And as Joe Adamson pointed out in his marvelous 1990 book on Bugs Bunny, Bugs suffers nearly as many defeats as the bull in this cartoon. That only makes the cartoon’s finale — achingly beautifully animated (and scored, by the great Carl Stalling) — that much more delicious.
I’ve tried to “embed” the cartoon on this blog but am unable to do so. So I ask that you click on the following link to enjoy this cartoon gem: https://archive.org/details/BullyForBugs