Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies hit Florida 1948-1955

bugsbunnyOne of my more out-of-the-box interests is in the “golden age” of American animation which lasted from the late 1920’s until the late 1960’s. Of particular focus for me in this hobby is a borderline obsession with Warner Brothers Cartoons of the period. I’m working on a list of my favorite 50 Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons over the next few months. A disclaimer – I understand many today see these cartoons as excessively violent and dripping with racial undertones. I don’t disagree – they were never meant for kids, in fact they were released in Movie Theaters for adult audiences not to watch on Saturday mornings. I’m actually one of the few liberals left that I know today (this wasn’t case 20 years ago when most on the left agreed on this issue- why the change? I really cannot understand it) who believe violent video games and movies contribute to crimes and have advocated ideas restricting access to these video games/films/TV shows that might irk Hollywood but would I believe make our families safer.

As far as the racism, they reflect prevailing American attitudes at the time and I’ve learned a lot about the culture both agrarian and urban at the time from watching them – it’s helped me understand the racism that Irish-Americans and African-Americans among others faced as well as some of the other prevailing winds of American culture. The again, I am a person that watched Birth of a Nation twice so I could fully comprehend the racism of the Dunning School of Reconstruction and the revisionist history that led to the rise of Ku Klux Klan in the 1910’s. I seek to understand our racial history so I can find signs of it again, not simply avoid it and thus not really understand it.

The Florida of this era was largely irrelevant in American consciousness with the exception of Miami/Miami Beach which does make appearances in several shorts. As we discussed this weekend, Florida’s growth beyond the Miami area and a splattering of towns and cities around the rest of the state really began in earnest during the mid to late 1950’s. Below I am chronicling the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons from the period of 1948 to 1955 which include Florida in some fashion.

Bugs Bunny Rides Again

Year: 1948

Director: Friz Freling

Bugs Bunny fights Yosemite Sam to board a train known as the “Miami Special” and then after winning the tussle, departs saying ” “So long, Sammy! See ya in Miami!”

Rebel Rabbit

Year: 1949

Director: Bob McKimson

The famous scene where Bugs Bunny cuts Florida loose and screams “South America take her away.”

Frigid Hare

Year: 1949

Director: Chuck Jones

Bugs Bunny arrives at the South Pole thinking he has reached Miami Beach burrowing underground. As he’s about to leave for Miami he is forced to save a Penguin from a hunter. Bugs exclaims “Oh, always something. I’ll never get to Miami!”

Thumb Fun 

Year: 1952

Director: Bob McKimson

Daffy Duck chooses not to fly south for the winter and instead hitchhike. He lucks out in that Porky Pig is driving south with the letters “Miami or Bust” on his windshield. In the days before the interstate system, driving on slow two-lane US highways. Daffy is overly aggressive in this short to say the least. Without spoiling the fun, I can reveal he never makes it to Miami.

Sahara Hare

Year: 1955

Director: Friz Freling

Similar to Frigid Hare, Bugs arrives in the Sahara desert underground thinking he’s reached Miami Beach. He pops out and tries to find the Atlantic. He sees a small pond and scoffs at it “so this is the big pond,” but still tries to take a dip in it. Sam then finds him and antagonizes him. After Bugs “wins” as he always does in these cartoons, Daffy Duck shows up at the end and similarly thinks he’s in Miami Beach. Bugs tries to stop him but ends the short saying ” oh let him find out for himself.”

 

4 comments

  1. patrianakos · · Reply

    I too love Looney Tunes; I’m looking forward to your favorites list. But on your aside about crime: There’s an awful lot less crime today than there was around 1990, and I haven’t noticed less violent entertainment. If B drops while A remains constant, maybe A doesn’t help cause B.

  2. hancockross · · Reply

    With your interest in Florida history, did you know that the Fleischer brothers, who made the Betty Boop, Popeye and Superman cartoons in the 1930s, moved their studio to Miami in 1938 and made lots of great animated films here?

    1. YES I DID! Another great piece of Florida lore…

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