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Little Red Riding Rabbit

In the middle of Winter, we could all use a laugh.

Click on the image above to view Little Red Riding Rabbit, a 1944 Bugs Bunny / Warner Bros. cartoon, which riffs on the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood in an engaging manner, especially in its depiction of Red herself, who is presented as a teenage “bobby boxerwith, as Wikipedia notes, “an extremely loud and grating voice.”

In this version of the story, Red is bringing a basket containing Bugs Bunny to her grandmother’s house. Naturally, a wolf is tailing Red, and hotfoots it to Grandma’s house, using a shortcut. Grandma is conveniently out of the house, working the night shift at a defense plant, so the wolf jumps into her bed in disguise. When Red arrives and delivers the basket, the wolf unceremoniously kicks Red out the door, and tries to catch Bugs, but the rabbit continually eludes the wolf for the rest of the cartoon.

But Red refuses to give up on her role in the cartoon, and repeatedly barges back into the house to declaim, in somewhat dimwitted fashion, her dialogue from the original story,  screeching “Uh, HEY GRANDMA! WHAT BIG TEETH YA GOT!” and “Uh, HEY GRANDMA! THAT’S AN AWFULLY BIG NOSE FOR YOU — TO HAVE!,” as both Bugs and the Wolf grow more and more annoyed. I’ll leave it to you to enjoy the surprise ending of the cartoon, just one of the many classic Merrie Melodies churned out by Warner Bros. during the height of the studio era.

Red is voiced by Bea Benaderet, by the way; the wolf by the gruff-voiced Billy Bletcher, while Bugs is handled by the multi-talented Mel Blanc, who gets a voice credit here for the first time in the series. Isadore “Friz” Freleng directed from a script by Michael Maltese; animation was handled by Manuel Perez, Gerry Chiniquy, Virgil Ross and Richard Bickenbach. They don’t make them like this anymore; pop culture with a distinct World War II flavor. Enjoy.

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About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of numerous books and more than 70 articles on film and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him at 402.472.6064 or wdixon1@unl.edu.

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