Duh rabbits are coming, hurray hurray! Duh rabbits are coming, hurray hurray! Duh rabbits are coming . . .
Nudity! Cross dressing! Sexual threats! Drug use! “The Big Snooze” is a Bugs Bunny cartoon for the whole family! The title pokes fun at Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep (which Warner Bros. had adapted for film that year) and it’s even got a closing line from Fibber McGee and Molly. Woo hoo!
“The Big Snooze” is the swan song of Bob Clampett, the unheralded maniac who inherited the leadership of the Termite Terrace cartoon unit at Warners Bros. after Tex Avery left in 1941. Under the circumstances, we can assume Clampett’s employment issues influenced the opening, in which Elmer Fudd finally gets fed up with playing the patsy and — how do they put it? — breaks the fourth wall by addressing “Mr. Warner” and tearing up his studio contract.
What happens next reflects Clampett’s love of Salvador Dali and the Surrealists in general. Standing over Elmer Fudd as he naps, Bugs ingests a bottle of sleeping pills, invades the dream and before you kow it Elmer is running around naked except for a derby and a garland, then he gets hooched up in a dress and wig, then he’s menaced by zoot-suited wolves (“Howwwwooooooolld is she?”) and let’s just say the whole thing is pretty Freudian. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but what do you make of a little bald guy struggling to get out of a long tube so he can spray shots at something he wants? Anybody here want to take that one on?
Terrified by the chaos unleashed by his decision to step outside the confines of his assigned role, the wised-up Elmer returns to work playing the guy who never wises up.
After quitting Termite Terrace, Clampett briefly worked for Screen Gems and Republic Pictures before turning to television and winning acclaim (along with some Emmy awards) for the puppet show Time for Beany, Thunderbolt the Wondercolt and Beany and Cecil, an animated version of the puppet show. Many of his colleagues despised Clampett as a credit-hog who tried to obscure the contributions of the other Termite Terrace animators — Clampett tried to claim he cooked up Bugs Bunny on his own after watching It Happened One Night — but his Warner Bros. cartoons are some of the finest the studio ever produced, and his manic sensibility put an end once and for all to any stylistic connections between Warner cartoons and Walt Disney.