March 4, 2024 posted by Devon Baxter

From Story to Screen: “Slick Hare” (1947)

Yes, it’s true – the storyboards for Friz Freleng’s Bugs Bunny/Elmer cartoon Slick Hare exist, courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library Collections, and you’ll get to see them today! Complete storyboards for Schlesinger and Warners cartoons are exceedingly scarce; these boards provide a rare glimpse into the early story development of this Hollywood-flavored classic.

Production no. 1033, titled “Slick Hair” on the storyboards, was presented in a “jam session”—in-studio lingo for a story conference with the creative staff— in approximately February 1946; the previous cartoon in the pipeline, Chuck Jones’ Little Orphan Airedale (#1032) had its story meeting on January 15, 1946. Mike Maltese and Tedd Pierce share the story credit for Slick Hare but do not credit themselves for their work, and what’s more, they misspell Friz Freleng’s name. (Some experts noted that many of the board panels presented herein resemble Maltese’s handiwork.)

When Mel Blanc, Arthur Q. Bryan, and Dave Barry recorded their dialogue tracks on March 2, 1946, the Bugs/Elmer cartoon was titled “The Time, The Chase, and the Rabbit,” a takeoff on the upcoming Warners musical The Time, The Place, and the Girl, starring Jack Carson and Dennis Morgan.

The action in Slick Hare, as shown in the storyboards and finished cartoon, occurs at the Mocrumbo nightclub, a send-up of the Mocambo, located in West Hollywood at Sunset Boulevard. (The Mocambo operated from January 1941 to June 1958.) Notable musical conductor Leopold Stokowski appears, tagged “Leo ‘Zoot’ Stokowski and His Hot Rods [sic] Seven” on the boards but changed to Leopold and His Chifafa Five in the final cartoon. Stokowski’s Chifafa Five is a reference to Joe Ricardel and Redd Evans’s hit song, “The Frim Fram Sauce,” popularized in a recording by the Nat King Cole Trio in October 1945, a few months before production began on Slick Hare. (Its main lyric: “I want the frim fram sauce with the ussin-fay, and chifafa on the side.”)

One key difference between the boards and the finished film is how Elmer first spots Bugs Bunny before he hoodwinks Bugs to accept a dinner invitation with “Mr. Humphrey Bogart.” As storyboarded, Elmer cannot locate a rabbit to fry for Bogart. Suddenly, Fudd gets an idea of a certain rabbit that would be perfectly suitable, explicitly stating to the camera, “You know him—the one with long ears who says: (chews carrot) ‘What’s up Doc?, ‘What’s up, Doc?” Elmer then exits the Mocrumbo kitchen and finds Bugs’s hole underneath the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theater—the rabbit’s handprints are marked in the concrete, “cementing” his status as a Hollywood icon. This plot detail is senseless, and perhaps Freleng, an astute role story editor, agreed. If Elmer could leave the restaurant to retrieve Bugs, he could avoid his predicament with Bogart altogether. So, in a more economical and logical method, Elmer scrambles to find a rabbit in his kitchen and spots Bugs inside a crate munching on a shipment of carrots.

During the samba dance sequence, the storyboards carried the Brazilian flavor of its captivating rhythms by having Bugs dress in frilly attire as if dancing for the annual Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. In another cost-effective move, Bugs dances unclad without a costume in the finished section, wonderfully animated by Gerry Chiniquy. Maltese and Pierce did not draw many panels for Bugs dancing; since it was known Freleng would helm Slick Hare, the two writers trusted Friz’s musical abilities to create its energetic visuals with Chiniquy.

As a bonus, the video below contains three sequences cut from the cartoon, using music and vocal snippets from other Warners cartoons. Enjoy!

(Special thanks to the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in addition to Keith Scott, Michael Barrier, and Jorge Finkelman.)


  • What a pleasure to see the “Slick Hare” storyboard, and so well edited into the cartoon’s soundtrack. You should join Bugs and Miranda in taking a bow!

    Leopold Stokowski is caricatured here very much as he was in “Hollywood Steps Out” several years earlier, hairnet and all.

    It’s true that the movie and music references in “Slick Hare” are very dated now, but then so is the whole milieu of a nightclub with a live orchestra and floor show. While “Hollywood Steps Out” is barely comprehensible today except to a few connoisseurs of old films, “Slick Hare” at least has a plot that any child can follow. At least I had no trouble following it, long before I had ever seen a Humphrey Bogart picture; I just thought the unshaven tough guy with the cigarette was a generic gangster who sounded like Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.

    • I’m glad to know all the pop culture references. When I was a kid, I was particularly baffled by the typewriter bit. Now that I have seen The Lost Weekend, it’s fairly amusing.

  • What a magnificent post! Thanks!

  • Chiniquy’s drawings were not on par with the other animators in Friz’s unit but his animation was terrific. Bugs’ dancing in this film and this badminton scene from a Sylvester and Tweety cartoon was some of his best work. The scene starts at 1:02:

  • “Why did you hit me in the face with a coconut custard pie with whipped cream?”

  • Wow! This is amazing. I always like this cartoon, not only for the portrayal of Humphrey Bogart, but for the sound effects chosen. I always like the sound effect of the pie hitting Bogart offscreen once Bugs throws it and Elmer ducks. Very funny sequence!

  • Hope to see more posts like this in the near future, thanks again.

  • This is HUGE. Thanx, Devon.

  • This is maybe my favorite Bugs/Elmer numbers Freleng did. It’s a perfect in-character moment when the two of them end up on stage – Elmer bolts in alarm, and Bugs can’t resist putting on a routine.

    There’s still a couple of patrons I can’t identify, but my regularly watching Turner Classic Movies I’ll get ’em eventually.

    • I have a soft spot for the high concept Hare Brush, but I agree this is one of Freleng’s better Bugs/Elmer cartoons. It has two BIG laughs: “Nyaaaah WHAT’S COOKIN’ DOC?!” and the pie scene.

  • I believe I saw this film on TV some years ago with a small clip of the real Humphrey Bogart saying “I hope my movie fans don’t hear about this” – just before the “That’s All, Folks” logo. It’s from – I think – the “all star” WWII musical film, THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS. Was this sequence originally in the film prints? I’ve only seen it ONCE and then never again!

    Great work, Devon! Wonderful animation and great direction from Friz Freleng. Hard to believe this is the same guy who was putting out the sad WB cartoons in the later ’60s!

    As I’m an “old fart” now (in my middle ’60s) and have always loved old movies, I “get” most of the jokes, but the “little typewriters” joke eluded me until I finally saw THE LOST WEEKEND with Ray MIlland. I vaugely remember Carmen Miranda from her Chiquita Banana TV ads, but knew – as a youngster – that she was a famous singer. Of course, we kids all knew the “Groucho Marx” reference, as showings of the old Marx Bros. films were a “big thing” then – when I was growing up!

    • The version of Slick Hare with the Bogart clip at the end (after the “Thats All Folks!” end title), was from the Bugs Bunny SuperStar documentary. The filmmaker added that clip… and later, the 35mm prints were kept by collectors and theater projectionists, so many have seen that thinking it was originally part of the cartoon. It wasn’t.

  • Thanks for the clarification, Jerry! I know that version was NOT on one of the LOONEY TUNES boxed sets and I wondered why. My original thought was that the live action footage was actually in the original print and cut becasue kids in the TV era wouldn’t have gotten the joke of the “real” Bogart. Thanks again, for the explanation! (I still like seeing the clip used in that way!)

  • A wonderful post, Devon. Thanks so much.
    The pie sequence shows Friz was a master of timing. It was perfect. And he had the sense to change the scenery so Elmer is more out in the open than in the storyboard.
    Does anyone know how Maltese and Pierce split story duties? Did they both do boards? Did they have an uncredited gagman with them?
    Was Ben Shenkman behind the caricatures here?
    I’ve never seen “The Lost Weekend” but I knew that’s where the gag was from. I had to have read about it in some cartoon or film book.

  • I would guess that the looser, more scribbly drawings are by Maltese, whereas the more solid looking ones are Tedd Pierce’s work, on the basis of the artwork attributed to him in Chuck Reducks.

  • WOW, I MUST be getting OLD! I didn’t get the Gregory Peck joke joke about Hitchcock’s SPELLBOUND until just now! And I love old classic films!

  • The storyboards for another Friz Freleng cartoon, “Bad Ol’ Putty Tat” also exist and were found buried somewhere on the internet before being uploaded to YouTube. It’s interesting seeing ideas that were changed or cut out entirely.

  • I wish there were 100 more Freleng cartoons from the late 40’s-early 50’s! I’m watching this now from the Golden collection and the commentary from Michael Barrier and less than 2 minutes in and he’s referred to chifafa as a long haired chihuahua and Stowkoski’s long hair style, and Ray Milland getting change in cash registers!! (no explanation about the Lost Weekend) what gives??!! ha!

    • “Chifafa” being a long-haired chihuahua was probably just a lucky guess and the reference to cash registers rather than typewriters an understandable mistake, since what’s depicted in the cartoon looks more like a cash register. Barrier does mention The Lost Weekend and adds that it’s a film about alcoholism, but has no time to elaborate on that, because he’s off to comment on the Frank Sinatra gag.

  • “Slick Hare” has always been one of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons, starting from the time I was a toddler and would play act the ‘Your pie sir!’ scene with my dad, years before I knew who “Mistah Bo-gahrt” really was! I’ve even had the privilege of seeing this short on the big screen, at the BFI Southbank Theatre in London, in front of a screening of Tod Browning’s ‘Freaks’ oddly enough!

    Seeing this storyboard is fascinating, and viewing the original planned intro for Bugs at Grauman’s gives his use of the word ‘neighborly’ in reference to Bogart (I’m guessing Bogie already had his handprints at Grauman’s in 1947?) a new context that was lost in the finished film.

    I also note in the Groucho scene Bugs says the ‘Don’t think it hasn’t been a pleasure, ’cause it HASN’T!’ line that would get used to much better effect in Jones’ ‘Hair-Raising Hare’.

    Finally, everyone rightly praises Chiniquy for his dance animation, but his animation wouldn’t have had half as much impact if the music wasn’t there. The WB orchestra really earned their paychecks the day they laid down that samba track!

  • Slick Hare…one of my favorite Bugs toons, gets this treatment…***chefs kiss*** Totally different perspective with the storyboards and the final product.

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