Combustible Celluloid
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With: Robert Clampett, Orson Welles (narrator), Tex Avery, Friz Freleng, Mel Blanc
Written by: Larry Jackson
Directed by: Larry Jackson
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 90
Date: 12/19/1975

Bugs Bunny Superstar (1975)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Welcome Back, Doc!

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In the early 1970s, Bugs Bunny and Looney Tunes cartoons were regularly on television, and no one gave any further thought to showing them in theaters or preserving the original prints. A filmmaker named Larry Jackson had the idea of showing a theatrical retrospective of cartoons and set out doing the detective work of finding prints and figuring out which companies got paid.

By the time he was finished, he had Bugs Bunny Superstar, a collection of nine cartoons that would run the same length as a feature movie. To break up the flow and to fill things out a bit, Jackson tracked down Warner animator Bob Clampett and filmed him talking about behind-the-scenes and historical stuff. Clampett also had a collection of home movies that Jackson nicely employs between cartoons. To top things off, Jackson had been working with Orson Welles and enlisted the legendary director to narrate.

Looney Tunes fans will notice the overall absence of Chuck Jones from this film. Animators Friz Freleng and Tex Avery and voice actor Mel Blanc are not interviewed on camera, but the film devotes at least a few minutes to them and their achievements. Jones is only mentioned in passing. According to rumor, Jones and Clampett hated one another, which provides one possible explanation for this. Nevertheless, Jones' great Hair-Raising Hare is here.

The success of Bugs Bunny Superstar led to more Looney Tunes feature films and renewed interest in the cartoons on an artistic level. Warner Archive has released an official DVD, with very nice quality. It comes with an interesting commentary track by Jackson, and an image gallery. The nine cartoons contained in the film are: What's Cookin' Doc? (1944), A Wild Hare (1940), A Corny Concerto (1943), I Taw a Putty Tat (1948), Rhapsody Rabbit (1946), Walky Talky Hawky (1946), My Favorite Duck (1942), Hair-Raising Hare (1946), and The Old Grey Hare (1944).

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