DirectorRobert McKimson Music directorCarl Stalling Duration
CastMel Blanc WriterWarren Foster (story) Release dateAugust 21, 1948 (USA) Similar moviesMerrie Melodies movies, Related Robert McKimson movies
Hot Cross Bunny is a 1948 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies theatrical animated short, starring Bugs Bunny. The title is a play on the nursery rhyme Hot Cross Buns as well as a punny allusion to the basic plot premise.
Bugs is "Experimental Rabbit #46" in the Eureka Hospital Experimental Laboratory, Paul Revere Foundation (which sports the slogan 'Hardly a man is now alive' in punning allusion to Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride"). Bugs lives a pampered life, oblivious to the fact that a scientist plans on switching his brain (or at least his personality, since no surgery is involved) with that of a chicken.
After giving Bugs an examination (including a joke when Bugs reads the microscopic "Allied Trades Consul" disclaimer on an eye chart when told to read the bottom line), the scientist brings him out to the operating theater, in front of an audience of fellow doctors. Bugs thinks he's been brought out to perform. He pulls out all the stops, singing, dancing, scatting (a la Danny Kaye), comedy routines (including his impression of Lionel Barrymore), and magic acts. Upon finishing each act, he looks around to see the unimpressed, stern-faced doctors in exactly the same frame position each time ("What a tough audience! It ain't like St. Joe!"). The scientist attempts to retrieve Bugs, but is pushed away. He strikes Bugs with a hammer while the rabbit is in the middle of a scat routine, but Bugs quickly revives and, having failed as the entertainment, becomes a vendor instead, selling hot dogs to the scientists, only to be hammered again. Learning the scientist's intentions, Bugs runs and a chase ensues.
Bugs hides in a closet, not noticing a skeleton in there, and comes out scared when he does see it. Then, when chased into the laboratory, he makes an ostensibly explosive cocktail and threatens the scientist with it, saying: "One more step and I'll blow ya up! This contains manganese, phosphorus, nitrate, lactic acid, and dextrose!" The scientist dismisses the threat, saying that the ingredients Bugs mentioned are the formula for a chocolate malt. Then he hides near an oxygen tent disguised as a Boy Scout, leading the scientist in the wrong direction.
Finally, Bugs is rendered helpless with laughing gas and placed on the table, with metallic mind-switching caps placed on him and the rather uninterested-looking chicken. At the last minute, he switches the electrodes (though it is revealed at the end that Bugs cut the wire connecting to his electrode instead) and the scientist ends up clucking like a chicken, while the chicken (with the scientist's mind) states in plain English he hopes that the experiment can be reversed. Bugs tells the audience: "Looks like Doc is a victim of fowl play!" and laughs.
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