Reviewing Looney Tunes: Bully for Bugs (1953)


Released August 8th, 1953

Directed by: Chuck Jones

Half of the reason I love Bully for Bugs so much is the crazy story behind how it got made in the first place. According to the late, great Chuck Jones, the idea came to him when producer Eddie Selzer, out of the blue, came to his work area and proclaimed “cartoons about bullfighting are NOT funny, so don’t make any!” Upon Selzer leaving to go back to his office, a bewildered Jones turned to his fellow animator and wondered aloud “WOULD a bullfighting cartoon be funny?” The funny thing is, according to Jones, since Selzer proved to be wrong on just about anything involving cartoons, they figured a bullfighting cartoon would actually be hilarious. So, to get some research done (as nobody in the department had ever seen a bullfight in person), Jones flew down to Mexico City to watch a bullfight for himself.

Bully for Bugs (27).jpg

Up until the fight started, Jones had the idea that the matador would be the villain of the story, while the bull would be the sympathetic character. This notion flew straight out the window when Jones saw a massive bull come charging into the arena to face off against this itty bitty matador who was maybe 100 lbs soaking wet. From that moment, Jones knew exactly how the story needed to play out. (The story comes from Jones’ autobiography Chuck Amuck and commentary for Bully for Bugs found in the Looney Tunes Golden Collection).


This cartoon is another example of Bugs taking a wrong turn at Albuquerque and winding up in the middle of a bullfighting ring instead of the Coachella Valley Carrot Festival. In the ring, a hapless matador is being chased around by a huge bull (much to the displeasure of the crowd. And speaking of the crowd, that’s a real bullfighting crowd you’re hearing in the cartoon, they recorded some audio in Barcelona, Spain and looped it into the final product). Being oblivious to the fact that he’s way off target, Bugs ends up on the wrong side of the bull, who promptly knocks him clean out of the arena (inspiring Bugs to proclaim “Of course you realize THIS means war!”) The enraged rabbit returns as a matador to give the bull his comeuppance as only Bugs can deliver it. For a while it’s an even back and forth between the two (and one of Bugs’ tricks actually backfires on him in spectacular fashion). Finally, just when Bugs seems cornered, he gets the upper hand and eliminates the bull once and for all by building an elaborate trap that sets the bull up to encounter some TNT.

Bully for Bugs is another classic Chuck Jones cartoon that never gets old no matter how many times you watch it. Let me know what you think about this cartoon in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Reviewing Looney Tunes

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