Released: February 14th, 1953
Directed by: Chuck Jones (credited as Charles M. Jones)
Bugs Bunny has been put in some interesting situations over the years: he’s encountered Martians, evaded hunters and even been made a Super-Rabbit. But would you believe he was also drafted into the Army? It really happened in Forward March Hare, a cartoon released during the final months of the Korean War. Due to a comedy of errors (mistaking a draft letter sent to “B. Bonny” as being for him), Bugs is summarily inducted into the United States Army and proceeds to (unwittingly) wreak havoc, much to the chagrin of his drill sergeant.
This is the army?
One of the most hysterical gags in this cartoon is that almost no one seems to realize that Bugs is a rabbit (the one soldier who does at the beginning merely looks at the camera and mutters “So they’re inducting rabbits.”) Another running gag is the drill sergeant slowly but surely getting demoted for each mess Bugs makes (he’s a buck private by the end of the cartoon, the realization that Bugs is a rabbit finally pushes him over the edge). Another favorite moment is when Bugs is shocked awake by the blaring of “Reveille” and vows to “moider that bugler,” running to silence the music with a baseball bat. For some reason, every time I watch that moment I imagine a theater full of soldiers bursting into laughter and cheers (having secretly wished to do the deed themselves).
Upon being discovered and informed that rabbits cannot serve in the military, Bugs is given a new job: testing artillery shells to see if they’re duds. He happily informs the audience “In 30 years I can retire!” but the joke is that, given his job, he likely won’t make it that long.
Forward March Hare is a wonderful example of Warner Bros. animation in its prime (before the quality dropped in the 1960s). They certainly don’t make cartoons like this anymore. Let me know what you think about Forward March Hare in the comments below and have a great day!
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