What it took months for the ruthless gambler Nasty Canasta to build up, it takes minutes for Bugs Bunny to tear down.
It all begins when Bugs makes that (unstated) "wrong turn at Albuquerque" (on his way to San Francisco) and bumps into what turns out to be a huge gold nugget. As the bunny contains his excitement, a seedy-looking stranger — Nasty Canasta — watches from the distance and decides to steal his gold from him.
It's easier than imagined, as Bugs falls for Nasty's ruse: A simple stand (with blatantly misspelled wording to boot!) and the stranger's claim he is a banker who can safely store the gold. Immediately afterward, Bugs has second thoughts and asks for his gold back, but Nasty reveals his true colors, trapping him in a folded-up stand while he rides away with the gold. Bugs vows revenge: "You realize that this is not going to go unchallenged."
Six months later, Nasty has traveled to San Francisco, where he has opened a lucrative casino ... lucrative for him, as — to build his bank for the casino — he has bankrupted (and then some) everyone who has come to play his clearly rigged games. Bugs, who had spent the past several months plotting revenge, finds Nasty's casino on its opening night and, dressed as a hayseed hick with the persona of a naïve, backwoods country bumpkin decides he wants to play. He first "confuses" a slot machine for a "telle-o-phone," but — under the ruse that he is phoning his mother for money — immediately hits the jackpot much to Canasta's shock.
Nasty spends the rest of the film trying to recoup his losses and one-up Bugs ...:
- First by playing roulette. When Bugs continually wins (by hitting the No. 23 each time) despite Nasty doing everything he can and more to rig the game, Nasty's last resort is to cover No. 23 with a block of wood, then setting the wheel for the ball to land on No. 00, which he does. However, Nasty celebrates too wildly, striking the table so hard to contain his evil laughter that the ball bounces into the knot in the wood block on ... No. 23 (allowing Bugs to double his already massive winnings)!
- Later, by playing draw poker. Bugs unnerves Nasty by playing dumb with him — he literally draws a picture of a fireplace poker, blows up a glove to illustrate "the biggest hand", then threatens to walk after Nasty loses his patience— When they finally get around to playing, Nasty gets a full house. Bugs meekly declares that he only has two pair, which cannot beat a full house ... until he reveals the two pair is actually four of a kind ("All I got is ... a pair of ones, and another pair of ones!" ... all aces.
Nasty, realizing his months of work at literally stealing all the money from the locals was undone in mere minutes, tries to rob Bugs at gunpoint with one more game ... Russian roulette, under the pretense that it is a game of chance. Bugs, remaining in character, naïvely spins the revolver bullet cylinder like a slot machine ... and a mass of coins inexplicably pours out the gun's barrel!
Now with the rabbit's revenge complete, Nasty tries to figure out what went amiss and see if he can get lucky ... but accidentally shoots himself in the face and keels over stunned. Bugs delivers the final line to the audience (in his normal voice): "Da moral of dis story is: 'Don't try to steal no 18 karats [carrots] from no rabbit.'"
Tropes associated with this cartoon
- Artistic License Gun Safety: Nasty Canasta should have known better than to point the barrel of his gun towards him, even if he thought money would come out, but this isn't the Nasty Canasta from the Daffy Duck western parodies who's actually competent with a gun.
- Ash Face: Nasty Canasta after getting shot in the face with his own gun.
- Best Served Cold: It's been roughly six months since Bugs got conned out of his gold. It was well worth the wait.
- Bowdlerise: The final gag of the film — Nasty Canasta pointing the barrel of a revolver at his face, thinking coins would come out but instead accidentally shoots himself — was cut at least three different ways:
- On CBS, the cartoon keeps in Bugs winning the gold from Canasta's gun, but cuts out Canasta doing the same and getting shot, and resumes at the part with Bugs' line, "Da moral of dis story is, don't try to steal no 18 karats from no rabbit!"
- On The Merrie Melodies Show (FOX and syndicated), the part where Nasty Canasta spins the gun chamber and aims the gun at his face is shown, but the gun blast is replaced with a frozen shot of Bugs's face (from the last part of the cartoon).
- For a time on Cartoon Network and its sister channel Boomerang (around the mid-to-late 2000s when the Warner Bros shorts started to air less frequently), the entire ending (which aired uncut initially) was replaced with a repeat shot of Nasty Canasta's upset face after Bugs beats him at poker intercut with Bugs carrying his winnings in a wheelbarrow, making it seem as if Canasta got upset over Bugs taking him for everything he had in the poker game. As of 2011, the original ending has been restored on both Cartoon Network and Boomerang note
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Canasta's casino is called "Nasty Canasta's Casino And Gambling H—L." (logically, it's supposed to be "hall", but it looks like "hell").
- Lame Pun Reaction: While explaining the rules of poker, Nasty Canasta says that the object is to have the "bigger hand" of cards. When he sees Bugs has inflated one of his gloves to literally give himself a "bigger hand", Nasty loses his cool and snaps "Cut it out, can't ya?!"
- Literal-Minded: Bugs as part of his hayseed persona. When asked to play draw poker, he takes a drawing pad and draws a fireplace poker. Then when Nasty Canasta explains the object of poker as "the one with the biggest hand wins", Bugs inflates his glove to get the "biggest hand".
- Magic Poker Equation:Nasty Canasta: [laughing] I got a full house! What you got, sucker?
Bugs: Gee, does that beat me? All I got is two pairs. A pair of ones, and another pair of ones.
- The Mark: Pretty much anyone whose money Nasty Canasta grabs. But when he cons Bugs, that's a different story.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Nasty celebrates his roulette win by laughing and gloating while banging on the table... so hard it pops the marble loose and causes it to land on a number Bugs has bet all his winnings on!
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Bugs pretends to be a country rube to get his revenge on Nasty Canasta, who pegs him as an easy mark.
- Oh, Crap!: When Nasty sees that Bugs has won four aces in the game of poker, he quivers his lips nervously, knowing his newly-opened casino is now on the edge of bankruptcy.
- Russian Roulette: The final game of "chance" between Bugs and Nasty, which of course Bugs wins.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In response to Nasty Canasta's Lame Pun Reaction, Bugs is so offended by Nasty's behavior that he tries to just leave right then and there, frowning heavily as he does. Nasty pleads with him to say, and Bugs is convinced, but only Nasty promises not to react like that again. Nasty complies, and they sit down to a game of poker.
- Spoof Aesop: According to Bugs at the end of the cartoon, "Da moral of dis story is, don't try to steal no 18 karats from no rabbit!"
- This Means War!: After Canasta runs off with his gold, Bugs says "You realize that this is not going to go unchallenged."