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Western Animation / Elmer's Candid Camera

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"Perhaps the kindest thing to say about Elmer's Candid Camera is that it taught everyone what not to do and how not to do it."
Charles M. Jones' thoughts on the film, in "Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist".

"Elmer's Candid Camera" is a 1940 Merrie Melodies short, directed by Charles M. Jones. It is the official debut of Elmer Fudd note  and features an early prototype of Bugs Bunny (retroactively named Happy Rabbit).

The plot is centered on Elmer Fudd as he goes out to photograph wildlife with the eponymous camera. During his travels, he encounters a pudgy gray rabbit, who, for no discernable reason, decides to pester Elmer.

As the opening quote states, the short was a total flop, and became regarded as an embarrassment by Chuck Jones. Tex Avery soon after did a remake of the cartoon, improving on its perceived flaws, called A Wild Hare.

"Elmer's Candid Camera" provides examples of:

  • Break the Cutie: Elmer snaps, throws a fit, breaks the candid camera and ends up drowning himself.

  • Digital Destruction: The print used in Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 1 has several bits of DVNR damage, mostly blatantly when the rabbit is walking away from Elmer at one point, where parts of his body disappear! This was rectified for the shorts release on the Platinum Collection DVD and Blu-Ray.
  • The Ditz: Elmer is stupid enough to believe that the rabbit would choke to death just by being trapped in a butterfly net.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: Elmer is depicted in the exact same outfit that his prototype Egghead would usually wear.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The rabbit's design and personality wasn't quite refined into Bugs, although Elmer was more or less fully realized from the start.
  • Faking the Dead: The rabbit pulls this on Elmer, which in turn causes Elmer...
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: have a particularly frightening nervous breakdown.
  • Inescapable Net: The rabbit pretends to suffocate after Elmer captures him in a net.
  • Jerkass: The closest thing that can be given to why the rabbit would pester Elmer.
  • Kick the Dog: The ending, where the rabbit saves Elmer from drowning, only to sadistically kick Elmer right back into the pond without a second thought.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: This was perhaps the one short where it made the most sense for Elmer to react this way after supposedly "killing" the rabbit. All he wanted in this short was to take a picture of the rabbit, poor guy.
  • Remake: A Wild Hare reuses the plot of this short.
  • Screwball Squirrel: The rabbit, although he is much more reserved than he was in his previous three appearances.
  • Self-Deprecation: Jones' unflattering commentary on the short in his biography includes poking fun at how incompetent he was at directing during the time.