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Western Animation / Rhapsody Rabbit

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"Rhapsody Rabbit" is a 1946 Bugs Bunny cartoon, released in the Merrie Melodies series and directed by Friz Freleng.

The plot is simple. Bugs is a concert pianist performing "Hungarian Rhapsody #2" by Franz Liszt. While playing, he begins to be bothered by a mouse that is living inside his piano. The mouse interrupts Bugs's recital repeatedly, sometimes jumping out from a hole to play a note that doesn't fit, sometimes playing an entirely different piece. Bugs tries to get rid of the mouse, at one point shoving a stick of dynamite into the piano, but the mouse always escapes. In the climax, Bugs flips the pages of his music only to find a tangled morass of notes all over the page. After a brief silent prayer, Bugs sits down to play—only to hear the mouse over on stage right, pounding out the frantic ending of the rhapsody on a toy piano that sounds real. Bugs plays the last three notes of the rhapsody, and the cartoon ends.

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This cartoon just happens to strongly resemble a Tom and Jerry cartoon called "The Cat Concerto" that was released at around the same time. "The Cat Concerto" features Tom and Jerry playing the roles of the pianist and the mouse, the same piece of Franz Liszt music is used, some of the same gags are used, and the cartoons visually resemble each other. MGM and Warner Brothers accused each other of plagiarism. To this day it is not known who ripped off who, or if the appearance of the two cartoons was a coincidence, though Freleng himself insisted that the latter was the case. This was because Technicolor, who was already swamped with work, accidentally sent finished footage of "Rhapsody Rabbit" to MGM. When they saw that Warners was making a similar cartoon, they rushed "Cat Concerto" to its completion and put it up for Oscar consideration.

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Tropes:

  • Alliterative Title: "Rhapsody Rabbit"
  • Curse Cut Short: After the mouse beats him into playing the finale, Bugs angrily plays the last few notes and appears to mouth "son of a bitch!".
  • Disproportionate Retribution: An audience member bothers Bugs by coughing and clearing his throat repeatedly. So Bugs pulls out a gun and shoots him.
  • Expy: The mouse is basically Jerry.
  • Knuckle Cracking: Done for a gag as Bugs sits down to play his difficult piece.
  • Mickey Mousing: Used throughout the cartoon, like when the mouse is running down the keys of the piano, playing the rhapsody as he goes.
  • No-Dialogue Episode: Bugs Bunny cartoons usually had plenty of talking and wisecracks, but this one is mostly silent. The mouse never talks, and Bugs only has three lines:
    "Fi-ga-ro! Fi-ga-ro!"
    "Look, one hand! No hands!"
  • Oddball in the Series: One of only a few Bugs Bunny cartoons in which Bugs was the butt of the joke.
  • Offing the Annoyance: Bugs shoots the audience member who won't stop coughing.
  • Piano Key Wave: Has quite a few of these, including the piano keyboard acting like a typewriter carriage and, at one point, Bugs literally picking up the keys and letting them fall back down.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: A Liszt piece.
  • The Show Must Go Wrong: The mouse continually interrupts and upstages Bugs, eventually playing the finale in Bugs's place.
  • Wolf Whistle: Bugs flips his book of sheet music and stops on a pin-up girl. A wolf whistle emits from the audience, and Bugs embarassingly flips the book further.
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