Hyde and Hare – animated short, USA, 1955

Hyde and Hare is a 1955 American Warner Bros Looney Tunes Bugs Bunny cartoon, directed by Friz Freleng [as I. Freleng] from a story by Warren Foster. The scenario was inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886).

The cartoon pits Bugs against Dr. Jekyll, who continues to turn into Mr. Hyde. The title is a play on the expression “neither hide nor hair.”

Bugs comes out of his rabbit hole in a city park every morning because a kind gentleman keeps coming to feed him a carrot (“Well, here I go again with the ‘timid little rabbit’ routine. It’s shameful, but – eh, it’s a living!”). At first feigning the on-all-fours posture of a real rabbit, Bugs eventually stands up and confides that he’d rather simply go home with the gentleman as a “pet”, since it would be easier on both of them.

As the gentleman brings Bugs home, he remarks that it is strange that Bugs calls him “Doc” because, “I happen to be a doctor.” The camera then pans up to show that the name above the apartment is none other than Dr. Jekyll.

Inside the house, Bugs gets used to his new surroundings. Going into a room with a door marked “laboratory” in search of a carrot for Bugs, Dr. Jekyll comes across a fizzing, red potion that he knows he shouldn’t drink, but he gives in and drinks the potion anyway (“Oh, I’m so ashamed!!”). He then transforms into Mr. Hyde, with a monstrous green face and glowing red eyes.

Bugs quickly realizes that this cackling, knuckle-dragging, axe-swinging monster is not something to be heckled. He runs away from the monster, but soon the monster reverts to Dr. Jekyll. Bugs, thinking that the monster is still after both of them, tries leading the doctor into various rooms and closets, with the eventual re-transformation of the doctor into Mr. Hyde.

This continues until Dr. Jekyll decides that he’s going to pour the rest of the formula down the drain. He goes into his laboratory, but finds only the empty beaker. The doctor asks Bugs if he drank the potion; Bugs becomes insulted at the idea and leaves (“I am going back to the park! There is no question of my integrity there…”).

Walking back to his park, Bugs transforms into a monstrous green rabbit, confirming Jekyll’s suspicion that Bugs did drink the potion. The people at the park who are busy feeding the pigeons see the transformed Bugs and run away screaming. Bugs (who, unlike Dr. Jekyll, retained his usual personality and is unaware of the change in his appearance) wonders aloud, “Now what’s eating them? Hmph! You’d think they never saw a rabbit before!”

Buy: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Running time: 7 minutes

Trivia:

Players can choose to be Hyde Bugs in the Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal video game.

Wikipedia | IMDb

Related: Gossamer (cartoon character) | Transylvania 6-5000 (1963 cartoon)

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