Chuck Jones (1942)

Case of the Missing Hare is a 1942 Warner Bros. cartoon in the Merrie Melodies series, directed by Chuck Jones and starring Bugs Bunny. The short was released on December 12, 1942.

This is one of the few cartoons where Bugs Bunny does not say his catchphrase, “What’s up, Doc?”, though he does address the magician as “Doc” early in the film. It is also one of few cartoons in the character’s filmography to fall into the public domain, due to the failure of the last copyright holder, United Artists Television, to renew the original copyright within the allotted 28-year period.

Background artists Gene Fleury and John McGrew reduced most of the backgrounds to the film to patterns (stripes, zig-zags, etc.) and colored cards. The result was outlandish but Fleury recalled Leon Schlesinger congratulating them. In the theater setting of the film, these backgrounds could be rationalized to represent stage flats.

Michael S. Shull and David E. Wilt consider it ambiguous if this cartoon contained a World War II–related reference. Bugs Bunny pronounces the phrase “Of course you realize, this means war” in a gruff voice that may have been intended as an imitation of Winston Churchill, though it was also used several times in Duck Soup.