Once upon a time, Elmer Fudd was not a cold-hearted hunter, but rather a mild-mannered wildlife photographer—one of the many forms he would take on during his years as a rising star at Warner Brothers, which featured him in several cartoons:
This is episode four of the original cartoon, titled “Elmer’s Candid Camera,” which aired in 1939. Director Chuck Jones was striving more to emulate Disney than to be wild and fun, which explains the smoother animation, less manic attitude, and broad appeal.
According to a commentary with animation historian Jerry Beck, this cartoon comes from an era of experimentation—the creators weren’t yet sure what Fudd or Bugs Bunny should sound or look like. As you can see, Fudd was originally a dandy photographer:
The plot of “Candid Camera” revolves around Fudd, whose modest goal is to shoot some wildlife. He spots a rabbit, Bugs Bunny.
For literally no reason, Bugs decides to mess with Fudd endlessly, throwing apples at his face and making him miss his shot. It’s a cruel world for ol’ Fudd—at least once he evolved into a hunter, Bugs’s torture was morally justifiable. Here, though, he’s just being a jerk, and it drives Fudd mad.
“This scene here where Elmer’s just going berserk is pretty disturbing. I mean, just look at him. It’s pretty scary. You wouldn’t want to see that character go completely nuts.” –Jerry Beck
Then again, wildlife photographers would appreciate the fragility of Fudd’s mindset here. Nature photography demands patience and a level head—neither of which, it seems, Elmer Fudd would ever have.
If you suffered through this guy’s torture, you’d probably take up hunting, too.
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