''What's Opera, Doc?'': 8 facts you may not have known!

This is one of the best cartoons of all time.

Image: LOONEY TUNES and all related characters and elements are ™ of & © WBEI

Hey Mack, how 'bout something a little... high brow for a change? 

With What's Opera, Doc? director Chuck Jones brought Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd into the rich history of Western classical music, elevating the characters and the comedy in the process.

It's widely regarded as one of the best cartoons of all time, so let's take a closer look at What's Opera, Doc? with these 8 interesting facts that might be new to you! Be sure to let us know in the comments section whether this is your favorite Bugs short.

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1. National Film Registry

 

Image: LOONEY TUNES and all related characters and elements are ™ of & © WBEI

This is the first ever Merrie Melodies short to be inducted into the National Film Registry. The short was chosen for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." We say it's all three!

2. Fantasia

 

Image: LOONEY TUNES and all related characters and elements are ™ of & © WBEI

The opening sequence of this cartoon, with Elmer's giant shadow cast upon a rockface, is a reference to/parody of Disney's Fantasia. Specifically, the scene recalls that movie's "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence.

3. Curtains for Elmer

 

Image: LOONEY TUNES and all related characters and elements are ™ of & © WBEI

Despite using the character prominently in this short, Chuck Jones never directed another Elmer Fudd cartoon again!

4. Pressed for Time

 

Image: LOONEY TUNES and all related characters and elements are ™ of & © WBEI

Typically, Warner Bros. allotted five weeks for the completion of each Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies short. However, Chuck Jones knew that this cartoon's quality demanded more time, so he cut production short on the Road Runner short "Zoom and Bored." They wrapped that toon in three weeks, allowing for an additional two tacked onto the schedule for "What's Opera, Doc?"

5. Extreme Edits

 

Image: LOONEY TUNES and all related characters and elements are ™ of & © WBEI

There are 104 cuts in this movie. According to Chuck Jones, this number is unusually high for a short, due to the cinematic nature of "What's Opera, Doc?"

6. Real Ballet

 

Image: LOONEY TUNES and all related characters and elements are ™ of & © WBEI

For the ballet sequences, the animators studied Tatiana Riabouchinska and David Lichine. Both dancers also served as reference models for Disney's Fantasia.

7. Bugs is Beaten

 

Image: LOONEY TUNES and all related characters and elements are ™ of & © WBEI

This is one of only three cartoons where Elmer Fudd is "victorious" over Bugs Bunny by the end. However, this is the only one where Elmer regrets his win over the wascally wabbit.

8. What a Drag!

 

Image: LOONEY TUNES and all related characters and elements are ™ of & © WBEI

Does something seem... familiar to you? Bugs Bunny loves playing dress up, but this isn't even the first time he has donned a Valkyrie costume. That came five years earlier in 1945's "Herr Meets Hare."

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22 Comments

TippiH 4 months ago
My absolute favorite Bugs Bunny cartoon!
Ckausen 5 months ago
This is very interesting. There are a couple of incorrect items here. First, the cartoons took between 6 to 7 months to create. It is true that they took more time on this film and surrounded it with Road Runner Coyote films to allow more time and took about 5 months on those.

and your reference in the last item suggests this film is 1950 and it is 1957.

But I do appreciate the great information
CharlesRocksClone 5 months ago
Now if we could only see "Herr Meets Hare" on METV.
Drew a total blank onHMH, so Google-time. Pics and synopsis jogged my memory, leaving my BB-loving heart and soul intact. Here's one interesting link
https://looneytunes.fandom.com/wiki/Herr_Meets_Hare
justjeff 5 months ago
I have loved this cartoon for quite a while... but I never quite understood why Chuck Jones changed his drawing style in the 1950s... It seems that he gave most of his characters extremely long eyelashes - which tended to make them look more effeminate, whether intentional or not. No subliminal or hateful messages here - just curious...

frances3agape justjeff 5 months ago
Hmmm. Never noticed, Jeff. I bow to your keen observation
justjeff frances3agape 5 months ago
The stark difference hit me years ago... and compared to Chuck Jones' early WB cartoons, I kept asking myself "Why???"...
justjeff 5 months ago
This comment has been removed.
justjeff daDoctah 5 months ago
Insert your own joke here:_________________________
cilardi61NY 5 months ago
#8 - This cartoon was released in 1957; that would be 12 years after "Herr Meets Herr". However, both were written by Mike Maltese (who was born on Feb. 6, which was yesterday as I write this), so he may have decided to reuse the gag here-for superior effect. Finally, Maltese is credited for writing the lyrics to "Return My Love"
frances3agape cilardi61NY 5 months ago
Oh, how I LOVE "Return My Love" !
Hubby has been rolling his eyes for over 40 years at my humming and singing. But, hey, it cranks up romantic feelings and it IS Valentine month

Jeremy 5 months ago
#7: "What have I done? I killed the rabbit! Poor little bunny! Poor little rabbit!"
frances3agape Jeremy 5 months ago
Sometimes I STILL get teary-eyed watching
Runeshaper 5 months ago
I need to watch this if I see it on TV!
frances3agape Runeshaper 5 months ago
Oh, your life isn't complete until you've seen "What's Opera, Doc?" !
There's probably a copy on YouTube
cperrynaples 5 months ago
"Well, what do you expect from an opera, a happy ending?"...LOL!
I owe Looney Tunes the utmost gratitude for introducing me to Classical Music
DocForbin 5 months ago
All right, who here likes to sing along to the "Kill the Wabbit!" part of the cartoon? I do!
justjeff WordsmithWorks 5 months ago
Me as well, Doc!
Amalthea DocForbin 5 months ago
Who doesn't? LOL
frances3agape DocForbin 5 months ago
Elmer/Siegfried's "YO HO HO! YO HO HO! YO HO..." adds extra dimension
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