Director Chuck Jones had one regret about his iconic cartoon 'What's Opera, Doc?'

A missing sound effect "bugged" the creator to the end.

Warner Bros.

Read to Me

Chuck Jones, one of the great animation directors of all time, brought inventive ideas and museum-worthy artistry to some of the wackiest adventures that Bugs, Daffy, and co. ever had. The short What’s Opera, Doc? is arguably his greatest achievement, though it's hard to choose just one out of his incredible body of work.

For What’s Opera, Doc?, Jones chose to parody the grandiose drama of the opera, specifically Richard Wagner's Die Walküre from his famous "Ring Cycle," Der Ring des Nibelungen. The setting is a perfect juxtaposition for the silliness of Elmer Fudd hunting Bugs Bunny. It also provides a rare sad conclusion to a Looney Tunes short, although Bugs cuts the tension with his characteristic wit at the end.

Right from the start, the short differentiates itself from typical Bugs vs. Elmer stories with striking imagery punctuated by booming orchestral music. There are plenty of gags and hilarious moments, but it's also a serious work of art that marries drawing, music, and Mel Blanc's performance, including his singing chops, into one amazing cartoon. Don't just take our word for it, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the Nation Film Registry.

It took a lot of work to make What's Opera, Doc? as good as it is. In fact, took it about six times more labor than usual. Chuck Jones told his production team to report that they had moved on to a Road Runner short, so none of the brass would catch on. The attention to detail was worth it to create such a flawless cartoon. Well, almost flawless, in Jones' mind.

Stephen Fossati, who started his animation career working with Jones in the 1990s, told The Dot and Line that the legendary director had one regret about his operatic short.

"It's, like, at least probably a dozen, two dozen times that I had the privilege of watching that cartoon with Chuck," Fossati recalled. "Every time, we'd get to the point where Elmer Fudd is jabbing the spear into the rabbit hole, and Bugs Bunny pops up and freezes, and Elmer Fudd freezes looking at Bugs Bunny, and the plates of his skirt fumble around. It's one of the things that bothered Chuck to the very end."

Warner Bros.

Fossati revealed that there were supposed to be sounds associated with the skirt tips falling one by one onto Elmer Fudd's armor — a quick dink, dink, dink, dink. Unfortunately, the sound editor forgot to put them in and it still bothered Chuck Jones decades later.

Fossati learned that his mentor's greatness didn't come from talent alone but also the willingness to try over and over again to make things as perfect as possible.

"I realized that here was a guy who not only was arguably one of the greatest drafts people ever in the history of animation, had single-handedly helped to define a style of animation that didn’t exist before him, had created these characters, had made some of the greatest cartoons ever, and yet he was still working to get precisely the exact attitude, pose, and silhouette that he was looking for," Fossati said.

But Chuck Jones was able to see What’s Opera, Doc? the way he intended in special situations.

According to Fossati, "George Doherty — who did Bugs Bunny on Broadway where he plays with a live orchestra — he plays the music to the cartoons on the big screen behind it. He very happily gave Chuck the gift in all of the performances. He did actually put in the Dink, dink, dink, dink, dink, dink, dink, just so that Chuck could always have that."

Watch Bugs Bunny and Friends on MeTV!

One Full Hour

Saturdays at 9 AM

*available in most MeTV markets
 
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

15 Comments

Post a comment
stephaniestavr5 17 days ago
I found what I think is a "doppelganger" for Toony the Tuna. I turned on You Tube, and on the first row, {last channel,} was a still for a commercial for Wilkins Coffee. The shot was of its puppet mascot. When I saw this, it instantly reminded me of TTT. If Toony were bald he would look a bit more like the Wilkins puppet. If any of you are so inclined, would appreciate it if you would visit YT and check out the Wilkins Coffee commercial. To let me know if I've lost it, or not. Even if there are those of you who think I have, I still thing there is a resemblance.
You mean this? 🙂 it’s probably Toony’s grandfather 😆
That's the one. I thought I was having a "Senior Moment!" Glad someone agrees with me!
no, not a “Senior moment” 😆 it does pay quite a resemblance to Toony 😄
texasluva 22 days ago
These cartoons were made in such imagination, wit and just plain fun to watch. I know, we can't have this and we can't have that but we already did Doc
texasluva I know you to be someone whom I can count on to not call me crazy. {You're crazy!" (insert rimshot!)} But I would like for you to do something for me.
I turned on You Tube, and on one of the channels was a still shot of a commercial for Wilkins Coffee. It was of their puppet mascot. The instant I saw this, I thought that I had found the "doppelganger" for Toony The Tuna. If Toony were bald, I think he would even look a bit more like the WC {that's stands for, obviously Wilkins Coffee, not Water Closet!} mascot. Let me know what you think. Thanks!
I will check this out today. I have never tried or heard of Wilkins Coffee. I do order some on-line I like.
Thanks! I knew I came to the right man for the job! {You are of the male persuasion, correct? I hope I have not offended you if you're not. But how was I to know?!?!}
Look at all my pics during my reign. Young boy, boy, young teen, teen and 20's. I hope to shout I am male. No offense whatsoever.
Well the first one were Muppets with one trying to get a correct answer and if not punish the other for not saying Wilkins Coffee. I guess if you pictured Tony The Tuna it could be. I guess if you don't agree with Wilkins coffee you do not get to pass GO and obliterated in all kinds of ways. Too funny. Those characters also do other coffees. Boy they sure hammer it down . Maybe I get off the next town- Next town....Bam! straight down. Never seen these characters. Though a billion+ things in the world you can't know everything but learn something new most days. Maybe Tony got old and went bald . Interesting never the less.
In 1958, 25,000 pairs of vinyl Wilkins and Wontkins puppets were sold. By 1992, Wilkins Coffee was no longer the presence it once was. (It seems to be defunct today.)
Go to. https://instantrimshot.com/
Turn on sound and then click red button. Well, you asked for it
justjeff 22 days ago
...sounds like a "dinky" rather than a massive problem... but a great cartoon short nonetheless...
jaelinsmith40652 22 days ago
It's still a very nice episode like I saw it on the looney tunes show (2011-2014)
LittleMissNoName 22 days ago
Who says cartoons can't be educationally stimulating?
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?