SUMMARY: Determined to cancel out his humiliation after their last race, Bugs once again challenges Cecil Turtle.
WHY IT’S HERE:Bob Clampett’s ‘Tortoise Win By a Hare’ is the second in the lesser discussed but underrated Tortoise and Hare series of cartoons. Starring Bugs Bunny and Cecil Turtle (just as a rabbit is the same thing as a hare in cartoon land, so a tortoise is the same thing as a turtle!), the Tortoise and Hare trilogy were each directed by different people: Tex Avery, Bob Clampett and Friz Freleng. An extract from Avery’s classic ‘Tortoise Beats Hare’ opens Clampett’s cartoon as Bugs watches his earlier humiliation by Cecil on a projector. The minute the Avery material switches to the Clampett material it’s clear that we’re in for a more anarchic ride second time round. The animation as the furious Bugs vents his exasperation is significantly more wacky and is absolutely compelling as a result. Clampett is on top form here, keeping up the crazed pacing throughout and throwing in tons of wonderful detail (my favourite moment is when a disguised Bugs allows the audience the briefest of glances under his disguise as if it were too brilliant for us morons to see through). The more dangerous edge often evident in Clampett’s cartoons is in evidence here as a subplot involving the mafia is unveiled, leading to a series of violent encounters for Bugs and a climactic quadruple suicide.
Clampett’s take on Bugs was always more aggressive and in ‘Tortoise Win By a Hare’, with frustration thrown into the mix of character traits, Bugs is positively psychotic! Many cartoon fans have rejected the Tortoise and Hare series simply because they cannot accept Bugs as the loser but I always find it refreshing when Bugs is out-heckled once in a while and it’s a joy to see Clampett milk all the painful laughs he can out of Bugs’ frustration and anger. With its insane script, ‘Tortoise Win By a Hare’ is a cartoon that only Clampett could have pulled off and in his hands this risk-taking, anarchic piece becomes a lesser-praised classic of true inspired lunacy.