Friends, the other day while working at the arcade I was killing some time watching commercial mixes on YouTube – collections from the early ’80s or in one case a particular station’s Xmas compilation. On one of those compilations I came across a commercial for 1979’s The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie – except that this ad called it The Great American Chase. I remember seeing The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie in theaters back when it was originally released – my Grandmother took me to a local theater that had seen far better days. As in this theater started out as an actual theatre – live performances and musical events were in it’s heyday held on the stage that still existed in front of the theater screen. There were even balconies that patrons of the arts and moviegoers enjoyed back in the day… now blocked off as they had become unsafe. It might not surprise you to learn that shorty after seeing this 1979 animated collection of Looney Tunes shorts that this grand old theater was condemned.
Now it was definitely at some point of it’s release called The Great American Chase – no doubt about that. Online I have found some original posters with that title as well – although when I caught it at that theater in my early youth, Warner Bros. had already changed it to The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie. Some of the comments for this TV spot say that it was bombing at the box office and that was what forced the change – but beyond that I’ve not found anything – not even on Jerry Beck’s esteemed Cartoon Research site. In trying to find something concrete here I feel a little like Daffy Duck in 1951’s animated theatrical short Rabbit Fire!
I guess the greatest mystery to all of this is why the film would be called The Great American Chase in the first place? If it was solely Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote shorts I guess I could understand how they came up with that name… but the truth is the film consists of bits and pieces of shorts featuring not just those two characters but Daffy Duck, Pepe le Pew, Marvin the Martian, Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and Elmer Fudd to name a few.
No matter what it might be called, the compilation film was Produced, Directed, and Co-Written by the legendary Chuck Jones. His Co-Writer for the film was Michael Maltese who has a staggering amount of writing credits for animated shorts and TV series to his name – 298 to be precise. Fun fact, the Looney Tunes Wiki says that the ending credits for the VHS release – the version from the ’80s – still read as The Great American Chase. This appears to have been altered for the 1997 VHS re-release as well as the DVD and collections issued since then.
If any of you happen to know the answer to this mystery I would love to read about it in the comments!