A Star Is Bored is a Warner Bros. animated cartoon of the Looney Tunes series, directed by Friz Freleng. The cartoon expands upon the rivalry depicted between Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in such films as Chuck Jones' Rabbit Fire, this time placing the action in a show-biz setting. In this 7-minute short, Daffy must stunt-double for Bugs in any slapstick that Warners deem too dangerous for its top star.
The opening frame depicts the exterior of Bugs' dressing room, inside which he is talking to the journalist, Lolly (a reference to the nickname of famed Hollywood columnist Louella Parsons), about his great film career, albeit rather modestly ("Who'd want to read about little old me?"). Outside of Bugs' room, lowly Warners studio janitor Daffy ("What a job for a duck with MY talents! Pushing a broom while others with absolutely nothing on the ball get all the breaks.") eavesdrops on Bugs' conversation and is disgusted by it. Mockingly he says of Bugs, ("Anything my public demands! Anything my public demands!"). "Listen to that ham [Bugs] putting it on," he snarls. "If a long eared rabbit can be a star, so can a duck!"
Daffy then marches into the casting director's office just as he is on the phone with another executive discussing the difficulty in finding anyone "stupid enough" to be Bugs' stunt double for his next picture. "Hang up," Daffy triumphantly tells the boss, who in a low voice tells his colleague on the phone, "I think I've found a pigeon." Daffy hears that comment and tells the boss that, "I'm a duck. D-U-K, duck. Loaded with talent." The boss grants Daffy the role without elaborating about its stunt double status.
After a visit to the Make-Up Department, Daffy gets his first taste of on-the-set film action shortly thereafter (Western co-starring Yosemite Sam. See "Censorship" for details.) Bugs walks onto the set when the director says "Rrrroll 'em" in a Scottish accent. Customary carrot in hand, Bugs says his catch phrase, "Eh, what's up, Doc?" to which Sam growls, "OK, rabbit! Say your prayers! I'm a-gonna blast ya!" However, right at this moment, the director announces "Cut! Brrring in the double!" Initially, Daffy is extremely excited to be finally in any motion picture. He takes Bugs' place in a rabbit costume and holding a carrot, and stands next to Sam, whereupon they repeat the "What's up Doc?" / "I'm a-gonna blast ya!" exchange only the director doesn't announce "Cut!" again. Instead, he lets Daffy continue the picture; he forgets his next line and has to look back at his script to see that it's "I dare you!" Sam shoots Daffy in the face; a large number of his feathers, as well as his beak, fall off. Daffy quickly hollers for "MAKE-UP!"
Next, Bugs is in a scene where Elmer Fudd is cast in his usual role as trying to hunt Bugs. Bugs is high in a tree, and Elmer is supposed to climb it to saw the branch Bugs is sitting on, off (though not all the way through, as Bugs reminds him). However, Daffy has other ideas. He tells Elmer to come closer to him, as he has something to tell him. Lacking a clue to Daffy's actual motive, Elmer shuffles closer to Daffy, who whacks him in the head to knock him out. Daffy dresses up like Elmer and grabs his saw and gun. When the director says, "Camera ... ACTION!" Bugs responds by telling Daffy, "Remember Elmer you are not suppose to saw from the limbs." However, with a maliciously insane laugh, not Elmer but Daffy climbs the tree and jeers, "HA! Goodbye, Rabbit! You're gonna be a FALLING star," and saws right through the limb. However, unbeknownst to the greedy duck, Bugs was safe all along; his limb was attached to a telephone pole, so the rest of the tree comes crashing down. Forcibly, Daffy manages to extract himself from the wreckage and again calls "MAKE-UP!"; but we never saw it, instead we saw the director saying "Ok, Print it!" despite the complications.
After this sequence, Bugs is fishing off a pier. Daffy shows up and snaps "AHA! Tryin' to hog all the easy scenes for yourself, eh? I'LL handle this one." Bugs protests, but Daffy takes no notice ("Scared I'll show up your acting ability, huh?"). He also takes Bugs' place at the end of the pier and his fishing rod. Yet he is not safe from the film script even now, as a Giant Bluefin Tuna swallows him whole. After a long struggle, Daffy frees himself and shouts "MAKE-UP!" again.
Another scene wherein Bugs is chased by Elmer follows this one, culminating when Bugs dives into another tree. With the "scwewy wabbit" cornered, Elmer aims his gun into the tree but gets poked in the rear by the gun's barrel (in reality, it's really Bugs holding another gun). When Elmer pulls his gun back, the other one makes the same movements. Wondering just how stupid Elmer is, Daffy furiously marches onto the set, snatches Elmer's gun and shoves him off. Daffy sticks the gun into the hole in the tree in which Bugs is hiding but what he believes to be another gun (in reality it's HIS gun bent around so that it points at his hindquarters) sticks up through a hole in the ground just behind him! Daffy retracts his gun; the "other" gun does the same. Daffy does this two or three more times before he decides to try a small experiment. He ties a red ribbon around the barrel of his gun, then sticks it into the tree, and looks behind him. The ribbon on the gun in the ground is white with red polka dots, leading Daffy to believe it to be a fake. He shoots, intending to mark Bugs, but the bent-around gun plan is revealed when the bullet hits him in the hindquarters and he pulls the gun out of the tree. The ribbon is white with red spots! Daffy didn't see Bugs switch the ribbon. Daffy yells "MAKE-UP!" for the fourth time.
The next scene has Bugs piloting a plane accelerating up to 20,000 feet, then going uncontrollably in the direction of the ground. Just as Daffy, dressed in his rabbit suit, jokes about not looking at Bugs' demise, the director screams "CUT!" and the plane halts, seemingly a few feet from crashing into the ground. The director calls for "the double" one more time. Daffy is helicoptered onto the scene, where he and Bugs switch places. After the director yells "Rrrroll 'em," the plane resumes its super-high-speed course into the ground. Predictably, it's wrecked, and Daffy again yells "MAKE-UP!"
Having finally had more than enough, Daffy announces that "I'm through playin' stooge to a rabbit. I need a part that fits ME!" to the casting director, who promptly tells the distraught Daffy that he has just such a script: the starring role in a new movie called The Duck.
The final scene shows the filming of The Duck, with Daffy starring as a typical duck in a peaceful pond and directed by the same man who helmed the earlier movie wherein Daffy subbed for Bugs. Just as in the first scene of the earlier film, Daffy digs out his script to rehearse his line. When the director announces "Rrrroll 'em," Daffy says, "I wonder where all the hunters are today?", at which point ten hunters suddenly surround the pond, gun Daffy down and leave. Again infuriated, Daffy shrieks, "I DEMAND TO KNOW WHO WROTE THIS SCRIPT!" The cruel screenwriter turns out to be none other than... Bugs, to whom the camera is now transferred and who says, "I'd love to tell him, but... hehehehe... modesty forbids."
Censorship and rearrangement
- On the syndicated run of The Merrie Melodies Show, all scenes of Daffy getting shot were replaced with still shots of Bugs Bunny looking offscreen.
- The WB version not only edited the cartoon to completely remove the two times that Daffy is the victim of gunshots (Daffy getting shot while replacing Bugs in a scene with Yosemite Sam and the end where Daffy [in his own movie] gets shot by a group of hunters after delivering his line, "I wonder where all the hunters are today"), but rearranged the parts where Daffy is working as Bugs' stunt double. The sequences of the uncut version went as follows:
- Daffy stepping in for Bugs during his scene with Yosemite Sam.
- Daffy, disguised as Elmer Fudd, attempts to saw through Bugs' tree branch, only to fall with the main part of the tree while the branch stays suspended in mid-air from a prop.
- Daffy, sick of doing all the hard jobs while Bugs gets the soft jobs, replaces Bugs in his fishing sequence, only to be swallowed by a large fish.
- Bugs doing a forest chase scene with Elmer Fudd and Daffy trying to shoot Bugs through a tree hole only to have the barrel come out of a rabbit hole.
- Daffy substituting for Bugs during his airplane-flying scene
- The edited version on the WB showed the cartoon this way: the third scene aired first, followed by the second scene, and then the last two scenes, with the scene with Yosemite Sam cut.
- Mel Blanc as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Producer
- Arthur Q. Bryan as Elmer Fudd
- June Foray as Lolly (uncredited)
- The title A Star Is Bored, is a reference to Warner Bros.' 1954 film musical A Star Is Born, starring Judy Garland and James Mason. The film was a big hit upon release and remains a favorite with both critics and audiences alike.
- The part where Daffy is swallowed by a tuna is similar to a 1955 Tweety and Sylvester cartoon, Sandy Claws.
- This is the cartoon where Yosemite Sam is getting along with Bugs.
As of 2007, A Star Is Bored is available on the four-disc DVD box set Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 5
It can be also be found on Looney Tunes-Spotlight Collection: Volume 5 as well as the similar, two-disc DVD Looney Tunes Spotlight Collection: Volume 5.