9 January 2009 | phantom_tollbooth
Friz Freleng's 'Roman Legion-Hare' is set in Rome AD 54, where Emperor Nero tells Captain of the Guards Yosemite Sam to find a victim to throw to the lions for his entertainment or else Sam himself will have to fill the role. The victim Sam selects is, of course, Bugs Bunny. Although simply placing an established rivalry in a new setting can lead to repetitive cartoons, Freleng always seemed to pull it off far better with Bugs and Sam than he did with Tweety and Sylvester. The ancient Rome backdrop, which chiefly focuses on the Colleseum's lion enclosure, allows for some great gags as Bugs finds new ways to cause Sam to be savaged. The real star of 'Roman Legion-Hare' is Warren Foster's very funny script, which includes one of my favourite lines in cartoon history. As Sam attempts to cross a pit filled with lions on a pair of wooden stilts, Bugs tosses a selection of cutting tools into the pit with the unforgettable exclamation "Here, lions"! 'Roman Legion-Hare' is not especially attractive to look at and the direction is fairly run-of-the-mill but none of this takes anything away from the one essential ingredient it does boast: it's very funny.