Bunny O'Hare


1h 32m 1971
Bunny O'Hare

Brief Synopsis

A penniless widow blackmails a robber into teaching her the trade.

Film Details

Also Known As
Betty and Claude, Bunny, Bunny and Billy, Bunny and Claude
Genre
Comedy
Crime
Release Date
Jul 1971
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 30 Jun 1971
Production Company
American International Productions
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
United States
Location
Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States; Hollywood, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Synopsis

Divested of her savings by her selfish, middle-aged children, Bunny O'Hare suddenly loses her home when the bank forecloses on her mortgage, leaving the widow destitute and homeless. Sympathetic Bill Green, an aging itinerant salvaging the house's plumbing, offers to give her a ride anywhere in his camper truck. Soon after, Bunny calls her children, daughter Lulu and son Ad, in hopes of staying with them, but is too proud to mention her predicament, and they refuse to let her stay with them. Lulu explains that her husband Lloyd, a butcher, is chronically depressed after being fired, while gambler Ad lies and says he is too busy closing an important business deal to help. Bunny then begs to go with Bill to Mexico, where he resells his fixtures. Although generous, Bill decides that after one night in the camper, he will pay for bus fare to a destination of her choice. That night, Bill sets up Bunny's sleeping bag several hundred feet from the camper, hoping to quietly roll the truck away and leave unsuspecting Bunny behind. However, unknown to Bill, Bunny is inside the camper when he takes off and recognizes him on a wanted poster she finds there for fugitive bank robber William Gruenwald. Deciding to recoup her loses from the bank that took her home, Bunny politely blackmails Bill into teaching her how to rob a bank. Bill reluctantly begins Bunny's training routine with vigorous exercise and practice escapes on a motorbike, Bill's vehicle of choice for robberies, which he stores in the camper. Seeing hippies protesting outside a bank, Bill and Bunny adopt a hippie disguise for the robbery: Bunny wears a long blonde wig, over-sized hat and sunglasses, while Bill sports a beard, leather vest and bell-bottom pants. On the day of the robbery, Bill must encourage timid Bunny, who then threatens to "spill [the cashier's] guts" if he does not give her the money. The elderly pair flees the police on the motorcycle through parking lots, a shopping center and finally onto the freeway, escaping with $736, which Bunny sends to Lulu. Meanwhile, näive, by-the-book police lieutenant, Horace Greeley, arrests 436 hippies as part of the robbery investigation and, unable to understand their slang, asks his chief for a translator. Invigorated by her own bravery, Bunny buys a dress for a celebratory evening with Bill, but soon after, she calls Ad, who brashly asks her for $1,000 to invest in an oil syndicate, another ruse for his ever-increasing debt to loan shark Max. Despite Bill's protests, the couple robs again, setting free a canary in the bank to distract the guard while they take the money and escape. Back at the camper, Bunny explains to Bill that she alone is responsible for her children since their father died early on. Bunny then invites Bill to spend the night with her. Soon after, criminologist R. J. Hart is assigned to help Greeley, who is reluctant to take the young woman seriously. Although Washington D.C. reports that four older robbers have the modus operandi of a canary and a motorcycle, Greeley is still convinced that the felons are young hippies. Soon after learning that Lloyd needs group therapy to deal with his growing aversion to meat, Bunny and Bill rob another bank, using the canary trick again. Ad then asks for $1,000 for "legal expenses," prompting another robbery, in which Bunny sets off smoke bombs to aid in their escape. Back at the police station, Greeley, obsessed with tracing canary feathers found at the crime scenes, interrogates a mild-mannered hippie with a pet parrot, pressuring the "bird lover" to divulge the name of any friends with canaries. Greeley and R. J. agree that the motorcycle, which has not been spotted by the police after the crimes, must be hidden between robberies in a truck or camper. However, when police stop Bunny and Bill during a subsequent road check, they let them pass, believing they are too old to be the robbers. Finally Greeley agrees with R. J. when she notes that the robberies are all of branches of the same bank, but balks at her suggestion that they look at a list of recent foreclosures. Back at the camper, Bill urges Bunny to let her children take care of themselves. Later, Greeley and R. J. decide to stake out one of the four remaining branches in the area with undercover agents. Soon after, Bunny and Bill arrive at the same branch, but unable to find parking, decide instead to rob the bank across the street, directly under the hotel room where Greeley and R. J. are stationed. Meanwhile, when Greeley pulls a muscle in his back, R. J. orders him on the bed for a back rub. When police sirens suddenly alert them to the crime, Greeley is forced to run downstairs half nude to take command of his men. During the escape, an officer shoots and wounds Bunny in the shoulder, but Bill and Bunny manage to escape. Forced to stop at a police road block, Bill dupes Greeley into believing that the canaries chirping in the camper are parakeets. Unable to risk going to the hospital, Bill removes Bunny's bullet and they head to Mexico for a rest. Upset that all the news stories are about the robberies instead of recent protests, a disgruntled hippie couple dress identically to Bill and Bunny, rob a bank, shoot an officer in their escape and then race their motorcycle down to Mexico, riding just behind Bunny and Bill. Hearing the police sirens, Bill and Bunny pull off the road and watch as Greeley's men arrest the couple for the robberies. Although R. J. has spotted a motorcycle and a cage full of canaries through Bill's camper door, Greeley once again dismisses her and lets Bill and Bunny continue on. Crossing the border into Mexico, Bunny suddenly wants to make one more phone call to her children, whose selfish cries for more money motivate her to abandon them for a new life in Mexico.

Crew

Dorothy Aldrin

Screenplay Supervisor, Hollywood

Jack Aldworth

Prod Manager, Hollywood

Samuel Z. Arkoff

Executive Producer

John Astin

Creative consultant

George Baldwin

Gaffer, New Mexico

Bill Berry

Negative cutting Supervisor, New Mexico

Salvatore Billitteri

Post-prod Supervisor

William C. Bonny

1st Assistant Camera, New Mexico

Ken Borland

Grip

Richard J. Borland

Company grip, New Mexico

Stanley Z. Cherry

Story

Stanley Z. Cherry

Screenwriter

Art Cole

Props master, New Mexico

Mike Curb

Composer

Mack David

Composer

Michael Dugan

2d unit Camera

Fred Feitshans Jr.

Film Editor

Carolyn Fitz-simons

Prod Assistant, New Mexico

Theodore R. Garber

Transportation capt, New Mexico

Phyllis Garr

Ward, New Mexico

Daisy Gerber

2d Assistant Director, New Mexico

Allan Gordon

Props master, Hollywood

Loyal Griggs

Director of Photography

Norman T. Herman

Co-producer

Roy Hogstedt

2d Assistant Camera, New Mexico

James I. Honore

Post-prod Assistant

William J. Immerman

Prod Executive

Bette Iverson

Hairdresser, New Mexico

Coslough Johnson

Screenwriter

William S. Johnson

Boom man, New Mexico

John Kizer

Camera op, Hollywood

Don Marshall

Gaffer, Hollywood

Kyme Meade

Camera op, New Mexico

Rusty Meek

Assistant Director, New Mexico

Charles Minsky

Prod Assistant, New Mexico

Tom Moore

Screenplay Supervisor, New Mexico

John Murray

Company grip, Hollywood

Julian F. Myers

Pub, New Mexico

James H. Nicholson

Executive Producer

Gerd Oswald

Producer

Dick Overton

Sound mixer, Hollywood

Teddy Peterson

Prod Assistant, New Mexico

T. Powell

Best Boy

Dal Raos

Driver

Karen Rasch

Prod Secretary, New Mexico

Vanessa Redmond

Prod Assistant, Hollywood

Harry Reif

Set dresser, Hollywood

Keith Roberts

Composer

Ernie Sawyer

2d Props man, Hollywood

Elliot Schick

Production Manager

Philip D. Segura

Still man, New Mexico

Al Simms

Music Supervisor

Mason Sperry

Dolly grip, Hollywood

John Stephens

Director of Photography

Billy Strange

Music

Billy Strange

Composer

Alex Togarot

Assistant Camera, Hollywood

Howard Warren

Sound mixer, New Mexico

Cliff Wenger

Special Effects, New Mexico

Howard Wilmarth

Boom man, Hollywood

Beau Wilson

Make-up artist, New Mexico

Film Details

Also Known As
Betty and Claude, Bunny, Bunny and Billy, Bunny and Claude
Genre
Comedy
Crime
Release Date
Jul 1971
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 30 Jun 1971
Production Company
American International Productions
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
United States
Location
Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States; Hollywood, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Articles

Bunny O'Hare


American International Pictures, better known as AIP, was known for throwing together quickie movies on low budgets with second tier talent. So in 1971, when they produced Bunny O'Hare, starring two Hollywood legends, Bette Davis and Ernest Borgnine, it seemed like things might be looking up for AIP. After all, both Davis and Borgnine were Oscar winners, had acted together before (in A Catered Affair, 1956), and surely an elderly rendition of Bonnie and Clyde with tongue planted firmly in cheek would be a box office hit. Then they started filming.

The director, Gerd Oswald, had more experience with television than feature films and his previous effort, the lackluster Wayne Newton vehicle, 80 Steps to Jonah, fared poorly at the box office and even worse with the critics. Nonetheless, Bette Davis liked him and he was in as director. As filming began, Davis demanded changes to the script and complained that the story didn't work. The truth is, Oswald was only too happy to give in to her demands resulting in a less than clear directorial signature on the film than there could have been.

The movie begins with Bunny O'Hare (Bette Davis) losing her house to bank foreclosure and hooking up with Bill (Ernest Borgnine), the man taking the plumbing from her house, such as the sink and toilet, for resale in Mexico. Bill agrees to give her a ride (where to is never made clear) after her house is destroyed but then tries at every turn to leave her stranded, making it even more baffling that he ever offered to give her a ride in the first place. Eventually, she finds a newspaper that has a story of an escaped bank robber and the picture is Bill himself. Naturally, since she's strapped for cash, she asks him to help her rob banks. An added wrinkle is that her two grown children do nothing but call her and ask for money which she feels obliged to give them.

Bunny and Bill use a couple of hippies they see in a picket line as their inspiration and buy clothes that match what the hippies are wearing for their bank disguises. After a first successful attempt, Bunny wants to do more but Bill just wants to back out. Hot on their trail is a police detective and his new assistant. And after each robbery, her kids let her know they need more money.

Bunny O'Hare tries to work a joke that other movies, like Fun with Dick and Jane (2005) and Going in Style (1979), later did with more success: that of average citizens, fed up with their lot in life, turning to crime and we, the audience, laughing at their misadventures and cheering them on. It's easier with Davis and Borgnine in the leads for that to work but it also feels like having Davis and Borgnine in the movie was the only plan to make it work. Focus on a good script and decent direction didn't appear to happen anywhere along the way and what we're left with is the actors themselves keeping the enterprise propped up as best they can. When you consider that John Astin and Jack Cassidy are in the cast as well, it's not surprising that the actors half succeed at making it all come together. Certainly, Astin and Cassidy are a delight to watch any time they're on the screen, it's just a shame they couldn't have more to do.

Davis, for her part, wasn't happy with the film when making it and wasn't happy when watching it after it was done. In fact, she was so unhappy with it, and the changes that were made that she disagreed with, that she filed a lawsuit for damages. When the star of your movie sees the final cut and decides the best course of action is to sue you, chances are you didn't make an entirely successful movie. Davis dropped the suit but the damage was done. Bad buzz had generated around the film from day one and, once released, the critics generally dismissed it (although, oddly, Vincent Canby seemed to think it was one of Davis' better performances).

Bunny O'Hare is now more of a curiosity in Bette Davis' career than a benchmark. Its troubled production long forgotten, it is now enjoyed by many fans for its silly tone and low budget look. In a way, it's kind of charming, and rather astonishing, to see two such big stars in such a low rent production. Bunny O'Hare probably won't ever make anyone's top spot for Davis' best movie but, in some ways, it is certainly among her most memorable. And with Davis, Borgnine, Cassidy, and Astin in the cast, it's more entertaining than it probably should be.

Director: Gerd Oswald
Screenplay: Stanley Z. Cherry, Coslough Johnson
Producer: Samuel Z. Arkoff
Music: Billy Strange
Cinematographer: Loyal Griggs
Film Editor: Fred R. Feitshans, Jr.
Cast: Bette Davis (Bunny O'Hare), Ernest Borgnine (Bill Green/Gruenwald), Jack Cassidy (Lieutenant Greeley), Joan Delaney (R.J. Hart), Jay Robinson (John C. Rupert), John Astin (Ad), Reva Rose (Lulu), Robert Foulk (Commissioner Dingle)

By Greg Ferrara
Bunny O'hare

Bunny O'Hare

American International Pictures, better known as AIP, was known for throwing together quickie movies on low budgets with second tier talent. So in 1971, when they produced Bunny O'Hare, starring two Hollywood legends, Bette Davis and Ernest Borgnine, it seemed like things might be looking up for AIP. After all, both Davis and Borgnine were Oscar winners, had acted together before (in A Catered Affair, 1956), and surely an elderly rendition of Bonnie and Clyde with tongue planted firmly in cheek would be a box office hit. Then they started filming. The director, Gerd Oswald, had more experience with television than feature films and his previous effort, the lackluster Wayne Newton vehicle, 80 Steps to Jonah, fared poorly at the box office and even worse with the critics. Nonetheless, Bette Davis liked him and he was in as director. As filming began, Davis demanded changes to the script and complained that the story didn't work. The truth is, Oswald was only too happy to give in to her demands resulting in a less than clear directorial signature on the film than there could have been. The movie begins with Bunny O'Hare (Bette Davis) losing her house to bank foreclosure and hooking up with Bill (Ernest Borgnine), the man taking the plumbing from her house, such as the sink and toilet, for resale in Mexico. Bill agrees to give her a ride (where to is never made clear) after her house is destroyed but then tries at every turn to leave her stranded, making it even more baffling that he ever offered to give her a ride in the first place. Eventually, she finds a newspaper that has a story of an escaped bank robber and the picture is Bill himself. Naturally, since she's strapped for cash, she asks him to help her rob banks. An added wrinkle is that her two grown children do nothing but call her and ask for money which she feels obliged to give them. Bunny and Bill use a couple of hippies they see in a picket line as their inspiration and buy clothes that match what the hippies are wearing for their bank disguises. After a first successful attempt, Bunny wants to do more but Bill just wants to back out. Hot on their trail is a police detective and his new assistant. And after each robbery, her kids let her know they need more money. Bunny O'Hare tries to work a joke that other movies, like Fun with Dick and Jane (2005) and Going in Style (1979), later did with more success: that of average citizens, fed up with their lot in life, turning to crime and we, the audience, laughing at their misadventures and cheering them on. It's easier with Davis and Borgnine in the leads for that to work but it also feels like having Davis and Borgnine in the movie was the only plan to make it work. Focus on a good script and decent direction didn't appear to happen anywhere along the way and what we're left with is the actors themselves keeping the enterprise propped up as best they can. When you consider that John Astin and Jack Cassidy are in the cast as well, it's not surprising that the actors half succeed at making it all come together. Certainly, Astin and Cassidy are a delight to watch any time they're on the screen, it's just a shame they couldn't have more to do. Davis, for her part, wasn't happy with the film when making it and wasn't happy when watching it after it was done. In fact, she was so unhappy with it, and the changes that were made that she disagreed with, that she filed a lawsuit for damages. When the star of your movie sees the final cut and decides the best course of action is to sue you, chances are you didn't make an entirely successful movie. Davis dropped the suit but the damage was done. Bad buzz had generated around the film from day one and, once released, the critics generally dismissed it (although, oddly, Vincent Canby seemed to think it was one of Davis' better performances). Bunny O'Hare is now more of a curiosity in Bette Davis' career than a benchmark. Its troubled production long forgotten, it is now enjoyed by many fans for its silly tone and low budget look. In a way, it's kind of charming, and rather astonishing, to see two such big stars in such a low rent production. Bunny O'Hare probably won't ever make anyone's top spot for Davis' best movie but, in some ways, it is certainly among her most memorable. And with Davis, Borgnine, Cassidy, and Astin in the cast, it's more entertaining than it probably should be. Director: Gerd Oswald Screenplay: Stanley Z. Cherry, Coslough Johnson Producer: Samuel Z. Arkoff Music: Billy Strange Cinematographer: Loyal Griggs Film Editor: Fred R. Feitshans, Jr. Cast: Bette Davis (Bunny O'Hare), Ernest Borgnine (Bill Green/Gruenwald), Jack Cassidy (Lieutenant Greeley), Joan Delaney (R.J. Hart), Jay Robinson (John C. Rupert), John Astin (Ad), Reva Rose (Lulu), Robert Foulk (Commissioner Dingle) By Greg Ferrara

Quotes

Trivia

Star Bette Davis brought suit claiming the production company censored her dialogue and destroyed the film. The lawsuit was later dropped.

Notes

The working titles for the film were Bunny and Claude, Bunny, Betty and Claude and Bunny and Billy. Special written acknowledgment is given in the closing credits to the State of New Mexico and the Albuquerque Police and State Police. The credits also note that the soundtrack was available on American International Records. The film was shot on location in Albuquerque, NM and Hollywood, CA. Governor David Cargo, who made a brief appearance as a state trooper, was the governor of New Mexico.
       Although most critics did not review the film favorably and stated that the filmmakers wasted the talents of former Oscar winners Bette Davis and Ernest Borgnine, the New York Times critic felt that Davis delivered one of the "funniest" performances of her career. According to a August 23, 1971 Daily Variety article, Davis sued American International Pictures (AIP) for loss of income and damage to her career for changing the film into a "slapstick" production, after she originally had signed on to Bunny O'Hare as a "humorous social commentary." She also charged AIP with altering the script she had originally approved, in the final editing.
       According to a March 20, 1972 Daily Variety article, credited writer Stanley Z. Cherry also sued AIP. Cherry claimed AIP still owed him $13,400 for the script and also asked for 5% of the film's net profits. The outcome of either suit is unknown. According to the 1971 Filmfacts review, after Davis finished shooting the film, new footage was shot, most likely written by and possibly directed by, John Astin, in Hollywood, which changed the original scope of the film. Davis and Ernest Borgnine had last appeared together in 1951 M-G-M release The Catered Affair (see below), in which they co-starred.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1971

Todd-AO

Released in United States 1971