Hold the Lion, Please is a 1942 Merrie Melodies short directed by Charles M. Jones.
The title is an obvious play on the expression used by switchboard operators of the day, asking the caller to "hold the line." The Three Stooges made a short with a similar title, Hold That Lion, which also featured a renegade lion.
A lion named Leo tries to prove he's still "King of the Jungle" by hunting a small, defenseless animal. He chooses Bugs Bunny as his intended victim, but Leo soon finds out that, in a battle of wits, he's the defenseless one. However, Leo eventually gets Bugs under one paw while raising the other one, claws extended, and looking extremely angry; a truly frightened-looking Bugs could be facing his end.
Just then, Leo's wife, Hortense, calls him on the phone, and Leo immediately goes from ferocious to meek. After a brief conversation, Leo tells her that he's on his way home. After hanging up the phone, Leo apologizes to Bugs about not being able to "stay and kill him," and dashes home to Hortense. Initially, Bugs makes fun of Leo for his submissiveness to his wife, but it's quickly shown that Bugs is just as submissive to his own wife, Mrs. Bugs Bunny (according to a sign behind her), whose presence sends her husband sheepishly slinking back into their rabbit hole. Mrs. Bunny then asks, "Who wears the pants in this family?" and then lifts up her skirt to show her literally wearing a pair of pants.
Mrs. Bugs Bunny's higher-pitched voice is similar to Bugs'.
This is the only time Bugs is married.
This cartoon marks the first appearance of Honey Bunny (Mrs. Bugs Bunny) in animation, though she have many appearances in the comics. For the rest of the late-1940s, Bugs would not have a love interest until 1996 when Lola Bunny debuted in Space Jam.
Bugs became shorter in "Hold the Lion Please"; Chuck Jones would continue to use this version of Bugs until "A Feather in His Hare", where he used the modern Bugs perfected by Bob Clampett and Robert McKimson.
Aside from "Elmer's Pet Rabbit", this is the first Bugs Bunny short directed by Chuck Jones, as he appears in this cartoon with buck teeth, white gloves and his most famous Brooklyn accent.
Unlike most other Bugs Bunny cartoons released from 1941 to 1944, the intro did not feature Bugs lying on top the WB shield.
This is one of a handful of Bugs Bunny shorts that do not feature the words Bugs, Bunny, Rabbit/Wabbit, or Hare in the title.
Tex Avery voices the Hippo, having recorded his lines before he left the studio.
Leo the Lion would make two more appearances after this cartoon; "The Lion's Busy" (1950), and in Tweety's High-Flying Adventure (2000).
The Cartoon Festivals print is a damaged duplicated a.a.p. print where the a.a.p. logo plays first, then the 1947-49 Blue Ribbon Color Rings from "Inki and the Lion" open, also notice the light blue borders. The 1939-40 version of "Merrily We Roll Along" plays instead of the 1941-45 version. The print then changes to another print that says "Hold the Lion, Please". This is a MGM/UA print and probably was hacked off by United Artists in the 1980s. This print had aired on TBS, TNT and later Cartoon Network before 1995.