Warner Bros. // 2007 // 417 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Jim Thomas // November 14th, 2007
Th-th-th-th-that's not all, folks!
The Looney Tunes Golden Collection was released...and the crowd did
Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Volume Two was released...and there was much rejoicing.
Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Volume Three was released...and the crowd roared yet again.
Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Volume 4 was released...and the crowd started to wonder just how long this would continue.
Now, Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Volume Five is released. Will the crowd roar, or will it cry, "Enough already!"
Warner Home Video is slowly releasing the Looney Tunes library, with one release of sixty shorts every year. With the release of this fifth volume, they're halfway through their planned release cycle. Here's what you get:
Disc One: Bugs and Daffy
* 14 Carrot Rabbit (Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam; 1952) (directed by Friz Freleng).
* Ali Baba Bunny (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck; 1957) (Chuck Jones).
* Buccaneer Bunny (Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam; 1948) (Friz Freleng).
* Bugs's Bonnets (Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd; 1956) (Chuck Jones).
* A Star is Bored (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck; 1956) (Friz Freleng).
* A Pest in the House (Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd; 1947) (Chuck Jones).
* Transylvania 6-5000 (Bugs Bunny, Count Bloodcount; 1963) (Chuck Jones).
* Stupor Duck (Daffy Duck; 1956) (Robert McKimson)
* The Stupor Salesman (Daffy Duck, Slug McSlug; 1948) (Arthur Davis)
* The Abominable Snow Rabbit (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck; 1961) (Chuck Jones).
* The Super Snooper (Daffy Duck; 1952) (Robert McKimson)
* Oily Hare (Bugs Bunny; 1952) (Robert McKimson)
* Hollywood Daffy (Daffy Duck; 1946) (Friz Freleng)
* You Were Never Duckier (Daffy Duck, Henery Hawk; 1948) (Chuck Jones)
* The Up-Standing Sitter (Daffy Duck; 1948) (Robert McKimson)
Disc Two: Fun-Filled Fairy Tales
* Bewitched Bunny (Bugs Bunny, Witch Hazel; 1954) (Chuck Jones).
* Paying the Piper (Porky Pig; 1949) (Robert McKimson)
* The Bear's Tale (The Three Bears; 1940) (Tex Avery)
* Foney Fables (Fairy tale characters; 1942) (Friz Freleng)
* Goldimouse and the Three Cats (Sylvester and Sylvester Junior; 1960) (Friz Freleng)
* Holiday for Shoestrings (1946) (Friz Freleng)
* Little Red Rodent Hood (Sylvester; 1952) (Friz Freleng)
* Little Red Walking Hood (Fairy tale characters; 1937) (Tex Avery)
* Red Riding Hoodwinked (Tweety, Sylvester; 1955) (Friz Freleng)
* The Trial of Mr. Wolf (1941) (Friz Freleng)
* The Turn-Tale Wolf (1952) (Robert McKimson)
* Tom Thumb in Trouble (1940) (Chuck Jones)
* Tweety and the Beanstalk (Tweety; 1957) (Friz Freleng)
* A Gander at Mother Goose (1940) (Tex Avery)
* Senorella and the Glass Huarache (1964) (Friz Freleng)
Disc Three: Putting a Bob Clampett on It
* Bacall to Arms (1946) (Bob Clampett)
* Buckaroo Bugs (Bugs Bunny; 1944) (Bob Clampett)
* Crazy Cruise (Bugs Bunny makes a cameo; 1942) (Tex Avery & Bob Clampett) Avery's final Warner cartoon, it was completed by Clampett after Avery left the studio.
* Farm Frolics (1941) (Bob Clampett)
* Hare Ribbin' (Bugs Bunny; 1944) (Bob Clampett)
* Patient Porky (Porky Pig; 1940) (Bob Clampett)
* Prehistoric Porky (Porky Pig; 1940) (Bob Clampett)
* The Bashful Buzzard (Beaky Buzzard; 1945) (Bob Clampett)
* The Old Grey Hare (Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd; 1944) (Bob Clampett)
* The Wacky Wabbit (Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd; 1942) (Bob Clampett)
* The Wise Quacking Duck (Daffy Duck; 1943) (Bob Clampett)
* Wagon Heels (Porky Pig; 1945) (Bob Clampett)
* The Daffy Doc (Daffy Duck, Porky Pig; 1938) (Bob Clampett)
* A Tale of Two Kitties (Tweety; 1942) (Bob Clampett)
* Porky's Pooch (Porky Pig, Charlie Dog; 1941) (Bob Clampett)
Disc Four: "The Early Daze"
* Alpine Antics (1936) (Jack King)
* Eatin' On The Cuff or The Moth Who Came to Dinner (1942) (Bob Clampett)
* Milk and Money (Porky Pig; 1936) (Tex Avery)
* I've Got to Sing a Torch Song (1933) (Tom Palmer)
* Porky at the Crocadero (Porky Pig; 1938) (Frank Tashlin)
* Polar Pals (Porky Pig; 1939) (Bob Clampett)
* Scrap Happy Daffy (Daffy Duck; 1943) (Frank Tashlin)
* Gold Diggers of '49 (Porky Pig, Beans the Cat; 1935) (Tex Avery)
* Porky's Double Trouble (Porky Pig; 1937) (Frank Tashlin)
* Wise Quacks (Daffy Duck; 1939) (Bob Clampett)
* Porky's Preview (Porky Pig; 1941) (Tex Avery)
* Pilgrim Porky (Porky Pig; 1940) (Bob Clampett)
* Porky's Poppa (Porky Pig; 1938) (Bob Clampett)
* Wholly Smoke (Porky Pig; 1938) (Frank Tashlin)
* What Price Porky? (Porky Pig, 1938) (Bob Clampett)
There's also an extensive collection of special features.
When I was a kid, the one constant of my Saturdays was The Bugs Bunny Show. Not even a flood kept me from making certain that my butt was firmly planted in front of the TV before Bugs and Daffy came out in tuxedoes and launched into "Overture" (That sequence is included in the extras, which most assuredly earns Warner Home Video bonus points). Those cartoons became a part of me, as they became part of others as well. Consider the following:
* In grad school, a friend of mine named Grace was in a deep funk. So I wrapped her up in a big bear hug, singsonging, "What a cute little bunny rabbit! I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him...," and then gave her a noogie. She fell out laughing, those bad ol' blues washed away.
* In high school, a friend of mine named his Dungeons & Dragons fighter "Hassan," just so he could go charging into battle screaming, "Hassan chop!!. (Years later, I had a bad-ass magic-user named "The Brain," but that's a different DVD set.)
* While in grad school, I found myself reading Shakespeare while Looney Tunes was on in the background. The result was casting A Midsummer's Night's Dream using the Looney Tunes characters. I cast Elmer Fudd as Theseus, and rewrote the play's opening lines accordingly:
"Hyppowita, I wooed thee with my sword,
And won thy wove doewing thee injuwies;
But I will wed thee in another key
With pomp, with twiumph, and with wevewing.
To this day, I can't help but think that my cast sheet, which I distributed to the seminar the next day, is the only reason I got an "A." (If anyone's interested, I can post the entire cast sheet in the forums.)
My point is that the Looney Tunes long ago passed beyond mere entertainment, and into our culture's subconscious. One reason for this apotheosis, I think, is that the WB cartoons made it so easy to think of them as part of us. Fourth walls are forever being broken, and the cartoons repeated appropriate other aspects of our culture, be it fairy tales, movie stars, or even rationing.
As a result, even the cartoons that do not reach the heights of a "What's Opera Doc?" manage to strike a chord deep within us, and the day brightens up.
Which is, I suppose, a pretty long-winded way of explaining why I enjoyed this set.
Each disc has a theme of sorts:
Disc One: Bugs and Daffy
A mixture of Bugs, Daffy, and Bugs & Daffy shorts. I don't think I've ever seen a bad Bugs & Daffy short; I'm not entirely sure such a thing is even possible. There's a good variety here, including the minor classics "Abominable Snow Bunny" and "Stupor Duck." The abominable snowman is patterned after Lenny in Of Mice and Men, which explains his interest in rabbits. "Stupor Duck," while somewhat repetitive, works because Daffy's manic combination of confidence and incompetence plays perfectly off the Superman mythos.
Disc Two: Fun-Filled Fairy Tales
They could probably fill up two or three collections just with takes on various fairy tales. We get a nice cross section, including Bugs coming up against Witch Hazel in "Bewitched Bunny" (a cartoon that sparked a feminist backlash when Bugs remarks at the end "aren't [women] all witches inside?"). We get five different variations on Little Red Riding Hood (several other variations have been included in previous sets), including a very early "Little Red Walking Hood," which just has a wonderful look to it. The backgrounds are done in colored pencil, enhancing the storybook feel of the cartoon.
Disc Three: Putting a Bob Clampett on It
This disc provides a retrospective of animator/director Bob Clampett. Among the highlights are "Bacall to Arms," a spoof of To Have and Have Not, as well as "Buckaroo Bugs," "Hare Ribbin'," and "Daffy Doc." There's an emphasis on Porky Pig, which is quite understandable -- Clampett made a lot of contributions to the Looney Tunes family, but one of the greatest was to establish the appearance and character of Porky Pig, turning him into the biggest star on the Looney Tunes roster (until he was upstaged by a certain manic duck).
Disc Four: "The Early Daze"
Obviously, a lot of early shorts, primarily featuring Porky Pig. Many of these also include Daffy Duck, back in his manic stage (he didn't become the greedy, scheming coward we all know and love until he was paired with Bugs). Here's another case where a chronological arrangement would have been helpful, particularly to illustrate how much Porky evolved BC and AC (Before and After Clampett). "Wholly Smoke" is a surreal vision, as a young Porky Pig suffers dearly for attempting to smoke a cigar.
Warner Home Video has again done a spectacular job of restoration. I remember watching some of these shorts twenty-thirty years ago, thinking how badly the prints had aged: scratches, garbled sound, film splices...These cartoons, though, look like the producers swiped Mr. Peabody's WayBack machine and brought the prints back from the developer. Colors are clean and vibrant, and background textures that had washed out over the years have an almost tactile look to them. In many of the early shorts, the contrast between the backgrounds (and in some cases, foregrounds) creates an illusion of depth that is a treat (for a good example, look at the opening scene of "14 Carrot Bunny"). The mono audio track is crisp and clear. Considering the age of these shorts -- the dates range from 1963 (the year I was born, btw) all the way back to 1933 (before my mother was born) -- the near-pristine presentation is an amazing accomplishment.
The extras are a mixed bag, but there are a LOT of them. They fall into two basic categories: Short-specific or standalone. Short-specific extras include commentary tracks by various animators, music-only tracks, and some behind-the-scenes material. The standalone extras include "Chuck Jones: Extremes and In-betweens-A Life in Animation," a PBS Great Performances special from 2000 (for some reason, this feature is split between two discs), "The Art of Bob McKimson," and "Unsung Maestros: The Directors." All are engaging and well done. For the cartoon historian, the "Unsung Maestros" is particularly nice, as it documents a series of directors who did not do a lot of Looney Tunes, but nevertheless had a major impact.
There's also some material from the old Bugs Bunny Show, which ran on ABC in primetime in the early '60s. There are some commercials for Post cereals and Tang, along with some reconstructions of the material created specifically for the show, to bridge the cartoons together. However, since all we get is the bridging material, and not the complete show, it's somewhat fragmented.
The set includes three TV specials: "Bugs' and Daffy's Carnival of the Animals," which is a not particularly effective attempt to imitate Fantasia; "Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales," which is, obviously, various Christmas stories told Looney Tunes style; and, finally, "Bugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All Over." All are notable primarily for their bad animation -- though the third special does have a splendid gag involving Elmer learning the laws of gravity.
Doing a commentary for a cartoon has to be a daunting task. Think about it -- you've only got 5 minutes to say something about the cartoon; that can't be easy. Most here are very good; Mark Kausler's commentary on "Little Red Walking Hood" tosses out nuggets of information right and left, such as telling us that Red's speech and mannerisms were based on Katherine Hepburn. It's fascinating how he -- and other animators on many of the other commentaries -- can note where one animator leaves off and another begins. Historian Jerry Beck provides a great track for "Bacall to Arms," pointing out the short's problematic history; it was only partially finished when Bob Clampett left the studio, and the people who completed it didn't quite understand what Clampett was trying to do, resulting in a pretty disjointed -- though still funny -- finished product. Of the two commentary tracks for "Buckaroo Bugs," the standout features directors John Kricfalusi (Ren and Stimpy) and Eddie Fitzgerald, along with cartoonist Kari Fontecchio. The threesome laughs throughout the short, pointing out little things that illustrated Clampett's technical sophistication.
Other judges have previously complained about the random arrangement of cartoons within a disc; that issue remains. And there's no explanation; unless there's some reason no one's revealing, they should be in chronological order.
The one place where the set just doesn't measure up is the Bob Clampett retrospective of Disc Three. To begin with, there is no focused examination of his body of work. Clampett was one of the six major directors of Warner Brothers cartoons (The others were Friz Freleng, Tex Avery, Robert McKimson, Arthur Davis and Chuck Jones). If the man's work merits a dedicated disc, surely he merits a brief introduction to the man and his art, so that the shorts can be viewed with a more informed eye. Problems such as these result partly from the sheer numbers of cartoons involved; making a comprehensive plan for a ten volume series rapidly becomes an exercise in futility, as you never know what supplemental material might turn up in during development. So you get a few hiccups along the way -- a behind the scenes piece on Clampett is included in volume two, while this set has a feature on Robert McKimson -- go figure.
The selections for Clampett are somewhat perplexing -- though to be fair, many of Clampett's best works were included in the earlier sets. For example, one quintessential early short, "Porky in Wackyland", was included in volume 2). But also missing in action is what many consider one of the greatest shorts of all time. After Duke Ellington urged Bob Clampett to make a black musical cartoon, Clampett took his entire animation team to Harlem clubs so that they could capture the essence of the jazz culture. The result was the parody, "Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs". It was immediately hailed as a classic, and even today is a hit at conventions. But in the late '60s, it became one of the "Censored Eleven" -- eleven Warner Brothers cartoons that were basically disavowed due to their inherent racism. Many openly wonder if Warner will ever have the nerve to release it. (A brief snippet of the short is included in the Disc 2 featurette, "Once Upon a Looney Toon.")
I wish they had managed to include at least one classic Marvin the Martian short in this collection, but that may just be me (he says, looking up at his Marvin the Martian lava lamp, his multiple Marvin cookie jars, his Marvin & Bugs sericel, and his battery-powered Marvin the Martian Pez dispenser).
Consider this: the first four Golden Collections totaled 240 shorts, including several that appear towards the top of any rational list of best cartoons ever made. OK, so this set doesn't have any shorts that measure up to the utter genius of "Duck Amuck," "Rabbit of Seville," or (sigh) "One Froggy Evening." You know what? Doesn't matter. This set rocks.
Warner Home Video is found not guilty, though they would be well-advised to spend some more time organizing future releases, so that in the future, other animator/directors don't get short-changed as did Bob Clampett.
Review content copyright © 2007 Jim Thomas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 417 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "Chuck Jones: Extremes and In-Betweens" Documentary (2000)
* The Bugs Bunny Show: Bridging Sequences for "Bad Time Story," Mel Blanc Audio Recording Sessions for "What's Up, Dog?"
* General Foods Commercials starring Bugs and Company
* Tricks of the Cartoon Trade
* Private Snafu Cartoons: "Coming Snafu" and "Gripes"
* Seaman Hook Cartoons: "The Good Egg," "The Return of Mr. Hook," and "Tokyo Woes"
* The Director's Cut of "Hare Ribbin'"
* The Bashful Buzzard Original Storyboards
* Milt Franklyn Opening Themes with Intro by Greg Ford
* Music-Only Tracks
* Unsung Heroes: A Director's Tribute
* Television Specials: Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales, Bugs Bunny's Bustin' Out all Over, and Bugs and Daffy's Carnival of the Animals
* Behind the Tunes: "Once upon a Tune," "The Art of Robert McKimson," "Wacky Warner One-Shots," and "The Adventures of Private Snafu"
* Wikipedia: Looney Tunes Golden Collection
* Wikipedia: Bob Clampett
* DVD Verdict on Looney Tunes: The Golden Collection, Volume One
* DVD Verdict on Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Volume Two
* DVD Verdict on Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Volume Three
* DVD Verdict on Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Volume Four