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Woody Woodpecker: Guess who?
Walter Lantz was an animator who produced output from his cartoon studio from 1929 until 1972. Often his works were considered the equivalent of "B" pictures in the hand drawn cinema arena of animated shorts. They were never revered as Warner Bros. or Disney output, but certainly had a charm and grace to make them classics in their own right even when they didn't break new ground. He created many characters, but probably the best known was an anthropomorphic woodpecker named Woody who had a distinctive laugh and a penchant for screwball comedy. Woody Woodpecker Favorites is simply a shorter, less extensive collection of cartoons than what we saw with The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection and The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection: Volume 2. All of the Woodpecker adventures featured here can be found on the first volume three disc set, so certainly this single disc release is ill-advised for anyone who owns that initial volume. The 15 cartoons featured play out like a "Greatest Hits" of Woody including his best output during the high point of the screwball bird's career from 1940 to 1951. Also included are five other character cartoons from Walter Lantz studios, as well as two episodes of The Woody Woodpecker Show that integrate live action with classic cartoons.
The Woody Woodpecker cartoons included:
Overall the technical transfer is fine save for some digital remastering that compromises the animation just a bit. The video presentations are all bright with nice color saturation, and it appears some care has been taken to preserve the integrity of how the source material looked. There are certainly still scratches, nicks, and a wash of grain on the picture. The imperfections add to the nostalgia of watching cartoons from the 1940s, and it charms rather than frustrates. Unfortunately savvy animation fans will recognize digital video noise reduction (DVNR) was used on more than half the cartoons. This will be extremely noticeable during fast motion sequences where some lines even disappear if you advance frame by frame. It's not a huge concern for the casual viewer, but animation maniacs will notice. None of the shorts are edited for content, and quite a few contain violent or racist images that make the collection more suitable for adult fans and kids who can discern fantasy easily. Soundtrack is only a Dolby mono mix, but that's expected considering the age of the source.
Woody Woodpecker Favorites makes for a fine collection of a sampling of the Walter Lantz favorite. It's only 15 of the close to 200 shorts featuring Woody, but they are some of the endearing favorites according to fans. Some rabid collectors will want to add this title to their library since there are two full length episodes of The Woody Woodpecker Show, which seem to be hitting DVD for the first time. The Woody cartoons have been released before though, so most people will give it a pass if they already own the more expansive volumes. This one's a good alternative for people who want some of the best of Woody, but don't want to invest too much.
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