For years while I was growing up, Saturday mornings meant Bugs Bunny.
Sure, I'd try out the new cartoons every fall, they were they only thing
that made starting a new school year bearable, but I rarely stayed with
them. After a few episodes of The Roman Holidays or Deputy
Dawg, the jokes started to repeat themselves and the shows grew old
quickly. Not so for Bugs and his pals. I could sit through
the same cartoon time after time and laugh myself silly. Even my
father, who usually eschewed children's programing would come in and watch
the Road Runner with me. He'd laugh just as hard as I did too.
Warner Brothers has been releasing their catalog of Looney Tunes and
Merry Melodies shorts on DVD, and now the third such set has arrived.
Like the two previous sets, The Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume
Three consists of four DVD that contain some of the funniest cartoons
Before I start discussing the cartoons themselves, a few words about
the collection in general. The cartoons have been restored and look
fantastic, much better than when they were shown on TV. The colors
are solid and bright, and the lines are clean and tight. The wonderful
thing about the restoration is the brought the shows back up to the quality
they had when they were first made, but didn't improve them. The
errors and imperfections that were originally in these cartoons were left
in. You can still detect some cells that weren't properly cleaned,
and the occasional miscolored object, just as they were first presented
to the public. I'm glad these slight goofs were left in, it gives
the cartoons a feeling of genuineness.
The cartoons are also presented in their uncensored forms. When
they were presented on TV, some scenes and dialog were cut to avoid angry
mothers writing in. Seemingly innocuous things as a Elmer choking
Bugs were excised (in Hare Do) and the networks even zoomed in on
frames to remove objectionable material (the word "cigarette" was cut out
in such a way in A Hare Grows in Manhattan.) Some cartoons
had little or no cuts, while others like Hillbilly-Hare had several
scenes removed. Happily the cartoons on these discs are all in their
original un-edited forms.
There are also a couple of short that contain racial stereotypes and
ethnic humor. (These are in the "From the Vault" section in the extras.)
To appease anyone who might be offended by these and the other cartoons
being released in unedited form, each disc on the set starts with a (skipable)
introduction by Whoopie Goldberg. (Similar to the Leonard Maltin
introductions on the Disney Treasures series.) She talks about her
love for the characters then segues into why these cartoons should be presented
with their ignorant stereotypes intact. Though she's not my favorite
performer, I don't mind having her introduce each disc if that's the cost
of having these cartoons in their unadulterated form.
Well, sort of unadulterated. There are some Blue Ribbon cartoons
present, which is a shame but not a tragedy. In 1943 Warners started
to re-issue their cartoons. To distinguish these from new shorts
they cut out the original titles and credits and replaced them with a generic
Blue Ribbon title card. (This card has a ribbon on the left and a
picture of the Grand Shorts Award on the right. Warner Brothers did win
the award, but putting it before a short implies that particular cartoon
was the award winner, which isn't the case.) The sad thing about
these re-issues is the colorful original title card is missing, and viewers
don't get to see the credits. (The Blue Ribbon cartoons started adding
the credits in 1956.) In addition, Porky's famous closing "Th-th-th-that's
all folks!" is also cut. There are several of these Blue Ribbon cartoons,
and I assume that they are the only versions in existence. The shows
with the Blue Ribbon openings include Homeless Hair, Pigs is Pigs, Pigs in a Polka, Thugs with Dirty
Mugs, Goofy Groceries, Walky Talky Hawky, and Swooner Crooner.
Each of the four discs in this set has its own theme, and comes with
a great amount of bonus material (which will be discussed separately in
the "extras" section.) I enjoyed all of these discs, and each
one has some great cartoons.
The set starts off with a DVD full of Bugs Bunny cartoons. Easily
the most popular Looney Tunes character, he shows why he's an American
icon with these cartoons. You have to love how calm and cool he is
when a gun is pointed at his head. A Hare Grows in Manhattan
is a great short which has Bugs telling the story of his early years to
a gossip columnist. He relates how he was able to outsmart a gang
of dogs while growing up, with his usual panache. Another funny cartoon
is Homeless Hare, where Bugs fights with a beefy construction worker
who wants to dig up Bugs' home to build a skyscraper.
The disc ends up with two of my favorite Bugs Bunny shows: Hillbilly
Hare and Duck! Rabbit, Duck! The first has Bugs getting
lost in the mountains and getting on the wrong side of two brothers.
It end with an extended square dance sequence with Bugs calling the dance
and the brothers getting the worst of it. The latter show is the
final episode of Chuck Jones' "Hunter Trilogy" where Elmer is out hunting,
but he doesn't know what season it is. Daffy wants him to shoot Bugs,
but somehow he's the one who always ends up on the wrong side of the rifle.
Watching all of the myriad ways that Daffy's beak can be shot off his face
is hilarious, but the ingenious ways that Bugs always turns the tables
on the scheming Duck make this a classic.
Disc two is built around Hollywood. It includes cartoons that
lampoon Hollywood, the movies, and the stars. Wideo Wabbit,
has Bugs answering an ad for a job in TV only to discover that he'll star
in Elmer Fudd's hunting show; as the prey. The Honey-Mousers
is an amusing takeoff of Jackie Gleason's show The Honeymooners,
with an all mouse cast, of course.
Hollywood Capers in one of only two solo "Beans" shorts. This
character usually stared with a new character Porky (Porky and Beans, get
it?), but Porky was much more popular than his little companion and Beans
was dropped. I wish they would have included the other solo Beans
cartoon, A Cartoonist's Nightmare. (That short has never been
released to home video and may no longer exist.) In this cartoon
Beans "of the Boston Beans" tries to break into the movies by sneaking
into a movie studio. Mayhem ensues.
The disc ends up with a later Looney Tunes short, The Mouse That
Jack Built which starts Jack Benny, Marry Livingston, Rochester, and
Don Wilson. This amusing parody fo Benny's TV and radio show has
the cast preforming as mice. Jack goes down to his vault, and then
tries to find a place to take Mary for her birthday, but one that's not
too expensive of course.
Disc three is devoted to porcine cartoon stars, especially Porky Pig.
The highlight of this disc is the wild take off of Robin Hood, Robin
Hood Daffy. Daffy Duck takes on the role of Robin Hood, but when
he runs into Friar Tuck (Porky) he can't convince the jovial priest that
he's the real Robin Hood. Of course Daffy/Robin comes up with a good
idea: "See yon rich, unwary traveller? I'll rob him of his gold, and give
it to some poor unworthy slob! That'll PROVE I'm Robin Hood! Huh? Hm? Okay?"
An uproariously funny short.
The disc ends with another great Porky cartoon, Rocket Squad.
This futuristic parody of Dragnet Sgt Joe Monday and his partner Detective
Shmoe Tuesday hunt for the villain George 'Mother' Machree. This
seemingly odd combination of a parody of a popular radio/TV show and a
sci-fi setting works very well. It's odd, yet familiar, and laugh
out loud funny.
The last disc in the set has to be my favorite. It's just a collection
of great cartoons, all of which will make you howl with laughter.
I enjoyed all of these, but the best are Walky Talky Hawky, a
Foghorn Leghorn cartoon with Henry Hawk, (That character has been woefully
under represented in these sets), Friz Freleng's Birds Anonymous
(which won an Oscar), and Falling Hare a very funny short that's
been included in many cheap public domain video tapes and DVDs, but finally
gets the respect it deserves with a wonderful looking transfer. It's
like seeing this cartoon for the first time.
The last disc also ends on a high note with a pair of great cartoons.
Gonzales' Tamales has Sylvester trying to catch the "fastest mouse
in all of Mexico", and To Beep or Not to Beep is a wonderfully funny
Roadrunner cartoon. (Interesting note: Did you know that they did the voice for the Roadrunner, but only once? They just used that recording over and over.)
This is another great set. The thing that makes it so outstanding
is that they have a great mix of cartoons. There are many of the
wonderful shorts that were shown on Saturday morning for years and years,
which will please the casual fan. There's also a lot of older and
rare material that die hard collectors and people interested in the history
of cartoons will be overjoyed to see. This set included the first
Looney Tunes cartoon (Sinkin' In The Bathtub) the first Porky Pig
cartoon (I Haven't Got A Hat) and the only cartoon where Bugs Bunny
appeared in black and white (Porky Pig's Feat).
In addition to these historically interesting films, there are several
cartoons directed by the very under-rated Frank Tashlin. Tashlin,
one of only two directors to make the jump from animation to live action
films, had a wacky sense of humor and his cartoons included here are wonderfully
inventive and funny. It's fantastic to see this great director's
cartoons being released.
The cartoons included in this collection are:
Disc #1: Bugs Bunny Classics
1. "Hare Force" (Bugs Bunny; 1944)
2. "Hare Remover" (Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd; 1946)
3. "Hare Tonic" (Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd; 1945)
4. "A Hare Grows in Manhattan" (Bugs Bunny; 1947)
5. "Easter Yeggs" (Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd; 1947)
6. "The Wabbit Who Came to Supper" (Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd; 1942)
7. "Bowery Bugs" (Bugs Bunny, Steve Brody; 1949)
8. "Homeless Hare" (Bugs Bunny; 1950)
9. "The Case of the Missing Hare" (Bugs Bunny, Ali Bama; 1942)
10. "Acrobatty Bunny" (Bugs Bunny; 1946)
11. "Wackiki Wabbit" (Bugs Bunny; 1943)
12. "Hare Do" (Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd; 1949)
13. "Rebel Rabbit" (Bugs Bunny; 1949)
14. "Hillbilly Hare" (Bugs Bunny; 1950)
15. "Duck! Rabbit! Duck!" (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd)
Disc #2: Hollywood Caricatures and Parodies
1. "Daffy Duck in Hollywood" (Daffy Duck; 1938)
2. "Hollywood Capers" (Beans; 1935)
3. "The Coo-Coo Nut Grove" (1936)
4. "Porky's Road Race" (Porky Pig; 1937)
5. "The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos" (1937)
6. "She Was an Acrobat's Daughter" (1937)
7. "The Film Fan" (Porky Pig; 1939)
8. "Speakin' of the Weather" (1937)
9. "Thugs with Dirty Mugs" (Edward G. Robbemsome; 1939)
10. "Goofy Groceries" (Jack Bunny; 1941)
11. "Swooner Crooner" (Porky Pig; 1944)
12. "Wideo Wabbit" (Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd; 1956)
13. "The Honey-Mousers" (1956)
14. "The Last Hungry Cat" (Tweety, Sylvester; 1961)
15. "The Mouse That Jack Built" (Jack Benny; 1959)
Disc #3: Porky and the Pigs
1. "I Haven't Got a Hat" (Porky Pig, Beans; 1935)
2. "Porky's Romance (Porky Pig, Petunia Pig; 1937)
3. "Porky's Party" (Porky Pig; 1938)
4. "Porky in Egypt" (Porky Pig, Humpty Bumpty; 1938)
5. "Porky and Teabiscuit" (Porky Pig; 1939)
6. "Pigs Is Pigs" (Piggy; 1937)
7. "Pigs in a Polka" (1943)
8. "Porky Pig's Feat" (Porky Pig, Daffy Duck; 1943)
9. "Daffy Duck Slept Here (Porky Pig, Daffy Duck; 1948)
10. "Bye, Bye Bluebeard" (Porky Pig; 1949)
11. "An Egg Scramble" (Porky Pig, Miss Prissy; 1950)
12. "Robin Hood Daffy" (Daffy Duck, Porky Pig; 1958)
13. "The Windblown Hare" (Bugs Bunny; 1949)
14. "Claws for Alarm (Porky Pig, Sylvester; 1954)
15. "Rocket Squad" (Daffy Duck, Porky Pig; 1956)
Disc #4: All Stars Cartoon Party
1. "Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur" (Daffy Duck, Casper Caveman; 1939)
2. "Super Rabbit" (Bugs Bunny, Cottontail Smith; 1943)
3. "Daffy Duck and Egghead" (1938)
4. "A Gruesome Twosome" (Tweety; 1945)
5. "Draftee Daffy" (Daffy Duck; 1945)
6. "Falling Hare" (Bugs Bunny; 1943)
7. "Steel Wool" (Ralph Wolf, Sam Sheepdog; 1957)
8. "Birds Anonymous" (Tweety, Sylvester; 1957)
9. "No Barking" (Claude Cat, Frisky Puppy; 1954)
10. "Rabbit Punch" (Bugs Bunny, Crusher; 1948)
11. "An Itch in Time" (Elmer Fudd, A. Flea; 1943)
12. "Odor-able Kitty" (Pepe Le Pew; 1945)
13. "Walky Talky Hawky" (Foghorn Leghorn, Henery Hawk; 1946)
14. "Gonzales Tamales" (Speedy Gonzales, Sylvester; 1957)
15. "To Beep or Not to Beep" (Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote; 1963)
These four DVDs come in a fold out book with an episode list conveniently
located on the back and flaps. The book comes with a slipcase making
it a nice tidy package.
The Dolby Digital mono soundtrack is excellent. The audio has
been cleaned up with wonderful results. There isn't any his
or humming in the background and distortion and pops are not present either.
Of course there isn't a lot of range, having been recorded over half a
century ago, but what is there sounds very good. A clear and crisp
soundtrack that gives no cause for complaints.
Like the audio, the full frame video is impeccable. The restoration
team has done an wonderful job cleaning up the image. As I mentioned
in the body of the review, they left the smudges and slight errors that
were on the cells themselves, while bringing the clarity and color back
to life. These looked as good as when they were first shown.
The colors are solid and bright, the lines are tight and the level of detail
is good. One the digital side, there aren't any compression artifacts
or encoding errors. A very nice looking set.
This set is packed with added material. 32 There in addition to
32 commentaries (!) by such luminaries as Paul Dini and Joe Dante, there
are three Private Snafu cartoons that were done during WWII, an hour long
feature on Bugs Bunny, and another hour show on Chuck Jones. There
are featurettes on the restoration and director Frank Tashlin as well as
a look at the Hunter Trilogy. Just a great set of extras.
The extras included are:
Audio Commentary by:
Jerry Beck (The Wabbit Who Came to Supper with Martha Sigall)
Michael Barrier (Bowery Bugs and Hillbilly Hare)
John Kricfalusi (Wackiki Wabbit)
Eric Goldberg (Duck! Rabbit! Duck!)
Greg Ford (Case of the Missing Hare)
Eddie Fitzgerald (Wackiki Wabbit)
Chuck Amuck: A 50-minute feature on Chuck Jones.
A Hunting We will Go: A nine-minute featurette on the hilarious Hunter
The Honeymousers Bridging Sequences: When The Bugs Bunny Show was
first broadcast, in prime time no less, new bridging sequences were created
to tie the cartoons together and make room for commercials. This
bonus recreates the way The Honeymousers looked when it was aired
on that show.
Ball Point Puns: A five-minute excerpt from a recording session for an
episode of The Bugs Bunny Show.
Audio Commentary by:
Jerry Beck (Hollywood Capers with Martha Sigall)
Michael Barrier (The Coo-Coo Nut Grove)
Greg Ford (She Was an Acrobat's Daughter, Thugs with Dirty Mugs, and
The Mouse That Jack Built)
Daniel Goldmark (Swooner Crooner)
June Foray (The Honeymousers with Jerry Beck)
What's Up, Doc? A Salute to Bugs Bunny part 1: A 35-minute look
at Bugs Bunny an the origins of Looney Tunes.
Bosko, Buddy and the Best of Black and White: The earliest Looney Tunes.
Fine Tooning: Restoring the Warner Brothers Cartoons: A 10-minute talk
about how the restoration was accoml;ished.
From the Vaults:
Sinkin' in the Bathtub (1930 - first Looney Tunes cartoon)
It's Got Me Again (1932 - the first Warner Bros. cartoon nominated
for an Academy Award)
Audio Commentary by:
Jerry Beck (I Haven't Got a Hat)
Mark Kausler (Porky's Romance)
John Kricfalusi (Porky's Party)
Daniel Goldmark (Pigs in a Polka)
Joe Dante (Porky Pig's Feat)
Eric Goldberg (Robin Hood Daffy)
Eddie Fitzgerald (Claws for Alarm)
Paul Dini (Rocket Squad)
From the Vaults:
What's Up, Doc? A Salute to Bugs Bunny part 2: The second part to
this 1990 TV special about everyone's favorite rabbit. It runs 25-minute
Tish Tash: The Animated World of Frank Tashlin: A 17-minute documentary
on this under appreciated director.
The Bear That Wasn't: a 1967 MGM Cartoon by Chuck Jones, based on
the book by Frank Tashlin
Point Rationing of Foods: a rare wartime short on the rationing system
Storyboards for Porky's Party
Audio Commentary by:
Paul Dini (Super Rabbit)
John Kricfalusi (A Gruesome Twosome, Falling Hare and An Itch
in Time with Bill Melendez)
John Kricfalusi (Draftee Daffy with Eddie Fitzgerald)
Greg Ford (No Barking and To Beep or Not to Beep)
Michael Barrier (Odor-able Kitty and Walky Talky Hawky)
Milt Gray (A Gruesome Twosome)
Jerry Beck (Birds Anonymous and Gonzales' Tamales with Art
From the Vaults:
Philbert - a rare 1963 TV pilot (Theatrical version)
Charm of the Stink: On the Scent of Pepe Le Pew
Looney Tunes Goes to War
Strictly for the Birds: Tweety & Sylvester's Award Winning Team Up.
Three Private Snafu cartoons: Rumors, Spies, and Snafuman
Storyboards from Falling Hare
Overall, this is a fantastic set. I watched it with my two sons,
and the three of us were laughing uproariously. This has a great
mix of shows, better than the other collections in a lot of ways.
There's a good selection of old black and white cartoons, various characters
(including Ralph and Sam, the sheep dog and wolf) and a nice mix of directors
including Frank Tashlin. These shows look fabulous too, the restoration
team did a top-notch job making these shorts look as good as the day they
were filmed. If that wasn't enough, there's a fantastic collection
of bonus material. From commentaries to featurettes and audio
only tracks, this is a very complete set. This deserves the highest
recommendation it can get: DVD Talk Collector Series.