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Looney Tunes
Platinum Collection

Volume Two
Savant Blu-ray Review

Looney Tunes Platinum Collection Volume Two
Warner Home Video
Color, B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 365 min. / Street Date October 16, 2012 / 44.98
Starring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Foghorn Leghorn, Tweety Pie, Sylvester the Cat, Speedy Gonzalez, Porky Pig, Henery Hawk, The Roadrunner, Wile E. Coyote, Nasty Canasta, Cecil Turtle and Gremlins from the Kremlin.
Directed by Bob Clampett, Arthur Davis, Friz Freleng, Ben Hardaway, Chuck Jones, Robert McKimson

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

The first Blu-ray collection of Warners cartoons was sort of a 'greatest hits' album, which leaves this enormous three-disc follow-up set Looney Tunes Platinum Collection Volume Two to investigate the wider range of cartoon fare produced by the studio. According to the back of the package, it "Is Intended for the Adult Collector and May Not Be Suitable for Children." Don't be concerned, as there is no disturbing content here. Those infamous racist cartoons are nowhere in sight. What the buyer will get is hours of beautifully restored cartoons, followed by documentaries and rarities. Expert testimony and rare interviews take us into the world of Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes.

The average viewer may spend quite a while poring over the set's 28-page guide to figure out what to watch first. I sampled some of each, as well as looked at about fifteen cartoons. Your stamina may vary, but the energy level in these pictures is so intense that five or six at a time may be too much!

The main billboarded cartoons are all remastered in flawless HD; of the ones I watched I saw no damage whatsoever. My first personal contact with these animated gems was at Saturday kiddie shows in the late 1950s, and they literally jumped off the screen at us with bright colors. The WB shield slammed forward with a blast of music, and the packed house of kids would scream in delight. (Well, we did the same for Disney cartoons and Three Stooges shorts, too.) Colors are bright and pure, and the full resolution allows us to see how background art and even animation techniques changed over the years. The artwork cels in earlier cartoons, especially B&W ones, sometimes catch dirt and reflections. By the late 1940s, the artwork medium becomes almost invisible.

The featured animation shorts are grouped by type. Here's a list, adapted from the disc booklet:

Disc 1 is split between 'main star' cartoons (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig) and special supporting characters (Tweety & Sylvester, The Roadrunner, Pepe LePew, Foghorn Leghorn, Speedy Gonzales.

A WILD HARE (1940) - Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd
BUCKAROO BUGS (1944) - Bugs Bunny
LONG-HAIRED HARE (1949) - Bugs Bunny
ALI BABA BUNNY (1957) - Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck
SHOW BIZ BUGS (1957) - Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck
THE WISE QUACKING DUCK (1943) - Daffy Duck
WHAT MAKES DAFFY DUCK? (1948) - Daffy Duck
BOOK REVUE (1946) - Daffy Duck
DEDUCE, YOU SAY (1956) - Daffy Duck & Porky Pig
PORKY IN WACKYLAND (1938) - Porky Pig (B&W)
YOU OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES (1940) - Daffy Duck & Porky Pig (B&W)
I have to stop and talk about this one -- a B&W animation-live action combo with backgrounds filmed at the old animation building on what is now the Southeast corner of the Golden West Media lot in Hollywood. To the left of the building can be seen a street sign saying "Van Ness" and "Fernwood" (yes, that Fernwood), and beyond that is a children's playground. Well, it's all still there, just south of Sunset Blvd. on Van Ness. The street entrance to the building was plastered over years ago, but the cracking plaster is just beginning to show the outline of the doorway again. There you have it, another priceless bit of Hollywood trivia, animation history still alive in Savant's neighborhood.
PORKY IN EGYPT (1938) - Porky Pig (B&W)
BACK ALLEY OPROAR (1948) - Sylvester
LITTLE RED RODENT HOOD (1952) - Sylvester
CANNED FEUD (1951) - Sylvester
GIFT WRAPPED (1952) - Tweety & Sylvester
BIRDY AND THE BEAST (1944) - Tweety & Sylvester
HOME, TWEET HOME (1950) - Tweety & Sylvester
GOING! GOING! GOSH! (1952) - Roadrunner & Coyote
ZIPPING ALONG (1953) - Roadrunner & Coyote
SCENT-IMENTAL ROMEO (1951) - Pepe Le Pew
THE FOGHORN LEGHORN (1948) - Foghorn Leghorn
THE HIGH AND THE FLIGHTY (1956) - Foghorn Leghorn & Daffy Duck
TABASCO ROAD (1957) - Speedy Gonzalas
MEXICALI SHMOES (1959) - Speedy Gonzalas

DISC 2 assembles a number of cartoons showing the development of main characters, and some selected popular supporting characters. We see a lot of rabbits that are 'sort-of' proto- Bugs Bunnies; and the last few cartoons are one-shots with non-formula concepts.

WABBIT TWOUBLE (1941) - Bugs Bunny & Elmer Fudd. This cartoon was selected by an online poll.
RABBIT FIRE (1951) - Bugs & Daffy
RABBIT SEASONING (1952) - Bugs & Daffy
DUCK! RABBIT, DUCK! (1953) Bugs & Daffy
DRIP-ALONG DAFFY (1951) - Daffy Duck & Porky Pig
MY LITTLE DUCKAROO (1954) - Daffy Duck & Porky Pig
BARBARY-COAST BUNNY (1956) - Bugs Bunny & Nasty Canasta
TORTOISE BEATS HARE (1941) - Bugs Bunny & Cecil Turtle
TORTOISE WINS BY A HARE (1943) - Bugs Bunny & Cecil Turtle
RABBIT TRANSIT (1947) - Bugs Bunny & Cecil Turtle
PORKY'S HARE HUNT (1938) (B&W) - Porky Pig and a white rabbit
HARE-UM SCARE-UM (1939) proto- Bugs Bunny
PREST-O CHANGE-O (1939) proto- Bugs Bunny
ELMER'S CANDID CAMERA (1940) proto- Bugs Bunny
BUGS BUNNY GETS THE BOID (1942) - Bugs Bunny & Beaky Buzzard
THE BASHFUL BUZZARD (1945) - Beaky Buzzard
THE LION'S BUSY (1950) - Beaky Buzzard
STRIFE WITH FATHER (1950) - Beaky Buzzard
AN ITCH IN TIME (1943) - Elmer Fudd
HOLLYWOOD STEPS OUT (1941) - Hollywood parody
RUSSIAN RHAPSODY (1944) "Gremlins from the Kremlin"

Almost every cartoon has a special commentary track. The commentators listed in the booklet are directors Greg Ford, Bob Clampett, John Kricfalusi, Robert McKimson, Chuck Jones, and Eric Goldberg; animators Eddie Fitzgerald, Mark Kausler and Paul Dini, filmmaker Constantine Nasr, and historians Jerry Beck, Michael Barrier and Will Friedwald. A number of cartoons contain isolated music tracks or music and effects tracks that in some instances help us appreciate the clever compositions and orchestrations that were lavished on these cartoons. We have to marvel at some of the simplest sound effects, like the smash to the head of an operatic alley cat in Back Alley Oproar. It sounds like the poor cartoon animal has been splattered into jelly.

Extras and Bonus Featurettes. The set has a tall stack of featurettes assembled for earlier DVD special editions. Most are standard definition, even though all three discs are HD. The most frequent contributor is long-time animation critic Jerry Beck. A now out-of-print full guide to WB cartoons that Beck published years and years ago is now a coveted collectors' item. How else could I ever have identified the cosmically cynical cartoon Fresh Airdale?

Disc One has extended mini-docus on writer-director Bob Clampett, early Bosko-type B&W cartoons and the animation producer Leon Schlesinger.

Disc Two has a short piece on Elmer Fudd, a slightly longer one on Chuck Jones' 'wabbit season' cartoons, another piece identifying Hollywood personalities in the caricature cartoons, an interview with Tex Avery (recommended) and another brief piece about the role taken by Looney Tunes during WW2.

Disc Three is all extra content, over seven hours worth. Most items are also from earlier DVD releases and are presented in Standard Def.

A new docu King-Size Comedy is a long-form show about Tex Avery at Warners and MGM. Among the many interviewees are Avery co-workers Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng.

Tex Avery, the King of Cartoons is another nearly hour-long docu on Avery's life and work. It's older, somewhat redundant compared to the first, and better overall. But it is in Standard Def.

Another hour-long docu, this time on the development of some of the Warners characters, with June Foray and Leonard Maltin.

ToonHeads: The Lost Cartoons. This is a 54-minute expansion of a half-hour Cartoon Network special I edited in 2000. They made us butcher the cartoons down to nearly nothing, but this 2008 cut shows mostly full versions of the cartoons and the animation department's "insider home movies". The "lost" cartoons are old B&W shows, Private Snafu and Mr. Hook cartoons, feature sequences combining animation and live action, TV pilots, TV commercials, etc.

A short docu on "Private Snafu" cartoons. (Standard def)

Finishing things off are collections of 'bonus cartoons':

Six early B&W Leon Schlesinger cartoons and promos, featuring Bosko.

Five Friz Freleng MGM "The Captain and the Kids" cartoons (Standard def)

Eleven top MGM Tex Avery cartoons (Standard def)

Eight B&W Private Snafu cartoons (Standard def)

Three B&W Mr. Hook cartoons (Standard def)

The contents of disc three, with all those Tex Avery and Private Snafu cartoons, was a big attraction. The problem is that they are not only in Standard Definition, they are all older unrestored transfers. The Tex Avery cartoons, for instance, look dull next to the restored main attraction short subjects. I really wanted to see good copies of the Snafu and Hook cartoons, as the older versions I worked with twelve years ago were incomplete, blurry reference copies that might have been from duped 16mm. Lo and behold, that's exactly what we get here, the very same ancient copies. For all I know that's all that still exists in any form, but I was hoping to enjoy Theodore Geisel's adult-oriented rhyming text.

Warners' Blu-ray of Looney Tunes Platinum Collection Vol. Two is a mixed bag, certainly worth the purchase price. The dozens of restored cartoons look and sound fantastic, and animation fans will go for the extras. Viewers looking mainly for the cartoons will not be disappointed.

A wealth of extras is also present, but they're not quite as satisfying. The package states that they may not be in High Definition, and almost none are. When purchasers see a long list of Tex Avery cartoons on a Blu-ray, they're naturally going to think that the cartoons are in Hi Def. But they're considered bonus extras.

The many docus and featurettes contain plenty of good material, but a lot of duplication has occurred as new featurettes and promos have been assembled over the years, for different purposes. Warners have thrown on everything from thoroughly researched documentaries to quickie promos. They weren't made to be seen right after seeing the cartoons themselves, so one needs to use discretion: many are packed with large samplings of cartoon content. I was very pleased to find material I'd never seen before about favorite wild men Tex Avery and Bob Clampett.

On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Looney Tunes Platinum Collection Vol. Two Blu-ray rates:
Cartoons: Excellent
Video: Excellent
Sound: Excellent
Audio: English, Spanish (main cartoons only)
Subtitles: English, French (main cartoons only)
Supplements: Documentaries, audio commentaries, historical footage, 30 bonus short subjects. Some isolated music & effects tracks. Insert Booklet with guide to contents by Jerry Beck.
Packaging: Three discs in Keep case in card sleeve.
Reviewed: October 23, 2012

DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2012 Glenn Erickson

See more exclusive reviews on the Savant Main Page.
Reviews on the Savant main site have additional credits information and are often updated and annotated with reader input and graphics.
Also, don't forget the 2011 Savant Wish List.
T'was Ever Thus.

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