LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION
I have glimpsed The Holy Grail of classic animation and it is the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION ($65). As someone who has owned all the volumes of THE GOLDEN AGE OF LOONEY TUNES, I can honestly say that this first DVD release is a welcome upgrade. As much as I enjoyed the Laserdisc release of the classic Warner Bros. animated shorts, the new transfers used to master this first DVD set, marks a significant visual improvement that will allow one to enjoy these films even more than they have in the past. When I was a child, I loved the slapstick nature of the Warner Bros. cartoons; however, when I became an adult, I came to appreciate the sophistication of the humor and the beauty that the animators brought to the characters and situations of these delightful animated shorts. The LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION offers fifty-six classic Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons, spread across a four-disc set.
Disc one is the Best of Bugs Bunny and features the following animated shorts: Baseball Bugs (1946), Rabbit Seasoning (1952), Long-Haired Hare (1949), High Diving Hare (1949), Bully For Bugs (1953), What's Up Doc? (1950), Rabbit's Kin (1952), Water, Water Every Hare (1952), Big House Bunny (1950), Big Top Bunny (1951), My Bunny Lies Over The Sea (1948), Wabbit Twouble (1941), Ballot Box Bunny (1951) and Rabbit Of Seville (1950). While I’ve always enjoyed the adventures of that wascally wabbit, and his ability to turn the tables on every adversary- the hilarious exploits of Daffy Duck have always held more appeal for me. Still, every cartoon on disc one is an absolute gem, especially personal faves Rabbit Seasoning and Rabbit Of Seville.
Disc two is the Best of Daffy and Porky and features the following animated shorts: Duck Amuck (1953), Dough For The Do-Do (1949), Drip-Along Daffy (1951), Scaredy Cat (1948), The Ducksters (1950), The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950), Yankee Doodle Daffy (1943), Porky Chops (1949), Wearing Of The Grin (1951), Deduce, You Say (1956), Boobs In The Woods (1950), Golden Yeggs (1950), Rabbit Fire (1951) and Duck Dodgers In The 24½th Century (1953). Both The Scarlet Pumpernickel and Duck Dodgers In The 24½th Century find Daffy at his self-important best, while Scaredy Cat is an underrated Porky gem, one in which Sylvester actually manages steal a good part of the show.
Disc three is Looney Tunes All Stars and features the following animated shorts: Elmer's Candid Camera (1940), Bugs Bunny And The Three Bears (1944), Fast And Furry-ous (1949), Hair-Raising Hare (1946), The Awful Orphan (1949), Haredevil Hare (1948), For Scent-imental Reasons (1949), Frigid Hare (1949), The Hypo-Chondri-Cat (1950), Baton Bunny (1959), Feed The Kitty (1952), Don't Give Up The Sheep (1953), Bugs Bunny Gets The Boid (1942) and Tortoise Wins By A Hare (1943). This disc features a bit more Bugs, while adding a bit of early Elmer Fudd and Pepé Le Pew to the mix. Additionally, even without Warner’s icons in The Hypo-Chondri-Cat and Feed The Kitty, these two animated shorts show that a starring character wasn’t always required to make a classic cartoon.
Disc four is another volume of Looney Tunes All Stars and features the following animated shorts: Canary Row (1950), Bunker Hill Bunny (1950), Kit For Cat (1948), Putty Tat Trouble (1951), Bugs And Thugs (1954), Canned Feud (1951), Lumber Jerks (1955), Speedy Gonzalez (1955), Tweety's S.O.S. (1951), The Foghorn Leghorn (1948), Daffy Duck Hunt (1949), Early To Bet (1951), Broken Leghorn (1959) and Devil May Hare (1954). Even more Bugs shows up on this disc, along with a bit more Daffy, plus we get some Tweety, Speedy Gonzalez and one of my favorites- the loudmouthed, but lovable, Foghorn Leghorn.
Warner Home Video has done a really terrific job with the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION, offering all fifty-six of the animated shorts in their proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratios. As I have alluded earlier in the review, these cartoons look better than they have in years (far better than previous Laserdisc and broadcast versions). However, this is not to say they look perfect. Because of the various ages of these cartoons, some of which are over six decades old, there are the expected imperfections that one would normally associate with vintage films. There are mild blemishes that creep up here and there, as well as a few scratches, but none of which are particularly excessive or bothersome. Additionally, a number of the cartoons demonstrate a noticeable grain structure, but this too, is never excessive or bothersome.
With minor variations in quality, the cartoons appear as crisp and as nicely defined as 2D animation can possibly look. In addition to providing sharper more detailed images for the cartoons, the transfers appear far more vivid, with brighter, more richly saturated colors than in previous versions of these animated shorts. Additionally, colors are far more stable than they have appeared in the past, without noise or smearing. Both the black and white elements of the cartoons appear clean and pure. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern. As for the Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks, they have been cleaned up rather nicely in the mastering process, with almost no significant instances of background hiss or surface noise remaining. There are certain limitations to the fidelity of these soundtracks, however the delightful musical complement and sound effects come across well enough to tickle any Looney Tunes fan. Dialogue is always completely intelligible and the vocal characterizations of Mel Blanc (amongst others) sound just fine. A French language track is also provided, as are English, French, and Spanish subtitles.
Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the generous array of supplements, which pertain to individual cartoons, as well as those being relative to the Warner Bros. cartoons as a whole. There are audio commentaries provided for twenty six of the various cartoons spread across the set, as well as twelve cartoons that feature isolated musical tracks. Additionally there are twelve brief featurettes that supplement various cartoons contained in the collection.
The larger supplemental programs include The Boys From Termite Terrace, a vintage documentary that looks at the colorful characters that comprised Warner Bros. animation unit during its heyday, and I don’t mean those cartoon icons that were up on the screen. This hour long documentary is divided into two parts and appears on discs one and two. Irreverent Imagination: The Golden Age of Looney Tunes is a new hour-long program that features recent interviews with surviving members of the animation department, which looks back on the creative genius and joy that were the Warner Bros. cartoons. Toon Heads: The Lost Cartoons runs forty-five minutes and looks at the so-called lost cartoons produced by the Warner Bros. animation unit, which are not so much lost, as they are out of circulation. Other supplements include a Chuck Jones Introduction, stills galleries, pencil tests, cartoon schematics and excerpts of films that feature animated sequences. While I’ve only managed a brief rundown in this review, all of these wonderful supplements really help to make the Golden Collection even more golden. Bravo Warner!
The LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION truly is a first glimpse of The Holy Grail of classic animation. Warner Home Video has done a truly marvelous job of mastering these vintage cartoons for release on DVD, as well as providing truly excellent supplemental materials for the collection. I know I am looking forward to future volumes of the Golden Collection, and hope that in the future Warner will release every one of these classic cartoons, without any omissions. Absolutely recommended.
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