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STUDIO: Warner Home Video
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 417 minutes
• Audio Commentaries
• Music Only Track
• Music and Effects Only Track
• Private Snafu shorts
• Mr. Hook shorts
• The Bugs Bunny Show featurettes
• 3 TV Specials
The Pitch Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Porky Pig and a variety of caricatures of people who were celebrities back when your grandparents were young The Humans “Warner Brothers continues with another choice selection of the greatest cartoons they ever produced.” The Nutshell DISC 1 – BUGS BUNNY AND DAFFY DUCK Looney Tunes: Golden Collection – Volume 5 is another epic tome in the effort to have a digital copy of every WB animated short available to the digital enthusiast. Starting with the first disc of this release, we get several Bugs Bunny classics that I’ve desired to have on DVD for years. Specifically, Transylvania 6-5000 and The Abominable Snow Rabbit, you know the ones. Bugs Bunny takes a wrong turn heading to Pittsburgh and ends up in darkest Transylvania. From there, he meets Count Bloodcount and engages him in a magic battle that contains some of the greatest Chuck Jones animation put to screen.
There’s your disclaimer, PC Thugs.
1. 14 Carrot Rabbit
2. Ali Baba Bunny
3. Buccaneer Bunny
4. Bugs’ Bonnets
5. A Star is Bored
6. A Pest in the House
7. Transylvania 6-5000
8. Oily Hare
9. Stupor Duck
10. The Stupor Salesman
11. The Abominable Snow Rabbit
12. The Super Snooper
13. The Up-Standing Sitter
14. Hollywood Daffy
15. You Were Never Duckier
Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Porky Pig and a variety of caricatures of people who were celebrities back when your grandparents were young
“Warner Brothers continues with another choice selection of the greatest cartoons they ever produced.”
DISC 1 – BUGS BUNNY AND DAFFY DUCK
Looney Tunes: Golden Collection – Volume 5 is another epic tome in the effort to have a digital copy of every WB animated short available to the digital enthusiast. Starting with the first disc of this release, we get several Bugs Bunny classics that I’ve desired to have on DVD for years. Specifically, Transylvania 6-5000 and The Abominable Snow Rabbit, you know the ones. Bugs Bunny takes a wrong turn heading to Pittsburgh and ends up in darkest Transylvania. From there, he meets Count Bloodcount and engages him in a magic battle that contains some of the greatest Chuck Jones animation put to screen.
Yep, still a better Dracula than Richard Roxburgh
The word duel of wordplay back and forth ruined me for life; I was in complete adoration of everything that Chuck Jones would ever work on. Then, there’s the classic Yeti in the Himalaya that just wants a bunny rabbit named George. He’s going to hug him and pet him and teach him right from wrong. The images contained in this short and Transylvania 6-5000 are iconic and stick in your brain for the rest of your life. That’s the beauty of these short pieces of entertainment that all of us are blasted with at a young age.
Daffy Duck learns what it’s like to be Bea Arthur’s tampon.
The other shorts featured on the first disc include Ali Baba Bunny, but it’s really not that much of a classic cartoon. So, I spent the remaining time perusing the bonus features on the first disc. You get a look at the bridging sequences that were used on Saturday Morning favorite The Bugs Bunny Show. Toss on a commercial gallery and it’s rather underwhelming. But, that’s when they drop the big bomber. The first half of the 2000 PBS Documentary Chuck Jones: Extremes and In-Betweens, a Life in Animation packs the punch on this disc, as everyone is given a crash course to Chuck Jones’ masterful work at Termite Terrace and beyond.
The man has influenced American Animation by taking apart the Disney assembly line practice of producing warm figures and maturing it. Often using established classical scores or the jazzy tempo of Carl Stalling, we watch as Jones struggles throughout the 30s and 40s before finding his footing under the careful eye of Leon Schlesinger. Everything gets built to this high point and then you’ve got to start on the second disc.
DISC 2 – FUN-FILLED FAIRY TALES
1. Bewitched Bunny
2. Paying the Piper
3. The Bear’s Tale
4. Foney Fables
5. Goldimouse and the Three Cats
6. Holiday for Shoestrings
7. Little Red Rodent Hood
8. Little Red Walking Hood
9. Red Riding Hoodwinked
10. The Trial of Mr. Wolf
11. The Turn-Tale Wolf
12. Tom Thumb in Trouble
13. Tweety and the Beanstalk
14. A Gander at Mother Goose
15. Senorella and the Glass Huarache
The second disc is the downer of the bunch, as it’s nothing more than a hodge-podge of fairy tale based animated shorts pulled between 1937 and 1964. The majority of the shorts are Friz Freleng affairs that showcase the unsung hero of Termite Terrace. Freleng was the quick jobber that helped to build up the studio’s animation production in those years that they spent in direct competition with RKO, Disney, Columbia, Fleischer Brothers, MGM and Walter Lantz Productions. Half of the shorts are dedicated to Freleng’s thirty year stretch as being the go-to animator for those shorts that everyone saw, but didn’t appreciate like the others.
Bugs Bunny never cared where he put his carrot. Just as long as you didn’t try to kiss him on the lips.
Knowing about the man’s struggles made me reconsider a lot of these animated shorts. Freleng was one of Warner Brothers’ stars after World War II. He was often seen as a competing force against Chuck Jones’ unit, as they both tried to see who could produce the best shorts with the same characters. Freleng favored Sylvester and Tweety, while Chuck Jones tended to shine with any character he chose. I’m a little biased, but we all have our favorites. Still, the point is that Freleng was able to shine outside of Jones and this disc proves it. A dose of Tex Avery is to be seen among the fractured fairy tales, but Freleng makes short work out of shorts such as Tweety and the Beanstalk. The only thing that might be cringe-worthy is the fact that Freleng never shied away from the easy racial stereotype joke.
Robert McKimson is another animator that doesn’t get a lot of credit for the success of the Looney Tunes animation. McKimson made his name crafting intricate tales that seemed to borrow heavily from his tutoring under Rudolf Ising. He tended to favor characters like Sylvester the Cat, headliners that allowed for his hammier animation. This was in direct contrast with Chuck Jones and his suave approach or Tex Avery’s sex-filled Wolf romps. McKimson never seemed to get those director-based concepts as timing and furthering the plot. His shorts plodded and plodded, but they were awesome to watch. The point that gets made in the bonus feature Once Upon a Looney Tune – Drawn to Life: The Art of Robert McKimson is that he was an animator first.
It’s like the opening credits to Scarface, only wackier.
Taking a look back at a short on the first disc, we can see where McKimson struggles. Oily Hare is frustrating for the animation fan, especially when it’s presented on such a clean digital pressing. Going by story, you can see McKimson’s desire to crib a Freleng Yosemite Sam plot while playing with the humor of a Chuck Jones short. Nothing feels right in the story, but if you turn the audio off…you can see the heart and soul drawn into every frame. But, that’s not enough to make you a legend and it’s why I’m glad that McKimson got a documentary out of all of this. It’s way too easy to forget some of the lesser names out there.
I’ve noticed that a lot of the shorts have been cleaned up and restored. Several decades of syndicated television runs have led to a lot of opening and closings being chopped off and replaced with Blue Ribbon reissue titles. This is a personal rush, as I’ve been one of those geeks online signing petition after petition to make sure that these sets come in the most uncut of formats. Too many times has a major network or video distributor grabbed a print and slashed it to fit specifications. You wouldn’t want them doing it to a Kubrick film, so why should they do it to Bugs Bunny?
The second half of Chuck Jones: Extremes and In-Betweens, a Life in Animation continues in the special features, as we pick up on the last hair or two of the documentary. Most of it delves into fan appreciation while get the late Mr. Jones to ruminate on his career thus far. It’s sad to see such a master at his peak right near the end of his life. But, he had a good run and he made legendary animation. That’s a lot more than any of us will ever get to say.
DISC 3 – PUTTING A BOB CLAMPETT ON IT
1. Bacall to Arms
2. Buckaroo Bugs
3. Crazy Cruise
4. Farm Frolics
5. Hare Ribbin’
6. Patient Porky
7. Prehistoric Porky
8. The Bashful Buzzard
9. The Old Grey Hare
10. The Wacky Wabbit
11. The Wise Quacking Duck
12. Wagon Heels
13. The Daffy Doc
14. A Tale of Two Kitties
15. Porky’s Pooch
I spent the most time with the third disc that spotlights Bob Clampett. Clampett is one of those odd duck animators that even got a spotlight in the last Golden Collection review here on CHUD. It was a caption that I think Josh took of Clampett looking like Gene Shalit’s lost cousin while holding a carrot. The fun demeanor of which translated into his work. After all, he was brought in as the pinch-hitter to pick up the slack that was dropped when Tex Avery left for MGM.
The guys down at the Creation Museum had a hard time explaining this one.
The Old Grey Hare and A Tale of Two Kitties are the highlights of this disc. The Old Grey Hare plays with the old Looney Tunes setup of visiting the animated stars in the future. In the far-off future of the year 2000, Elmer and Bugs are old enemies that are still fighting. The eye-sight is gone and the hi-jinks take a little longer to get going, but Fudd’s got a ray gun. Everything builds to the hectic conclusion that comes with the sound of exploding bomb and Clampett’s signature Bay-Woop closure sound.
I’m such a geek that I actually made the Bay-Woop my first cellphone ringtone. Sadly, you learn that having to hear that bizarre sound over and over again becomes grating and makes you wonder why you love obscure animation sniglets from the World War II era. The other short A Tale of Two Kitties marked the introduction of Babbitt and Catsello. They were a short-lived pair of cats that tormented Tweety in his early days. Between jokes about Air Raids and Victory Gardens, you came to learn about where Clampett’s strengths were found.
The man could translate interpersonal relationships onscreen in a way that no animator at the time could. It was also the beginning of Clampett’s attempts to challenge the Hayes Office, as he snuck many adult references into the short and tried to slip pass a reference to giving someone the Middle Finger. Such risky taboos would make a six year old yawn now, but this was the kind of stuff that made people squeal in the 1940s. That’s what makes this stuff such a hard sale to the younger set. After they’ve seen Eric Cartman, they’ve got no interest in anything that doesn’t relate to their modern era.
This disc is where the From the Vault features really came out to shine. The Snafu and Mr. Hook shorts contained a look at what entertained and informed the U.S. Army Signal Corps and US Navy. Other Snafu shorts were featured in the last Golden Collection, so established fans should be familiar with the content. What you get on this set is a preview of coming Snafu shorts as shown to troops in 1943. This was followed by a special short called Gripes which was designed to teach everyone to not complain.
When he wasn’t shooting Nazis or banging your grandmother, this was the kind of stuff that your grandfather watched to pass the time.
The Mr. Hook shorts are a different affair, as they played upon homefront fears of what would happen if the War was lost. So, Mr. Hook was there to scare you into buying war bonds out of fear that Tokyo Rose and the Axis would march on Washington and make you eat a bullet. These shorts are such bizarre time capsules that almost make me wish that some animation house would do something like this for the troops in Iraq. Imagine the confusion on a reviewer roughly fifty years from now, as they watch Buzz Lightyear explain that we’re liberating a people that didn’t want us there to start.
DISC 4 – EARLY DAZE
1. Alpine Antics
2. Eatin’ on the Cuff, or The Moth Who Came to Dinner
3. Milk and Money
4. I’ve Got to Sing a Torch Song
5. Porky at the Crocadero
6. Polar Pals
7. Scrap Happy Daffy
8. Porky’s Double Trouble
9. Gold Diggers of ‘49
10. Pilgrim Porky
11. Wise Quacks
12. Porky’s Preview
13. Porky’s Poppa
14. Wholly Smoke
15. What Price Porky
The final disc in the set is a compilation of early animated shorts from the studio that didn’t really feature any of their headlining characters. Well, you do get a Porky cartoon or two from the early days. But, when was Porky ever a headliner? The highlights of the set include wartime cartoon Scrap Happy Daffy. The short was helmed by future feature film director Frank Tashlin and it was typical of the animation world’s support for the Armed Forces during World War II.
What I noticed about all fifteen shorts on the fourth disc was the overtly musical nature. Sure, musicals were an easier sell at the start of the Sound era. Warner Brothers worked hand-in-hand with the Vitaphone Corporation to make sure that they could tout the latest technological marvels at various roadshows and weekly engagements at local cinemas. There’s no really strong theme tying these shorts together, as we creep out of the 30s and into the 40s. The best way to view this is as a sampler of the all great Warner Brothers tastes that you’ve received on the other three discs and in the other Golden Collections.
The Looney Tunes TV Specials are an added bonus as we’re given the DVD debuts of several Looney Tunes specials that aired on CBS during the late 70s and early 80s. Added to that is a featurette that puts the spotlight on Stalling and the other unsung composers that brought these animated shorts to life. A lot of talk is made about the animators’ work, but nobody pays attention to the talent that makes the merry melodies. Did you even know that the Looney Tunes theme is called The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down? Of course, you didn’t. But, that’s why you’ve got this documentary to fill you in on even more people who don’t get credit for making your childhood a brighter place.
This package is another in a long-line of massive affairs that celebrate the love for American Animation at its finest. The Special Features range the gamut from a PBS documentary on Chuck Jones that featured footage from Steven Spielberg to Joe Dante to members of Jones’ family. We get comprehensive looks at the animators, the composers and wartime efforts by the Warner Brothers Animation Studio. Everything is to be found on this set, short of a re-animated Chuck Jones teaching you how to draw like a professional.
But, that would be creepy. I don’t know if I could handle an animation hero teaching me how to draw the perfect Bugs Bunny while he looks at my brain and salivates. If you’ve got the other volumes, you’re probably going to pick this release up sight unseen. Still, there are a healthy portion of people out there that don’t feel like they need a collection of sixty animated shorts. Take the blind buy and learn about how far we’ve come in an eighty year stretch.
The Looney Tunes Golden Collection series celebrates the achievements made by the Warner Brothers Animation studios and others. It took hard work and grueling trials to craft the animated icons that have outlived their creators and will outlive all of us that read these words. There’s a certain trigger in my brain that makes animation click with me. It’s not with everyone, but I know that you can appreciate hard work. This DVD set is a monument to that.
Warner Brothers is continuing to honor its animation past in a way that other studios should be following whole-heartedly. We’re going to be well into the High Definition age before the studio compiles all of their animated shorts from the Termite Terrace days to the modern shorts that we don’t get to see that often.