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Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Volume 2 DVD Review

Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Volume 2

June 10, 2005

Director: Bob Clampett, Charles M. Jones, I. Freleng, Robert McKimson, Tex Avery,
Starring: Mel Blanc, June Foray, Stan Freberg, Dick Beals, Nancy Wible, Arthur Q. Bryan,

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DVD Review

Fresh from the success of their first volume, Warner Brothers has released a brand new collection of classic Looney Tunes cartoons just in time for Christmas. With the exception of a disc devoted entirely to Bugs Bunny, there is a surprising amount of diversity in this set. It runs the gamut from tried and true favourites, like Daffy Duck and Porky Pig to the not as well known, like the Three Bears and Hubie and Bertie. All are lovingly restored so that they look and sound as good as when they were first shown. Also included are an impressive collection of extras geared to the animation buff and casual fan alike.

The first DVD is entitled, “Bugs Bunny Masterpieces,” features a good selection of shorts, including two of my favourites, “Bunny Hugged” and “Slick Hare.” The former sees Bugs take on The Crusher, the world heavyweight champion of wrestling. When the rabbit’s ineffectual wrestler is defeated, Bugs steps in to defend his honour. At first, he doesn’t have much luck either but he quickly realizes that The Crusher can’t be beat through brute force and so he uses his brains and employs “a little strategy” to gain the upper hand.

“Slick Hare” features Elmer Fudd as a waiter at a posh and exclusive Hollywood restaurant (with playful gags on the likes of Ray Milland and Frank Sinatra). When Humphrey Bogart requests rabbit for his dinner, Elmer pursues Bugs who does everything in his power to elude the dim-witted waiter. At one point, Bugs even disguises himself as Groucho Marx and hides in Carmen Miranda’s fruity head gear. This is an amusing short that pokes fun at some of the biggest names in Hollywood at the time.

The second DVD features “Road Runner and Friends.” Among the highlights are “Whoa Be Gone,” which starts off with Wile E. Coyote chasing the Road Runner on a rocket, its exhaust serving as a colourful background for the credits. It also includes the famous freeze frames that identify the Coyote and the Road Runner. There are a lot of inventive gags in this short, including the Coyote trying to use a gigantic Acme rubber band to catch the Road Runner with the usual results (he is crushed by two large rocks).

“A Bear for Punishment” focuses on a family of bears with the gruff, long-suffering father forced to deal with his dopey son. The father has a short fuse (the source of much humour in this cartoon) which doesn’t help matters. It is also Father’s Day and his well-intentioned but extremely clumsy son tries to do good deeds for him but with disastrous results.

The third DVD, “Tweety and Sylvester and Friends,” features such classic shorts as “Snow Business,” where the bird and cat actually start off as friends. That is, until they become trapped in a snowbound cabin and Sylvester realizes that he has no food. While he plots to eat Tweety, a mouse enters the picture and helps the canary deal with the pesky cat.

“The Great Piggy Bank Robbery” is a vintage Bob Clampett cartoon with Daffy at his zaniest as Duck Twacy, a dead-on parody of the famous comic book crime fighter, Dick Tracy. Clampett’s trademark wackiness is in full-effect as Daffy really cuts loose in this exaggerated film noir.

The fourth and final DVD contains, arguably, the collection’s two finest shorts. “One Froggy Evening” where a construction worker recovers a box hidden in a cornerstone about to be demolished. He opens it to find a singing and dancing frog. The man dreams of fame and fortune. However, the frog only performs in front him. Is he hallucinating? Is he crazy? This is a perfectly encapsulated parable about the cycle of greed. The frog’s singing and dancing numbers are very charming, making this one of the best cartoons Looney Tunes ever produced.

Also included is “What’s Opera, Doc?” which is Chuck Jones’ take on the opera. The first few images take a playful swipe at Disney’s Fantasia (1940) with its faux epic grandeur as Elmer Fudd chases Bugs Bunny all over an Expressionistic landscape. This short features some extremely ambitious sets and a wonderful use of colour and heightened emotion. This is a cartoon drenched in atmosphere.

Special Features:

All of the discs in this collection feature audio commentaries on selected shorts and music and effects-only tracks on certain cartoons as well. The music tracks make one appreciate how integral music and sound are to these cartoons.

Some highlights from the audio commentaries on the first DVD include long-time animator Bill Melendez talking about how the animation on “The Big Snooze” was to be violent, wild and loose—a sharp contrast to working Disney which was very much a controlled environment. Chuck Jones comments on “Tortoise Beats Hare” and praises Tex Avery’s influence on his own work.

“Bugs Bunny Looney Tunes All-Star 50th Anniversary Pt. 1” is a 24-minute segment from a special that featured the likes of Cher, David Bowie and even Bill Murray praising and playfully making fun of the Looney Tunes cast of characters. It is pretty amusing to see Chevy Chase and Bill Murray (hanging out in a pool hall no less!) riffing on the loud, abrasive “personality” Yosemite Sam.

“A Conversation with Tex Avery” is a seven minute interview with the man as he talks about how he got his start at Warner Brothers with future directors, Chuck Jones and Bob Clampett. They were young, wild guys and they created so many legendary characters.

“The Bugs Bunny Show” features animated sequences that bridged existing cartoons that aired on this TV program.

The second DVD features six audio commentaries, including Michael Barrier on “Beep Beep” who talks about the origins of the Road Runner’s trademark sound. Greg Ford talks over “Mouse Wreckers” and how the unassuming backgrounds offset the wild action that takes place in this cartoon.

“The Adventures of Road Runner” is a 26-minute short that features another classic battle between the Coyote and the Road Runner. This time around the Coyote gets crushed by a huge boulder and blown up by his own dynamite. Interestingly, this is one of the rare times we hear him talk—and in a British accent no less!

“Crash! Bang! Boom! The Wild Sounds of Treg Brown” is a profile of the man and his work with sound on the Looney Tunes cartoons. He was a trained musician who used realistic sounds from the WB film library and juxtaposed them with the cartoons. This is an excellent look at an unsung hero of the animation world.

Also included is the classic theme music and opening song and dance sequence, combined with the Road Runner’s insanely catchy theme music from The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show.

The third DVD features seven audio commentaries, including Jerry Beck and inker/painter Martha Sigall on “Old Glory.” They talk about Martha’s vibrant colours and ink work on this short and all the work that went into it. The best commentary track on the entire set is courtesy of Ren and Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi who talks over “The Great Piggy Bank Robbery.” He speaks about how Clampett was his favourite cartoon director and how he saw this particular short when he was training to be an animator. His comments are very entertaining and informative.

“Bugs Bunny Looney Tunes All-Star Anniversary Pt. 2” is the second half of a tribute to these cartoons done in the ‘80s. Celebrities joke around as they riff on the Looney Tunes characters. There is also vintage footage of Mel Blanc explaining where Bugs’ voice came from.

“Daffy Duck for President” features Daffy running for office so that he can get into Congress and pass a law making it rabbit season all year round. It becomes obvious early on that this is merely a propaganda tool to educate us all on the workings of the government.

“Man from Wackyland: The Art of Bob Clampett” is a 21-minute featurette on one of the pioneers of the signature Looney Tunes style. Not surprisin

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 97%

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