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GAC Cartoons: Video Reviews
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Looney Tunes: The Golden Collection Vol. 2:
The Nuttiness Continues...

DVD Review by Pietro Shakarian
November 12, 2004

As you may already know, the new second volume of Looney Tunes: The Golden Collection hit stores just last week. This new set is an item any true cartoon fan must purchase — filled with so many more rare bits, odds, and ends that it easily surpasses last year's compilation. It's a wondrous set, and it would not have been possible without the hard work of Jerry Beck, George Feltenstein, Constantine Nasr, and Rick Gehr among others. Let's take an in-depth look at the set, feature by feature:

The Cartoons

This set contains some of my all-time favorite Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies — and I enjoy them here more than ever before! The cartoons, to say the least, are the highlight of this set. Each has been restored and remastered — to the point that one can even see when a cel didn't lie flat on a given background. Some of the best restorations are of the pre-1948 cartoons previously owned by Turner Home Entertainment. The effect is outstanding on shorts like THE HECKLING HARE (Avery), HARE CONDITIONED (Jones), and KITTY KORNERED (Clampett), all of which formerly suffered Eastman color fading. Even the two black and white shorts featured on this set, PORKY IN WACKYLAND and YOU OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES both look better than they previously have (take a glance at the image comparisons below and see for yourself).

The Heckling Hare
Hare Conditioned
Kitty Kornered
Porky in Wackyland

The original title card for 'I Love to Singa'

Many of these pre-1948 shorts were sadly neglected for years, seen on television only as "Blue Ribbon" reissue prints. Now, though, viewers can finally see these cartoons the way they were meant to be seen; and it really is a treat to watch such classics as I LOVE TO SINGA, BABY BOTTLENECK, and BOOK REVUE with original titles and music. It's a shame the same cannot be said of DUCK SOUP TO NUTS, HAVE YOU GOT ANY CASTLES, OLD GLORY, and others — which, while boasting astounding restorations, do not have original titles. At least CASTLES and GLORY compensate for the loss by including restored footage within the cartoons; the former being one of the most impressive, with its Alexander Wolcott opening and closing making the cartoon run more smoothly than we're used to.

The effects of DVNR on 'The Big Snooze'

One big minus this set suffers from is the use of DVNR (Digital Video Noise Reduction) on such classics as THE BIG SNOOZE and GORILLA MY DREAMS. It's most noticeable in the the former when Bugs demonstrates how Elmer should run in order to escape - the tips of his ears seem to simply vanish into the night sky! DVNR is also notorious for having turned up on Columbia House's WOODY WOODPECKER AND FRIENDS DVDs and Republic's BETTY BOOP: THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION VHS set. Read more about it here.

The Adventures of the Road Runner

Bonus Features

While the cartoons are generally the main event, no one disputes that the bonus features included are not only fascinating, but fun to watch too. Shorts that were never officially released to video are finally here, fully restored and unedited for your viewing pleasure. In my opinion, one of the most impressive is THE ADVENTURES OF THE ROAD RUNNER. The print used here is just so fantastic and clear compared to the splice-ridden 16mm transfer I had before (a transfer missing its last three minutes, so it was great to see the complete ending).

Orange Blossoms for Violet

SO MUCH FOR SO LITTLE is a very interesting piece and one of the best Jones shorts to boot. While the film is historical in its subject matter, its backgrounds, painted effects, and of course strong Jones poses are used so perfectly and beautifully that they demand attention as much today as ever. ORANGE BLOSSOMS FOR VIOLET, while not really a cartoon, is still great fun to watch and uproariously funny. The real highlight of this Freleng-Jones short consisting of Warner stock footage (most likely from the Mack Sennett library, as speculated by Jerry Beck and Will Friedwald) is the wonderfully wacky vocal characterizations that carry it.

Daffy Duck for President

DAFFY DUCK FOR PRESIDENT, the new cartoon on the set was originally storyboarded by Chuck Jones in 1997 and planned for release in 2000. It's interesting, but not nearly as good as the classic 1939 Jones effort OLD GLORY — which, as mentioned earlier, is also included on this set. Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone directed PRESIDENT, but most credit is given to Jones. The TV show opening sequences included are also intriguing, but not nearly quite as interesting as the other features. THE BUGS BUNNY/ROAD RUNNER HOUR and PORKY PIG SHOW openings are arguably the most memorable.

BUGS BUNNY'S LOONEY TUNES ALL-STAR 50TH ANNIVERSARY isn't exactly all that great, but it's still fun to watch, primarily for nostalgic reasons. I certainly enjoyed it more than HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUGS: FIFTY LOONEY YEARS, a dreckfest of a special produced five years later that — luckily — is NOT included here.

'Uncle Joe' Stalin and Hitler in 'Tin Pan Alley Cats'

The "Behind the Tunes" featurettes are really superb. The Clampettcentric MAN FROM WACKYLAND is especially stimulating. We get to see insights not only from the people behind the cartoons, but from a handful of top animation historians to boot — Mark Kausler, Charles Solomon, and of course Jerry Beck. These featurettes also include clips from such rarities as BOSKO'S PICTURE SHOW, TIN PAN ALLEY CATS, and HOLLYWOOD CAPERS. I also highly enjoyed the CONVERSATION WITH TEX AVERY. Filmed in the 1970s, this fascinating piece shows Tex basically summing up his career and describing how he used exaggeration to help enhance his films. The music-only tracks available for many cartoons are very pleasurable as well - especially on the second disc, which focuses largely on the Road Runner shorts. Some great stuff for the ears is here.

Mouse Wreckers

Audio Commentaries

As before, the audio commentaries are the most intriguing part of the set. Jerry Beck manages to stay relaxed and laid-back while reciting a wealth of animation knowledge off the top of his head. Michael Barrier's commentaries are among the most informative, as are Greg Ford's — who describes an unused ending for MOUSE WRECKERS — where Claude Cat climbs down the chimney and sets his tail ablaze. Ford also tells us the real story behind the censored ending of THE HECKLING HARE: rather than Leon thinking Tex had killed off Bugs, he apparently thought Bugs' line, "Hold onto your hats folks... here we go again" was the punch line of a dirty joke. It was also a treat to hear such figures as Bill Melendez, June Foray, Stan Freberg, and Martha Sigall voice their views as well.

The Great Piggy Bank Robbery

The best and perhaps wildest commentary is by a man as wild as very the cartoon he comments on. The commentary by John Kricfalusi (of "The Ren and Stimpy Show" fame) for THE GREAT PIGGY BANK ROBBERY is possibly one of the craziest things I have ever heard! Kricfalusi, who often said to be hugely influenced by Clampett's work, confirms so here. Never have I heard a more energetic or entertaining commentary on any DVD — Kricfalusi alone wins the prize. He's obviously a man who recognizes great work when he sees it. He also provides some insight as well (describing why Daffy's body parts wriggled out from behind the "dog pile" of villains).

In conclusion, LOONEY TUNES: THE GOLDEN COLLECTION VOLUME 2 is a simply magnificent DVD set. Definitely worth picking up, it gets my highest recommendation.

That's All Folks!
That's All Folks!

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All cartoon characters are © and TM their respective owners. All images are © Warner Brothers Pictures Inc. Textual content © 2005 by Pietro Shakarian.