March 26, 2008

DVD Review: Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume: 5

When it comes to releasing classic cartoon shorts on DVD, no one does it better than Warner Brothers. Seriously, no one puts as much time, care, and effort into their modern day presentation than the largest studio there is. In general, this studio does a great job with their back catalog of films. It is so refreshing to see that even big time corporations can have respect for where they came from, making sure that the presentation of their older material is up to par with any modern production. It does not show any better than with their collections of Looney Tunes shorts. They even do a better job than Disney with their annual Disney Treasures releases (not that they don't do a good job, it really comes down to which brand you prefer).

Warner Brothers has been knocking these sets out of the park ever since the first one appeared on shelves back in October of 2003. Each Fall a new set has come out featuring four themed disks of Looney Tunes classics with a whole host of extra material. That's right, in addition to the ton of classic toons, you get documentaries, commentaries, and even alternate audio programs that spotlight the music and sound effects (which are easy to overlook if you get absorbed in the toons as a whole). You cannot fault them for not giving you fully loaded releases, they truly are deserving of being called "Golden Collections."

Each and every one of the cartoons has been beautifully restored to pristine condition. When you watch them, you would not be able to tell (if you didn't know already) that they are as old as they are. The cartoons presented here were originally released between 1933 and 1964, with the vast coming from the 40's and 50's. The colors are vibrant, sharp, and full of life. There is a great amount of detail revealed, and this is likely the best these have looked since they were initially created. On top of that, there is little to no print damage evident. Sure, there is the occasional speck, but by and large these look as if they're brand new. The same goes for the older black and white cartoons. They look great and display the same quality as their color counterparts.

What about the sound, you ask? They sound great. The dialogue is always crisp and clear, and the music sounds wonderful. If there is one thing the creaters knew how to do (and they knew a lot more than this), it's using music and sound effects to great effect. Each sound, each not, each syllable has been finally restored to their original high quality. Actually, they are probably better than that.

Disk one gets things off to a strong start, focusing on Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. The highlights include "Ali Baba Bunny," "Buccanneer Bunny" where he takes on a pirate Yosemite Sam, one of my all-time faves "Transylvania 6-5000," "Stupor Duck" featuring Daffy as a superhero, and "Hollywood Daffy" where the famous duck acts as a stand-in for Bugs.

Extras on this disk include:
  • Chuck Jones - Extremes & In Betweens, a Life in Animation Pt. 1
  • Featurette: From "The Bugs Bunny Show" Vaults, which is broken into "Bad Time Story Bridging" and "What's Up Dog: Audio Recording Session."
  • A gallery of The Bugs Bunny Show commercials.
  • Four commentaries and five music and/or effects tracks.
Disk two is called "Fun-Filled Fairy Tales" and its focus is on, you guessed it, animated takes on classic fairy tales. Highlights of this disk include "The Bear's Tale," "Goldimouse and the Three Cats" featuring Sylvester as the head of the family, "Red Riding Hoodwinked," which crosses over with The Three Bears tale, and "Tweety and the Beanstalk."

This disks extras are:
  • Chuck Jones - Extremes & In Betweens, a Life in Animation Pt. 2
  • Chuck Jones Tutorial: Tricks of the Cartoon Trade
  • Behind the Tunes featurettes: Once Upon a Tune and Drawn to Life: The Art of Robert McKimson.
  • Five commentaries and five music/effects tracks.
Disk three carries the title "Putting a Bob Clampett On It." It takes a look at a series of Clampett directed shorts. I cannot say I would be able to tell a Clampett from a Jones or a Freleng, but the cartoons themselves are all great. Among my favorites are "Bacall to Arms" featuring an audience watching Bogie and Bacall on the big screen, "The Old Grey Hare," which sends Elmer Fudd "Far into the future" (the year 2000) for a final meeting with Bugs, "Buckaroo Bugs," and "Prehistoric Porky."

Extras included on disk 3 are:
  • Behind the Tunes featurettes: Wacky Warner One-Shots and Real American Zero: The Adventures of Private SNAFU
  • From the Vault:
  • Hare Ribbin' - Director's Cut
  • The Bashful Buzzard - Storyboard Reel
  • The Bashful Buzzard - Original opening musical cue
  • Alternate Milt Franklin Opening Themes, with an introduction from filmmaker Glenn Ford
  • Private SNAFU shorts created for the US Army Signal Corps: Coming!! SNAFU, Gripes
  • Mr. Hook shorts created for the US Navy: The Good Egg, The Return of Mr. Hook, Tokyo Woes.
  • Nine commentaries
Disk four goes by "Early Daze." It goes back to the early toons produced by Warner. This disk includes some experimental work as the early years of Warner played with what could be done with animation. Highlights include "Eating on the Cuff," an early take on combining animation and live action, the weird exercise and singing video "I've Got to Sing a Torch Song," "Scrap Happy Daffy" a propaganda film for WWII, and "Porky's Preview."

Extras on the final disk are:
  • Unsung Maestros: A Director's Tribute
  • The Looney Tunes TV Specials:
  • Bugs and Daffy's Carnival of the Animals
  • Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales
  • Bugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All Over

Bottomline. What else can be said? This set is absolutely wonderful, as are all of the Golden Collections. You cannot call yourself a cartoon lover if you do not have these in your collection. The laughs hold up just fine, no worries about not finding the funny here! It is amazing how well they do hold up, younger fans can learn a lot about what makes a cartoon funny by watching these. No one makes them like this anymore.

Highly Recommended.


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