Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 2:
Animation Enthusiasts Strike 24 Carrot Gold Again!
By Thad Komorowski
Nobody thought it would be possible for the second set to top 2003's Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 1
But it is, and Vol. 2 did. Tremendously. A huge thanks to all those who made the DVD set possible, in particular,
Jerry Beck, George Feltenstein, Constantine Nasr, and Rick Gehr.
Disc One: Bugs Bunny Masterpieces
THE HECKLING HARE (1941)
The first disc of this collection contains a wider variety of cartoons
from different eras. Most notably present are two cartoons by Tex
Avery, the man who defined Bugs Bunny.
But first, I must be negative, as this is important. "The Big Snooze"
has been rendered by the Digital Video Noise Reduction (DVNR) process
(why noise reduction this day and age is necessary is beyond me). The
awful process severely ruins many scenes of this Bob Clampett
masterpiece, most notably the Super Chief train of bunnies and
Elmer shaking his head ("What'sa matter, Doc, ya got a cold?").
This was the first cartoon I watched on this disc, and I was expecting
a full-fledged, beautiful restoration, and I was disappointed. DVNR is
also present in the Robert McKimson classic, "Gorilla My Dreams",
though it is nowhere near as bad as "The Big Snooze" (the only really
noticeable part is the ending). I'm hoping DVNR will no longer be used
on this series.
And now the positives... Wow, all of these Bugs Bunny cartoons look
like they were made just yesterday. I'm particularly impressed with
the restoration on "Hare Conditioned", "The Heckling Hare", and
"Slick Hare". All have beautiful colors, and no longer have the
Eastman color fading. The most fantastic restoration on this disc is
"Tortoise Beats Hare", how they are doing this is unknown to me.
I never knew the opening titles were a dark purple rather than black!
HARE CONDITIONED (1945)
The only cartoon on this disc I don't consider a 'masterpiece', or even
'good', is Friz Freleng's "Rabbit Transit". While it has a fantastic
restoration, this is arguably the worst Bugs Bunny cartoon of the 1940s,
and the worst of the Michael Maltese/Tedd Pierce team-ups. It's
obvious that neither Freleng or Maltese and Pierce were comfortable
with this premise. The Cecil Turtle/Bugs Bunny rivalry works so well
in Tex Avery's "Tortoise Beats Hare" and Bob Clampett's "Tortoise Wins
By a Hare" is because Bugs is antagonistic in those shorts, and usually
is in those directors' cartoons. Neither the director or writers on
"Rabbit Transit" liked the antagonistic Bugs, so here we have the typical
'protagonist' bunny getting cheated and hauled off by the police.
The short would've worked better with McKimson as the director,
since his early Bugs was similarly (though not nearly as much) as
manic as Clampett's (not to mention he had pretty much the same staff
as Clampett). Cecil's end line sums up the cartoon very nicely though.
DO OR DIET (1961)
The bonus features aren't as extravagant as last year's, but still
great just the same. The commentaries by Greg Ford are the best on
this set, he really knows his Warner history, and how new cartoons
with the characters should be done. I'm hoping to hear more from him
on Vol. 3. It was also nice to hear from Bill Melendez on "The Big
Snooze" and June Foray on "Broomstick Bunny" (is anyone else bothered
by how she is listed as a "Voice ACTOR" on the packaging?).
The Bugs Bunny Show segments are a treat, though the
conversion from color to B&W materials on "Do or Diet" is more
noticeable than last year. The real highlight was the audio recording
session, where we get to hear Mel Blanc doing the voices of Speedy
Gonzales and Slowpoke Rodriguez! The one thing I didn't care for was
the "Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes 50th anniversary" crap... I thought it'd
be hard to top the one they made devoted to Bugs in 1990, but this
DID top it!
Probably the worst thing about this set is the menus. The 'animation' on the main menus
are laughably repulsive, particularly everything on Disc One and Two.
Disc Two: Road Runner and Friends
BEEP, BEEP (1952)
This disc is 'nostalgia time' for me, as the Road Runner shorts were
ALWAYS my favorites growing up (and they probably still are). I wasn't
expecting as much of an improvement on these shorts as the pre-1948 films,
but they still look fantastic. But the real highlights of this disc aren't
even the hilarious "Beep Beep", "Stop, Look, and Hasten!", and "Guided Muscle",
but the forgotten Chuck Jones classics, including a beautiful transfer of the fantastically
funny "The Dover Boys". Seeing Hubie & Bertie and the Three Bears on this disc was great
as well (though I'm disappointed they weren't able to find an original of "Cheese Chasers").
MOUSE WRECKERS (1949)
Again, the best commentary is by Greg Ford, who provides great insight on "Mouse Wreckers",
mentioning the Tom & Jerry remake, "The Year of the Mouse", as well as the original ending (in
which Claude comes back down the chimney and catches on fire). This disc also has the most 'music-only' track
selections, which is a huge plus. The music is a little hard to hear or notice with all the 'beeping' and explosions
ADVENTURES OF THE ROAD RUNNER (1962)
The best bonus feature on the whole set though, is the all-new print of "The Adventures of the Road Runner". My previous copy was
missing the last two minutes, so it was great seeing the thing in its entirety (Wile E.'s 'Genius
Chart' was hilarious!) It was also nice to see The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show opening, even though
it had the audio for The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner HOUR.
Disc Three: Tweety & Sylvester and Friends
BAD OL PUDDY TAT (1949)
This is also 'nostalgia' time for me as well, but not as much of a fun-filled one. Granted
I always liked the Road Runner & Coyote cartoons better than Tweety & Sylvester, but the cat
and bird are great in their own ways too. This disc features their best cartoons, including
a beautiful restoration of their first one together, the Oscar winning "Tweetie Pie". Other
classics included are "Bad Ol' Putty Tat", "Snow Business", and the ever-so-violent "Bird in
a Guilty Cage".
But the real cartoon highlights of this disc are the last six titles, in other words, "The Best
of Porky & Daffy: 1938-1946". Wondrous restoration has been done to Bob Clampett's masterpieces
"The Great Piggy Bank Robbery", "Baby Bottleneck" (seen for the first time ever with original titles),
"Porky in Wackyland", and my all-time favorite of Clampett's, "Kitty Kornered". Also present are
new prints of Freleng's "Duck Soup to Nuts" and Jones' "Old Glory" (with the original American flag
THE GREAT PIGGY BANK ROBBERY (1946)
While Ford is still doing the best overall commentaries, I think the best 'one-time' commentary on the
whole set is John Kricfalusi's on "The Great Piggy Bank Robbery". Yes despite how much I disagree with
him, you can tell the man really loves this cartoon. Here's hoping he'll be able to do more
commentaries on other Clampett classics.
'Nostalgic time' is given an even further boost with the inclusion of BOTH openings for ABC's The Bugs
Bunny & Tweety Show. I will be flamed for this, but I prefer the later opening to the earlier tuxedo,
neon-lights opening, which really looks like they just superimposed the characters onto the screen.
It's also hilarious to see how they used the comic book models of the Warner characters for the opening
of The Porky Pig Show (Yosemite Sam as a pirate, Sylvester's pink nose).
KITTY KORNERED (1946)
There is also the wonderful little cartoon "Daffy Duck for President". If you're a good internet pirate,
you've probably seen it on Yahoo Movies and don't need a description, but this cartoon truly was a labor
of love for Chuck by Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone, so hats off to them. The cartoon actually has wonderful backgrounds
and animation, the only flaw being the synthesizer music. It was also bright to make the cartoon 4.5 minutes,
because Bugs lecturing about the U.S. Constitution for about 7-8 minutes would make a boring cartoon.
Disc Four: Looney Tunes : On Stage and Screen
STAGE DOOR CARTOON (1944)
This disc is probably my favorite despite the many so called problems with it. Apparently, five of the
cartoons have been mastered to the disc interlaced rather than progressively scanned. The picture
shakes and distorts when you freeze-frame the DVD or it looks like this when you play it on a PC.
I've noticed it on a few other Warner discs, but only when fast-fowarding or freeze-framing. If the problem
only occurs during these times, it's not a severe problem, but not so much as DVNR.
BOOK REVUE (1946)
But this disc holds the most pre-1948 films than any other disc on the set. It's a real treat being able to
see the original titles to "Back Alley Oproar", "Book Revue", "I Love to Singa", and the Alexander Wolcott scenes
(I don't blame him for wanting the scenes cut, he's sort of gay-sounding here, isn't he?) for the first time ever !
"Hollywood Steps Out", "A Corny Concerto", "Rhapsody Rabbit", and "You Ought to Be in Pictures" have never looked better either. I was truly disappointed at how
they weren't able to find the original titles for "The Hep Cat", the first Looney Tune in color. It is a fantastic restoration nonetheless.
The extras on the fourth disc are great as well, particularly Greg Ford's commentary on "Show Biz Bugs", in which he plays music
that was not used in the finished cartoon! Seeing "So Much for So Little" and the hilarious, but odd, "Orange Blossoms for Violet" on DVD
is great too. The last problem with the set though, is that the music-only track for Freleng's ingenious "The Three Little Bops" quickly reverts
to the finished soundtrack after the first three minutes. Is it possible that this is all that survives for the original score?
And there you have it, my two cents on this DVD collection. Is it perfect? No. But it's very close to it. Every animation fan
everywhere needs this DVD set. You won't regret it, as this was the best $40.22 I've ever spent. But for those of you who weren't as
lucky as I was, trust me, I'd have paid the full $64.95 if needed! So go buy the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 2 today!
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Textual content (c) 2004 Thad Komorowski. Images (c) Warner Bros. Inc (or whatever it's called now...). Special thanks to Pietro Shakarian for frame grabs from THE HECKLING HARE and KITTY KORNERED.