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Warner Home Video presents
Looney Tunes: Golden Collection (1935-1954)

"What an imbess-sill! What an ultra maroon!"
- Bugs Bunny (Mel Blanc)

Review By: Brian Calhoun  
Published: December 22, 2003

Stars: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Wile E. Coyote, Tweety, Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn
Director: various

Manufacturer: Warner Advanced Media Operations
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (cartoon violence)
Run Time: approx. 7 hours
Release Date: October 28, 2003
UPC: 085392791828
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-B+B A

DVD Review

Though I missed it by at least twenty years, I have often heard about the golden era of animation, when one could normally expect to find a majestic cartoon accompanying the main feature at the local cinema. Typically, these animated shorts were an offering from Disney's Silly Symphonies, featuring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy, or Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes, with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, and the rest of the loveable group. The latter have always been my favorite, proving even more entertaining for adults than for children.

Long after these shorts were pulled from the cinema, they continued to run on television, though they were frequently edited to remove the cartoon violence that might offend younger viewers. It is only after watching Looney Tunes in my adulthood, however, that I truly realize that these cartoons were not necessarily created with children in mind. The frequent satirizing is often that which only adults could appreciate or recognize. Nevertheless, the giddy cartoon humor of Looney Tunes unquestionably appeals to those of all ages.

Warner animation produced thousands of Looney Tunes cartoons from the 1930s to the 1960s. Looney Tunes: Golden Collection devotes itself to their most popular characters, predominately Bugs, Daffy, and Porky. This four-disc set offers 56 cartoon shorts from the golden years of Warner animation, and I was pleased to find that each short appears to be uncut and uncensored.

Disc One is dedicated to the most playfully insolent character of the bunch, Bugs Bunny. Standouts from this collection of 14 shorts include Long-Haired Hare, which pits the sneaky and clever rabbit against a stuffy opera singer, and High Diving Hare, where Bugs continually makes a mockery out of Yosemite Sam. Disc Two graces us with the comedic styling of Daffy and Porky. My favorites in this bunch are Duck Dodgers in the 24-1/2th Century, a silly science-fiction romp, and Deduce, You Say, a wonderful Sherlock Holmes parody that finds Porky and Daffy searching for the Shropshire Slasher. Discs Three and Four feature the "Looney Tunes All Stars", offering many of my fondest Looney Tunes memories of Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, Tweety, Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn, the Tasmanian Devil, and, of course, Bugs, Daffy, and Porky. Each of the 28 shorts on Discs Three and Four are also offered on the less pricey two-disc Premiere Collection, sans supplements.

The Looney Tunes cartoons are timeless classics that only seem to improve with age. While I would be happy with any DVD set devoted to these delightful cartoons, the Golden Collection goes above and beyond in assuring that we are not only graced with hours of the finest shorts in Warner animation history, but also an extensive and enlightening look at what went into creating them. I cannot wait until my son is a little older so I can watch Looney Tunes with him and therefore pass the enjoyment of these works of creative genius on to yet another generation.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The image quality varies from one cartoon to the next, though I must exclaim that I am quite satisfied with the overall quality. While a bit rough and dingy, the restoration of this aged source material has certainly exceeded my expectations. Colors are fully saturated and appear bold and vibrant throughout, proving to be the standout of this transfer. Many shorts display an abundance of graininess and shimmering is occasionally evident, yet rarely distracting. All 56 shorts are a joy to watch; I seriously doubt anyone will be dissatisfied with the quality of this image transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: The original audio soundtracks have been preserved and are presented here in the Dolby Digital 1.0 format. I was pleased to see this format utilized over the less desirable 2.0 mono format. While somewhat strident, the audio suits the material just fine, and dialogue is always clear and intelligible. The music is a bit thin and lacking in bottom end. Nevertheless, it proves to be an engaging complement to the humorous visuals. Dynamic range is unsurprisingly nonexistent; therefore, reduced listening levels should not detract from the overall impact. While certainly not state-of-the-art, this is an adequate sonic experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 56 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
Isolated Music Score with remote access
4 Documentaries
22 Featurette(s)
Storyboard
26 Feature/Episode commentaries by Michael Barrier, Greg Ford, Jerry Beck, and Stan Freberg
Packaging: Book Gatefold
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Stills Galleries
Extras Review: As if the 56 animated shorts were not enough, the Golden Collection triumphs in the special features section as well. All four discs offer an overwhelming amount of extra material, guaranteed to dazzle and delight.

No less than twenty-six commentary tracks are featured on selected episodes, with contribution from Michael Barrier, Greg Ford, Jerry Beck, and Stan Freberg. None of the commentaries are particularly enthralling, partially due to the brief running time of the shorts, but each commentary helped to increase my already high appreciation for these cartoons.

Also offered are twelve music-only tracks, which is a bit of a misnomer. I was disappointed to find that the sound effects have not been removed, but the omission of the dialogue does help the inspirational orchestral scores to flourish.

Disc One begins with A Greeting From Chuck Jones, who gives us brief insight into the origins of Warner animation and the birth of the Looney Tunes cartoons. Due to Jones' unsociable speaking manner, I was thankful that his greeting was only three minutes long.

Next is Behind-the-Tunes, a collection of three featurettes that discuss the allure of pivotal characters in the Looney Tunes roster. Included are Bugs: A Rabbit for All Seasonings, Short-Fuse Shootout: The Small Tale of Yosemite Sam, and Forever Befuddled, which focuses on Elmer Fudd. Though brief, this collection of featurettes adds depth to the charm of these delightful characters.

The bulk of the first disc is dedicated to The Boys From Termite Terrace (Part 1), a 1975 documentary created for the Camera Three series. This is a candid look at the dawn of Warner animation, complete with loads of fascinating archival footage and early animation clips.

Bugs Bunny at the Movies presents short clips from two films of the late 1940s, Two Guys From Texas, and My Dream is Yours, both of which feature a cameo from Bugs Bunny. While neither of the clips are particularly enjoyable, it is interesting to witness the integration of animation with live-action footage in My Dream is Yours.

The Bugs Bunny Show consists of two stylish featurettes. A Star is Bored Bridging Sequences offers a glance at the clever animated filler that was used to connect the collection of shorts in a given program. The Astro Nuts Audio Recording Session is a terrific collector's item for Looney Tunes fans, featuring the original audio tracks for one of Mel Blanc's character-voice recording sessions.

Blooper Bunny: Bugs Bunny's 51-1/2 Anniversary is an amusing behind-the-scenes look at a fictional commemoration of Bugs' anniversary. There is also an option to listen to this featurette with a commentary from Greg Ford.

The trailer gallery is an admirable inclusion, yet I was a bit miffed by its brevity. Only two short clips for Bugs Bunny's Cartoon Festival and Bugs Bunny's Cartoon Jamboree have been included.

The final feature on Disc One is the wonderful Stills Gallery, featuring numerous character pencil sketches and early animation stills.

Discs Two, Three, and Four offer virtually identical extras as that on disc one, with a few modifications.

Disc Two's Behind-the-Tunes features the Daffy Duck tribute, Hard Luck Duck, Porky Pig Roast: A Tribute to the World's Most Famous Ham, and Animal Quackers, which focuses on the loveable pairing of Daffy and Porky.

We also find on Disc Two The Boys From Termite Terrace (Part 2), a satisfying continuation of the enjoyable documentary from Disc One.

Disc Two finishes with another terrific Stills Gallery.

Disc Three continues with Behind-the-Tunes. Only one of these featurettes, Too Fast, Too Furry-ous is dedicated to Looney Tunes characters, while the other two focus on the behind-the-scenes talent. Blanc Expressions is a wonderful tribute to the great Mel Blanc, who provided a large majority of the voice talent to the animated characters, while Merrie Melodies: Carl Stalling and Cartoon Music, is devoted to the quintessential music of Carl Stalling. This is the best collection of Behind-the-Tunes featurettes.

Created for The Cartoon Network in 2000, Toon Heads: The Lost Cartoons is a compelling 45-minute documentary. Featured is a treasure trove of fascinating rare clips, many of which have not been seen since their theatrical release, and others that have never been aired at all. Toon Heads is quite possibly the best extra of the bunch.

Following the wonderful Toon Heads is the equally enjoyable From the Vaults. Here, we get a glimpse at the production process for two cartoons. Hair-Raising Hare Scheme-matics and The Hypo-Chondri-Cat Scheme-matics combine final animation with rough sketches to demonstrate the methods of scripting cartoons. Though somewhat brief, this is an admirable look at the hard work that goes into the daunting animation procedure.

Rounding out Disc Three is the obligatory Stills Gallery.

Disc Four's Behind-the-Tunes is once again devoted to the loveable "Tunes". This time we explore the allure of Speedy Gonzalez in Needy For Speedy, Sylvester and Tweety in Putty Problems and Canary Rows, and, one of my personal favorites, Foghorn Leghorn in Southern Pride Chicken.

Irreverent Imagination: The Golden Age of Looney Tunes is another lengthy documentary offering an in depth look at the history of cartoons and the birth of Warner animation. Rare clips and interviews with industry talent highlight this fantastic documentary.

Another terrific From the Vaults section shows a brief look at the early days of animation. Bosko, The Talk-Ink Kid cleverly demonstrates the early animation process, while Virgil Ross Pencil Tests is a silent look at how the animators inject life into stationary, pencil-drawn characters.

Disc Four finishes off the collection with the final Stills Gallery.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Looney Tunes: Golden Collection certainly lives up to my heightened expectations for a four-disc boxed set. The running time of this fantastic collection of animated shorts clocks in around seven hours, which does not even include the hours upon hours of supplemental material. Packed with amusement for the whole family, the Golden Collection is one of my favorite releases of the year.

 


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