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    You WIll Need To Reset Your Password!!!

    We just moved hosts on this system, and this has caused a few updates. One is the way we encode and store the encoded passwords.

    Your old passwords will NOT work. You will need to reset your password. This is normal. Just click on reset password from the log in screen. Should be smooth as silk to do...

    Sorry for the hassle.

    Dave Koch
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    Are You Just Hanging Out?

    Just lurking? Join the club, we'd love to have you in the Big Cartoon Forum! Sign up is easy- just enter your name and password.... or join using your Facebook account!

    Membership has it's privileges... you can post and get your questions answered directly. But you can also join our community, and help other people with their questions, You can add to the discussion. And it's free! So join today!

    Dave Koch
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    Other Side Of Maleficent

    I have been looking forward to Maleficent with equal amounts of anticipation and dread. On one hand, she is easily my favorite Disney villain, so cold and so pure, and I want desperately to see more of her and her back-story. On the other hand, she is easily my favorite Disney villain, and I would hate to see her parodied, taken lightly or ultimately destroyed in a film that does not understand this great character. The good news is that this film almost gets it right; but that is also the bad news.

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    BCDB Hits 150K Entries

    It took a while, but we are finally here! The Big Cartoon DataBase hit the milestone of 150,000 entries earlier today with the addition of the cartoon The Polish Language. This film was added to BCDB on May 9th, 2014 at 4:23 PM.

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    Warner Brings Back Animated Stone-Age Family

    Funnyman Will Ferrell and partner Adam McKay are working on bringing back everyone’s favorite stone-age family. The duo’s production company Gary Sanchez Productions is in development on a new Flintstones animated feature.

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    Disney To Feast In France

    The follow up to Disney’s 2013 Academy Award Winning short Paperman has been announced, and it will premiere at France’s Annecy International Animated Film Festival. Titled The Feast, the short looks to be based on the same stylized CG techniques used on last years Paperman, a more natural and hand-drawn look to computer animation.

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    Renegades of Animation: Pat Sullivan

    Pat Sullivan became famous worldwide for his creation of Felix the Cat. What most animation histories gloss over is Sullivan’s checkered past and longtime standing as a wildcat renegade. He didn’t follow the rules. And he made damn sure to fully protect his intellectual properties.

LTGC: Five Years Older But Only One Grey Hare

Discussion in 'The Animated Word' started by Dave Koch, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. Dave Koch

    Dave Koch Cartoon Admin

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    With the release in late October of the 5th installment of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection, we now come to the half-way point in Warner Home Video’s proposed 10-volume anthology. In many ways this latest volume is quite possibly the best of the series; in terms of bonus features and (for the most part) visual quality.

    The cartoons contained in the present volume look to be entirely free of the excessive DVNR which to different degrees had plagued earlier volumes of LTGC and, most recently, Universal's Woody Woodpecker DVD set. On the other hand it has been reported here in the Big Cartoon Forum that some cartoons, like Foney Fables and The Bashful Buzzard, contain some minor blemishes that could have been digitally excised; that is, if someone in post-production had been paying better attention. The majority of the color and black and white cartoons contained on all four discs look and sound superb. Some viewers have complained about occasional oversaturation of colors and I can attest that at times it is necessary to adjust the color and tint levels on one's monitor for some of the color cartoons. Moreover, those color cartoons that were originally released in the cheaper Cinecolor process (which emphasized the red and blue colors of the spectrum)1 appear to have been color-corrected to reveal the the hues of the original production cels and backgrounds. Just how accurate these colors are remains to be seen. Admittedly, there doesn’t seem to be much that WHV could have done to completely restore the “Private Snafu” and “Mr. Hook” cartoons that are presented as bonus features on Disc 3 (as well as in previous volumes), given the fact that any surviving prints were released only in 16mm and have long-since suffered from varying degrees of deterioration. For more details about the history of these extremely rare shorts, please refer to my earlier review of Thunderbean Animation’s Cartoons for Victory DVD.

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    Examples of (left) an original Merrie Melodies opening-title card and (right) a "Blue Ribbon" re-issue main-title card.

    There is also still the matter of the whole "original titles" debacle. A number of the Merrie Melodies titles presented here are available only as re-issue prints, which unfortunately had been shorn of their original title sequences in the early 1950’s, when the cartoons were re-issued as part of Warner Bros. Cartoons’ “Blue Ribbon” series. I think it's safe to say that any "Blue Ribbon" versions of Warner Bros. cartoons that have been offered in previous volumes of LTGC are the only versions of those cartoons anyone will see from this point onward.

    As in the previous four volumes, WHV has been generous to a fault in the way of bonus features. Once again these include the always-informative and often-fascinating “Behind the Tunes” featurettes; albeit with slightly-different main-title graphics and this time paying a long-overdue tribute to animator-director Robert McKimson. The usual bridging sequences and audio recording sessions from The Bugs Bunny Show are back as well; although this time, however, viewers will also have the opportunity to see their beloved Looney Tunes characters in rare television commercials for Tang™ Breakfast Drink and Alpha-Bits™ Breakfast Cereal. These originally ran as part of each half-hour episode and, despite the fact that most commercials of this vintage often suffer greatly from deterioration and neglect, they actually look pretty damned good! The word on the street is that a few completely restored and reconstructed episodes of The Bugs Bunny Show will be forthcoming on later sets. Whether or not these will be presented in black and white (as they originally aired) or in color (as they were originally produced) is a matter for speculation at the present time.

    The question is, why hadn’t this been done already in previous volumes? WHV already had at their disposal the opening and closing titles and complete bridging sequences (as well as prints of the cartoons they introduced) for at least three different half-hour episodes. True, some color elements were missing from the film vaults; but theoretically the surviving black and white elements could have been colorized to match the existing color footage. Normally I don’t advocate the colorization of vintage black and white films; but in this case it is actually more a matter of restoring film that was originally produced in color to begin with.


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    Other bonus features include three half-hour television specials originally produced during the late 1970's and early 1980's by Warner Bros. Animation. The prints used for this compilation are not absolutely pristine (the latter title has the best, overall, picture-quality) but are nevertheless decent enough not to seriously detract from one’s viewing pleasure. Carnival of the Animals features Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in a delightful animated and live-action presentation of the music of “Camille” (not “Camel”) Saint-Saëns, with verses by Ogden Nash. Michael Tilson-Thomas conducts the live-action orchestra and the cartoon action, as directed by Chuck Jones, contains gags and a plot element reminiscent of Friz Freleng’s earlier cartoon, Show Biz Bugs. One of our Forum Members (thanks, Glowworm) reported an odd lip-sync error in this production that I had previously not noticed; specifically in the segment on "The Fishes", during which at one point Bugs's lips can be seen moving but Daffy's voice can be heard instead. The second and third half-hour specials each consist of three newly-produced cartoon shorts and bridging sequences featuring the classic Looney Tunes characters. Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales includes as the first of its three segments Bugs Bunny's Christmas Carol, an interesting re-telling of the Dickens classic with Yosemite Sam in the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge (!) Bugs Bunny’s Busting Out All Overfeatures three newly-animated segments (all directed by Jones) that are introduced in turn by Bugs, as he wistfully reflects on the flights of fancy that one experiences during the spring. 1

    If all that weren’t enough, the producers have included two additional featurettes, A Chuck Jones Tutorial: Tricks of the Cartoon Trade and Unsung Maestros: A Directors’ Tribute; the latter honoring lesser-known directors like Norm McCabe and Jack King. The Jones segment makes a nice companion piece to the full-length documentary, Chuck Jones: Extremes and In-Betweens, a Life in Animation, which has been split between Discs 1 and 2. Buried treasure in the “From the Vault” section on Disc 3 includes the aforementioned Hook/Snafu shorts as well as the rarely-seen “Director’s Cut” of Clampett’s Hare Ribbin’ (the print of which unfortunately has some damaged film-frames during the opening credits).


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    An example of some of the modern graphics used by Warner Bros. Cartoons during the mid-to-late 1960's.


    Of special interest is a selection of never-before-heard music cues that Milt Franklyn composed for the “modern” opening Looney Tunes animated titles of the mid-to-late 1960’s. These are fascinating to hear, and in some ways are preferable to the theme music that Warner Bros. ended up using. Franklyn unfortunately suffered a fatal heart-attack while scoring Friz Freleng’s Tweety and Sylvester cartoon, The Jet Cage. Bill Lava, who had been a Warner Bros. “in-house” composer for many years (scoring live-action TV series like F-Troop and the “Joe McDoakes” theatrical comedy shorts), stepped in to complete the unfinished music cues. Another music cue that has long been unheard is that which originally opened Clampett’s The Bashful Buzzard. The DVD producers were unable to locate the original title cards which ran in conjunction with the music cue, and so here they present those cards as they “imagine” they must have looked. Unfortunately the result is a generic-looking falsification of the original opening title sequence, which reportedly unfolded in the exact same manner as in Clampett’s Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid. 2

    A number of the cartoons contained in this new set, as they have in previous volumes, offer multiple audio options for viewers; one can opt to listen to either a “music-only” or a “music-and-sound-effects-only” audio track, or switch over to an informative audio commentary. Audio commentaries are provided by Mike Barrier, Jerry Beck, Paul Dini, Greg Ford, Eric Goldberg, Daniel Goldmark, Mark Kausler and Keith Scott. Thankfully, viewers have a choice of audio commentary for Buckaroo Bugs. They can either choose the more-insightful commentary by Mike Barrier, which includes rare interview clips with Director Robert Clampett, or settle for the somewhat-less useful commentary with John Kricfalusi and his cohorts Eddie Fitzgerald and Kali Fontecchio. To be fair, however, the comments that John K. and Co. provide do occasionally make some salient points during the course of the cartoon proper; and they are far less-often given to incessant chortling here than in some of their previous commentaries for WHV.

    The one area in which this latest installment falls short is, unfortunately, in the package design. Once again the marketing brain-trust at WHV has opted to cram the four discs into the same slim-line DVD case that they used previously for LTGC4 and for the more recent Popeye DVD set; and it doesn’t look like they have any intention of abandoning this format anytime soon. In this volume the discs are particularly difficult to remove from their plastic hubs. As I attempted to remove one of the discs from my set, the disc began to bend so much I thought it would snap in half (!) Viewers will continue to put up with this shoddy design until enough of our complaints are heard by WHV. The WHV bean-counters supposedly read customer reviews posted on Amazon.com’s website so let’s all post those complaints post-haste, shall we?

    As for the individual cartoon titles featured this time around, viewers will find a number of their favorites here like Ali Baba Bunny, Bewitched Bunny, 14 Carrot Rabbit, The Daffy Doc, A Tale of Two Kitties (unfortunately in a “Blue Ribbon” reissue print), Goldimouse and The Three Cats and Porky’s Preview (or, as I like to call it, “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ham”). WHV has also included a number of lesser-known, but nonetheless highly-entertaining cartoons. For example, I had never seen Señorella and the Glass Huarache prior to purchasing this set. Directed by Friz Freleng’s long-time layout artist, Hawley Pratt, it is an interesting retelling of the tried-and-true Cinderella tale and utilizes a unique framing device: the story is told from the viewpoint of two Mexican barflies who are seen by the audience only from their shadows on the wall. This was the last cartoon produced (by David DePatie of DePatie-Freleng Enterprises) at the old Warner Bros. Cartoon Studio, and it features the “modern” main-title card graphics and highly-dissonant version of “The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down” theme music. It also features highly-stylized character design and background art reminiscent of most of the television animation being outsourced to Mexico during the mid-to-late 1960’s. In fact, Señorella’s fairy-godmother bears a striking resemblance to the fairy who often introduced the “Fractured Fairy Tales” segment of The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Other lesser-known cartoons—to anyone but die-hard Looney Tunes fans, that is—presented here include the highly-underrated Eatin’ on the Cuff (which is nothing like Uncle Tom's Cabin, BTW) and what is possibly the most Disney-esque of Chuck Jones’ early cartoons for Warner Bros., Tom Thumb in Trouble (also in a "Blue Ribbon" reissue print). It was most likely the latter title which prompted Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies’ Producer, Leon Schlesinger, to admonish Jones to start making funnier cartoons.


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    Hassan stops for directions: a scene from Ali Baba Bunny


    The first disc in the present compilation again focuses mainly on Bugs Bunny and includes a few of his cartoons that are new to DVD: like Bugs' Bonnets, which presents some hilarious (and unlikely) role-play scenarios; Oily Hare, featuring what appears to be Robert McKimson’s version of Yosemite Sam and The Abominable Snow Rabbit. This time, however, WHV has seen fit to give equal billing to Daffy Duck; and it is interesting to see from his cartoons included on this disc just how his character developed during the 1940’s and 1950’s. Jones’ A Pest in the House features a Daffy Duck who is not menacing, resentful, or excessively greedy (as he was consistently portrayed in later entries like A Star is Bored). Commentator Paul Dini suggests that this is more of a “middle-of-the-road” Daffy who is simply trying here and in other 1940’s cartoons, like McKimson’s The Up-Standing Sitter (featuring what essentially is Henery Hawk dressed as a newly-hatched baby chick) and Arthur Davis’ The Stupor Salesman (one of my all-time favorites), to earn an honest living in his own inimitable fashion. In cartoons like these Daffy is not quite as manic and crazy as in his earlier outings directed by Clampett and Tex Avery. Other cartoons like Freleng’s Hollywood Daffy lend credence (just as Freleng's You Ought To Be In Pictures had earlier) to the impossible-but-nevertheless-real notion that Daffy Duck is a flesh-and-blood entity and a bonafied Hollywood film celebrity; although perhaps not quite in the same vein as Bette Davis, Jimmy Durante, Charlie Chaplin and Bing Crosby (all of whom have cameos here).

    Disc 2 exclusively contains adaptations of beloved fairy-tales, as only the Boys of Termite Terrace could possibly tell them. Avery’s The Bear’s Tale is one of the funniest of the batch and delights in turning every established Disney fairy-tale cartoon convention on its head. For example, each reference by narrator Robert C. Bruce to the forest in which the story takes place heralds an abrupt cut to the same shot of twittering birds, accompanied by Mendelssohn’s “Spring Song”. Avery himself provides the voice of the Papa Bear with the infectious laugh. Also included on Disc 2 are no fewer than three different versions of the tale of Little Red Riding Hood: Little Red Rodent Hood, Little Red Walking Hood and Red Riding Hoodwinked. “Spot-gag” cartoons like A Gander at Mother Goose feature such outlandish contemporary references as when the Three Little Pigs offer the Big Bad Wolf a bottle of “Histerine” to combat his bad breath (!) Of special interest are two cartoons that were helmed by two different Warner’s directors, written by two different Warner’s storymen and produced some 11 years apart; but both of which tackle virtually the same plot about a wolf who vehemently maintains his unimpeachable innocence throughout the proceedings: Freleng’s The Trial of Mr. Wolf and McKimson’s The Turn-Tale Wolf. Both cartoons are here presented back-to-back and offer viewers keen insight into just how much of a collaborative effort the Warner Bros. cartoons really were; as each of the different Directors’ units shared the same writing pool and frequently sat in on one-another’s story sessions. Other entries in this collection of parodies include McKimson’s Paying the Piper (featuring Porky Pig as the Pied Piper of Hamlin) and Freleng’s Tweety and the Beanstalk; in which the giant utters the immortal line: “Fee, fi, fo, fat… I tawt I taw a putty tat!”

    Disc 3 is devoted entirely to the films of Robert Clampett, and deservedly so. Presented alongside such favorites as The Wacky Wabbit (featuring a rotund version of Elmer Fudd—reportedly modeled after voice-actor Arthur Q. Bryan) are the somewhat-controversial Bacall to Arms (containing an unfortunate blackface gag that is intact here) and the “spot-gag” entries Crazy Cruise (an unfinished Avery cartoon completed by Clampett) and Farm Frolics. Clampett’s hilarious send-up of the popular Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall vehicle, To Have and Have Not reuses scenes from Freleng’s earlier She Was An Acrobat’s Daughter and utilizes rotoscoped footage of the real Bogie and Bacall. Film Historian Jerry Beck notes in his commentary that Clampett’s name is conspicuously absent from the opening credits. The cartoon was actually completed by Arthur Davis’ unit following Clampett’s dismissal from the Warner Bros. Cartoon Studio and not released until shortly after his departure.


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    Despite wartime food rationing, Elmer fights his own "Battle of the Bulge": a scene from The Wacky Rabbit


    It is good to have two more of Clampett’s Black and White Looney Tunes featuring Porky Pig back in circulation: Patient Porky (which could conceivably be thought of as a sequel of sorts to the earlier Porky’s Party) and Prehistoric Porky (which features dead-on caricatures of Jerry Colona and Ned Sparks). Personally I've always liked Clampett’s way of working with Porky. Despite the fact that Porky is clearly an adult pig in most of his cartoons, Clampett still managed to present him as cute and child-like (if not always a child, per se). In the former cartoon, as in The Daffy Doc, Porky unfortunately finds himself in the hands of a homicidal maniac; this time an unnamed cat who appears to be the prototype for a new featured character in the Warner stable. He obviously didn't test well with audiences, as this is his only screen appearance. Porky’s Pooch marks the seminal appearance of a canine character who would become better known as “Charlie Dog” in some of Jones’ Porky Pig cartoons of the late 1940’s. This cartoon and Eatin’ on the Cuff are unique in the Clampett canon in that their backgrounds utilize still black-and-white photographs (a procedure harking back to the earlier Max Fleischer silent cartoons featuring Ko-Ko the Clown). One of Clampett’s most hilarious Daffy Duck cartoons, The Wise Quacking Duck contains a side-splitting scene in which Daffy (after having been seemingly-beheaded by adversary Mr. Meek) undergoes some of the most outrageous death-throes ever preserved on film.


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    Hey WHV, when are we going to start seeing some "Buddy" cartoons?


    Disc 4 is indeed a treasure-trove, as it consists entirely of black-and-white Looney Tunes and early black-and-white Merrie Melodies. Not everyone will want to want to view more than once such cartoons as Jack King’s Alpine Antics (featuring the eminently-forgettable character, Beans the Cat, but with some impressive action sequences) and Avery’s Gold Diggers of ’49 (featuring Beans as well as the most grotesque incarnation, IMHO, of Porky Pig ever). Clampett’s Pilgrim Porky is also somewhat-weak, being reduced mainly to a series of lame spot-gags in the Tex Avery vein (in his weaker moments, that is). A rarely-seen Merrie Melodie cartoon, I’ve Got to Sing a Torch Song, features some wonderful caricatures of Hollywood celebrities such as Greta Garbo (who delivers the final “That’s All, Folks!” in her typical dead-pan manner). Some of the more-enjoyable Clampett cartoons presented here include Porky’s Poppa (in which Porky is indeed portrayed as a child, with terrific personality animation by Chuck Jones) 3, What Price Porky (which contains some well-executed battle scenes) and Wise Quacks (which utilizes a slightly-different character design on Daffy and introduces the first of his many later offspring). Frank Tashlin’s humorous morality-play on the evils of tobacco-use, Wholly Smoke also features a younger version of Porky and makes its first appearance ever on DVD. Another of my all-time favorite Daffy Duck cartoons, also directed by Tashlin (following a brief absence from Warner Bros.), is Scrap Happy Daffy. This is an outstanding wartime vehicle for Daffy, with trademark Tashlin sight-gags and equally-great animation by Art Davis, as he valiantly defends his scrap-pile from the Nazis. The late, great Mel Blanc delivers a tour-de-force performance in Daffy’s two musical numbers, "We're In to Win" and "Americans Don't Give Up". Clampett’s Polar Pals also includes a witty song-and-dance sequence (showcasing the catchy little tune, “Let’s Rub Noses”); and Porky has never been more engaging than he is here, cavorting across the frozen tundra with his little penguin and polar bear friends.


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    Veronica Lake she ain't: the femme fatale from Clampett's Eatin' on the Cuff


    All-in-all, Volume 5 is an outstanding compilation and won’t disappoint; but the fact that Bacall to Arms was included nevertheless begs the question of how much longer viewers will have to wait before more of the “controversial” Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies titles, like Fresh Hare (also with a tubby version of Elmer Fudd), Which is Witch and All This and Rabbit Stew are finally released on DVD. The fact that selected scenes from Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs were included in the “Behind the Tunes” featurette, Once Upon a Looney Tune, on Disc 2 would appear to indicate that this title will at some point in the near future once again see the light of day.


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    Special thanks to Bmode, Dave Koch and Matthew Hunter for assistance with images.

    All characters and images are the property of AOL/Time-Warner, and are used here for reference purposes only.

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    Notes:


    1. The first color Merrie Melodies from the early 1930's utilized a 2-strip Technicolor process, which emphasized the red and green colors of the spectrum. At that time Walt Disney had an exclusive contract with the Technicolor for use of their 3-strip process which allowed for a wider range of hues.

    2. Jones wryly pays homage to his long-time Warner Bros. colleague, Friz Freleng, in the third segment, Soup or Sonic. At one point during the segment Wile E. Coyote uses a Frisbee™-type flying disc from the “Freleng Manufacturing Company” of Kansas City, MO, in yet another ill-fated attempt to catch the Road-Runner. Freleng got his first big break in animation in the 1920's working for Walt Disney in Kansas City—along with the "Looney Tunes" series' creators Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising. Jones also acknowledges the work of another former WB colleague (and rival), Robert Clampett, in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bunny; which chronicles the first meeting between a pre-pubescent Bugs and Elmer Fudd. A similar plot had previously been used to great effect in Clampett’s The Old Grey Hare.


    3. In Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid the main titles were superimposed over an extreme background-shot of Mama Buzzard and her brood sitting atop a high mountain peak. The titles then dissolved as the camera zoomed-in abruptly for a close-up of the characters.
    4. In colorized versions of this cartoon, a gag in which a duck fires a machine-gun into several wheels of "Swiss" cheese on an assembly line to create holes (which cleverly morph into several "yodeling" mouths) was truncated; all the viewer usually saw were the holes that were left behind. That gag has been restored and is presented here in its entirety for the first time since the cartoon was released theatrically.

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