LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION ( VOLUME TWO )
TOM and JERRY SPOTLIGHT COLLECTION

(WARNER HOME VIDEO)

Those "moaning minnies" who inundated the web with complaints ( "Why would they choose THAT cartoon?") upon the release of Volume One of THE LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION will have precious little to carp about when they are fortunate enough to feast their eyes on the recently released Volume Two  which should make even the most persnickety toon maven delirious with joy. The happy fact is that this Warner collection is quite simply beyond reproach, unless you happen to be Daffy Duck, who is given comparatively short shrift here, having been pushed aside by the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, both of whom were featured in only one short in the initial volume.

Disc one is very aptly entitled "Bugs Bunny Masterpieces" and contains no less than fifteen of "that wascally wabbit’s" most inspired efforts, including "The Big Snooze," "Gorilla My Dreams," "Rabbit Transit," "Slick Hare," "Bunny Hugged" and my personal favorite of the bunch, the gloriously cynical "Little Red Riding Rabbit." The bottom line is that there's barely a Bugs bomb in the bunch as even what some may consider his lesser toons are chock-full of "hare-larity."

Cathy Selden's remark to Don Lockwood,  "If you've seen one, you've seen them all!"  in "SINGIN' IN THE RAIN" could, in my distinctly minority opinion, apply to the Road Runner cartoons, which are prominently featured in Disc Two under the umbrella title of "Road Runner and Friends." While I enjoy watching one of them at a time, I must sheepishly admit that for me it's "deja vu all over again" by the time I get to the next one, an opinion definitely not shared by a formidable majority of dedicated toon-types who can't get enough of the repetitious Runner. That said, the second disc also includes four Runner-less shorts, two of which I've never seen, the very funny "Cheese Chasers," and the howlingly satirical "The Dover Boys," a devastating send up of heroic college types of yore.

While a major portion of Disc Three is devoted to Tweety and Sylvester and includes the Academy Award Winner "Tweety Pie," which remains as fresh and rollicking as it was the day it was released, this disc also includes Bob Clampett's relentlessly inventive "Porky in Wackyland" as well as the more standard but no less hilarious "Duck Soup to Nuts," "The Great Piggy Bank Robbery," and the patriotic "Old Glory".

For me, Disc Four, which is rather cumbersomely labeled "Looney Tunes All Stars : On Stage and Screen" would be reason enough to jump at this collection, for not only does it include certifiable classics such as "What's Opera, Doc," "A Corny Concerto," " Stage Door Cartoon," "Show Biz Bugs" among its treasures, but, lo and behold, my personal pick for greatest cartoon short of all time ,the astoundingly brilliant "One Froggy Evening," which, as many times as I've seen it , never ceases to enchant me.

The disc jacket indicates that these sixty animated shorts are "Restored and Uncut." They didn't have to tell us! One would think that it would be impossible to improve on the visual perfection of Volume One, but one would clearly be mistaken. The quality of clarity and color on display here is simply one for the books. I probably have seen "One Froggy Evening" sixty or seventy times, but so fantastic was the level of visual improvement here that it was almost like seeing it for the first time. (A deliriously witty Carl Stalling music-only option manages to  increase the pleasure on this as well as six other of these truly terrific toons.)


In tandem with their release of the Golden Collection, Warner has also released an alternate two-disc LOONEY TUNES SPOTLIGHT COLLECTION (Volume Two) which showcases just thirty of the sixty cartoons on display in the above reviewed
four-disc set. Our advice: Go for the Golden!

Warner's clearly does not harbor the same level of esteem for the hijinks of MGM's TOM AND JERRY as they do for their own LOONEY creations. For one thing, there's no mention of the fact that this TOM AND JERRY SPOTLIGHT COLLECTION is Volume One, which ---- duh ---- would lead one to expect that any prospects of a second volume would be highly unlikely, and that's too bad, as the quality of the animation, layout and backgrounds, especially in the Forties shorts, quite possibly exceeds that of the Disney and Warner toons. Additionally, and far more distressingly, while many of these cartoons are uncut, a certain amount of them have clearly been tampered with to pacify the "politically correct," which, to my mind, is profoundly depressing. More on this later.

If these forty TOM AND JERRY's are all we're going to get, however, it must be admitted that whoever chose these particular shorts certainly knew what they were doing, for this collection includes nine Academy Award nominees (seven of which were winners) and by and large spares us from having to witness the early-to-mid-Fifties precipitous drop in quality that  spelled the death knell for this series.

Furthermore, the restoration work on these cartoons, while not quite as impressive as that of the LOONEY's, is very fine indeed,
highlighting the fact that these were probably the most expensive ($50,000/per in their hey-day) animated shorts produced at that time.


A Warner representative has released the following statement regarding the "sterilization" of some of these cartoon classics: "The ( TOM AND JERRY) SPOTLIGHT COLLECTION contains a variety of original animated shorts produced between 1943-1956, including uncut versions of some early cartoons that were first shown in theatres, along with some versions edited for television. The dvd packaging correctly refers to the cartoons as "restored and remastered." It does not state that all the shorts are uncut."

--DICK DINMAN

 

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