Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Looney Tunes, Volume 4

TV Shows On DVD has the official announcement of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 4, though not the official list of the cartoons that will be included.

Disc 1 is Bugs Bunny; disc 2 is a collection of cartoons by Frank Tashlin, disc 3 is a Speedy Gonzales collection (which may, unfortunately, include some of those post-1964 Daffy/Speedy shorts), and disc 4 is assorted cartoons about cats -- Sylvester, Pussyfoot, and other WB cat characters.

I have no great love for Speedy Gonzales -- though Bob McKimson's "Tabasco Road" is a great cartoon, and I also like Friz Freleng's "Mexicali Schmoes" and Speedy's debut cartoon, "Cat-Tails For Two" (McKimson). In general Speedy works best when the focus is on other characters (in "Tabasco Road" most of the fun comes from Speedy's two drunken pals; in "Schmoes" it's the two dumb cats). When he's a Mighty Mouse type hero, zooming in to save hungry mice from el pussygato Sylvester, things can get dull; and that, unfortunately, is the formula that most Speedy cartoons follow.

Speaking of Speedy: as you may know, while Speedy was created by McKimson, Speedy's second cartoon, "Speedy Gonzales," was directed by Freleng, who re-launched the character with a new design, a new formula, a different adversary (Sylvester). It was one of those cartoons that's clearly a "pilot" cartoon, made in the hopes of launching a series, which it did. And it won an Academy Award.

What's interesting is that the first three WB theatrical cartoons to win Academy Awards all fall into that category: cartoons made to re-launch established characters in a series. These three cartoons were "Tweety Pie" (1947, the first teaming of Tweety and Sylvester), "For Scent-imental Reasons" (1949, re-launching Pepe Le Pew) and "Speedy Gonzales." I would take a guess that whenever there was a cartoon that WB was counting on to launch a series, they would promote that cartoon extra hard for an Oscar, since the Oscars undoubtedly helped these three series get off the ground.


Anonymous said...

At least they're not sweeping Speedy under the rug, to avoid offending the imaginary Latin Americans who would be outraged by a cartoon mouse with an exagerated accent.

Joe said...

With the exception of a few titles, I don't care much for Speedy, either, and can't imagine that this particular disk will spend much time at all in my DVD player, but yeah, at least Warner isn't hiding him.

Speaking of WB cartoons, one of the bonus features on the second volume of Astaire-Rogers musicals this October will be Friz Freleng's blackface-heavy "September in the Rain." The big question, of course, is will it be uncut or will it be UA Television's familiar post-Censored Eleven edit. I'd like to believe it would be uncut, especially since it's a feature on a "grown-up" release, but then, Tex Avery's "Henpecked Hoboes" was edited on Warner's recent disk of Till the Clouds Roll By.