Friday, August 04, 2006

Can You Buy a Movie Just For the Bonus Cartoon?

Warner Home Video has announced a two-disc special edition of Sergeant York, which ordinarily wouldn't make me too enthusiastic. It's a very well-made movie, but it's also one of Howard Hawks's most impersonal, anonymous movies; it has very little of Hawks' style and much more of the house style of Warner Brothers at the time -- it was one of several semi-allegorical movies the studio made to advocate entry into the Second World War (the WB house writers, like Howard Koch, obviously want us to spot the links between reluctant warrior Alvin York and the situation when the film was released, namely July 1941). And it's not as entertaining as some of the other semi-allegories from the studio, like The Sea Hawk.

However, the cartoon included as a bonus is "Porky's Preview", which may be enough reason for me to pick up the movie. "Porky's Preview" is the Tex Avery cartoon where Porky shows a cartoon he drew himself ("It wasn't hard, because I'm an artist"), and it is one of the greatest meta-films ever made. Porky's crummy stick-figure cartoon parodies all the blunders that a bad animator can make -- for example, the bit where Porky tries to make a dancer move convincingly, and finally gives up and just has his whole body float from side to side. The cartoon has never been available on DVD or commercial VHS, and I don't think it's going to be on the next Looney Tunes Golden Collection, so it may be worth at least a rental even if you're not a Sergeant York fan. It comes out November 7.

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