Sunday, August 05, 2007

Hansel? Hansel?

The complete list of cartoons for Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 5 is up. The first disc is perhaps a bit heavy on cartoons that are merely OK rather than great -- which is inevitable after nearly 300 cartoons have already come out -- but it seems like a strong lineup overall in spite of the absence of "Coal Black" (and "Russian Rhapsody" for that matter). As for the extras, I would have liked to see some new names among the list of people doing commentators -- why hasn't Greg Duffell been brought in? -- but it's good that there are featurettes about McKimson and the other less-famous WB directors.

Disc 1 (Bugs & Daffy)

- 14 Carrot Rabbit (Friz Freleng, 1952): Standard Bugs vs. Yosemite Sam cartoon with a final gag that no longer makes sense (it's a variation on what was then a familiar old joke, about someone saying "I'm waiting for a streetcar").

- Ali Baba Bunny (Chuck Jones, 1957): you probably remember this one.

- Buccaneer Bunny (Freleng, 1948): the first time Sam was cast as something totally inappropriate, in this case a pirate (this was only the second Sam cartoon released, so this joke started really early)

- Bugs' Bonnets (Jones, 1956): Bugs and Elmer keep changing personalities every time they change hats. How many cartoons are there where Bugs marries Elmer? A lot, it seems.

- A Star is Bored (Freleng, 1956): Freleng's first Bugs vs. Daffy cartoon, where he turned Daffy into a complete asshole who not only wants to upstage Bugs but literally to kill him.

- A Pest in the House (Jones, 1947): Very funny Jones Daffy cartoon, one of many excellent Daffy cartoons he made before switching over to the angry-Daffy persona.

- Transylvania 6-500 (Jones, 1963): Bugs vs. the vampire Count Bloodcount. This one seems to be particularly popular with people who grew up watching Bugs on Saturday mornings; it's one of the ones people always seem to list as being among their favorites as kids.

- Oily Hare (Bob McKimson, 1952): Bugs vs. a Texas oilman who's basically McKimson's knockoff of Yosemite Sam.

- Stupor Duck (McKimson, 1956): writer Tedd Pierce repeats some of his Superman parody gags from "Super Rabbit," this time for Daffy and with the catalyst being the popular Superman TV series (most of Pierce's stories around this time were TV parodies)

- The Stupor Salesman (Art Davis, 1948): the best cartoon with "Stupor" in the title, as obnoxious salesman Daffy tries to sell stuff to a crook in his hideout.

- The Abominable Snow Rabbit (Jones, 1961): You remember this one too.

- The Super Snooper (McKimson, 1952): Daffy as detective Duck Drake in a parody of what we now call film noir.

- The Up-Standing Sitter (McKimson, 1948): Daffy, in his transitional phase between his crazy origins and his angry '50s period, becomes a babysitter.

- Hollywood Daffy (1946 -- Freleng's unit made it, but Freleng didn't like the story so it was left without a director credit and unofficially directed by his assistant, Hawley Pratt): Daffy is chased around a movie studio by a Keystone Kop.

- You Were Never Duckier (Jones, 1948): Daffy is mistaken for a chicken by Henery Hawk, in his last appearance outside of a Foghorn Leghorn cartoon.

Disc 2 (Fairy Tales)

- Bewitched Bunny (Jones, 1954): the first and best Witch Hazel cartoon, and one of my very favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons. Witch Hazel here is voiced by Bea Benaderet, not June Foray (who would take over this and Benaderet's other parts after the studio's mid-'50s hiatus)

- Paying the Piper (McKimson, 1948): Similar to Clampett's black and white "Pied Piper Porky" but weirder, as Porky goes up against a giant rat who's actually a cat in disguise.

- The Bear's Tale (Tex Avery, 1940): A Goldilocks and the Three Bears parody.

- Foney Fables (Freleng, 1942): A blackout-gag cartoon about fairy tales. (The "blackout gag" format was one that was used on and off for decades in the golden age of short cartoons; if the writer and director didn't have a story, they'd do a bunch of unrelated gags organized around a theme.)

- Goldimouse and the Three Cats (Freleng, 1960): The Goldilocks story with Sylvester and Sylvester Jr. replacing Papa and Baby Bear; the only time Freleng used McKimson's Sylvester Jr. character. Mike Maltese's story is also a bit reminiscent of his Three Bears stories for Chuck Jones (which he and Jones had to stop doing because, Jones claimed, they were bombing in theatres).

- Holiday For Shoestrings (Freleng, 1946): A Freleng classical-music cartoon based on the story of the shoemaker and the elves.

- Little Red Rodent Hood (Freleng, 1952): A Little Red Riding Hood story with a mouse and the big bad cat, Sylvester.

- Little Red Walking Hood (Avery, 1937): Another Little Red Riding Hood parody, with Egghead.

- Red Riding Hoodwinked (Freleng, 1956): Tweety and Sylvester in yet another Red Riding Hood story, with a really absent-minded wolf. You don't want to know how much I loved this cartoon as a kid; it was probably my favorite Tweety cartoon of any kind, mostly because of the wolf (who was re-used in "Hare-Less Wolf" a couple of years later). Also a reminder of how obsessed the WB writers were with Honeymooners references around this time.

- The Trial of Mr. Wolf (Freleng, 1941): I think Freleng did more Red Riding Hood parodies than anyone ever did or would want to.

- The Turn-Tale Wolf (McKimson, 1952): Very funny revisionist take on the Three Little Pigs, bringing back those evil pigs from "The Windblown Hare."

- Tom Thumb in Trouble (Jones, 1940): One of Jones's sweet early Disney-esque efforts.

- Tweety and the Beanstalk (Freleng, 1957): Oddly enough, I didn't like this one as a kid at all. Maybe the giant Tweety freaked me out.

- A Gander at Mother Goose (Avery, 1940): Blackout gags about nursery rhymes.

- Senorella and the Glass Huarache (Hawley Pratt, 1964): The last cartoon made by the original WB cartoon studio, a Mexican retelling of Cinderella.

Disc 3 (The Best [sic] of Bob Clampett)

- Bacall to Arms (1946): Clampett's last WB cartoon, where a wolf goes to see To Have and Have Not and goes nuts over the hotness of Lauren Bacall.

- Buckaroo Bugs (1944): A completely obnoxious Bugs Bunny battles his dumbest adversary ever, Red Hot Ryder.

- Crazy Cruise (1942): Blackout gags about exotic locations.

- Farm Frolics (1941): Blackout gags about farming.

- Hare Ribbin (1944): Bugs is hunted by a dog who sounds like the Mad Russian from Eddie Cantor's radio show, and proves that rabbits and dogs can breathe underwater. The disc features both endings of the film (the original version was changed because Bugs was too obnoxiously evil even by Clampett standards).

- Patient Porky (1940): as in "The Daffy Doc" (see below), Porky has bad luck in hospitals.

- Prehistoric Porky (1940): Porky, a caveman (cavepig?) is a page right out of history.

- The Bashful Buzzard (1945): First solo cartoon for Beaky Buzzard. Contains my all-time favorite joke about the dangers of infringing Disney copyrights.

- The Old Grey Hare (1944): Bugs and Elmer as babies and old codgers.

- The Wacky Wabbit (1942): Bugs heckles and taunts the fat version of Elmer Fudd. Mike Maltese claimed that lukewarm audience reaction to this short convinced him that audiences didn't want to see Bugs torment someone for no reason, and from that point on Clampett was the only director who used Bugs that way.

- The Wise Quacking Duck (1943): Daffy is pursued by a meek henpecked husband (based on Wallace Wimple from "Fibber McGee and Molly").

- Wagon Heels (1945): Porky leads a wagon train into hostile territory.

- The Daffy Doc (1938): Daffy is the world's most evil surgeon. Features the famous "iron lung" gag, and it may be the only cartoon where Mel Blanc post-synched the dialogue Popeye-style (Daffy's words almost never match his lip movements in this one).

- A Tale of Two Kitties (1942): First Tweety cartoon.

- Porky's Pooch (1941): Porky is pestered by an obnoxious dog looking for a master. The inspiration for Chuck Jones's Charlie Dog series (the first Charlie cartoon is a remake of this one).

Disc 4 (The Early Daze [Black and White cartoons])

- Alpine Antics (Jack King, 1936): Beans enters a skiing contest.

- Eatin' On The Cuff (Clampett, 1942): The story of a moth, about to be married to a bee, who is tempted by a sexy black widow spider.

- Milk and Money (Avery, 1936): the early Porky Pig becomes a milkman with one of those horse-drawn milk carts.

- I’ve Got To Sing A Torch Song (1933): Gags about radio.

- Porky At The Crocadero (Tashlin, 1938): Porky works at a nightclub and wants to be a jazz bandleader.

- Polar Pals (Clampett, 1939): Porky lives up North and meets an evil furrier who wants to kill his animal friends. Joins "Lumber Jerks" and "Wholly Smoke" (see below) among the WB cartoons with a pro-social message.

- Scrap Happy Daffy (Tashlin, 1943): Daffy collects scrap metal and thereby wins World War II.

- Porky’s Double Trouble (Tashlin, 1937): A criminal who looks like Porky tries to use Porky in his evil scheme.

- Gold Diggers Of ‘49 (Avery, 1936): Porky's first cartoon after his debut the previous year, though he's playing second fiddle to Beans in this gold mining story.

- Pilgrim Porky (Clampett, 1940): Porky on the Mayflower.

- Wise Quacks (Clampett, 1939): I think this is the first cartoon to have Daffy and Porky as friends rather than antagonists. Also the first to give Daffy a wife and family.

- Porky’s Preview (Avery, 1941): One of my favorite Avery cartoons, mostly an amateurishly-drawn cartoon by Porky that makes fun of all the things that are hard to animate (like the scene where Porky can't figure out how to make a character dance convincingly, and finally just throws his body around the screen)

- Porky's Poppa (Clampett, 1938): Porky's father, a farmer, automates the farm.

- Wholly Smoke (Tashlin, 1938): A cautionary cartoon about the dangerous freak-outs that ensue when you smoke. Sort of like Reefer Madness with tobacco. Ahead of its time.

- What Price Porky (Clampett, 1938): Porky accidentally starts a battle of ducks vs. chickens.


Geoff said...

Asking rhetorically, how many times did Yosemite Sam appear as a pirate in the cartoons, and more importantly, the question that's bugged me for years, why did they make him a pirate in the comic books?

Kevin W. Martinez said...

I can live with Coal Black not being on Vol 5 (since I think the cartoon is overrated anyway), but why the hell is Horton Hatches the Egg not on the Clampett Disc? It's already been restored and was tentatively planned for Volume 2 (three years ago), but has yet to appear on a GC desptie being on That Best-OF Dr. Seuss DVD.

Everything Else, I'm okay with (except for tom Thumb in Trouble)

Sean Gaffney said...

Alpine Antics? I want to cry. Is it there to show how much of a Disney ripoff it was?

Oh well, I enjoy almost everything else there. :)

Thad said...

Well anyone who claims Clampett is underrepresented on the sets is full of shit. He directed a third of the cartoons here!

Good selection though.

Anonymous said...

I can live with this. Nothing like last year's set, to which my first reaction was, "What?! They used an entire disc for Speedy friggin' Gonzales?!"

Glad to see Farm Frolics on the Clampett disc. Not a great cartoon, but one I'm fond for, with a number of memorable, off-the-wall gags.

Anonymous said...

Oooo! And Polar Pals!

Let's rub noses
With the eskimoses!

Brent McKee said...

Scrap Happy daffy is a favourite of mine. Daffy's patter song listing the various types of junk in his scrap pile isn't quite Gilbert & Sullivan but still great fun.

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

Red Riding Hoodwinked is probably my favorite of all the Tweety & Sylvester encounters, probably because I think it's one of Mel Blanc's best vocal performances. I love the bit with the sign that reads "The Big Bad Wolf," prompting the wolf to explode with "Ah, ah, all right, they, they know who I am!!!"

Thad said...

Oh yeah, and why the hell isn't Greg Duffell on the list of commentators? Greg probably knows more about Warner cartoons than anyone else alive and I would think his involvement with such discs is vital.

Of course, we still have John's highly valued blather. Holy shit, my roommates and I could do better commentary. Stoned.

Anonymous said...

>Holy shit, my roommates and I could do better commentary. Stoned.

Kind of like the stoned commentary you post on your website? Yeah, you're a real expert. John's only being making cartoons for 30 years, and you've been running an animator identification blog and guessing correctly a whopping 50% of the time. Nice try, though.

Thad said...

BTW, 50% of the time? I don't claim to be an expert or right 100% of the time, but that sort of describes John's wrong attributions to animators on the Fleischer cartoons, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Boys! Boys! Boys!

Play nice or mommy will turn off the cartoons and make you both go play outside.