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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Full Frame
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • English: Dolby Digital Mono
  • French: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Hungarian: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Dutch: Dolby Digital Mono
  Subtitles
    English, French, Italian, Greek, Hungarian, Dutch, Arabic, English - Hearing Impaired, Italian - Hearing Impaired, Croatian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Slovenian
  Extras
  • 13 Audio commentary
  • 8 Featurette
  • 2 Photo gallery
  • Documentaries
  • 5 Music-only track

Looney Tunes Collection - All Stars Volumes 1 & 2

Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 196 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Here in this third release of the current Warner Brothers classics to hit the shelves, we have a 28-strong collection of classic moments and classic cartoons stretching from 1940-1959.

The Warner Brothers cartoon series' of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies were at their peak of global popularity during this time as cartoons were created to run before films in the cinema – sort of a warm-up to the feature or double bill. A TV appearance was still a ways off yet and here films centred on the major theme of someone wanting something, but finding it frustratingly unattainable. (Actually most of them were like that).

Although Bugs Bunny has his own disc available, he features prominently in this collection, as do Daffy Duck and Porky Pig, creating a trio of animals with their last name the same as their species. Much like everyone I know is called Harry or Hannah Human… Ahh, alliteration. It’s the poetry of the cartoonist.

"Sufferin’ succotash!"

Anyhow, this series does feature the whole Warner Brothers gamut of star billings, bringing the all-time favourites to DVD in incredibly clean style. Notable first or early appearances feature strongly as well, showing the creative birth of characters who would go on to the heady heights of their own popularity. Foghorn Leghorn, Tweety Pie and Sylvester, Marvin the Martian, Speedy Gonzales, Pepe le Pew and even our own Tasmanian Devil (though why we should lay claim to him I’ll never know). It’s a bumper crop of beautifully restored classics that any discerning fan of the animated movement should strap on a rocket pack and rollerskates and jet to the store for immediately.*

Featured over two jam-packed discs are 28 cartoons and while their names don’t necessarily help you know what’s in ‘em, they’re all worth a look for both their classic value and their humour. Yep, even the old black and white ones are funny (if not drawn so liberally). They are (with my highlights in bold):

    Disc One:
  • Elmer’s Candid Camera (1940)
  • Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears (1944)
  • Fast and Furry-ous (1949)
  • Hair-Raising Hare (1945)
  • Awful Orphan (1947)
  • Hairdevil Hare (1947)
  • For Scent-imental Reasons (1948)
  • Frigid Hare (1948)
  • The Hypo-Condri-Cat (1949)
  • Baton Bunny (1958)
  • Feed the Kitty (1951)
  • Don’t Give up the Sheep (1951)
  • Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid (1942)
  • Tortoise Wins by a Hare 1943

    Disc Two:

  • Canary Row (1949)
  • Bunker Hill Bunny (1949)
  • Kit for Kat (1947)
  • Putty Tat Trowuble (1950)
  • Bugs and Thugs (1953)
  • Canned Feud (1949)
  • Lumber Jerks (1954)
  • Speedy Gonzales (1955)
  • Tweety’s S.O.S. (1950)
  • The Foghorn Leghorn (1947)
  • Daffy Duck Hunt (1947)
  • Early to Bet (1950)
  • Broken Leghorn (1959)
  • Devil May Hare (1953)

That should keep you going for a while.

  Video
Contract

As with the other releases in this series, there isn’t much by way of imperfection. The cartoons have been cleaned and restored and everything else and they look spectacular. So good, in fact, that the flaws in the original film stock become glaringly apparent. This includes the original cel artefacts burnt into the film when shot. These would take forever to remove and can’t be done with the usual noise reduction restoration these clips have gone through. So there may be moments you’ll notice film artefacts (in the form of specks, mostly) creeping steadily up the screen; these are normal progressional specks of crap between cel layers that move during the laying on and off of countless cels in a row. My advice is just try and ignore them; there’s very little, if anything, that could be done about them and they don’t really disrupt things too much.

Apart from that though, colours are perfect, linework crisp and clean and everything looks better than it ever has. Outstanding.

  Audio
Contract

Dolby Digital mono brings us the tracks to each cartoon while the remainder of the disc is recorded in Dolby Digital stereo. The mono works just fine for the cartoons and because that’s how they were originally recorded, all the balances are fine. The rest of the soundtrack is also fine, though the majority is talking and quirky music, so there’s not a great deal of challenge for it. The original music of Carl Stalling and Milt Franklyn utilises the entire Warner Brothers orchestra of the day (rumour has it the orchestra were on staff for film scores and spent a lot of time sitting around playing cards. So the powers that be said to employ the orchestra and so they did. That’s why the music is so darn good in these. No one else used an orchestra for animation other than features).

And of course, Mel Blanc’s perfect voices fill out the entire thing magnificently. It was a truly sad day when we lost him.

  Extras
Contract

Being a two-discer, there’s two discs worth of stuff to paddle through. Disc one contains firstly, audio commentaries for seven episodes voiced by actor Stan Freberg, director Greg Ford and cartoon historian Michael Barrier. All of these are fine and thankfully short, because some of these guys are particularly deadpan. Well, only the historian, actually.

Two music only tracks accompany two episodes with the classic coming in from episode ten, Baton Bunny. This features Bugs conducting an orchestra with music scored as a sound effect and is the best musical episode I’ve yet reviewed.

The Behind the Tunes featurettes are always welcome, but some are so short as to barely say a peep about the contents. However, here we have Too Fast, Too Furry-ous running for 5:52. This is all about the Road Runner’s origins and the Wile E. Coyote (whom I always wished would get that horrible bird).

The second is Blanc Expressions and is 4:25 about our favourite voice guy and his life. Finally, Merrie Melodies: Carl Stalling and Cartoon Music gives a fascinating insight into the orchestra and runs for 4:24.

Toonheads – The Lost Cartoons is a 45:40 documentary produced for television by The Cartoon Network. This features some of the rarest of old cartoons, some of which have apparently never played on TV before. There are also some horribly politically incorrect and even racist cartoons here, but their intrinsic value as historical pieces does sorta negate that in some way. We also witness the horror of the cel-washing department, where cels, once shot, were recycled by having the work all scrubbed off. This is why so many older cels are hard to come by these days and it’s only due to artists keeping them as souvenirs that we have any at all in some cases.

This also features replays from the Bugs Bunny disc when Bugs made his feature film appearances in two cameo roles. Plus, for the very first time (and consequently rarely seen) we hear Wile E. Coyote speak! This is most definitely the extras highlight of Disc One. Beyond that there’s only a stills gallery in which plenty of old promo stuff and model sheets run as a short film for 6:41.

Disc Two contains a bit less than the first, but some worthies nonetheless. First up are the audio commentaries again and these feature on six episodes with historians Michael Barrier and Jerry Beck. These guys together may have been more interesting, but they’re still worth the listen for some interesting facts of the day (even if told a little obviously).

Three music only tracks follow and there’s the stills gallery which again runs for 6:41 with the same sorta thing as the other mentioned above.

The Behind the Tunes featurettes number three and the first is 3:12 entitled Needy for Speedy. This discusses everyone’s favourite mouse (does Mickey even have a job anymore?) and the political agenda behind him. Second comes Putty Problems and Canary Row, which is 5:37 discussing the relationship between Sylvester and Tweety. (Again, I wish Sylvester had just swallowed him any of the numerous times he had Tweety in his mouth). Finally, a short bit about Foghorn Leghorn in Southern Pride Chicken. All of the names have been quite creative for the featurettes, but I do think Too Fast, Too Furry-ous is my favourite.

From the Vaults is quite literally that as we get two cartoons of varying age and quality. The first is Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid and is so horribly racist I’m not surprised it never made it to TV in this day and age. Still, if we can look past this, the special effects of the day are pretty cool even if the subject matter is not. Plus, the sound is absolutely appalling in this and would get no yellow spots at all if I were rating it. The last offering is in original Virgil Ross pencil tests. In animation, the animators will shoot the key frames (without the yet-to-be-drawn in-betweens) to test how the animation looks before sending it on to the in-betweeners and this is that. Worth the look and inclusion for it’s rareness as not many studios give away stuff like this.

So another mixed bag of thrill-a-minutes to keep you busy.

  Overall  
Contract

This is classic animation and an interesting progression through nearly 20 years of cartoons. Just as life evolves so swiftly technology-wise today, animation was growing at an incredible speed at this time and here that is mirrored in the evolution of the Looney Tunes. For anyone who grew up watching the hijinks of these characters or for anyone wishing to introduce their children to a hefty slice of their own childhood, this is the perfect way to do it.

(And for anyone into the jokes behind the jokes, check out the naturist calendar girl they slipped into Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears!)

Thankfully the cartoons have been treated lovingly and restored beautifully, showing them the respect they sincerely deserve. I’ve no hesitation in recommending this collection, nor have I had any in recommending the other two releases in the series.

Throw down that anvil, pick up a wooden mallet** and get to your DVD store now. You might have a fight on your hands.

*(DVDnet does not recommend you strap on a rocket pack and rollerskates and jet to your nearest DVD store. At any time rollerskates are employed be sure to use the correct safety equipment).

**(DVDnet also don’t recommend the use of wooden mallets. We think a gun that shoots a flag saying BANG! might be a better option. At all times please be sure to have a sign saying ‘Yipes!’ to counter retaliation).


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      And I quote...
    "This collection spanning 20 years of Looney Tunes couldn’t look or sound better than it does on this two-disc set. And that’s all, folks!"
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-T29S32S 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
          Akai
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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