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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
  • Audio commentary - Multiple
  • 5 Featurette
  • Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • DVD-ROM features
  • 3 Music-only track
  • Short film - TV Special
  • 2 Bonus feature film - Short Excerpts

Looney Tunes Collection - Best of Bugs Bunny

Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 100 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Finally the powers-that-be have realised the potential of combining DVD and animation to both save old footage and bring older works to a newer audience. Thankfully and, again, finally, we have a decent collection that has been transferred to DVD in magnificent style. Although the packaging could have it easily mistaken for those $4.95 knock-offs we see littering the fall-out stores, this is anything-but once we enter the disc proper.

"Too bad to disappoint those eager nimrods!"

Presented in a lavishly colourful format, here we are served 14 individual Bugs Bunny cartoons (with friends, of course) spanning 1949-1958 when Bugs was at the peak of his popularity. Having starred in over 170 short cartoons in his career (an ongoing career, regardless of lame recent vehicles) it must have been a hard thing to dredge the past and ferret out this pick of the litter (or whatever rabbits call a pack of their young). Whoever this decision came down to has chosen a sterling bunch of the inimitable Bugs at his comical best.

It’s also great to see the older characters being voiced and animated by the original creators. When Mel Blanc passed away some 15 years ago (1989), it seemed like the end for the characters of the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, but an extensive world search came up with three ‘official’ new voices to save the day.

Interspersed are countless digs at the bigger Disney Studio as the creators revel in the fact Warner Bros. now had bigger bankable stars than the tiring Mouse and Duck of the larger corporation. The characters of Warner Bros. definitely live in a different world, but it is certainly a world based in our own, with numerous references and comments about social issues regarding the day. These are rarely subtle, sometimes even blasted at us like a scattergun in the face on signs and billboards. There seems no time for subtlety in these seven-minute vignettes, yet the characters - expansive and as physics-defying as they are - can sometimes impart but the lightest expression change to amplify the import of the comment or joke in hand. This is a true art of animation and one even today struggled with on the most modern of shows.

Bugs is a stalwart of animation who survives to this day and is as recognisable as any recent character on TV today. Put him next to Homer Simpson and people will recognise him. Put him next to Bender from Futurama and it’s safe to say more people would recognise him than the mechano-man. How is it one character (and his friends) can transpose generations in which nothing new has been created for them? Basically, the answer lies in his sheer ‘humanity’ (for want of a better word… ‘rabbitity’ maybe?). Everyone can relate to this guy who happily minds his own business until someone or something comes along to disturb it. Then it’s open season on the perpetrator(s) as he fights back to win what was already his. The struggle of the every(hu)man is reflected in this simple ideal and on some level of our collective psyches we all understand that.

As noted, 14 classics are granted us here with audio commentaries, featurettes and music only tracks accompanying many. Much like any of the season collections of animated TV (and various other box sets), each episode has something extra attached to fulfil the information needs of hungry and adoring fans. This gives the presentation a very respectful treatment while also respecting the fans of these classic cartoons of old.

All the best of Bugs aren't included, so with fingers crossed we can live in hope more offerings will follow. What we do get here, though, is a real treat for fans and enthusiasts alike. Without doubt this will also appeal to those little people out there who have never even seen Bugs on TV and even I, having worked in the industry, haven’t seen some of these before. For anyone entering into animation this is definitely required viewing as the amazing qualities and popularity of animation today (albeit drawn or computer animated) has its origin right here.

(My highlights in bold type)

  • Baseball Bugs 1955
  • Rabbit Seasoning 1951
  • Long-Haired hare 1958
  • High-Diving Hare 1958
  • Bully For Bugs 1952
  • What’s Up Doc? 1949
  • Rabbit’s Kin 1951
  • Water, Water Every Hare 1950
  • Big House Bunny 1958
  • Big Top Bunny 1950
  • My Bunny Lies Over The Sea 1958
  • Wabbit Twouble 1951
  • Ballot Box Bunny 1950
  • Rabbit of Seville 1949

  Video
Contract

Recently cleaned and fully restored, this 4:3 picture looks better than it ever has. Well, I think it’s safe to say that. The colours are bright and clean, the linework crystal clear and the film has been cleaned of artefacts as best as could be done. Consequently, there are film artefacts but these are trifling and unobtrusive.

Cel artefacts, however, can’t be erased so easily and as such these appear clearer than they ever have as well. Stray fibres and dust motes dot the landscape but are again small, however I did notice an unusual pattern occurring during the presentation. Tiny specks on the background (behind the clear acetate top cels) slowly creep up the screen as the cels are replaced each frame. These probably won’t appear to the regular cartoon fan who is watching the action (as you are supposed to) and are therefore barely seen. This is a natural effect of animating cels in the olden days and is embedded in the original film stock, so unfortunately it can’t be helped. This still looks great and, as I said, better than it ever has without question.

  Audio
Contract

While presented in Dolby Digital mono for the most part, the commentaries are presented in stereo. There are no issues with static or hissing and the dialogue is naturally clear and easily understood. The beauty of animation is that dialogue must be spoken clearly during recording so the animators can lip synch to it, so only rarely or deliberately will we hear garbled words.

Music is mostly created here by Carl Stalling and he scores the perfect accompaniment to the wildly exaggerated action sequences. Plenty of traditional classical arrangements are modified and abused (all in good fun) for the benefit of the cartoons and it works very well to create the atmosphere of silliness and mock seriousness when required. Sound effects too are naturally comical and reused time and again, but this is okay because they’re always funny noises.

  Extras
Contract

A flotilla of stuff comes our way long after the cartoons are over. Herein is a monster collection for the enthusiast or the die hard fan or for anyone just interested in the process of animation itself.

Firstly the mildly Flash (or the like)-animated menus are nice, but somehow not quite like the rest of the feeling generated by the content. However, they look good.

A Greeting From Chuck Jones promises something from the dinosaur of animation and while he imparts some interesting info and thoughts to us, these are dry-read in a very deadpan manner and lose a little impact. It’s understandable, as the dude’s so old, but still…

Audio commentaries abound throughout and offer some insight and back stories on characters and situations we previously wouldn’t have known. Speaking in part are Filmmaker Greg Ford - director of numerous Warner Bros. cartoons – and voice actor Stan Freberg. Our other is film historian Michael Barrier, who delivers some pretty obvious information atop some better snippets of info about the time.

Music only tracks also feature some sound effects and can be found for the episodes Rabbit Seasoning, What’s Up, Doc? and Rabbit’s Kin.

Behind the Tunes is a series of featurettes we can link to from the chapter list or a page of its own. Here are three short bits entitled Bugs Bunny: A Rabbit For All Seasonings (5:39), Short Fuse Shootout: A Small Tale of Yosemite Sam (3:03) and Forever Befuddled (3:25). All feature interviews with surviving animators and family members of those no longer with us.

Bugs Bunny at the Movies features Bugs and his two small cameos in films of the day. We see the (probably unrestored) bits from Two Guys From Texas and My Dream is Yours with minimal context (not that that would help much anyway). Pretty appealing as the latter mixes live action and animation and features Doris Day. Ah, Doris.

The Bugs Bunny Show is a brilliant reconstruction of the original show from archive footage and shows how Warner Bros. rehashed the movie shorts to create a clip show of sorts. With new animation, they bridged the older toons to create a full half-hour show (in black and white of course) and this is a funny look into the animation process as Daffy becomes an inbetweener at the studio. A run time of 9:59 also includes an original audio recording of an episode, though the sound isn’t good for this bit. It does, however, include Porky Pig’s voice before it is sped up for the cartoon, so is quite unusual.

Blooper Bunny: Bugs Bunny’s 51½ Anniversary is a clever little blooper reel created in 1991 and utilising some brilliantly conceived early 3D rendering making a very funny behind the scenes mockumentary. This is definitely the highlight of the extras in my mind and features an optional commentary by director Greg Ford which is just as interesting. (On a personal brag note, Nancy Beiman animates here. Go here to see what I mean).

Finally a stills gallery holding all sorts of ancient model sheets and drawings is included and runs like a short film for 6:40. Interesting to see the origins and early differences of the Bugs Bunny we all know today.

It kept me busy for quite some time clawing through this stuff and it is all quite educational, to say the least. A very worthy extras list that adds yet more value to an already priceless collection.

  Overall  
Contract

Everyone in the Western world knows who Bugs Bunny is, regardless of who they are or what age. Here the classics have been restored beautifully and presented in breathtaking colour and detail showing the cartoons better than they could ever have looked. Every short features Bugs as our main protagonist with his assorted friends dropping by relative to the particular story.

This collection is a must for any fan of the Warner Bros. cartoons and is a brilliantly conceived and executed disc of the highlights of Bugs’ career during the late ’40s and ’50s. With luck we will see many more of these releases bringing yet further shorts from out of the basement and into the light of day, but for now this disc will be enough to keep any fan in raptures for a while yet.

That’s all (for now) folks!


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      And I quote...
    "Bugs is back and better than ever in this fully-restored classic collection of his best shorts of the 1950s. Excellent!"
    - 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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