Looney Tunes Collector’s Choice Vol. 1 Blu-ray Review: A Good Start to Becoming a Cartoon Collector

Looney Tunes Collector’s Choice Volume 1 presents 20 Warner Brothers cartoons, 10 each from the 1940s and ’50s. Not sure the thinking behind the curation as they aren’t grouped by character, director, theme, or chronological order. There are few together by the same director and characters that star in just two cartoons each (Foghorn Leghorn and the Three Bears) are play back-to-back. Otherwise, this random sampling is reminiscent of the days when viewers watched whatever the television host/show presented. The episode title is followed by the year of release and its director.

Buy Looney Tunes Collector’s Choice Vol. 1 Blu-ray

“Beanstalk Bunny”(1954, Chuck Jones)A retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk with Bugs and Daffy working to outwit each other and Elmer the Giant. There are good gags as Bugs and Daffy run around in giant land, but always a tinge of disappointment for me that Jones made Daffy whiny instead of daffy. “Catch as Cats Can”(1947, Arthur Davis)A parrot (based on Bing Crosby) enlists Sylvester, a dumber than usual version and missing his trademark lisp, to get rid of a canary (based on Frank Sinatra). Still entertaining even without knowing the references. “The Unruly Hare”(1945, Frank Tashlin)Another Bugs and Elmer battle. This time they cross paths when Elmer’s job as a surveyor for the railroad sends him into the wilderness. More violent than their previous cartoon, and the last appearance by the two in this volume.

“His Bitter Half” (1950, Friz Freleng)Daffy marries a wealthy duck thinking it’ll put him on Easy Street, but he quickly discovers she expects him to do all the chores, including dealing with her annoying son Wentworth. “Daffy Doodles” (1946, Robert McKimson)Police Officer Porky is on the hunt for the Mustache Maniac (Daffy being daffy) who graffitis on faces, posters, and living people. A lot of things look funnier with a mustache. “Cracked Quack” (1952, Freleng)Heading south for the winter, Daffy cut his trip short to stay at Porky’s house but Porky’s dog won’t stand for. Especially funny when Daffy’s fowl friends get in on the act. “Little Orphan Airedale”(1947, Freleng)A remake of “Porky’s Pooch” (1941), Charlie Dog tells a fellow mutt (and shows viewers) how he got Porky, who doesn’t want a d-d-d-, a pet, to take him in.

“Hip Hip-Hurry!” (1958) and“Hot Rod and Reel” (1959) are a pair of Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons directed by Jones. Being that their cartoons don’t have much story beyond Wile trying to catch the Road Runner and failing in spectacularly funny ways, they all kind of blend together, but they are filled with very funny gags, including the ones that defy physics.

Although they have all been directed by Freleng, the next three cartoons present Sylvester in a variety of ways. In “Greedy for Tweety” (1957), Tweety, Sylvester, and Butch the dog, all share a hospital room together after they each suffer a broken leg. Shenanigans ensue as Sylvester continues to pursue Tweety, and Butch continues to pursue Sylvester. Writer Warren Foster and the animators get a lot of gags out of one location. In “Stooge for a Mouse”(1950), a cheese-seeking mouse pits Sylvester against his pal Mike the Bulldog with funny results. In “A Mouse Divided” (1953), Sylvester is married and his wife wants a baby, which he has no interest in until a drunken stork brings a baby mouse to Sylvester’s. He becomes a protective parent when his fellow cats see the new baby as lunch.

McKimson created Foghorn Leghorn and directed all his cartoons. “A Fractured Leghorn” (1950) is the rare FL cartoon without foils Henery Hawk or Barnyard Dawg. Instead, Foghorn battles with a cat fight over a worm. Foghorn wants to eat him. The cat wants him for fish bait. In “Plop Goes the Weasel” (1953), Dawg tries to protect the farm. Rather than appreciate this, Foghorn harasses him, which isn’t wise as a hungry weasel (first of three appearances) is on the loose. Foghorn’s long-winded bursts of dialogue have always tickled me.

“Tale of Two Mice” (1945, Tashlin)Babbit and Catstello (mice versions of Abbott & Costello, although they appeared as cat versions three years earlier in A Tale of Two Kitties) seek cheese but the house cat gets in the way. Bit of a Tom & Jerry feel, but Catstello screams for Babbit so often it becomes grating. “The Foxy Duckling” (1947, Davis)I have no memory of this one nor these characters.An insomniac fox seeks duck feathers for his pillow so he can sleep. There’s not much dialogue but it has funny gags. This could have been Elmer or Porky chasing after Daffy.

Two more directed by Davis which find two battling against one. “Two Gophers from Texas” (1947) are pursued by a dog (based on actor John Barrymore). He takes suggestions from a book on how to catch them but every idea fails. This one is all right but I have never been a fan of the overly polite gophers. Sylvester and an unnamed cat are the titular characters in “Doggone Cats” (1947)and they harass Wellington the dog as he tries to deliver a package for his owner.

This collection wraps up with a couple by Jones starring the Three Bears, comprised of angry and abusive Papa and dimwitted Baby. “What’s Brewin’, Bruin?”(1947) finds Papa unable to settle in for winter hibernation with all the noise and disturbance. “The Bee-Deviled Bruin” (1949) finds the Bears looking for honey, although the bees don’t want to give it up. Not sure if it’s the family dynamic that causes my reaction, but these seem particularly violent of this bunch, although there’s quite a bit throughout the collection.

The video has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.37:1. The colors are bright and bold. Blacks are inky and whites are accurate, contributing to a strong contrast. Mild DNR was used but not to the point of diminishing the image, such as happened with the recent Max Fleischer’s Superman Blu-ray release. The audio is available in DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio. The elements are blended well in the mix, which doesn’t appear to suffer from defect or hiss. There is some fluctuation of the different cartoons’ volume. There are no extras.

Looney Tunes Collector’s Choice Volume 1 presents a good roster of characters among a good roster of cartoons. Even if a viewer is not familiar with some of the characters, there’s plenty of laughs in this volume that make it worth owning. The high-definition presentation is pleasing. As the title suggests this is geared towards collectors, it’s a shame there’s not an extra or two exploring the history of the cartoons and the talent behind them

Loony Tunes Collector’s Choice Volume 1 is available at Movie Zyng.

Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site. "I'm making this up as I go" - Indiana Jones

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