Available Oct. 30, List Price $64.98
The latest ransacking of the 1,001 treasures in the Warner Bros. cartoon series that lasted from 1930 to 1963, this fifth official Golden Collection devotes its four discs to: Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck (mainly directed by Chuck Jones); some of the studio's more obscure riffs on fairy tales; '30s-'40s director Bob Clampett; and a roundup of cartoons from the first 15 years on Termite Terrace. Eighty cartoons in all, stocked with the graphic grace and anarchic brio of the all-time great animation unit. Among the pearls: Jones's Transylvania 6-5000 and The Abominable Snow Rabbit, Tex Avery's lunatic Porky's Preview and Frank Tashlin's magnificent Scrap Happy Daffy, a wartime fantasy of scrap-saving and Hitler-bashing.
Clampett, the fastest, most inventive, utterly kwaziest Looney Tunes director of the '40s but often ignored or scorned in the canonizing of Jones, Avery, Tashlin and Friz Freleng finally gets his own gallery here. Yet it's kinda disappointing. Some of the best Clampetts (Porky in Wackyland, Corny Concerto, The Great Piggy Bank Robbery and the immortal Draftee Daffy) have appeared in earlier volumes of the collection. Others have been withdrawn as racially offensive (Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs) or, I guess, are tangled in copyright disputes (Horton Hatches the Egg). The only must-sees on this disc are a terrific Daffy, The Wise Quacking Duck and a time trip with Bugs and Elmer, The Old Grey Hare, in which they zip backward to infancy and forward to senility (in the year 2000). Oddly, finer Clampetts can be found on the Early Daze discs, with Porky's Poppa, Polar Pals and the unmissable Eatin' on the Cuff, or The Moth Who Came to Dinner.
The copious extras include two delicious treats: the feature-length doc, Chuck Jones: Extremes and In-Betweens, a Life in Animation, and the 20min. Unsung Maestros: A Directors' Tribute (produced by Constantine Nasr and Mark Nassief), which praises the work of lesser-known WB animation auteurs Jack King, Norm McCabe and Art Davis. And if DVDs had their own Oscars (Divvies?), I'd give one to the precise, knowledgeable and funny commentaries by, among others, Disney animator Eric Goldberg and cartoon historians Greg Ford, Mike Barrier and Mark Kausler. Ford says he once asked Mel Blanc what the difference was in the voices of Sylvester and Daffy; it's generally thought that Daffy was just Sylvester speeded up. Not to Blanc: Sylvester was gentile, and Daffy Jewish. So don't say you can't learn anything watching cartoons.