The Looney Tunes Golden Collection was a yearly series of six four-disc DVD box sets from Warner Bros.` home video unit Warner Home Video, each containing about 60 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies animated shorts. The series began in October 2003 and ended in October 2008
Volume 6 (released on October 21, 2008). Disc two (Patriotic Pals) is a war-themed disc, primarily featuring shorts released during World War II.
This is a disc that many animation fans have been waiting for, as it includes a lot of the WWII cartoons (and even some with Bosko that are pre-WWII and hearkening back to WWI) that have been out of circulation for a while as their propaganda-tinged humor is not always politically correct. But, what can you expect from cartoons that often have Hitler as a comedic patsy? The Nazi leader matches his rather dim wits with Bugs (`Herr Meets Hare`), Daffy (`Daffy - The Commando`), and a bunch of Gremlins from the Kremlin (`Russian Rhapsody`). I can`t imagine I`d ever have known as a kid that the Gremlins used a Joseph Stalin mask to scare the Fuhrer, but then, I grew up in the `80s, so I doubt anything with a remotely pro-Russian element would have ever made it on my local airwaves.
A lot of the plots for these cartoons could be swapped with more regular Looney entries. For instance, switch out the Baby Huey-like German in `Herr Meets Hare` for Elmer Fudd, and you have a pretty normal cartoon about Bugs Bunny being hunted in the forest. Yet, there does feel like there is an added incisiveness to the humor in these wartime shorts, with the righteous anger brought on by war giving the animators an extra reason to put the boot in. I have always liked `The Ducktators` for this, a particularly savage skewering of the various avian Axis powers. Hawks must have loved the Dove of peace rolling up his sleeves and kicking some tail. As the Goose Mussolini (Goosalini?) says, `Tutti Frutti! Tutti Frutti and all kindsa whipped-a cream and wala-nuts!`
`Rookie Revue` is like a travelogue of gags all focused around new Army trainees and `Meet John Doughboy` is a collection of jokes about overseas efforts, while Bob Clampett`s `Wacky Blackout` and the more broad `Weakly Reporter` gives the homefront the same treatment. Thus, we have both an `over there` and `at home` approach, looking for humor in both aspects and pushing the `do your part` message. Other cartoons also step away from established characters, such as `The Draft Mare,` which stars a horse trying to get into the army, and `Fifth Column Mouse,` a cautionary tale about a rodent who gets swayed to go against his own kind by a cat with offensively Asian mannerisms. New characters also have familiar faces, as entertainment personalities are turned into dogs and lampooned for a good cause in `Hollywood Canine Canteen.`
A title card before the final three cartoons informs us that they were funded by the Sloane Foundation, and amidst familiar plots featuring characters like Sylvester, Tweety, and Elmer, the Looney Tunes team works in information about the virtues of capitalism. In `By Word of Mouse,` a foreign mouse visiting the U.S. listens to a lecture while avoiding Sylvester`s hungry mouth, and in `Heir-Conditioned,` that self-same Sylvester inherits a vast fortune. `Yankee Dood It` remolds the elves and the shoemaker story to espouse on worker`s rights. I remember these cartoons from when I was a kid, and I always thought there was something weird about them. As an adult, I`m actually kind of impressed by the heapfuls of sugar that make this medicine go down. As educational propaganda goes, this stuff is pretty good. Overall, the whole disc speaks to cartoons as a popular form to investigate the zeitgeist of the nation, broaching many dangerous topics while still managing to keep it light.
The full list of cartoons on DVD 2:
* Herr Meets Hare (Greg Ford commentary) * Russian Rhapsody (Mark Kausler commentary) * Daffy - the Commando * Bosko the Doughboy * Rookie Revue *The Draft Horse (Greg Ford Commentary) * Wacky Blackout * The Ducktators * The Weakly Reporter * Fifth Column Mouse (Jerry Beck commentary) * Meet John Doughboy * Hollywood Canine Canteen * By Word of Mouse * Heir-Conditioned * Yankee Dood It (music-only audio option)
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